Kristoffer Gansing: Art is an early warning system
The Internet of the 1990s raised the question of who ...
More than 150 speakers from all over the world, more than 80 sessions, numerous workshops, panel discussions and networking events - the conference MOST WANTED: MUSIC in the Alte Münze will bring the world of music to the stage in Berlin on 7 and 8 November. The latest trends in digitalisation will be discussed: What are VR trends doing with consumers and producers? How is streaming changing the music market? What new possibilities in music marketing are there and which technologies might save our world? Previously, we talked to one of the heads of the team - Matthias Jung - about music, the future and the abysses of the digital erosion of an entire industry.
CCB Magazin: Hello Matthias, you’re part of MOST WANTED: MUSIC 2018 and lead the conference program. This year’s motto is “Where You Shape The Future Of Creativity”. It’s about digitising an entire industry. Do you have a turntable?
Matthias Jung: Of course I have one, even three! Despite all the progress that has been made, something like this must not simply get lost. I even still have cassettes. The nice thing about digitalisation is that record sales have been stable for years. Even the cassette is still selling.
Our goal is to use the conference to promote the practical transfer of knowledge and to awaken perspectives for new business models.
CCB Magazin: MOST WANTED: MUSIC you’ll be dealing with the expanding influence of digitalisation in the music industry. What will be offered in concrete terms?
Matthias Jung: A whole lot. The focus is on the rapid developments in the music and creative industries in recent years. Our programme offers over 80 sessions, with more than 150 speakers from all over the world on stage to discuss VR trends, current developments in the streaming market and new opportunities in music marketing in workshops, panel discussions and networking sessions. It’s our aim to promote the practical transfer of knowledge and to awaken perspectives for new business models. In addition to music industry topics, MW:M18 will also focus on practical applications. Basically, we raise the fundamental question of what role new technologies play in the creative industry now and in the future and whether machines can be emotional and emphatic, and of course how creative they are. Or to put it another way: How can we make use of artificial creativity in the music industry in the future?
CCB Magazin: And: How can we make use of artificial creativity in the music industry in the future?
Matthias Jung: Through very different strategies. Let’s take immersive and Artificial Intelligence as an example: Virtual reality tools for making music are already changing the entire music industry, our consumer habits, but also ways of production and distribution. MuX and Hexerjsmos present this development, for example, in a session on immersive media, i.e. new digital interactive media forms. Because the classic analogue reception of music - as we can see at the moment from the death of classic print magazines such as Spex or Intro - is becoming increasingly uncommon. In addition, we turn our attention to the field of Artificial Intelligence, for example, in the session Who’s Got Talent: (Wo)Man Or Machine? Forms of interaction such as voice assistants are becoming increasingly important when listening to music. Today, music is often played on the side; you want to have your hands free. Dr. Jochen Steffens from the Technical University of Berlin presents a previously unpublished study on the changing use of music through streaming and playlists. Furthermore, the news service Music Ally from London will publish a white paper on “Smart and immersive music marketing trends” especially developed for MOST WANTED: MUSIC, which all guests of the event will receive from us for free - these are just a few points, and it will be exciting!
CCB Magazin: Nothing new under the sun. The downside is that digitalisation is increasingly turning music into a monoculture. Maik Pallasch from Spotify will also speak at the conference. Many will call for a so-called “Spotifying” of music: Spotify algorithms usually search for the lowest common denominator. Especially the niches and the experimental fall through the digital search. Is Spotify contributing to the demise of experimental culture and the de-democratisation of music?
Matthias Jung: I wouldn’t look at it that way. Of course, we have to be careful not to let individual players on the market claim the gatekeeper role for themselves in the future and consequently lack the alternatives for the artists.
CCB Magazin: But isn’t that already the case? The music market is now dominated by the big three - Sony, Universal and Warner. Sony Music Entertainment alone achieved a market share of 22.2 per cent in 2017. The giant Spotify dominates the streaming market.
Matthias Jung: Yes, these power concentrations are emerging. Ultimately, however, we will only ensure a diverse music culture if there are sufficient opportunities to disseminate creative content. And this is exactly what’s driving digitalisation forward.
Ultimately, we will only ensure a diverse music culture in the future if there are sufficient opportunities for the dissemination of creative content. And this is exactly what is driving digitalisation forward
CCB Magazin: Economists Nils Wlömert and Dominik Papies have found in a study by Spotify listeners that consumers spend less money on CDs and downloads as soon as they subscribe to Spotify - those who use Spotify free of charge reduce their spending by an average of around 10 per cent. Those who subscribe to a Spotify premium subscription for 9.99 euros per month even spend just under a quarter less on albums, singles and individual songs. Is Spotify responsible for the fact that many artists cannot make a living from their music?
Matthias Jung: We have to clarify the question of exploitation and distributive justice, yes. But I think that Spotify makes music accessible for many. The demand for our Spotify Masterclass at Most Wanted is enormous. The question of distribution is a very urgent one, yes, presumably it has not yet been thought through to the end. We also want to discuss it critically at the conference.
CCB Magazin: What are solutions? Claudia Schwarz, Vice President of the Federal Association MusicTech Germany, is also part of the conference. In an interview in the CCB Magazin, she highlighted the new shape-shifting technology from a.i.music (UK), from which 10, 100, 1000 licensed individual variations can be generated from a song in real time, thus increasing an artist’s earning potential many times over in seconds. Are such technologies the solution to the problem?
Matthias Jung: In any case, a.i. music is an exciting application. We had also planned a talk with Gareth Deaken from a.i. music, which unfortunately cannot take place. I would say that a.i. music doesn’t solve a problem, but creates new individual interaction possibilities. I see the solution of the problem in the future especially in the blockchain technology and the copyright question. This is the only way to strengthen future distributive justice.
CCB Magazin: What do you mean, exactly?
Matthias Jung: Through Blockchain, artists can now distribute their works directly and without any middleman and are immediately remunerated accordingly. The songs are provided with a unique code. This code can be used, for example, to set an automatic process in motion during a download, which triggers a transfer in a crypto currency and thus pays all parties involved in the song in a fair and equitable manner - at the same time, the author retains full control over his work. Another additional challenge, however, will be to combine the wealth of new digital possibilities with existing systems such as copyright. And here there are basically two ways: Either you loosen the copyright restrictions and music becomes immediately available for everyone – which then leads to the problem as to how the artist actually earns money. Or, a second alternative is that we fundamentally reform copyright laws; tightening copyright laws is currently being discussed. Only now has there been a reform of copyright law through a parliamentary resolution at EU level. However, this still doesn’t clarify how the value chain can effectively work, i.e. how the money gets to the artists. I believe we are only at the beginning of a new discussion here.
In all this discussion about digitalisation and exploitation, we must not forget that it is still about people. Many artists in the creative industry have been struggling for years with the feeling of being permanently available. All these technologies and visions of progress are of little use to us if, in the end, we are no longer able to do anything
CCB Magazin: You also want to talk about physical health, mental health and the music industry at your conference. What’s it all about?
Matthias Jung: With all the discussion about digitalisation and exploitation, we mustn’t forget that it’s still about people. Ambitious artists and employees in the creative industry have been struggling for years with the feeling of having to be permanently available. Their work determines their private lives, the boundaries between work and private life become blurred. All these technologies and visions of progress are of little use to us if we can’t manage to do more in the end. At MW:M we want to talk about mental stress and look for solutions. In this instance we’re particularly concerned with night work in clubs and bars, because this can really lead to health problems. At MW:M, our partner AFEM, Association for Electronic Music, is presenting the session Surviving and Thriving - Wellness in Electronic Music. In this forum, DJs exchange their experiences with psychologists. Prof. Dr. Borwin Bandelow, for example, will discuss the relationship between artist and manager in Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll - The Minds of Artists and Music Managers. The Berlin Music Commission (BMC) is also already involved here. Together with the Hochschule der Populären Künste, the “Popambulanz”, a first medical-psychological consultation session for musicians from Berlin, was set up, which was a good development, in my opinion. And this is presented at MW:M from the research to the practical offer.
CCB Magazin: Matthias, what does the digitalised music market of the future look like? And if you could implement a solution: What exactly would have to be developed or changed how and why in the future?
Matthias Jung: The future will be - hopefully – quite colourful! The range of options will increase, making and experiencing music will become easier and easier - whether in connection with Artificial Intelligence or through shared experiences in the context of virtual reality concerts. I find the interface between man and machine particularly exciting here. I can only recommend the talk with Ulf Schöneberg at MW:M18, where he introduces the “Musical Brain”. I think this field will create completely new perspectives in the future, of which we have no idea today. Just drop by!
CCB Magazin: Matthias, thank you very much for this interview.
Also a good read