Video Of The Week: The Content Discussion At Web Summit

Web Summit was this past week in Dublin. I’ve been watching some of the video from the conference and I thought this discussion David Carr hosted about the future of content was particularly good.


Comments (Archived):

  1. sigmaalgebra

    I don’t know those people. I get an impressionof some aspects of somewhat impaired health.Might some of them have been affected by smoking funny stuff?On ‘content’, here’s some, an old piece, playedin a way that is unusually expressive:…Likely part of what he is doing, at times, is bowing the strings close to the bridge. Mechanics aside, the mainissue is artistic expression. Once I transposed thepiece up to the corresponding strings on violin: WhileI didn’t play it well, it was great fun to play.

    1. jason wright

      i mistook the microphones for feeding tubes

      1. Richard


        1. jason wright

          sorry if you feel that way, but that’s the transposition my mind saw. he looks and sounds as if he’s quite ill. if he is he should be at home taking better care of himself. long haul transatlantic flights don’t help.

          1. Salt Shaker

            See my and LE’s comments above

          2. LE

            A man has to know his limitations unfortunately people with addictive personalities don’t. (Now I have to watch the video to see if your parent comment is a funny as it seemed w/o watching the video..)

          3. Richard

            Its about time that we put the prejudices of skin wrinkles in the same place as that of skin color.

          4. jason wright

            the man is obviously in poor health…for whatever reason.”prejudice” and the suppressed observationperhaps people like Seymour Hoffman would still be alive if others had been more “prejudiced”

          5. Richard

            You know who else is in poor health, Steven Hawkins. So was Bill Clinton before he became a vegan. The point here the moderators health doesn’t effect his performance.

          6. jason wright

            I don’t go soft or silent on drug abusers. I point it out. I don’t look the other way. I’ve lost friends this way. So be it. They can’t be trust. They lie, they deceive, they abuse (themselves and their friends). They are never truly reformed.Stephen Hawking and my mother share the same condition. neither one has lived a ‘lifestyle’ that contributed to their poor state of health.

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      So that was:so much more contentso much more worth listening toso much more evergreenIt says to me that content is not about democracy, wealth, access or entitlementIf you have within you a need to express – life will find a way:Bach, aged 10, moved in with his oldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671–1721), the organist at St. Michael’s Church in Ohrdruf, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.[14] There he studied, performed, and copied music, including his own brother’s, despite being forbidden to do so because scores were so valuable and private and blank ledger paper of that type was costly. (credit wiki)

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Glad you liked it.

    3. Salt Shaker

      With respect to your impaired health comment, David Carr is a former drug addict (well documented) and has been in recovery for many years. He always looks a tad disheveled, but his NYT’s column is gen very well written and insightful.

      1. LE

        Yes I was going to point out Carr’s defects (cocaine addict to be precise is what I read) but you beat me to hit. <— Freudian slip?He also appears in this documentary about the NY Times which I highly recommend “Page One” (on Netflix):…but his NYT’s column is gen very well written and insightful. I’d probably be more creative than I am (and I’m pretty creative) if I took drugs as well. But hey, I think it’s great that all these people ruin their lives with drugs to bring me and the rest of the world so many highly creative things (movies,film, entertainment). Oh wait, I end up paying for that drug abuse in other ways than my own personal health. Maybe drugs aren’t such a good thing after all.

        1. jason wright

          i agree

      2. jason wright

        not well documented to me. before today i’d never heard of him. my instinctive reactive to seeing him in the video was therefore correct. he’s not well.

        1. Salt Shaker

          He’s one of the most renowned and respected media critics in the world. So now you know. Unfortunately, we all can’t look like Beckham 🙂

    4. SubstrateUndertow

      That music link is sublime 🙂

      1. sigmaalgebra

        > Sublime.It’s tough to describe such music with words, but that’sa good effort!To me the early parts sound like a part of life with a lotof ups and downs, struggles and determination, richnessand insistence, and at the end it all comes together, resolves, with a magnificent victory, story of a life in less than 3 minutes. Or just “sublime”!Glad you liked it.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        For some more Bach, there’s Bach’s C Major “Prelude” as at…which, of course, Gounod used as accompaniment as in…with Callas. Of course, this piece is also a favorite of nearly every pre-teen, tween, teen pretty, blond, angelic, sweetheart songbird trying to make college tuition money!Not foo far off is…or…with the Piano Sonata No. 14 in C? minor “Quasi una fantasia”, op. 27, No. 2, by Beethoven or The Moonlight. The first movement is often “sublime”!But, back to Bach, and mostly not much like the cello “Prelude” or the C Major piano “Prelude”, there is the Chaconne, that is the last part of the 2nd “Partita” for solo violin, e.g., by Heifetz…AlsoAlina Ibragimova…She is especially good near the end of the first D minor section (note below for the D Major section).Also for a piano version, heavily changed, by Busoni, and played by Valentina Lisitsa:…She’s darned good and plays this piece well, in places very well.In her performance, the D Major section goes from about 7:26 to 10:30 and starts off with another example of “sublime”. The section ends with what I regard as the climax of the piece.Mid way through that section are some notes played three or four times, several times, and Heifetz can make these sound insistent, but those notes are not emphasized in this piano performance.On violin I couldn’t stop practicing the Chaconne, and I got through a lot of it and did the best in the D Major section. Now, writing software is getting in the way!After that climax the piece returns to D minor for a catharsis. Near the end, this piano performance takes advantage of the ability of a piano to be loud and, thus, is more dramatic than most violin performances.As you can quickly see at YouTube, there are performances by several other violinists.This piece is not easy to listen to on a first hearing. In some ways, the piano version is easier to listen to.Yes, the piece has also been played on guitar. So, a story goes, a guitarist was at a concert and sitting next to composer Castelnuovo-Tedesco, known to be a man of few words. The guitarist said, “The Bach Chaconne sure is difficult to play.”. At the end of the concert the composer said, “The Bach Chaconne is the greatest piece of music ever written.”I won’t argue with that.

  2. jason wright

    i patiently waited for someone to inevitably say “blockchain”

    1. pointsnfigures

      blockchain will have a lot to say about intellectual property rights, and distribution.

    2. JimHirshfield

      True, the word was not uttered. But Bono did reference immediate debits of micropayments to artists.

      1. jason wright

        Bono sounds very sincere, but when his income is macro payments from Apple one wonders.does Songs of Innocence not send the message that consumers can expect music for free? to me it seems contradictory

        1. JimHirshfield

          Macro, yeah.

    3. Richard

      Gives new meaning to “name dropping”.

      1. jason wright

        he can sue me for copyright infringement, or should i attribute to avoid a c & d letter?perhaps he’ll settle for royalty payments.the fundamental difference between his quote and my ‘rip off’ is that creativity will *never* be evenly distributed. that’s why artists are celebrated and revered in so many cultures. the *appreciation* of creativity will be more evenly distributed as the blockchain enables the distribution of artistic works to a much wider audience than we see presently.

  3. pointsnfigures

    Taylor Swift said she is bringing back the CD. Jimmy Buffett said he makes pennies now for the same stuff he used to get paid dollars for. Couldn’t Taylor Swift bypass the record companies, bypass Soundcloud and streaming-and go direct to consumer, earning all of the economic surplus? The question becomes, how long, or what’s the road to get to become Taylor Swift?

    1. jason wright

      who?n.b. discovery

    2. fredwilson

      i would expect she would use soundcloud to do that

      1. pointsnfigures

        But if she gives it away for free on Soundcloud, why buy the CD where they make money?

        1. fredwilson

          She can be “On SoundCloud” in the Premier Tier is just like the YouTube Content Partners Program that so many artists and MCNs are making boatloads of money from

          1. pointsnfigures

            I see. (BTW, not dissing, asking questions to learn) Taylor came up through the record label route-traditional. It would be easy for her to switch. Who will be the Taylor Swift that comes out of Soundcloud? I have found Soundcloud is awesome for exploring and learning about new artists-not clear to me how many people will pay money. In social you said 30/10/10 is the breakdown of usage. Wonder what the metrics are for freemium/premium model are? I don’t pay for Dropbox. I don’t pay for LinkedIn etc.

          2. fredwilson

            Lorde came up on SoundCloudshe was an unknown teenager from new zealand when she posted her first tracks on SoundCloud a few years agoshe now has almost 5mm followers there, much larger than her follower bases on Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, or anywhere else

          3. pointsnfigures

            This was an excellent video by the way. Never thought of iTunes as an Excel spreadsheet, or that startups were like bands.

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Starting-up shares a ton of DNA with producing art (music, theatre, film). I’ve always preferred the metaphor of art instead of war. Much more like art.

          5. pointsnfigures

            Agree on the DNA of the startup. Then the leadership once you startup has metaphors to platoon leadership, then as the company grows, company leadership, and then army leadership. (as @JLM:disqus will tell you!)

          6. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I wonder if Steve Jobs felt like he was leading an army, or a ballet troupe…

          7. pointsnfigures

            He flew the pirate flag back in the 80’s, so it must have been Navy.

          8. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Now, being a _pirate_ is a good metaphor for being an entrepreneur 🙂

          9. Matthew Kraska

            That is an interesting view, but isn’t everything really just a spreadsheet? A whole new industry is here, and the purpose of that industry (big data) is to turn everything we do into a spreadsheet. Only thing left is how that data is most useful to the businesses that use it.

          10. Richard

            As tech becomes more and more commoditized, artists and visionaries will play a larger part of in startup land.

          11. pointsnfigures

            Yesterday I was in a trading room. Algos, and quants. The most important thing in the room-the human brain and creativity.

          12. LE

            The startup business is totally like the music business or the entertainment business. It’s a total pyramid with a bunch of people making no money at all killing themselves with the hopes of hitting it big because the winners are all out there and drooled over and paraded around like conquering romans. [1]People in the startup business are also very stubborn (I have found at least the ones that I deal with) on the creative level. They have their vision and that’s that. They aren’t interested in changing that vision for practical reasons. This is contrary to traditional business where people typically seek the wisdom of someone else. Exception would be of course “internet sombodies” who are given way to much credit in things that they have no fucking clue about.[1] Also similar is that in the entertainment business you never know if the guy next to you is going to be a big star one day so you end up having to be nice and suck up to everyone in case they make it. Or in case they end up being affiliated with someone who hits it big. This is different from traditional business where you can usually figure out who has a chance of winning vs. the losers. Or sports for that matter.

          13. William Mougayar

            That kind of story is the future. But did she stay exclusively online or get snatched by the labels?Same stories are happening to writers on Wattpad. They start there, then land 1/2 mil $ advances from traditiinal publishers.

          14. fredwilson

            Right now Wattpad and SoundCloud is where they are discovered but they go to the legacy model to get paid. When Wattpad and SoundCloud can help them get paid, the way YouTube has done, that will change

          15. William Mougayar

            Exactly. So we need to start breaking that old mold … Now.

          16. LE

            But did she stay exclusively online or get snatched by the labels?Exactly does this then become the farm team for major labels?

          17. William Mougayar

            It seems that way for now until they can make their full money online.

          18. FlavioGomes

            Unfortunately too many musicians/artists are transfixed with the distribution method when they should be focused on writing/producing exceptional content. Lorde’s rise wasn’t really a result of distro…it was great quality content first and formost.

          19. LE

            Wonder what the metrics are for freemium/premium model are? I don’t pay for Dropbox. I don’t pay for LinkedIn etc.It’s an intuitive uphill battle. (Or the overused saying from a few years ago “faces headwinds” would also be appropriate).For one thing you have something that is totally subjective as far as what “good” is. This isn’t an oven in the kitchen or an automobile or even a mind play like a luxury good where marketing can give you (enough of) a leg up.Second you have a zillion backup choices for “good” that are all free.Third, you have the “what your aunt thinks” effect. Meaning you might not care about being featured on 60 minutes or with Matt Lauer but your aunt does. I mean who wouldn’t want to sign, even today, with a major music label and have their ticket punched (and their dental work done for free?)

      2. Twain Twain

        And three days later we’re informed Taylor Swift would have earned $6 million (extra?) if she’d stuck with Spotify:*

  4. jason wright

    “democratisation of creativity”we’re going to find out that creativity is not yet evenly distributed

  5. JimHirshfield

    Being in startups = being in bands- BonoMuch truth to that if you can find your contribution in a startup as a creative collaboration.I’ve done both… and after seeing Bono’s enthusiasm on this panel, I want to record an album and upload it to SoundCloud.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Have you seen the U2 documentary, “From The Sky Down?” It’s about U2’s pivot, and it’s really inspiring.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Nope. Will have to find it. Thanks.

  6. LaMarEstaba

    That video was excellent. It gave me a lot of food for thought, and I’ll get that down in a blog post or something later today, possibly tonight.What I was struck by during the video was the slight vulgarity of several moments, especially when Carr said something about “who is getting their skirts lifted.” And it was an extended joke, right, among lads and it was funny. If there’d been a woman on the panel, it wouldn’t have been. It reminded me of the Medium post of a black female in tech.…I am a female with a foot in tech, and for a long time I’ve been one of the boys. I had more male friends in high school than female friends, and most of them are engineers (of all kinds) now. I’m not that quick to call out slightly vulgar behavior, but I do think that this video – excellent and thought provoking as it is – shows a moment where women aren’t very welcome.

    1. Richard

      Vulgarity coming from a group with a career of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. I have to give them a pass on this one.

      1. LaMarEstaba

        Bono is not the only one in that group, or else it wouldn’t be a group. It would just be Bono talking to himself, not a discussion.

  7. Richard

    Prediction: It won’t be long before motion pictures and other content producers A/B test the music soundtracks during premiers and release the content with multiple personalized soundtracks to drive on demand viewing.

  8. Salt Shaker

    A couple of personal observations on recorded music:1) Physical to digital has been great for artists, and made content far more accessible for listeners, but it has made discovery that much more challenging. There’s a lot of good stuff out there but it’s still awfully hard to find, with time management a big concern.2) The record labels had the winning lottery ticket in their hands and essentially tore it up.3) Music subscription models aren’t well conceived. There’s too much fragmentation, and a significantly larger % of subs are driven towards free rather than premium, where the real profit margins lie.4) If U2 was a start up band today, would they be a success in the new paradigm ? I have my doubts, in part cause their style of music now seems a tad dated, but more importantly, like everyone else they’re up against the probs outlined in pt. #1, and further compounded by low digital royalty rates.A brief add-on (and somewhat of a follow-up to Fred’s post on the secondary tix market of earlier this week). One of the very first “real” concerts I ever attended (does junior high band count?) was Led Zeppelin in Central Park for $2.00, which was the top price in a gen admission venue. Re-calculated with inflation, that tix today would cost $13.14.Not to suggest that tix pricing should precisely parallel an inflation index, but it does put into perspective how out of control and cost-prohibitive “live event” pricing is today, including in the world of sports, theater, etc. If Led Zeppelin ever toured today the top ticket price say at Madison Square Garden could easily top $500, which is a far cry from $13.14.And yes, I do understand market economics are at play here.

    1. LE

      With respect to U2:U2 formed at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album Boy. By the mid-1980s, U2 became a top international act. They were more successful as a touring act than they were at selling records until their 1987 album The Joshua Tree which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band’s stature “from heroes to superstars”Bottom line under the old system record labels and music managers made artists like a woodworker makes furniture our of a good cut of wood.The very excellent David Geffen documentary on PBS said it all. One of the Eagles about David Geffen “He got us to a dentist who fixed our teeth he took care of all the little details in our life” (rough quote, not exact but the gist..)

    2. sigmaalgebra

      … it has made discovery that much more challenging. There’s a lot of good stuff out there but it’s still awfully hard to find,”Good stuff”? Yup. Music. As recently here at AVC, podcasts. Still images. Video clips. Blogs. Long tail Web sites. What fraction of Internet content is that, of searches people want to do, results they want to find?Looks like that fraction of search is poorly served by current search tools.How to do such searching along with, say, discovery, recommendation, curation, notification, subscription? What about keywords/phrases, page rank, what friends like, a hierarchy such as the old Yahoo Directory, cluster analysis, speech recognition, image processing, natural language understanding, dimensionality reduction via singular value decomposition, bright idea intuitive heuristics, e.g., neural network machine learning, lists of what is most popular, e.g., Top 40, maybe some Nielsen/Adobe ratings?Most of the above techniques have been tried with not very impressive results, and, if very many people knew of something quite good, then they would have implemented it by now.time management a big concern.Yup.Here’s a broad guess: See what data is or could be available. Find good ways to process that data to get the desired result.How to find such ways to process data? A guess: Some math? On the shelves of the libraries? Maybe not yet!Blogs? Technorati used to track 100+ million of them. Not all good, not all bad, some quite good. Blogs are essentially all text, and it’s still, e.g., from keywords/phrases, tough to find what content someone will want.Still images? With digital photography, e.g., more smartphones with cameras and Internet connections than toilets, we’re talking how many still images? Yup, pretty girls and kittens and puppies but also sunsets, forests, lakes, mountains, and categories beyond any imagination?Let’s see, there’s Flickr, PInterest, more?How to do a search when can’t even imagine the category? Is there math for that? There is now!How many podcasts, video clips, also from smartphones with Internet connections and otherwise?More content arriving daily? Apparently.First-cut, ballpark, back of the envelope, guesstimate based on experience, what fraction of Internet content are we talking here? Now? In the future? Similarly, how many potential users?

  9. William Mougayar

    If so many music artists were so appalled by the fact that “No one knows where the money goes”, why don’t they all go to Soundcloud then, and ditch the music labels?If artists just put one toe in that new boat, it’s not enough of a tipping point to let everybody get onboard.

    1. LE

      The two things that I know the least about are sports and music. But I do know about business and public relations and the media …I would speculate here and say that soundcloud doesn’t book people on TV shows and doesn’t have a well oiled marketing machine to “make” the artist. That’s a large part of the value of a label.Of course Soundcloud could do that. But I think they would have to go the route of old school which may be difficult given where they came from and who is in charge.Opening up a NYC office as well as a LA office and hiring some people with traditional music business background is probably an obvious direction they should go in. People that can make and close deals. Not out of college “bus dev” people but people who know how the system works and can use it to Soundcloud’s advantage.'m seeing only two locations in Germany above…)

      1. William Mougayar

        You got to start somewhere. House of cards did Netflix. What next artist will only be on SoundCloud?

        1. fredwilson

          I don’t think they intend to play the exclusivity game

          1. William Mougayar

            I see. It’ll be interesting to watch how this unravels.

  10. Mariah Lichtenstern

    My passion… Thanks for posting. <3


    @jasonpwright:disqus # Be impossible word “Democratization” as evenly distributed for being human as Buddha words saying ‘ we are desired everyone to see happiness’

  12. Jonathan

    Just came back from WebSummit and what Bill M outlined on the status of business models for content (music, films, etc.) is something we tend to forget when we discuss Spotify, Netflix and other companies that are challenging traditional media companies. Ultimately content will win with more people accessing content (India, China, etc.).