In 1995 the movie Hackers was released, romanticizing the life of young computers nerds hacking into government scandals. Featuring a young Angelina Jolie, the computer nerd was no longer a geek—but a sexy rebel. This was a huge departure from the computer geeks of 1984 Revenge of The Nerds. Now, flash forward fifteen years and SF MusicTech Summit, which is in its seventh year, welcomed individuals from some or the most important and influential companies today. No longer geeks and definitely not rebels, the tech society today has come a long way.
The first apparent difference at SF MusicTech Summit—these are not young tech nerd—these are men with money, children, and formerly apart of Web 1.0. Everyone is considering the next trend, discussing marketing strategies, and business plans considering the new social methods of exposure. New products like Voocoo, which allow users to erase the vocals on purchased songs, for use of karaoke, remixing, or what have you, are quickly met with demurs “that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.” A panel discussed the legal issues of online distribution, publicly disagreeing whether to contact labels for licensing rights or just apologize later (and risk $$$ in fines). The bravado of Shawn Fanning, played by Justin Timberlake in 2010’s Social Network, was absent from the festivities—not just literally, but in spirit.
Many uncertainties about the music tech future remain. The advancement from some new products is unclear. One product allowed for high quality conversions of digital to analog (*corrected) at the cheap price of $200. When the moderator, Jolie O’Dell (of Mashable), asked the creator “Was this targeted towards average listeners who, like me, have blown out their ears long ago,” the creator replied “Of course.” The panelists of “Engaging Your Community” were unable to provide quantifiable results to suggest the profitability of social networking. An author on marketing, David Meerman Scott suggested “giving away free gifts” like music videos and songs because what goes around comes around. This didn’t please one older audience member whom replied “The Grateful Dead wouldn’t give away free music.”
One thing is clear—everyone wants access to everything. Cloud sharing is the future. Audiogalaxy is back, better than before, allowing users to connect for free to their desktop libraries via mobile, which will compete with Rdio. The mystique model of musicians is gone. Fans want to connect with their favorite artists every moment, no matter the relevancy, as Justin Bieber and Amanda Palmer were often cited examples. So get connected, stay tuned, and be prepared to know everything and anything in just a few years if developers keep at this pace.