Imogen Heap Speaks For Herself | Summary and Q&A

December 9, 2015
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Imogen Heap Speaks For Herself

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In this video, Imogen Heap discusses her journey as a tech-savvy musician and the concept behind her Mimu gloves. She explains how the gloves work, how they enable her to create and perform music, and the challenges she faces in commercializing them. Imogen also talks about the current state of the music industry and the importance of fair payment for artists. She delves into the potential of blockchain technology in revolutionizing the industry and empowering artists. Lastly, she shares her advice for undiscovered artists and reflects on her own legacy.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Imogen first enter the tech world and what first got her interested in music technology?

Imogen's interest in music technology began with the pianola at home, which used paper rolls to play a code that instructed the piano keys. This sparked her initial interest in coding and computers. She has always been interested in doing things for herself and enjoys making things. When she encounters gaps in her workflow or sees issues in the music industry, she feels compelled to do something about it and technology often comes to the rescue.

Q: Can Imogen explain what the Mimu gloves do and how they work?

The Mimu gloves were created out of frustration with the limitations of traditional electronic music interfaces. Imogen wanted to be able to improvise and sculpt sound in a more free and fluid manner like she can with a piano or her voice. The gloves allow her to wirelessly control and manipulate software, making it possible to recreate complex and sculptural sounds in a live performance. They not only enhance her performance capabilities but also enable her to create music with the gloves as a primary instrument.

Q: What are Imogen's goals for the Mimu gloves and what challenges does she face in commercializing them?

One of the initial goals of the Mimu gloves project was to create a song entirely using the gloves, which would change Imogen's creative process and how she thinks about music. However, commercializing the gloves has been challenging due to the small team and the expensive and time-consuming process of developing and manufacturing them. They still need to figure out a more efficient production process and make the gloves more robust for stage performances. Additionally, technical issues, such as Wi-Fi interference, can affect the reliability of the gloves in certain environments. Overall, they are working towards creating more affordable gloves for both performance and everyday use.

Q: Imogen mentioned the issue of payment in the music industry. What does she see as the single biggest obstacle for artists in the industry today?

Imogen believes that the single biggest obstacle for artists in the music industry is payment. Although artists can make a living through touring and leveraging social media, these activities often consume a lot of time that could be spent on creative work. The current payment system in the industry is complex and involves multiple middlemen, leading to artists receiving only a small fraction of the revenue generated by their music. Imogen emphasizes the importance of cutting out the middlemen and creating a fair trade music industry where artists have transparency and control over their earnings.

Q: How does Imogen see music creation evolving in the future, similar to what happened with photography?

According to Imogen, music creation has already become more accessible with the availability of free software and tools on computers. People can now create music using programs like Ableton Live, GarageBand, and Pro Tools without the need for expensive equipment. The challenge now is curating the vast amount of music that is being created and giving the best music a fair chance to be heard. Imogen believes that technology can play a role in solving this problem by enabling better discovery and curation systems.

Q: In relation to algorithms creating music instantly, does Imogen think there is a concern that algorithms might outweigh artistry in the future?

Imogen doesn't think that algorithms will outweigh artistry, but she finds the idea of giving computer music its own genre exciting. There are already algorithms that can create music that sounds human-like. She envisions a future where algorithms can create music tailored specifically to individuals based on their mood, facial expression, or other data. This personalized music would be generated by Imogen's algorithmic musical self, allowing her to connect more deeply with her audience. Algorithms can enhance music creation and provide new possibilities, but artistry will always play a critical role.

Q: What does Imogen see as the single biggest problem for musical artists in the industry today?

The single biggest problem for musical artists in the industry today, according to Imogen, is payment. Although it is possible to make a living through touring and smart use of social media, it often takes away time from the creative process. Artists need a system that allows them to focus on making great music while also receiving fair and transparent compensation. The current process of getting paid involves multiple intermediaries taking a cut, resulting in artists receiving a minimal amount. Imogen advocates for cutting out middlemen and creating a fair, sustainable, and transparent payment system.

Q: Why did Imogen decide to release her song "Tiny Human" on the blockchain?

Imogen believes that we are in a revolutionary era for artists, where for the first time in history, they have the ability to have control over their music. She sees blockchain technology as a way to empower artists and enable them to leverage their creative works to the best of their abilities. In particular, she sees the potential of blockchain in creating a fair trade music industry. By using a distributed ledger and a public database, artists can ensure transparency, fairness, and control over the use of their music. Imogen mentions a specific company called dot music that aims to secure top-level domains for musicians, which would further support artists through a connected and protected database.

Q: Is Imogen considering making her music exclusively available on Imogen Heap top music?

Imogen acknowledges that the process of transitioning all her music exclusively to a new platform like Imogen Heap top music would not happen overnight. The industry currently relies on the legacy artists' catalogs, and it would be impractical to completely abandon existing platforms. She believes in creating a fair and sustainable playing field for artists, starting from the ground up, while envisioning a future where artists have more control and transparency. Imogen suggests that it would be great to have a database-driven platform that allows artists to drill down into the data behind their music, empowering them and enriching the music industry as a whole.

Q: What advice does Imogen have for aspiring artists who are trying to get their music out there and share it with the world?

Imogen recommends reaching out to organizations like the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) for guidance and support. The FAC provides advice, workshops, and a community for artists to connect and learn. Undiscovered artists should seek a trusted space, representative of artists' interests, in the online realm, similar to what the FAC aims to accomplish offline. Imogen acknowledges the challenges faced by undiscovered artists and the importance of empowering them to have more control over their music and future.

Q: How does Imogen want to be remembered, and what legacy does she hope to leave behind?

Imogen wants to be remembered as someone who followed her passions, believed that dreams can come true with the right mindset, and had a heart in the right place. She recognizes that her achievements are possible because of the incredible people around her, but she hopes to contribute to the creation of a fair trade music system like Mycelia. She aims to empower artists, provide them with transparency and control, and ensure a sustainable future for the music industry. Imogen's legacy would be intertwined with the success and positive transformation of the music industry.

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