Survival: Hunting and Gathering Audiences on and offline...

re:publica 2017

Short thesis: 

Digital audiences are not defined by geography, they are not constrained by passport controls, by currency borders, by FM signal coverage, they roam free in massive amorphous herds, defined by shifting culture, genre, and demographic allegiances. Are artists free to follow the great audience herds, to traps them, nurture them, harvest them, and live symbiotically with them; or are sophisticated global trading companies organising and corralling the herds, leaving artists to conform to an industrial model, or starve?


The music industry structures collapsed, why? Who cares, blame Napster, move on, what next? Re-build the same structures? What do artists want? For artists sharing their music means freedom of expression which is dependent on, and entwined with the freedom to trade.

Complex, and expensive physical product music supply chains were easily controlled by a few stakeholders. Releasing music digitally is effortless and cheap. A fundamental shift occurred, therefore rebuilding the old structures would be inappropriate and dysfunctional. Whatever takes shape... who gets control?

Control means power over acces to audiences. 

What are the levers of control when the long tail is not the same thing as demand; curation is not the same thing as choice; unlicensed is not the same thing as unvalued, user generated content is... what? Blockchains, VR, and AR are exciting new opportunities (not least for conference panels) but they are not new structures, they are functional adornments. Who controls usage data? At what point is it all too confusing for artists, and they hand over control to whoever most wants it. Can artists survive as hunter gathereres, or will they become factory workers in a new industrial structure. 

Stage L2
Monday, May 8, 2017 - 12:15 to 13:15