Digitize Your Reality: A Conversation with Randy Sosin – Part 2
“The interesting thing about Napster was, you know, they built this really cool community and everyone had to upload their music to a server. So they controlled the servers. And because the music business doesn’t understand it and because it wasn’t their thing, they killed it. So the people who had designed that software were like, okay, then let’s just make every computer a server. And then like Gnutella and LimeWire came out and it was like, it almost destroyed the industry. They were able to take that technology and bring it back into like, well, ‘let’s just stream it to you now. We’ll stream it to you back from our servers.’ But then the artists paid the price on that.” — Randy Sosin
This is the second half of my conversation “Digitize Your Reality” with filmmaker, music video producer, and visual storyteller Randy Sosin as we talk about how artists can engage more successfully with their fans, how he’s working to overcome the bad reputation that NFTs have given blockchains, and his work in reinventing everything from music videos to concert performances for the digital-audio era.
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A Whole Other World
The second half of our discussion starts with a look back at file-sharing apps like Napster and Limewire, and how the music industry missed an early opportunity to engage listeners and connect them more directly to the artists. He tells us how he’s using the blockchain to create just that sort of connection now: “As an artist, if you do something and sell it, like if somebody buys something, it goes directly to your wallet. It’s a fifteen-second transaction thing. And if you’re selling it for a hundred dollars or two dollars or whatever, you don’t have to wait.” We talk about the hit NFTs have taken in the news lately, and how he’s working to separate the pioneering technology and potential behind them from their mixed reputation “So I’m trying to make it more like digital scrapbooks,” he says, “and clips from videos and stems, because there’s a whole other world that I feel that’s out there.”
Wow, That’s Cheap
Our conversation turns to audio jingles, logos, and the industry’s ongoing reliance on licensed music from decades past. “They’re trying to tap into the familiarity,” Randy explains, “so that you’re watching that, you’re like ‘oh, I love Stevie Wonder and I love the Beatles.’ They’re just trying to get you to engage with the brand.” We also talk about the limitations of this strategy, especially since more than one company might license the same song for a commercial. “People are like ‘oh, you know that song and it was in this commercial?’” he tells us. “It’s like ‘no, it was in this commercial,’ and then they Google and it’s in both commercials. And then they’re like, oh, wow, that’s cheap.”
The Fan Experience
As our conversation comes to a close, we talk about the growing role of audio branding in the future of digital music, from fans interacting with music video elements to concerts where fans can use tokens to interact with the performance. “That’s the thing,” Randy says, “the band can easily engage with that because it’s not going to change anything for them. They can play their song and do their thing. But the fan experience is like, it’s worth everything to me.” We talk about the tensions between producers and artists, and how he believes the breakthroughs of Web 3.0 are on the side of the artists and their fans, from proof of attendance protocols to dynamic digital royalties. “The gatekeepers are not thrilled with the idea,” he tells us. “But I’m not giving up. I believe in it. I really believe in it.”
- How the digital-audio revolution has left music artists behind
- Overcoming the hurdles of NFTs and embracing the blockchain
- The advantages and challenges of licensed-music branding
- The future of digital audio, from musical bots and Metaverse concerts
Connect with the Guest
Connect with Randy Sosin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/randysosin
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This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.