#SXSW. The social media community is making the last preparations for the yearly high noon in Austin, Texas. For a couple of days social media will and shall be noticed in every single corner of this buzzing town.
The old cabdriver that calmly cruised me to my meeting today does not like it a bit, all that social. “It was better before.” he said. “Before, it was all about music. About doing gigs for people. Real encounters, ya know…”
A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Will.i.am: front man, performer and producer of the Black Eyed Peas. A monument, podium beast, multi entertainer and style icon. When Porter Novelli sent me to Cannes to meet the guy that sold 30 million albums and won 7 Grammy Awards… I was excited!
The Intel Corporation appointed Will.i.am as director of creative innovation. The young guy talking about technology, life, style and innovation has nothing in common with what you would expect from an Intel executive. Will.i.am is different. Way different. He is a trendsetting visionary.
“I help people understand that we’re passed the Nineties now,” Will.i.am said: “The technologies are here, but people do not embrace them yet. I tweet on my mobile phone (@iamwill), but just before I go on stage, I need to swap it for a microphone, an ugly thing from way back when. There is no reason that I could not perform with what is the centerpiece of my life: my mobile phone. That kind of insight is what I help Intel with.”
“People are still separating technology and lifestyle. But that is just so wrong. Technology is part of what you do, how you appear, what you are. Connectivity and the tools that help you connect help define the you in your social space. The Beatles made songs in a studio, to be broadcasted on the radio. I am different. I make my music on the internet, sampling, interacting, producing my text on the Internet… marketing and selling it on the Web. And people buy and listen using the same medium that I used to create. “
“You see, I am not a brand, I am a part of community. What I do, what I use, defines who and what I am.” Will.i.am comes on strong when he describes how style, personality and technology are one, in defining personality and perception. As an avid musician, a skilled communicator, a creative producer, a crowdsourcing director, a top selling fashion designer and an enthusiast ambassador for good causes, he proves how a smart use of technology made him one of the trendsetting successful males of the moment.
I hope my weathered Texan cabdriver gets it: The link between music and social media goes way beyond what Napster did. The Internet is by all definitions the medium on which music is created, bought, distributed and consumed. Music gets crowd sourced, albums get crowd funded, and the old groupie motorcycling gangs are swapped for highly busy buzzing Facebook fan pages. Online marketing, peer-to-peer distribution and interactive viewing platform have made musicians all over the world, from the Black Eyed Peas, to Gregoire in France, Sonic Angels in Belgium and countless others, thriving millionaires.
Social media became de facto not only the Long Play of 2012, but also the record studio, and the record label. The internet is the new Stratocaster. Old and new music meet in Austin.
Music. These days, there is an app for that.