LAS VEGAS -- So what exactly has Will.I.Am up to since being named Intel's director of creative innovation last year? As the Black Eyed Peas' leader detailed on Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, he's taking his new Ultrabook, a new #willpower app and a flair for philanthropy with him around the world.
During the final moments of Intel CEO Paul Cotellini's keynote, Will previewed the first of 12 songs he'll be creating over the course of the next 12 months. The first, "I'll Blow Your Mind With My Ghetto Blaster," was recorded in Japan over the course of a four-day trip in which Will.i.am played a DJ gig, helped raise money for Japanese tsunami relief and recorded a track that captured his experience using Intel technology. "Ghetto Blaster" will be available for a free, limited download of 10,000 at Intel.com before it's taken down.
Eleven more original songs are expected to be produced from each respective trip, with upcoming jaunts slated for Mexico City and China. But Will.i.am doesn't expect to produce an official album from his Intel exploits. "I believe with this new connectivity and ability to send out that one song to many is the new album," he said during a press conference following the keynote. "To then take 12 songs and sell them, that's not what I'm doing this for. Isn't it 2012?"
Each of Will.i.am's trips will be visible through his new #willpower app and on Intel.com, using a panoramic, 360-degree camera technology powered by Intel that allows the user to view everything from the nightclub where Will is spinning to the airport from which he's flying at every imaginable angle. "The user is the editor, the user gets to navigate however they want to experience it," he says.
The first single's title also took on a double meaning when Will hoisted his Ultrabook on his shoulder and said, "This is the new ghetto blaster." Such a uniquely post-millennial metaphor was one of many statements Will.i.am had about technology's impact on the music "business," a word he notably bristled at when Otellini used it to describe his profession.
"Back when Michael Jackson was making music, we used to make music in studios and it would play on the radio. Now you're making music on the computer and you listen to it on the computer. The idea of that is just amazing," he said.
He expanded upon the analogy even further during the press conference alongside Johan Jervoe, Intel's VP of sales and marketing. "What's weird is how do we monetize it the way we used to? Touring actually lets you weed out the fakers from the shakers. And I think tomorrow's about people that actually write their own music, that can perform and have a perspective. And it goes back to people talking about what s happening in the community and also music that's about entertainment or purely to make people smile. As long as the person is talking and thinking about doing things, it grants them the ability o be creative. That's what technology does."
Such big-picture thinking is what first made Intel's Jervoe consider Will.i.am as a potential collaborator when the two met nearly nine years ago. "Will thinks of user experiences way more than the very narrow content piece. When he thinks about how I want technology to inform my art, my design, my music, that mental cognitive power of thinking out-of-the box is very similar on both sides. When you bring in an engineer that brings product and processing power for five, 10, 15 years ahead, the two sides all of a sudden become very unified and solutions-based."