Lou Reed says digital music can't beat analog.
“Good digital, these days, you can hear something two miles away. But it doesn’t do the analog thing, which is warm and beautiful,” observed Lou Reed at a Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity session on Thursday. His wide-ranging conversation with Grey Group worldwide creative director Tim Mellors covered the icon’s music, photography, poetry and days with The Velvet Underground.
MP3s reduce the experience to the “absolute lowest common denominator,” contended the “Walk on the Wild Side” singer, adding that “With MP3s, you have the library of the world, but it sounds like shit. Vinyl is coming back for a reason.” Indeed, vinyl sales in the U.S. were up 18 percent last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan (and some argue the figure is likely quite a bit higher)—indicative of a larger trend toward embracing analog that we explored in a report earlier this year. As we acquire ever more apps and e-books and downloads, as digital screens become our default interface with the world, we are increasingly seeking out physical objects and experiences.
Meanwhile, YouTube’s global head of content, Robert Kyncl, championed digital—namely its ability to expand the creative canvas for brands—in a session hosted by the company. “YouTube is a place where culture is defined,” he said. “As a brand, you can go beyond the 30-second spot, you can be the entire show.” YouTube spotlighted cases like Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches,” which has racked up 165 million views to date and 4.5 billion global media impressions, and Topshop’s “Future of the Fashion Show” effort, which included a live stream of the main event (with some footage shot from the model’s vantage point) and a flurry of digital activity in the week leading up to it.
A seminar with Rem Koolhaas left the audience with some questions to ponder. “Is the current popularity of Mad Men indicative of the nostalgia for rigidity?” the renowned Dutch architect asked. “Are we tiring of the guys in jeans and sneakers with sticky notes?” And “Why are we becoming more comfortable with facing predictable futures?” If anything, we must embrace the unpredictable and help to reshape the future.