Summit Weekend

The music business is going to be all right.

The number one lesson I took from the U2 kerfuffle was not you shouldn’t invade people’s devices without permission, but how few people knew who U2 was. In case this link eluded your inbox, check it out, it’s edifying:

who is U2

The point being time marches forward every day, and what is big today will almost certainly be forgotten tomorrow. Even the Beatles. Certainly “Yesterday” will live on, but “For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite” and the rest of “Sgt. Pepper’s”? Highly dubious they’ll make it into the next century.

And few of us will live that long, but baby boomers will expire and the youngsters will take over, and I hung with a bunch of those youngsters this weekend in Utah.

Yes, I was nearly the oldest person at the Summit Series event at Powder Mountain.


That’s how the new world works. The inner circle convenes and you don’t even know about it. Kind of like that Amazon convention featured in today’s “New York Times”:

“A Writerly Chill at Jeff Bezos’ Campfire”

Summit Series started as events. Then the proprietors bought a ski area and are building a community.

That’s right, this gang of thirtysomethings, running on gumption and pluck, who know every highfalutin’ tech person you read about online, have decided to go big. That’s what the youngsters specialize in, dreaming, and then executing. You can read about it here:

Summit Powder Mountain

Or if you prefer straight news stories, check this out:

“Summit To Buy Powder Mountain To Create Entrepreneur Community”

And that’s who attended, entrepreneurs.

These people used to populate the music industry, now they’re all in tech. And this weekend was about the nexus of the two, but the truth is young people have been frozen out of upward mobility at the labels and to a great degree the live business. So they’re focusing on apps, and data, and even though they may not realize you need rights to execute your vision, today’s culture believing permission is a given, soon their peers will inherit the rights and we will get movement.

So who did I meet?

Slav. Who started Indiegogo, who can be a bull in a china shop and a puppy dog, shifting gears from one to the other in an instant. Slav Rubin believes we’re wresting investment from the usual suspects, and the coming story is about how the public at large will finance innovation. Now I did not agree with every word he said, but Slav went to Wharton and used to be a futurist and you listen to him long enough and it’s hard to believe he’s not right.

And then there was Kendall, an agent at UTA. She didn’t only mention the financials at Snapchat, but how evanescence breeds adherence. Could this be the future? That which expires draws our attention?

And Dave has an app that allows you to tip SoundCloud posters, garnering them money.

And Anthony gave up management to pursue brand relationships. That’s one thing I took from the weekend, today’s youngsters want to match companies with artists for profit. I believe sponsorship can eviscerate credibility, but the younger generation is unlike the hippies, they’ve got no problem with money, and they’ve got no problem protecting artists’ rights.

Does the brand fit the culture? Vans is a perfect match for skateboarding, but 7-Up seems to be crashing the music party. It’s not as simple as hooking up cash with concerts. And other than Red Bull, every corporation is asking for more than you want to give, and the dance of delivery is a skilled one.

And I talked to so many people and heard so many stories, but my favorite came from Jonas Tempel, who founded Beatport.

He was a deejay. Who’d started his own advertising agency. Yes, entrepreneurship is in the blood. Seems you’re either born to work for others or yourself. Jonas tried to sell Beatport to Apple, since the ad agency’s client, Volant skis, had Mike Markkula on its board, and Markkula was there at the Cupertino giant from the beginning.

But Apple said no. And then launched the iTunes Store shortly thereafter.

Jonas felt embarrassed, but he and his team stuck with it. And launched anyway. At steadily climbing prices, with endorsements and investments from the likes of Richie Hawtin to ensure success.

And that’s what they got.

Then they made a deal with a VC. Who put in 12 mil, 8 of which was never spent, and then the bankers didn’t stop meddling.

Sony came a-knocking. Jonas got the price up to 125 mil, but the VCs wanted more. The deal failed, the 2008 crash happened, Jonas resigned and then SFX bought Beatport for a third of Sony’s offer.

And Jonas went to work at Beats. He was recruited to build a music service. He hired experts in Sweden, they were the only ones competent to build a new streaming system. He rode around in SUVs with Dre, he thought he’d made it. But when Jonas protested about the acquisition of MOG, he got blown out.

And he’s never recovered.

Oh, he’s making music, he’s back to his deejay roots, but he said he’s miserable, he’s dying to get back into the startup game.

And listening to Jonas talk was better than any interview in “Rolling Stone,” anything any musician has said this century. Because Jonas was smart, he put in his own money, he rolled the dice, he played the game, he was speaking from experience, he had expertise.

As did seemingly everybody at Summit.

Oh sure, there were a couple of oldsters, like John Boyle of Insomniac, who was just in from Asia, negotiating new shows for EDC.

But generally, most of the attendees were like Elliott and Brett and Jeff of the Summit Series. Not so much charismatic as game, and willing. And barely thirty.

So you can ignore what you read in the press. Those reporters are eating what the usual suspects are feeding them. Meanwhile, reinvention is happening all around you. More surprises like Napster are in the offing. Because the younger generation doesn’t understand the word “no,” and they run on passion, and passion is the elixir of success.

Maybe you don’t have the money to buy a residence at the top of Powder Mountain. Who knows, maybe Summit’s effort will fail.

But that won’t be the end.

Because despite hearing that the millennials are crybabies who all got trophies and are in search of coddling, this is untrue. They’re educated and tenacious and desirous. They want to change the world.

And they are.

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