About me and my newsletter.
Above The API is a free newsletter about what matters – and why – in technology, music, and startups.
"Today, you’re either above the API or below the API. You either tell robots what to do, or are told by robots what to do." - Venkatesh Rao
What Should I Expect?
Above The API is a free periodic newsletter.
You'll get a deep dive on topics shaping our collective future across tech, media, music, venture capital, and startups, along with a list of curated articles and links that are worth checking out (with explanations of why).
Who is Above The API for?
Above The API is for anyone who wants to deeply explore – and better understand – the forces shaping our collective future.
In 2014, I made a career pivot into tech, trading nights spent in recording studios as a music producer for days at a bootstrapped startup. I quickly realized that despite spending most of my life surrounded by tech, I hardly understood it. Forget being able to code – I was clueless about the technologies, people, and companies increasingly shaping nearly every aspect of our daily lives.
Over the past seven years, I've become progressively more immersed in, and obsessed with, learning and thinking about tech and where it - and we - are going next. I've been truly fortunate to work with an incredible team at Audiomack, turning that bootstrapped website, started in a tiny shared office space in Brooklyn, into a leading music app with over 50 million downloads, five billion monthly streams, and recognition as a Fast Company Most Innovative Company in 2021.
Watching bits of code turn into something millions of people around the globe use every single day has been a humbling and inspiring experience. While I will periodically use this space to share my experience in building a successful startup, that isn't why I'm starting this newsletter: rather, it's something else I've noticed along the way.
As I've become more immersed in the world of tech, I've noticed a trend in my conversations with those who aren't: it often feels like we're speaking two entirely different languages altogether. As software progressively eats the world, this chasm increasingly concerns me: thoughtful public debates on innovation, business, and policy can't exist in a world where the many feel such a strong disconnect from the powerful few. While an income gap may have defined inequality in the first twenty years of this century, I firmly believe a knowledge gap will define the second.
More urgently, whatever disconnect exists today will only accelerate over the coming decades: the march of exponential technological progress means we will likely see more advances in the next 20 years than we did in the prior 200. The last twenty years gave us 140 characters, on demand sushi, and TikTok dances; the next will likely give us synthetic biology, mixed and augmented reality, virtual celebrities, People As A Service, autonomous everything, and, if you're especially optimistic, escape velocity in human aging, decentralized everything, and commercial fusion. If I lost you with a few of those, don't worry – we'll talk about them (and the dozens of other trends out of a sci-fi movie I had to omit) a lot more.
This newsletter is my humble attempt at helping to bridge this gap. Whether you're outside tech and hoping to better understand where we're heading, or inside the industry and merely looking for a fresh perspective, I aim to help you find it here.
What Does 'Above The API' Mean?
"Above The API" is a term familiar to most who work in technology but few who work outside of it. 'API' is an acronym for Application Programming Interface: a bit of software that allows an application (like a music or dating app) to exchange data and information with other applications, servers, or devices.
At its most basic level, the phrase delineates those who build and operate our digital world (those above the API) and those who are subject to the creations built by the former (those below the API). While the phrase was originally used in a mostly economic context – discussing the ever-increasing plight of those trying to compete in a world increasingly driven by technology they can't control - it has become only more relevant and prescient in other facets of life since. If you've used your phone today – and my guess is you did so first thing this morning, before brushing your teeth, pouring your coffee, or feeding a pet – your mental state, emotions, and thoughts have, whether you are consciously aware of it or not, been influenced and shaped by those above the API.
As Rao brilliantly points out, this line of demarcation isn't static: rather, the knowledge and effort required to keep one's head above the technological water line only rises with each passing day, month, and year.
None of us – myself most certainly included – are guaranteed a future above that line. This newsletter will merely be my public attempt to try, and one I hope you'll join.
My name is Dave Edwards, and I'm currently the Chief Revenue Officer at Audiomack, a top global music streaming app. I'm also the CEO and Co-Founder of Grove (joingrove.app), a new Cannabis marketplace launching on iOS in Q3 2023.
Prior to my time at Audiomack, I was an electronic and pop music producer with placements on Atlantic, Republic, Island, Big Beat, and Dim Mak Records, racking up over 20 million global streams, coverage in Billboard, Indie Shuffle, This Song Is Sick, and Dancing Astronaut, and features on Spotify New Music Friday (U.S.) and Viral 50 (Netherlands).
In my free time I enjoy coding (Swift/SwiftUI + Python mostly), UI design, consulting for investors and startups, and making the occasional small angel investment, however I've paused this now that I'm focused on building Grove.
Water & Music
In the newsletter and blogging world, it's become fairly common for writers who are also investors to write about companies which they have a stake in. While I often learn something interesting from such pieces, this is not something I will ever do on Above The API without a very clear disclosure of my position in the company – at the current time, I have no intention of covering companies which I've invested in at all.