Riverphonic’s story begins with a foray into London clubland (writes founder Tim Fielding), starting appropriately in a place called Heaven and ending up at the Brain. I was knocking around as a music journalist and DJ, promoting clubs on the fly. The Brain was a vibrant space that helped to define the UK capital’s subversive scene in the early ‘90s. The first venue to feature live techno bands and DJs every night of the week, it was a haven for artists, writers, poets, situationists, new age prophets and hedonistic rebels who gravitated to its psycho-active juice bar. Artists from Orbital to Moby played their earliest London gigs there, but it was more than just a music venue, it was the archetypical cultural melting pot.
Setting up a label in the back office of Acid Jazz, I released ‘Live at the Brain’, the first album of electronic dance music acts performing live (much to the angst of the Pop/Rock skeptics who had dismissed the entire genre as robotic and faceless). Journeys by DJ soon followed: a seminal series of mix albums featuring many iconic DJs of the era. Journeys by DJ evolved the art of telling stories through music and pioneered a format for taking the performance out of the club and into the living room & the sound-system of your car. It turned out to be one of the pivotal innovations in music of the pre-mp3 era, helping to convert a mass audience to the sound of underground clubland.
Things scaled up in the States, which was ripe for its own cultural explosion, driven by electronic dance music and forces similar to those that fueled the tribal gatherings of the UK rave scene. From Brooklyn warehouses to Burning Man, familiar trends were surfacing - the same catalytic energy generated at the intersection of art, music, innovation and radical subculture. While brands were sponsoring Journeys by DJ to tap into the Ibiza vibe, a homegrown movement was erupting in the Black Rock Desert. Inspired by my early exploits in clubland, I was well-placed to seize the moment, with a strong set of insights and relationships that I was able to channel into some visionary projects that carried the torch for what is now a global phenomenon.
Meanwhile, the big revolution was happening in Tech, which became a defining feature of the work that followed: Flux, a mobile content store for ‘digital snacks’ launched by MTV Networks, and then in8 ID, the world’s first music & image recognition app, which Verizon used to activate the Super Bowl and sell over 500m tracks. This led to Dropcast, a collaborative innovation project between Sapient Nitro and Google Creative Labs, to develop a publishing platform that activated places of interest by dropping tracks and AR messages onto relevant points on the mobile map. Music, media innovation & transformative experiences were consistently recurring threads, to the point where I fused them into a system for creative communication, and dubbed it ‘Riverphonic’.
As a writer, I learned the old saying: ‘Show Don’t Tell’. And as a music and events director, it became clear to me that experiences are far more engaging than pushing patronizing messages at people. The challenge was always how to do it at scale. Now, thanks to social media and connected devices, that barrier has eroded. And since the means of production have become democratized, it’s a very exciting time for anyone with a good idea for making something useful and enabling like-minded people to share it within their communities. Whether you’re running a start-up venture, a brand team or a big company focused on transformation, the opportunity is right there to craft something real that touches people and makes them feel they are part of your story.
Tim Fielding is a consultant with an entrepreneurial edge. He has launched strategic innovations for major media corporations, delivered physical/digital activations for Forbes 500 brands & agencies, and partnered in a series of successful start-up ventures on both sides of the Atlantic. A gifted writer and graduate of Oxford University’s Literae Humaniores MA program, he has a parallel career in DJing and events going back to the early days of club culture. He is thus a polymath for the Connected Age: one of the few people you are likely to meet with MBAs from both Columbia University and London Business Schools, and memories of spinning live to 2000 boiler-suited ravers in the Yuri Gagarin Cosmic Pavilion in Moscow.
As well as founding Brainiak Records and Journeys by DJ, the acclaimed DJ mix label, Tim was an executive partner in The End, the hugely influential UK venue that spawned Tech House and served as a springboard for superstars such as Carl Cox and Fatboy Slim. His professional network extends into tech, art and business communities around the world, and he is known as an inspired connector and broker of strategic partnerships. He was an early advocate of Mobile engagement and a thought-leader on media convergence and how smartphones would change the way we work and live. An entertaining public speaker at events such as TEDx, he draws on a combination of linguistic, creative and enterprise skills, with a rare talent for original thinking and anticipating popular trends.