What happens when you combine the Shoreditch House with YouTube and call that a creative tech summit?
Well free food is one thing. Free end-of-friday cocktails is another. But then there was this overarching feeling of clubism from the audience. It was like your college entrepreneurship club alumni had thrown an event as an excuse to mingle with some high-flying speakers and decided to open that up to another member’s club because, you know, they were hosting it. Oh and they invited a few Google people to come along. Because, you know, they were paying for the whole thing.
It’s not the first time Intersection — the self-proclaimed creative tech summit — happens at the Shoreditch House. In fact, last year’s edition was sponsored by Yahoo (I wonder if they even tried that sponsorship again). And from the post-event video, it seems like the level of speakers was similar to this year’s: superb. And that’s what I thought was the best thing out of the whole event (free food and drinks aside). If you manage to bring together the founders of Kano, The Smalls and Jukedeck alongside poets, lifestyle bloggers and YouTube stars, then I’d say you’re doing something interesting, to say the least. Forget the fact that they were all just mixed in this hotchpotch of vague themes that led to them speaking more about what they wanted to rather than what they had to. On the official theme of “examining the relationship between creativity and technology” there was as much as there was on “the transformations and trends in how we work and play, travel and trade, share and socialise, create and connect”, which is to say, 7 random things that speakers think are important.
But in the midst of workshops on how to build your audience with YouTube or panels on how the sextech industry is still majorly untapped, there were a few pearls. Some of my favourites included:
- Director Phil Griffin sharing with the audience how her teenage daughter had seen of two of his recent short films, one with Rhianna and one with Prince Charles. After 15 seconds of the Rhianna film she immediately proceeded to say “she doesn’t mean it” yet she stuck with 15m of the Prince Charles film. He believes the newer generation are so desensitised from all of the constant faking that they only respond to genuine honesty.
- The functional history of music videos being decoded, from the times when Queen and Bowie changed them from promotional tool to a art pieces with Bohemian Rhapsody and Ashes to Ashes. And how recently YouTube and video monetisation had changed them back into promotional tools, in the perpetual search of the highest metrics.
- Or how Kate Bush’s album The Red Shoes released alongside short-film The Line, the Cross & the Curve, from which 5 of her music videos were taken from, was heralded as a visual concept album. But that now, that so many albums feature intrinsically essential visual elements, no one calls them that any more because they are seen on different platforms and not on MTV anymore.
- How fake news begged the question of echo chambers and how social media doesn’t just perpetuate information but also culture in social waves of influence. When was the last time anyone discovered any music on Facebook that was decidedly different to what they usually listen to8? Is this because you tend to be friends with those that like the same music as you? Or is this because Facebook’s algorithms are programmed to push you music from friends it knows share the same interests? Wasn’t record store browsing the way to solve genre-holes in the past?
- Phil Hutcheon, CEO of DICE, stating that their data game is so on-point that they can now run an artist through their system and understand what is the likelihood of a show being successful at a specific price-point, thus making it possible to identify what the perfect ticket price would be. Is this only London or can we proxy to other capitals, given certain data points? Doesn’t this sound like any promoter’s dream? And in this case, wouldn’t this in turn change the legacy schedules of how album tours are programmed?
- Roland Lamb, CEO of ROLI, mentioned that it’s impossible for us to even begin to imagine the sound of Rock’n’Roll without an electric guitar. The fact that we hear a famous rock song being done by a another instrument, takes something away from it being rock (just like HBO’s Westworld fantastic Rube Goldberg saloon piano versions of rock classics, like Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun, arranged by Ramin Djawadi and custom-built as piano rolls by QRS Music Technologies who are doing amazing things). But how are genres going to look when they are no longer defined by a particular instrument, as instruments themselves are able to create new and unheard of sounds, as these won’t be limited by a particular sound themselves?
- And the question of whether acts are really taking more time to break nowadays? Or whether growth these days now should be assessed with short-termish metrics that still cater to big-budget marketing campaigns that drop at the same time? Rather than the more longer-term sustained growth metrics that streaming are more prone to. This should be rhetorical by the way, but it seems like it isn’t yet, as evidenced by one of the questions for a panel that was supposed to be about the industry’s new wave of music makers still being: “Ownership or Access. What do you think is more important?”
This all ended in the most classically clubist way possible: with an official closing party with hot-music-ticket-for-the-agent-world Jessica Reyes, an unofficial after-party and even a definitely not-official house-party after that. Disclaimer: I didn’t go to any of these.
A final note in case you haven’t had the chance to see Ed Cooke, from Memrise, live: just do it, you’ll be blown away by how easy it is to remember long numbers!