Friday, November 16, 2007

Richie Hawtin (DJ and owner of M_nus label) On The Future of Music Sales

Will downloading kill music?

Last year Minus wrote our biggest royalty cheques ever because of digital sales. If people can buy stuff digitally at a good price they generally will. People don’t want to rip other people off as long as they don’t feel they’re getting ripped off themselves. To do this properly you need to be able to track what’s happening with a record and bring people into an on-demand service. Why own 100 records when you can have anything you want, whenever you want? There’s a company called Sound Cloud looking at sharing music on a global scale. But you could take things even further. Right now an MP3’s tags can tell you basic information about a track like its name or artist. But what if you could encode more than that? You could break each track down into its individual loops and elements, and each of these elements and loops would be encoded with information about what influenced them or who made them. Then you could start to build a way of tracing how a track came to be. It would work like a genetic code so that in ten years’ time you could trace a track’s family tree, looking at where it came from and the software or machines that created it.

So are you saying we should get rid of ownership of music?

I’d like to get to a place where I don’t even have to carry a computer or a mechanical storage device for music. I don’t care if I have some physical object that contains these non physical assets, I’d like all my music stored somewhere and to be able bring that list down whenever I need it. So imagine if you had this cloud where all these songs were stored and encoded and you could pluck them down in real time during a performance? But what if you want to get deeper and you want to have just the high hats from a track and map them over the sound from another song playing. This kind of interactivity is where I want to get to. Getting down to the molecular level of songs. That would be amazing.

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