Listen up, music fans!
CHANGES, a conference focusing on the future of music, is happening across Melbourne next month. The lineup of speakers and artists this year is incredible, featuring the likes of Annie Bass, Evangeline, Dark Water, Hoodlem, Mojo Juju and so much more.
We sat down with Matty Newton, the music curation lead for Amazon Music in Australia and New Zealand to discuss CHANGES and the future of music.
“CHANGES is a really rad little music industry conference in Melbourne. I was there last year and I really enjoyed it. It’s one of those opportunities where you can get together with like-minded people and experts share new ideas. I’m really looking forward to it!”
Though the ticketed event is open to the public, many of the attendees are people involved in the music industry: students, professionals, record label partners, artists and bands and such. But anyone is welcome – so if you’re interested in the music industry, this conference is a must!
The event focuses heavily on the future of music and what the industry has in store for us all. We spoke with Matty about streaming platforms – the phenomenon which is no longer the future, but today’s reality.
“I’ve been attending different music conferences for almost 20 years,” he explains. “Back then, as an up and coming musician myself, we were talking about social media and how to promote bands on MySpace or Twitter. Questions were around whether we should be using Facebook or Instagram as a social media campaign. That’s kind of changed now, and we’re moving towards these kinds of services where streaming really is the saviour of the music industry.”
Matty reflects back on his career and notices the changes that have happened, even in recent years. “I used to work for Pandora which is a streaming service, and now I work for Amazon Music which is a voice-focused streaming service so it’s changed tremendously!”
On the surface, a music curator typically makes playlists. But Matty explains that through the evolution of the industry, it’s become so much more than that. “It includes updating the charts, making playlists, and curating radio stations, right through to arranging original music pieces or tagging songs and artists with appropriate things for the voice experience. Everything’s personal.”
In regards to the voice thing, Matty is referring to voice-activated streaming: “We’re looking at curating the music experience for you based on whatever you ask for. So, I work for a service that is designed for you to walk up to an Amazon Echo speaker and ask it to play some music you feel like listening to and it’s supposed to play that music. You could command, with your voice, Alexa, play me sad Madonna songs from the 80s, and it’ll do just that,” he says.
“It’s crazy dude, the industry’s changed so much!”
At the end of the day, Matty says streaming is “just going to make people love music more, and want to listen to music more, which is the ultimate goal.”
In recent news, we’ve all heard that iTunes is pretty much dead – the future is streaming. Matty shares his thoughts on this: “The future is now. Streaming was gonna be the future and now it is. The majority of people’s listening is on a streaming service. And more and more people are expecting to be able to hear good music at the tap of their finger, or a word form their mouth.” Although Matty can’t predict what’s next, he shares with us that even within the streaming industry, everything is changing so fast. “We’re moving away from having to use your phone to pick songs, to using your voice. That itself is a massive development within streaming. And we’re only at the beginning of that in Australia and New Zealand. We’re just catching up.”
With streaming platforms now being a goldmine of accessible music, it’s hard to imagine life without them. But there are some concerns that artists aren’t being paid enough. From back in the day, when artists could sell CDs from the back of their car, and even a little more recently, with each artist charging a bit over a dollar to purchase each track, artists are now only keeping a fraction of the profit from streaming.
We asked Matty what his thoughts were about this shift, as an artist himself. Are artists being ripped off?
“It’s really interesting, ’cause ten years ago, I was playing music and releasing CDs through record labels and physical copies of music. And you did get paid more per CD, but it doesn’t help if you don’t have anyone listening to your music. What we’re finding with streaming is that it really has brought the music industry back into surplus. All sorts of music businesses are hiring more people, and that’s beneficial for artists, ’cause there are more people working to promote them. And it’s good for artists for another reason. For the first time in a long time, we’re seeing more people making a career out of music, not just on the money they’re making off streaming, but also all the other income avenues that have opened up as a result. They have found a fanbase through the streaming service. I think ultimately it’s been a fantastic thing. It’s the first time in a really, really long time – possibly ever – that an artist now has the ability to do everything themselves, from beginning to end, in their bedroom if they wanted to, and make a living from it. And at the same time, we’re seeing record labels invest really heavily in new talent. Streaming has been a really good thing for the music industry.”
Well, that’s a relief! We no longer have to feel guilty for paying around 10 bucks a month for literally endless amounts of music! So, what’s next for the music industry? Matty says for Australia, it’s about moving forward and catching up to the rest of the world with voice-activated technology. Through this, music will be opened up to the whole household, instead of just privately listening through our headphones. It’ll be a sharing experience – something that unites people.
“I don’t think people have noticed how much we’ve retreated back into our headphones, and away from speakers,” Matty says. “I think that’s what the future will look like, too. Not just playing music for ourselves, but sharing it.”
Matty will be sharing more of his insights into the future of music and streaming at CHANGES, which will be held from July 3-4. If you’re a music lover, be sure to score a ticket to this conference, where you’ll gain a bunch of insights and meet some super cool people, including Matty!
You can view the whole program here.
Written by Naseem Radmehr