Music talks at 2017’s Web Summit in Lisbon

I am writing this post from Lisbon to sum up the conversations on music at this year’s Web Summit.


2017 Highlights

Using blockchain as the foundation for music content management and distribution presents unprecedented opportunities for artists…
to control your identity, to simplify publishing, to define licensing options, to distribute sounds, to track content consumption, to get paid immediately without relying on 3rd parties.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to augment an artist’s creativity…
will AI augment or replace us? I believe that it will augment us to start with! You already listen to heaps of human-generated music that influences your musical creations and are now given an additional tool to be ever more creative.

Big players, money driven and who do not particularly care about music or artists, increasingly take decisions principally based on data…
struggling to cope with listeners reduced attention spans and with the pace of change, live-streaming services curate playlists based on the data they collect, radios play songs/artists that have proven track records, labels and managers sign new artists looking at the data and numbers they generate, and so on and so forth.

In my opinion artists have to wait it out and not succumb to this numbers game and utter confusion. I’d say focus on the quality of your craft and keep having fun :)!!!

Panels I attended, in order of interest

‘Block and roll: Blockchain and music publishing’
with Panos Panay (Berklee College of Music), Joseph Lubin (Ethereum), Jow Conyers III (SongTrust), Robert Hackett (Fortune)


The focus should be here.
Using blockchain technology in music for securing contracts and to manage sales would simplify to the Nth degree music management, distribution and payments. It sounds like a deal breaker and an opportunity to further push middle men out of the way!

Blockchain will constitute the basis for a unique decentralised, robotised, accessible repository of truth. Paying artists immediately if their content is played or sampled or utilised in anyway, shape or form; avoiding having to deal with disputes over song rights and ownership; and enabling more and more changes we cannot imagine yet!

Ujo is one of the first applications of Ethereum specific to music! It is launching its Alpha sometimes this November and I have signed up to be one of the partaking artists!

‘The future of songwriting with AI’
with Taryn Southern (Singer/Songwriter)

I got really excited before this talk started as Bryan Johnson the founder of Kernel came, sat in front of me, and said ‘hello’! Only to find out later he’s dating the speaker…

Taryn is a YouTuber I didn’t know about but a quick look at her channel speaks for itself (she’s been at it for over 10 years!). She talked about having started collaborating with AI for her productions and mentioned using Google Magenta, Amper Music, and IBM Watson.

‘How curated playlists are replacing radio as the new tastemakers’
with Nick Sabine (Resident Advisor), Alexander Holland (Deezer), Laidback Luke (DJ, Producer, and Founder & Owner of Label “Mixmash Records”), Mark Savage (BBC)

I arrived half way through the talk (got carried away with a lovely breakfast)…when I arrived all speakers were agreeing that for artists it is important to be featured on playlists as they are one of the primary means of discovery nowadays.

Radios will not disappear any time soon and they will complement playlists, giving listeners more choice than ever.

‘Hip-hop artists are the original entrepreneurs’
with Ryan Leslie (SuperPhone), Ben Beaumont-Thomas (The Guardian)


When asked wether black singers/songwriters have less opportunity to make it in music if compared to white people, Ryan Leslie replied that it is not about race but about wealth. And wealth gives you access to the right people. BAM!

Success happens at the speed of communication and it is all about discovery; according to him the strongest tools we have at hand to push our music nowadays are our phone number (hence his product SuperPhone) and our Facebook messenger id.

‘Managing artists in 2017’
with José Woldring (The Media Nanny), Madeline Nelson (Heads Music), Sol Guy (Sol Guy), Nick Sabine (Resident Advisor)

Madeline Nelson, Wyclef Jean’s manager, said that music managers have to take care of way more things than they used to in the past, they’ve become the new labels.
A lot of their decisions are based on data today: they have unprecedented access to data so this is how they choose best strategies for content launch, for tour dates and more.

It also emerged that nowadays radios decide wether a song can be played or not on the basis of data; meaning that if your song is not getting enough playlist plays or Shazams it will not make the cut on a radio show!

‘Investing in the future of music’
with Amadea Choplin (Pex), Tracy Gardner (Warner Music Group), Mark Savage (BBC)

One of the main difficulties for artists and whomever represents them is to collect money for the use of their content. First you have to find the platforms that are making use of your artists’ content and then you have to find a way to monetise it e.g. a tricky one is the use of music on gifs.

Interesting for me was to see how Warner Music Group are not resisting the changes that technology brought about in music and are doing their best to understand and adapt to the new ecosystem. Feels like status quo isn’t enough nowadays!!!

‘Independent labels in the streaming age’
with Simon Wheeler (Beggars Group), Charles Caldas (Merlin Network), Zoe Henry (

An ode to indie labels…and the past really…
Talk was not super interesting…main thing was that nowadays if you want to have an indie label you have to do it because you love it and you have a passion for it. Not for the money. If you jump in for the money you will not go anywhere!

‘A production masterclass with Wyclef Jean’
with Wyclef Jean (Wyclef Jean), Nelson Freitas (Nelson Freitas), D.A.M.A. (D.A.M.A.)


Wyclef showed people how you can record different tracks and quickly mix it to become a song. The best thing was to see Wyclef in action sharing some Fugees vibes!

‘From the classroom to Coachella’
with Martin Garrix (STMPD RCRDS), Ben Beaumont-Thomas (The Guardian)


Martin talked about how he started and how he made it to where he is now. Interesting and nice guy but nothing to report a part from the fact that he absolutely loves music!

‘Can tech save the music industry?’
with Hans-Holger Albrecht (Deezer),Wyclef Jean (Wyclef Jean), Martin Garrix (STMPD RCRDS), Ben Beaumont-Thomas (The Guardian)

This talk actually took place at Centre Stage before Al Gore’s speech on climate change. Despite the big names, nothing much to report!

Compare this post to what was said last year, click here!