Diplo: “Technology Has Never Benefited the Artist. It’s Always Benefited the Audience.”

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…from an interview with Charlie Rose, which also featured Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex).

Charlie Rose: Let’s look at this clip with [Spotify CEO] Daniel Ek, here it is.

Daniel Ek clip (from 5/1/2014): What I hope is that we can take this technological shift and move it from just being about listening to music to being about how we create music.  When you think about the internet, the internet is not just audio, it’s audio, it’s visual, and it’s interactive. What’s the future of music going to be if the format isn’t just about the actual sound itself anymore, if it’s about the sound that’s the visual, and perhaps it might even be the interactive part.

Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex): That guy’s cool.

Thomas Pentz (aka Diplo): — yeah.

Charlie Rose: — would you agree with him, is the point? In essence he said the same thing you guys agree with.

Skrillex: — yeah, for sure, I think inevitably it’s all coming together —

Charlie Rose: — the technology, yeah —

Diplo: — for us, the one thing that helped lead us to be more successful this year, is a lot of the guys that are older that battle streaming services, that battle distribution systems, we instead embrace it, 100%.  We’d rather people listen to our music than try to make every cent we can make off of it.

It’s more important for us to get our music heard than to grab every penny we can get.

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Skrillex: The way I’ve looked at it is you have to divide, it’s like what a market is.  It’s like you have different aisles, you have the girls section, you have the socks section, maybe someone is only going to buy socks.  If you’re going to take away from that area, there’s a whole different demographic that only goes to that aisle.  So, there’s a whole other demographic of people that buy CDs.

So those people that — but this is my philosophy, I’m not telling anyone else they have to do it that way but — you know, people go to Spotify and subscribe, that’s how they get their music.  And that’s a whole group of people, and if you take it away from them you’re alienating a group of people that’s never going to see your music.  And they’re not going to change.

A lot of times they’re not going to buy a CD just because you took yourself off of Spotify.

Charlie Rose: Does it also mean that people who might not have had a chance of making a record now have access to getting their music heard?

Diplo: Well technology has never really benefited the artist, it’s always benefited the audience.

Charlie Rose: But today — is that true today, do you think?

Diplo: Yeah, when I first had a cassette tape, I was immediately recording stuff illegally off the radio, it’s always been in the favor of the audience to make it easier for them, and it’s not going to get any easier for the artist.  We’re actually — the more you fight it the more you’re wasting your time, because the audience is going to find easier and easier ways to find the music, and it’s not — you can’t stop that, you know?

Rose: And the easier you make it for the audience to find it, the better off you’re going to be. That’s what you’re saying.

Skrillex: — that’s the philosophy.

Charlie Rose: Accessibility is the key word.

Diplo: —that’s why we’re doing it here today, we’ve always rode that wave, you know, and if we had fought it we’d still be in our studios complaining.

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Skrillex: The one thing I am kind of bummed about, is like recently all the major labels – and we distribute through majors because we — they all took — made it so all the full songs on SoundCloud are being taken down and limited to clips, and shorter previews.  And it’s like at the end of the day, those kids on SoundCloud — they’re actually — we’re some of the biggest people on SoundCloud with the most followers, and that’s a huge asset to our overall business of how people listen to our music.

And there’s kids that only go on SoundCloud and will never buy at iTunes and even never go to Spotify, and that’s how they listen to music.  And what that does is it eliminates a huge asset and is cutting off our music to an audience that could potentially come to our shows and be fans.

So there’s definitely a lot of controversy in all these things, but I almost wish that it was up to the person that owns the art, the way they want it to be heard.

31 Responses

  1. Me

    Wait, the guy who makes all his music on his computer is saying technology doesn’t benefit artitsts?

    • Tone

      he’s talking about consumer-facing technology, not music production technology. streaming, digital downloads, etc.


      • Duh

        If it’s consumer facing technology than OBVIOUSLY it benefits the consumer. So its still one of the dumbest statements he’s made. Although I do highly respect both of these guys and they’re intelligence and talent. Meanwhile, Skrillex saying he wishes the decision was in the hands of those that own the art is also naïve. Because it is, its in the hands of the investors who he accepted money and resources from. If he wants to make his own decisions than he’ll go unsigned after his contract is up. Or buy himself out now. (Let’s see how his artists feel about that news)

      • No Climate Change, Cuz It's Snowing Where I Live...

        these guys are funny… there is no climate change because it’s snowing where I live… uh, yeah… great. and it’s not about kids in bedrooms sharing, that’s not the conversation – its about corporations and boardrooms – how are those royalties from ad funded piracy sites like the pirate bay working out?

    • Antinet

      Red Herring. The issue isn’t about technology, which changes, and HAS benefitted artists who can now record at home instead of at studios run by jerks of unknown competence (although the great ones of course, you would still want around).

      The issue to me isn’t the artist making less money, or the audience finding ways to get things for free, the issue is:


      It’s not that complicated….good gawd. THese guys are fat and happy off of shows, and any musician worth his salt should be performing. THat STILL does NOT rationalize MIDDLEMEN MAKING THE MONEY OFF OF RECORDINGS! WHy are people SO DENSE?

  2. Name2

    Meanwhile, the whole excerpt is worth reading — of course, Resnikoff is going to ignore things like Skrillex’ specific bemoaning losing the SoundCloud crowd – even going so far as to admit that those listeners are never buying CDs – they’re in a different “aisle”, as he put it. He doesn’t believe there’s cannibalization there.

    Here’s a different Diplo quote to BOLDFACE:

    that’s why we’re doing it here today, we’ve always rode that wave, you know, and if we had fought it we’d still be in our studios complaining.

      • Name2

        Your click-bait headlines rarely match the demonstrable content. If they did, that would be news. This interview had to be waterboarded to get the conclusion you used for your headline and superimposed on the graphic.

        But now you want a gold star for not going the extra mile and editing out all disagreeable content? So that it would make absolutely no sense at all?

        Blingee.com is still up. Pick your own.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          Name2, I am struggling to grasp even a basic argument thread you might be trying to piece together here. Perhaps you should pick up a copy of the book, Debate It! Basic Tenets of Logical Argument and Cohesive Thought so that you can improve this extreme deficiency.

          You say:

          “This interview had to be waterboarded to get the conclusion you used for your headline and superimposed on the graphic.”

          You’re right, except for the part in which this is a verbatim transcription of the dialogue between Charlie Rose, Diplo and Skrillex, and the title is a direct quote from Diplo. I’m not sure how that constitutes ‘waterboarding’ in even the most remote sense.

          • Name2

            God, how simple do we have to make it?

            1. Charlie Rose asks a leading question, the answer to which he wants

            1a. to be digestible to his audience. Okay

            1b. to fall in line with the tech evangelism of the early aughts: that tech lowers the barriers to production, lowers the barriers to market, democratizes the marketplace, offers a chance for long-tailers to make a living, etc. Either this is Charlie’s story and he’s sticking to it, or he has craftily designed a question to elicit a response on the level of the macro and not the micro.

            2. Diplo – no idiot – knows he’s on Charlie Rose, and that at this moment, he knows Charlie Rose is not overly interested in details, details, details.

            3. Diplo tells his truth – that, when pulling the lens back and taking a wide view, “tech” (as seen in a young man’s eyes, clearly; not “tech” in terms of what was able to produce the Edison cylinder or the compact disc) overall has benefitted audiences and not artists.

            This short exchange comes amidst a trove of small but important insights from both artists about how they have adjusted and function (or at least tread water) in the new reality. Charlie’s inner monologue, I believe, was something like this: “Boooor-ing!”

            Then you distilled it down to “Diplo says Tech is teh suxxor! OMG!”

            Pearls before swine.

          • Esol Esek

            You’re a boor. I doubt you do anything of creative worth. Charlie Rose is a dinosaur who licks Jay Z’s boots. His job isn’t to find anything out, it’s to still appear relevant. I find DMN to be one of the best sources of info on the current state of music and digital distribution. Are you not aware that newspapers, or blogs, use headlines to get attention? I guess you want to change the wheel, too. Let me guess, you don’t play an instrument.

            I’m always open to other sources, but I don’t understand the point of attacking outlets of information, flawed or not. You either need a job or a girlfriend or prob both.

          • Name2

            Of the few things in this world I am certain of, one is that I don’t need a girlfriend.

          • Well, They Say Ignorance is bliss...

            “I find DMN to be one of the best sources of info on the current state of music and digital distribution.”

            Esol Esek



            Good one!

        • Anonymous

          Normally I think Name2 is spot on, but this time the title is fair enough imo.

          Perhaps, Paul, the problem is that you have so little credibility and trend so much towards clickbait trashiness that people now view you that way. You are “trashy clickbait Paul who publishes articles of little to no value.” Catchy nickname.

          yeah, you’ll occasionally get called out for something that you shouldn’t be, but most of the time you deserve the criticism you get. Stop whining in the comments.

          You made this reputation for yourself, Trashy Clickbait Paul, live with it or fix it.

          • Paul Resnikoff

            I’ll respond to both of these ridiculous commenters here. So, Anonymous, you’re saying that even though Name2’s response is almost entirely unintelligible and logically non-sensical, what he/she is actually trying to say is your non-sensical, semi-intelligent and ridiculous rant and name-calling?

  3. farley g

    Charlie does look tired, and like he needs coffee, but keep in mind that he is moving in the direction of being 90 years old. (But maybe we all are)

    Charlie Rose has a fair number of interviewees from the music business, and generally he is very soft on issues of underpaid musicians and exploiting distributors. He tends to be generous to distributors and see them as innovative entrepreneurs who deserve only praise. Maybe some of the commenters here can send some comments to Charlie Rose. FG

  4. Thedenmaster

    These guys are stupid businessmen that’s for sure. Without their labels they would have nothing. No one would have heard their stuff. Ever.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      But, couldn’t you just as easily argue that Diplo and Skrillex are good businessmen, because they understand the power of a large label partnership, while focusing their energies so heavily on live and open access?

      • Me2

        Indeed. Live is the smart way to go about it, for those who can.

        But that doesn’t make what’s happening with distribution right.
        Sadly, their comments seem to ignore the systemic abuse at best, and at worse paint activists with an ageist stigma.

        • Paul Resnikoff

          These guys are smart and are undoubtedly aware of the unfairness and abuse surrounding digital distribution, but they’re also aware of the ‘Metallica effect’ and what it means for them and their fanbase. Start bitching about how SoundCloud isn’t paying you, how Spotify doesn’t pay artists, etc., and you run the very real risk of being that millionaire artist that everyone hates.

          Well, maybe in 2015 it’s the ‘TIDAL effect,’ whatever you call it it’s still very much alive and potentially extremely damaging to ‘down to earth’ artists like Skrillex and Diplo.

        • Name2

          Indeed. Live is the smart way to go about it, for those who can.

          20-something, energetic, young, extroverted and free of family ties is the smart way to go about it, for those who can.

    • Anonymous

      Diplo has a top 10 song at pop radio on his own label right now. What are you talking about?

  5. Willis

    Dude is way out there. Never benefited the artist? Exactly what does he use to make his music, to make his money?

  6. Versus

    This is a very passive approach, and just contributes to the race to the bottom.

    Essentially, they are saying about pirates and cheapskates, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

    An individual artist (even of Taylor Swift’s stature) can only do so much to change the “system”, but a serious proportion of artists pulling in tandem can accomplish serious change. Spotify is dead if a critical mass of artists and labels pull their “content” from the “platform”. YouTube without music would be a dysfunctional world of stupid pet tricks (™ David Letterman) and stupid human tricks. This is leverage.

    • Troglite

      +1 Googolplex

      Both artists and consumers both have more power than they realize. That ignorance combined with a wealth of distractions and FUD created by both Silicon Valley and the major labels are what prevent that power from being utilized. Its time to work together to reclaim what we created.

  7. Steve

    this is simply a load of crap – what the fuck do you think the piano is if not 19th century technology, same for any instrument – dumb