SXSW – The Best of Torrent 1

March 8, 2009
SVG-ified version of a photo of the iPod Class...
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A few too many things in the pipe for SXSW so this’ll be a short one – I ran through the first of the SXSW Torrents and narrowed it down to 75 tracks contained in this link.

Also, a few tips if it’s your first time at SXSW courtesy of @rustysoma – served me well last year 🙂

1. Make sure you have a bunch of water at your hotel room.

2. If you’re there for the whole week, and you stay some place that has a kitchen (like the Residence Inn), go to Whole Foods, and stock up on healthy food for the week. At a minimum get some fruit and veggies, and maybe some breakfast cereal.

3. Take Vitamin B before going out! It really helps.

4. Bring Ibuprofen for the hangovers that will occur.

5. Bring some music on your iPod that’s completely unlike the music you’ll be seeing the most… it clears the aural palette.

6. Be careful not to overdo it early in the week if you’re going to be there the whole week.

7. Don’t miss those morning conference sessions, there are some great ones.

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Talent is a constant.

November 25, 2008

One of the comments I hear the most from musicians and music industry folk alike regarding music today is “it’s great that there’s so much music around today, but most of it is absolutely crap.” People cite the (completely false and misleading assertion) that because most folks can use ProTools in their bedrooms etc. that there is a saturation of amateurish and horrible music in circulation.

I couldn’t disagree more.

In fact, I’m of the belief that talent is a constant. That genius occurs every single day in music, that songwriters lie in wait to be discovered if you know where to look. Quite contrary to the above assertion, music that will change your life goes unnoticed every single day and songwriters of exceptional talent languish in absolute obscurity for their entire lives.

That said, in today’s world, all of the tools are available for every fan to become a tastemaker and highlight these amazing artists.

My question is this: if you really care about music, about artists and musicians, what are you doing to shed some light on these unsung songsmiths?

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“It’s about me providing value to you, and if I can’t, then I should get the hell out of the way.”

November 8, 2008

I hate re-posting stuff that’s already on the web – there’s enough noise out there.

But some notes on Ian Roger’s recent talk at MusicTech Seattle say everything I want to say about Penny Distribution and our goals – and indeed, the goals of any music company in the 21st Century:

“Any of us, myself included, that are not either the artist or the fan, are just potentially in the way. So it’s on us to provide value. To provide real value. And that’s fine with me. I’m very happy to say, OK, my company has to provide real value. My company is not about lock-in. It’s not about me owning your masters. It’s about me providing value to you, and if I can’t, well, then I should get the hell out of the way. So I really encourage you, when thinking about the music business, to think about marginal profitability for artists first and foremost, and to think about the companies that enable that, and to forget about the ones that don’t.”


If you don’t already, I’d recommend keeping up with Ian at his blog and one of the most exciting new media companies of late, TopSpin Media

Read more at TechFlash, Thanks to Bruce @ Hypebot for the original post…

Update: Dave Allen, over at the awesome Pamplemoose, has some great insight into Ian’s keynote too…

Update II: Looks like the big boys are taking notice of the switch too…EMI are focusing on Fan/Artist relationships now as well.

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How NOT to Lose in the Music Industry

October 29, 2008

I’ve watched the success of BarCamp & OpenCoffee Belfast very closely: both are basically a group of like minded yet disparate technology-focused folks getting together to share their collective knowledge, geek out and possibly collaborate.

I’ve wondered aloud if something similar was even possible in the music business.

Thankfully, recent experiences at Unconvention, Creative Camp and Soul Ambition’s “Kick Up The Arts” has convinced me that it is not only possible, but essential.

Next Thursday sees the largest music industry conference so far in 2008, NIMIC’s “Northern Ireland Music – The Way Forward” take place at the Whitla Hall. Following that, from 5pm at The House, myself and a load of other loosely related folk will be gathering together with the same goals as Barcamp – to see what our collective enthusiasm, knowledge and geekiness can create…

And as if to hammer home the point, Seth Godin’s recent post “How To Lose” should be an indicator of how important such events are to this, and many other, music communities:


“Actual conversation at a local shoe store: “Do you have dress shoes in a size 6?”

“No, I’m sorry we don’t.”

“We’re from out of town. Do you know any place we can get some?”

“I’m sorry I don’t. Perhaps you’d like some in a size 8?”

Now, what are the chances that someone who wants a size 6 is going to buy an 8? Zero. The game is over. You lost.

Instead of feigning ignorance about the whereabouts of your competitors (you really don’t know where other shoe stores are?) and instead of pretending you don’t have a phone book, what would happen if you actually spent that spare minute being incredibly helpful. “Ask for Jimmy! Tell him Sal sent you…”

Of course, the recipient of this friendly advice would tell everyone at the wedding exactly what happened. And some of those folks wouldn’t be from out of town…

Marketers, salespeople, athletes and politicians spend their days losing. Losing RFPs, losing someone browsing through a store, losing a race.

If it’s close, the right thing to do is to lean into it, to persevere, to push at the end when it can really pay off. But what about when it’s not? What happens when the RFP doesn’t match (at all) what you sell, but the competition is a perfect fit?

If you’re not qualifying people relentlessly enough to have many opportunities like this, you’re not really qualifying them. You’re just spending all day grabbing what you can grab.

It seems to me that this is the perfect opportunity to be a statesman. This is when you earn the right to be seen as a trusted advisor, not a self-interested shill. Two months or two years from now, when you interact with that person or organization again, we’ll remember that you were the one who spoke up on behalf of the competition, the one who helped us find a better fit, the clearly disinterested advisor who helped us choose between the two remaining good choices.

Your ego might not enjoy it, but in the long run, your organization will.”

Get together, help each other, or lose.


October 17, 2008

SNOCAPImage via WikipediaJust reading Mark Mulligan from Jupiter Research‘s roundup of Popkomm. “I was…disappointed at the lack of anything new…I couldn’t help but get the sense of a lack of impetus.”

I felt the same thing in every corner of the Midland Hotel at In The City this year – the same conversations, the same approaches, the same Innovations. Last year it was social networks, this year it’s widgets.

Could it be that people are settling into “new models” for the music industry already? Are people beginning to stand still in a market in which today’s innovation is tomorrow’s buggy whip? When Snocap launched their DIY artist StoreFront widget, it was one of very few players in town. Less than a year later, it was washed away in a widget tsunami.

Now it’s music discovery that’s getting the “Me Too!” treatment – A slew of copycats hitting the airwaves on the heels of Imeem and LastFM. Haven’t we something BETTER to be getting on with?

As you may have gathered from my last post, this was not the attitude at UnConference at Salford Trinity Church. The discussions I had involved burning down the businesses we’d spent 18 months building because they weren’t working, and building anew around the old frame. New ideas and a fearless commitment to impermanence is the only way.

In a market as uncertain as the music industry, ideas rush toward obsolescence at a shocking speed.

Just over a year since I started Penny Distribution, right now it has very little to do with Distribution. Change is coming and will continue as necessary to better serve my artists and their fans. There will be no idea too cherished to discard if its not serving its purpose: i.e. a better deal and wider audience for artists, a sustainable model for Penny and the best experience possible for our fans.

What’s your business doing to address this constant and rapid change? What are you ready to throw away to avoid stagnation?

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In The City/Unconvention Day 1

October 6, 2008
Ricky Korn and Einar Jóhannsson during the 200...

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I eventually made it to Manchester @ 6pm, just in time for the NIMIC showcase.

Ross & the Northern Ireland Music Industry Commission are, I believe, a model industry body – publicly funded, NIMIC support NI’s music industry and scene with business showcases and live events aiming to educated dullards like myself in the workings of the industry. As well as that, they put on showcase events like last night to introduce the wider world to the awesomeness of Northern Ireland music. Never a bad thing.

Most importantly, they’re very approachable and great sources of info for the enterprising music biz.

Anywho, Panama Kings truly brought the rock and proved beyond doubt how vital Belfast is these days. But it was Cashier #9 who truly shone on this night – their footstomping bluesy grunt, tastefully embellished with beats and loops, really brought the house down.

We headed up to the site of Unconvention, the beautiful Sacred Trinity Church in Salford. It was truly a pleasure to walk into the main area of the church, replete with altar and baptismal font, and see Cynic Guru rocking out for the crowd. This place, and event, promises to be unique in every way. Artwork from Fat Northerner & Humble Soul records adorned the walls – check out some photos of the bands via Penny’s flickr (on the right of this post)

We hit up the legendary Night&Day club next for The Spinto Band’s brand of on-stage lunacy, replete with Kazoos. I loved the area and the venue, and it’s right next door to Manchester’s premier indie record store, Piccadilly. It was at this point that someone suggested Goldschlager. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Out the door we bumped into Manchester native and fellow tub-thumper Graham (he of Groovy Revolution) who took us to Mojo, which was serving up amazing Vodka mixers and great tunes. In fact, they’ll play anything that you ask them, as long as it’s not shit. A bar owned by music-snobs = result. 4am and much dancing later, it was time for a well earned sleep.

More of today’s fun and games (and some post about the Music panels from Today’s convention) later…

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