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Hrishikesh Hirway: What you discover when you really listen | TED

“Every conversation has the potential to open up and reveal all the layers and layers within it, all those rooms within rooms,” says podcaster and musician Hrishikesh Hirway. In this profoundly moving talk, he offers a guide to deep conversations and explores what you learn when you stop to listen closely. Stay tuned to the…

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“Every conversation has the potential to open up and reveal all the layers and layers within it, all those rooms within rooms,” says podcaster and musician Hrishikesh Hirway. In this profoundly moving talk, he offers a guide to deep conversations and explores what you learn when you stop to listen closely. Stay tuned to the end to hear a performance of his original song “Between There and Here (feat. Yo-Yo Ma).”

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

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TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. R Nedlo

    November 22, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    LISTENING . . . . . wait, can we do that?!

  2. Ross

    November 22, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    Please.. Please tone down the vocal fry.

  3. Falk Mathes

    November 22, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    There is no government in Western Europe. Passports and ID cards are prohibited.
    Armageddon: The ultra-criminal pharmaceutical dictatorship and its thugs in police uniform will lose the war against us humans!

  4. Dr. Ricco Lindner

    November 22, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    Just wonderful! Thank you for sharin thus moments and reminding to actively listening

  5. Homestead Engineering

    November 22, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    I think its more like a rental house. Yes, there is the story of the person who wrote it but there is also the many stories of everyone who rented it. Each renter has a unique memory of there time spent in that house and the memory they think of when the song plays. When someone says they like the song, you really have no way of knowing what that really means on its face.

  6. Huong Nguyen

    November 22, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    This talk is so therapeutic to me.

  7. Gelgrem Queen

    November 22, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    I know what it feels like to be so happy when someone is actually interested in what I’m talking about

  8. Maximilian Kohs

    November 22, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    As a thought that might make you happy as a songwriter: the people that listen to your music link that music to memories of their own. In some way adding to the song or making it their own home. And you renting it out to them, collecting all those moments.

  9. nimmy j

    November 22, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    Really like it…. Vibrant….. 👍

  10. phenry515

    November 22, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    I understand the different forms of communication, owl, energy, and sight. While trying to maintain focus. While Listening to music will help maintain focus.

  11. AsheqProductions

    November 22, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    Unfortunately…While this is valuable and well said. Most people who are watching you are not listening, just hearing. Comment done…. Next video… Repeat… Made a video recently about how you can help end pandemic and decrease some future increase of global debt in our small way (TR Episode 2)… even people who watched it…didn’t listen… saw the first 15-20 minutes and they assumed they knew what I was going to say… and moved on…

  12. Donald Auguston

    November 22, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    What a beautiful song and such a fine voice. Thank you for posting. DA

  13. That Guy

    November 22, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    I shit you not, but I actually imagined someone morning the loss of their mother when he played that 20 second clip.

  14. Ligia Sommers

    November 22, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    Beautiful 🙏🏻💖🌹

  15. Tom Nook

    November 22, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    His mum must be very proud

  16. dawn whitmore

    November 22, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    When I hear this it almost takes me to a time and I was walking down a path at one of my lowest points in life, it’s almost like I can feel the sway of emotions the hurt the anger the sadness very beautiful Melody.

  17. Koseph

    November 22, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Ted Talks is evil. The Bible is the truth.

  18. Cynthia Diane Carey

    November 22, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Wonderful talk. Thank you ❤️

  19. Shadevi S

    November 22, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    His voice… so calming 😌

  20. Lancelot kamaka

    November 22, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    I love it. I am a musician who used to play piano in a restaurantbar, and I really appreciate who would come and listen, while eating or drinking.

  21. ля какой пень

    November 22, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    i got those goosebumps while listening to his song

  22. Ana Herrera

    November 22, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    Thanks to Toastmasters, learnt the VALUE of listening 👂 + realised am an AUDITORY learner … 💡📚

  23. Gemma Salmon

    November 22, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    It’s so odd seeing him talk after listening to his dulcet tones on the west wing weekly… ironic.

  24. Manohar Venkat

    November 23, 2021 at 2:04 am

    Anybody else thinks this guy looks like Kanan Gill?

  25. Paras Agarwal

    November 23, 2021 at 4:18 am

    Is it just me or the track feels far more intense at 1.25x speed? Also, great learnings about truly listening and discovering.

  26. Afthab Iqbal

    November 23, 2021 at 6:17 am

    Wow…

  27. Majur Aciekamal

    November 23, 2021 at 7:21 am

    What a therapy! 🥰

  28. Salt Sister

    November 23, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    I think its more like a rental house. Yes, there is the story of the person who wrote it but there is also the many stories of everyone who rented it. Each renter has a unique memory of there time spent in that house and the memory they think of when the song plays. When someone says they like the song, you really have no way of knowing what that really means on its face.

  29. Geraldine Gaggia

    November 23, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Calming

  30. Raptor Ravioli44

    November 23, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Has he listened to Martin O’Donnell?

  31. Randi Beal

    November 23, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    You made me cry! That was beautiful!

  32. Leslie Ch

    November 23, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    nop

  33. Jitamanyu Sumitran

    November 24, 2021 at 6:16 am

    ❤️❤️❤️

  34. Clerisa Varghese

    November 24, 2021 at 7:22 am

    This was so beautiful ❤️

  35. Dipon Bikash

    November 24, 2021 at 9:49 am

    What a combination! 🥰.
    Unimaginable masterpiece ❤️

  36. Reema Gul Sha Ali khan

    November 24, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    It’s so interesting to much

  37. tsering sonam

    November 24, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    @10.02👌❤️

  38. Lula Hummingbird

    November 24, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    A deeply insightful talk. Your beautiful lyrics and music resonated deeply with me as I too lost my Mother recently and she has returned to me in dreams. My father also, who died last October, has appeared in my dreams. How comforting an experience to ‘see’’ one’s loved one again and who are now ‘part of a dream’. I am grateful to have come across your talk this evening. I very much needed it. I did not know what I was looking for but I found your talk! Serendipitous indeed. Profound gratitude Hrishikesh. You use your talents well, and generously. 🙏💜

  39. Jauhari Al-Fath

    November 25, 2021 at 4:24 am

    Thank you for sharing… 🙏
    Love you voice…very smooth

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Music

Testing Musical Gadgets with Jon Batiste | WIRED

Jon Batiste knows a lot about music. So, who better to test the latest in musical instrument technology? Watch as Jon tests out and rates a Stylophone, finger drums, a Tonewood amp and more! WE ARE: THE DELUXE EDITION is available now Still haven’t subscribed to WIRED on YouTube? ►► Listen to the Get WIRED…

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WE ARE: THE DELUXE EDITION is available now

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How music streaming transformed songwriting | Björn Ulvaeus

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. Money, money, money … in the music business, there seems to be little left for the songwriters that fuel it. ABBA co-founder Björn Ulvaeus calls for the industry to support its most valuable asset, breaking down how the streaming…

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

Money, money, money … in the music business, there seems to be little left for the songwriters that fuel it. ABBA co-founder Björn Ulvaeus calls for the industry to support its most valuable asset, breaking down how the streaming revolution impacts creator royalties, careers and craft — and outlines what can be done to truly thank artists for the music.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

Become a TED Member:
Follow TED on Twitter:
Like TED on Facebook:
Subscribe to our channel:

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

Transcriber:

I’d like to start with a quote,

but it’s very embarrassing because
I don’t know where it comes from.

But it’s very well put,
and it goes like this:

“Copyright is designed not only
to provide fairness for authors,

but also to enhance
the quality of life within a society

by promoting the progress
of science, art and culture.”

In other words,

the concept of making it economically
feasible for creators to create

is now globally recognized
as a social imperative.

I have very few memories
writing lyrics to songs.

But there is a particular one
from long ago that I do remember.

I was lying on my stomach on a bed
in a small guest room

with a writing pad in front of me.

In the master bedroom next door,

my then wife, Agnetha,
was sleeping undisturbed.

The music was playing in my head,

so no need for speakers,
not even headphones.

A melody that still lacks words
is virgin territory

upon which a lyricist must tread lightly.

Some of the time,
the final words on the page

are the result of hard work, deep thought

and the intuition that a songwriter
must learn to trust.

But sometimes,
extraordinary things happen;

closed curtains are suddenly drawn,
and the melody speaks to you

and starts to conjure up images
and even sequences of events.

All you have to do is write it down,
write down what you witnessed.

A song can come to its creator
in bits and pieces.

But when it once in a while appears
out of thin air in its entirety,

it seems to suggest it had already
lingered there, God knows how long,

perhaps impatiently waiting
to be plucked down

by someone with a keen and sensitive ear,

as if it needed the right vessel
to flow through

from the realm of ideas
all the way down to earth.

I was deliriously happy
when I had finished.

At that moment, I was grateful
for music itself,

for the sheer existence of this elusive,
undefinable phenomenon

that seems to ignore our brains
and go straight to our hearts.

I wanted to sing it out loud,
but it was two o’clock in the morning,

and even in my euphoria,

I had the good sense not to wake the woman
who was to sing my words the next day.

If Benny Andersson and I
had written that song today,

you might not have gotten to hear it.

It could have been
just another lost dream,

[one of] about 80,000 new songs
uploaded to streaming services

every single day.

The competition today is fierce,

much fiercer than it was back in 1977.

And even if our song had been clicked
very often by Spotify subscribers,

chances are slim that the royalties
would have paid anyone’s rent.

So what I want to talk to you about today

is how I see the changes
in the song economy

using my perspective of what
it was like to be a songwriter

when the music industry was simpler
and perhaps more predictable.

These days, everything
is tracked by our data.

And data from streaming tells us

that listeners much more often
click their favorite song

than their favorite artist

on a streaming service.

Sometimes they’re not even sure
who it is they’re listening to,

if it’s a playlist, for example.

So if we’re paying more attention
to the song, though,

what about the songwriter?

Songwriters have been
forced into the back seat,

and I would even say,
bungled into the trunk.

My concern is that songwriters are at risk
of becoming invisible victims

of the change that is taking place.

The music business is now a song economy.

Yet the creators of the songs that fuel it
get the smallest slice of the pie.

How did that happen?

I am not, for one moment, about to suggest
that we should turn back the clock,

which you may have suspected
from an old pop star.

But what’s happened in the last decade

has the potential to be
incredibly positive for songwriters.

Now, instead, I’m going to describe
the unintended consequences

of the streaming revolution,

how they are reshaping
the lives of songwriters.

And then, I will present some proposals

for how the impact of these unintended
consequences can be addressed.

It has never been a better time
to be writing and making music.

Anyone today has the potential
to find a global audience,

and if they so choose,

they can even try to do that on their own,
without a record label or music publisher.

A whole music software
industry is emerging,

serving the needs of a new generation
of artists and songwriters.

Streaming has enabled
this new music paradigm.

Once the pandemic stopped
live music in 2020,

many artists realized that they couldn’t
pay their bills on streaming alone.

Some have moved back in
with their parents,

and others are driving Ubers
to make ends meet.

Previously, streaming had more or less
been promotion for their tours,

and live appearances, by far providing
most of their revenue.

It’s funny, but it was exactly
the opposite for Abba in the 70s.

We hardly toured at all,
and when we did, we lost money.

But, I mean, the touring was supposed
to be promotion for the album

so that didn’t matter.

And I can’t recall that we ever complained
about the size of our royalties,

which the artists, during
the pandemic, have done bitterly,

when streaming and royalties suddenly
were the only source of income.

“If this is the impact
on artists,” I thought,

“welcome to the world of songwriters.”

Most professional songwriters don’t tour,

they don’t sell T-shirts
or other merchandise …

They rely on the song itself.

But even that seems to be changing,

because the song has evolved
in response to streaming,

and it’s increasingly common
for record labels

to get large teams of songwriters
to work together,

creating almost genetically modified hits.

Songs are written and structured in ways

that are optimized for the algorithms
that streaming services use

to decide what music you and I listen to.

Some research has been done
to suggest that these days,

a Billboard Top 10 hit has,
on average, five songwriters —

not one or two, but five —
and sometimes even 10.

And on top of this, they’re having
to write more songs and more quickly,

simply to keep up
with the insatiable demand

for new music that streaming creates.

After ABBA had won the Eurovision Song
Contest in 1974 with “Waterloo,”

royalties suddenly came pouring in,

and Benny and I could afford
to write songs full time,

nine-to-five.

That made such a huge difference.

We could afford to throw away
95 percent of what we wrote

and just keep the very, very best.

We learned how to recognize garbage,

and that’s essential
if you want to get good at your craft.

Royalties simply gave us time
and creative freedom.

Needless to say, you will have neither

if you’re in a hurry and someone
is breathing down your neck all the time.

The industrial approach to songwriting
is making it harder

for many songwriters to build
sustainable careers.

Those that are successful
are very successful,

but those in the layers below,

who used to be able to make
a living from songwriting,

are really suffering.

They are becoming parts of a system
that they serve more than it serves them.

And here are three key pain points.

Firstly, streaming services typically
pay out about four times more

for the recording
than they do the composition,

which means a streaming income
is even smaller for songwriters

than it is for artists.

It’s a legacy from the past,

when recordings and the packaging
of physical products were very expensive,

so a larger share
for the recording was justified.

But that has changed.

But the change has not yet been reflected
in the division of royalties.

Secondly,

even the way that streaming services
pay royalties is problematic.

A listener’s monthly 9.99 subscription
goes into a central pot,

which then gets divided by the total
number of streams that month.

That decides the value
of one stream, or listen.

This means that you if you have
streamed Arne Jansen’s jazz trio,

if you have done that 50 times
in the past month,

and the neighbor’s teenage daughter
has streamed Justin Bieber 5,000 times,

only a small fraction of your 9.99
will go to Arne Jansen.

Nothing wrong with Justin Bieber,

but how does that reward
your favorite artist?

And thirdly, bad metadata
is a big problem,

metadata being the relevant information
about a song and its recording.

Very often, recordings are injected
into a streaming service

without accurate data.

The name of the writer
is missing, for instance.

That means that the streaming service
doesn’t know where to send the royalties,

and the money is put
in a so-called “black box.”

Just sits there.

Recently,

20 streaming services
distributed 424 million dollars

to a US nonprofit organization,

which is supposed to try and find
the rightful recipients of all that money.

It will take years —
if they ever find them.

The combination of all
these issues and others

are creating a perfect storm
for songwriters.

Over the last decade, I’ve watched
this situation get progressively worse.

And during the past five years,

I’ve been engaged in projects
that aim to do something about it.

So how can I help?

Well, first of all,

I have you all here today listening to me,

and that’s, of course, what I want
to do — to raise awareness.

But I want to do more than just
raise awareness of the issues.

I also want to help the industry
identify solutions.

And here are a few suggestions,

out of many.

One: fan-centric royalties.

In order to ensure
that all songwriters get paid fairly,

I suggest that streaming services
allocate their royalty payments

based on the behavior
of individual listeners.

The individual description should be
divided by the number of songs

the individual listener
has played during a month.

That gives each song a value.

If the subscription is 9.99,

and the listener has played
10 Arne Jansen, again,

songs that month,

each song has the value
of .99, almost a dollar,

and that’s the amount
that will be paid to Arne Jansen.

Under the current system,

you can be sure that Arne would get

the value of .00-something dollars.

So this fan-centric approach to royalties
will bring much-needed fairness

and can build on the important starts
made by Deezer and SoundCloud.

But perhaps the simplest
and most effective way

to improve streaming royalties

would be for streaming services
to increase how much they charge.

Streaming pricing has been stuck at
ridiculous 9.99 for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, Netflix seems
to increase its pricing every week.

Research shows that
subscribers will pay more;

9.99 could quite easily become 11.99,

perhaps even 12.99.

And thirdly: the tedious but absolutely
necessary registration.

Wherever the 80,000 new songs per day
make their entry into the music industry,

there should be user-friendly
registration portals

to make sure that relevant information
about the work is captured early.

This would diminish the problem
with black boxes and conflicts.

In my view, it is an obligation
for collecting societies,

who collect creators’ royalties at source,

to modernize and to adapt
their technology to the digital age.

I know it’s easy for me
to stand here in front of you

and reel off a list of suggestions
for the industry —

much easier than making
these changes happen.

But change does need to happen,

and soon.

Crucially, this change needs
to be brought about

by the music industry as a whole,

each part working together.

The song and the songwriter
fuel everything,

from the recording
through to live performances,

even a T-shirt would not sell
if the band hadn’t good songs.

I have created memories
to some of those songs,

from the Everly Brothers

and then the Beatles,

Elton John and many more,

songs that sometimes would surprise me
with a stab of ending,

quickly washed away by their sheer beauty

and the inspiration that they gave me.

I know what they mean

and what they meant to me.

I’ve often wondered:
What would we be without music?

Less human, I’m convinced of that.

If we couldn’t hear music,
then what else would we be deaf to?

But we never seem to think about that,

even though music is all around us
all of the time.

This is the moment for the entire
music industry to invest in supporting

what is, without a doubt,
its most valuable asset.

Far too many songwriters out there
are suffering in this creaking system.

Solutions like those that I have outlined
could help rebalance the song economy

so that more songwriters
and their listeners

will be able to lean back
and say, in all honesty,

exactly what I said in the song that I
was talking about in the beginning:

“Thank you for the music.”

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Music

“TRY” | Madison McFerrin

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. From her stoop in Brooklyn, singer-songwriter Madison McFerrin shares her experience singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016 — a moment that pushed her to become her best self — and performs “TRY,” a song…

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

From her stoop in Brooklyn, singer-songwriter Madison McFerrin shares her experience singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016 — a moment that pushed her to become her best self — and performs “TRY,” a song she wrote about chasing your dreams despite what others say.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

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