Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bandwidth (Day Two)

When I attended Bandwidth last year, I had networking on my mind. I wanted to give everyone my business card and everyone a CD. I learned a lot from that experience - and came into this year's conference with different goals. Its not always about striking a deal with everyone you meet. Its about being present, being social, and sometimes a casual meeting can benefit you down the line. I felt liberated by this new philosophy.

Day two kicked off with "Word of Mouse" featuring panelists from Friendster, iMeem, Yelp and Jambase. This was a lot like the discussions of last year - exciting about the potential of social networking sites and what that means for the music business. This is still very exciting, but there was an interesting contrast between the discussions of this panel and the following one. "The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth" was a panel of indie label heads (from Absolutely Kosher, Bloodshot, Ipecac), as well as a distributor. Each expressed feeling disheartened at where the industry had gone, when "the old models don't apply, and the new ones might not be better."

While such sentiment may not be encouraging to a young label head such as myself, there were certainly useful points brought up, especially in terms of agreements. What I ultimately took from it - your role is to advance an artists career. There is no standard set agreement - it often depends on what the artist wants and what they're brining in. Be as artist friendly as possible, and stay involved in each aspect of the band's career. Moderator Christina Eichelberger from Sony/BMG raised the great point of making a social contract with your artists to "know what the expectations are."

Sub Pop's Jonathan Poneman echoed a similar sentiment while in conversation with Wired's Nancy Miller, stating that every deal is different and involves a "conversation with the artist in coming to something that feels comfortable for all parties."

Celebrating 20 years this year, Sub Pop has achieved a level of brand name recognition that I certainly aspire to. Times were certainly different when the label launched and following their lead now would probably not give you the same results. Still Poneman made the optimistic statement that I always take away from every discussion about music and technology - "There will always be a need for an entity that markets and champions music."

I certainly hope so.

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