I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired,” Sean Parker said Tuesday afternoon. It was nearly three hours after he and Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning officially unveiled new social video-chat service Airtime at a technical-difficulty-plagued press conference, and six days after he spoke about Apple’s attempts to thwart another one of his companies, Spotify, at the All Things Digital D10 Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “You may have to peel me off this chair after we do this interview.”
Caveats aside, Parker was quite forthcoming alongside his old business partner Fanning, who is quite literally more soft-spoken by comparison — just talking to him face-to-face can require a volume button. But both men were quite verbose on several topics, particularly the impact of Facebook (where Parker was famously an early investor) and Spotify, as well as having Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman — who had his own big announcement on Tuesday morning as well, about Clear Channel’s groundbreaking licensing deal with Big Machine Records — on hand as an Airtime board member. Below are excerpts from Billboard.biz’s conversation with Fanning, 31, and Parker, 32.
Billboard.biz: Let’s talk about the music implications of Airtime. Bob Pittman is on your board, for example. What can he bring to the table?
Sean Parker: Bob is awesome. He’s one of the few legendary business leaders who I really looked up to when I was growing up. He’s one of the few people that’s been able to succeed in the media world. He was the CEO of AOL Time Warner, a co-founder of MTV. And outside the media world it just goes to show he’s a good executive — most don’t have a career outside of media. He’s worked with Century 21, Six Flags and is just really amazing in branding. It’s not even so much his relationships, because a lot of people can broker relationships. He’s just such a clear thinker and he brings such a clear thoughtful approach to the company. There aren’t many people I’ve met with a media background who have those characteristics. He’s done big companies but also started from scratch.
Shawn Fanning: He’s able to grasp things so quickly. He just understands what your short-term objectives are, and longer-term. He’s the whole picture. We like being around and working with him — you want to be part of that and make something successful.
What’s your take on what he’s done with Clear Channel and things like iHeartRadio?
Parker: Clear Channel’s an interesting business… But we don’t talk that much about Clear Channel, we mostly talk about starting companies and innovation. We do talk a lot about Spotify. It’s a rare media executive who actually has a background in the Internet.
What’s the potential for music applications or services within Airtime?
Parker: Airtime is great for any app that’s fundamentally about shared experience — basically experiencing some kind of content together with other people, that’s critical. You can imagine all sorts of apps could plug in there. Most of the platforms now that basically make content available have some sort of open API anyway.
Is there any concern that Airtime could be used to pirate video content?
Parker: We’re not hosting any video. At the end of the day, YouTube has to respond under the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] to take down any video that’s infringing. It’s something we want to be mindful of, but not something we think is a real danger.
Continue reading the rest of the story on Billboard