Music + Technology + Random Nonsense from the Music Industry by Ethan Kaplan, VP Product, Live Nation


I gave a lecture at UCSB yesterday called “Punk to Fucked – REM to DRM” It was to about 100 art students in Colin Gardner’s introductory class.

The lecture was tracing the history of punk music from 1971-1982 and paralleling it with the development of the Internet. I then compared the shift from punk to post-punk in about 82 (with REM, Mission of Burma, etc) to the current state of the Internet (the whole Web 2.0 thing).

The slides (which I’ll post) started with song quotes and then went to quotes from RFC documents including for ASCII, FTP, HTTP, RTP transport for H.264 and finally a quote from the article exposing the Sony DRM RootKit debacle.

I always get asked to do the “technology” lectures in the intro art classes at UCSB, since I started there, and I think this was the most successful of the bunch. The students stayed awake (for the most part) and actually didn’t walk out (save for two, and I curse them with bad karma). Also they had questions.

Considering I prepared the lecture the night before, I was happy about it. I’ll post the slides later, but you need to hear the whole thing for them to make sense. I’ll try to annotate them, or maybe do a slide a day and write a post about what I talked about.

It was also nice being up in Santa Barbara again.

Oh, I’ll write about this later, but an interesting thing regarding “show of hands” surveys during lecture:

  • About 1/3 had a MySpace profile.
  • Roughly 90% had FaceBook profiles.
  • Five people, all guys had heard of digg
  • No one had heard of BoingBoing, Delcious, memorandum or NewsVine.
  • About 15 had the Arctic Monkeys CD. None had paid for it
  • Only a few had actually bought music in the last month
  • About 20 had heard about the Sony DRM scandal
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

13 Responses

  1. shoo says:

    As fan of punk and an internet junkie, sounds like an awesome lecture. Would like to see the slides.

    How do you get thrown into a classroom of art students to do a lecture on technology?

  2. Black Rim Glasses says:

    Well, art and technology go hand in hand, just like punk music and art and technology. Also I have an MFA from UCSB, so I know all the professors up there :)

  3. spicy says:

    You are awesome Ethan! Best lecture for this class all quarter (Gardner is too ‘institutionalized’ to be relatable, it seems). If you were a prof, I would sign up for your class. The lecture was delivered in a way that even a non techie like myself can understand.


  4. Jonathan Foley says:

    Via you I just discovered NewsVine and memorandum, they both got Delcious’s and their RSS feeds got added to Rojo, my web based RSS reader. I am a total news junky, I dont know how I missed these, thanks!

  5. With regard to the informal student polls, I get much the same thing in my classes. I will add that 100% own cell phones, while only 70% own MP3 players … students are interesting these days in that they are so technical (in that they can use the stuff), but very few really clasify themselves as technical. Most consider themselves novices in the real use of technology … but, when you look at them they are all on facebook, on IM, and downloading stuff. I am looking forward to the slides.

  6. Well, I don’t know how useful I’ll be as a data point, but as a college student, I fall into the following groups:

    - I don’t have a MySpace profile, but I don’t buy into that. I have a leased server in a datacenter that I use instead.
    - I have a FaceBook profile, but only because you must have one to read others.
    - I subscribe to the Digg RSS feed and read it nearly daily
    - I subscribe to the BoingBoing RSS feed as well and occasionally visit some of the other places
    - I’ve never heard of the Artic Monkeys, though they’re pretty popular according to Wikipedia. (I don’t watch tv or listen to the radio)
    - I’ve bought music via the iTunes Music Storage and SharpMusic, which enables the purchase of AAC songs without a DRM wrapper, so that I can do things like listen to them on my Xbox
    - I’ve heard of the Sony DRM scandal

  7. [...] Ethan Kaplan, the director of technology for Warner Bros Records gave a lecture at University of California Santa Barbara and came to realize some interesting things – [...]

  8. These are really interesting statistics, I’ve blogged my opinion of them on my site. They’re entirely valid statistics for my secondary school in York, UK. MySpace is HUGE here and services such as delicious are unheared of. I really wish people (especially young people) would explore the web more and check out some of the great services that are out there. The fact that nobody had paid for an Artic Monkeys album doesn’t suprise me, again, virtually everybody I know uses either Limewire or eMule for getting hold of anything good heared on the radio.

    Cool stuff!

  9. [...] I’m so interested in the results I blogged yesterday from the post on that I have decided to go to school today and conduct my own similar survay asking whether or not students at my school have heared of web 2.0 services such as Flickr. delicious, last FM etc. [...]

  10. [...] Ethan Kaplan on technology at UCFB: Oh, I’ll write about this later, but an interesting thing regarding “show of hands” surveys during lecture: [...]

  11. biz says:

    I am teaching a class on the history of 80s American punk/indie/underground music. My students recently had to write a paper on technology and how they use it to find new music. (A good portion of the class we talked about the community that built up around punk bands and how you had to seek out new music).

    The majority of them mentioned MySpace in their paper. Two or three (out of fifteen) don’t see the point in paying for music. The majority of them use file sharing sites and MySpace to find new music and then buy the music, either in CD form or via iTunes. Many of those who buy the music in some form said at one time they had downloaded music as opposed to buying the CDs but they stopped because they felt the arists deserved to be paid for their music. Two out of the fifteen will almost always buy the CD as opposed to buying it via iTunes as they want the packaging. One of them does not really use technology because she relies on others to introduce her to new music.

    The majority of them have some sort of MP3 player. One of them, one of the three or four serious music geeks in the class, refuses to buy an iPod or other type of player. He likes the feeling of having the physical CDs and of hauling the CDs around with him wherever he goes. He sees it as a badge of honor.

    One student has an iPod and downloads some music via iTunes. She made the point that the Internet and sites like iTunes and MySpace have made it easier for her to access new music and for friends to recommend new music. Yet, while technology makes it easier to find new music, it makes separates her from the music she loves. In the past she found new music by going to shows or searching for music through other means. By using the Internet to find new music it takes her out of that music environment and away from bands and away from the physical aspect of music.

    It was probably the most interesting assignment I have assigned them.

  12. Netscape Now!

    You remember 1996. You had e-mail. Your friends didn’t. You could Yahoo. Your friends couldn’t. It was a time when most of the world spent less time online than they did eating breakfast. Two of the standout successes during this early stage of…

  13. Idetrorce says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you