Music Speaker Profile: Michael Cerda

Written by Rory Burbeck | Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014

SXSW 2014 Music Speaker: Michael Cerda

Very briefly, what do you do and what is your session about?

I create products for people to watch music videos.

My session is about breaking down the challenges and barriers that exist in building music based technology products. So often music people don’t know tech and the tech people don’t know the music biz. This session will explore how various companies work through that and provide some insight into their product cycles.

How/why did you get started in the music industry?

I’ve been a performing musician most of my life, but in this context professionally I sold my last tech startup to Myspace. As part of that deal I went to work at Myspace, working on messaging, artist tools and events products. I don’t think, that iteration of Myspace did much market research, so I started to bring in artists to gather their requirements. It was the first time I held focus groups with alcohol. After Myspace, I joined VEVO to head product and here we are.

How many years have you attended/spoke at SXSW in the past? If this is your first time at SXSW, what are you expecting?

This is my 5th consecutive year attending SXSW. I first spoke in 2010 at Interactive about replacing email for group collaboration. Then again in 2012 to launch a new set of VEVO apps. And then again in 2013 to launch VEVO TV and speak on a panel about Silicon Valley not being the enemy anymore.

Best thing that’s happened in music in the last year?

I didn’t buy a single record in the last year, but I’m accessing it from a variety of services. The best thing that’s happened in music is the arrival of viable music streaming.

Favorite new app/service/tech development in music?

CueNotes. It’s artist and fan chats on top of music. It’s fun to get on the inside track of the music.

What’s the biggest issue facing the music business today? Can it be overcome?

It seems as though its hard for innovation to get off the ground in the music business. There are lots of good ideas out there, but most of them never achieve the scale to see the light of day. Innovation often happens with startups, and startups have a hard time getting funding because investors are averse to funding companies that rely on music licenses and relationships.

It would take a special alignment of stars to overcome this, or a startup emerging as a company and not a feature, with a model that can survive the music and funding dynamics. Never say never.

What’s the last live show you saw that floored you?

Pedrito Martinez Group. This is a latin quartet based in New York City. They play a small Cuban club called “Guantanamera” three times each week, and it is some of the most happening stuff I’ve ever seen. I step into it every time I’m in New York.

What artist(s) are you most looking forward to seeing perform at SXSW 2014?

I actually look most forward to discovering new artists, by accident at SXSW. Last year I stumbled upon Royal Teeth, Toro Y Moi, Phox and Solange, and loved them all.

Tacos or BBQ?

Tacos always.

Hear Michael Cerda on the You Got Music, You Got Tech, Now Build Me Products panel on Thursday, March 13th at 12:30pm in ACC Room 15.

Photo courtesy of the speaker