The Intersection of Music and Tech: Key Takeaways Web Summit 2018


December 7, 2018

Shannon ‐ Communications Coordinator

EDM: How the intersection of music and tech are a match made in musical heaven

For me, one of the highlights of the 2018 Lisbon Web Summit was an Electronic Music Masterclass with globally renowned songwriter, producer and performer Jonas Blue. Jonas, a double Brit Award nominee, has more than 4 billion streams and 25 million singles' sales to his name.

Jonas came onto the Creatiff stage of the Web Summit to introduce his new track 'Wild', and to provide a background on how the production of the track came together. Not only was it an interesting thing to see how an EDM track was born, it became clear how much this process was in many ways comparable to a technical project's development.

Creating the Minimal viable product

‘When starting with writing the track, you always need a concept or title. Something to help kickstart the process’, says Jonas. The first day of creating the song usually only involves playing the piano in a plucky way, creating the melody and laying the basis of the entire song. This is in fact the backbone of a track, what gives it the groove and what sets the tone. After this, he fills in this shell with all the detailed elements.

Jonas says that when creating a track, you’re trying to write a song that is timeless, that makes an impact, and excites people. This remains the focus in a writing session. The production can come afterwards, but a great song has to be created in the space of this day, it’s not something that comes afterwards. You have to have a great concept and a great melody which lays the basis for the entire track.

The process described is in many ways comparable to creating a Minimal Viable Product within a technical project. A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product's initial users. In Jonas’ case, he obviously does not wait for feedback from fans after releasing the track with regards to making changes. However, he does create an MVP (namely the melody), after which he creates and adds the complete set of features that will make the track come together as a whole.

Having a multidisciplinary team (combining different forces)

There are three vocalists on ‘Wild’. Jonas explained that he wanted to bring a very global sound to the song, so he brought some relatively unknown perfomers who are huge in their home countries, in to collaborate. UK singer Chelcee Grimes opens the song singing all the verses in English. The pre-chorus is performed by Argentinian singer TINI in Spanish, and the rap by Puerto Rican rapper Jhay Cortez, also in Spanish. Three different kinds of artists, involved in a single recording.

The above mentioned artists in fact form in fact a multidisciplinary team, as "a group composed of members with varied but complimentary experience, qualifications, and skills that together contribute to the achievement of a specific objective", in this case, the creation of a successful musical product. Contributing to the track, there are two singers and one rapper. In addition, there is one native English speaking artist, and two native Spanish-speakers.

Chelcee grimes on Jonas Blue album blue with track wild

Multidisciplinary teams within technical projects at WORTH combine different forces as well. A team consists of a Front-End Developer, a Back-End Developer, a Tester, a Scrum Master and a Designer, with each individual being in possession of different but complementary experiences, qualifications, and skills.

Design phase

Jonas explained that the technical part of putting the track together was rather simple. The different vocalists recorded their parts remotely and sent the files over to Jonas. They sent over two different versions of the vocals: a raw version, and an edited version of how they want it to eventually sound on the record. Depending on which version suits Jonas' vision best, he either uses their edited version or his own, or match his similar to theirs. In any case, Jonas routinely requests two versions from the artists to get their interpretation of the sound, and a raw version which Jonas can use to edit into how he wants it to eventually sound.

Creating with the end user/consumer in mind

Jonas explained that - as a producer, you try to get the sounds that you have in your head into a computer as quickly as you can. When it comes to arrangement, Jonas actually arranges his tracks in a very different way than many other dance producers do. What he does, is create the radio edit first. Therefore, he ensures that within the 2,5 minutes that you usually have when being played on daytime radio, he gets listeners excited about the song within that very short period of time. This way, Jonas begins his songs with a melody and a hook that will draw people in to maintain their attention. If you think about ‘Billy Jean’ by Michael Jackson for example, it is recognizable within 1 or 2 seconds of play. This is the same kind of effect Jonas wants to create with his music. He thinks about what it is that excites people, and how he gets his melodies stuck in people’s heads, for hopefully many decades.

Jonas blue concert intersection of music and tech

End product

From creating the Minimal Viable Product to working with a multidisciplinary team, going through the design phase and creating with the end user/consumer in mind, the process of a musical creation is in many ways comparable to a technical project's development. Interested in the end product? Listen to the full track 'Wild' here!

Did you enjoy this blog? Then check out this blog about Day by Day: Key Takeaways from Web Summit 2018.

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