May 17, 2019 | By Anupreet Bhui
The Rattle is a new home for artists and music technologists, offering co-working space, music studios, mentorship, events and hands-on support, all designed to inspire members to think like founders and to create exceptional, culturally significant work, be that music, technology or a combination of the two.
WGSN caught up with co-founders Bobby Bloomfield, a record producer and composer, and Jon Eades, former Innovation Manager at Abbey Road Studios, to talk about how this new start-up aims to de-capitalise the music industry.
Tell us about how the idea for The Rattle came about?
BB: After years of touring in a band called Does It Offend You Yeah, an unforeseen family grievance meant the band stopped. At this point, we were signed by a major label, meaning –back then – if you sold a CD, the band would receive 13% of the retail price. This was split amongst the songwriters, equating to about 3 pence per pound for each artist. After a stark realisation that we had no money in the bank – it felt like something was broken in the industry.
In 2016, I met my co-founder, Chris Howard, an MIT-trained entrepreneur. After a lot of research, we realised that the music industry is just like the coffee industry. The makers earn the least, and the industry is set up to benefit distributors and resellers. This was comparable with the tech industry until the start-up revolution happened, and the creators became founders.
Our premise for The Rattle was; what if we made artists, founders? We’ve created a community of highly curated, highly talented people – 1 in 10 people make it in.
How would you describe The Rattle’s community?
JE: The Rattle community is a strange collective of innovators, geniuses, artists, hackers, makers, all hustling to build their own ‘start-ups’ around their craft. A disparate group all connected by their love for music and passion for positively affecting culture through music.
When you say only 1 in 10 people make it in, what skills are you looking for in a potential member?
BB: Because we’re not a label and have no equity stake in any of the members, we can invest our time and energy into anyone that makes something interesting. As the same old bands continue to headline big festivals, cool, upcoming artists are being pushed aside. The Rattle is a new paradigm in music, where the whole system works in harmony.
Our community – made up of 60% artists, and 40% music tech – is created in a way that one person complements the next. Everyone who makes something has to make us go, ‘wow’! Some artists are good at branding, others at video content or coding. Anyone can enlist the skills of a fellow studio worker.
We’re starting to see success; One of our bands Too Many T’s won a Cannes Lions award for the world’s first Alexa rap video, and some of our tech companies have raised funding in the region of 2 million pounds. Some other artists have been snapped up by booking agents and are working their way up the festival bills.
The music industry has been revolutionised by companies such as Spotify. What do you think will be the next machine learning technique to shake the industry?
JE: Streaming services have done an amazing job in fixing the distribution part of the chain. However, there is a lot of room for improvement to the way music is discovered. AI tools that automate the pairing of creator to listener are already incorporated into several streaming platforms (think ‘Discover Weekly’), yet there’s still a long way to go. Finding a constant flow of new music that hits the right spot every time can still be frustratingly difficult.
At WGSN we are talking a lot about responsible tech, mostly within the context of AI. How do you see the creative process of writing and production working in a harmonious way with AI?
JE: To attempt to answer in short; the truth is that man and machine have been co-authoring music for many years in many different ways. The difference with recently developed AI systems, is that they learn and respond dynamically to patterns they ‘observe’. As for the overall long-term impact of man collaborating musically with AI… that’s pretty impossible to predict, but it’s certainly going to produce some interesting new genres.
Within the context of music, do you feel that ‘efficiency innovation’ (for creating economic profit) will have more significance than ’empowering innovation’ (using tech advances to progress society)?
JE: I would like to see music technologies democratising access, sharing wealth and increasing overall wellbeing. I have hope that new technologies will have a levelling effect, decentralising the power that some of the larger music companies have over distribution and discovery. But the pessimist in me says that every system can be gamed, and where there is a will there is a way, so it has proven historically very difficult to stop people and the corporations they build harnessing technology for personal gain.
One piece advice you would give to people starting out in the music industry?
B.B: Spend some time taking a wide look at the whole music industry machine before diving in!
What’s next for The Rattle?
JE: We’re about to close our second round of investment, so we can open up Rattle #2 in LA and then Rattle #3 in New York in 2019.
For more insight into this topic, read up on The Streaming Economy: New Markets and Strategies.
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