Imagine a future where anyone can be a musician. Now ask yourself what that has in common with building Twitter Spaces. The answer? Org-based innovation. 

On this week’s episode of Dev Interrupted, we’re joined by the talented Pablo Jablonski, the engineer responsible for leading the team behind Spaces. Today, Pablo is reshaping the music industry as the VP of Engineering at United Masters. 

In this free-flowing conversation we unravel the intricacies of building Spaces, discuss Twitter’s pivotal role in public discourse and break down some of the historic challenges faced by Twitter’s engineering team.  

Pablo also explores how United Masters is bridging the gap between artists and their dreams, empowering them to take control of their own destinies. Taking cues from his time at Twitter, Pablo and his team are building a platform that aims to dismantle the music industry’s traditional hierarchies. 

Episode Highlights:

  • (2:00) Building Periscope & Spaces at Twitter
  • (7:10) Twitter's 10 Rules for Communication
  • (12:59) The impact of modeling behaviors
  • (15:55) Twitter today
  • (22:54) United Masters
  • (26:14) Applying lessons learned at Twitter
  • (34:24) Any problem can be interesting
  • (37:30) Future of the music industry

Episode Transcript (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)

Conor Bronsdon: We are back on Dev Interrupted from New York City. This is your host, Conor Bronsdon, and I'm very excited to be joined by Pablo Jablonski. Pablo, welcome to the show.

Pablo Jablonski: Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's great to here.

Conor Bronsdon: And you are the former head of engineering for Twitter spaces. You're also the VP of engineering today at United Master.

You have a fascinating background, so I'm really excited to dig into some of your background and also the work you're doing today. maybe we'll get some hot takes outta you. I think so, yeah. If you enjoy this conversation, make sure to take a second to leave a rating or review on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

It's a huge help to us. Pablo, let's dive right in though. Yeah. I think a lot of folks will know you from your work at Twitter on this very high profile product feature that came out with spaces. I have to admit, I'm personally a fan. I got a podcast, Mike. Come on. Go ahead to do it. Yeah. How did that come.

Pablo Jablonski: Yeah, so great question. My journey at Twitter actually started, with Periscope, which is a live video application, which we started in 2015. I remember Periscope. Yeah. Yeah. So that's where this all started. And so Periscope was this idea that people could use their video to, basically the one sentence line was view the world through someone else's eyes.

The ideas anyone could pick up their phone, pointed at something in the world, could. That was where we were coming from. And, it basically baked an entire product around video, live video specifically. And it was very interesting and very cool and we got a lot of learnings from that. And, about three years after we launched it, we launched this kind of secret project within Twitter that we codenamed, Kaleido.

And the idea was that Periscope is video. Kaleidoscope is anything, right? What are all of the different forms that these, this live technology could take If we were to able, if we were to remove video from the equation, what el what's the whole, what's the whole equation of things that we could do?

And we spend about a year prototyping different ideas and audio emerged as the most promising next step we found. Audio was a much more comfortable way for people to engage in conversations that Yeah. Video was, we actually launched what we called audio only broadcast on Periscope about a year prior and found a lot of people were doing them cuz they didn't wanna be on camera.

We built a bunch of prototypes and we found this idea of these audio rooms where people could really talk using their voice as a really compelling idea that really took that to be the prototype that we wanted to take next. That was the evolution of Periscope. The next step we wanted to take, it was towards the end of 2020.

Was basically where we decided that we wanted to, take that prototype and actually make it a reality. And we built spaces. We took about four months at Twitter to take that, prototype to a beta stage and actually launch it to all of the, to the whole user base at Twitter. And actually, really had a really successful product there.

We had a lot of really interesting use cases and it's a lot of really, amazing interactions that we found from different people to use a product. He really proved to be a new way for Twitter users to talk to each other, which is really the point of Twitter to begin with, was for people to talk to each other.

Conor Bronsdon: It's a really interesting strategic case study that a lot of folks have talked about, because obviously, clubhouse came out and we're trying to do the same thing that you've been working on. And I think Twitter realized, Hey, look like we strategically, we've been working on this for a while.

We have better distribution, better networks. Let's finish this thing up and get it live. And to do that you had to cut through a lot of red tape that I think traditionally Twitter has struggled with it with, which is shipping features. Yep. In a timely manner.

Pablo Jablonski: Yep.

Conor Bronsdon: How did you do that within Twitter's culture and what did you learn from it?

Pablo Jablonski: Yeah, so that's a great question. So that's really what, I'm here at Lead have to talk about. That's what I wanted to share some of the learnings that we got from that. But essentially, It took getting a group of people together who were actually passionate about adding the human voice to the conversation, which is really what our mission was.

It was really getting really crisp about why we were doing what we were doing. Not just the fact that, hey, we have to build spaces, and by the way, we should do it faster because we should do it faster. It's like, why should we do it faster? What is the value here? What are we bringing to the company?

And really getting super crisp about the value add and then really getting a group of people who are super passionate about making that happen. And then really just organizing as a team within Twitter. A lot of people say a startup within a big company. It's obviously, that's something I've said many times, but really living that to its core and actually approaching things differently so that we could ship something.

I like a startup would, even though we were in Twitter, we really wanted to move like a startup would. And the way that all started was what we called like a manifesto of what, how we worked, which is it was just a one page Google doc. It was called How We Collaborate. That's all it was 10 roles.

Interesting. It was 10 roles about how we were gonna work together, how we were gonna collaborate, and how we were just gonna operate. And those 10 rules. Served as the backbone. That allowed us to move in a much faster way than other teams. At Twitter were able to, for the specific purpose of what we're trying to achieve, right?

Like obviously you move faster and you, there are ramifications to that, right? There are situations where that may not, may be the best idea, but given what we were trying to accomplish, that was what we were trying to do. And these rules really allowed. To operate in the way that we had to achieve our goal, which is really to get something to the world in.

We gave ourselves a quarter, it took us four months, guys think. I still think it's pretty good in terms of what we were able to accomplish within that.

Conor Bronsdon: Absolutely. What were those 10 rules for communication?

Pablo Jablonski: I'm gonna see if I can remember all 10 of them, but I know most of them.

One of them, which was very controversial at times within Twitter, Which is obvious if you're in a startup, which was, we are self-reliant. That was a single rule that basically played, played the part of saying, whenever we can do things ourselves, we will And at Twitter there was basically the idea that, Twitter has spent a decade building different teams of people who are able to accomplish different sets of things, and the expectation is that you work with those teams of people to accomplish those things because it creates a better sense of just like overall, unity and also just being able to like, have the code base have a follow more defined pattern.

But for every group that you work with, it's another group you have to communicate with. It's another set of dependencies. You have to operate it within, and it also means that if something breaks, it's another set of people who have to then understand how to fix that thing that went at broken, right? We took the more sort of radical approaches saying if we can do it ourselves, we will.

Which means we actually maybe didn't employ some of the different functionality or team usages that other teams at Twitter might have provided for. But it allowed us to really internalize the knowledge of what we were building. It allowed us to move faster from a dependency perspective. And when we launched quickly and we had bugs as we expected to have them, our team knew how to fix them.

We knew what we were doing. We knew how to fix them because it was our code so that was one that was controversial at times because there were definitely teams at Twitter that thought we might have, we should have taken more advantage of what Twitter might have already. But that was one that was necessary for us to move in the, at the pace that we did.

I'd say that was the most controversial of all of them. The other ones are pretty, non-controversial, but important. Another one that we talked about a lot was, the idea that collaboration is key. collaboration, cross functions, collaboration between engineering, product design, research that is absolutely key to a successful product.

However, we also need to recognize that it will be impossible to always reach consensus, right? We have the idea of collaboration is key, consensus is notch. We have to go into it, understanding that we will not always agree across all the functions about what we should do, and that's. We have to timebox ideas.

We have to timebox decisions, we have a conversation, and then we have to make a decision and we have to move forward. So we had a very hard rule that every decision has one approver that's there's one person who makes the call, and that person is always the subject matter expert, right? If it's a product decision, the PM is a final approver.

If it's an engineering decision, the engineer has a final decision. And if we had that rule upfront, it allowed for this cross-functional collaboration. But we all had an agreement. Hey, the product person might disagree with the engineering decision, but is an engineering decision, so the engineer has a final call.

We're good with that and we're moving forward, and that really allowed us to move a lot faster and allowed us to move at a pace that we weren't like spending weeks discussing the same thing over and over again, which is something that you would see quite a lot of Twitter because there were so many groups and so many different stakeholders that these conversations could go on for weeks, and that was something that we knew we had to get ahead of.

So you really wanted to get this out on. So that's one, that's another really big one. Another one that we had that I, that was also, very important, and this is actually the number one rule was the first one. Yeah. The first rule was, take care of yourself first. it was us acknowledging that we were gonna be asking a group of people to work very hard for a period of time to get something out.

If people didn't take care of themselves first, things would fall apart.

Conor Bronsdon: I feel like that has sometimes been ignored, in Twitter's recent history.

Pablo Jablonski: Yes. Yes. Take care of yourself first was not the primary mantra at Twitter right now. Yeah, that is correct. But it was one that was really important for us because we were asking people to spend you.

Hours and working nights and sometimes weekends, but it was within limits. It was saying, Hey, we're gonna ask you to work really hard, but if you need time to yourself, go take it. And as leaders, that was super important. I had to also show like we're in the middle of this three month push. I'm gonna go take a week off cause I'm burnt out and I'm gonna show you that I take a week off, I'm gonna sign off from Slack.

You're modeling the behavior. Yeah. I'm gonna sign off from Slack. You're not gonna see me online. If I don't do that, no one else thinks it's okay to do it. And that creates the problem of burnout, right? Which is, I always say burnout is a lot like dehydration. Yeah. Where it's a lot easier to drink water when you're thirsty than to actually fix it when you're dehydrated.

Burnout is very similar. If someone is stressed and tired, them taking a day or two off then is a lot better than they actually burn out and then they gotta take a month off because they're, they need to reset. That's where we're coming from. Giving people time along the way is a much more sustainable solution than working them till they're completely gone and then having to get them back maybe, like that's something that we really wanted to model.

Conor Bronsdon: I have to admit I struggle with one of those behaviors you mentioned. I agree with you. Like modeling these behaviors is really important, but, you mentioned logging off Slack and actually being off. I find that really challenging sometimes. Yeah. And. It's something I, I struggle with my team where I know I'm modeling that wrong behavior when I'm on time off because I'm so invested and interested in, I have to really fight with myself to, to do that.

And yeah, I'll shout out my producers here as a thank you for reminding me when I need to do that sometimes. are there behaviors that you felt like were super impactful as part of this Twitter space initiative that you've now brought to your work at United Masters?

Pablo Jablonski: Absolutely. I think modeling, again.

It's okay to work hard and it's also okay to take time is really important. This is maybe something that's controversial from my perspective, but, I know the unlimited time off gets a lot of hate online. Twitter had that United Masters had that. I'm actually not against unlimited time off because I believe in people taking it when they need it.

I think a lot of people give it a lot of, it gets a bad rap because they. People don't have sad days, so they don't end up taking it. But I believe as long as leaders model the right way and say what unlimited time off really means is take the time when you need it. Yeah. And as long as you get the work done, take the time to have fun.

Take the time to be with your family. Take the time to do other things. That is such a more humane way of doing things for me than saying, I agree, here are five days in the year. Take them in the time that you think is best. But by the way, if you need that sixth day, because it's really important to be with your daughter, you don't have it.

that doesn't make sense to me. So that's something that we have a United Master as well and I try to recognize it might have a bad rap and really push the teams to really take it for what it is, which is. This is the flexibility that we're giving you to take the time you need to be the best ver version of yourself at work and outside of work.

Conor Bronsdon: What do you think about required minimums as part of this saying, Hey, we're gonna give you unlimited time off, but we require you to take x number of days per year.

Pablo Jablonski: Yeah that's solely fine. I think if a company wants to have that to make sure that's being applied across the board, that's totally.

I think as leaders, we should have that for ourselves. Like on spaces, for example. it took us four months, like I said, to go from like a beta to a full launch. We worked really hard at the end of those four months as the leader, I told everyone it's a week off. Like literally, I told the entire team you did this, we made it.

We're celebrating. It's a week off for everyone.

Conor Bronsdon: I'm sure we'll have an incident when we get back to Valley. Something all gone wrong, but we need to take a second.

Pablo Jablonski: We're taking week. Both because I knew the team needed it, but also because I knew launching something isn't the finish line.

That's just really the beginning and there was gonna be a lot to come and we needed to have that. So if you don't have leaders who think about this and make sure that their teams are taking really the minimum required to succeed and to be success. Sure, a minimum at a company level to enforce that is not a bad idea.

But again, as long, I think it's more on the leaders themselves to understand what the team needs and make sure that you're really modeling the right benefit behavior there and getting people to really understand that even though work may ask a lot, it's really just part of your life and you need to make time for the rest

Conor Bronsdon: I'm curious, as a former Twitter employee, someone who led teams there on crucial projects, What's your viewpoint on where the company is today as we're recording this in Yeah. March of 2023.

Pablo Jablonski: Yeah. It's no, no secret that there's a lot of turmoil happening there, it's not the easiest topic because I was there at, I was at Twitter for seven years.

You don't stay summer for seven years unless you really enjoy it, and there's a reason to stay there. No I interviewed probably 200 people while I was a leader at Twitter. And the question I got the most often is, Hey, why are you still there? You've been there for a while, why are you still there?

And every single time it was because the people here are amazing and because we're united on a single mission. And then mission was to elevate the public conversation. That is always my answer. And it's been sad to see what has happened there. A lot of people who really model that and really internalize that being their passion have had to go through some really hard times, because of how the company has gone through things, because of the changes in the way that the leadership is going there.

I just know firsthand how incredible the Twitter people are, and it's been very unfortunate from my perspective to see the type of. Some of them are getting online and just in general, or just what they're having to live through to uphold their real beliefs, which is building a product that unites public conversation is a public good that is necessary for the world.

And the new leadership group expresses that also in, in words, they also say Hey, Twitter is really a necessary, good for humanity. But they're not, in my opinion, not operating it in a way that really models that behavior internally. And that is something that I was very proud of at Twitter while I was there, was that Twitter really modeled its internal behaviors as what it was trying to influence in the world.

And I think that has been disjointed.

Conor Bronsdon: It's challenging because I think most people can agree, particularly in the engineering world, Twitter had some flaws, right? Yeah. And still does. Totally. Where features weren't typically shipping fast enough. Yes. To give the example of spaces

it took you getting outside of the typical Twitter model to find the right mix of bringing that culture in, bringing that mission orientation, and then also delivering this fantastic additional feature that's been very successful.

Yeah. And there are various problems around shipping. And other things in the org I'm sure as well. But it does feel like the new leadership there has, at least from my perspective, gone too far in trying to flip that, where they've lost some of the DNA of what made Twitter special and important and frankly, reduced reliability on the surface substantially.

Yeah. Like correct as a, I may not be the only user feeling this. This site is Buggier than it was. Yeah, six months ago. I use it less. I don't feel that the conversation is as impactful, particularly the development community has for now migrated to places like Mastodon and elsewhere, because it feels like I

would say, almost disrespected in a way where their concerns weren't necessarily listened to.

I think there was a better middle ground, at least. Again, this is just my opinion.

Pablo Jablonski: No, totally. Yeah. It's interesting using Twitter as someone who worked on it for seven years, it's very easy to see where the pieces are falling apart. It's very easy as a developer to realize, oh, this is cracking. I think maybe most users may not realize the little things, but the little things are there.

And really, you're, you are absolutely correct that one of the one of the biggest flaws of Twitter was. The ability to innovate and move quickly. The reason that Twitter, in my opinion, really struggled with moving quickly was because it was a company really made up of people who really care.

And it was a lot of people who had a lot of strong opinions about what Twitter should be and really cared about those. And those conversations, which are good ones to have sometimes just really bubbled and took too long because there were so many, really, there were so many people in the room who had very strong opinions about what Twitter should be, and that was always about how Twitter could do better.

And you have to remember that Twitter, Has a direct effect to many people's real lives. So absolutely and especially you would see this with the people who had been at Twitter for, decades, or not decades, but at least a decade. There were people who had lived through some very hard times at Twitter and some moments like the famous fail whale or this famous like times that Twitter wasn't doing well, and over time these battle scars at Twitter had grown into this set of rules, which is oh, this thing happened in 2015 and it was horrible, so we can never let it happen again. So here's a bunch of stuff that we're gonna, that scar tissue gonna calcify. Exactly. Here's a bunch of rules and processes that we're gonna put in place. So that thing that happened in 2015 never happens again.

Now you multiply that by a hundred things that happened over the course of 10. And it's all well-intentioned. It's well-intentioned rules that are meant to prevent catastrophic failures, so to speak. But at the end of the day, you just, you, if you go too much in the side of, we can't let these failures happen on Twitter because it affects the world.

You just can't do anything because anything you try and do, if you want move quickly, you're going to break things. And that was something we believed that Twitter, I'm sorry, at spaces. Plus we're gonna break things. We're gonna do this, it's gonna break. We're gonna have failures, and we're gonna be okay with that and we're gonna fix it, and we're gonna build in public.

So when we make mistakes, we're gonna own up to them. It was difficult for the Twitter company to accept that because they had seen oh, but when it failed five, six years ago, he was really bad. So we can let that happen. And I think that's, It all came from a good place. It came from the place of not letting down our users and I think the new leadership now, it's screw that doesn't matter.

Let's just break everything and let's go fast. Which is in some ways not a terrible mindset, but the way they're approaching it is, I think, not the best.

Conor Bronsdon: It's gonna be really interesting to see what happens there long term. It may prove out that despite all the turmoil and challenges, they needed to kind.

Break the culture there in order to get back to a very product innovation mindset. And they'll rebuilt it and they'll have success. And that's obviously the bet that Elon and the rest of ownership group is making. But it's gonna be a huge challenge. I'll, it'll be very interesting to watch.

And I know for all the tweets out there, it's a challenging thing to go through because of so much of. Your work life has been engaged with that company and the mission of it. Yeah. And I also know that same mission is part of what has driven you to United Masters Yeah.

And is leading your work today. And I'd love to get into that. Yeah. I know that creators are very important to you. It's why you love this work on spaces so much. Tell me about United Masters for the folks in the audience who don't know, what is it?

Pablo Jablonski: Yeah, absolutely. So United Masters is a music based startup.

Which is trying to build technology to serve all of the independent musicians and artists in the world. the basic premise of the company is that, the world has changed and that artists no longer need record label deals to be successful. And we've seen this proven time and time again.

A lot of the most successful artists these days are independent, and we recognize that artists will tend to sign record label deals because, They get certain services from labels. They get access to promotional tools and marketing and help with your touring and helping all those different things.

But really technology has come to a place where a lot of those tools can be automated. Yeah. And we can really provide a lot of direction and support and education to artists that really want to own their own future and own their own. And be successful, as successful as they ever want to be while being independent.

That's really what United Masters is. United Masters is a, as we like to say, a record label in your pocket. It's an app that can really provide everything a record label can for artists while still giving you full control over your music, over your future and your masters. That's really the premise of what we're building.

It's a really fun place to be if it's, I had a really good time being there.

Conor Bronsdon: I'm gonna put our audio engineer Jackson on the spot a little here cause I can see him nodding along behind you. He's a producer himself, who creates some fantastic electronic music. And I know he's, very passionate about this topic of independent production for music and distribution and to your point, like technology has really enabled that. But record label. Are not ready to give up that control. So I'd love to see this disruption happening in the industry. How big is United Masters now?

I know you're a startup. Like what kind of stage are you at?

Pablo Jablonski: So we are series C, so we're pretty large, To give an idea of scale the full engineering team at United Masters is about 50 people now, which is about the same size of what spaces was as a team so we have about 50 engineers on the team, and there's about 300 people at the company as a whole.

And, we were we're playing a part in this really disruption of technology and music where nowadays anybody can really be musician.

Like that. The trend we're seeing is that you don't need to go and buy. A thousand dollars synthesizer and spend two years learning how to play the piano and all of these different things to make music really is only, it's as unlimited as the creativity allows. And people have all of these amazing tools nowadays to create music, to learn quickly, different instruments, to really play around with things and.

We're just trying to be the distribution mechanism and the sort of the second step for all those people sitting in their bedroom or their garage saying I have these creative juices that I wanna express and I wanna create something, and I wanna see if that creativity resonates with others.

We're trying to be the path through which those people can test it out and actually put their art in the world and hopefully be successful.

Conor Bronsdon: There's this clear through line in your work from supporting creators, helping build tools that enabled them. And I see why that transition was so clear for you to United Masters. What have you taken from your past at Twitter as far as leadership and skillset that you're applying now to the engineering team and product of United Masters?

Pablo Jablonski: Yeah, I think first and foremost, the thing that I've not only taken from Twitter to United Masters, but just have always believed my entire time as a, as an engineering leader, is that, you can't build effective teams if the mission statement. Is the technology, the mission statement has to be the people that we're serving and the customer problem that we're solving.

That has to be where you start and you have to build a team of people on engineering and cross-function and cross-functionally that really are passionate about solving that problem for those people. That has to be where we start. And the good news is that on United Masters, that customer that we're solving the problem for is really freaking cool.

Like it's, it's kids who are in their basement making music. That's an amazing customer to be, to get really passionate about, rather than, no, it's not to throw shade at any other companies, but the example I like to give is we're not, our customer isn't the person who is trying to get their.

10 minutes sooner than another company might do it. We're not trying to solve delivery for food in a faster way, which is totally an interesting, it's helpful and it's helpful and it's a very interesting problem. It's a very interesting computational problem.

Conor Bronsdon: But it's not, I hear the passion though, from you about the problem you're trying to solve.

Pablo Jablonski: Exactly. And our problem is really, how can we make it such that these creative people in the world can quit their day job and make enough money from their art so that is what they focus on and that is what they make a living off of. That's. An extremely powerful problem to be a part of or to be able to try and solve.

So that's where I start, right? I start with getting everybody on the same page. Like the reason that we're gonna go spend the next month writing, thousands of lines of code is so that this kid in the garage can actually make a living from their art. That's really what made spaces successful is because we all focus.

On what we wanted to do from a customer problem, and that is also where I'm starting United Masters. I have found that if you can get a group of people who get passionate and understand the real lives that your work is changing, everything else falls into place, everything else becomes much more successful and people want to put into work and want to make it successful.

Conor Bronsdon: So how do you build that passion and that connection to your users within your engineering team?

Pablo Jablonski: So there's a few ways to do that. So one thing that I always, and you were going back to the the rules from spaces. Another one that we had was we are users of our own products.

That was one of our rules. We had this sort of innate belief that if you don't use a product that you're building, you can never make We're in a dog food. This Yeah, exactly. So on spaces, what we actually did was, while we were in be. All of the spaces, internal teams were on spaces we didn't use Google Meet.

We used spaces to do our meetings and they were hella buggy. They did not work. I, we gonna fix this guy. Yeah, exactly. They were pretty hard. But at the same time, by doing that every day we found the bugs and we solved them. On the United Masters, it's a little bit more difficult because the users are an artist, right?

So if you're an engineer and you're not an artist, you don't, may not have as much of a reason to use the product. But luckily we do have a significant number of engineers who have music as a passion. People who DJ on the side or maybe part of a band. So we do have, engineers or people of the engineering group who are using the product as artists.

But regardless, the other part of that is also just real customer feedback, right? So we're pretty lucky at United Masters. Really dedicated and passionate user research team who are doing this. We're going out and having interviews with real artists and talking to these people, hearing what their pain points are, hearing what they would like our app to do, that it doesn't, talking about what we're thinking, like we have this ongoing cycle.

We're always interviewing artists and we're always feeding that back to the engineering team. We're, we make the videos available to watch. We put out readouts of what the main topics are. We really like putting faces to the problems. So it's not just. Artist X said that they really want this product.

But actually putting a video where the artist says, I feel like I'm about to break out, but I, what I'm really missing is this thing. If I had that, I really feel like I could do it. I just add so much more humanity to it and it really goes a very long way to really explaining why we're doing what we're doing.

Conor Bronsdon: And that's a mission that I think most humans could connect with. Like music stirs the passion in our souls. Yeah. And makes us feel. And so when you hear that from someone who's I, I wanna do this full-time I really believe I can. Yeah. I'm seeing the success. Success. I'm sure that does motivate your team where absolutely.

It's ah, this is exciting. How can we help solve this problem for them? However, yeah, not everyone is working on something they're as passionate about. Maybe you are trying to solve, we'll use your food delivery example.

Pablo Jablonski: And again, no shade. No shade.

Conor Bronsdon: Yeah. I'm passionate about food, like I love food, but it's a little more exciting.

Or at least for me, make an artist career and give them that opportunity. Yeah. Than it is to improve your delivery time slightly. How do you build that same care for users in a team where maybe you don't have as much passion?

Pablo Jablonski: I think you gotta find the right angle for why.

It's interesting, right? Like any problem I think can either be somewhat uninteresting or somewhat interesting, right? Let's take the artist example again. Sure. One of our things that we try to accomplish for artists is that we try to get their music on all the different DSPs that play in platforms, as quickly as possible, right?

One of our missions is to get that down from five days to three days. At a surface. Is that interesting? Or a problem saying it's kinda the delivery problem. It's we're gonna spend a month making it so that music goes on a platform two days earlier. Maybe not interesting, but like when you say, we're gonna make it such that this artist can reach their listeners two days earlier, we so that they can get their music out two days earlier because we're interesting.

So I think any problem that is worth solving has. Has that angle, has the reason for why it's an interesting thing to do. Cuz if it's not interesting to do, if it's not really, if there's not a real customer reason to do it, then isn't. There's probably something that is more impactful for your customers.

Every customer is important, every real problem they have is important. So if you are focused on building something, you're like, we have some metrics and some like experiments to show this is moving this, but. We can't really understand why this is important. And maybe it's, maybe there's something that is more important to that customer.

And I guarantee that regardless of the customer space that you're in and the problem that you're in, there will always be something that to that customer is extremely impactful. Yeah. And makes your life easier, right? That's what it really comes down to is people saying. Prior to this, it took me a long time to do this thing or it was impossible to do this thing.

And now that I have it, it's not, now that I have it, it's easier and I'm able to do what I need to do to make, to make my life easier. And I, as long as you frame it in that way and you're able to really quantify and find the people that you're making that easier for, I think the passion follows.

Conor Bronsdon: And again, no shade, continue to use your example of food delivery. Yeah. DoorDash, to be clear, we would have you on the show, head us up. We're not trying to shade you no shades. But let's say you, you are improving delivery times, yeah. Two minutes. for every delivery You can see the impact on that in a different way.

Yeah. Where it says, oh, that scales across the user base. Yeah. Suddenly you are enabling all these drivers to Exactly. Earn a little more every day. Exactly. And that adds up in aggregate.

Pablo Jablonski: Or the restaurants to say, to sell more of their food a succeed.

Conor Bronsdon: Yeah. And so yeah, maybe it's a little harder to see where it's okay, maybe I'm not quite delivering music faster and enabling that artist in the way that, like your example was, I was bringing up.

The scale of that kind of consumer problem is so large that you can say like how many, how much money did we save a restaurant today? Or how much more sales did we enable, or how much time did we save? Yeah. And I'll say as like someone who works for a developer tools company, I love thinking about those efficiencies because Absolutely.

We are, like, for us, we're building tools to help engineers be more efficient and help the people who, frankly build the building blocks of the modern. Do more. And that's what gets me excited. I'm like, oh, we're enabling that innovation. Yeah, absolutely. Like maybe for us okay, is our innovation problem as exciting as yours?

I'll just be honest. Say no, like this, it's really cool what you're doing with to enable artists, and I'm so sorry for our team members who are listening to us, but what we're doing is we're enabling teams like yours Absolutely. To faster and deliver. And that it's really cool to think about the second order impacts.

I love that reframe you have here.

Pablo Jablonski: Absolutely. Like there. At Twitter, there were many people whose entire focus was to make the site slightly more reliable and to make that tweet available slightly faster. Again, that problem's like decreasing tweed send latency from 300 milliseconds to 250 milliseconds.

It's like your point is an efficiency thing, but when you put that onto real people and say that, that allowed, that like increase in efficiency and that increase in reliability made it such. This tweet in this low impact world was able to get out there faster and reach more people, and it's maybe spark a movement like, it's really taking those second order effects and absolutely.

The side of efficiency that it unlocks the products that we build is as important as the products themselves.

Conor Bronsdon: Are there any bottlenecks that you're currently facing with your work at United Masters? Challenges that you're learning from right now?

Pablo Jablonski: I'd say the biggest bottleneck is just that.

Tech and the tech tools for music have progressed very quickly. The industry has not kept up, so to speak, this is something that's not new to music. Music has a reputation for a while that it is pretty resistant to technology now going go back as Napster, obviously all the things that happened there and then when we streaming started to be a thing and all of the resistance that streaming had versus CD sales and downloads, no.

The industry of music tends to not like change. And we are a company trying to create change. but we are also, we're living in the reality that we still have to operate in that industry, right? When someone releases music, we still have to get all of the copyright clearance. We still have to get, make sure that all of the different collaborators get paid where they're supposed to, and then make sure.

We're actually doing things the right way. And that if you want to put that song in a commercial, for example, that, you have all the rights to do. So the mechanisms around that are very antiquated. Yeah. And very, resistant to making them less antiquated. So we're having to be really creative there about how do we build something that really takes all of the benefits of automation and technology for artists while.

Not going so far off that they can't operate within the industry that they need to. That's really one of the biggest sort of challenges that we're having to work with.

Conor Bronsdon: Where do you see the industry, particularly the music industry and the record industry going in the next several years as technology does start to make an impact on it?

Pablo Jablonski: I think it's a hundred percent going toward independence. I think the sort of, we see. Almost, I think we're very close to a point in time where over 50% of the revenue given by created in the music industry is gonna go to the independent artists. That, and that's a huge shift, right? If you go back 10 years ago, it was nowhere close to that.

I think the reality is that the word is out that independence is not a limiting factor in any way to your ability to succeed. And. Make money as an artist. And as that word continues to get out and people continue to realize oh, there's really no reason for me to give up all of this rights and all of this royalties to the label industry, because there are new ways to do that.

The labels will have to adapt. If they don't adapt, then they will lose their business. So at a certain point in time, They're gonna have to accept that. And I think you've already started to see that where labels, the major labels have bought more and more of these indie labels because they're recognizing the indie labels are bringing in this real value.

So I think as we move more in that direction, we're gonna see a general change in the industry where, because artists know they have other options, the industry is gonna have to adapt to that or the, or. They're not gonna, we're still. They're not gonna be able to adapt to what the artists are really looking for and knowing that they can get.

So we're trying to be at the forefront of that. We're trying to be a force for change that makes that happen sooner because we think the sooner it happens, the better it is for the artists. But I do see that trend happening and I don't think there's really any reversing. And I think that's the direction we're going in.

Conor Bronsdon: I think it's exciting because it also fits into that broader trend of supporting digital creators. And the opportunities they have to change the world and create beautiful. And help us consume information in different ways. It's really interesting to see how you're shaping that today. And thank you so much for coming on the show, Pablo.

It's been really enjoyable to talk to you.

Pablo Jablonski: Yeah, no, this has been great. Thank you for having me. It's been great to talk about all this stuff, and it's been a fun to be in your dome.

Conor Bronsdon: It's a bit of a time capsule. I really enjoy it. For folks listening, make sure if you're an independent artist, you check out United Masters.

Great place to learn a little more about how to approach the industry. Really cool. And if you enjoyed this show, check out our Substack. We we love having you there. You can get these episodes every week. Thanks again for coming on, Pablo. 

Pablo Jablonski: Thank you.

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