Nov 29, 2017 Arttu Närhi
Scott Cohen’s opening keynote for Slush Music Day 2 had it all. For anyone still drowsy from last night’s Day 1 Afterparty, Cohen’s inspirational speech had the pick-me-up that Slush Music is all about. He did not ask “How can we fix the industry?” but instead provoked the crowd to think “Does the industry need to be fixed?”
On the James Brown Stage, Cohen laid out the situation for the music industry. Going through what it is, point by point, it became clear the big picture is a beautiful one. Artists are making more money, labels have solid positions, independent artists can distribute their music easily, and the consumers have more and better access to music than ever before in history. Sure, many old artists are not selling quite like the contemporary ones, but Cohen points out that this is nothing new: “People in the 60’s didn’t listen to the same music as they did in the 50s,” he says.
Cohen’s picture wasn’t all rosy though. Change is ongoing; it is the state the industry has been in forever. There are new challenges on the horizon which will require action. One thing he highlighted was voice activated personal assistants, such as Amazon’s Echo. When before you browsed music alphabetically in a stack, now you simply say out loud what you want to hear, without going through a list at all. Ironically, visual marketing has been essential for music. Players in the industry have to think about the implications before the technology really breaks through.
Regarding VR, Cohen wants something that “will blow my fucking mind!”, pointing to how narrow our thinking about this technology might be. Why use a VR headset to merely watch a live concert? The potential is much greater, just like films have different potential for performing compared to theater. “I want a unique experience [from VR]. This will open up an entirely new side of the industry,” Cohen summarises.
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