Centre for Information Management

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22 December 2020

CIM Interview Series - Warren Bramley

Presented By Centre for Information Management
  • Start 2.00pm - Finish 3.00pm
  • On-line via Zoom
  • Ticket Information

    Free to attend

    Join Zoom meeting

    The informal interview will be approx 40 minutes and then will open up for listener’s questions allowing full interaction with the guests.

    Please be aware the meeting will be recorded.

About this event

Music As The Bellwther? 

A conversation with Warren Bramley

When the Internet first came into prominence in the early 1990s, it brought with it the hopes of its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, of a more decentralised and democratic world, one that was interconnected and collaborative, free and accessible, powered by a new shared digital commons. Instead, what has emerged is a much different reality where digital infrastructure is owned, controlled and profited from by a small number of huge Platform Corporations.

The birth of the Platform Corporation in the music industry came through the introduction of streaming services. The current global market leader, Spotify, has a premium subscriber base of 124 million worldwide, which equates to 36% of the global music-streaming subscription market. Nevertheless, despite this striking success, Spotify has received a significant amount of negative criticism, most tellingly about the levels of remuneration received by artists.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many artists finding themselves without income from live performances and this predicament has spotlighted the inadequacy of payments received by the majority of artists from the streaming platforms. A DCMS Select Committee enquiry is currently taking evidence from a range of artists who are demanding the UK Government impose regulation on the streaming platforms, to ensure “music creators are gaining fair reward” for their work.

However, beyond regulation there is an emerging movement for an alternative amongst the artist community, a wave of projects and proposals aiming to redistribute power in the music industry back into the hands of artists and communities through collective means. This form of “interdependence” appears attractive to a new generation of artists who value collectivism over individualism, collaboration over competition, and who view the platform economy as extractive and exploitative of their labour and their art.
By harnessing decentralised technologies, new forms of cooperative structure, virtual currencies, and by being faithful to the principles of collaboration that is inherent in music creation, they are forming new structures, with new protocols, that stand outside the incumbent music-industry ecosystem - one more akin to the dreams of the Internet’s inventor, that is decentralised, collaborative and powered by a new co-operative digital commons.
Are these simply experiments that will exist on edge of counter culture or could music be the bellwether to a different type of internet economy?

Guest Biography: Warren Bramley

Warren’s unique 20-year career has placed him at the intersection of design and music, culture and art. After completing a law degree in 1997, Warren, under the mentorship of the late, cultural maverick Anthony H Wilson, began his career in music with the influential independent record label Factory Records, famous for artists including Joy Division, New Order and Durutti Column.

After Factory, he founded the design innovation studio four23, first in Manchester, then followed by a London studio in the design district of Clerkenwell in 2012. Over the next decade Warren established four23 internationally, garnering a global reputation for research-led strategic design with cultural institutions including Somerset House, Royal Exchange Theatre; charities including Medicine San Frontiers, Humanitas; Government institutions including Australian High Commission, Norwegian Embassy; global corporations including adidas, Virgin; Academic institutions including Chethams School of Music, the University of Manchester; and artists and individuals including Medici Quartet and Olympian, Christine Ohuruogu.

As Design Director Warren’s collaborations include projects with iconic designer Peter Savile on the concept of Manchester as the Original Modern city, with stage designer Willie Williams on the ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ world tour screen visuals for U2, spatial design experiments with leading Danish architect practice Gehl Architects, exhibition design at London Design Festival and Design Junction and he was named one of the 10 ‘Design Leaders of the Future’ by the UK Design Council.

In 2019, Warren returned back to his birthplace of Yorkshire with his family to begin a ‘sabbication’ year, entering academia to study an MA in Global Political Economy at the University of Sheffield. Focusing his research on the design of democratic ownership, his final award-winning thesis explored the future role of Platform Co-operatives in enabling a more equitable, artist-led music industry. He currently lectures at the music school at University of Sheffield.
Warren is also the co-founder of the Coloral Cycle Company, a social enterprise working in collaboration with the Recycle water charity, and he sits as the Chair of the community arts organisation, Creative Scene.
More information at: www.warrenbramley.com

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