I attended Netaudio London Conference on Sunday 15th May with my good friend, netlabel owner and musician Vince Millet, from Secret Archives of the Vatican. Vince has written his own blog post on the conference, which I urge you to read, but here are my own observations and musings.

This was my first time at at Netaudio conference, but have attended excellent unconferences, barcamps and panel discussions before, so was looking forward with an open mind, and open ears, to a fascinating discussion. If I was to try and explain my feelings in the language used in the conference it would go something like this….. (ahem)….

“The didactic invective of the panel, produced, in me, a strong sense of anomie. Perhaps I was not attuned to the Marxist zeitgeist, but the the balance between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft were clearly at odds with my sub-cultural expectations, leading me to engage in a degree of Schadenfreude.”

In short I didn’t really understand what the panel were talking about, because I don’t speak bollocks.

The day was split into three panels:

  1. Politics, Protest and Sound
  2. Creativity and Collaboration in the Internet Era
  3. Digital Futures and Analogue Survivals

In my view there was only two high-points. In the second panel the high point was Tamara Barnett-Herrin, who explained how she turned her musical “writers block” into a collaborative project, “Calendar Songs”, in which she released one song per month, and then worked with remixers to produce and perform an album in 2008.

In the first panel the high point was Matthew Herbert (keynote) presenting his view of 17 “crises” that the music industry is currently facing, such as technique (for example the overuse of autotune), texture, distribution, listening, philosophy, studios, etc. However the underlying narrative was clearly a Marxist/anti-capitalist agenda, the strength of which I have not heard since I studied sociology in the 1980s, and I thought have died out in the post-Blair era. I should have know better. I was in Camden after all.

As for the other speakers? Well two clearly did not feel they could comfortably “converse” and therefore read their monotonous “essays” verbatim, whilst another spent 30 minutes talking about network hi-fi devices in a presentation that should have take 5 minutes (maximum) to deliver.

Two other presentations talked about the UK Uncut program of actvities and one was from an artist showing her works from as far back as 1965 and had absolutely no relevance to the net or audio.

But it was the underlying Marxist bullshit that got me most annoyed about this event. The blame for all the woes for the music industry was placed firmly at the feet of capitalism, and the cure was anti-capitalism.

Music and musicians have existed long before capitalism was invented, and it’s even easier today to engage in non-capitaist (not anti-capitalist) ventures than it ever has been. Netlabels, where the musician owns the labour and the means of production, are in the ascendance. This is the future of netaudio.

To the organizers of this even I say: 4/10 Must try harder!