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The Way Forward for Artists | SXSW 2021

Tim Westergren
Co-Founder at Sessions
+ 1 speaker
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SXSW 2021
March 16, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
SXSW 2021
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About speakers

Tim Westergren
Co-Founder at Sessions
Marc Geiger
Chairman and CEO at Savelive

Founder and former CEO of Pandora, Tim recently co-Founded Sessions, the livestreaming platform that marries the best of advanced game mechanics with the power of live performance. A lifelong musicians, Tim has spent that last 25 years working on ways to harness the power of the web to support artists

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Founder and former CEO of Pandora, Tim recently co-Founded Sessions, the livestreaming platform that marries the best of advanced game mechanics with the power of live performance. A lifelong musicians, Tim has spent that last 25 years working on ways to harness the power of the web to support artists

View the profile

About the talk

Join a conversation with Marc Geiger, former global head of music at William Morris, founder of Lollapalooza and recent founder of Savelive a national live venue network designed to reinvent and rescue music clubs across the U.S. and Tim Westergren, founder and former CEO of Pandora and co-founder of live-streaming platform Sessions.

In a digital world dominated by a select few social networks and digital music platforms how can artists earn sustainable income and control their own destiny. Tim and Marc bring a combined four decades of innovation and entrepreneurial experience to this discussion. This will be a candid conversation full of insight and ideas from two of the most influential figures in modern digital music.

About SXSW:

SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. An essential destination for global professionals, this year’s online event features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, professional development and a variety of networking opportunities. For more information, please visit sxsw.com.

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Hi, my name is Tim. Westergren, welcome to the South by Southwest conversation. Seems to be here, especially to be here in the company of Mark. Tiger Mark is a long-standing stalwart of the music industry, both their real-world, one in a digital one. And if there is one, one person, I'd want to spend 30 minutes with to get smarter about music of De Mark. I'm really pleased to be able to be with him today. I'm, he has, he's really learned by doing. He's not just a pontificator and Sierra says she needs. Someone has actually been in the trenches from the world of

digital ciggz lochloosa. I remember one time walking music and it was like being in the middle of trading floor. Just filled my phone call. I'm offers flying everywhere was pretty wild. He's also found artist direct which was one of the very early, really one of the very first online. So that music retailer is, it was ahead of its time And that was quite a journey, you wouldn't begin in public and he's really been around the block and is now doing some really fascinating kind of trying to pull together a Consortium of lot of clubs to choose the rescue live music

covid ever. Go see that flourish to have a session that musicians would would walk away with some actual useful information from to help you guys navigate guys, and gals and bands, navigate this very complicated future ahead of us. So I try to make this actually something useful when I get them called in the Solar industry. I'm sure you build me up a college rotisserie. And if you were around and a half ago, this Tim and I are in the war of the beginnings of digital music. You know, I

study Pandora and everything to be here. I start in college and I was computer science. Guy in college as well as you know, posing as a student started, the promoter in a manager in the record store manager on the radio and then my career took off. One of them became a hit with the company that tried to do a lot of the stuff. So you and I both have had to have had the roads that we can learn some of this stuff where it's going worse than what the hope is for artists, are

you that the music industry? Holds a very unhealthy direction for musician and I think there are two real Hazard that I see them. Confronting one is the fact they do not own their fans. So Sam's online do not belong to our, do they belong to Instagram, my Facebook by enlarged and artists have to rent them. Every time they do something after run time you want to post to Instagram followers, you can reach for 5% of them for free and the rest have to pay for. So they don't own Their audience. In the second thing is there income

is, but a second-hand income, they earn money as a share of someone else's business primarily advertising and it's not very much and it's not very much for the vast majority of artists. So I think there are in this very precarious position and has kind of an unwitting unwittingly enlisted in this process spending these years, you know, building their Facebook likes and YouTube stream Spotify streams and and I worried it's kind of given over there in the streets if not for me and I need to change something healthy future so

that kind of estate and I love to get your kind of initial. Screwed me up. I'm kidding. So look, I think you're asking a rent vs buy versus own question, okay? And I think the time of many Minds when we were doing it or disrupt, the artist it on their databases, I think that artists are not professional, database, managers are marketers. So, what to do with it and how frequently to message, or communicate or how to communicate, or how to work the database, how

to sell them, good, how to do it and keep your taste in your ethics, and your image intact is not something that most people who make music for train for. Okay. Seth Godin stuff to this for years. I personally think renting vs. Owning is smarter. Because the platforms, they're on, while you do own, the user is expected. Sophisticated to your point and you want to not get left holding the bag, scraping your users, okay. I'm going to speak to the some Spotify as well.

Alright, you think about it? Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram Spotify, I mean they are like Mastiff next to acquire consumers. That's where the traffic is. That's where the customers are. Then you have Ways that work across multiple artists to get them to follow, you subscribe like various things. No Pandora is to remember telling stories with Pandora's thumb, up thumb down versus other license and what was Stronger but it doesn't matter. What matters is once you have indications of interest to you, then take advantage and say, hey, click here and you start to scrape

your user. So you can own them, he would never build them. The other piece that they need to take into consideration the database. As you can get them, my personal philosophy is what they used to call, right? Once called the public multiple and then have booked, right? The first question is, can you manage that database if you did have it? If you haven't tried an Excel spreadsheet or database, what would you do with it? So that I wouldn't have the artist ask

themselves? Them stick year, if not, you might be smarter than leaving it on leaving all of those audiences are most discreet platforms, and learning how to work, right learning how. I don't know. It's not, it's not, that's right. The point zero cost of acquisition answer. It might be different for everybody. The good news is that why you have a fear of it and they control let you know. The man is controlling the platform is. YouTube has a red sheer, you might not get that on here, so that's one advantage on the YouTube side and other advertising another. Right? So

I think this is a very sophisticated question, you're asking. And one of the things that's going to get answered over the next few years. I don't think there's an easy answer here. I do think that being knowledgeable about all the platform for the Privacy regulations and how to scrape and, and what you would do, if you have, that database is critical, right? And go get to the other piece. We'll talk about later. What do you do? We mention your Daniel X comes quote for so badly about artists need to make content faster. And I think the

underlying complaint was wait a minute, we're being told by these big platforms how to, you know, how to pursue our craft, that's just not right. You don't know how music is made so I know what your answer will be this, but what about that trade-off? You know, what do you think that this has been going on for a long time, right? And I think that you and I are coming up an era when when you Started what was a seed of a playlist right before the auto-play that deconstructed the album already right? And have made it compilation on going.

So we used to say that when music went digital, it was going to go to an infinite pallet now has something about putting work on time Spotify but what he really meant was more content to feed your audience. Okay grab Gathering more stream. Album 10 songs by spread out over time, that is what he was talking about. You need more hits to the system because it's a big library that the music's going to. I think, if you think about it or ready artist for the last 15 years needed to learn how to create more content than they did in the Old World, when

they did a photoshoot and go on a tour and do a couple interviews are few. Now, they have to be on Spotify on Facebook everyday. You're already making more confident. It's not just music itself, right? And it's the other day and you know where interesting Arrow. We'll talk about. What, why does Spotify get all the music? I think it's a great platform. I love the infinite jukebox. This is when the world was always going to go but artist, it's early days. They can they can, they can window contact. They can put Trey Songz on Spotify light up the world

with five songs on bandcamp, put it on patreon and and we'll get into those things and then release the rest of the music to Spotify after they've monetize it for a certain set of Windows where the very beginning of learning how to do artists make money. The second question and I forgot what it was. We can rent income tax accounting, 2nd and income So I know what I want, I want to think about you sign an artist, you know, and you're having your orientation meeting in the conference room, or in your living room and you say, okay buddy. Here's a plan. What, what is your,

what is your kind of, you know, first conversation with the artist? Like what do you say to them about? What's ahead and how to prioritize? What what what what you're expecting of them, what they need to do to make you happy as their new manager investor. But what's the weather for the newly-signed artist things? One is yours. You know the music business That being said, I look for what they've already done in their Community, right? And I don't mean their local community, I mean their digital and how

What are their skills? If you're looking at Fleet or baseball player, can they run? Can they find? Can they hit? Can they throw? Can they filled okay, if they make it great music? Can they communicate with their audience? Do they have an open mind about what the world's going? Are they old school? Only are they capable of changing for 25 years, right? The ground went from physical to file, just streams to now exploding into a hundred different things that have to be done. So, the digital awareness has to be high, right in the digital open-minded. And

I think I looked at, you know, do they not want to travel now? I'm not going to get on plane, I'm drunk, but, okay, I can't come over you, and you are. So, I think there's a lot in this, but I think open-mindedness in an understanding of this that book who My cheese with the music business has been moving for 25 years and for you and I are they who have been in it that understanding changes what to do if, maybe of that moment when you and I were probably call hyper expose, like, you got to be around a lot

and they're 24/7. But you got to be out there, one of the guys, okay? Do yours on every platform, four times a month, or every day, like it's extreme, right? So I think part of the question to ask is, what is the artist tongue? What is their Artistry and image? And then what's the Frequency, right? What's the platform? And then what's the cont? That's a very unfortunately, analytical product way of looking at it but that's kind of what the music business. Did it explode into a bunch of platforms that can handle a bunch of different forms a song or album? That's not really what

we're talking about when you think about where the world I think is going and that shot is going to get modified modified custom masterclass. Lessons are or Cameo, birthday, greeting or less than a lot of people make money. And you know what? People are learning as they have ten different segments to Their audience, summer passive, some more passive plus, some will go to a concert sometime soon and want to chat with the artist. Someone shot with the Arts

and hang out every day, you know what is different. So I think, you know, one of the things I've been really thinking about all of this is What do you ask? And I think the questions housing artist going to actually make money. I kind of feel like ever since the browser hit or even AOL before then, sir there's been an increasing tool set and you got massive consumers digitally and you have the artist on the other side and it's a dance and they danced with each other based on what products are available. And I think this next level is going to really freak, A lot of people out because

monetizing communication is not something that people have, you know? It's not like they went on signed an autograph in the ringtone. There's going to be a hundred different ways to make money. Summer going to be looked at as distasteful, summer going to be looked at off-brand but I think the knowledge of where we're heading, right? We went from a physical file, a lien after my tune to am now stream. And I think we're going to post Spotify burning Arrow, digital earnest money,

but it's an era, and it's a ways and then you look at patreon and you look at, you look at all the different ways in your tents in stream. Monetization tip jars, you know, this is all going to impact. Go through things. When I love this notion of the Montage in communication because it's like you said, there is a ear of digitization but then is a year of digital modulation and I think that's what you're saying that. Shopify, right? I mean you when you think about how hard it is to be to do eCommerce. Now, 12 year, olds free shipping. If you choose to China money

or orchids, you're buying stock on Robinhood. You got to look at this in my opinion, like a store and that feels crash Bernard if it was a record store, if your romantic. So now the store can have records, you can't have vinyl and ship it and make money off of it. Can do everything old school, new school, you can carry other things, you can put, you know, birthday, greeting, as you can put a lot of things crash or Not Crash, join a private concert, right and end pay-per-view. It's like 20 people.

The point is, is that artists to make money in the future. We'll have to get a little more. As I setup my digital product of communication product product at home. I'm watching a lot of artists do different things. And I think the biggest thing is to learn from other artists because every artists is pushing their own agenda in ways. They feel comfortable. And then, you know, an artist manager team is going to make a custom recommendation during her show,

4500 paychecks, in less than an hour just to pay to chat, not to be responded to you, but just to chat my mind, I get it. There are lots of ways to do this. While you're talking to an artist like his overwhelming, how do you get started? How do you help? How do you onboard into this, what you're describing as this digital monetization, all these different headsets The first thing you did was he just laid out an example of monetizing communication. So that's part of the digital

Suite of products to come right now. If you can get one, if you can find your look, your style, your Instagram Channel, your Twitter Channel. Music on a wall or whatever it might be. So self in your art, you got to figure out a team and then you have to build the basic channels on all of the platforms of the first things to do. Then, you follow the audio and then Mark, it might be following or posting your content alongside of other communities that are similar to your music

Pandora. All the channels and spend time with you and we'll talk more you and I my pleasure.

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