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MusicTech Summit: Digital Thought Leaders

Brain Late Last week in San Francisco the MusicTech Summit sought to bring together music and the tech industry. The "Digital Thought Leaders" panelists discussed challenges in the digital music space including:

Balancing the rights of content owners and consumer interests -

  • Tim Westegren, founder of Pandora, stressed that protecting artists' intellectual property is very important. He believes content owners and Web 2.0 companies both need to compromise to find viable business models that are fair to artists and also something customers want to use.
  • Michael Petricone (Consumer Electronics Association) noted that patents are easier to get and the penalties for violating them are higher than they have ever been before. He stated that IP is important, but it needs to be tolerant enough to allow for technical innovation.

Simplifying the user experience -

  • All of the panelists agreed that the current digital music retail environment is too fragmented and complicated from the customer's perspective.
  • Aza Raskin (Mozilla, Songza) described the need for "continuity of experience" across


  • social networks and other services, as well as across online and mobile platforms.
  • Ty Roberts (Gracenote) thinks the categorization of songs and artists can be improved to help listeners discover more music they like.
  • Noting that people do not want to spend a lot of time administering their music collection, Westegren sees the future of digital music as a radio-style service that can be accessed on all devices, with ad-supported and paid service options.

Survival strategies for artists -

  • Westegren told the audience that artists should think of their businesses in terms of a patronage model, where listeners choose to participate in revenue streams because they want a certain band to exist. Under this model, artists need to really focus on building personal relationships with customers.
  • Westegren suggested that musicians "add a member to your band" - not to play an instrument, but someone to focus solely on marketing, promotion and other business activities.
  • Roberts recommended that artists seek relationships with Web 2.0 companies the way they used to seek record labels, and advocated the importance of leveraging all assets possible.  by Laurence Trifon