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Daniel Ek On Spotify, Community And Music's Future
Daniel Ek

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Daniel Ek On Spotify, Community And Music's Future

Prior to his Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon keynote during GRAMMY Week, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek talks Spotify, sharing and the dawn of music's new "golden age"

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Following Spotify's launch in the United States in July 2011, company CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek summarized his music streaming service's consumer appeal at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo.

"Ownership is great but access is the future," said Ek. "People just want to have access to all of the world's music."

A little more than six months later, Spotify has enjoyed an impressive period of growth. In September, Spotify partnered with social media giant Facebook in an effort to help users access, discover and share more music. With Facebook integration, users can see what their friends are listening to and share playlists and song recommendations instantly.

In November, the company launched Spotify Apps, offering listeners a more immersive music experience. For example, when streaming a particular artist's track, a user can access a Songkick app and see if the artist is performing in their town.

Most recently, Spotify surpassed the 10 million active user plateau.

It's all a part of a future predicated on access, but it also speaks to the communal aspect of music, a concept Ek believes in wholeheartedly. "We look at the sharing of music as really, really important for our business," he says.

In advance of his keynote address at the GRAMMY Foundation's Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon & Scholarship Presentation on Feb. 10, Ek previewed some of his keynote topics while discussing the present and future of Spotify, and why we are entering a "golden age" for music.

 

It's been about a year since we last met. How are things going with you lately?
I've got a bit of a sore throat right now, if you're asking about me personally, but Spotify is doing fantastic. That's always great.

Can you give us a preview of what you intend to discuss at the GRAMMY Foundation's Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon?
There's a lot of interesting debate going on now about streaming, and I like that it's become more about streaming, and not what's free or not. But what I really want to talk about is the future. We have this debate about where it is right now, but I still think streaming is really in its infancy, and I want to outline the future of what that looks like — what it will actually mean for the music industry. What would it mean for how to promote an act? Or for revenues?

We're at a time now when more and more people are saying, "Hey, actually, this is working," and we've got two-and-a-half million paying customers and that number is growing very, very quickly, and it keeps accelerating. Personally speaking, I am more bullish on the future of the music industry than ever before, and I think we're kind of entering a golden age in music.

What will that golden age look like?
First, I think we're talking about a world where, I believe, most of it will be access. There will be ownership as well. I think the total amount of revenues back to the industry is going to grow. We've paid over $200 million to rightsholders already, and it's still in the early days. So for me, part of it is talking about the growth story of how we get the music industry back to where it used to be, and probably even past that.

The second part is, in a world where music is really about you listening to music and your friends discovering it from you, what does that mean about how we break acts and promote acts? Spotify, up until now, hasn't really done a great job of helping that, but you're going to see us doing more and more to break acts and try to really promote them as well. Looking at Spotify today and fast-forwarding three years to 2015: Where's the music industry? Where's Spotify, and what does this mean to a band, manager or label? I think it's exciting times.

Creating a record is really about three core components. The first thing is creating the actual record. It used to be really expensive to do that and now, really, anyone can record a record, even [in] their own homes. The second piece is that it used to be really expensive distributing the record, and now with iTunes, Spotify and other services, distributing another digital copy basically doesn't cost anything.

But the funny thing is, marketing used to be kind of simple in the old days. You used to be able to just put it on the radio or MTV, and it just worked. If it was a good song, the record started selling based on that. Today, the media landscape is much more fragmented. MTV's not about music anymore, and radio is even hard[er] to break through. There are tons of radio channels, and most of them play stuff people already know.

So, marketing an act today is really, really, really expensive. If it went from being a broadcast medium of just getting it out there to everyone, to a social medium, where music is discovered through friends, what does that mean for the marketing of music? I think that's [another] core component of getting this to work.

That's a really good point. I guess we're also seeing that with some of the audio ads within Spotify, which are clips of songs.
Hopefully, I'll also be able to go into some interesting things we've seen [during my address], especially with Facebook, where there are acts like Foster The People who kind of blew up on the service, really, because friends started discovering [them] from other people. That's a great story for us, to show, "Look, this works. People discovered it not just through radio, where they didn't have much promotion, but because friends kept recommending and listening to it, so their friends, in turn, discovered it."

Is that part of the decision to require a Facebook login on Spotify, because you see the social sharing as so important?
We look at the sharing of music as really, really important for our business. We've found that the more social our users are — i.e., they're sharing music — the faster they grow their own music library. [And] the faster they grow their music library, the faster they become paying customers. That's really the rationale for us — not really the marketing side, but we feel that the combination of [Facebook and Spotify] is a positive thing.

I remember when we first met in New York, years ago, and you said that you wanted to create a legal version of the sort of experience that people have in the P2P version. My favorite thing about Napster was searching for one rare band that I loved. If someone had that, then I trusted them, and knew that I was going to like anything else they had.
Yep.

It seems like you have succeeded in translating that to a legal music service, so congratulations on that.
Yes, we've done that. Right now, it's skewed more toward your friends. What we want to make it skew toward is you discovering other people with great music taste as well.

Are there any misunderstandings about Spotify that you'd like to clear up?
I feel, to an extent, that we're a victim of our own success. What I mean by that is, especially if you look at the media, Spotify is seen as this gigantic company, the size of [Apple's] iTunes, which is not really true. We're really starting up here, and that's how we feel about it. If you look at a country like the U.S., there's sub-1 percent of the population that's even using any legal streaming service. I think that sometimes people perceive us as being a lot larger than we are, and that's an important point to make.

[Another] point I want to make is that this is a very, very different model than just selling a record. Everyone talks about volume, and what this means in terms of numbers, and I don't think it's comparable. In the world today, there are 500 million people listening to music online. Out of them, there's only a very small portion who are avid iTunes customers, which we look at today as being the majority of the digital music ecosystem. So the way we're approaching this is, we want to reach the 500 million people, of whom the vast majority aren't really using iTunes.

I'd also like to address people who think they'll gain sales by not being on Spotify. There's not a shred of data to suggest that. In fact, all the information available points to streaming services helping to drive sales.

Album unit sales [were] up in the U.S. in 2011, the year Spotify launched, for the first time since 2004. More than a dozen albums which debuted at number one have been available on Spotify at launch.

Spotify users are the exact same people [who] used to listen to music every day on YouTube, whose entire music collection was pulled off BitTorrent sites. By offering them a compelling music service that allows them to discover hundreds of new artists, not just their favorites pulled from YouTube or [pirated], we're seeing millions move back to listening to music legally after years of being left out in the cold.

They're helping pay a ton of money back to the industry. You're talking 10 million active users, 2.5 million subscribers — most of them paying $120 a year, which is double the amount of your average iTunes user.

Do you really want to hold back your album from people who are finally paying for music again? If you think that by doing so you're getting them to buy your album on a CD, or as an album download, again, there's absolutely no evidence to back that theory up. Your album's getting shared en masse over BitTorrent, over YouTube. It's there, right now — but you decide that it's the paying, loyal music fans that should lose out. It makes no sense.

Another thing I want to mention: When someone creates a Spotify playlist, and they put an album or songs in there, they don't just play them once. What actually happens is they keep repeatedly playing them. What I think is interesting, and what we do here, [is that] the sales cycle of that record is anywhere from four to 12 weeks in most typical cases. With Spotify, we keep seeing the effect up to 25, 35 [weeks], or even a year.

So when looking at the effect a certain record release has, one in the world of Spotify has to look not just at the first 12 weeks, but actually look at six months, and probably even a year after, because it keeps playing. And every time someone plays a song, we pay the music industry.

I think that is probably the biggest misunderstanding — everyone keeps comparing an apple to what's actually not an apple, but hopefully a tastier fruit.

It seems like that would give musicians an incentive to make music that people want to listen to over and over again, which could be good culturally. It's not just about making a splash.
Yeah! At Spotify, we really want you to democratically win as a musician. We want you to win because your music is the best music. And the only way you can win in the Spotify ecosystem, unless you buy advertising, is by friends recommending [you] to other friends. And they do so by listening to your music. They vote with their hands and feet. I think that's a pretty great thing for an artist that's creating great music.

What's interesting to me, looking at the greatest acts of last year, is that many of those acts are acts that, five or 10 years ago, may not have even had a record deal, but they've grown — [like] one of my favorite bands, Mumford & Sons. I don't know how much [they've] been growing on social [networks], but I can tell you, the reason why I discovered them was someone actually sent me a YouTube clip, and then I started searching for them on Spotify, and I discovered this fantastic band. I guess the point is that in the future, we're getting more and more connected, all over the world, and hopefully that will mean that great music will prevail, because your friends will listen to it and share it with other friends.

The two big areas for growth in digital music seem to be the car and the television. What can you tell us about Spotify's strategy there?
Much like we believe a strength of the CD [was] being ubiquitous — that you can take a CD and put it in any player and just press play — that's how easy we want it to be to play music with Spotify. As more and more devices are getting connected, the base of people who will want to listen to music with those devices will increase, and that's something we're hugely excited [about].

To switch gears for a second, I was very interested to cover what Spotify is doing with apps. You can build desktop apps on Spotify's catalog, iOS apps and now you can build apps within the Spotify desktop client. How significant do you see that ecosystem? Is it going to be a major part of Spotify's growth in the future?
Yeah, we definitely do believe that. There are multiple ways one can look at this, but what we're trying to primarily address is that when it comes to music, we've got 15 or 16 million tracks. I don't even know what the exact number is, but there's an endless amount of music. You could listen your whole life to the Spotify catalog and you probably wouldn't get through a third of it.

What's needed on top of that is curated experiences. Part of that curated experience is people building playlists and sharing those playlists with their friends. But another part is trusted sources — people who tend to be really, really good at music. There are things you can [offer] with music that aren't Spotify's core [competencies], like lyrics, ticketing and other things.

We felt that the Internet really was silent, and that music was missing. We wanted to create a platform to allow people to interact with music, whether that's providing curation, or providing more interesting experiences, or even using that to give you other venues, such as ticketing and merchandising. We think all of those things are super exciting, but they're not our core competency.

We might have 100 or 150 engineers, and that's great, but already now, with the Spotify platform, we've got thousands of engineers working on creating more interesting music experiences. And that's ultimately really good for the music industry, because there are more avenues now to listen to music and interact with music. Ultimately, that's going to make more people care about music and pay for it again.

We've talked a little bit about the royalty payouts. Some people have said from time to time that the payouts are too low, and others point out that with hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands, how can that be low? A few artists are deciding not to have releases on Spotify, so I guess one conclusion to draw would be that it's too difficult to do freemium streaming — to pay what seem like very high royalties in one sense, but, on a per-artist level, some people say it's not very much. How do you see this playing out?
As I said, a lot of people try to compare an apple to another fruit, and as I started out saying, we look at it as us being in our infancy. We haven't even started, really. We're still a really young company. So, ultimately, our view is that the royalty checks we're paying out now — of course we're happy that there's progress being made, but it's still only in its early days, and it will keep growing.

Last year was a great testament to that, [when], in May, we hit [1] million paying customers and at the end of that year, we were at two-and-a-half million. That's a significant increase in customers who are paying 100 bucks a year. And Spotify keeps growing at that pace, if not faster. So I think the royalty checks, as they're combined, will definitely grow.

But I also want to kind of caution people. We get a lot of media attention. People think we're actively seeking that media attention, and in most instances, we're not. People just like the product so much that they like to write about it. I find this when I meet artists. They actually think we're a lot larger than we are. I say, "Look, we're not, really. We're roughly 10 million users in countries where, in total, there are 600 million people. And out of them, at least 250 million are listening to music online, so we're actually a very small part of this right now."

I want to add that my home country, Sweden, where Spotify has grown to scale — if you look at the artists now, the vast majority of the artists are getting between 50 and 60 percent of all their income from Spotify. And I think that's what's going to happen when this model gets to scale. And the music industry [in Sweden] is growing.

The latest thing with Spotify and Facebook is this ability to listen to the same thing at the same time, which I think is a fantastic feature. It makes music not only something between a person, an MP3 player and a pair of headphones. Over the long term, is this going to become a mainstream activity, or is it just for people like me who use the latest stuff and get a kick out of it?
Our approach is that we don't know. With that said, we think music is the most social thing there is, and we think people want to interact with music. The background on that feature is that it was actually built by Facebook, which we think is cool. One of the engineers there showed it to me one time when I came to visit, and he was like, "What do you think about this?" I said, "This is awesome, you should just release it."

The coolest thing is that he could build that feature because Spotify is a platform, so he could interact with our APIs, create it, and put it on the [Facebook] service. We didn't actually interact that much to get this done, but it was one of the things that the Facebook folks were really passionate about, and I think — I hope, and I believe — that there will be 10 other projects similar to this around the Web right now, where people build cool, interesting experiences.

Two weeks ago, someone [who] created the Spotify app Soundrop released their own iOS app. So now, all of a sudden, I have a room where I'm walking around and people talk about music, where they vote for which track will come next. It's kind of a social radio. And that was built by two guys in Oslo. I guess the answer is that we don't know what will work or not, but we're thrilled that people want to innovate around it.

So, do you still find time to play guitar?
(Laughs) I do! I actually bought a travel guitar, and that guitar is really cool. You can actually fold the guitar, and you can plug headphones into it, but it's acoustic, or semi-acoustic. So I do [play] more, actually, than I did last year.

(Evolver.fm Editor Eliot Van Buskirk has covered and occasionally anticipated music and technology intersections for less than 15 years at a number of outlets including Wired, CNET, and McGraw-Hill, and regularly appears on NPR. He plays the bass and rides a bicycle.)

Follow GRAMMY.com for our inside look at GRAMMY news, blogs, photos, videos, and of course nominees. Stay up to the minute with GRAMMY Live. Check out the GRAMMY legacy with GRAMMY Rewind. Explore this year's GRAMMY Fields. Or check out the collaborations at Re:Generation, presented by Hyundai Veloster. And join the conversation at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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ArtsWatch: Antigua's Piracy Gamble

WTO ruling raises the stakes in Caribbean nation's stand-off with U.S.

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

In recent news ...

Permission Slip Granted: Antigua Allowed $21 Million In Infringement Earnings
On Jan. 28 the World Trade Organization advanced the long-running trade dispute between the U.S. and the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, authorizing suspension of intellectual property obligations as retaliatory sanctions for the U.S. refusal to permit its consumers to use gambling websites based on the islands. Colorful coverage included Associated Press emphasizing the notion of a "copyright haven," Reuters highlighting U.S. warnings against "government-authorized piracy," and The Hill quoting an Antiguan attorney's threats that putting their plan into effect would establish a precedent for other countries. All this publicity likely serves Antigua's negotiating strategy to extract substantial assistance from the U.S., but International Intellectual Property Alliance counsel Steve Metalitz argued, "We are of the firm view that suspending intellectual property rights is not the right solution, and that state-sanctioned theft is an affront to any society. Should Antigua determine to move forward in this manner, it would certainly interfere with the ability to reach a negotiated resolution, and would harm the interests of Antiguans." The WTO dispute began in March 2003, so even though things are speeding up, there could be a long wait before its final resolution.

Permission Slip Revoked: Chorus Of Complaints Over 'Jailbreaking' Rule Change
The latest round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act exemptions to the statutory prohibition on circumventing digital security became effective Oct. 28, 2012 and included a "90-day transitional period" for jailbreaking mobile handsets that expired on Jan. 26. This led digital rights advocates, including tech journalists, to trumpet the theme "Just a Few Hours Left to Unlock Your Phone!" PC World moaned, "As of Saturday ... [y]ou just can't unlock your phone yourself — at least, not legally. That decision was made not by voters, the courts, or even Congress. It was made by one man." This kind of oversimplification enjoys some popular support, partially because copyright law can be difficult and frustrating. The voters elect Congress, which passed the DMCA requiring the Librarian of Congress to identify exemptions to the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions every three years. Many stakeholders, including the public, trade organizations, and digital rights advocates, are invited by the Library of Congress to suggest exemptions, and then the Register of Copyrights is tasked with producing recommendations based on this wide scope of considerations. The latest mobile phone interoperability rules are complicated but clearly influenced by the Vernor v. Autodesk court case that was decided in 2010 after the previous DMCA rules were finalized, tilting judicial opinion towards treating software use as a license rather than more comprehensive ownership. So this chorus of complaints should not be considered reliably accurate.

Promoting Spotify To The U.S. House Of Representatives
On Jan. 31 the RIAA responded to reporting by Politico that revealed the U.S. House of Representatives is currently blocking music service Spotify on its computer networks because of Spotify's peer-to-peer infrastructure. Writing to the House's Chief Administrative Officer, RIAA Chairman/CEO Cary Sherman encouraged using the Why Music Matters list of legal sites as a resource and said, "We appreciate your need to ensure that the House network is secure, and we would welcome the opportunity to work with you to develop a new policy that ensures that users of the House network will be able to gain access to these new legal services. All members of the music community who create, invest in, promote, market and distribute music appreciate your efforts to fix this problem."

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ GRAMMY.com and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

Who Will Win The Great Global Streaming Race? Apple Music Makes Moves On Spotify

Photo: Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto/Getty Images

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Who Will Win The Great Global Streaming Race? Apple Music Makes Moves On Spotify

A new report finds that Apple Music has a higher paid customer conversion rate than Spotify, and has beat out its competitor in three major markets including the U.S.

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2018 - 03:10 am

The race to win the hearts and minds of music listeners – and their streaming dollars – is one that has kept music streaming services competitive.It is ultimately what has led to fights on exclusive releases as well as to have the best original content, curated playlists and more. While Spotify is the service that radically shifted the way consumers listen to music since the platform's debut 10 years ago and is often cited by media as the streaming king, new numbers show that Apple Music is catching up, and perhaps taking over. A recent report showed that Apple Music has a higher paid customer conversion rate than Spotify, meaning they are turning more potential customers to paid subscribers. The reports adds to Apple's recent Q3 financial reports that the service is beating its competitor in total paid subscribers the U.S., Canada and Japan.

With his company Loup Ventures, tech analyst Gene Munster, recently released a case study about how iOS affects music streaming and found that Apple is converting potential customers to paid subscribers at a 2.5 times faster rate than Spotify currently is. Their research shows Spotify still dominating the overall global market with 62 percent of global paid streaming subscribers (between Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora) and while Apple Music may currently hold only 34 percent, Apple's share has been growing at a faster rate. The study took into account the addressable market for the streaming services, namely that Apple Music is primarily used on iOS devices with only a small segment of Android users, while Spotify can be used on either platform. Additionally, Digital Music News reported that Apple Music now has higher numbers of paid subscribers than Spotify in the U.S., Canada and Japan, which Tim Cook confirmed in Apple's latest financial report for Q3 2018. Munster estimated that Apple Music has 21 million subscribers in North America, while Spotify has 20 million.

Munster highlights the seamless nature of iOS integration as being an advantage for Apple, as Apple Music is preloaded on their devices and can be used across them, and they are also able to prompt users to start a free trial and subscribe. He points to this as playing a big part in their conversion rate, in addition to iPhone users tending to have a higher disposable income. This may just be the tip of the iceberg. As the study shares "Apple Music has room to grow with just 45m subs out of 780m active iPhone users (6%) paying for the service."

While both services offer student, family and individual subscription rates at the same price point, only Spotify offers a free option. Spotify Free has ads and doesn't allow for on-demand listening like their Premium subscription, but it does allow for Spotify to potentially reach more users and also target them to convert to paying customers. The only free option on Apple Music is for the initial free trial, and users must then pay to keep listening with the service, which could possibly be an incentive when deciding to pay or not. As with most free trials, for both services the card on file will be charged if it is not canceled before the end date, but, as Munster points out, it is even more streamlined with Apple Music for iOS users, as it is all linked to your Apple ID.

The family plan option on Spotify may be cutting into their numbers, as up to six users can share a family account instead of paying for their own individual accounts. Digital Media News also reported that Spotify made a recent attempt to crack down on overuse of family plans after recent findings that of just 35 percent of Spotify users that pay for a Premium plan, 24 percent of them are on a family plan. Spotify reportedly sent emails to those on family plans asking to verify their GPS location to confirm that all users live in the same house, but due to backlash they decided to hold on following through with the request. Apple Music's family plan option is an extension of its Family Sharing functionality, meaning all users on the plan have to be linked to one credit card for all users Apple ID purchases, reducing the appeal to share such a plan with friends and extended family like many Spotify users clearly do.

At the end of the day, most music listeners are looking for access to all of the music they want to hear, and an ease of use in their ability to stream on their devices, have access to new releases, create playlists and perhaps find new artists or exclusive content. Spotify has been in the streaming game longer and does a great job at curating tailored playlists for both the individual users and for different genres and moods, but perhaps Apple Music now has a leg up in pushing its streamlined, easy to use functionality on music listeners not yet paying for or committed to a specific service. It would be interesting to see if new data suggests that not having a free use option has a positive effect on paid subscribers, and how that may impact streaming options moving forward. For now not having a free option, as well as having a more restricted family plan may likely allow Apple Music to keep gaining traction on Spotify.

Spotify Adds Direct Uploads For Indie Artists

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Music Startups Raised $458.8 Million In 2011

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Music Startups Raised $458.8 Million In 2011
Investors contributed a total of $458.8 million to music startups in 2011, according to a Digital Music News report. Online streaming service Spotify received the highest amount of investor funding among music startups in 2011 with $100 million, followed by the recently shuttered music technology company Beyond Oblivion ($77 million) and online ticket retailer Eventbrite ($50 million). (1/4)

More Than 1 Billion Apps Downloaded In Last Week Of 2011
A record 1.2 billion apps were downloaded worldwide from Dec. 25–31, according to app analytics company Flurry. Customers in the United States accounted for 509 million downloads, followed by China (99 million), the UK (81 million), Canada (41 million), and Germany and France (40 million). On Christmas Day, an estimated 6.8 million smart phones were activated and 242 million apps were downloaded. (1/4)
 

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Lively Legal Eagle Lunch

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

By Laurel Fishman

In the lobby outside the Beverly Hills Hotel's Crystal Ballroom, the schmooze fest built to a deafening roar as the movers, shakers and tastemakers of entertainment law — and those who aspire to be in this lofty league — convened before the 13th Annual Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon & Scholarship Presentation.

After repeated appeals to "Please take your seats," GRAMMY Foundation Vice President Scott Goldman resorted to a prolonged "shhhhhhh" to get the ultra-voluble crowd to give the proceedings their full attention. The roar turned to respectful silence in the ballroom as the law students representing this year's ELI Legal Writing Competition finalists poised themselves for their onstage appearance.

The students were fresh from an exclusive mentoring session with the ELI Executive Committee, where they had just received priceless anecdotal wisdom from the elder statesmen of the field. "I'm still pinching myself!" University of Southern California law student Jay Patel told me. Daniel Carollo, who's studying at St. John's University School of Law, described the experience as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Chapman University School of Law's Maral Vahdani said she loved getting the lowdown on the building of Madonna's career, adding how she appreciates that entertainment law covers "both sides of the spectrum, the more glamorous stuff and the legal side."

Finalist Brian Pearl, a student at University of California Los Angeles, anticipated taking the spotlight to talk about his paper, "hoping for a question I'm capable of answering intelligently!" When his turn came to discuss turning outside of copyright law to communication law in order to limit access to illegal file-sharing, presenter and ELI Executive Committee Program Chair Ken Abdo lauded Pearl's inventive "rock and roll attitude."

Contest winner William Jacobson, a student at the Charlotte School of Law, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for his efforts. He spoke about his thought-provoking paper, which addressed computers generating content independent of human creativity. Jacobson said this necessitates further distinction beyond open-sourcing and crowd-sourcing to what he coined as "compu-sourcing." He raised issues of ownership concerning creation by programmers versus users, and the importance of distinguishing original works from those "fabricated by technology."

Predictably, humor pervaded the luncheon. ELI Executive Committee Chair Michael Reinert joked about having to travel 3,000 miles to the event to see his colleagues from just up the street. Attorney John T. Frankenheimer, winner of the 2011 Service Award, was acknowledged by his fellows for his ability to "capture the most complex of deals on one Post-It note!"

Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation President/CEO Neil Portnow warned, "If you think this is just another industry event, wait until you hear our keynote speaker." Portnow's words rang true when the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am took the stage. A GRAMMY Foundation Board member, the GRAMMY-winning musician/producer shot straight from the hip, saying he was "probably gonna piss people off," yet it was "with all due respect to the great minds in this room" that he insisted that technology now defines the what and the where of monetizing music in the "marriage between art and science."

When all was said and done, I expressed admiration for how Goldman had held the attention of the crowd of verbal giants throughout the program. Goldman's response succinctly summed up the bottom-line ethos of the afternoon, "You just gotta deal!"