A Manifesto for the Future of Music Technology Research

“Meaningful innovation happens when fields intersect – yet those who work in music technology are too often siloed in distinct fields within universities, industry, startups, journalism, hobbyist and fan subcultures. We don’t always know how to think together, and we often do not know what others can contribute. We don’t even know what we don’t know. When fields do come together, old hierarchies too often overshadow the spirit of collaboration and mutual learning. Institutional barriers challenge our ability to work together, from the way organizations are structured to reward-systems that encourage people to keep doing what they have always done.

Let’s Build Better Worlds

Music technologies make worlds. Let us make better worlds. Let music technology do good, serve public interest, foster belonging, justice, collaboration and sharing, enable greater access to positive musical experiences and personal connections, and create durable objects and practices.

We call for greater awareness of the cultural forces already in new music technologies, and the courage to challenge or change them when the collective good demands it.

Ask of any music technology: For whom will this make things better? How? Is it open or closed to creativity and innovation it has not yet anticipated?

Ask of any policy: Whose rights and opportunities are being promoted? Whose are being eroded? What idea of culture does it presume?

Ask of any practice: Who is invited to join in? Who is left out? Where will it find support?

Ask of any organization: How does it help people come together? Does it exploit them in doing so?

We must create more opportunities for people to engage one another through music. We must fight for people’s rights to create music and music technologies, and to enjoy music free of rent-seeking and unwarranted legal intimidation. We must stand up to abusive musical practices, from exploiting people’s dreams of making a living in music, to criminalizing whole classes of audiences and musicians, to subjecting people to hearing loss, to the use of music in coercion, warfare and torture.

We are Music Technologists. We work in science, art, engineering, humanities, activism, social science, policy and industry. We believe in music technology and we want to build better worlds. We invite you to join us.”

Via Music Tech Fest | A Manifesto for the Future of Music Technology Research

The Death of the (Musical) Middle Class

“We have to get over the notion of the old musical middle class, where you could put out an album every two years, do a bunch of tour dates, sell some t-shirts, and make $75k a year. The new reality looks like driving for Lyft when you’re home, maybe taking a few freelance composing gigs for an ad agency, releasing and touring around your own music, and bartending at your buddy’s place on weekends. Is this less fun, perhaps, or more stressful, than the old way? Absolutely. But it’s also the new normal.

[…]

When people talk about the gig economy as a new concept, it’s because it’s a new concept for a very select group of people. Women, immigrants, and people of color have always been part of the gig economy, not because it was cool and freeing and driving for Lyft is a super fun way to make money while finishing their novels–it was because they had no other options. Being able to ‘follow your passion’ and make art for a living is a very class-based concept–most people are just working to pay the bills, and the idea that you have a right to write and perform music and make a living doing so is a foreign concept.

I absolutely believe in paying people for their work, but figuring out what they should be paid (or have a right to be paid) is tricky. But opposing Spotify, in the absence of a realistic solution, is just silly and privileged. I’d love to be a (middle class, educated) boomer riding life out on a cushy retirement package…but that’s not an option anymore. Rather than bemoaning the lost past, we need to focus on making the gig economy more sustainable for everyone.”

via This Week in Music Tech | The Death of the (Musical) Middle Class

This Band Just Finished a 28 Day Tour and Made How Much?!

“[T]his isn’t a sob story. We knew [the tour] would be an expensive endeavor, and we still chose to make the investment. We could have played a duo show instead of hiring six people to tour with us. That would have saved us over $50,000, but it was important at this stage in Pomplamoose’s career to put on a wild and crazy rock show. We wanted to be invited back to every venue, and we wanted our fans to bring their friends next time. The loss was an investment in future tours.

[…]

We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.

We are the mom and pop corner store version of ‘the dream.’ If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.

We have not ‘made it.’ We’re making it.”

Via Digital Music News | This Band Just Finished a 28 Day Tour and Made How Much?!

What Is Going To Save The Music Industry

“Consumers no longer need to buy full albums to get the songs they want. They are able to buy the songs they care about piecemeal. Is there an opportunity to save the album? When an artist creates an album, isn’t that the product? Not the individual songs, but the collection of songs into one product? How can the industry entice people to purchase full albums again? Maybe there is an opportunity to revolutionize what individuals actually get with an album purchase to be more in touch with new technology and mediums. An album has the ability to provide way more than just a collection of songs, possibly music videos, maybe some commentary, and an artistic album cover. It can be so much more interactive.”

via Feature.fm | What Is Going To Save The Music Industry

Station to Station: The Past, Present, and Future of Streaming Music

“Listeners are well-served by streaming platforms, but for artists, they cast the question of compensation in a stark new light. While the value debates that dominated the mp3 moment pitted fans against artists, the emergent streaming era has so far seen the return of corporate exploitation, with a speculative twist: The rich or soon-to-be-rich build innovated products, convince an ailing recording industry to sign over their catalogs, acquiring the bricks-and-mortar of their operations–digitized recordings–for fractions of a penny on the dollar. These operations are mostly funded by venture capital, periodic rounds of investments, or as cogs in vast empires of information, and they can feel overwhelming for fans and artists alike.

[…]

As streaming takes center stage for music commerce, questions with long histories must be reframed. In what ways are the non-stop interactions between databases and algorithms shaping our musical tastes? Do streaming platform business models inherently exploit  artists when listener choice scales to infinity? Should speculative capitalism be the driving force for large-scale innovations in music technology, and is there a feasible alternative? Are we living in a technological golden age of creative possibility, cross-cultural communication, and sheer abundance, or a surveillance state controlled by privately-held brands promising endless access at the expense of imperceptible control? Answers to these questions are piloting digital music deep into the 21st century, but critically evaluating current technological developments means keeping an eye on the lessons of the past.”

via Pitchfork | Station to Station: The Past, Present, and Future of Streaming Music

Wintersun Frontman Says Label Preventing Him From Crowdfunding Time II

From Jari Mäenpää:

“This is the way a record deal works: The label gives an advance to make an album. This is a loan and they will recoup every penny back from the record sales. The reason why TIMEI&II has taken so long to make (and is still taking long to finish TIME II), is because I haven’t gotten enough advances (money) to make these complex albums. Not even close. So I’ve been struggling all these years and sacrificed everything to make these albums. I have never really made any money from Wintersun. All my money has gone into album production, but you can guess who have made tons of money from Wintersun. The point is that I need my own studio to make the future albums, but Nuclear Blast won’t be able to loan enough money to make that happen and then they won’t allow me to do a crowd funding campaign either that would make it happen.

[…]

This is all stressing me out very badly and it’s slowing my workflow. I’ve got enough technical problems to deal with making these albums. I just want the freedom to make music, but I guess it is what it is. Honestly, I feel like I’ve signed a deal with the devil and I’m just a slave in the system.”

via Metal Injection | Wintersun Frontman Says Label Preventing Him From Crowdfunding Time II

Tumblr: Rolled Up Sleeves

From September 2nd:

“I (Filip) work as a paver for my father (he has a company), our bass-player Kenn works at a gas station, our drummer Simon works in a kindergarten, our guitarist Toby is working with some computer-stuff for the Danish state and our second guitarist  Rasmus is looking for a job at the moment. None of us is earning any money from the band and we are spending all our free time on this project, we are 100% doing it because this is what we like to do and not because we are expecting to be famous and rich.”

via Rolled Up SleevesHexis (Denmark)