Hurricane Sandy was eye opening, scary and terrible for many. We were lucky in that our New York office got off reasonably lightly all things considered. The worst it got for us was that we didn’t make it into the office together for the best part of a week and we worked from home. We can hardly complain. We extend all our best wishes and thoughts to those deeply affected.
However, it did make us reflect on music and technology (again). We run a business that delivers a ‘cloud’ hosted solution. In other words a solution that exists on (and in) the internet such that there is no physical infrastructure of note in our offices. We host our gear in various locations across the World. We can log-on, maintain and manage from anywhere, anytime. Sandy was a harsh example of how all that technology innovation can actually lend real value, in real life, to businesses such as ours (and yours).
We didn’t really skip a beat (pardon the pun).
We are a young company, and proud of such. We don’t have enormous amounts of financial resource or teams of people around us. It has forced us to be efficient. We have deployed technology throughout our business model to help us overcome some of the constraints that this might otherwise cause for us.
Our goal is to be operational 24/7 from anywhere in the World (we are 10 people split across NYC, LA, London and Colorado) or from anywhere we choose (home, work, beach, bar or bathroom!). Sandy was a dark and stark example of this. Our systems are still not perfect and we are using Sandy’s example to further increase resilience and minimise any geographic dependencies on our internal processes and systems.
The relevance of this to music? It made us reflect again on something we already knew. The business practises of so much of the industry are still embedded in people being in front of people, bums being on seats at desks and headphones being plugged in to sockets to listen to stuff. The result? Large parts of the industry operate either in front of people or in front of physical hardware and are constrained by the limitations of such. The next result? Inefficiency, turning into margin pressure, exacerbating the revenue challenges. If you can only trade 10hrs a day when a bum is on a seat you’re missing money.
You can be small, you can be lean. In fact, starting that way embeds business practises that enable you to survive in a challenging industry. We’ve kind of landed there but it took Sandy to make us really look in the mirror and think about why we just kept going through the disruption. The music industry could do with reflecting on itself a little. Technology is here, it works and it can make parts of the music industry work better, more efficiently and save time (and therefore money).
Some of our music industry friends were nowhere near as lucky as us as their offices in New Jersey, New York and around were severely affected or, in the worst case, destroyed. Sorry guys, hope it’s all coming back together. We were (and are) proud however that all ‘virtualised’ Synchtank systems stayed up, kept going and were there to enable them to keep trading, keep their catalogue live and to communicate with the World. In the grand scheme of things that’s pretty negligible when faced with a Sandy scale disaster but in a more ‘normal’ World (if there is such a thing anymore) that’s pretty strong. Call it disaster recovery, virtualisation or (we prefer) just good business practise – we believe technology has a place right at the heart of music and enterprise as a whole.