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My guest this week breaks down barriers between technology and the arts, performer and audience, and business and creativity.
Musician, technologist and creative entrepreneur Imogen Heap has mastered the intersection where innovation and inspiration meet, developing new platforms that liberate artists to make bolder and more intimate connections with their audiences.
Quite honestly, Imogen Heap is a new kind of artist, one that is both CEO and popstar, business genius as well as captivating performer.
Although she’s been in the music industry since being signed in London at the age of 17, Imogen has spent most of the last five years developing new music technologies.
A lot of musicians and artists tend to be suspicious of technology, but Imogen proves that cutting edge tech can actually enhance the depth and meaning of a creative experience.
Imogen has built a new kind of instrument, one which flips the idea of musical expression on its head.
Her high-tech stage gloves allow her to create sounds through body language and sound gestures.
Not only does this new technology liberate her as a performing artist, it also allows for more intimacy with a live audience.
Imogen is passionate about the potential for this new technology to revolutionise the industry, as it enhances the connection between performer and spectator.
Imogen has had her fair share of corporate industry experience, but these days she is 100% in control of her music.
She has broken the mould by running her own tech company, as well as writing music. Her values are heavily grounded in teamwork and increasingly enhancing the experience of music buyers.
Many British artists get successful and move to New York or LA to take their career to the next level. That is not Imogen’s style.
She takes full responsibility for her own success and she’s not sitting around waiting for the big thumbs up from corporations.
Imogen is determined to keep employing British talent and she insists the culture of tech and creativity here in London has been instrumental in her development as an industry leader as well as an artist.
We talk a lot about the new tech culture here in London, and Imogen believes this city is unique in the world for having a very supportive and collaborative atmosphere.
Though Imogen’s company is still in its early stages, she reminds me of a lot of the CEOs I’ve met here at Silicon Roundabout.
The ambition doesn’t come from a desire for money or status, but simply the buzz you get from making your dreams a reality.
This is really something that unites artists and tech innovators.
Despite all this innovation, Imogen is completely realistic about the challenges facing new artists given the amount of data available to consumers and the way technology keeps disrupting the industry.
She believes the way round it is to basically focus on the user experience more and more – to make it easier and more enjoyable to use specialised platforms, giving listeners the best quality possible from their downloads.
Imogen is always trying to improve the experience of her audience, and it is really this that marks her out from other performing artists.
A lot of artists struggle in the modern world because they are set in their ways. They are being left behind as technology changes.
Imogen is much more in the mould of a Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, in that she is never content to rehash the old, or imitate what’s already been done.
This is true for her music as it is for her use of technology. Imogen never uses the same sample twice, and she always wants to keep the listener’s experience fresh.
I think a lot of creative artists here in the London Real community can really learn a lot from Imogen.
In fact, the idea that world is divided into creative people and business people, no longer applies. Imogen is proof of that.
Quite honestly, I think Imogen’s ideas are going to be at the forefront of music technology for years to come, and it was truly a pleasure to sit down with her at this crucial moment in her career.
As you get ready for 2016, this is a perfect guest to help you recharge your creative energies, and remind you of the power of ideas in the modern economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Imogen Heap!
[10:30] Does being creative come easy, or do you just make it look it easy?
[13:00] Being a perfectionist.
[14:00] Every album is new and different.
[15:26] Do you like collaborating?
[16:03] You have to be a bit traumatised to do music.
[17:00] The process I was doing it was very alone.
[18:00] Being creative other than my music.
[19:10] Why London?
[20:33] People are sharing everything and projects are going quickly more than ever before.
[22:00] How technology can help music flourish.
[23:00] Mi Mu, gesture controlled digital music.
[25:50] Shaping sound. Of course that’s how it should sound like.
[26:37] How would you describe the gloves.
[28:40] It doesn’t have depth but it could be hacked.
[29:59] We have a team of 8.
[30:43] What is the response seeing other musicians use the gloves. Ariana Grande and the puppet hand.
[31:34] Financing the development of the glove. Being in the manufacturing business.
[34:00] How the users inspire me.
[36:00] The gloves takes on the personality of the person who uses them.
[36:30] You have to teach it, as opposed to learning to play an instrument like the guitar.
[39:59] Vinay Gupta on the gloves.
[41:30] Unsaid relationship with the audience enables me to be much freer.
[43:00] Augmenting the experience of playing the piano.
[45:00] Chagall’s Tedxtalk
[46:00] Music for people with disability. Chris Halpin.
[48:54] Tiny Human sponsored by Sennheiser. Mycelia using blockchain. Relationship with corporate sponsors.
[52:10] The connection between the artist and the audience is so far off now.
[54:35] The more open they are about their data, the more money they could earn.
[56:42] Mycelia. Ability to thank people and grow your contacts is a key thing that is missing.
[59:11] The dashboard may the service. How to curate the information that is out there.
[59:42] Sick and tired of the music industry.
[1:00:28] Music platforms – OCL, Oojo, Oravine, Alaexandria, Superpass, ITunes, Spotify ??
[1:03:21] Relationship between musician and the audience will be much closer.
[1:04:12] I can make my music free for all under 16 and over 60s if I want to.
[1:05:29] Packaging deductions in music deals when there is no package.
[1:06:04] Find out more about Mycelia.
[1:06:55] A foundation that funds the protection of artist rights.
[1:07:44] Middle class musician. Relying on the unexpected.
[1:09:40] It’s not that complicated and it just needs to be fair.
[1:10:40] What’s it like as a mother?
[1:11:20] Watching the news more.
[1:13:20] Tiny human. Having a baby.
[1:14:33] Amy Winehouse.
[1:19:00] Music exists for Imogen.
[1:20:00] Wanting to make more music. Music for Harry Potter.
[1:21:40] Brian Eno.
[1:23:10] I don’t want to be more famous. I want my music to work for me.
[1:23:47] Curation of music is really bad.
[1:24:31] What does a great 10 years look like?
[1:26:40] Advice to the 20 year old Imogen Heap.
[1:28:00] Best business advice ever received.