Silicon Valley — The 2015 edition of San Francisco’s Soundscape Convention, an annual gathering of tech-industry titans and audiophiles alike, was last weekend. The convention has traditionally served as opportunity for the booming tech industry to roll out new toys relating to the fields of audio playback, music equipment, and streaming services. But deep on the convention floor lurked a panel discussion that rolled out a more sinister plan: to destroy the live music experience by 2017.
“The spontaneous celebration and joy concert fans feel when watching their favorite bands perform is the last market we need to disrupt,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said of his company’s plan to roll out a virtual reality concert system. “Imagine a world where you can enjoy a live concert on the comfort of your couch with no sweaty guy next to you, no long commute, and most importantly: no money to the performing band.”
Ek also boasted that future versions of the software would feature virtual grumpy door guys, and virtual merch booths linked to the users Apple Pay account.
But Ek and Spotify weren’t the only panel members discussing the end of live music as we know it. Google’s Sundar Pichai said Google Play was taking a backseat to no one in the futuristic live music experience.
“We’re using innovative, proprietary technology to take big strides ahead of our competitors in this sector,” he said. “We’re developing the world’s first autonomous, self-driving ska band.”
Tom James was a bit shadowed by the tech giants on the panel, but he was there for good reason: the maverick 17-year-old CEO wunderkind recently raised $400 million in venture capital to help create NXTSong, an open-source platform for auctioning off set lists nabbed from bands after they play house shows.
“Kids in Descendents shirts are a $300 billion a year industry,” James said. “And that’s not counting whether or not they go to college.”
Jeremy Howers, a convention attendee and certified kid in a Descendents shirt who was recently evicted from an apartment he shared with six other musicians, agreed with James’ statement.
“Yea, we’re a very valuable, often over looked market,” he said. “Also, can I borrow a fiver to grab a burrito? I am a little low on funds, I actually snuck in here by carrying a guitar cabinet.”
Photo by Roddy Keetch.