“I saw rock and roll’s future and it’s name is Bruce Springsteen.”
So goes the famous quote by music critic Jon Landau written after seeing the Boss and the E-Street Band perform at Harvard Square in May of 1974. Now, in May of 2017, I find myself penning a similar sentiment after attending the Techstars Music Demo Day at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. But the future of music is now no longer a single artist or band, rather the future of music is in the hands of the listener and at the whim of the user.
It’s no secret that it’s not just musicians that make the music world spin. It’s fans, producers, publishers, agents, bookers, and so many more and at the Techstars Music Demo Day, that’s where the spotlight shone.
From the AI musicians of Amper Music and Popgun to the ticket concierge service of Robin, the folks assembled at the El Rey were focused on changing and reinventing the way music is heard and accessed. Shimmur was on hand touting a new mobile platform that aims to offer fans moments of bliss via interaction with their idols and Superpowered was there to ensure that said fans will have the power to make those moments of bliss last even longer with software designed to make mobile hardware radically more efficient.
Hurdl showed off their wares that we’ll all soon be seeing at concerts if we haven’t already: wearable LED “pixels” that both become part of an event’s light show and capture the wearer’s data to enable performers to better connect with and reach their fanbase. Syncspot’s impact on the live music scene will also no doubt be apparent soon as they seek to enable cross promotions between brands, musicians, and artists that will result in a more rewarding experience for all, especially those fans who can literally earn rewards via the platform.
Beyond all that were startups that sought to change the way music and audio is shared and played across the globe. Jaak seeks to streamline rights and usage issues – as well as the time it takes for royalty checks to arrive – via and eco-system of meta-information while Pippa has its eyes on changing the podcast game through updated ads that would benefit the listener, advertiser, and podcaster. No longer will listeners hear ads for events long past or be given promo codes from the last decade, instead Pippa will insert targeted ads based on listeners’ location and interests and in doing so keep already evergreen content even greener.
Finally, there are apps that have their designs on changing the way existing music sounds and is experienced. Pacemaker touts a return to the mixtape wherein users can mix and remix streaming files to create something called a “meta-mix.” This avoids legal problems traditionally faced by remixers by only using streams and saving the formula for the mix so it can be shared and replayed freely. Weav Music, on the other hand, is working on adaptive music technology that would literally change the pace, sound, and style of music to perfectly suit the listener’s activity.
All of these presentations may seem like pipe dreams, the wishful thinking of music fans and social media dreamers. But, they’re all very real and moments away from changing the way music and art is experienced. Don’t like a song? Change the tempo until you do. Want tickets to a band that’s not yet touring? Have your virtual concierge reserve them for you before Ticketmaster even puts them on sale. Tired of being a passive fan? Reach out and connect with your favorite artist or turn on your LED wearable and become part of the show.
This is the new future of fandom and music. Perhaps it will arrive slowly or perhaps it is already here. As technology changes the world, so too does it change us. Fans become content creators and earn their own fans. An app developer in a garage inspires a would be musician in an office. This is the new landscape of music and the Techstars Music Demo Day was a thrilling, surprising, and stunning glimpse into that new universe of possibilities.