The battle between man and machine continued today at SXSW as more people thrashed it out (and laughed a lot) on panels discussing algorithms, good taste and whether a hand-curated Stevie Wonder playlist is worth $10 a month alone.
Folks from Pandora, RDIO and Google Play entertained the crowd with honest quips about ‘similar artists’ making them cringe, and insights into how playlists are built.
Tim Quirk of Google said ‘playlists are discreet entities with beginnings and endings, but with algorithms we’ve learned what you like and now we can keep this going.’
So what makes a playlist a playlist? It has to have some kind of emotional content for starters – think back to High Fidelity. And it has to have beginning, middle and end, just like a story. As Quirk says, ‘it’s not a playlist if it doesn’t have an end.’ Which is an issue for streaming platforms claiming to create such things.
With strong arguments on both sides of the tape, there is no crystal clear answer as to whether the human touch is better than tech. The next 12 months (and the future success of Beats) will help to lift the smog. But let’s face it, the millions of people that watch Ellen DeGeneres who can’t be bothered to look for their own supply of new music, are most probably going to see the benefit of a playlist created by one of their TV idols (via Beats).
The CORD CEO, Daniel Jackson was on a panel this afternoon with Nils Leonard from Grey London and Eric Sheinkop from Music Dealers tackling topics like meaningful brand and music engagements (see Rubber Tracks and Red Bull Music Academy), where agencies should and shouldn’t spend their money (only 4% of ad budgets get spent on music), and building brand identity with music.
Eric made this valid point: you wouldn’t ask a decorator to paint you house for free, so why would you expect music for free in your ad? While Nils said if advertising folk remember that people hate ads, the better they will do at creating them. And Daniel concluded the talk by saying it doesn’t matter whether you’re an artist, brand or agency because ultimately we all want the same thing – to reach people.
Over and out. We’re off to see Little Dragon at Fader Fort!