As web 2.0 has settled into its position as a major marketing and media tool, much of Rethink Music last week was focused on how to use, but not abuse, the endless possibilities of the web. Billed as a "solutions-focused event" to "foster solutions for tomorrow's music industry," the Berklee hosted conference ranged from topics as specific as alternative revenue streams for artists to ones as broad as hypotheses for the future of the industry.
Best of the new music industry
On the digital forefront, execs from online music publication Pitchfork and music video website VEVO weighed in on how their companies established a brand.
"Our goal was to build something to trust — to cut through the noise," said Pitchfork president Chris Kaskie on how the independent startup became a household name.
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It was easier for VEVO, an ad-based online music video outlet, as their videos — primarily by artists on major labels — are distributed through hugely popular YouTube.
President of VEVO Rio Caraeff thinks that "video is the new A&R," or the new way of breaking acts — surely, OK Go and Justin Bieber would agree.
Directly after a panel touting the importance of linking bands and brands (see: Mountain Dew's in-house record label, the Doritos stage at SXSW), David Viecelli of major booking company Billions Corp. warned of the pitfalls of this system.
"Because brands now play a larger role in artist development, it's no longer just a means to an end," explained Viecelli.
Furthermore, successful artists from GZA of Wu Tang Clan to Portugal. the Man have continually relied on seemingly 'antique' promotional tools like street teaming... or simply hanging with fans after shows.
And, after all, no amount of social media marketing can make up for the simple bottom line.
"Making good music is what matters," concluded Kaskie.
The results from Hack Day, a program where hackers had two days to develop an innovative idea that pushed the boundaries of music technology, featured "Kinect Bomba," a way to control electronic music through movements of the body... and "The Byrds and the Bee(Gee)s," a tool which determines which tunes may have been played the night you were conceived.
Music videos will be more interactive with fans, according to YouTube exec Elizabeth Moody.
So long as labels can add value, they'll be around, according to Spotify exec Ken Parks.
But, they might be run by brands like Coca Cola and Converse rather than EMI and Universal, as emphasized in Rethink panels like "Building an Artist Brand."
"For our audience, we celebrate our core audience of creative people. We talk to artists every day," said Converse CMO Jeff Cottrill.