Mesh and The Future of Entertainment

The Future of Entertainment – “The People Formerly Known as the Audience”

Jian Ghomeshi talks with McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves, Amber MacArthur and Ethan Kaplan.

This primarliy focused on music..and DRM

Jian: what is the biggest change in the last 12 months?

Ethan: record sales are down, did not recover after holidays this time; there has been a new focus on its not going to go back to when the streets were paved with gold and cocaine. there is an effort not to to fix it but look forward to a new direction the technology is there to create a direct relationship for the fan. its; not rocket science, its not expensive, we have to create different value propositions.

Amber: there is credibility in NewMedia, look how I’ve changed. it;s changed so much as the people have so much more power; people believe the web is here to stay; people are jumping ship, they are internet hippies, people going own way.

McLean: lots of quiet changes; cell phone video conferences, Nitro 32MB bandwidth, WiMax, portable internet. we’ll see the impact in the next 2 years.

Jian: I want to stick with Sam the record man – the music store to go to in Toronto and it is now gone. the audience is no longer passive, they want what they want, they get it. I want to test that theory. When I wanted to buy my favourite INXS record (as a kid) I had to get up, dress, get on the subway, go to the Sam the record man, buy the whole album, go back home and then play it. It seemed to me that I was really invested in the record. that feels like a non-passive experience. are people investing more now or less?

McLean: I think they are investing more, they can consumer more content in the past. ipod can carry thousands of tracks, they can listen to a lot more; burn DVDs, swap harddrives. it gets easier to share more. We will suffer from continuos partial attention.

Amber: CPA – we consume more but less of each. do we get loyal;ty, people jump ship, will they leave facebook? you need a long term strategy to get people hooked on it as the next big thing is round the corner, I wonder about long term, there’s not a long lifespan. I’m not sure. I feel they are getting more content but spending less time with it.

Ethan: the illusion of passive consumption was maintained by the companies, to maintain the exclusivity but dies a few years ago. The major companies are starting to change; the active movement was always there, ie punk. all the modalities have broken down and crumbled, the content from the performer. there’s a refocusing t the centre instead of the endgame. music is just binary data through a pipe..the same as the rest of the stuff. It’s more about the hole package.

Jian: is there something intrinsic in making things harder to get. does the ease of getting things devalue it?

Amber: it;s a global audience, get it out to as many people and then figure out how to make money. That could be the new model.

McLean – with rapspace, the investment with the audience is a lot different to the past. there are different ways to build loyalty, connecting with people who hope the new people succeed.

Jian: how do you (Ethan) get people attached to new stuff,

Ehtan: the notion of creating an attachment is where it comes fun. we have to embrace the notion that readily available content has crated a situation where we don;t have to strive for the original but treat it as a sandbox, but take the loyalty to the brand and the sea of content and create the attachment. A record label is not completely evil; we have to think creatively how we deal with it. Michael Buble – you have to treat him as a personality, not the record as a product. Buble had a core audience but we had to extend it; like no flash websites, change it to be blog friendly, do all other stuff. we had to do a bunch of video stuff. There was a set process to create a record, Now, it is a more collaborative process, make it an event when a record release is just part of it. look at engaging the fans in the way they want to be engaged, use the medium in the way ot can be, not just how you want to be it.

Jian: avril lavean, 3million ring tones in Japan, plenty of changes. mcLean said that was fine for an established artist like avril; so for a smaller group how do you build it.

McLean: you can build a brand on the web, you take the tools that are out there, out your image and stuff where it can be. YOu have to have traditional distribution at some point but web stuff can build a lot.

Jian: of they are up against millions of other artists where they weren’t before?

McLean: certain artists just create a buzz straight away.

Jian: has the responsibilities of artists changed in becoming more accessible

Amber: yes, transparency is important, engage your audience and know what they want. you have to be active and involved and you see people doing it know. Look at Tome Green, on his site, live internet, he bypasses all the rest of the BS and take things into his own hands.

Q: people want to feel it is there music; DRM is a barrier.

Ethan: DRM is a very small piece of a very large problem, the removal of it will not ness increase or decrease the same. Now you have Digital rights metatdata, with your name and email address in the track. (itunes) It’s a quality issue, that problem is not going to be fixed or helped through DRM. it;s a value chain issue, you need to think about it abstractly instead of reactively, and that is where the DRM becomes a very small part.

Q: the world view of DRM comes from the content captors, that does not take into account the users. YOu see it from the corporate viewpoint, not from the people who make the culture together. Culture does belong to the people and not to the content capturers.

Ethan: I knew I was going to get owned..I was expecting Cory! As a Warner Br employee, I say that the problem is complex, that there is more than one pov. DRM is a reactionary measure against a larger view of consumer behaviour, is it the right one? maybe not? do i think DRM is the future? I don;t know. the issue is a lot more complex. than that. As a music lover, I know what I want. I control consumer facing websites and technologies; i consult on distribution but it is not something that I can directly effect. [Ethan being very diplomatic about what he thinks personally and what he can say as a WB employee!]

Q: if 80% of ad revenue went to web and only 20% to TV, would there be a DRM issue?

Ethan: how would you see the ad revenue meshing with performance rights etc? Would music be a loss leader? how do you get money to the artist? I’m working with drupal to build a platform, so we can take ownership of the whole brand, of all the aspects; we need to create a brand around the whole artist and control that. The grateful dead relaunched this morning using drupal;’ we are trying to be smart and not do something good, not be reactionary. do some planning.

mcLean – we are building to monetise the artist without just selling mp3s and music. companies have to work out how to use the emerging platforms and not just sell a piece of plastic that was overpriced in the first place.

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