We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
79,812 News Articles

Interview: Peter Gabriel's vision for net music

Peter Gabriel talks technology to PC Advisor

With music sales in free fall, many in the entertainment business fear technology as the death of the creative arts.

Award-winning singer/songwriter Peter Gabriel disagrees. Far from destroying creativity he thinks technology and the internet are enabling a creative explosion, connecting artists to audiences more effectively than ever before.

Music remains essential to modern life, despite falling sales, he points out. "Music is medicine. People use it as a mood altering drug, applying different music to different occasions," he explains.

Gabriel's no fantasist. He's been experimenting with technology since the moment PCs became creative tools.

His Real World Studios have been instrumental in introducing music from across the world to Western audiences. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is just one example of such an artist. 1993 saw associated company, Real World Multimedia, ship one of the world's first interactive CD-ROM's, a musical adventure called Xplora 1: Peter Gabriel's Secret World.

Xplora gave users a multimedia glimpse at life as a musician on the road - Gabriel was touring his highly-successful Us album at the time - along with a chance to explore the world music genre which was relatively unknown in the UK at the time, as well as insights into his personal life.

Produced on a Mac, the Windows version was prone to bugs, as the multimedia power struggle between Microsoft and the rest of the computer industry saw creators and consumers pay the price.

In spite of the technological barriers, Real World Media followed up Xplora with another CD-ROM, EVE, a touching interactive exploration of the loneliness of the human condition. Gabriel wrote the music.

On the face of it, it's some distance from 1967, when Gabriel founded UK music act, Genesis, a band he quit in 1975 to go solo.

But pushing the envelope of what technology can achieve runs in Gabriel's family.

The son of an inventor, Gabriel admits: "New technology has always excited me." While he agrees the internet has killed off conventional music retail, it also presents: "Many wonderful opportunities", he says.

"Never before has an artist been able to reach out and build an audience so easily - without needing record companies and their marketing departments. Equally, you've never been able to explore all kinds of new music in the instant way the internet allows," he observes.

Gabriel isn't just paying lip service. In 1999 when upstart US college student Shawn Fanning launched the original Napster, Gabriel invested in On Demand Distribution (OD2), one of the world's first legitimate online music download services.

"I co-founded OD2 with Charles Grimsdale as I thought there were many exciting opportunities for digitally distributed music," Gabriel said in 2004. "As a musician, I believe strongly that all artists should have access to this powerful new means of getting music to people."

Purchased by Finnish mobile giant, Nokia, for $38.6m in 2004, OD2 offered over a million tracks for sale through different European online services.

"I was convinced digital music was going to be the main means of distributing music when we set that firm up," Gabriel said. "I've been surprised how long it has taken."


IDG UK Sites

Samsung Gear S (Solo) curved-screen smartwatch confirmed: release date, price and specs UK

IDG UK Sites

Nostalgia time: Top 10 best selling mobile phones in history

IDG UK Sites

How Ford designs next-generation cars at its Melbourne Design Centre

IDG UK Sites

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina review and the mystery of the processor benchmarks