Algorithms or authorities, which is best for music recommendations and why?

Despite talk of falling revenues across the music industry more music is written, created and produced than ever before. Much of it is freely available on countless platforms both legal and not so much so. A decade on from Napster and we’re truly living in music lover paradise and the possibilities to discover music, new and old, are overwhelming endless. But discover how exactly?

The volume of new music necessitates ways of getting it to the right ears quickly and with a minimum effort, time and/or money. As a result the possibilities of finding out about new music continue to multiply. Apple’s Ping being the latest high profile addition to the ranks of Spotify, Pandora, et al. How do those new ones fare against the old ways? Have hackers replaced music journos as gatekeepers for the hottest new shit out there? How do you find out about new music and why? Have your habits changed as new models surface or have you been praying for a reincarnation of John Peel and Lester Bangs?

Long serving NME Features Editor James McMahon kindly agreed to give us a brief history of music journalism, as well as defend its relevance in music discovery today. James currently divides his time between writing about music for The Guardian, writing graphic novels for Shortlist magazine, writing about film for Total Film and editing the music website for rock and roll people, STUNT.

In the hacker corner we are fortunate to have none other than’s parting Head of Web Product Matt Ogle who will summarise the most important innovations over the past years in music discovery and generally fight his corner.

All in all we don’t expect any blood shed, but a peaceful yet impassioned and most importantly open discussion with decisive arguments on both sides.

Also this is the first time we are at The Book Club, so please do arrive hungry and thirsty. 😉

OpenMusicMedia at SXSW

August 13, 2010

The SXSW PanelPicker is a great, democratic way to get ideas for panels and presentation in front of the SXSW organizers and it seems to be an increasingly popular way for professionals in the music, film and ‘interactive’ industries to discuss their views in public. The public can vote until the 27th August on which panels or presentations should make it to SXSW.

Three members of the OpenMusicMedia community have submitted their proposals to SXSW and we call out to all OpenMusicMedia followers to support their ideas:

Dave Haynes: Love, Music & APIs
Jonas Woost: Digital Content: What Books Should Learn From CDs and Entrepreneurs in Music
David Dufresne: Website ? Get Real. You Need A Web Empire.

Are we missing anyone? What other ideas should we vote on? Thanks for your support!

The recording industry has always been more obsessive about metrics than other entertainment areas: music charts have been a vital tool not only to measure success of songs and albums but also to act as a marketing tool for record sales.

Over the last few years we see a lot of new services that focus their business on collecting and aggregating more accurate and detailed music data. The internet has enabled those services to get access to richer data sets than the pre-web sales driven charts such as popularity and discussion around artists.

In the second OpenMusicMedia NYC we want to discuss how those companies can (or maybe cannot) help the music industry to make better decision. Questions we want to address include:

  • How important is more detailed data for the music industry?
  • Does an obsession with numbers and statistics stop companies from taking risks and therefore stop innovation?
  • Collecting data from different websites and displaying those seems straight forward – but what about interpreting them?

We have invited Alex White from Next Big Sound to lead the conversation and guide us through some of the issues of music related data aggregation. As always, this will not be a presentation but an open conversation between everyone in the room with Alex leading what could almost be called a round table discussion.

Moderating for the event will be Jonas Woost, co-founder of OpenMusicMedia as well as the former Head of Music at Jonas joins us from from his new home in Vancouver, where he is setting up a media consultancy business. Our co-moderator is Steve Savoca, global head of digital business for Domino Records and producer of OpenMusicMedia NYC.

We will meet on the 7th July at reRun and the event is free and open to everyone. However we would appreciate if you could RSVP on our facebook page. We look forward to seeing you there!

OpenMusicMedia NYC
Wednesday, July 7
at reRun (part of reBar, 147 Front St, 2nd Fl in DUMBO, 11201, Brooklyn, NY)
7-9 PM

Please RSVP on our facebook group.

After years of proclaiming the ‘death of the physical format’ we’re still celebrating the traditional independent record shops. While big chains are disappearing or changing their inventory from music to other entertainment products the local record store still seems to have an important role in music discovery and delivery.

In our next OpenMusicMedia session on the 26th May we will be joined by Stephen Godfroy who is the Director of Rough Trade Retail to discuss some of the following issues:

  • What is the current and future role of independent record shops?
  • What is the state of the physical record business?
  • With digital music becoming ubiquitous, what does that mean for physical formats?
  • What role do record shops provide for a local music scene?
  • Will record shops continue to act as a ‘filter’ for music recommendation or are they mainly a point of distribution?

We will meet again in the William IV in East London, a short walk from Old Street station. Sticking to the OpenMusicMedia formula this will be an open conversation and we’re looking forward to everyone’s contribution. All OpenMusicMedia events are free but we appreciate you RSVPing on our facebook event. To get in touch please leave a comment below or send us a message on Twitter. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, 26th May 2010 6:00 PM

at the William IV

7 Shepherdess Walk
London, N1 7QE
(Google Maps)

Important: unfortunately (and inconveniently) the William IV is now closed. However, we found a great replacement venue which we feel works very well for OpenMusicMedia; we will now meet at the Red Lion which is only a 15 min walk from the William IV (just behind Hoxton Square). You can find the details at the bottom of this post.

Joi ItoAfter months of trying to get this nailed down we are very pleased to announce that Joi Ito will be in London and joining us to lead the conversation at the next OpenMusicMedia! Joi is the CEO of Creative Commons so make sure you clear your diaries for 17th September for what looks set to be a great session.

Most of you will probably have heard of Creative Commons already, but we think that it’s a topic that is not discussed enough by a music industry that has traditionally built its business around a different view of copyright. There’s lots to discuss and we’ll only have one evening, but here are just a few of issues that we’d like to talk about:

  • What role does Creative Commons have to play within the music industry?
  • Does CC mean we are just giving away our music for free and no one makes any money?
  • The existing licensing structure for the music industry has been working for so many years, is CC just making it more complex?

As always we want you to get involved as much as possible in the conversation – before, during & after. We’ll be meeting at around 6pm and the talk will start at 7pm, usually lasting around an hour. We strongly recommend that you stick around after as often the best part of the conversation happens over a beer or two.

The event is free and open to everyone but please RSVP on Facebook to help us working out how many people will attend. Please note that we expect this to be a busy night so we recommend arriving early in order to find a seat. If you’re late we can’t guarantee entry. Leave a comment below or contact us on Twitter if you have any questions.

Thursday, 17th September 2009
6:00 PM


Red Lion
41 Hoxton Street (at the corner to Mundy St)
London, N1 6NH, UK
(Google Maps)

William IV

7 Shepherdess Walk
London, EnglandN1 7QE
(Yahoo! Maps, Google Maps)

Thanks to Dubber & Jez

August 13, 2009

Music As Culture

Just wanted to say thanks to Dubber & Jez for coming down and leading a great conversation about ‘Music As Culture’. For more information and to continue the discussion head over to Dubber’s blog on the subject at

And for those of you who came along you might have heard Dubber make mention of some conversations he’d had with Matt Mason, author of the book The Pirate’s Dilemma so we thought we’d leave you with some short snippets of that.

Music as Culture by jonhickman, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License by  jonhickman

We wanted to do something slightly different for this next meetup, we wanted to discuss ‘Music As Culture’. Leading the conversation will be New Music Strategies’ Andrew Dubber and Jez Collins. This conversation actually started at Unconvention Salford but we felt it was one worth continuing down in London for OpenMusicMedia. But what exactly does ‘Music As Culture’ entail? We’ll leave it to Dubber to explain below…

Music As Culture

It’s no surprise to anyone that the music industries are struggling in the digital age. Faced with a filesharing populace, an incredible array of media choices, a tough economic climate, and plenty of other things for people to spend money on, it can be pretty tight for a lot of people in the industries.

Recent research demonstrates a link from openness and inclusion to massive untapped potential for all kinds of businesses. Consumers have a bigger say in the fate of the industries than ever before – and while they recognise the commercial aspects of music business, they do not accept that old systems of control are relevant to them anymore.

By empowering consumers, opening access to archives and for scholarship, enriching the public domain, according popular music the same cultural status as classical and folk musics, and treating audiences as part of the music process (rather than as merely passive consumers), the society we live in is a much richer and vibrant one.

It’s good for culture, it’s good for the economy, it invigorates local scenes, it’s a lifeline for artists – and it’s great for business. In fact, it might just be what saves the music industries.

As always this will be an open discussion and you will set the agenda for the night. We’ll be starting the discussion at around 7pm but feel free to be there by 6pm and have a drink with us. You can find all the details below, if you have any questions, leave a comment or contact us via twitter.

The event is free to open to everyone but if you can please RSVP at our new Facebook group.

Tuesday, 11th August 2009
6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

William IV

7 Shepherdess Walk
London, England N1 7QE

Because of the tube strike in London we had to cancel this event but we have now confirmed a new date.

We look forward to seeing you on the 1st July 2009 at the William to discuss Videos & Music. You can find all details below:

In all our previous OpenMusicMedia sessions the focus has primarily been on music – we talked about recommendations, live music, different ways of consuming recorded music and of course how the whole ecosystem of music works (or not) and what has to happen to make it work in the future.

Radar Music VideosFor our next night we want to discuss an art form which has always been closely related to music: videos. We have invited Caroline Bottomley who is the founder of Radar Music Videos, “a music video commissioning platform and music video director network” to present us with her ideas on the future of music videos. She will be explaining why her website is important for musicians and video producers and from there we will try and explore how digital technology has been affecting visual content.

As always the conversation will kept very broad – topics we want to talk about include:

  • Do artists need music videos these days?
  • Is it easier of harder to get exposure for your music videos in the age of YouTube?
  • What makes a video ‘viral’?

As always this will be an open discussion and you will set the topics for this night. We’ll be starting the discussion at around 7pm but feel free to be there by 6pm and have a drink with us. You can find all the details below, if you have any questions, leave a comment or contact us via twitter.

The event is free to open to everyone but if you can please RSVP at our new Facebook group.

Wednesday, 10th June 2009
Wednesday, 1st July 2009
6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

William IV

7 Shepherdess Walk
London, England N1 7QE

We’ve used a Kevin Kelly quote before as the basis for an OpenMusicMedia meetup. Back then it was his “1000 True Fans” hypothesis, now it’s his thoughts in ‘Better Than Owning‘ that we draw on:

Ownership is not as important as it once was. Very likely, in the near future, I won’t “own” any music, or books, or movies. Instead I will have immediate access to all music, all books, all movies using an always-on service, via a subscription fee or tax. I won’t buy – as in make a decision to own — any individual music or books because I can simply request to see or hear them on demand from the stream of ALL. I may pay for them in bulk but I won’t own them. The request to enjoy a work is thus separated from the more complicated choice of whether I want to “own” it. I can consume a movie, music or book without having to decide or follow up on ownership.

SpotifyA company that subscribes to this vision is Spotify, recently launching their new streaming music service that gives listeners free and legal access to millions of tracks via their desktop client.  It’s a service that has proved popular amongst early adopters and is already changing the way that many people access music. So we’re very excited to have Spotify as our special guests on March 10th extending the discussion to some of the fundamental points that they believe in:

  • Access will more and more replace ownership
  • The URL is the new MP3
  • It’s not about one business model, its about a plethora.
  • To compete with Piracy, content and speed are key factors
  • So what is Spotify’s business model? Will it succeed? Can access be funded by advertising? Are there times when ownership is important? What are main benefits off the access model? And what are the implications for the music industry?

    These are just some of the questions we’ll be asking each other. So come on down and join in the conversation! We’re expecting it to be very busy so make sure you get down early. We’ll be there from 6pm and we usually start upstairs at around 7pm-ish. Venue details below. Please RSVP at our new Facebook group

    Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
    6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

    William IV

    7 Shepherdess Walk
    London, England N1 7QE
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    A belated thank you to all those who struggled through the snowy conditions to come down to OpenMusicMedia #5 the other week. Songkick’s Ian Hogarth led a great conversation on the live music industry, an area which we hadn’t covered much before at OMM. For any of you who couldn’t make it there is a full review over at The Music Void, which includes a whole bunch of stats that Ian presented for us on the evening.

    We were also very luck to have Dubber record an interview with Ian before we started the main session upstairs. If you don’t know Dubber already he (amongst other things) writes the excellent New Music Strategies blog. Make sure you check it out and stick it in your RSS reader.

    Look forward to information about our next meetup coming next week.