‘Music is Okay?!’: Interview with Eric Wahlforss from SoundCloud

‘Music is Okay?!’: Interview with Eric Wahlforss from SoundCloud
Matthias Weber
  • 10 november 2008

Do you also think about curation and compilation, the editorial aspect?

Editorial not so much from my side, because I am very much a technology person so I think the big solutions might not be only editorial. But it’s a sort of curation by your social network, it’s a curation that is facilitated by technology.

It seems the music industry is still mourning over sales numbers and the demise of the industry. What opportunities to innovate, build new products and concepts in this field do you see?

(Laughs) About the mourning on revenues: I just came back from London where I attended the Music Tank, sort of sessions where they invite people and talk about the music industry, there was Jim Gelcer who runs this company Noank Media where they try to basically monetize Peer to Peer in certain ways. One of the things that he was saying was that if you could get something like 2 Dollars a month from people who get their music in P2P and you would do that for the customers of the big ISPs that would be much more revenue than the labels are getting from all the combined downloads and physical sales today.

I saw some recent numbers on downloads, and this figure is going up really fast. Paid downloads are something like 4 Billion Dollars now. Which is a significant amount. Of course the numbers of physical sales are going down but the potential is still there to sort of stop focussing on the downloads and actually look at the other 99% of the users that don’t want to download music, look at what their needs are and try to tap that resource. Look at e.g. subscription models. That’s basically a problem where a solution seems to be around the corner. There are definitely opportunities because people are listening to music more than ever. So there are opportunities to monetize.
Ad-based streaming and subscription models and hardware cross subsidised are basically the three models that are interesting for the mainstream consumer. I think this should be much more explored.

What are the most interesting concepts and products in the field of digital music from your perspective at the moment? (Apart from SoundCloud of course!)

Many of these big issues have been on the table for like ten years now and there still haven’t been nice solutions for them. For example Spotify, the Swedish company, that is showing that the proper implementation of a nice idea can be very powerful.

We’ve had similar ambitions around for a while but noone has come around and done it in a nice way, like really got the good licenses, really got the client right and the streaming right, you know executed well. I just think it’s embarrassing on the whole and really weird that noone has done this earlier than now. I think in terms of the real innovation it’s harder for me to say something. I think there are services like where I don’t think it is particularly interesting in itself, but the combination of nodal points if you will, the attention stream, recommendation facilitites and then a good way of experiencing streamed music is interesting. I think still is one of the more innovative consumer platforms. What we are doing is interesting because we are bringing the consumers, not only the Pros, further into the loop of that whole relationship fan and artist, sort of blurring this disctinction further, making the lifecycle or the lifecycle of a release more interesting and dynamic and maybe more open.
That’s also interesting from the consumer side potentially in a way. And then generally, Social Network distribution is something that is interesting I think. That social networks are turning into these modern radio channels basically, where people tune into their social network and the context that’s in there. They are not just listening to the music isolated in itself.

From a musician’s point of view- what really excites you about the possibilities for music creating and collaboration in 2009 and what is a total downer for you?

For me it’s of course more exciting than ever because I am making electronic music and I was always much more fond of the internet as a distribution mechanism than CDs or something like that. And also given that I got most of my revenues from my music actually from sync rights for films and TV series I feel that for me it’s not a threat at all, it’s much more a potential and about building a solid fanbase and being able to control all the interest, I mean all these users who actually come to me, all those people who sign up for a newsletter or add me as a friend on a social network. The key is to be actually able to do something with that and use that network that is automatically building up around you as an artist. If you manage to do that I think there is only good things about the new from my perspective. At least from where I’m coming from.

Some last words to the Majors?

Actually it’s funny, because right now I am working with a major label and also at the same time with an Indie-Label. It’s very interesting because we are trying to do the same thing and it’s very interesting to see how inefficient and backward thinking the major label is. We have this one guy in the major label who is sort of an infiltrator who tries to bring up all these new ideas but he keeps getting thrown back. So he has to always defend why they should do this and do that to the executive level. It’s taking about five times longer for them to achieve half of what the Indie label achieves with one person. What everybody has been saying for the last five years that the major labels are really slow, they are backwards thinking, they don’t like to take risks and at the same time they don’t really want to innovate.

You know it’s this old lesson from this marketing guy, this famous text called marketing myopia, where he is talking about. You know: they are in the music business and not in the business of selling records. That’s what they have to realise. It’s really about that.  You know railroad companies got displaced by trucking companies because they didn’t realise they were in the transportation business. They should really look at the broader landscape. What other things can you do in music? Not only selling CDs, not only breaking tracks on the radio. I mean, they are trying it, but it’s problematic of course.

You know, if there would be a major executive standing in front of me I am not sure what I would say. I would probably not say so much. (Laughs) Because I am too much of a web nerd and too little of a music industry person to say something important. But it’s very important that they look much more into new technologies and start really embracing these technologies.

Thanks, Eric!



Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Work Today

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Conner Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Retail Today

Why Experiential Events Could Replace Trade Shows

Marketers are seeking creative and impactful new ways to connect with influencers


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Technology Today

Modular Kit Teaches Kids How To Make Their Own Robots

MODI features magnetic modules and a platform for programming to encourage experimentation

Infants Today

Work Table Doubles As A Baby Seat

Designer Kunsik Choi created the furniture to facilitate emotional communication between between parents and their children

Arts & Culture Today

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

Technology Today

Wearable Device And Lamp Recreate Beautiful Sunsets In Your Home

Sun Memories can record up to six hours of natural light and reproduce it via a connected light at a later date

Design & Architecture Today

Flower Pencils Create Cherry Blossom Petals When Sharpened

A Japanese stationary company developed the special implements in order to create unique shavings


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 17, 2016

Home Depot Green Energy Expert: Americans Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Green tech expert Jennifer Tuohy discusses new home energy tech and developments for renewables in the US

PSFK Labs october 12, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

The Simpsons Is Stepping Into The World Of VR

To celebrate their 600th episode, the animated family sitcom created a virtual reality version of their opening gag

Syndicated Yesterday

Museum Exhibit Celebrates Strange Architectural Contraptions

Artist William Heath Robinson's peculiar genius is on display in this recent show with wiggling ducts, jumbles of planks and coils of cable

Food Yesterday

This Sensor Will Help You Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea Every Time

42Tea is a small device that guides you through every step of the brewing process, even identifying the type of leaves being used

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Norwegian Mountaineering Center Mimics A Snow-Capped Mountain

The structure's exterior is clad in a uniform surface of pixels to create a unique climbing experience

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Shopping Bag Turns Your Hands Into A LEGO

Designers from the School of Visual Arts thought up the Playbox Bag for a competition

Sustainability Yesterday

Giant Coffee Cups Encourage People To Recycle Their Morning Cup Of Joe

The Hubbub Foundation has created a set of themed bins meant to inspire recycling on a large scale

Home Yesterday

Small Device Creates A Personal Weather Station Inside In Your Home

Netatmo's new sensor is a standalone air quality monitor that can measure humidity, purity, noise and temperature

Travel Yesterday

Advertising Proposal Aims To Be The Most “Instagrammable Billboard In The World”

The Belltower in Los Angeles would allow video advertising and live event streaming, and include a pedestrian plaza for visitors

No search results found.