Sean Parker on Spotify: Convenience Rules

Sean Parker must be enjoying the remaissance of his own personal brand thanks to the portrayal of his character in The Social Network. His name and place in the history of changing media has been reinforced thanks to the film.

This week he spoke about Spotify and it's role on the digital revolution.

Parker's key point here is that the majority of people consuming media today want one thing: accessibility. Although "piracy" has enabled the download/swapping of "4-10 trillion songs" (his estimate - interesting stat?), the fact is that everyone just wants to be able to get the music that they love.

So - out of the pillars of consumer choice: price, convenience, quality and pleasure - the main factor for people consuming music right now is CONVENIENCE. For some, this is iTunes. They can search, access and purchase at the click of a button. For others - this is still the CD because it is familiar and habitual. And others - the "pirates" - know where to search for torrents and can obtain what they need as quickly as the iTunes crowd.

Parker understands this - and that Spotify delivers convenience on an unprecedented level. For an American audience who do not yet have the service, the potential acesss to a vast catalogue must be mind boggling. And so scary for the industry used to controlling access to choice.

Whether or not this puts Spotify in the potential position to have the consumer "by the balls" is another issue. The market is defined by choice - and the consumer is the driving force. With the price point low, and need for access high, Spotify is in a strong position to differentiate and lead on service. If it wants to carve out it's place in the market, it must be the best at giving us access to the greatest selection of music at our fingertips. That will keep us coming back, and keep Spotify in the game. 


Sayonara Sony Walkman

Music critics in the broadsheets rejoiced today with the opportunity to write about their childhood musical memories as Sony announced that the Walkman would no longer be in production.

Reading this news today, I actually thought I'd discovered a copy of the paper from ten years ago. Can you believe that after the changes in music distribution we have been involved in over the last decade that people have still been listening to cassettes? Really??

The tragedy here - besides being subjected to tales of broadsheet journos' teenage mix tapes - is actually the story of Sony. Once revered for quality - having given us two iconic forms of media in Betamax and the Walkman - the business has struggled to maintain its dominance in a fast moving digital marketplace. Sony had every opportunity to seize the digital revolution and evolve the Walkman into the position now occupied by Apple with the iPod. However, its attachment to the physical form of media - be it the Beta cassette or the MiniDisc - has been its ultimate downfall.

As nostalgic as the Walkman makes us feel, we cannot mourn its loss. The landscape we now inhabit offers us liberation from the physicality of music. What we have in front of us is infinitely better than the past. Lets remember briefly the joy the Walkman gave us, and move on.


MaJiKer: Bonuses-Performances-Mixes

We're very pleased to announce the release today of MaJiKer's new collection - Bonuses-Performances-Mixes.

The compilation includes 15 new tracks - five brand new songs, five live recordings taken from last year's shows in Paris, and five remixes (including one by yours truly!).

This is the eighth album out on Gaymonkey amongst our various singles and EPs. Although we're moving into a time where recorded music is more of an artist's business card than a lucrative revenue stream, I'm still very proud of every release we put out. For me it symbolises our dedication to finding a new path within this ever changing and exciting industry.

Never mind the fact that this is a brilliant selection of music from MaJiKer. You can download the album from all great MP3 stores - including, of course, iTunes.

The new video for "Strings & Wires (Wagner Remix)" is also a triumph. Directed by Raphael Neal.


Mark Zuckerberg vs. Eckhart Tolle

What does the most popular social network on the internet and a spiritual movement have in common?

Yesterday I went to see The Social Network, the movie about the ambition, friendships and betrayal that went in to creating Facebook. This is an absolutely amazing piece of cinema - based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich - that tells the story of how Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest billiionaire on the planet. I followed the film by attending a talk by Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth - two must-reads that explore how a shift in human consciousness is possible through awareness of the ego that drives our behaviour.

I was struck by two things:

Its not good enough to just have a great idea
Everyone has great ideas. We are all full of them. And rarely are they original - we combine, mashup and steal from others all the time. Zuckerberg did not invent the first ever social network site - we had Friends Reunited and MySpace long before Facebook. Eckhart Tolle is not the first to explain the ego or champion awareness - the Buddha and many other spirutual thinkers got there centuries before him.

What both of these leaders have done is take great ideas, enhance them and make them relevant. Chris Cox - Facebook's VP of product - stated in The New Yorker that "Getting there first is not what its all about. What matters always is execution." I couldn't agree more - its not what you do, its how and why you do it.

The best executed ideas spread and connect communities
Facebook took very little marketing to make its way across the planet. Eckhart Tolle has sold millions of books without masses of PR and advertising.

A New Earth became a best seller with a bit of help from Oprah Winfrey, but this was simply as a result of her recommendation of the book. Facebook attracts new users via recommendation between friends. In both examples, community is at the heart of the concept. Marketing is based on inspiration, rather than mass manipulation by shouting at a target audience.

Both of these gurus have created change in our world through the way they have developed and delivered their big ideas to us. Something for every artist to consider.

The image is a Friend Wheel of my own inner circle Facebook connections.


Bret Easton Ellis and the Literary Salon

Despite having all the tools we need to create and distribute our work, as artists we still have to make that connection with our community in order to be heard. Promotion becomes our biggest battle.

I was in Berlin last weekend at the fantastic new Soho House to see Bret Easton Ellis speak on his tour for the latest novel - Imperial Bedrooms. The event was hosted by the uber talented Damian Barr - host of the Shoreditch House Literary Salon. The insights gleaned by Barr from Easton Ellis' mind via interview were fantastic - the author is dry, witty and charming in his own sardonic way. It was apparent, however, that promoting his work can be torture to him. Tales of late night hotel food and endless carbon copy moments of fan adoration revealed his lack of enthusiasm for selling himself to his readers.

Anyone who has been on tour knows that there is little glamour in being wheeled into a city for a few hours before jetting off to the next. That overwhelming feeling that you are but a cog in the marketing machine - the travelling salesman. Without this effort, however, it becomes even more difficult to develop a connection with your audience. It's no surprise that bands that tour extensively find more favour with fans - as social animals we like to experience art outside of the solitary experience.

For writers it must be frustrating though. Reading is a much more private affair and does not offer the mass promotion opportunities on the level of music. Barr's creation of the Literary Salon format allows authors to be themselves and discuss their life and their work comfortably. The books come second to understanding and interacting with the artist at the Salon in a social atmosphere, giving literature the same promotional potential as an intimate gig.

When the audience were asked what they wanted to hear from Easton Ellis, one Berlin native shouted "won't you just read from the book?". Barr simply muttered a response on behalf of us all - "go buy the podcast". Genius.

MaJiKer - Keep The Streets Empty For Me

We had a fantastic time at The Workshop in Hoxton last week for a very intimate show from MaJiKer. The new venue is tucked away in the Roadtrip Bar on Old Street - and is a fantastic spot for new artists or if you are looking to host in a small venue.

MaJiKer performed tracks from Body-Piano-Machine alongside new tracks from the collection Bonuses-Performances-Mixes (out 26th October) - and his remix of Fever Ray's "Keep The Streets Empty For Me". A fantastic night.