[If] they’re paid views, call them paid views … Don’t say that 100 million people have ‘watched’ this video. YouTube is called an ‘on-demand’ streaming platform for a reason.

Below is a transcript of an interview with Amit Gurbaxani for the Water & Music podcast. Hosted by me, Cherie Hu, the podcast unpacks the fine print behind big ideas at the intersection of music and tech, featuring a curated selection of leaders, artists, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Overcast, Pocket Casts and Transistor.

Amit is a Mumbai-based freelance music journalist who contributes regularly to publications including Firstpost, Billboard and Music Ally. This past summer, he was one of the first writers to…


“I’d be going to every decent [artist] management company on the planet trying to build them an internal digital, performance and growth team, while I wait for the next medium.”

(Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash)

Below is a transcript of an interview with Garrison Snell (Founder and CEO of Nashville-based digital marketing agency Gyrosity Projects) for the Water & Music podcast. Hosted by me, Cherie Hu, the podcast unpacks the fine print behind big ideas at the intersection of music and tech, featuring a curated selection of leaders, artists, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Overcast, Pocket Casts and Transistor.

Snell founded Gyrosity two days after graduating from Belmont University, and has since worked with music clients like Billy…


Come for the music, stay for the… music? Think again.

Taylor Swift — the celebrity we all love to hate, but commercially is doing everything on point.

This is part two of a series of posts about what happens when we market musicians like tech products. You can read part one, “Breaking the Adoption Cycle,” by clicking here.

“Come for the X, stay for the Y.”

The above quote is a common maxim in tech marketing and entrepreneurship. It points to two levels of value that consumers might find in a given product: the surface-level, immediately apparent value that speaks to a direct customer pain point and inspires said customer to buy your product, and then the augmented, long-term, “discoverable” value that comes from ancillary features and…


“If artists were more in control of their own business … we would be in a really different industry.”

Below is a transcript of an interview with Kiran Gandhi (a.k.a. Madame Gandhi) for the Water & Music podcast. Hosted by me, Cherie Hu, the podcast unpacks the fine print behind big ideas at the intersection of music and tech, featuring a curated selection of leaders, artists, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Overcast, Pocket Casts and Transistor.

Formerly a touring drummer for the likes of M.I.A., Thievery Corporation, and Kehlani, Kiran also has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and made international headlines…


Artists’ revenue streams “look, sound and act really differently from a membership.”

Amanda Palmer performing at Patreon’s House of Creativity at SXSW. [source]

Below is a transcript of an interview with Wyatt Jenkins, SVP of product at Patreon, for the Water & Music podcast. Hosted by me, Cherie Hu, the podcast unpacks the fine print behind big ideas at the intersection of music and tech, featuring a curated selection of leaders, artists, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Overcast, Pocket Casts and Transistor.

In July 2019, Patreon, a crowdfunding membership platform, announced a $60 million Series D funding round that will be deployed for improving and expanding…


Rethinking creativity and accessibility for music in a world where “there will be ten million songs a day.”

Screenshot from Boomy’s website.

Below is a transcript of an interview with Alex Mitchell, founder/CEO of Boomy, for the Water & Music podcast. Hosted by me, Cherie Hu, the podcast unpacks the fine print behind big ideas at the intersection of music and tech, featuring a curated selection of leaders, artists, thinkers and innovators from across the music business. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Overcast, Pocket Casts and many other platforms.

Boomy, a startup that just launched out of beta a few weeks ago, is building accessible tools to help users not only make and…


It’s no longer appropriate to talk about the music business simply as a hard binary between the mainstream and the long tail.

An incomplete picture.

[This article was originally published on June 13, 2019, through my biweekly Water & Music email newsletter.]

Stem is growing up, and not everyone is happy.

On May 31, 2019, the L.A.-based music distribution platform — known for working with the likes of Frank Ocean, Anna Wise and Childish Gambino — announced without forewarning that it would be dropping the majority of the tens of thousands of artists distributed through its system by the end of July. …


In sidestepping media middlemen, artists are creating their own DIY music-media economy.

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

Over the past few decades, podcasting has bloomed from a primarily DIY medium at the bottom of the media food chain, to a corporate-approved cash cow at the top — and major music-streaming services have become among the sector’s most aggressive investors today.

In the summer of 2017, Tidal launched its exclusive “On Air” podcast network with a focus on hip-hop. Pandora then launched its Podcast Genome Project in December 2018, with a goal of improving podcast recommendation and discovery on its platform.

And most recently — with reported nine-figure valuations the podcast industry has never seen before — Spotify…


As investors have predicted, Spotify is betting on becoming the Netflix of audio — for better or for worse.

On October 28, 2018, as I was on Spotify’s mobile app searching for a certain music playlist I had made for myself, I received the following, unsolicited push notification:

The notification was for Crimetown, a serial podcast produced by Gimlet Media that dives into the history of organized crime in American cities. Nearly one month before sending me this notification, Spotify had announced that it would be the exclusive distributor for the show’s second season.

At first I was perplexed, since I use Spotify first and foremost as a music fan. But upon doing further research, I realized that Spotify…


A timestamped play-by-play demonstrates why the intersection of music and esports is one of the biggest entertainment business trends of the year.

Screenshot from German DJ TheFatRat’s live performance at ESL One Cologne in July 2017.

Last month, I published an article on Forbes diving into why the intersection of music and esports is one of 2018's fastest-moving business trends in entertainment.

tl;dr — Esports leagues and game developers are blooming into full-fledged media brands, and are looking to the music business to solidify their cultural capital. Artists and music companies, riding a streaming high, are looking to diversify their newfound revenue, experiment with new audiovisual technologies and tap into the power of highly engaged subcultures and captive household audiences.

As a result, some of the world’s biggest artists (Imagine Dragons, Drake, Scooter Braun, TheFatRat) and…

Cherie Hu

I run Water & Music, a publication about the fine print of innovation in the music business. bit.ly/waterandmusic

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