When you think about the Intel brand the only music that really comes to mind is 'der-dun-der-dun' but it seems the CPU giant is keen to extend its acoustic range considerably and make a major play in the music market.
In breaking somewhat from the norm, I was recently invited to an Intel roundtable where instead of being lectured to by a well drilled team of faceless executives the company decided to turn the tables and ask us for our opinions.
Naturally enough from the Light Side of The Force journalistic angle Intel had assembled an array of technology and music-centric hacks and with my love of both well documented it seemed to have the potential for an extremely interesting event - and so it proved. In short, Intel is looking to expand its brand awareness (who isn't?) and as with the likes of O2, SanDisk, Starbucks and more it has picked the music arena launching Intel Studio (a 'stage' for unsigned bands) earlier this year and moving increasingly towards music sponsorship.
Needless to say the roundtable was engaging, passionate and at times feisty with yours truly chipping in with opinions as useful as seeing broadband as the true origin for the success of online music and its subsequent piracy to being as petty as reminding everyone just how overrated The Arctic Monkeys really are (it's The Subways for me, all the way).
Glibness aside, the gist of the roundtable was rather more wide ranging with Intel largely accepting our general consensus that the role of multinational corporations - while always, understandably, with one eye on the bottom line - has to be in supporting the grass roots of any industry it wishes to partake in rather than simply adding zeros to the bank accounts of established acts and labels. Long term commitment is equally fundamental. If Intel dabbles with music then suddenly pulls out it may as well have not turned up at all and spent the money on consumer benefiting R&D.
Ultimately however the fact this kind of roundtable even happened is testament to how the technology industry has evolved beyond all recognition since the last global slowdown more than 10 years ago. It isn't immune either, but it is vastly more influential and tightly integrated into our lives than ever before and we consciously recognise technologies' affect upon us on a daily basis in our business, family and leisure time.
Consequently, in a period when few are seeing the lighter side of life there does exist a newfound opportunity for the giants of the tech industry to adopt a positive role. Sure one eye is locked on profit margins, but if a company like Intel can responsibly invest in entertainment industries like music or film which bear fruits we can all enjoy then perhaps there still exists a beneficial way for corporations to make friends and influence people...