[Photo by Kate Mullins]
We attended the third edition of Mixcloud Curates yesterday as part of the Convergence electronica festival. The event sees the team behind online radio platform Mixcloud programme a series of panel discussions around various music industry concerns, and this edition didn’t fail to deliver plenty of thought-provoking dialogue. Here’s a rundown of what we saw, along with some of the juiciest quotes of the day.
Chris Cooke, Co-Publisher, Business Editor and Insights Director CMU (Moderator)
Mark Mulligan, Co-Founder and Analyst, Midia Consulting
Michelle You, Co-Founder, CPO, Songkick
Andy Heath, Owner, Beggars Music
Eric Karsenty, Partnership Marketing EMEA, Sonos
The second panel examined the recent history and developments in the music industry, the current climate and predictions for the future. Beggars Music’s Andy Heath was particularly outspoken, citing Google – or more specifically, YouTube – as the biggest problem for the industry. “They are totally unaccountable. They have more power than god. Everyone is buggered as long as they continue to let people listen to pretty much all music in the world for free.”. Music analyst Mark Mulligan suggested that perhaps it’s not actually in their interests for their new YouTube Music Key streaming service to succeed – and that it’s more an attempt to pacify the demands of major record labels who are unhappy with their current model. “I’m gonna put my cards on the table and say it [YouTube Music Key] won’t exist in 18-24 months” he predicted.
Heath predicted that “in the next 10 years, DJs will become the tastemakers once again“, while SONOS’ Eric Karsenty saying that his big prediction for the next few years is the move towards high-quality/definition music streams/downloads for all.
50 Years of DJ Culture: Past, Present & Future
Chris Price, New Slang Media (Ex-BBC1, MTVUK, lastfm) (Moderator)
Paul Clement, Co-Founder/Director, Resident Advisor
Bill Brewster, Founder, djhistory.com, Author ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’
Ben UFO, Hessle Audio
Jon Lee, Head Of Marketing (Traktor), Native Instruments
The final panel of the day looked at the history of DJing, and the current and future status and role of DJs. “I started off in punk bands. I really started DJing because I was bored of having arguments with bass players” began Bill Brewster, before taking us on a concise crash course of the art of playing records. “The invention of the 12″; the superstar DJ; beatmatching; it was all invented in the ‘70s before electronic dance music.” He talked about what makes a great DJ – saying that beatmatching is the least important element of the skillset. “If you go back and listen to some of Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage sets, the mixing is shocking. But he could make you love a record you thought you hated. He once played a record five times in a row because people wouldn’t dance to it the first time he played it. So he just kept on playing it until they went crazy for it.”
The panel was asked why they thought DJ culture had exploded in such a huge way in the US in recent times. TRAKTOR’s Jon Lee singled out dubstep as the big game changer – “because of America’s inclination towards rock music. Dubstep is aggressive. You watch how people dance at a dubstep rave over there, and it’s much more like rock music.” Ben UFO explored the economics of the superstar DJ model. “Like we were discussing how Jimmy Saville realised he could make more money in the ‘40s/’50s by playing records himself instead of paying a band… we’ve been seeing that on an absolutely enormous, unprecedented scale. The industry has realised how much more money it can make by just paying a DJ with a small set-up and a light show.” He also cited the emergence of cheap DJ controllers and software enabling DJ culture to flourish in poorer countries and regions as the most exciting emerging development.
Mixcloud Curates LDN Vol. 3 made for another engrossing afternoon of insight and debate, with a packed audience throughout the day. The more conversations that are being had about issues in our industry, the better – and Mixcloud have done a great job of adding to the discourse with this burgeoning series of events.