Kinda hard to believe it's been 6 months already:
The SF Music Tech Summit (SFMTS) is a bi-annual event produced by Brian & Shoshana Zisk that brings together a wide diversity of people who work and play at the intersection of music and technology. It is an all day event with several concurrent sessions held in multiple meeting rooms at the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco. It is a breeding ground for new ideas, a networking Olympics, an alchemical mixing of volatile extremes and a full frontal assault on anything you thought you knew about the "biz." It's at once both casual and demanding, high-stakes and anti-corporate and I have never seen as many people working their technology in one place at one time. I could feel the waves of free wireless, Bluetooth and 4G zipping through the air. Rey & I attended and I want to fill you in on some of the highlights of our time there.
I almost saw a gang fight break out in the "How We'll Experience Music In The Future" panel. The Vinyl Purists mob got really pissed off with the Digital Forever majority. There was posing and shouting. The digerati brandished their smartphones. The vinyl folks brandished their paper calendars and notebooks, which on the whole were more menacing due to their heft. Eventually, Dave Allen (the former bassist of The Gang of Four) jumped on a table and pulled out his iPad and threatened to live blog the whole confrontation. Everyone calmed down when they realized the hit their Klout scores might take if people knew they were brawling. Even the vinylist got worried that the cops might come and find their stash. It wasn't exactly frightening and it wasn't exactly comical. Die hards seem to, well, um, die hard.
Quote of the Day
"Pandora is for people who want to listen to wallpaper." - Ted Leibowitz, BAGeL Radio
This was said during a discussion of online radio. We were all trying to brainstorm ways to make money doing what we do, and it's not easy. I, for one, do not agree with Ted (although our illustrious leader Rey does) but Pandora is the gorilla in the room whenever you talk about online radio. I think Pandora is great, I love that they are here with us in Oakland and I am rooting for them to get the licensing rates for radio reduced. If I can only convince you of one thing in this article it is this: Even though Pandora wants to reduce the amount of money it pays in licensing, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RIPPING OFF ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS and has everything to do with fairness among platforms and spurring innovation - which will be awesome for musicians. I could write a whole article about this alone.
Second Best Quote of the Day
"Vinyl today is made from digital masters. By definition it cannot sound better than digital." - Max Weisel, RelativeWave
This was in the Future of Music session and it is a great point. If at any point in the production chain your music is digitized, it can never regain the dynamic range that vinyl purist ascribe to their beloved analog medium. You need to use only analog instruments, record on tape, mix on an analog board, master in an analog studio onto master tapes which must then be physically taken to the pressing plant to have plates engraved from them. If you break that chain of analog anywhere, you're only making a copy onto an inferior medium that collects dust and fingerprints, is prone to scratches & skips, and warps in warm weather. And they weigh a ton. And you can't take them anywhere. But I guess they're great with a PBR and an ironic mustache. Don't even get me started on the cassette tape purists.
Picture of the Day
Yep, those are guitars sitting at the registration desk and yep, they're made from oil cans. Oilcans! The company, Bohemian Guitars, got the idea from a trip to South Africa and now they are bring this inexpensive and funky as hell technique to the US with an entrepreneurial flair and a Kickstarter campaign that was 169% overfunded. They are playable and cool.
Go check out their Facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/BohemianGuitars
Best Exchange of the Day:
Rob Kaye from Music Brainz: "Bands need a unique identifier so we get clean meta data and get them paid."
Rey King: "Like a social security number for bands?"
Rob: "Yeah, except if you call it that, no one will go for it."
Rey: "Maybe we could tattoo it on their necks?"
Rob "THEN they'd go for it."
Switchcam is a new site where you can produce a high quality concert film from the footage taken by people in the audience with their smartphones and cameras. All you got to do is sign up, have your fans sign up, have them upload the video they took and (for a fee) Switchcam will produce a professional video from the footage. Now there's a reason for all those smartphones being held up in the first few rows. They can even use your nice board recordings for the audio. This is a pretty inexpensive way to get a high quality concert experience video put together. If any of our members use Switchcam, let us know on rokkus.com. I'd love to get a first hand review.
Coolest Music Label Presenting:
Bright Antenna Records
Bright Antenna is a label here in the Bay Area - over in Emeryville - that believes in the power of music. As a matter of fact, their President Braden Merrick goes so far as to say, "Music is the only true religion." Which I can admire, but also I worry it might generate a fatwa from the wrong folks if it is said to loudly. They have a roster of rockers that are really awesome. They are some of the good guys and they're worth checking out and supporting.
Coolest Startup We Met:
The Zoo Labs
The Zoo Labs are a co-working space and incubator for music tech companies. The have shared office space and a state of the art recording studio. We met Anna from their office during the speed pitch session and she couldn't have been nicer. We actually made plans to take a tour of their space, so stay tuned for more info.
That's all the room I have for now. We're already making plans for the next SFMTS in October. For now, keep listening to Rokkus Radio and for heaven's sake, go see some live music tonight!