Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and Google Play Music are the current leaders in the subscription-based and advertising supported music-streaming derby — having locked down the majority of artists through massive licensing deals with the major music labels. The current crisis facing the streaming tech giants is the abundance of choice available to consumers, who are drowning in an endless supply of things to watch, read or listen to online. As a result, the streaming giants have enlisted “an elite class of veteran music nerds — fewer than 100 working full-time at either Apple, Google or Spotify — who are responsible for assembling, naming and updating nearly every commute, dinner party or TGIF playlist on your phone,” according to Buzzfeed‘s “Inside the Playlist Factory.” Apple Music started the trend in 2014 when it acquired Beats Music along with co-heads Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor, as their ultimate marketing weapon to challenge Spotify’s lead. Iovine insists that the tech corporations use the human music experts to guide tech engineers, and not vice versa, stating: “Fans can smell the difference between a service where much of the product is dictated by algorithms or charts and one that is guided by more knowledgeable but equally passionate versions of themselves.” This panel focuses on the growing industry of cultural curators who organize playlists “by reading endless music blogs, tracking artists before they have been discovered, and by maintaining contact with artists’ managers, producers and label representatives.” Needless to say, the economic driver of this on-demand streaming culture is consumer data analytics targeting advertising brands. Feeling lonely after a particularly bad break up? Try listening to Adele while stuffing your emotions with a quart of Ben & Jerry’s and a Diet Pepsi.
Moderator: Gigi Johnson, Executive Director of the Center for Music Innovation at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
Panelists: Matthew Adell, CEO and Founder, MetaPop/ Shanna Jade, Director of Community, Stem/ Alex White, Head of Next Big Sound at Pandora/ Isabel Villanueva Benito, Vice-Dean of Communication Sciences, UIC.