Creating Music for the Social Web

Social Media Week’s Creating Music for the Social Web panel, hosted by SoundCtrl, took place this morning at Hearst Magazines, the Art & Culture Content Hub for this week’s events. Pitchfork Media President Chris Kaskie kicked off the morning with a keynote speech, where he talked about Pitchfork’s role as a kind of music discovery curator.

In the evolving world of music, where listeners are not only discovering songs and artists through their friends, but also through automated listening processes like Pandora, Pitchfork is using social media in conjunction with its website as a means of maintaining contextual relevancy and trustworthiness for its fans.  Kaskie pointed out how the definition of “music ownership” is changing, and that some day he’ll leave his kids with “logins to cloud accounts and not record collections.” And while it isn’t Pitchfork’s responsibility to figure out how musicians can continue to generate revenue in light of this change in music consumption, he feels it is Pitchfork’s responsibility to cover music that their audience is interested in.

At present, Pitchfork finds that Twitter and Tumblr are two social media networks that augment their audience’s music discovery experience–as platforms to have conversations (Pitchfork.com does not allow user comments) and also to find content that is re-contextualized from Pitchfork.com.

Creating Music for the Social Web
The panel included a range of industry professionals: Jessie Kirshbaum (Nue Agency and SoundCtrl), Maura Johnson (Music Editor at Village Voice), Josh Deutsch (CEO at Downtown Music), Asher Roth (rapper) and Chris Kaskie (President at Pitchfork Media).

The panel, lead by Josh Deutsch, discussed the role that the web has played in the music business. Asher Roth, the only musician on the panel, gave insight into how the musician is tasked with not only creating music, but also navigating the social space in a way that is effective and efficient. Because, as he remarked, it seems that right now there are “so many tools…I just need a knife and a fork.”

Creating music for the social web, however, can be a liberating process. The creative freedom that comes from being unbound by the expectations and constraints imposed by traditional record labels can be a major reward for an artist. Kaskie also pointed out that although there are many record labels doing great things, today people don’t pay as much attention to record labels. The production, distribution and success of an artist all come down to the audience’s interest level in the music and the artist. Fans are often artists’ greatest promoters, taking it upon themselves to tweet, share and blog about the music.  So in essence, all musicians are on the same playing field. There are varying degrees of popularity and production quality, but because musicians now have the ability to create and release songs from their bedrooms, critics like Pitchfork, will treat the music the same.  To quote Maura Johnson, “If the craft is there, it’s there despite the business side.”

Take-Aways From the Panel
The social web continues to create opportunities for musicians. Artists need to be able to find out what works for them. They must be mindful of focusing on those networks that will help achieve their specific goals. As Josh Deutsch answered when asked what the top things an artist should know to get their music in front of the right music curators and editors, “it all depends on who you are as an artist and what you want to accomplish.”

Laurie Amodeo is Senior Community Manager at Big Fuel, where she has worked on social media campaigns for clients such as General Motors, Nutrisystem and H&M. She has also created marketing and social media campaigns for public and private sector organizations including the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade and Peeled Snacks. When she’s not executing innovative social programs for clients, Laurie can be found singing, writing, hooping and cooking with veggies. flavors.me/laurieamodeo

A Student’s Perspective: Chris Kaskie Keynote with SoundCtrl’s Creating Music for the Social Web

Nikhita Venugopa is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Keynote: Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork Media followed by SoundCtrl’s Creating Music for the Social Web.

Day Three of Social Media Weekend began at the Hearst Arts and Culture Hub with the keynote speech by Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork Media, a Chicago-based webzine and guide devoted to music criticism and news. Kaskie commented on social media’s role in music today and what Pitchfork hopes to achieve through Twitter and Tumblr.

“When it comes to social media, I find myself spending more time trying to figure out how to use it than actually using it,” he said. Kaskie also highlighted the importance of maintaining Pitchfork’s role as a trusted source for music journalism, regardless of their platform of communication.

“The biggest challenge that Pitchfork faces today is the expanding world of music online,” said Kaskie. It’s increasingly common to see people discover music through peer-to-peer interaction and recommendation. “I’m really bummed that when I die, I have to leave my kids logins to my Cloud account and not record collections,” said Kaskie.

The Internet is filled with opinions and comments on music but Kaskie said he hopes that Pitchfork can provide context to “all the noise,” whether it’s on Spotify or Twitter or Facebook. “To me, it’s very social that we’re interacting with people’s social music experience,” said Kaskie.

After Kaskie’s talk, a panel discussion commenced on social media’s effect on the creative process of the music industry. The panel included Kaskie; Maura Johnston, music editor of the Village Voice; Josh Deutsch, co-founder of Downtown Records; rap-artist Asher Roth and moderated by Jesse Kirshbaum, co-founder of Sound Control. In speaking on the role of social media, Deutsch emphasized maintaining the image of a trusted brand, echoing Kaskie’s keynote speech. The panel discussed the differences between creating an album for a major label and a mixed tape for the web. Asher Roth said social media had rewarded music artists by letting them be free. “It’s a more enjoyable experience to create music for just your fan-base,” he said.

From a journalistic perspective, both Johnston and Kaskie agreed that the music’s format does not affect their critique and commentary. “People can make some of the best music in world in their bedroom. It’s a level playing field,” said Kaskie.

Johnston believed that music is visceral and it’s that feeling determines the strength, regardless of whether it’s online or on an album. “It’s the way it hits you,” she added.

However, in response to what they felt was missing from social media, Kaskie said it lacked an editorial, personalized voice. Johnston also commented on the myopic view that can come from the digital world, referring to Spotify, an online music streaming service. She said social media users often forget that there’s more to music than what you can find online.

All four panelists agreed that while social media was a valuable platform for communication, people should step away from it once in a while and explore a world outside Facebook and Twitter. “Go for a walk. Ride a bike,” said Roth. “It’s going to make you a more interesting person. A better tweeter.”

Nikhita Venugopal grew up in Bangalore, India. She moved to New York in July 2011 to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she is currently pursuing a master’s degree. Nikhita studied Media and Communications, Psychology and Literature in India and has interned at Ogilvy as a copywriter and Macmillan Publishers as an editor. She is interested in writing on subjects like education, science, music, arts, social issues and the general eccentricities of the city. You can can follow her on Twitter at @niks_90.

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Keynote Spotlight: Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork

Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork

This post is a part of a continuing series of Keynote Spotlights– check back here throughout the week for more information on the phenomenal individuals who will be gracing #SMW12 events next week!

You can hear Chris speak, followed by SoundCtrl’s Creating Music for the Web Panel, on Wednesday, Feb 15th from 9-11am at the Art & Culture Hub!

Chris Kaskie is the President of Pitchfork, the essential guide to independent music and beyond. With more than 4 million unique visitors each month and 500,000 visits each day, Pitchfork has one of the Web’s most loyal audiences, and is considered one one of the world’s most popular, respected, and influential music publications. In addition to developing Pitchfork into an internationally renowned online music magazine, Chris runs the company day-to-day and is an architect of Pitchfork’s growth and expansion into other arenas, such as the Pitchfork Music Festivals and Pitchfork.tv. He lives in Chicago with his wife Amy and two children.