Billboard FutureSound takes over Terra in San Francisco on November 17-18. Inspired by the TED talks and gatherings that feature leaders of thought, the conference aims to bring together top investors, labels, and entrepreneurs to brainstorm workable solutions for the tensions across the digital music divide.
Rather than adopt the typical flow of panel discussions, there will be demonstrations of both current and future technologies from new start-ups, such as Bckstgr and Tracktrack.it, as well as practical road maps for success via presentations and keynote case studies from executives from companies such as Turntable.FM and Pandora. Where other conferences tend to lean in one direction or other, the goal here is to be useful to technological as well as musical minds.
"Billboard has a really strong conference business, with the top conferences in the Latin music sector, the touring sector, the film and TV music space and others," notes editorial director Bill Werde. "But I felt there was an opportunity in the digital music space. On one hand, many, if not most of the digital music conferences out there are a little one-sided: either a bunch of entrepreneurs and digital music guys cursing the labels and other rights holders for being shortsighted and greedy, or the rights holders cursing the digital guys for thinking their businesses have any value whatsoever without the songs, and not wanting to properly pay for them. If you spend any time in these worlds, you know it's like some kind of historic religious conflict between these two sides."
Werde expects that the ideas and opportunities about the music business explored and workshopped during FutureSound will be substantial enough to qualify for in an in-depth report in the following issue of Billboard.
"I'm not naïve enough to think we can solve all of the digital music business' challenges in a day and a half," he says. "But my belief is that with the cooperation of the leaders in the room, we can move the conversation forward in a meaningful way."