Todd Phillips’ deliberately offensive films have always courted controversy but The Hangover Part III marks a tonal shift for his successful franchise. The movie is so aggressively nasty and barely funny that it feels as though Phillips is trying to cull his own wolfpack down to only the most hardcore fans. The tagline on The Hangover Part III’s posters is “THE END” and there may be some wish fulfillment implied.
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If making music isn’t the most ancient of human activities, it’s got to be pretty close. Melody and rhythm can trigger feelings from sadness to serenity to joy to awe; they can bring memories from childhood vividly back to life. The taste of a tiny cake may have inspired Marcel Proust to pen the seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past, but fire up the…
Lana Del Rey has never downplayed her affection for Nancy Sinatra — you might remember she called herself a “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra” back in the “Video Games” days. Now, out of nowhere, she’s covering a song Nancy made famous with Lee Hazelwood in 1967. LDR’s “Summer Wine” clip comes only weeks after her version of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” and like that cover, this one is pretty damn faithful to the original. Also like that song, this one has no compelling reason to exist, but doesn’t make the world a more horrible place, either. The vid itself is filmed on a Super 8 (or some equivalent vintage equipment), and like everything else in the visual world today, looks like an Instagram product. Check it out.
MOJO magazine, delve into the prehistory of electronic music’s greatest group, to deliver the story of Kraftwerk that the curator of their official legend, the genius that is Ralf Hütter, would rather you didn’t read. With input from early collaborators, including Eberhard Krahnemann and Michael Rother, it starts in the ruins of post-war Germany, takes in “the best Beatles covers band in the whole of Westphalia” and ends with the revelation of Autobahn. The following video playlist tracks their rise – with five tracks representing their kosmische-krautrock infancy – and beyond, to their early-’80s pop regency and enduring status as icons of aheadness.
1. Ruckzuck, 1970
Live on German TV, with Kraftwerk modelling their groovy, pre-canonical sound – as hymned in the latest MOJO – as Ralf rocks a less-pervy-Irmin-Schmidt “look”. Some of Der Kinder look pretty spooked, while others appear to suspect some kind of art-scam is being perpetrated. Great free jazz apocalypse ending.
2. Truckstop Gondolero, 1971
With Neu!‘s Michael Rother (guitar) and Klaus Dinger (drums) providing motorik undercarriage and Florian looking a bit Village People in a pair of dungarees. And Ralf on sabbatical.
3. Koln II, 1971
As above, but more cosmic. An idea of what a free-er, more Krautrocky Kraftwerk might have sounded like.
4. Kakteen, Wüste, Sonne, 1971
As above, but lumpier – in a good way. Dinger has the dungarees this time, and he’s going bananas.
5. French documentary, 1973
A special on Kosmische Music featuring Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, bizarrely introduced from a building site soundtracked by Little Walter. Nice footage between 1.50 and 6.00.
6. Tanzmusic, 1973
Dig the Werk’s Open University lecturer chic, Wolfgang’s moustache and the earliest evidence we can find of the neon signs.
7. Autobahn, 1975
Tomorrow’s World’s Raymond Baxter introduces the future of music. Kraftwerk promise jackets with electronic lapels that can be played by touch. But here’s another, excellent live version of Autobahn, with a starring role for the home-made drums.
Kraftwerk’s techno chic grows in sophistication, although the silver-gloved robot hands are a tad more Cyberman than Deep Blue. Still, what a heartbreaking tune.
9. The Robots
Delightfully camp promo, which sparked LED tie envy in my Middle School. Karl Bartos says he never really loved this look, the madman.
10. Neon Lights, 1978
A song of such melodic perfection that covers by Simple Minds, U2 and, er… Love Tractor cannot besmirch it.
11. Showroom Dummies
Hilariously literal promo for the Trans Europe Express tune. Best bit: “We look around… and change our pose”, but is that Florian flicking us the vees?
12. Pocket Calculator, Live in Utrecht 1981
Groinal thrusting from the quartet, mocking the edge-of-stage posturing of guitar rock groups.
13. And lest we forget, from the movie, Breakin’
“Turbo” does his broom dance to Francois Kevorkian‘s mix of Tour De France. Launched a thousand provincial shopping centre breaking “crews” of dubious skill.
14. The Telephone Call
See, Electric Café wasn’t so bad at all. Although some kind of post-apocalyptic techno-meltdown had clearly occurred since Computer Love. Bakelite phones? Circular dialing? Manual typewriters?
15. Kraftwerk documentary, 2001
Flür, Bartos and Stockhausen expound on the weird world of ‘Werk. No Ralf or Florian, obviously.
16. Duran Duran – Showroom Dummies, 2007
Possibly the worst thing you’ve ever, EVER seen.
17. Numbers/Computer World, 2012
And here they are, bang up to date at their MOMO, New York residency in June this year, with the song that predicted everything. Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht!
Selected and annotated by Danny Eccleston
Back in September 1975, a band played in Britain for the very first time. On stages from Croydon to Bath, from Southport to Yeovil, they wore smart suits and ties and played peculiar instruments. There was no clamour for tickets, no feverish press. This review of a half-full show in Newcastle was par for the course: “Spineless, emotionless sound with no variety, less taste… [and] damn little attempt to pull off anything experimental, artistically satisfying or new,” wrote Keith Ging in theMelody Maker. “For God’s sake,” he railed, “keep the robots out of music.”
Here in the 21st century, Kraftwerk‘s forthcoming gigs at Tate Modernare the hottest tickets around. Back in December, demand for themcrashed the gallery’s website; angry fans who missed out stormed the venue, while thousands raged online. For eight nights in February, Ralf Hütter, Fritz Hilpert, Henning Schmitz and Falk Grieffenhagen will play each Kraftwerk album since 1974 in turn – from their fourth, Autobahn, to 2003′s Tour De France Soundtracks – with 3D film versions of their iconic visuals. They will wear neoprene neon suits and stand behind expensive technology. They did the same to rapturous reception in 2012 at New York’s Moma and at the Kunstammlung in their hometown, Düsseldorf, last month.
These are art-event spectaculars to which everyone wants entry because no other band since the Beatles has given so much to pop culture. Kraftwerk’s beats laid the foundations for club music: for hip-hop, synth-pop, techno and house. The sounds they invented have beensampled by hundreds of artists, from Madonna to R.E.M, from Missy Elliott to Fergie. Coldplay and Jay-Z have had hits with their elegant melodies and their image has influenced David Bowie, Daft Punk and Kanye West. We also now live in the kind of world their future-obsessed lyrics predicted: we find Computer Love online, models smile from time to time and Europe Endless exists.
For hardcore followers, the fact that this band named after a power station are playing in one is also irresistible. The band that remaining founder member Hütter always called musikarbeiter – musical workers – will be creating energy themselves, in their own Turbine Hall.
Kraftwerk’s story begins in 1968, in Düsseldorf, a city closer to Belgium, Holland and France than the Iron Curtain. Two young men born just after the end of the second world war meet on a music improvisation course. Ralf Hütter plays keyboards, Florian Schneider the flute; they perform their first gig at the city’s Cream Cheese Club. Playing in Organisation, a progressive, free-form group, they become obsessed with synthesisers, which are newly invented. In 1970, the wealthy Schneider buys one. The same year, they see Gilbert and George in the city’s Kunsthalle: two men wearing suits and ties, claiming to bring art into everyday life. The same year, Hütter and Schneider start bringing everyday life into art and form Kraftwerk.
Kraftwerk’s first three albums do not feature in the Tate gigs, but they hold clues to the aesthetic roots of the band. The cover art for Kraftwerk(1970) and Kraftwerk 2 (1972) have pop art traffic cones on their sleeves, suggesting a more industrial take on Warhol’s Velvet Underground banana. Tracks have mechanical titles, such as Spule 4 (Inductor 4) and Wellelange (Wavelength), and then come the songs about Germany. Some, such as Heimatklänge (The Bells of Home), are gentler, but Von Himmel Hoch (From Heaven Above) is provocative. Named after a carol by Bach, it features synthesisers replicating the sounds of warplanes and bombs. It also reveals Kraftwerk trying to make a new national music, rooted in everyday sounds, made by machines that offered a new future.
Next came Autobahn, named after another German invention. In spring 1975, a radio edit of its 22-minute title track became an international hit. Its synthesisers mimicked fast traffic and car horns; its celebration of driving clicked with western audiences. Soon after, Wolfgang Flür and Karl Bartos joined the band on electronic percussion, as did the new smart aesthetic on stage. Electronic music suddenly had its John, Paul, George and Ringo, although they looked and sounded very different to the rock bands of the time.
It’s hard to appreciate how alien Kraftwerk appeared back then. The first advert for Autobahn in the black-and-white NME looks particularly shocking: a bright blue sign from the future, under a feature on country music divorcees. At the time, the song was dismissed as a gimmick by the press – but not by fans who made it a No 11 hit.
Then came the xenophobia. The war was still a recent, scorching cultural memory, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that a Barry Miles live review was headlined “This is what your fathers fought to save you from”. The NMEreprinted a feature by US critic Lester Bangs, in which Hütter was asked if Kraftwerk was “the final solution” for music. The image with the piece was even more tasteless: a press shot superimposed on to a Nuremberg rally.
It’s not that Kraftwerk didn’t flirt with sinister ideas. Radio-Activity (1975) began with the sound of a geiger counter, evoking nuclear dread. But their music also played with double meanings and humour. Ohm Sweet Ohm (say it out loud) took central European pop into the realm of technology, while Radio-Activity‘s title track hinted at the utopian possibilities of the wireless. (It also says much that the 1991 remix of this song mentioned power stations Sellafield and Chernobyl in negative terms.) Throughout the melodies and methods, their vocal lines and lyrics, there is a touching innocence and simplicity.
Hütter often namechecked the Bauhaus movement, and liked its internationalism. The band’s songs started to feature words in different languages; they got inspired by James Brown’s funk, and even punk (years later, Hütter admitted that the start of 1977′s Showroom Dummies – “eins-zwei-drei-vier” – came from The Ramones’ “one-two-three-four”). Autobahn’s chorus The (“wi’r fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n”) echoed The Beach Boys’ Fun, Fun, Fun. But a statement of Hütter’s from 1979, pinned to a noticeboard in Chris Petit’s cult film Radio On, reveals how Kraftwerk linked the past and the present. “We are the children of Fritz Lang and Werner von Braun,” it began, naming the film director who fled the Nazis, and the scientist who made the V-2 bomb and the Apollo mission rocket, Saturn V. “We are the link between the 20s and 80s. All change in society passes through a sympathetic collaboration with tape recorders, synthesisers and telephones. Our reality is an electronic reality.”
This forward-thinking spirit had already started to infect pop. David Bowie adored Kraftwerk, writing the track V-2 Schneider for his 1977 albumHeroes (the band would namecheck him back on Trans-Europe Express). African American DJs also found an odd kinship with the Germans. Keen to find a new musical language, they were familiar with the urban sounds Kraftwerk were using; 1978′s The Robots became particularly influential on the dancefloor, and in the burgeoning B-Boy and breakdancing scenes. Afrika Bambaataa fused the melody of Trans-Europe Express and the rhythm of 1981′s Numbers to create Planet Rock, one of hip-hop’s pioneering tracks. Trailblazing electro group Cybotron used a loop from 1977′s Hall of Mirrors; its founder, Juan Atkins, would create techno, and from there came modern dance culture.
Back in Britain, New Order would sample Uranium on Blue Monday, while synth-pop inspired by albums such as 1978′s The Man-Machine would set the decade’s pop mood. Kraftwerk would even get a No 1 single, The Model, in February 1982, four years after its first release. It was if the world was finally catching up with them.
Ever since, using a Kraftwerk sample has been shorthand for credibility. Jay-Z’s 1997 Sunshine sampled The Man-Machine, while Coldplay’s Talk made a melody from Computer World into a stadium-rock riff. Music producer DJ Food, a collector of Kraftwerk cover versions, says the band’s influence can be heard today among the micro-genres that have evolved from dance and R&B. “Hear dubstep producer 6Blocc’s cheeky reinterpretation of Numbers/Computer World 2 disguised under the title,Digits. Or across the pond, juke and footstep producers such as Traxman have shoe-horned Kraftwerk samples into songs such as The Robot. Kraftwerk have been part of the lineage of dance culture since the late 70s – approaching it without them is impossible.”
Once the world started to catch up, Kraftwerk started to slow down. They have only released four studio records since 1983: 1986′s disappointingElectric Cafe, 1991 remix album The Mix, Expo 2000, a single for a German world trade fair, and 2003′s Tour De France Soundtracks. The line-up has also changed radically. Flür and Bartos both left in the late 1980s, Schneider in 2009. Hütter has said little about his co-founder’s departure, except that Schneider hadn’t really been involved for years. The mystery continues.
What Kraftwerk are about now is the souped-up live experience. Playing in galleries, they align themselves with art over pop. Catherine Wood, curator of contemporary art and performance at Tate Modern, has had several meetings with Hütter. He approached her about his idea for the shows in 2010, through German gallery owner Monika Sprüth. Wood was then flown out to Düsseldorf, where she visited Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang studios. This notoriously mysterious space, where outside contact has always been forbidden, even by telephone, was moved 10 miles outside the city four years ago. Inside, Wood found an impeccable, minimalist office and a huge studio, with four robots against a wall, lit in glowing green lights.
“I was struck by how clever Hütter was,” says Wood. “He talked about the seductive nature of music and how it does something to people that art doesn’t do. He also talked about how music creates gods, but art doesn’t.” He seemed in awe of that process, she says, but not affected by it. He then showed her some 3D films for the show, developed by Emil Schult, who has worked on their cover art since the 70s.
The odd thing, Wood continues, is that Tate Modern is not really connected to the music world. In a very practical way, Kraftwerk aren’t either – they rarely do interviews, don’t do TV and never hang out at parties. “But so much modern art is about the machine replacing the human,” she says, such as the work of Gerhard Richter, who recently had a retrospective there. Interestingly, Richter taught in Düsseldorf in the late 60s and early 70s: one of his pupils was Emil Schult.
Hütter also took a tour of the Tate last year, Wood adds. It was a busy day and he made no effort to hide. Nobody ran to shake his hand or even noticed his presence, in huge contrast to the Turbine Hall scenes in December. It’s because Kraftwerk is about much more than one man, or four men. The robots have become part of our music and we have, very happily, become part of their machine.
STARS ON KRAFTWERK
Musician; father of techno
I liked Kraftwerk from the first time I heard them on Showroom Dummies; the first single I bought was The Robots. Their music was totally synthesised, really pure, very melodic and very funky, and that was hard to do with early electronics. They also listened to James Brown a lot, and you can hear that. I was inspired by the precision and the tightness of their sound… they were a cog that changed the direction of things. Without them, electronic music would be totally different. There probably wouldn’t even be dance music.
Read more about how Kraftwerk legacy remains here: http://bit.ly/13pCu3M
written by jude rogers for guardian.com
Ryland Aldrich, the festival editor, wrote for twitchfilm.com that at that film, the other galas, and the midnight lineup yesterday — and today we turn our attention to the documentary and narrative competitions. The documentary competition specifically has become a real focus for Tribeca in recent years. Here are a few films in each of those sections that caught our eye. Read more about the festival here: http://bit.ly/14tF6OT
World Documentary Competition
MICHAEL H. PROFESSION: DIRECTOR
Prolific behind-the-scenes documentarian Yves Montmayeur takes a look at the man, the myth, the legend, and the twitter account of director Michael Haneke.
Based on a book by Jon Savage and narrated by Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher, director Matt Wolf’s documentary examines the very notion of an age existing between childhood and life as an adult.
Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar’s documentary looks at modern day Robin Hoods who put themselves at great risk by robbing electricity from paying customers to provide it to those too poor for power.
Sean Dunne’s feature directorial debut is this look at the OxyContin abuse epidemic gripping the small town of Oceana, West Virginia. The film is scored by indie folk band Deer Tick.
ALIAS RUBY BLADE: A STORY OF LOVE AND REVOLUTION
Docu editor Alex Meiller’s (Capitalism: A Love Story) directorial debut is this enthralling-looking docu about Timor-Leste covert documentarian-turned-activist Kirsty Sword Gusmão.
Rachel Boynton (Our Brand is Crisis) takes a look at the huge personal costs of big oil doing business in West Africa in her latest docu, executive produced by Brad Pitt
THE KILL TEAM
Veteran docu cinematographer Dan Krauss reports firsthand accounts of battlefield from the US soldiers accused of gratuitous killings of Afghan civilians.
World Narrative Competition
Indie editor Lance Edmands’s (Tiny Furniture, Nobody Walks) feature directorial debut is this small town drama starring Amy Morton, John Slattery, Louisa Krause, Emily Meade, Margo Martindale, and Adam Driver.
This rural Laos-set adventure from Aussie director Kim Mordaunt looks to be all kinds of fun.
There may not be a lot of competition, but it is completely fair to call Hisham Zaman‘s border crossing adventure the most interesting sounding Kurdish language Norwegian-German co-production this year.
THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN
My quick pitch for Felix Van Groeningen’s follow-up to Cannes ’09 title The Misfortunates is a Flemish Blue Valentine involving a couple who are obsessed with American country/western living.
Your home’s tunes controlled by a wave of the hand or a voice command? It could happen, and the big-thinking Swede believes his music service could be the soundtrack to that very plugged-in vision.
Spotify’s Daniel Ek
(Credit: Greg Sandoval)
AUSTIN, Texas–Daniel Ek was waving his arms in the air, as if molding invisible clay. He swiped his right hand karate-chop style, made a big loop, and then grabbed an imaginary dial with his left and twisted his fist.
Ek, you see, was talking about the future, Paul Sloan wrote news.cnet.com. In this not-so-far-off future, maybe a decade from now, we’re all connected, everywhere, all the time — perhaps via Google Glass, perhaps via sensors built into our clothes, or through other wearable computing devices. Our touch-screen life will require no touching whatsoever, as we control what we’re listening to or seeing through hand motions or simply by talking. And we’ll experience it all in 3D.
“Actually, I don’t want the string section,” said Ek, grabbing the invisible song with his left hand. “I’ll just kill that.”
Ek’s role in this all this? He wants Spotify, the company he co-founded and leads, to provide the soundtrack. It’s tall talk, for sure. Yet it’s hard to dismiss Ek’s optimism. He’s already defied the odds, leading Spotify further than any digital music company with the exception of Pandora. More importantly, with 24 million active users, 6 million of whom pay to subscribe, and a speedy growth rate, Spotify has become the big music label’s second largest digital revenue source behind Apple. The on-demand, streaming model is the fastest-growing part of the beaten-down music industry – creating an entirely new revenue stream to boot — and, for now, Ek is leading the charge.
“He’s one of the few guys that picked up on the vision and ran with it,” said David Kusuk, a digital music consultant who co-wrote the 2005 book “The Future of Music,” predicting the shift to the access anywhere model, or what he calls, “music as water.” “I give Ek credit for having the guts to try it and really to stick his neck out there.”
I met with Ek, who is 30, at last month’s SXSW festival in Austin, where Spotify rented a small house on the east side of town and painted it Spotify green. A parade of musicians — rapperAngel Haze and singer-songwriter Tom Odell among them — played in the back yard. Ek held meetings at a picnic table and soaked in the scene. He wore the same beige Gibson T-shirt two days running, jokingly blamed the music labels negotiations for his baldness, and apologized for his dark sunglasses even though we sat in the shade. (Very sensitive, very blue eyes.)
Ek knows, of course, that he has a long way to go, and that it’s still way too early to claim victory. He comes across as modest, yet he’s hardly lacking for confidence. He remains undeterred by the graveyard of digital music startups, and by suggestions that Google or Appleor Amazon, all gunning for his business, could crush him.
Put simply, he said, “I’m more tenacious than most.”
A Commodore, a guitar, and a vision
Fortunately, Ek was also naive when it came to thinking the major music labels would eagerly embrace his plan to make a legal version of Napster.
At 16, he applied for a job at Google, but was turned down because the company required a degree. Eventually, he enrolled at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, but, discovering he didn’t like math, he dropped out after just two months. He landed a contract gig for an ad network called Tradedoubler to build an analytics tool.
That stint paid off: Tradedoubler paid him $1 million for the rights to what he had built, and he made another $1 million selling the patents. It also introduced Ek to his future Spotify co-founder, Martin Lorentzon — who, now 44, serves as Spotify’s chairman and Ek’s key sounding board. (The two take Steve Jobs-like walks daily when the always-traveling Ek is at headquarters in Stockholm.)
Ek was 23, rich, and unhappy. He’d flirted with the fast life — he picked up a Ferrari and a swank apartment in Stockholm — but he was unfulfilled. Ek dumped the car, retreated to a cabin, meditated, and played guitar, even toying with the idea of playing music full time. The result: a determination to combine his passion for music and tech.
Ek teamed up with Lorentzon, who was Tradedoubler’s chairman and far wealthier than Ek due to the company’s 2005 IPO. They holed up in Ek’s apartment, and built the product. It was modeled after iTunes, inspired by Napster, and packed with pirated music that they used as a demonstration to get licensing deals with the labels. That alone took two years — and that was just for European licenses so they could launch in Scandinavia, France, the U.K., and Spain.
The Spotify House at SXSW
(Credit: James Martin)
Just a year and half since the U.S launch, the labels are no longer worried that Spotify will eat into iTunes sales. Instead, label execs privately complain that Spotify isn’t growing fast enough, although it’s on track to pay rights holders $500 million this year alone – the same amount the company paid out in total since launching in 2008. The labels want Spotify to advertise more. The company last month launched its first-ever TV campaign and, just this morning, it rolled out an ad across the top of YouTube, which has become the go-to site for young people to listen to music. Music execs also want the company to strike partnerships with wireless carriers and Internet service providers to bundle the service, a strategy that fueled growth in Europe. The aim: to expand the “funnel,” which refers to the number of free users that Spotify has a chance to convert into paying customers.
“It’s so funny,” said Ek. “When we started off, it was the other way around. ‘We don’t want a big funnel because it might risk cannibalizing other sales.’ And now all they’re talking about is how we can grow faster. At least our goals are 100-percent aligned.”
“That is one of our biggest limiters to growth, the restriction that you can’t share any piece of content anywhere,” he said, talking about the all organizations that make buying music rights so complex. “You need collecting societies in every market and publishing deals in every market.” The result: Spotify now has rights deals with more than 50,000 entities.
And so Ek and his team are constantly trying to change an outdated system, to push the old guard to bend. In their arsenal: a growing mountain of data. That has been Spotify’s leverage along the way, and to hear Ek talk about it, data holds the key to working toward that soundtrack-for-every-moment that he envisions.
When Spotify was first negotiating with Warner Music Group for U.S. licenses, for instance, Warner wanted to restrict the amount of free music that people could access to three months, according to people involved with the negotiations. Spotify came back with data, culled from Scandinavia, that showed a lot of freeloaders become subscribers after four or five months. This was news to Warner, and it worked; they eventually settled on limitless, free access.
Spotify is now nearing a new deal with the labels to let it offer more free music on its mobile app. Why? Its data shows that many people are discovering Spotify on their phones, ignoring the desktop client entirely.
Mining the music
That’s all basic stuff, of course. But Ek said Spotify is collecting and analyzing more data related to music habits than any other company on the planet. Spotify is itself a platform, with companies like Blue Note, Billboard and Pitchfork creating apps that help people discover what they might want to hear, and sending rich streams of data to Spotify along the way. And while listeners can stream privately, Spotify is social by default; to date, its users have created and shared some 1.5 billion playlists, all of which generate even more types of data to parse and, Ek hopes, to lock in customers as more competitors enter the streaming fray.
“Our big problem is how do we make sense of what you want to listen to?” said Ek. “How do we make sense of 20 million songs? How do we make sense of what you want to hear when you wake up in the morning, when you go out on a Friday night? These are distinct moments in your life, and what we’re trying to do is make sense of all that, to make sense of that ocean of data.”
That’s where Will Page comes in. Page, a London-based economist with long ties to the music industry, joined Spotify last fall. He spends his days deep in Spotify data, exploring all sorts of questions: What leads to hits on Spotify? Can activity on Spotify predict a mainstream hit? How much life do which playlists add to what songs? What exactly leads to virality? Why do older people listen to all 40 tracks of a particular compilation, where younger people listen to half that? And so on.
“When you think about it, we don’t just have unique data on every single stream on the service,” said Page, who stressed the data is based on unique identifiers and don’t reveal the person. “We also know where that stream was from — whether it was driven by Spotify or Facebook — and on top of that, you’ve got age, gender and location, and behavioral traits around playlists you’ve created or consumed. That’s far more unique than somewhere like YouTube.”
The trick is to merge what the data shows with the technology, something that is gradually happening. At last year’s Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, for example, attendees received a wristband with an RFID tag built in. Each time you visited a stage, you could check-in with a simple swipe at a hub. Then, when you fired up your Spotify account, it had new playlists based on the bands you saw at the festival. The whole effort was largely a marketing push, but it gives a glimpse of the tailored musical experience in action, and its something the folks at Spotify are now working on bringing to festivals the world over.
“That was a giant step in terms of connecting Spotify to live music,” said Page. “This can happen at other events, where you wake up and Spotify knows where you were last night.”
The shift to mobile also opens up all sorts of possibilities, particularly because Spotify can know your phone’s every step. One example: Ek said Spotify is working on software that would let you seamlessly switch what’s playing through your phone’s headphones to your home sound system the moment you walk through the front door. The idea is that your smartphone will recognize the home Wi-Fi signal, at which point it will ask you if you want to tap a button to change to the home mode.
Read more about Daniel Ek here: http://cnet.co/14tzjZv
Making this future possible, too, is what Ek calls the “platformization” of everything. This phenomenon lets Spotify easily build its service into devices. Spotify now comes baked into some Samsung Smart TVs, Roku,Tivo, as well as in new Fords and Volvos. And Ek said the company is working on several more such initiatives to roll out this year.
Set-top boxes and smart autos are one thing; touchless screens and wearable computing another. Yet when you look at these steps — on the hardware front, and Spotify’s front — it’s easy to see them merging in ways that might even surprise Ek.
Already, that happened when his contractor was going through refurbishing options for his home in Stockholm. Think picking carpet and paint colors is hard? Try deciding which room needs programmable sensors built into which walls so that the lights and music around the home could be triggered by movement. Think of the applications: Walk into the living room, the music and lights turn on; leave for, say, more than 10 minutes, and they turn off.
Here’s the example presented to Ek. He could put motion sensors in the baby’s room, which would detect when the baby is asleep, at which point, the system would automatically dim the lights and start playing Barry White — the technician’s example, not Ek’s — for you and your wife in the other room. Then, when the baby wakes, the sensors cut the music and turn up the lights.
Ek isn’t going for that option, possibly because he’s both single and without a baby. He doesn’t yet know how he might build music into his house. But he holds this out as an example of where things are going.
“I’m not even suggesting that it’s a great idea,” Ek said. “We’re only in the beginning of figuring out all these kinds of moments.” Moments that, with the music labels and many publishers still in control of most of the world’s music, will rely as much on negotiations and corporate politics as algorithms and data.
“When my brother asked me along on tour as a roadie, I thought I might as well bring a camera to film the experience,” Tom explains in the film’s press release. “What started as a pretty modest tour documentary has, over the last two and a half years, grown into something much more personal, and hopefully more entertaining.”
The film’s premiere on Wednesday night will be followed by a special performance by the band. For more information, including ticketing, consult the festival’s official site.