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Unpacking The Hype: Four Takeaways From The 2016 SF MusicTech Summit

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3. Streaming services will not cannibalize direct-to-fan revenue sources.

Streaming services are becoming more potent ways to connect listeners with new artists, whether the discovery is algorithmically driven (à la Spotify) or curated by the biggest stars in fashion and tech (à la Apple Music). Editorial content within playlists and smarter advertising models can also increase fan engagement within these services, growing the revenue pie on a larger scale.

In spite of this trend, many music-industry professionals claim that streaming will be far from the only form of music consumption in the future. Darryl Ballantyne, CEO of LyricFind, asserted that streaming is actually “opening up a whole new set of opportunities for revenue that goes straight to the artist.” From intimate house concerts and independent pay-what-you-want platforms to merchandizing and even individual Skype calls or live chats, the digital age has introduced a diverse range of options for fans to contribute directly to artists’ wallets.

The key for artists in navigating this fragmented D2F environment is to maintain transparent, empathetic communication with their followers. In the words of Claire Parr, Co-Founder of Live in the Vineyard, “fans need to know not just what they’re buying, but why.”

4. The future of music and cars is about improving mobility, preserving companionship and increasing engagement through personalization.

Casey Feldman, Product Designer & UI Engineer at Ford, took a rather complicated commute to SF MusicTech on Monday: an Uber to the Palo Alto train station, then the CalTrain to San Francisco, followed by a ride-share to Hotel Kabuki using the crowdsourced shuttle service Chariot (which Ford acquired last month).

Each of these modes of transportation, he explained during our panel, has a unique sound space and level of communality with other riders, and hence a distinct problem set regarding its relationship with music. Hence, studies of music on the road should extend to transportation across all vehicles and geographies, not just to personal cars. He abides by this philosophy in his own work: “Ford is not a car company, it’s a mobility company.”

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Much of our panel also discussed how, while terrestrial radio’s dominant status in the car may change with the onset of autonomous vehicles and their subsequently enhanced media capabilities, the most successful in-car music apps will adopt terrestrial radio‘s advantages. Radio’s best value proposition is its convenience—one simply presses a button and turns a knob or swipes to the right frequency. In addition, radio hosts convey a sense of localized companionship to riders, which may be difficult to replicate with a streaming service.