miércoles, septiembre 29, 2010

Queda la música

Son tiempos turbulentos para la música, tiempos interesantes. Un recorrido de diversas fuentes que analizan la actualidad del sector y posibles escenarios a futuro permite vislumbrar algunas tendencias:

1. Los sellos discográficos evolucionan o quedan fuera del negocio

Esto, por supuesto, no es novedoso. Lo extraño es que tarden tanto tiempo en avivarse. En el artículo Take us to the River de la edición Julio/Agosto de Fast Company Warner Music Group "descubre" que su negocio tiene que ver con promocionar todos los aspectos vinculados a la música y también con apostar a la tecnología:
"The artist was like a sugarcane worker," says Devo frontman Jerry Casale of the good old days for the record business, which were the bad old days for many musicians. We're backstage at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in April, a traffic-jam-with-soundtrack east of the San Jacinto Mountains near Los Angeles. Casale, pairing a royal blue suit with a black tie and looking very much the new-wave pioneer, has no love for the labels after 30-plus years in the business. But last November, Devo signed a 360 deal with Warner Bros. Records, and he's here to rebrand his band.

"This wasn't our first idea, believe me," Casale says. "There was a lot of hot air from the cognoscenti in the business world about how record labels are dead, you can make a deal with a sponsor, get marketing money from Dell or somebody like that. Well, forget it." If that was ever true, Casale says, those days are already gone. "[Event promoter] AEG and Live Nation blew their whole wad on major names."

Casale bought in because of the label's willingness to try something different with the promotional budget. "We said, 'You're going to take your marketing money and give it to the ad agency Mother,' " Casale says. "And they said okay."

2. Los artistas tiene que tirarse de cabeza a la pileta de las redes sociales

Marillion es un buen ejemplo de valentía frente a la incertidumbre, como lo demuestra Mark Kelly en esta entrevista para el blog de Midem:

Even in the days of Usenet you were involved in Marillion discussion forums, am I remembering that right?

Mark Kelly: It was a mailing list. It wasn't official, it was run by a guy in Holland. Very interestingly, the vast majority of the fans on that list were Americans. I think mainly because they probably adopted the whole Internet thing a bit earlier than the Europeans. I just thought it was quite interesting that there was all these fans. I think there was only about 1,000 of them on the list, but just discussing Marillion, Marillion songs, lyrics, what we were doing. And so I signed up to it when I had Internet access or dial-up, you know, and I used to just read it and I was a lurker, nobody knew I was reading it.

After a year or two I blew my cover. I can't remember why but it was probably to correct somebody who said something that was completely wrong (laughs). And so in the process I started to get all the questions from people about why we weren't touring the States and all that sort of thing. And I tried to explain that we didn't have a record deal in the States and every time we did tour in the past it had always been with money from the record company. So then there was a guy from Canada said, "Oh well, why don't we raise the money for you to come and tour?" They opened a bank account and everybody who was interested donated money into it and then they raised about $60,000.

Actually, by this point, once they had said all this I was like, "Well I think you're a bit crazy but if you want to do it. I mean, obviously we can't have anything to do with it, but if you guys want to go ahead and organize it, we're not taking the money." Some guy said, "I'll set up an escrow bank account and we'll put it all in there." Anyway, within a few weeks it had about $20,000 and I hadn't even told the rest of the band at this point what was going on, so I had to sort of break the news to them how we'd gotten into this situation where if they-- I think I said we'd need about $50,000 to make it, break even.

Anyway, we did the tour. And oddly enough, because of the story around it we got quite a lot of publicity which meant we sold more tickets than usual because there was-- each gig that we were playing there'd be a little local newspaper or whatever would run the story about the tour fund and how the American fans had raised the money for us to tour. So it was this sort of interesting story in itself whether or not you knew anything about Marillion, you know.

That was an interesting lesson actually for us: to raise the band's profile, finding a story that sort of transcends music is a good thing. So anyway we did the tour. And I suppose that was our first realization of the power of the Internet and how rabid fans can change things, make things happen.

La clave sigue siendo encontrar una buena historia que atrape a los amantes de la música.

3. El futuro llegó hace rato: Apostar a la innovación

Algunos indicadores pueden alarmar a quienes celebran el advenimiento de la "era Itunes": De acuerdo con Mark Mulligan, de Forrester, las descargas (legales e ilegales) tenderán a caer en el mediano y largo plazo. Mulligan pone el ojo en Apple como posible salida pero advierte que la empresa está siempre varios pasos adelante del resto que los dinosaurios de la industria de la música:

When Apple looks beyond music.

The final piece of the puzzle is that Apple’s sights are now set on much bigger horizons than the comparatively narrow confines of music. In the days when their devices had monochrome screens music was the killer app. But now in the days of the iPhone and iPad music has been shunted aside by downloads of all other kinds of apps…3 billion of them. Music no longer powerfully demonstrates the capabilities of Apple’s devices.

Innovate the product, control the future.

Apple can absolutely be as important a driving force in the next chapter of digital music’s growth as it was in the first. But only if labels, publishers and artists alike engage Apple and other device manufacturers are product innovators. Until we have a series of new music products that utilize all of the creative assets of a device such as the iPad, download sales will rapidly lose relevance. And as well they should. The paid download was a transition technology and no more. It was useful for bridging the divide between the analogue and digital ages but it has run its course. But until new music products arrive the slow demise of the download will also be the slow demise of digital revenues. Streaming services, apps and the rest are all parts of the puzzle. But the music industry needs a new killer premium music product to pivot around.

It is time for a new generation of music products to herald in The First Golden Age of Digital Music...

Warner, en el artículo en Fast Company, parece reconocer este desafío y empieza a apostar sus billetes analógicos la hibridación tecnológica:

The two divisions push each other to break new tech experiments. Atlantic has used its artist Web sites to do things like reward people who purchase albums with personalized videos (Trey Songz recorded his shirtless). Jonathan Tyler fans get free downloads of his band's live performances. The day of Shinedown's St. Louis show, Atlantic updated the band's Web site with the latest features from Cisco's Eos social-networking platform. The technology lets fans post concert videos and pictures and allows Atlantic to offer full streams of songs for site members. The following week, Smith comes to New York to get a tutorial on the new features and does an impromptu video chat from a studio Atlantic has designated for the specific purpose of having artists record online content. Despite the short notice -- Atlantic sent an email to registered members just a couple of hours earlier -- about 1,000 fans show up.

De todos modos, la mayor parte de la industria le tiene terror a la tecnología. Rob MacArthur, de IOUmusic, con mucha lucidez, propone el remedio: Que las compañías ofrezcan licencias gratuitas a los desarrolladores de aplicaciones para luego asociarse a los resultados. De esta manera se liberan de mantener costosas unidades de investigación y desarrollo pero promueven activamente la innovación en la industria de la música:

Others have mentioned similar ideas to this but if I ran a major I would offer start-ups a blanket licenses for say 2 years. They’d have unfettered access to the catalogue with no upfront fee – or at least not something significant, maybe a small enough fee to act as a screening tool or buffer. But also upfront, the label would provide a fee for ongoing rights after the 2 year period. This would eliminate costly fees upfront for the start-ups, give them music to work with and place the responsibility fully in their hands to make it work or not knowing what it would cost after the grace period. Add a clause that if the service isn’t self sustaining the label has a right of first refusal to purchase the technology developed.

También prescribe una posición mucho más laxa e inteligente con relación a la propiedad intelectual, siguiendo el modelo de la industria de la moda:

I should be able to go to any site and see or listen to any music. It shouldn’t matter where the rights’ holders reside or anything like that. Right now Arcade Fire is, well on fire, and they own all the rights to their music and publishing. That should be the model going forward. So we have new artists coming up in that model, yet historically we have something completely different and cumbersome in existing copyrights laws and ideals on enforcing them. Something’s going to have to give, and artists are used to struggling, so I, for one, am putting my money there. They have the most to gain too. And they desire it.

If there were relaxed copyright laws, the industry argues there would be a widespread loss in revenue. My argument there is that there would be more opportunity to earn revenue and profits that that would be the outcome. Image if more people could pursue music in the style of GirlTalk.

Mientras tanto, en Buenos Aires, se está gestando una mesa de discusión coordinada por gente del Club del Disco, apoyada por nuestro programa Opción Música, e integrada por referentes de todos los sectores en la industria de la música. ¡Cómo dijimos más arriba, son tiempos interesantes!

PD: Esta semana se cumplen 10 años de la muerte del genio Cuchi Leguizamón (y Guillermo Klein propone la mejor forma de recordarlo).

sábado, septiembre 25, 2010

Cuidado con la innovación

El artículo The Innovation delusion puede leerse como un saludable baldazo de agua fría para todos aquellos que ensalzan a la innovación como la última "gran cosa" en las empresas:

If you want to be a truly innovative company, first off you have to realise that a lot of the money and time you’re spending might never result in a new product or service, which is often really hard for companies to bear, because they hope that by spending a lot of money in R&D within two or three years they’ll get this massive rich vein of content or products. Innovation doesn’t really work like that. It happens through people spending time looking at markets, looking at how people are using services, and there is a chance that from that something innovative might pop up – but also there is a very real chance that nothing will happen.

Lamentablemente estos debates no abundan en Argentina. En un escenario macroeconómico cada vez más proteccionista parece urgente plantearnos cómo pensamos competir, a fin de proteger con inteligencia, sin generar inflación y promoviendo el recambio tecnológico.

La innovación, por otro lado, no implica necesariamente apostar a una chispa de genialidad:

The other thing is, a lot of people think innovation is about creating something from nothing, it’s this spark of genius. Actually most of the time innovation doesn’t even exist, because it’s people building on products they’ve seen before.

Los resultados del programa de Apoyo a la Competitividad de las Pymes, que nuestro Ministerio viene desarrollando con éxito desde hace ya tres años, dan cuenta de un montón de procesos de innovación para nada revolucionarios pero definitivamente relevantes a la hora de garantizar el crecimiento de las empresas participantes. Quizás entre todos estos casos podamos escribir una historia de la innovación all´uso nostro...

miércoles, septiembre 22, 2010

Hágalo usted mismo

El espacio público está en permanente mutación y los gobiernos ya no tienen el monopolio de las ciudades. Como señala Andy Beckett en The Guardian, los ciudadanos se están volviendo más creativos a la hora de aprovechar los espacios ignorados por los desarrolladores:

Yet, in the crevices the developers have left behind, there is a counter-trend at work. You can see it in the guerrilla gardening movement and the boom in music festivals; in the vogue for temporary "pop-up" shops, restaurants and cinemas in empty urban spaces; in the artists occupying disused high-street stores from Durham to Margate; in the sudden appearance and popularity in London of outdoor ping-pong tables; and in the Edinburgh crowds last summer queueing to see spooky late-night art installations in the city's usually staid Royal Botanic Garden.

El autor menciona el ambivalente rol del Estado, crecientemente inclinado a permitir y hasta promover este tipo de iniciativas que antaño florecían al margen. En nuestra región todavía abunda la timidez desde lo público pero, por suerte, sobra creatividad. La foto que ilustra el post es del Park(ing) Day recientemente organizado en Buenos Aires por Transeúnte Argentina y es uno de los muchos ejemplos de las cosas buenas que están pasando aquí abajo. De hecho, dan ganas de irse a Córdoba para visitar la muestra (¿o experiencia?) "¡Afuera!. arte en espacios públicos".

La ciudad, al fin y al cabo, está preñada de posibilidades. La clave es mirarla con los ojos bien abiertos y pensarla para todos, con amor por los árboles y también el asfalto.

viernes, septiembre 17, 2010

Contame tu ciudad

Ahora que más del 50% de los habitantes del planeta se ha vuelto urbana las ciudades están de moda. Casi todas las semanas surgen nuevos encuentros y publicaciones que buscan reflexionar sobre cómo "humanizar" las ciudades y las industrias creativas constituyen habitualmente uno de los ejes de esas discusiones.

Tim Jones explica el tema claramente en esta invitación a Creative Places + Spaces, un evento que se desarrolló en Toronto el año pasado:

La colaboración aparece así como tema central de una conversación que involucra arte, tecnología, urbanismo y gobierno y se traduce en proyectos puntuales para generar una apropiación positiva del espacio público pero también en proyectos ambiciosos para diseñar y re-diseñar ciudades. La nueva palabra de moda en estos circuitos es creative placemaking (y Richard Florida su evangelista más cotizado).

Hace tiempo que vengo masticando la idea de pensar a la tecnología como la herramienta que permite justamente humanizar el espacio púbico a través de la capacidad de hacer aflorar y circular historias, tema que captura muy bien este comentario:

Sharing all the stories of a location, a town, or an institution, stories told in words, images, shapes, movement, or sound can lead to a strong vision for space that transcends the physical. A vision that causes all projects relating to that space to be connected without having to be visually unified (or boring). A vision that more formal historical and cultural contextualisation often lacks.

Sería interesante generar un debate a nivel local. El lugar común nos dice que como resultado de la crisis del 2001 muchas personas se refugiaron en el arte para luego desarrollar proyectos productivos a partir de las industrias culturales y creativas. Podríamos partir de esa base para documentar y entender el fenómeno y luego ir un paso más allá para pensar su despliegue en el espacio. El gobierno podría meterse fuerte a terciar en la cuestión a partir de incentivos concretos. Sea como sea, sólo puede pensarse a la ciudad como matriz creativa en la medida que estén todos a bordo. Si no logramos integrar en nuestras propuestas al 100% de los ciudadanos no iremos más allá de un intercambio de ideas frívolo y sectario.

martes, septiembre 14, 2010

Fashion unprotected

Navegando a la deriva encontré este video fascinante de Johanna Blakley sobre la protección a la propiedad intelectual (o su inexistencia) y la industria de la moda. Hay demasiados insights en esta charla como para intentar reflejarlos en un pobre post. ¡Vean el video! De todos modos, es interesante pensar la posibilidad de aplicar los conceptos de la "cultura de la copia" a otras industrias que sufren la doble amenaza de las tecnologías sociales y la piratería. De hecho, una de las últimas diapositivas muestra el crecimiento de las industrias que operan en ambientes de baja protección a la propiedad intelectural vs. los demás. Sigan el proyecto en Ready to Share.

viernes, septiembre 10, 2010

And the band played on

Siguiendo con los temas discutidos en la nota del Suplemento No sobre Twitter y música, vale la pena darse una vuelta por esta entrevista del blog de Midem al bajista Steve Lawson. El músico plantea una apuesta contundente a la piedra filosofal de una época moldeada por las redes sociales: La capacidad de contar una buena historia.

How were interacting with your audiences early in your career?

Steve Lawson: When I started doing the Howard Jones tour which was 1999, that’s when I first started a blog. It wasn’t called a blog then because blogging didn’t exist. But I started to do a daily diary update on my website. And it was me saying, “Hi. We played in Berlin today. And we did this and this and this and I went sightseeing.” And so my news-- what had previously been the news page on my site became this kind of ongoing diary of what I was up to. And I found that -- yeah, it’s blatantly obvious to us now -- that was far more engaging than a list of upcoming gigs. And so I was getting people coming back to the site time-and-time again. I think early on, someone said to me, they would tell me the statistic that said if someone comes back to a website three times and it hasn’t changed they’ll never come back again.

And that was in the forefront of my mind. I want my site to be constantly evolving. And what’s what a blog allows you to do, obviously, but at the time it was the news page. And I was a journalist. I mean part of my skill set as well as playing-- making weird noises with a bass is that I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always been a communicator and a teacher. And so it’s the way that the web allowed me to blend all of that into this kind of evolving transmedia narrative, where I was writing about music, playing music without words and teaching people how to do both.

Con respecto a Facebook, Lawson plantea sus dudas como quien recela de la comodidad plástica, adormecedora, de los supermercados:

And then you’re on Facebook.

Lawson: I’m not sure about it. The jury is out on Facebook. Every now and, again, I think I’m going to can the whole thing and just leave it. Because I don’t like the social engineering of it as a platform. I don’t like the fact that the site itself isn’t honest about what it wants from us. There’s a kind of weird social libertarian aspect to what they’re trying to make us do with the site. And it’s kind of-- you must have more friends, you must have more connections, you must put more information about yourself so that we can harvest it and sell it. And it’s like, yeah, what if I don’t want to? I can’t switch off the constant nagging from them.

lunes, septiembre 06, 2010

Derrochando talento

A fines del mes pasado nos visitó en el CMD Fernanda Cohen, ilustradora argentina radicada hace tiempo en Nueva York. Charlamos durante un rato largo sobre su experiencia y proyectos. Fernanda da clases en la prestigiosa School of Visual Arts y ha trabajado con un pelotón de grandes marcas y diseñadores, del país y del exterior. Entre muchas otras conferencias, se destaca su participación como panelista en Icon 2010, uno de los eventos más importantes del mundo de la ilustración. Fernanda es una de las tantas personalidades del diseño que estamos entrevistando para el video que presentaremos en la inauguración de nuestro edificio, que finalmente se realizará el próximo 14 de octubre.

Por fortuna tengo un trabajo que me expone constantemente al talento de los argentinos y por suerte vivimos en un país pródigo en la materia. Fernanda es parte de una nueva generación más global que las anteriores y menos marcada por la pertenencia a una determinada diáspora. De hecho, en su horizonte caben proyectos en Buenos Aires y Nueva York y parece cómoda con un pie en cada lado.

Otro proyecto pendiente que me gustaría impulsar desde el CMD es justamente un mapa interactivo del talento creativo de los argentinos en el mundo... Ya veremos.

viernes, septiembre 03, 2010

El Hacker

Vale la pena leer el artículo The Forthcoming Argentinean E-book Market escrito por Octavio Kulesz con una valentía y una lucidez admirables. Octavio describe claramente el letargo en el que está todavía sumida la industria editorial de nuestro país, a pesar de algunos esfuerzos recientes para comprender los profundos cambios que están aconteciendo y luego actuar en consecuencia. Por momentos Octavio parece estar clamando en el desierto pero siempre con optimismo y propuestas bajo el brazo:

In my opinion, given that the migration of the industry won’t come from analog publishers suddenly becoming digital but from new players joining the game, what we need now is a new generation of digital publishers entering the scene and taking over. This will require a big effort from that cohort, but the attempt will be worth making, since what is at stake is no less than the vitality of the forthcoming Argentinean (e)book industry.

The young digital generation of publishers will have to experiment with new formats and with new business models. From my point of view, there must be a viable and profitable pattern for digital publishing content, because of that unquenchable thirst for online texts that citizens have started to show. Certainly, we cannot expect replicas of the old commercial scheme to work as they used to. And I daresay that even some business models related to digital that may have proved successful in the U.S. or in Europe won’t work at all in our region, so the challenge will be twofold: disenthralling ourselves of old paradigms and also doing away with certain solutions imported from the North that as such may do little to improve the current situation. This is something we permanently discuss with my colleagues from the Digital Minds Network: the digital future of emerging countries won’t have quite the same shape as that of America or Europe.

No se puede estar a favor o en contra de la tecnología: es un dato de la realidad. Argentina está bien posicionada para competir en este nuevo escenario, siempre y cuando se anime a jugar, ya que por suerte abunda el talento en nuestras pampas.

Estos y otros temas serán discutidos en nuestra Conferencia Editorial 2010, que realizaremos el 9 y 10 de Septiembre. Y aprovecho para agradecer a Octavio su colaboración con el proyecto.