Social Media Week: Creating Music for the Social Web

Social Media Week’s Creating Music for the Social Web panel, hosted by SoundCtrl, took place this morning at Hearst Magazines, the Art & Culture Content Hub for this week’s events. Pitchfork Media President Chris Kaskie kicked off the morning with a keynote speech, where he talked about Pitchfork’s role as a kind of music discovery curator.

In the evolving world of music, where listeners are not only discovering songs and artists through their friends, but also through automated listening processes like Pandora, Pitchfork is using social media in conjunction with its website as a means of maintaining contextual relevancy and trustworthiness for its fans.  Kaskie pointed out how the definition of “music ownership” is changing, and that some day he’ll leave his kids with “logins to cloud accounts and not record collections.” And while it isn’t Pitchfork’s responsibility to figure out how musicians can continue to generate revenue in light of this change in music consumption, he feels it is Pitchfork’s responsibility to cover music that their audience is interested in.

At present, Pitchfork finds that Twitter and Tumblr are two social media networks that augment their audience’s music discovery experience–as platforms to have conversations (Pitchfork.com does not allow user comments) and also to find content that is re-contextualized from Pitchfork.com.

Creating Music for the Social Web

The panel included a range of industry professionals: Jessie Kirshbaum (Nue Agency and SoundCtrl), Maura Johnson (Music Editor at Village Voice), Josh Deutsch (CEO at Downtown Music), Asher Roth (rapper) and Chris Kaskie (President at Pitchfork Media).

The panel, lead by Josh Deutsch, discussed the role that the web has played in the music business. Asher Roth, the only musician on the panel, gave insight into how the musician is tasked with not only creating music, but also navigating the social space in a way that is effective and efficient. Because, as he remarked, it seems that right now there are “so many tools…I just need a knife and a fork.”

Creating music for the social web, however, can be a liberating process. The creative freedom that comes from being unbound by the expectations and constraints imposed by traditional record labels can be a major reward for an artist. Kaskie also pointed out that although there are many record labels doing great things, today people don’t pay as much attention to record labels. The production, distribution and success of an artist all come down to the audience’s interest level in the music and the artist. Fans are often artists’ greatest promoters, taking it upon themselves to tweet, share and blog about the music.  So in essence, all musicians are on the same playing field. There are varying degrees of popularity and production quality, but because musicians now have the ability to create and release songs from their bedrooms, critics like Pitchfork, will treat the music the same.  To quote Maura Johnson, “If the craft is there, it’s there despite the business side.”

Take-Aways From the Panel

The social web continues to create opportunities for musicians. Artists need to be able to find out what works for them. They must be mindful of focusing on those networks that will help achieve their specific goals. As Josh Deutsch answered when asked what the top things an artist should know to get their music in front of the right music curators and editors, “it all depends on who you are as an artist and what you want to accomplish.”

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