SF Music Tech: The Bits in the Beats


The San Francisco Bay Area is fast becoming the hot-bed of music and technology. Both Pandora and Mog are in Berkeley's backyard (Oakland and Berkeley, respectively). The MBA experience at Haas is more than just the curriculum and the community in Haas, but being an MBA provides tons of opportunities to network and make new connections. Brian Zisk, who was a former panelist for the >play conference, organizes a semi-annual conference.

Having attended the SF Music Tech Summit in December, I was thoroughly surprised that a mere six months later, 700+ people would be filling the Kabuki Hotel in Japantown for another pow-wow.

The underlying theme was to recognize the power of proper data analytics and management to empower the music ecosystem.

As the music industry adapts to the digital age, the attendees were stress that there will always be music. As the industry seeks new business models, it was made clear that many of the companies aren’t re-inventing the way people interact with content and music, but looking towards data analytics as a guiding light to new monetization models.

From Cisco’s Eos’ technology enabling both front-end and more importantly, back-end management Saas solution for enterprises to Pandora conscientiously tracking its users to pair growth with capital investments the tone to both artists and businesses was that in order to succeed, one needs to see the numbers in music.

Know who your audience is and where there are
There is no silver bullet. Gone are the days where listeners flock to the artist. Gone are the days of mono-channel distribution. While artists and their promoters are in search for a general recommendation, figure out where your listeners are and go to them.

Susan Boyle
Case in Point: Susan Boyle's CD Sales

Case in Point: Susan Boyle
Simon Cowell saw $$ when she got up on that stage and cleared her windpipes. The label was clearly shocked when her CD went on sale—91% of recorded sales were from physical DVDs. Thinking that digital sales were not being accounted for, the label soon learned that Boyle’s audience watched on YouTube, but still purchased plastic CDs.

There were also some great quotes:

  • Monetization through Hypersyndication: Get your data out there, actively send out your info. It’s about distribution, give them the data so that it’s clean, so it doesn’t rely on user submissions. Hypersyndication will enable artists to find new ways to get paid." Darryl Ballantyne, LyricFind
  • Understanding Your Point on a Growth Curve: "We've always been vigorous with our analytics. However, it can be surprising. For the first couple of years, our growth over time was surprisingly linear. When you're in the early part of the exponential growth curve, it looks very linear." Tom Conrad, Pandora
  • Comparing Android v. iPhone OS: "You can push faster and iterate to learn with Android. Android is good for acquisition. For the iPhone, its the opposite. We've received pushback from user registration, often a week to two weeks. But with the iPhone, we get more paid conversions." Warren Wan, Dada Entertainment
  • On Multitasking Functionality for the Phone: " When you can run things in the background, companies will be able to use background information to trigger events or discovery." Reno Marioni, Nokia

It was great to dive into the conference. The greatest value from attending the conference isn’t just the download from the panels, but from the conversations in between the panel. I was able to meet some amazing minds! From learning about JamLegends, meeting A&R managers, and networking with entrepreneurs to exploring a partnership with the SF Chapter of the Grammy’s I was grateful that the conference was in Japantown—I walked down the block to carbo load at my favorite ramen shop.

Pictures from Flickr:

A variation of the post was taken from the DMEC blog.


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