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Liveblog: Gramophoney Baloney on


The panel has concluded!

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Mod to Eratoudis: Is it worth it to come here?

Eratoudis: There’s no question that seeing them here is the best way to do it.

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Lamacq: I see bands live here and some I think I want to bring home with me [rough summary here]

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Mod: How important are #SXSW and similar festivals?

Stephens: I love #SXSW. It’s a fascinating festival. Coming here two questions: Are you going to have fun? Can you afford it?

Sometimes bands come here. Sometimes it’s too early.

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Mod: How important is playing at South by Southwest?

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Stephens: There’s nothing wrong with a CD from the post, but a SoundCloud link is the normal now.

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Every third song in France has to be somehow a French song (they’re saying at this panel).

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Ergatoudis: Every time I go to France there’s incredible French hip hop but there’s so much out there and we are not going to play it. We are going to favor English language music at the end of the day.

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Question: What about musicians (like in Bogata) who don’t speak the language?

Stephens: I do a show in Welsh! There are lots of examples of foreign language songs.

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Ergatoudis: It takes a lot of investment to make brilliant radio.

Radio 1 is obviously on that knife edge to keep a young audience. Social media is obviously massively important (youtube).


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Lamacq: There is so much media that is desperate to influence. It’s like a whale eats krill.

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Ergatoudis: Things don’t move forward if you over rely on data. Because of the funding mechanism of the BBC we can take risks that commercial radio stations can’t.

Eg, Mumford and Sons. [We took a risk on them] Between the work the band did and the heavy rotation we did the band completely flipped. Then they became a global level phenomenon, but at the beginning it wasn’t easy.

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Ergatoudis: We’ve been using Shazam [but not a lot of other relational database services . . . ]

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Audience question: Is there a special British taste? Can you get into the market without BBC?

Ergatoudis: We really do a lot of research at BBC 1 to determine the taste of the audience. Rock in the UK . . . . at BBC the tolerance for rock is high; other genres less

Without a doubt you can get in without BBC.

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Stennett: You can have an act that’s amazing . .  but the question often isn’t whether the act is ready but is the environment [is ready] . . . Does the act have a “live plot” . . . really to play live, ready to tour?

Mod: How much of a gamble is that . . . ?

Stennett: A lot of decisions we make we think we’re right (sometimes we’re wrong) . . . Most of our decisions start with passion and instinct  . . . what can we do online, what can they do online, you can’t just be a successful act with just radio play.

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Lamacq: IF you get something that doesn’t come through The System, that’s what you’ll listen to first.

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Lamacq: How many records on the playlist that don’t have a plugger.

Eratoudis: Not many.

Lamacq: Bottom line. If you want to get to a certain level, you need a plugger.

Stephens: But at the beginning you maybe don’t need a plugger.

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Ergatoudis: Good pluggers come to the states and do lots of research.

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Eratoudis: Pluggers fit into a radar system. They play a curatorial role. So the question is how much do we trust their individual taste. In their own right they’re in there from a business point of view.

Sometimes they’ll undercut rates massively to get acts on board.

There are some whose taste we trust and others we are suspicious about.

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Lamaqc: We now literally can’t get through all the records we are sent! Unless you get a really good radio plugger in the UK it’s money down the drain . . .

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Lamacq: Depends on what kind of band you are. The UK is a very loyal audience. UK people still buy records. If we love you we really love you and will for a long time.

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Stennett: If you are an American act you want to focus some effort on the UK; it influences Europe and Australia.

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O’Leary: Does it matter for an American act to get into the UK?

Ergatouis: Yes. Definitely. In a nutshell it is. The stations that come out of the BBC are key tastemakers. In most cases, you are better off trying to crack your home territory first. But you are going to have to dedicate some focus to get into the UK. The BBC has a huge important global influence.

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Stephen: IT’s a weird, jigsaw network. There’s no one way to get here.

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Is a plugger important?

Stephens: For international artists it comes from live agents. Promoters that I trust. There’s a lot of great publications. Crack magazine, Loud, and Choir, I trust them.

You can get a million records, but it’s the one you find in a record shop that sometimes matters.


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Lamacq: Making a personal connection is essential. So send a letter. Even an email is ok. but it is not as good as a letter.

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Lamaqc: How do you make yourself stand out.

Send a letter! It will make you stand out.

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Mod: from a broadcasters point of view, how do you seek out international music.

Lamacq: We get sent a lot of stuff, we do quite a lot of reading. We start with the British stuff. There’s a cyclical nature of how music works.

We have a lot of pluggers in the UK who will send you stuff, most of it terrible.




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Stennett: You’ve just got to be great to break in to UK radio.

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Stennett: Music online is much more accessible. I’m looking at an American act from New York. That is definitely being championed out of Radio 1.

Mod: How did that come about?

Stennett: They were just genuinely exceptional.

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Stennett: There are break out acts from America being broken in the UK.

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Ergatoudis: Timing is so different in terms of when you arrive.

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Ergatoudis: We have people on both stations that have that taste and spot that something in the music that excites them. Then the journey can begin.

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If you are an international act and you want to break the UK:

Ergatoudis: We have agreed that we support UK music first. 40 is the minimum. Immediately we have to be very careful about non domestic artists.

It has to start with being bloody amazing!

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The panelists are still being introduced. Last into Steve Lamacq from BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2.

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Moderator (O’Leary): Describes one panelist as having “balls of steel and she scares the shit out of me.”

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Also this guy:

George Ergatoudis

BBC Radio/Radio 1

George Ergatoudis was appointed Head of Music, BBC Radio 1 in October 2005, and added 1Xtra to his remit in April 2009.

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More from the panel description:

“How can international artists make the most of initial airplay? Do bands still need pluggers? What are the common mistakes made by artists and labels when launching their band? How important are international events for UK radio?”


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Win Butler advice: Be a band in a whore house and play a lot.


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Krugman: Every time I find a band I like I buy the album and don’t listen to it. Because I prefer live performances.

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Personal comment: some these people (not Krugman or Simonian) are talking about living cheaply and making music. But that’s probably because they don’t have children. Once you have kids, life becomes a little more complicated than finding a cheap place to live and making music.

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Berger: Having a record label with people you trust is still a very vital thing.

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Browne: on the surface, now with SoundCloud, it feels like you can make it on your own. Is that true? Do you think it is easier now to make it on your own?

One panelist: We are in the golden age of folk art. In terms of actually creativeness we’re in a really great place.

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Simonian: we are becoming a bit of a one hit wonder economy.

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Krugman: says that data helped New York Times decide that they Krugman’s columns were really popular.

Helps improve outlook of somewhat insular executives.

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Win Butler: [is saying that data quickly notices new bands before they really have time to decide what they’re doing]

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Browne: We’re talking about labels focusing more on data instead of just gut. Does that help artists?

Simonian: I think that data is great informer and a great equalizer. Tracking how you are growing. I am a big fan of data have been an artist who coded . . .

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Win Butler: Speaking of 1 percent. You used to be able to get $$$ from the government. It was hard. But when we had success it was easy to get. Not so easy at the beginning when we needed it.

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Browne: While live streams cut into performance revenue?

Krugman appears to think not.

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Still live blogging from #sxsw celebrity music economy panel.

Krugman: What HAS changed is that the share of revenue from bands at the top has massively increased. Small bands small venues appear to be begging a shrinking share of the pie.


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Simonian: quotes David Bowie saying you have got to love touring. For artists it  is going to be syncs, touring . . .

Butler: I think a lot of artists will make money from the parents. Their parents will pay for things [audience laughs]

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Browne: outside of streaming and advertising how will artists make their income?

Krugman: It was always live performance as far as I can make out. There’s no reason why that will change. . . . It’s the experience of being in a room and experiencing it.

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Win Butler: This panel is brought to you by Chipotle [audience laughs].

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They’re all having a conversation about how not to sell out while being in a sell out economy, I guess.

Simonian: Authenticity depends on you [even in the context of brands].

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Berger: If the actual art is not informed by the economy , if it comes from an honest place, as long as the art wasn’t intended to exploit . . . [it’s acceptable, I guess]

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Krugman: The New York Times is an advertisement for luxury goods wrapped in a little bit of news. [!!] . . . It’s all about how you deal with it.

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Berger: How do you feel about  . . . are you anti- the brand takeover of music? Where are you in relationship to the in your face branding of music.

Simonian: I’ve learned that street creds don’t pay my bills very well. But if you are overwhelmed by branding there other places . . . I don’t think that it is selling out.

Butler: It is selling out though . . .

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Question: has music changed from product to service?

Krugman: Things have changed a lot less for artists  . . . it’s always really been about live performances. (from a study).


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Berger: Funny panel for me to moderate because I failed economics. . . .

– (Rough notes from #sxsw Celebrity Economy panel)

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The panelists are seated and are being introduced.

– (Rough notes from #sxsw Celebrity Economy panel)


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Rough notes from #sxsw Celebrity Economy panel at 12:30:

Panelists: Robert Browne, Will Grant, Tatiania Simonian, Paul Krugman, Win Butler, Nicky Berger . . .


“How will artists make money in ten years? Twenty-five years? In a forward-looking predictive piece in 1996, The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote about “the celebrity economy,” in which “creations must make money indirectly by promoting sales of something else.” Today, artists are increasingly turning to sponsorships and ad placement for funding, and with a new generation rising to fame on YouTube and Vine rather than through record labels, traditional revenue streams will only become less valuable. Hear how industry professionals are navigating this changing landscape, what they predict lies ahead, and what they believe will be discussed at SXSW 2040.”

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They’re still reviewing songs, but I gotta head over to the Krugman panel now.

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Here’s a photo of Son Little after his performance. He’s the fellow with the gray cap and white t-shirt in in the back of the room. I think the bald fellow behind the red capped man is his producer (or supporter?) . . .

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Warm response from the audience. . . .

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Now Son Little is doing a live performance. Just guitar. He’s good!

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One audience member says it sounds like Blur tunes where “they don’t give a shit.” But still a great tune.

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The audience is all over the place. Tens and ones.

The band is Blur.

One panelist hoped it had been Robin Hitchcock.

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The moderator is bouncing his head around.

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Kind of British. A bit Beatle-ish. Very heavy drums and base.

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Here comes another tune.

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Should artists “fish for airplay” when they write tunes?

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Should artists “aim for radio” ?  when they write tunes?

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Now everybody is debating about Bob Schneider. One audience person says even though the piece is superficial he’s a great artist so his songs should be supported. So it’s all about context whether it should be played on the radio.

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A nice bouncy tune being audited “We’re seeing nines and tens,” the moderator says. KCRW gives it a nine. Morgenstern: “I liked it from beginning. It would sound really good on the radio.”

But another panelist: “I can see people dressed in pieces of fruit” dancing to it. This “bright pop shit has to go.”

The song is by Bob Schneider.

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A Heartless Bastards tune just got an audit. The panelists seem to like it.  Someone mentioned the band opened for Bob Seeger some while ago. An audience member said it sounded like Simple Minds. The song will be out this summer, the band’s producer (?) told the audience.

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Rough notes from here at the #sxsw 2015 New Music meeting:


Deejays and program directors from KCRW and KCMP and other stations . . . They rate new songs right here!

First tune up: The Word! (one panelists said I would have given them a ten but I’m the agent). Seems to have gotten a seven from the audience. Panelists praise “earthiness” the piece. . . .

More positivity for a Meg Mackey song.



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Rough notes on #sxsw2015 panel titled “Why Curation Will Save the Music Industry” (comment: why does the music industry need to be saved, but we’ll see . . . )

panelists from St. Elmo (Tim Stickelbrucks), The Orchard (Scott Cohen), Trunkworthy (Gary Stewart), Rdio (Chris Becherer)

St. Elmo: lots of people need help finding new music. Look at possible futures for curation. Digital music has solved lots of problems, especially gatekeepers. You don’t have to be a record collector or critic.

But digital music consumption is not like walking into a store, it’s like walking into a warehouse. Huge amount of music!

We don’t have the time to spend [on searching for music] algorithms don’t always deliver the best music . . .

Trunkworthy: I hate the word curator. The word implies taking something and stuffing it. Any art form is this living feeling thing.

I’m some there’s going to be algorithms bashing but they’re a good place to start. Beach Boys list . . . Kokomo . . . that’s when algorithms fail, especially for genres like Reggae. They especially do a disservice for new artists like Modest Mouse.

How do you fix? You work in chart positions; air play; what songs are being covered by other artists; what are being talked up on blogs and fan sites. Maybe add in a little bit of a couple people’s taste to see if there’s consensus. I would take the worst algorithm than  . . . musical and curatorial narcissism.

Offers the example of Frankie Miller . . . Bob Seeger cite him now; the Eagles covered his material. Appears to be suggesting that history and good story is a good way of creating curatorial meaning. Relevance: algorithms and mechanical programming can’t build in relevance.

We need to remind people why a record is important . . . not just why it is good.

The Orchard: I feel guilty if I use the word “curation” now.

One of the things we are seeing out there [example CMJ charts]. You want to get your artist to the top of the CMJ charts, university radio stations with 10 watts and some are huge and the main alt station in market. But you had to stuff 3,000 envelopes with a CD and if you were lucky you got into the CMJ charts.

We are now seeing that in playlists. A lot people are listening to music off of playlists. Now we are populating all the relevant playlists from these services. How do we get our stuff in there?

Rdio: We are 32 million tracks. It would take a lifetime to listen to them. We look for ways to navigate. Three different ways to approach curation: Human curation: a group of people who have an informed opinion that are selecting tracks (the big problem there is bias; or elitism). We have a team of curators at rdio who work at playlists. Then there is algorithmic curation; collaborative filtering; or some sort of audio analysis. Both have problems.

The last rdio has been known for is social curation. Somebody coming up to you who really knows you telling you that you’d like this. Not them. You. [talks about his brother giving him ideas about bands like the Stone Roses). A human being is checking this stuff.

The main idea is curating [through tools like collaborative and audio analysis] and making it personalized.

Trunkworthy: Do people really care or need help with discovering new music?

The Orchard: A lot of people think that discovery is for hipsters down in Austin. But there’s a lot of high quality stuff that isn’t being connected to a casual fan. [the parameters are] lean back [spotify; pandora] and lean forward services.

The Orchard: Back in the old days people didn’t listen to many records but they listened to those a lot. Now it’s a lot more on the surface.

Rdio: There’s a “analysis/paralysis” problem.

The Orchard: Stop making music! [joking] Stop now! There’s too much!

Audio question: Is there business interest curation?

One answer: there are two curation audiences: general audience and the inside dopester audience. The problem is how to monetize the people who do this curation. What if you had a system where you reached those people and paid them for your time.


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An extraordinary discussion about getting early hip hop on the radio on this #sxsw panel. The New York deejay Mr. Magic looms large in the conversation. It’s all centered around this documentary about the TR-808 drum machine.



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Rough notes from this #sxsw panel on digital discovery and curation:

“Discovery is still broke, with arguments both for and against human and technological curation, a successful balance exists that incorporates both methods to create the ultimate digital jukebox. Learn more about the continued conversation on creating the best methods for content curation.”

They are starting with haikus!

Moderator asks about basic approach:

Rise of professional curation . . . SiriusXM: we use pretty much everything. We view curation as an entry point. . . . present music in an emotionally engaging manager.

Shazam: The way we serve up content is what they Shazamed previously.  . . . We put charts front and center on our home screen.

8tracks: we are fundamentally all about curation. Anyone can curate a playlist  . . . for us there’s no distinction between professional and consumer. There are two million playlists out there but how do we find the one for you.

Rdio: We have different approaches. Algorithm, radio: which lets people listen to someone else without having to build a playlist; curated stations (with a 70 song playlist you can shuffle) . . .

Mod: What about user profiles?

8tracks: hired a data scientist to start our own user profiling. The holy grail for us is giving information earlier in the customer life cycle.

Rdio: we use data in a whole bunch of ways. We try to surface people who will be interested to you depending on your profile.

Mod: the discovery backlash! When I get a bad recommendation my reaction is much more severe. Do you see consumers having a backlash to discovery . . .

8tracks: in an ideal radio experience you listening to music that you like but periodically you hear a new track. The relevancy has to be high.

Shazam: push notifications have to be incredibly relevant (otherwise they’re annoying). We’re using them (but carefully).

Sirius: We generally are a broadcast model; we’ve have tremendous success in introducing to our subscribers that they’ve probably never heard before. WE don’t have email or pop ups but music discovery plays a really big role.

The A&R playing field has been flattened completely. We find music everywhere. We know within two weeks of airplay when an artists music is engaging or not.

We do a fair amount of propriety research. We look at YouTube usage. Digital track sales.

Rdio: At Rdio you have to lean in to find friends who are listening to what you do. We know what’s happening but we don’t put that back into the feed. We want curation based on old fashioned things like new releases.

Shazam: Typically we a song break on Shazam then on radio. . . . [City data] is great data for a band for deciding where to tour next.

8tracks: democratized A&R . . .  we are very grassroots in our approach . . . we see new artists grow on our playlists before other services. . .

Mod: What do you do around merchandising of content?

SiriusXM: all our channels are commercial sponsor free; how we package the music at SiriusXM is really important to us  . . . [Asked about host control]: the Blog radio shows have lots of control; others have less

8tracks: we have trending ranks; we have personal recommendation; we have a sponsored playlist model; for example Red Bull created a series of playlists [these are paid sponsorships]

Rdio: Macys holiday stations!

Mod: lots of technology advances in the marketplace; are you engaged in a lot of R&D here.

Rdio: a lot of the great things being developed are really features inside of services; there are great technologies inside a home they’re largely science projects

8tracks: it’s about user profiling; when a deejay publishes a playlist they have to tag it . . . we can combine information about genre and artist

Shazam: You are going to see Shazam going to cinema and going to malls . . . Later this year.

SiriusXM: We view what we do as a combination of art and science. When it comes to the science part of it. We look at a music data point and try to get every piece of information about.

Questions from audience:

I asked about the rise of the celebrity deejay curator.

8tracks: we offer gold and platinum ratings for curators

Rdio: our solution is that if you listen to Rdio you are already curating through your fans.

Question about interactive versus non-interactive.

8tracks: I think that they’re converging. Pandora wants to experiment with interactiveness; also Spotify.

Digital Music News question: how to get more music to artists? Initiatives to get fans closer to the artists?

Shazam: We want to be the platform where we open lines of communications for artists.

Rdio: We’re doing a couple of things: will pay bands bounties for pages that get lots of use. If fans become users of our service we want to pay you. We effectively have an artist/influence program. We have a set system. We encourage artists to work inside our system rather than Facebook or Twitter.

Questions from the audience on this feel a bit urgent; obviously the artist compensation issue is a important.

Question: how do you identify your most identify active listeners (superusers?).

8tracks: 1 percent create; ten percent curate and share; we do surveys; the goal is to try to under their needs

Shazam: we have over 100 million monthly active users (!!!). That’s kind of our base.

Rdio: we are getting lots of long listening sessions over TV. Heavy users are not necessarily the most social.



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