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You don't have to be a musician, you don't have to have any training.
Are there gonna be any composers left? Are they all gonna be just machines?
It's not that analog improves everything; it's just that digital right now sucks.
Maybe we should take down that free mp3. Is it worth it?
That sounds like an adventure. Maybe Matt Damon is on it.
Travels through this sonic space.
In fact, we were on the web even before there was a web.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to "The Engadget Show,"
brought to you by Internet Explorer.
I'm Tim Stevens. I'm the Editor-in-Chief of Engadget.
I'm Brian Heater. I have a new title that I haven't yet learned.
That's okay. We're here at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle.
What a happy coincidence, Tim, because we happen to be doing the music episode
-of "The Engadget Show." -Huh!
Uh, we spoke to some of my favorite musicians going-- Dan Deacon,
John Vanderslice, Black Milk, David Cope, a professor out in Santa Cruz.
He's making classical music with computers.
We're also gonna look at the evolving world of music discovery.
We're gonna be at Pitchfork, Pandora.
We're also gonna see a couple of radio stations that are still keeping it real.
True, we're here in Seattle, so why not check out Sub Pop
and of course the museum behind us.
Yeah, you ready to rock, sir?
-Oh, let's rock! -Yeah!
-Let's... let's make some rockin'. -I think we should rock.
(wind chimes tinkling)
My name is David Cope,
and I'm here today to give you an example of some of the work that I do
using computers to compose music.
I have no clue about what's going to happen here.
It is working off the database of about 370 Bach chorales.
Okay, so, what I'm going to do-- if you can watch here--
is go up to the "Compose" window.
I'll select "One," we'll wait a second, and then it'll start.
(classical organ piece plays)
I developed a composer's block.
I had a commission for an opera, and I couldn't figure out
why C-Sharp was any better than C to begin with,
and therefore I had a real world need for a program to do music in my style.
And I figured that if I got Bach sounding pretty much like Bach--
that is, the output sounding pretty much like Bach--
that I could replace the music in a database with my music
and it would sound like Cope, and sure enough, that happened.
And it took me six years to get it to that stage,
and when it did it produced an opera in, I don't know, you know, less than a day.
Fairly quickly, I realized that what I had here was something quite different than I intended.
I was becoming convinced that at that particular point,
that part of the rest of my life was gonna be involved in algorithmic composition.
Yeah, sure, there are basically and fundamentally two reactions.
One is, "Wow! Can you imagine a program doing something like this?!
We could do all manner of other things as well!"
And the other reaction is, "Oh, my God, what have we done?
Here comes... here comes HAL."
It's challenging composers. Are there gonna be any composers left?
Are they all gonna be just machines?
And I don't see the problem, I really don't.
Computers, so far at least are-- all computers--
are as dumb as a nail.
They add-- that's precisely all they do at the fundamental level.
A little better-- the arrangements are a little bit off.
I would say that's more like about a B.
Still not the best work at all, but not bad.
EMI started in 1980 and was my program of choice.
In 2003, I began work on a program which had both
a first and a last name-- Emily Howell.
Emily is a variation of EMI, and that's why I chose that name.
And Howell is my father's first name and my middle name-- H-O-W-E-L-L.
And so I thought it was kind of a neat pairing of words,
because this program was-- as you'll see-- is interactive.
This is not interesting yet, but the way in which I'll begin is just to initiate a session.
So I'll say, "Hello! How... are you?"
"Are how hello?"
It has no idea what it's supposed to be doing now.
Okay, so let's see if I can teach her her name.
"What is your name?"
And it could be in German, it could be in Esperanto for all I care.
"Your what is how or hello." Okay.
Don't know what the hell I'm talking about. Okay, so I'll teach her her name, hopefully.
Name is Emily.
Name? Okay, well at least it's a little less junky.
"My name is..." Uh... Make up a name.
-George. -George, okay.
"My name is George."
I may not even have to...
We'll see. "What is my name?"
Oh, all right! So now it knows its name.
Let's make sure it does.
Oh, actually, let me change its name.
"What is your name?"
It should say "Emily."
"Is your Emily?" Oh, boy.
And I'll go along for about 15 minutes
until I get it straight that the names are reversed.
So I can teach it that way.
And then I can put them back regularly if I want to.
And as... you know, as I do this,
you can see what's happening
by looking at the Association Net, which is huge.
You can see this is "Hello... how are you?"
And so forth across the top.
And these are all the connectors that are connecting the process together.
That is every node-- which is this little circle here--
is connected to every other node.
And I slowly teach it, and I can end up--
after two or three days of having conversations
about things with the program--
in a way which makes you actually begin to feel that it has some sense of
who you are and what's what in this universe that it's in.
But anyway, I showed that only to give you an idea of how the process works.
Now, I'll do it differently.
I'll start a whole new window.
And what you're gonna see is a bunch of... here, you can see a bunch of words up here.
These are chords that I can now play with. I can select them.
So what I'm going to do is go over to some four-point ones, for example,
Enter them as a question mark.
And that's my question, and I'll send it.
(low electronic chords playing)
Now, I'll listen to the entirety...
It works, her responses I've gotten so far...
It's gonna be un... not very interesting.
(similar chord progression plays)
Well, I don't know. It has some musical interest to me, at least,
so I might want to go ahead with it.
It takes forever to do a piece with Emily this way because it's a...
it's a very involved process whereby
I sort of have to get tired
and start doing some... some things that I'm not fully aware of
in asking, and uh...
and make statements I'm not fully aware of.
And I discovered that some interesting sort of improvisational
repartee occurs, and I'm fascinated by the results.
And whenever I'm fascinated by the results, then I publish
or get performed and then record the output,
And then Emily has two... recordings out, professionally now.
And a couple more are on the way soon.
(low chords playing)
All anybody in my line of work ever talks about anymore
is how to make money getting music from one place to another.
It used to be it was a simple equation.
It cost money to make vinyls, and it cost money to ship vinyls,
and it cost money to have a store where you sold vinyls.
And that all felt like value for the dollar.
If you bought a 45 for however much a 45 used to cost-- what, a dollar--
you were paying for all that manufacturing, basically.
But now we really have to consider what it is that making a song is worth.
What, uh, what should that cost?
It's very close to a pure connection
between one person's imagination and another person's imagination.
What should that cost? What should that be worth?
I really don't know. I feel like maybe the thing musicians should do is introduce
another magical element in-between them making a song
and putting it on the internet--
another magical element that no one can quite get their hands around
but that costs a lot of money to do.
Like for instance, a movie... everybody's happy now to pay--
well, maybe not happy-- but people are plenty fine with paying
$12 to see a Hollywood movie that cost $100 million to make.
And the movie is terrible-- it goes in one ear and out the other.
You never think about it again.
But to pay $12 for a music album
that maybe you listen to 1,000 times in your life--
it's increasingly difficult for people to get their heads around.
Maybe what we need to do is start employing huge teams of people
to make record albums, like a cast of 60,
plus a whole massive technical and like makeup crews and...
on-location, craft services,
so that making an album costs $30 million.
And then when we charge $12 for the album people will feel like,
"Yeah, that sounds like an adventure!
"Maybe Matt Damon is on it.
Maybe there will be a car chase on this record, and it's worth my $12."
I think that's a good idea.
My next record is gonna cost $30 million to make.
I am taking some meetings this week with some people, some financiers.
Please submit your resume through Engadget.
We're here with Jacob McMurray, Senior Curator at the EMP here in Seattle.
We're sitting in front of this amazing Nirvana exhibit they've got.
And there's another amazing exhibit just on the other side with Jimi Hendrix stuff.
-And it's overall an amazing place. -Thank you very much.
Some Seattle highlights. I'm wondering, how long does something like this take to put together?
Uh, this particular exhibit-- "Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses"--
took me about two years to put together, from the initial kind of research to
connecting with the primary people we were borrowing artifacts from to creating it.
We've got a lot of great exhibits like this,
but there's also a lot of interactive stuff that you can do.
A lot of things you can kind of get your hands on and play with and have fun here, too.
Absolutely. I mean, that's one of the hallmarks of our museum is really trying to create
an atmosphere where the audience can actually create the content themselves.
Where they can, you know, be a player in the story.
So, uh, every exhibition, we really try to hammer home on the interactives.
How big a role has tech played in putting this museum together?
A huge part. I mean, with our founder, Paul Allen, obviously being a sort of tech giant,
technology was really one of the foremost aspects of the museum.
Any favorite things happening in the museum right now?
Well, you know, in a couple of weeks we're about to open a new exhibition
called "Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic" which is super-exciting
with the original manuscripts from JRR Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings,"
and the Six-Fingered Man's glove from "Princess Bride"
and David Bowie's outfit from "Labyrinth" and lots of cool stuff.
-Codpiece? -It's a nerd heaven, yes. Codpiece heaven.
So we were putting together a music episode.
We wanted to find a place we felt kind of straddled the line between
technology and music, so Seattle seemed kind of like a no-brainer.
Is this kind of the only place that a museum of this scope could exist?
I'm glad that it's here, yeah. I mean, the Northwest is pretty interesting.
We do have such a rich history music-wise-- especially really from the early '90s onward--
and then with the rise of Microsoft and all the gaming companies and the tech boom,
I mean, the Northwest has been such a center for that.
So being able to have that collide here in physical form has been wonderful.
Do you have sort of a commitment with the museum to have a focus on music of the area?
I mean, between Hendrix and Nirvana... pretty clear.
The whole concept of the museum started out as a Jimi Hendrix museum, actually.
We have the largest Jimi Hendrix collection in the world--
over 5,000 pieces related to Hendrix--
and so we are definitely dedicated to always having a Hendrix presence.
And similarly, with the Northwest, I mean, we're in the Northwest, we have such a rich music scene.
We've collected over 100,000 objects in our collection total. A good portion of that is
Northwest-wise, so, it's perfect to be able to kind of connect to the community
and reflect back to the history of this rich music community.
The whole show is really focusing on the transition from traditional music discovery and
traditional music production to the new means of discovery and the new means of production.
What are some of your favorite ways of finding new music these days?
You know, I really love that you can really find anything on the internet now
and just the idea that I don't have to write a letter to some obscure zine on the East Coast
to get a mailing list to buy some records via mail order.
I mean, if you want to you can learn about any music that's out there.
I mean, it's really up to you to kind of dig and find things.
So, to me, that's really empowering, because people are able to access
really whatever strikes their fancy.
The good news for people like you and people like us
is as there's more noise online, someone's gonna need to be there to curate it, right?
Exactly, exactly, it's providing that signal to the noise.
How does somebody get to do your awesome job?
Um, you know, sometimes I think it's luck.
I certainly came about...
I've worked here for almost 19 years now, and I was studying
archeology at the University of Washington
and working at a natural history museum cataloging
rocks and bones and dirt, and they ran out of grant funding.
So I heard about this Jimi Hendrix Museum and suddenly was cataloging rock, so...
So, dirt to grunge-- it's not a huge career jump.
Jacob, thank you so much for showing us around this amazing place.
Thank you, yeah. I think we've curated a trio of really nice interviews coming up.
We spoke to John Vanderslice, we went to his studio in San Francisco, Tiny Telephone,
which I believe is actually the last remaining analog-only studio on the West Coast.
Interesting contrast to Black Milk the hip-hop producer.
He did that really awesome "Random Axe" record.
He's producing his own stuff, and he's doing all of his production
in this tiny room in his apartment.
Oh, and speaking of natural history museums, we went to
the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles to speak to Dan Deacon.
Hi, my name is John Vanderslice. We are inside of Tiny Telephone.
I opened the studio in 1996.
It was actually $660, I'll never forget.
It was a co-op of nine other people.
We basically rented this to rehearse in it with this idea of starting a studio later on.
The co-op dissolved. I ended up opening a studio a year later.
And it was $100 a day, and our first client was Thinking Fellers Local 282
on Matador, a band on Matador. They're fantastic.
And they booked the studio for 30 days, and it kind of gave me this idea
that it was feasible and logical.
That was my first mistake. (chuckles)
We enforce analog recording here. We're very unusual.
I don't know of another studio on the West Coast that does this.
Not only that, we provide free analog tape to bands,
because then they can't push back.
Then they can't say anything about it.
We will not let someone come here and record on a computer.
We're fimly in the analog world.
You know, we have a Neve console and a Studer 827.
But we're like street ***. You know what I mean?
It's stepped on.
We're not the... we're not the pure...
You can go up from here, but hey, you know, this room's 375 a day.
What do you want? You know what I mean?
We have a grand piano and a Hammond. I mean, it's like, there is a limit.
You know what I mean?
Just to demystify analog, there's nothing really that special about analog.
Most analog recording is terrible.
Most analog gear is not very good and most analog tape decks are not very good.
You have to get into the elite models.
And if you're in a room where you're recording on two-inch tape and then you transfer it
to ProTools with good converters, and then just AB, which we do all the time, because you have to
to do a safety of all their tracks, and if you switch back and forth you're like...
it's an unacceptable... it's like a kamikaze plane coming down on your ship.
It's just like... "Oh, my God!" And it's unacceptable.
And we're running here... I own five Studer A27s,
which were the last tape deck to be made--
Swiss-made, came off the line in 2002.
They were $78,000.
They don't sound nearly as good as my Ampex at home,
but this is like a brand-new Mercedes.
These destroy Pro Tools.
I mean, they sound so much better.
So it's just... it sounds much more like the through-put.
It just sounds much more like what's happening in this room.
And so it's not that analog improves everything.
It's just that digital right now sucks.
First off, digital recording is way slower,
because people get into this editing rabbit hole.
Which is hilarous, man, it's amazing.
They move one kick drum and then the rest of the day is like moving around drum...
It's just psycho.
But I like the cheats.
I'm very different in why I hate digital.
I love computers.
I adore all of my six computers.
But if I didn't have this benchmark,
I woudn't have found digital recording quite as disappointing.
It's not that analog recording is so great.
It's just that digital recording is so sucky.
I thought that the model should be that you put out a record...
Any hard copy costs money; a digital copy is always free.
I think that now it's clear that every band is changing every time they put out a record.
The last thing I put out was "Green Grow the Rushes" which was a free EP last year.
And I did exactly that.
It was a 180-gram vinyl pressing, it was $15.
And then the digital copy was free.
I mean the problem with the vinyl stuff and the hard copy stuff is that there's just enormous...
The reason why I had to do a Kickstarter is that the price-- the initial price of
printing the vinyl was like $25,000.
Because it's 200 grams, so it was just prohibitively expensive.
And I think that this is the window of Kickstarter.
I don't know if I can do this again in 18 months.
There's this crazy major label rush now on Kickstarter.
I mean it's pretty amazing, so I was...
I felt like I was in this window that was very lucky.
I decided I wanted to do 200-gram pressings of all the vinyl, that I wanted
to offer digital downloads of everything in five different formats.
You know, my server has all the "Diamond Dogs" record and "Dagger Beach"
in all these formats-- It's not password-protected.
Because, you know, first off, who cares?
It's digital media, you know what I mean, like really? It doesn't cost me any money
if someone pulls down my record.
We have to be honest about this stuff. It's a natural part of life.
Hey, there's a lot of 14-year-old people out there that don't have $20 in their wallet.
I mean... we have to think about that critically, like, people are gonna steal your record.
For me, it's very important to control the end resolution of those decisions,
so I can have, like... for instance, FLACs, .wavs,
high-resolution variable bit and 320 out there.
And like, at least I'm providing the highest resolution that I can.
Good fidelity is like a cannon, man.
It wins you over, it's like a strong argument.
And like I think that like... that's what you have to shoot for.
You'll hear a Stax recording or a Spector recording.
You'll hear like "Taxman" on an AM radio
in like a barbershop or something, you're like...
"What the? What?! This is..."
The world must need analog recordings, still.
You know, there certainly has to be like a touristic part of it, and there certainly
has to be a, you know, a curious like, okay, this is...
There's a museum quality to like going in...
I mean, I'm very well aware that we're running kind of a museum here, but...
But the reason why for 15 years essentially we haven't sold out is
that the end results are so powerful and they're so
overwhelmingly, clearly better than what's available in the digital world now.
I go by the name of Black Milk.
You know, MC, music producer.
When I first got into music, hip-hop,
I was MC'ing at first.
There came a time where I, uh... came across, like,
you know, my older cousins like making music on their little cheap,
you know, uh... equipment that they had at the time and...
I don't know, I just got drawn to that part of it more so
than the, you know, stand on the MC side of it.
Seemed like I was paying more attention and putting more energy into the production side of it.
Little by little, I started off buying their equipment, like buying
my older cousins' equipment: "Yo, I'll buy that from you."
So then, after that, researching and "What machines do I need?
What equipment do I need?" and buying little drum machines here and there.
Other little samplers and you know I come from like
the school of hip-hop production where like
the Pete Rocks and the Primos and the J Dillas so...
a lot of my stuff is sample-heavy, you know what I'm saying?
So I was really into digging for records, you know what I'm saying?
Being at the record store around the neighborhood and spending hours and hours
sunup, sundown, just on the machine in front of equipment just making music.
Like don't even care what's going on in the outside world.
It's still pretty much like that to this day, you know what I'm saying? In this room all day long.
I was, you know, fortunate enough to have a good ear for music, you know, and if I don't feel
like something is right, I'm gonna be like, "Nah, that's... we got to change that."
Whether it's some singing stuff, whether it's some rock stuff, whether it's some hip-hop stuff,
so I think that's... that's the key of being a good producer, 'cause you've got
some producers that don't touch any buttons, you know what I'm saying?
But like cats like a Quincy Jones type, you know what I'm saying,
where they just have that ear, you know what I'm saying?
And they know how to make all the musicians come together
and put together the perfect composition.
When you're talking about, you know,
working with Sean Price or Guilty Simpson versus working with Jack White,
it's just a totally different... totally different thing, you know?
'Cause we just in the studio, we just... and it's so fast.
We just banging it out and them guys write pretty quick, so it's just kinda like messing around.
And it was an even bigger challenge going back to the Jack White thing
'cause I only had two days to come up with something great.
And I was like, "Man, I cannot fail, because if I come out with something
"you know, with... an artist as Jack White's caliber
and it's not how it's supposed to be..." you know what I'm saying?
People's expectations... they're gonna have a certain level of expectations.
I kind of got to meet it, so I feel like we came with two great tracks, you know what I'm saying?
"Album of the Year," my last solo record that I put out,
I challenged myself to get in the studio with a lot of live musicians
and just try to take my hip-hop production to another space, another level,
you know, versus just it being all drum machine stuff, all sample stuff.
I'm like, "Yo, let me try to recreate some of these samples and let me
"have some musician cats come in and play on top of what I'm
doing on the drum machine," you know what I'm saying?
Just try to do something a little different.
With the samples, I try to... I try to like find samples
that, you know... just a lot of rare samples,
you know what I'm saying, that it would be hard
for you know, for the average person to come across.
There's a possibility out there that I might find the craziest record
I ever heard, you know what I'm saying?
Whether I'm gonna sample it or not, you know, but just that kind of mentality
kind of keeps you always going back to the record store and just looking
and just searching for those gems, you know what I'm saying?
And then for me, it's not only just about sampling, but it's also about
like going to the record store and finding those gems and being able to like, uh...
you know, create something and give it to the world,
you know, like, "Yo, listen to this," you know what I'm saying?
I kind of look at it as like not only if I'm calling up
one of my friends that's also a collector.
It's kind of like, you know, I look at all my fans like that, too.
'Cause I know they're gonna enjoy if they hear like, "Yo, I found this crazy record,"
you know what I'm saying, and I want to share it with them.
I love the analog stuff.
Even, you know what, even with... (chuckles)
Even with, like, some people might even...
even with this joint right here, man.
Sometimes... like I just bought this little drum machine,
this little Casio RZ-1.
But it has... it's 12-bit, you know what I'm saying?
It gives you that 12-bit sound, so whetever you sample into it
is gonna put that, like, 12-bit grit on it, so...
There was a point where I was spending like some months
just sampling drum sounds into this just to get that 12-bit sound
and sampling it back into the MPC,
and you know, programming all that stuff.
Anyplace... where you know I can have access to music
especially like old records, you know what I'm saying...
you know, I'm with it, you know?
I kind of... there was a point in time where I was kind of
not necessarily against, but I just didn't really get into like digging around digitally.
'Cause I was so, you know, analog with it.
But you know, I kind of found a lot of jewels
on you know, sites like YouTube.
And I started even making YouTube kind of a place
where, you know, I'd dig just like I would at the record store.
An app like Shazam is like the greatest for me, man.
I love Shazam, like... and I was just in the clothing store, like
a few weeks ago and they played something on the system, I'm like... "Yo, Shazam!"
I'm just about collecting, you know what I'm saying?
Whether it's drum machines or whether it's records, I like the analog stuff, man.
My name's Dan Deacon, and I... I guess I write music and perform it.
Tonight's show at the Natural History Museum's gonna be my first
open-to-the-public solo show in a long time.
I've been playing a lot of shows with my band or ensemble,
however you want to call it, so this'll be the first solo show.
It's kind of more in line with what I came up doing and got known for doing
were these solo on the floor sort of immersive, loud... (growls) sort of sets.
They move up, we move up. They move down, we move down.
They move their arms, we move our arms.
Captains, I'm gonna act as the subconscious right now.
My set-up's kind of remained the same.
I like to think of it as one instrument. Or I guess two instruments.
One is the effects chain, which is pitch shift into phase modulation into delay.
And I've got an oscillator that I also run through that.
My voice runs through it, and the oscillator's more for
like solos or noise elements, and the voice is for beautiful singing.
And I've got a keyboard which goes into a vocoder
and the backing tracks which are now on a computer
that are also triggering the lights.
I like thinking of a smartphone as an object that can be used as a light or a speaker.
Only one person uses a phone at a time.
I mean, you can be using social media or whatever,
but it's really only one individual who's interacting with the device,
where a speaker and a light are shared experiences.
Like the sound travels throught the space, the light travels throughout the space.
When you think about phones in that capacity of being these very intelligent
lighting devices and very intelligent speakers that you control wirelessly,
I think it opens up a great realm of possibility where you can create
these spatial environments of sound and light that have never existed before.
Because people weren't walking around with wireless smart lights and speakers.
Well, the way our app works is it kind of works in a similar way
to like old modems used to work.
Where that beautiful... (imitates electronic screech)
encoded data, and then the modem would take that sound
and then translate it into data and know how to turn that into text and images or other sounds.
And our app does the same thing. It synchronizes all the phones in the room
and turns them into one programmable mass of phones and lights
and speakers, so you can create different patterns of light
and spectrums of light-- well, not spectrums of light.
If we were creating spectrums of light, we'd be radiating everybody.
Um, but just to create a lighting show in the middle of the audience,
rather than being the lighting show, you know, focused on the band
or coming from one point, it's coming from all surrounding points.
And we can control it, um, the same way you can control any light or any speaker.
Well, I mean, there's no way we're gonna stop people
from bringing this technology into the concert hall or into the venue or into the bar.
Like, people are always gonna have their phones from now until the apocalypse.
People will be on their phones, so if you...
And I feel like a lot of new technology that emerges, people just try
to shove as much old technology into it as possible.
"It can be a calculator, it can be an alarm clock, it can be a flashlight!"
What are the new things you can turn it into that didn't exist prior?
Like, what does this device have the capability to do
that you couldn't do with a TV or you couldn't do with a phone or that you couldn't do with a computer?
Do you know what I mean?
So, that's the way I like to think about it, and I think it's gonna...
in the coming years, I think you're gonna start seeing a lot more
revolution in what the smartphone can really do in regards to groups and crowd-sync.
I think it's gonna be an important sort of element of what people are gonna do with phones.
It was made with me and four other friends-- the main programmer being Keith Lee.
And we started looking into it, and it seemed like
there were a lot of other corporate interests that were going down a similar path.
And we just thought keeping it... you know, this app made
by artists for live performance would be a good thing
to branch out and have something that could exist on all levels.
We talked about making it open-source, and I still think we
have aspirations to do that, but we just want to make sure that the technology
doesn't get co-opted by, like, you know, the Gargamel of corporations
before we can really fully develop it and it gets locked down.
We don't want any Smurfs harmed. Being fellow Smurfs, we don't want to get turned into gold.
So, we managed to make it out to, I'd say my two favorite radio stations in the country right now.
How many radio stations would you say you actively listen to right now, Brian?
So, we managed to make it out to the only two radio stations
that I actively listen to right now.
Uh, KCRW in Southern California and WFMU in Jersey City.
Get this-- they actually make their own playlists.
They pick what music they're playing.
So, they're not owned by some major national corporation that dictates
what they play and what they say?
-No, these are two of the holdouts in free-form radio. -Staying strong.
But the good news is, since they're independent, they've actually been able to embrace technology.
You know, they were two of the first stations online, and they've actually
made this transformation from local stations into global stations.
FMU is probably the country's most renowned free-form station.
We've been on the air since 1958,
and we specialize in playing the hippie noise music that people hate.
The internet has really changed everything.
Now everybody knows about everything immediately.
On the other hand, there's so much more available now
that it kind of makes the role of being a curator or being
a filter even more important.
Nowadays,when you have satellite radio that can do specific shows
or just the kind of music you want to hear or Spotify,
you're at the driving seat.
You know, FMU not only takes you down this path of listening
and making connections to all kinds of sounds in the course of even a set, you know.
We make it in a way that there's so much variety and quite often
within the scope of not only a program but a set within itself,
that I think that's one thing listeners really appreciate.
For KCRW it's a lot about music discovery, but that doesn't always have to be new music.
You know, we're turning people on to world music, older music,
to different genres and maybe they just haven't come across it yet.
We are just uniquely positioned to have an influence well beyond
our actual audience, so yeah, the market's healthy for radio, it's good for us.
But think about who's listening to us here in LA.
These are the people that are putting music into movies,
into video games, into advertising, making a huge difference.
We're still practicing live, human, spontaneous radio.
And with all the curation that happens online,
and all the zillions of musical options you have,
I think one thing that's gone missing is the human element.
Having an intelligent, humorous person to keep you company
through the curation experience.
And that disappeared from radio a long time ago,
and nothing online has really come up to replace that.
There's all sorts of incredible curation, but FMU is still--
and stations like FMU-- are still one of the only places
where people can tune in either over the radio or online
and experience a human being.
KCRW.com has been around for quite some time.
We were one of the first public radio stations to ever stream digitally.
The essence of KCRW, really is about being great tastemakers.
And you know there's a legacy of kind of sifting through the noise.
We have to be thinking in terms of being a great broadcaster
on any platform, so it's no longer about radio.
It's that we are a broadcaster on any platform that will take us.
Well, we embraced the internet really quickly.
In fact, we were on the web even before there was a web.
We started doing these weird experiments with Bell Labs,
with Bellcore, and we allowed people to call in to a toll-free number
and listen on the boss's dime.
And we were doing this in the mid-1980s,
and that was kind of like the warning flag we had that the internet was gonna take off.
We started that thing up kind of as a joke,
and then we realized after a couple of years that there were
people all over the country who were calling in to this 800 number
to listen to us on the speakerphone on their desk.
You know, we were the first station to be streaming on the iPhone.
Like, we're this little non-profit station in New Jersey,
and like why were we the first radio station in the world to do that?
I think it's just because we were the only ones who thought, like,
"Hey, let's try that out," and, you know, we figured out a way.
We have more listeners than ever.
We've done well on the internet, I think,
because we embraced it so early and were willing to experiment
and were willing to fail and then learn from our failures and then move on.
This room is to a certain extent a trophy room, because we have moved
to digital, largely, but it's really important
as the spiritual center and the heart of the radio station.
And so it still serves an important purpose.
Yeah, we've digitized the entire library-- vinyl included.
That was a number of years in the works.
The system was built in such a way that these artists-- from, you know, from
their bedroom up to, you know, at the place where they're just about to find representation,
whatever-- anyone can come to this place on the internet
and digitally submit their music.
And then our DJs have the opportunity then to sift through that, listen to those tunes.
We have 250,000 songs in our digital library.
But yeah, we still play a lot of physical material.
A huge 45 RPM collection, huge LP collection, a very large CD collection.
I use a lot of free music, archived music on my podcast every week
and on my radio show, and I think it's a really cool thing that we did.
You know, I think in one sense, WFMU decided like,
"Okay, it'd be really great if we had this sort of like
"royalty-free collection of music that we actually liked
"that we could use, in case, you know,
things go really badly with these negotiations with the copyright office."
I think that everyone here at the station is interested in redefining
what that terrestrial signal means in the digital landscape.
So, we're radio; we've always been radio and we'll always
continue to embody that spirit, but we're gonna do it digitally.
This is called "Roots and Branches," Brian.
This is a collection of instruments through the ages.
You know, one of the really interesting things to me about that radio segment...
you know, we talked to pretty much everybody at KCRW, WFMU about
the sort of shifting landscape of radio.
Yeah, it used to be that radio was the only way to learn about
new music, really, but now there are lots of different ways.
Sure, it's been about 100 years. It might be time for some new methods to discover music.
You know, there's a lot of interesting discovery sites.
Pandora's a really good one.
Spotify, things like that.
Also, a lot of curation happening.
There's a ton of noise out there right now, there's so much music.
It's kind of nice to have some people telling you what to listen to.
-Yeah, people like Pitchfork. -People like Pitchfork.
So we went out to Pitchfork in Brooklyn.
We checked out Pandora in San Francisco.
Right here in Seattle, we went to Sub Pop,
-obviously legendary record label here in Seattle. -Yeah, absolutely.
And they're doing some really interesting things online, as well.
And then we were in San Francisco, so we figured
might as well make a detour to our favorite record store in the country.
I'll be looking at that expense report very closely, Brian.
A $30 Nick Lowe CD.
It was $30, but it was worth every penny.
Seems a little overpriced.
Let's go, uh... let's go make some money.
You know, we lived in a world where commercial radio
was defining what was the soundtrack to our lives.
We had always, as a matter of course, relied on word of mouth
as our greatest marketing tool.
People passionately believing in our bands and telling their friends about it
and passing zines around.
And, you know, that's what it took.
And suddenly we no longer had to get past whatever payola barriers there were
between us and a top-ten radio hit.
I'm Tony Kiewel.
I'm the VP of A&R for Sub Pop Records and Sub Pop Publishing.
It was started by a gentleman named Bruce Pavitt
down in Olympia, Washington as a zine.
Our specialty has always been finding younger, smaller bands
that we care about passionately
that are doing interesting things, investing in them
and championing them and helping them find a wider audience.
What was really huge for us was when Myspace put the player up
and kids could post songs on their Myspace pages.
We didn't know what the hell was going on.
At one point-- I forget what the exact number was--
but it was... it was millions.
I mean, just so much bandwidth, it was breaking everything.
What is... what's happening here? What's killing us on bandwidth?
And it was people downloading "Such Great Heights," The Postal Service song.
And then we figured out, "Wait a minute.
Like 90% of this is Myspace."
And there were thousands and thousands of these kids
who had soundtracked their Myspace page with our mp3.
It became a debate for years: "God, maybe we should take down that free mp3."
It's... is it worth it, and it was like every time, no.
"Don't touch anything. Like, just leave everything alone and back away slowly.
Just let it ride."
mp3s were the one format-- music format-- that got introduced
that wasn't controlled or carefully orchestrated by the music industry.
So, when that happened and people were kind of trading them online,
the mp3 became kind of synonymous with piracy really quickly.
Most of the people who were doing it, I don't feel like people
really thought of it as stealing.
It's like, you kind of knew it was illicit and it wasn't, you know,
totally aboveboard, but you kind of didn't feel
like you were hurting anybody, you know.
So, a lot of people looked at it as, "Well, I'm getting turned on
"to new artists and I'm gonna go to their shows
and I'm gonna buy their merch and I'm gonna buy their future albums, and..."
And so you had labels kind of going in trying to attack that
and trying to put a stop to it, versus
trying to figure out how they can work with it.
That obviously is a famous situation of an industry
kind of shooting itself in the foot repeatedly.
If you have a computer and an internet connection,
that's really the way that you are exposing yourself
or finding out about most of the music that you will like
and that will stick with you, 'cause you know better
than any radio station what your taste is and what you're interested in.
It's easy to just go right to the source.
I'm Ryan Schreiber. I'm the founder of Pitchfork Media, Inc.
The site's been around since '96.
I started it when I was 19 years old, just like out of high school.
And there was not a lot of information about independent music on the web at that point.
Well, you used to kind of have to be sort of part of a community
to discover, for example, independent music.
If you wanted to find The Replacements or Fugazi or artists like that,
you kind of had to know where to look for them
and you had to really involve yourself in this community to get there.
And now, you know, there's, um... there are...
in terms of music magazines alone or music publications,
there's hundreds of thousands.
There's just naturally a lot more diversity and a lot more options and choices.
And for us, it's really just about kind of cutting through all the noise.
It kind of did set us up a little bit for digital music kind of taking over,
because we were there every day with something new
and at the same time already had a pretty large database
of reviews for people to kind of figure out, you know,
whether something was worth downloading, versus, you know, is something worth buying?
The labels, uh, had several pushes over the years
to try to make it at least taboo to buy and sell used product.
There were some significant efforts along the way that didn't go aywhere.
Home taping is the one that I remember the most. "Home taping is killing music."
I'm Marc Weinstein. I'm one of the co-owners and co-founders of Amoeba Music.
Well, we opened the store 23 years ago on Telegraph Avenue near UC Berkeley.
We outgrew that store pretty quickly.
It's about 12,800 feet, and this store's about twice that size at 25,000.
But record store hours are great, so that's one of the reasons
I loved it from the beginning, certainly.
I have a nice job where I'm basically just trying to make sure everybody who works at Amoeba
knows an owner personally and knows who they're working for, and understands
that we're not a bunch of corporate pigs trying to take advantage of anybody.
And we've done really well, because we've tried to treat our store kind of
like the bedroom of an adolescent who loves music--
putting music all over the walls, selling nothing but music.
What we care most about is the music and the musicians.
One of our niches has always been as a venue for people in the local community
to be able to sell their product without having to go through the big distribution system.
And to a certain extent, people are still doing that regularly.
And we do carry a lot of stuff that no one else has.
Historically, shopping for music was always kind of a treasure hunt.
And online, it's hard to kind of get that treasure hunt kind of energy going,
because everything is sort of being fed to you.
So, we're trying to grow a real honest-to-God independent record store online
that serves as an alternative to what are mostly
very corporate models out there, you know?
One of the key insights we had early was that
the way that most music is consumed in this country is through radio.
About 80% of all music entertainment in the United States comes from radio.
But we asked ourselves, well, what does the future for radio look like?
And we think, you know, first and foremost, it's personalized to your taste.
My name's Tom Conrad. I'm the CTO and Head of Product here at Pandora.
The company got its start in January of 2000, if you can believe it.
Back then, it was called Savage Beast Technologies and focused on
just making recommendation technology for other music companies.
I think Pandora's unique, from the standpoint that it was a company that was founded by musicians.
And their inspiration really was how do we help artists find an audience?
We were disappointed in the progress that had been made
to help audiences connect with musicians.
You know, we saw a world where there were hundreds of thousands of talented artists
who struggled every day to find an audience, and so the founding principle behind Pandora was
how can we create an environment that helps people connect with music that they might otherwise miss?
Part of what we did back in 2000 was to create the Music Genome Project.
The Music Genome is still kind of the technology that provides
the initial hypothesis for the music that plays on Pandora.
So, when you tell us you want to listen to The Beatles Radio,
we go to the Music Genome and pull all of the music
that's musicologically similar to the catalog of The Beatles.
And that starts the algorithms going.
Then of course we take your feedback-- your thumbs up and thumbs down--
with our goal being to personalize absolutely to your tastes.
So, maybe, you know, when you say Beatles Radio, you mean
something that sounds like that original British Invasion sound,
or maybe you like something that's more experimental,
more like the latter catalog of The Beatles.
Or maybe it's just shorthand for classic rock for you.
And so our goal is to take the Music Genome but then quickly layer in your feedback
to give you something that's really personalized to your tastes.
Pandora's very human.
You know, it starts with this incredibly manual, kind of insane notion
of analyzing music one song at a time.
And we have a team of programmers also who... we have 400 different genre stations that they kind of
lovingly craft a playlist as a starting point for our listeners' personalization.
A huge, huge focus for us moving forward is delivering
this personalized, incredibly simple experience in the context of the automobile.
Almost half of all radio listening takes place in the car,
but I think we're just at the very beginning of that process.
There's a lot of exciting stuff to come, including the notion
that your car itself is fundamentally connected to the internet,
with Pandora truly as a peer to the FM dial just a touch away.
I think there is a difference between asking somebody to pay
even a dollar for something and just asking them to push a button.
You know, you can't ignore anything anymore.
And especially with these streaming companies where it is pennies a lot of the time.
Somebody smarter than me talked about, you know, the rivers of pennies out there.
It's finding all these trickles of pennies and making sure you're set up
to count every single one and make sure they're all where they're supposed to be
and then account them.
I think there's gonna be a messy point, and it's gonna be... there's gonna be a reckoning,
because there's no such thing as a seamless, smooth transition.
There will be casualties.
It's just surviving long enough for whatever new model
takes place, you know, to assert itself.
You can't deny the math. The overall math is bad.
And continues to get worse for the whole pie.
But our piece of the pie is so much bigger than it was ten years ago.
And I think there's... what is often, um... maybe underappreciated
or undernoticed is the egalitarian effect that the internet has had.
Welcome to the Sound Lab, Brian.
And here you can make lots of interesting music in lots of interesting ways.
True, there is a drum circle right behind us.
Over there, you can... Remember CDs? You can record a CD over there.
No, I purged all my memory banks before I wore this.
Got good news. You can actually pirate that self-same CD
-over in the Napster section. -Perfect, perfect.
Coming up, we've got a lot of really interesting ways to make music, as well.
We went down to the Moog factory in North Carolina.
World-renowned for their synthesizers and other
kind of funky physical means of making music.
Yeah, those are like the classic wood-paneled synthesizers.
We also went out to California to talk to Smule.
They did the Ocarina app, the I Am T-Pain app.
A lot of really interesting ways to make and manipulate music on your phone.
So it'll be a nice mix of the physical versus the software.
Sure, little bit of the past, little bit of the future.
-Let's go make some beautiful music together, Ted. -Sounds beautiful.
Everything that this company does takes place right here in this building.
The company itself goes all the way back to the '50s,
when Bob Moog who was our founder started making electronic musical instruments.
He was a real pioneer, real visionary.
All of the aspects of the modern synthesizer can be
attributed to Bob in one way or another.
Through his work closely with musicians and artists at the time, he was able
to fold in ideas and designs into his instruments that were really able to stand the test of time.
Right now we're standing in the area where we handcraft our MInimoog synthesizers.
The MInimoog is actually an instrument that goes all the way back
to the '70s, with the introduction of the original MInimoog.
Now prior to this instrument, there were still synthesizers, but they were
radically different than the instruments that you see today or what you would imagine
when you think of a synthesizer or an electronic keyboard.
These early instruments were what were called modular synthesizers.
A modular synthesizer were these huge machines, very complex.
And so the MInimoog synthesizer was a reaction to that.
Bob was able to take all the complexity and the power
that were in these huge modular synthesizers and, you know, pack it down
into something that was small and affordable and compact
and that musicians could actually walk up and understand and immediately start reacting with.
(low, oscillating tone)
The Animoog, the name comes from the term
"Anisotropic Synthesis Engine,"
which is a new synthesis technique that we've developed with this app.
And the goal with it was to take all of the parameters and possibilities
that you have with our analog sound equipment and find a way
to use the iPad's interface and the touch interface
to unlock that and give you as much control over that same world
of sonic possibilities as we could.
You can see this path going through this X-Y space.
And each note that you play, um... travels through this sonic space
and changes its tone as it travels.
And so here in the path controls, I can...
I have just some control over how that evolves.
The motion of... that's one note. That's a second note.
You can see them both moving around there?
And so, you have real-time control over that sound as you're playing.
Right now in our two apps, Filtatron and Animoog,
both of them, I think, have a very unique personality
that sets them apart from one another and from other apps that are out there.
And one of our goals with all of our equipment is to manifest that unique personality
and give you something to connect to that is really inspiring and different.
(playing pretty melody)
Our goal is to use technology and to use mobile apps
as a way of bringing music creation into the lives of the masses.
I'm Prerna Gupta, Chief Product Officer at Smule.
We started in 2008 with Ocarina, which was our first music product that we launched.
And we went on to expand to different types of music creation experiences.
We did I Am T-Pain which is very popular. It's an Auto-Tune app.
We've gone on with each of our products to become more and more social.
For example, last year we launched a couple of very social products.
One was Sing! Karaoke.
It's a karaoke app where you can sing, but you can actually join other people's songs.
We have people from all over the world who make songs together.
We have someone from Indonesia will put their rendition up,
and someone sitting in Kansas will join their song and create a beautiful rendition.
We're absolutely not trying to replace real-world instruments.
We're not trying to replace music production software like Garage Band.
We want something that actually somehow makes that experience
different or better or richer in some way.
And we also recently launched a music video app called CineBeat,
where you can create your own music videos and put them up on our network
and have other people comment and interact with your videos.
I'm gonna do a demo of myself singing and then applying different filters
and uploading this video.
(a cappella): Amazing grace
How sweet the sound...
Let's apply a guitar filter.
(acoustic guitar plays)
How sweet the sound...
And I can save this video, it processes it, uploads it and
I hit "Done."
I can share it on SMS, Facebook, etc.
And it'll upload it to, um, our network.
We view our apps as actually a gateway into a network of music creators.
And that's... that's key to all of our products.
You know, the idea that you don't have to be a musician, you don't have to have
any training, or really have even that much talent, right?
But you just... you like to play music.
With all of our apps-- whether it's Magic Piano,
whether it's Songify, whether it's I Am T-Pain,
our users will create pretty amazing content, and some of it will be
really virtuosic and really entertaining.
And they'll put it up on YouTube, and some of these videos will go viral.
All right, Brian, I can't wait any longer. I've been looking at all of these instruments.
-I gotta rock out. -Tim, the rock and roll is gonna have to wait.
We have some people we need to thank.
I want to thank John Vanderslice, John Roderick,
really all the Johns out there.
Uh, Black Milk, Dan Deacon, David Cope.
Obviously the Experience Music Project.
And of course, the rockin'est internet browser of all... Internet Explorer.
I want to thank everybody out there for buying our still-untitled EP.
You ready to roll?
Ready as I'll ever be.
One, two, three!