Is Technology Making The Music Industry Better Or Worse?

Published on, June 2018

There seems to be a lot of people stabbing in the dark when in comes to the future of the music industry, but few as qualified as CHANGES Melbourne speaker Cherie Hu, who tells Daniel Cribb what we might expect moving forward.

The award-winning Billboard and Forbes columnist is coming off a month of non-stop conferences around Europe and gearing up for an appearance at new Melbourne music summit CHANGES in July, marking her first-ever trip down under after familiarising herself with some local talent last month.

“They were quite the…  spectacle,” laughs the US music writer and researcher Hu on catching Australia’s Client Liaison live at Primavera Pro in Barcelona in May.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference like [CHANGES], in that all the talks are just lightning-style, TED Talk-style — they’re 30-minute snippets, so I’m very interested to see how that will go,” Hu says.

As not only a writer but also a researcher, Hu finds that other conferences around the world don’t tend to go as in-depth as she’d prefer, something she believes the format of CHANGES has a chance to remedy.

“I moderated a panel at MIDEM in France about AI and music marketing and I thought it was a great topic, but the panel was so big and we only had half an hour and there were five other people on it, so we each only had a little bit of time to speak anyway,” Hu tells.

But that’s not to say the standard music conference format doesn’t have its benefits.

“If it’s done well, it’s really beneficial,” Hu emphasises. “I’m always very interested in debates; I definitely don’t think there’s consensus on a lot of things, including where the music industry is going. For example, what is the future of Spotify? What is the future of streaming? Is that the be-all-end-all solution? I don’t think everyone agrees on that and so at their best, I think panels highlight the fact that there are these competing or opposing views, in a respectable way.”

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Having embedded herself firmly within music and tech, and constantly travelling the world to attend conferences as a speaker, you’d struggle to find someone more qualified to discuss that future of music than Hu.

She’ll be giving a talk on Voice And The Rise Of Streaming Beyond The Phone, unpacking what happens when visual interfaces disappear and highlighting the fact that so much music marketing assumes that people are interacting with a stream through a screen when that might not be the case in the near future.

“What happens when people are requesting through voice? What happens when you can’t scroll through a list to discover music? What happens when video isn’t the centrepiece anymore?” Hu asks.

“Bose is building these smartglasses that involve augmented reality, but it’s all powered by audio, so there’s no visual component. It’s very early stages, but I think if you tap something on the glasses, or you make a gesture with your hand in some way, it’ll trigger a voice command.

“I demoed this at SXSW, so an example would be, you walk down a street in downtown Austin and you walk past a venue and you could preview music from the bands that would be performing there that night.”

The barrier of entry is now much lower for artists, but it means they have to work harder and be creative to cut through the noise.

“I met someone, also at SXSW, who records and uploads music to Spotify all on his phone. He has an 8-track app, two bandmates and a mic that’s affordable that you can plug into your phone.

“Then there’s a free distribution app called Amuse, which allows you to upload to Spotify for free, and they can do that in a day.”

On the flipside, it’s harder for a lot of bands and companies to actually make any money, even some of the biggest in the world, which is the biggest challenge Hu believes we face over the next 12 months.

“ was the hottest app a couple of years ago and it was most popular among young teenagers, so 12 to 15 years old. It was a lip-syncing app, so you’d take a selfie video of yourself lip-syncing to an excerpt from a song, and there were these young teenagers who had millions of follows,” Hu explains.

“It had the traction of Vine in that sense; people were building their own personality and brands off this. At SXSW, the head of said, ‘We still don’t actually have a monetisation model — we don’t know how to make money off this stuff.’”

It’s likely that Twitter shut down Vine because they couldn’t figure out how to monetise it efficiently, while Soundcloud was in serious financial trouble last year and YouTube keeps restructuring its paid subscription service.

“That’s just an ongoing challenge of these platforms that have a huge cultural impact and influence not being able to make any money, and I think that’s partly because the legal foundations are not really there and this is a trend across any industry where tech will be ahead of the law in terms of change,” she says.

“As the barriers to entry are lowering, more and more people will want to remix content, and more and more people will want to make their own derivative works off of music, and I think we should be enabling that. Gradually, the industry attitude is going more towards, ‘Yes please, make content from out content,’ as opposed to being fearful and being in takedown mode, so that’ll be interesting to follow.”

Head over to the CHANGES Melbourne website for more details.


Show Review: Michael Bolton 24.06.18

Published on, Jun 2018

Michael Bolton

Perth Concert Hall

Jun 24

Michael Bolton is an interesting character. While many of his creative counterparts throughout the years have become stuck somewhere between novelty and nostalgia, Bolton has risen above, and within minutes of the music legend taking to the stage, it was clear why.

Calm and collected, he quickly found his groove with Perth Symphony Orchestra, led by acclaimed conductor Jessica Gethin, as his trademark raspy vocal tones gave a new edge to Ben E. King’s Stand by Me.

Crooning through the chorus of To Love Somebody, Bolton gave it his all, playfully sweeping through big string sections and backing vocals, and when he wasn’t stunning audience members through song, he was charming them with quick-wit and anecdotes.

His dry humour didn’t always connect, but that’s part of what makes his onstage presence so great; what you see is what you get. Bolton’s down-to-earth aura makes his lyrics more relatable and also encouraged numerous heckles throughout the evening and even a mid-show signing request, all of which he used to his advantage to create comedy gold.

While reinterpreted Frank Sinatra (That’s Life) and Bob Dylan (Make You Feel My Love) songs, among others, were welcome to additions the setlist, it was during original numbers like Said I Loved You… But I Lied that all the pieces came together and the atmosphere was electric.

Bolton’s more than aware that collaboration is key when it comes to music – as his fruitful songwriting career to-date proves – and the addition of Australian singer Silvie Palad to the stage for a handful of duets was a welcome change of pace.

After going through the motions of How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and more, Palad was given the stage for a stirring version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah while the man of the hour temporality disappeared.

Another focal point of the evening was Jason Peterson DeLaire, who well and truly stole the show with a gut-wrenching rendition of You Are So Beautiful, before the evening came to a roaring close with a medley of hits including How Can We Be LoversSteel BarsTime, Love And Tenderness and encore Soul Provider, knocking the emotional wind out of everyone in attendance.

Bolton’s back catalogue is as diverse as any, and with decades of hits across numerous genres to pick from, there was never a dull moment, rendering the setlist a perfect snapshot of his career to-date, encapsulating his best original work, re-interpretations, humour, charm and more. Sam Perry On ‘The Voice’ Win: ‘It Helped Me In Ways That Emailing Triple J Never Could’

Published on, Jun 2018

WA loop artist Sam Perry might still be riding a high from winning The Voice grand final on Sunday night, but prior to auditioning for the show, he was close to calling it quits.

Speaking with The Music, the most controversial artist in the show’s history said he signed up in an effort to hopefully attract a few more punters to his gigs from the blind audition.

He’s now well and truly on the mainstream radar, but the Perth musician has been “slugging” it away for years and before rising up through the show was finding it harder and harder to cut through the noise on the internet.

“I’ve hit up triple j, I’ve gigged, I’ve toured, I’ve done everything and I’ve just been ignored a little bit, to the point where I was being told by people they’d manage me if I DJ’d, and I was close to giving it up,” Perry said.

“A mainstream program like this, I would never normally think of doing, but they’ve done nothing but embrace what I do. They’ve pushed it harder and turned me into something that could actually get out of Australia pretty quickly.”

Perry admits he never loved reality TV shows and The Voice was never something he’d watch, which is why the support he was given throughout the contest came as such a surprise.

“The crazier my ideas were, the more accommodating they were; they’ve helped me in ways that years of slugging and emailing triple j never could have done for me,” he said.

“The stereotype I had about a show like this is completely not what it was.

“I went in thinking I was going to hate it and, man, I’ve had fun.”

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The show’s judges, Kelly RowlandBoy GeorgeDelta Goodrem and Joe Jonas, might have loved his loop station and beatboxing, but they also branded him as “controversial”.

“It’s important to be refreshing – I’ve brought something new to the show and I think that’s important,” Perry said.

“I kind of love all the controversy I have started, coming in here and turning the whole thing on its head.

“Actually, me and Boy George are really good friends now – he’s a really cool dude, and Joe Jonas would come out to late night gigs with us. They’re all just really nice people.”

Having taken out the grand prize on Sunday, Perry scores a cash prize of $100,000 and a contract with Universal Music.

The signing comes with new single Trust Myself, and while other finalists had their post-win single allocated by the label, Perry pushed to write his own song.

“With Universal, we’re talking about pushing my live show more and we’re going to sit down and talk about what path I want to go on, rather than them making me do things,” Perry explains.

“One of the stigmas of the show is that kids come on and think they’re going to be superstars.

“I’ve toured for five years and I understand that it takes a lot of hustle, and I’ve got a mortgage to pay, so I’m not just going to sign a contract that signs away my rights.

“I’ve already got the music, I’ve already got sets and I’ve already got shows, whereas, I think a lot of the others are in cover bands or don’t write their own material.”

Perry’s planning on booking a run of shows around the country to celebrate his win before focusing on bigger things set in motion by his coach on The Voice, Rowland, and the contacts she’s put him in touch with.

“I’m going to be flying to LA to meet up with them and talk about future movements.

The Voice has opened up so many doors I didn’t know existed.”