Music Industry

The Rise of the Personalized Song

A song written just for you? Customized songs? Maybe. From

It had the makings of a typical SXSW scene — a brand-sponsored activation with a buzzy artist (RAC), a vague concept (“Audience Responsive Composition,” or ARC), and a bunch of glowing, cool looking toys for the attractive hordes to fiddle with. But what happened at the Deloitte Digital activation last week could point to a bigger trend that I’ve been covering here and there for months now — the rise of the song not as a static product, but as a living organism and a collaboration between the artist and the audience.

Think of it this way — how many times has a song you like been just a little bit…off? Maybe the tempo was too slow for your run, or too fast for your casual dinner party. Maybe the vocals should just be a little louder, or the drums brought forward. Sure, there are plenty of tools out there to make these changes, but they required at least some knowledge and effort, and for the average consumer, it was easier to just live with an imperfect song or scrap the track and find a new one than to make modifications.

But the concept introduced at the SXSW event is an intriguing one, in part because it was so simple. Audience members just moved knobs and dials — when it was first described to me, my mind immediately went to an old fashioned focus group, with participants swiveling furiously to show their opinions. The crowd wasn’t just giving feedback, though; in a sense they were part of the performance. RAC took the feedback and blended it into his work, responding in real time to the will of the people.

Interesting. Keep reading.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38542 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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