Alistair Mitchell President & CEO, Puretracks Inc.

Alistair Mitchell President & CEO, Puretracks Inc.
With over ten years of senior experience in the media, marketing and internet sectors, Alistair founded Puretracks and spearheaded the launch of one of North America’s first licensed digital music service providers. Since 2003, Puretracks has grown rapidly by developing innovative technologies, licensing with major content providers, and forging key strategic partnerships to become a leading digital service provider in both Canada and the U.S. Alistair is a recipient of the International Gabriel Award for broadcasting achievement, and a frequent speaker on the digital media sector. Alistair holds a Dean’s list MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Music from McGill University.

What are some of the highs and lows Puretracks has weathered in a rapidly changing industry?
There has been good growth but there remains an ongoing opportunity to bring on new music fans to adopt new services that provide licensed materials from content owners. I think the opportunities are obvious: the proliferation of broadband and devices, and just general awareness of the opportunity that is now crossing different demographics and psychographics, that recognises that digital music is here to stay and it’s a great way to inhabit music. With all of that also come the challenges and chief among equals maybe is the fact that if devices are the driving force here (they really always have been), the issue now becomes interoperability, to the extent we can make it a seamless experience for you, that a file that you purchase from Puretracks is something you can play on any device. That’s important to achieve..

So what’s up with Macs? When will Mac users be able to buy from Puretracks?
We love Mac users and we’re looking to make sure we can satisfy the demand there, which we’re delighted to see, in the next 30 to 60 days. It really relates to nothing more than the fact that our platform and particularly our download server has ActiveX technology, which is not Mac compatible. We want to serve all comers, but in this case this piece of technology has not allowed us to do that and we’re look to change it immediately. Especially now that we’ve moved into delivering DRM-free files..

Can unsigned artists sell music through Puretracks?
We want as much music as possible. There’s not really a shelving issue, right? There are hosting costs etc., but our floor space, figuratively speaking, is infinite. So we welcome all comers. [We do deal with individual artists, but] those people who call into Puretracks, if they are not with an indie label that has a certain volume of artists or tracks, we would more than likely invite them to speak to Indie Pool (www.indiepool.com), so that we could do an aggregated licensing deal. But we would do the actual encoding of the CD, so it’s kind of a blended approach. They get their content manufactured into a digital format with all the wrapping and protocols they want, so if they want a DRM on that file, we will be there to serve them. And also all the metadata — the data related to the song’s name and the artist info, we will do all that kind of work.

What’s your vision for the future of digital music services?
I see us moving to a world where downloading, storing and owning are all insignificant relative to the needs of accessing content anytime, anywhere, anyhow. To a certain extent, even the notion of owning [physical copies] becomes moot. We’re all collectors at heart — we’ve all grown up collecting music and filing music and sharing music — it’s the notion of owning music that I think will change. If I can access my music wherever I am, in the living room, the dining room, my car, while I’m on a trip to Peru, and I can get my music from my celestial jukebox and play it down here onto my phone, my media player or what have you, the important thing is I had a visceral experience with music and that’s what’s important to me. The collector in me is maybe underserved, but the power of being able to access my visceral experience anywhere is overwhelmingly important.