Disclaimer: we are not actually offering full time jobs but we do want to talk about the future...
The Coronavirus epidemic has hit everyone around the world hard, and we’re all going to be adversely affected in one way or another for the foreseeable future. Coming from a musical perspective, any producers, musicians or DJs who rely on performance fees as their main source of income have suddenly woken up with a new reality: no travel, no clubs, no gigs.
It’s a real shame that gig income has become the single biggest source of income for musicians. Over the past decade an almost total reliance on this being the sole way of making money has been accepted as the norm, with additions from release sales and royalty payments relegated to merely being nice bonuses, if/when they trickle through. [The holy grail is now the super synch — getting your music on an ad. But these are like winning the lottery].
So as the lockdown starts to force musicians and DJs to seek alternative sources of income, we at Open Ear wanted to reach out to plant a flag for our ‘Curator Community’ — where we build on our global community to curate playlists for business and public spaces. We’ve been working on this model for a few years but now seems like a good time to be having this conversation.
Every business plays music from open to close and in our culture, it represents being ‘open for business’. Businesses are slowly seeing the benefits playing the right songs at the right time and realising that they need an expert to help them do that.
The industry formerly known as ‘background music’ has existed for 100 years but what’s changed is that people are finally paying attention. Perhaps due to the availability of all music for free anytime, every person is their own personal DJ, curating playlists for all the things they do each day. This means that they are more engaged listeners, more demanding in their listening experiences when they aren’t in control of the selection. This in turn challenges the businesses to play brilliant music, all the time — no tired smooth jazz, no generic pop, no dated classics. “Music Curation” is a thing that businesses now pay for, and in recent years have started to value.
Just as businesses started to value human-lead music curation, big tech companies changed the game with how music curation could be done. The Spotify algorithm is now the biggest threat to human curation, and it has so far been pretty successful in supplanting the human — in this case the DJ, the digger, the music lover, the best friend who’s music you love. Ultimately, as we put more faith in algorithms to tell us what to like they are cannibalising how we define ‘good taste’. At Open Ear, we believe that music is more personal, more complex and too important to have it selected by a robot. We’re brought up on respect for those radio DJs who have dedicated their lives to being our filter to the best music, gateway to the coolest artists — the John Peels and the Gilles Petersons et al.
Open Ear’s Curator Community creates a model for DJs and music diggers to serve a growing need (albeit pre-Corona) for curation amongst businesses — from shops to hotels to restaurants and bars. We want to hear from you about this — could there be a model where instead of travelling to gigs we curate playlists, instead of sitting DJ-ing on a makeshift table in a half empty bar we select the music remotely?
Open Ear has got the technology framework and business experience working with thousands of companies globally to help you deliver this as a service in a licensed and streamlined manner. We ensure curation is properly paid for and that the artists and tracks who’s music get played is properly registered. We’re only at the beginnings of this but wanted to use this time to reach out to see what the community, our community, thought.
So, are you the type that spends your life finding the best songs and passionately sharing with others? Are you a grounded DJ looking for a during-the-week sideline so aren’t so reliant on international flights all the time? Do you already do this — perhaps you have friends and contacts who own bars and restaurants — but never thought to turn into a proper income stream? Come talk to us, and apply here.