Another Road Trip Means More Music

The streets in Moscow were packed this weekend with the city's annual celebrations. So I had a chance to wander around, enjoying this beautiful place.

I have been discovering that Moscow does have a vibrant Electronic Music scene, and I managed to discover a number of great music stores in the city, eventually ending up in one and picking up a small traveling production keyboard (an AKAI) to complement my CME xkey.

Doesn't quite measure up to the rig at home, but it does fit in a backpack, and I did manage to get some much needed time in Maschine.

Fintech Industry Synopsis

The following is a useful review of current FinTech industry trends and insights, in addition to an overview of recent activities by both Fortune 500 companies and startups' in the space.

The report covers banking tech (security, crm, analytics), payments (pos, money transfer, commerce), cyber currency (blockchain, bitcoin, wallets, cryptocurrency exchanges), business finance (lending, crowdfunding), personal finance (lending, wealth management, mortgage, credit), and alternative cores (banking, insurance).

Recommended Watching This Weekend

The annual Code conference is a treasure trove of insights and information from the A-LIst of the tech world, and this year doesn't disappoint. If you have time, you should really try to review most of the content, but here are four presentations/interviews worth watching this weekend.

The first is Mary Meeker's annual "state of the internet" update ... a fast paced review of key trends ... and it is required watching every year, in my opinion.

The second, Walt's interview with Jeff Bezos at, is filled with interesting perspectives, and data points. Amazon will continue to be a powerful force in retail, infrastructure, logistics and AI for years to come, and Jeff's vision is worth understanding.

The third is Sundar Pichai, CEO Google who covers where Google is heading with AI, how they are trying to make it easier and more helpful to consumers, and some of the ways in which they are thinking about complex issues such as privacy.

The final is Elon Musk's interview with Kara and Walt. Elon is one of the key influencers of our time, and is involved in a number of groundbreaking investments on earth and in space. Worth understanding this fascinating individual, and his vision and insights. He also delivers a simple overview of what it takes to really launch a rocket and then recover it .. appealing to your inner geek.

Accountability in advertising

Fighting words from Gabe Laydon, CEO of Machine Zone, one of the largest buyers of advertising in the world. Definitely will spark a debate between those on all sides of the advertising ecosystem. 

I don't agree with everything he says ... in fact, for some companies, at certain stages in their evolution, brand advertising matters a great deal. However, his call for accountability, traceability and precision in media spend, and in particular the need for trackable ROI, is compelling.

Excerpt below and the full video from the original re/code article.

Do you hate TV ads? Gabe Leydon does, too.

Except, unlike you, Gabe Leydon buys lots of TV ads: He runs Machine Zone, the game company behind all of those Mobile Strike ads with Arnold Schwarzenegger you’ve been seeing for the past few months. And the Kate Upton Game of War ads you saw last year, too.

Leydon buys those ads because he says he has to buy those ads. But he thinks they are terribly inefficient, as is almost all brand advertising: The stuff that Google, Facebook and everyone else on the Web would very much like to move online.

That’s a terrible idea, Leydon told the crowd at Code/Media last week, because almost all brand advertising is nothing more than a slush fund that feeds lazy advertisers, publishers and networks, who want to avoid accountability.

Real advertising, he argues, is the kind he buys for his games on mobile platforms like Facebook, which provide instant, precise accountability for the dollars he spends.

When Leydon laid this out for the Code/Media attendees, he freaked out most of the room — presumably because he was telling most of the room that they needed to get new jobs, stat.

It’s also possible that Leydon’s argument isn’t as strong as he thinks it is, since many advertisers want to sell things that can’t be purchased via your phone the way mobile games are. And that figuring out how to sell that stuff is always going to involve science and art, as MediaLink COO Wenda Harris Millard argued at the end of Leydon’s session.

Sunday Sessions: Experimental Reggae

Sat down this weekend to work on a new track, and in fact, a completely new genre for me.

Despite having been born in Jamaica, I have never tried my hand at Reggae, although I have always been a fan.

This track, built with the help of the Black Arc Expansion pack from Native Instruments, blends some Reggae, Dub, Cuban and Calypso inspired themes. Still a work in progress.

Passing Time On Planes

I fly somewhere between 340-400K KMS each year, and that (obviously) implies spending hours on planes.

Although I tend to work one way, often catching up on the deluge of eMails that piles up in my inbox, I try to take some time and recharge on the way back.

In my case, this involves writing music. For me, it's not only a great way to stimulate a completely different part of my brain, there is something about the process of creation that is all consuming and makes time pass very quickly.

I carry a very smart little keyboard from CME called the xKEY. It is low profile, fits in any knapsack or shoulder bag alongside a laptop, and yet is velocity sensitive, complete with after touch. In fact, all you need is an xKey, a Laptop, and your favourite DAW, and you have a fully functional recording studio at 40,000 feet. 

On the flight back from London yesterday, I spent some time on a new piece of music, enjoying and leveraging some fantastic instruments from Edwardo Tarilonte in addition to a new vocal instrument from Output, called Exhale. I would recommend you checking both of them out. I have barely scratched the surface of these libraries, and they are unreal.

So for what it's worth, here is the track that kept me occupied on the 7.5 hour flight across the atlantic yesterday, as did the unbelievable "alien" clouds (as you can see in the picture below). Caveat: the piece is still very much a work in progress. 

Latest Remix Project: Carmina Burana

As a challenge, perhaps jokingly, a friend suggested that I try a remix of Carmina Burana.

This is a wonderful piece of music, but not a trivial one to work with as (a) it changes key, and (b) it often changes tempo ... not to mention having a wide range of moods and tonality.

Here is the first draft (and very much still a work in progress) of three of the movements. The main elements of Carmina were extracted using Native Instruments Traktor, with additional voices  from the Komplete library played in on an AKAI MPK225 and a Native Instruments Komplete S62.

Update On The Four Horsemen

A must see presentation from Scott Galloway of NYU Stern, on the Four Horsemen of the internet (Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook), who is winning and who is losing, and why Apple may very well be the first trillion dollar company. 

Fasten your seatbelt, it's an action packed few minutes.