jerryking + cultural_transmission   5

How Spotify’s algorithms are ruining music
May 2, 2019 | Financial Times | Michael Hann.

(1) FINAL DAYS OF EMI, By Eamonn Forde, Omnibus, RRP£20, 320 pages
(2) SPOTIFY TEARDOWN, By Maria Eriksson, Rasmus Fleischer, Anna Johansson, Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 288 pages
(3) WAYS OF HEARING, By Damon Krukowski, The MIT Press, RRP£14.99, 136 pages

In April, the IFPI — the global body of the recording industry — released its latest annual Global Music Report. For the fourth consecutive year, revenues were up, to a total of $19.1bn, from a low of $14.3bn in 2014. Nearly half those revenues came from music streaming, driven by a 33 per cent rise in paid subscriptions to services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal...... It is worth remembering that 20 years ago, the IFPI reported global music revenues of $38.6bn. Today’s “booming” recording industry is less than half the size it was at the turn of the century.....The nadir for the recording industry coincided with the first shoots of its regrowth. ....In August 2007, the British record company EMI — the fourth of the majors, alongside Universal, Sony and Warner — was bought by private equity firm Terra Firma (Guy Hands, the fund’s founder and chairman) for $4.7bn; a year later, a Swedish company called Spotify took its music streaming service public. The former was, perhaps, the last gasp of the old way of doing things — less than four years after buying EMI, Terra Firma was unable to meet its debts, and ceded control of the company to its main lender, Citigroup. Before 2011 was out, the process of breaking up EMI had begun...EMI’s demise was foreshadowed before Hands arrived, with a blaze of hubris in the early 2000s. Forde, a longtime observer and chronicler of the music business recounts the “disastrous and expensive” signings of that era......Handspreached the need to use data when signing artists, not just the “golden ears” of talent scouts; data are now a key part of the talent-spotting process.

* to qualify as having been listened to on Spotify, a song has to have been played for 30 seconds.
* hit songs have become increasingly predictable, offering up all their pleasures in the opening half-minute. Their makers dare not risk scaring off listeners.
* for all the money that the streaming services have generated for the music industry, very little of it flows back to any musicians except the select few who dominate the streaming statistics,

.......On Spotify, music consumption has been reorganised around “behaviours, feelings and moods” channelled through curated playlists and motivational messages......The data Spotify collects enable the industry to work out who its market is, where it lives, what else they like, how often they listen to music — almost anything, really. It’s the greatest assemblage of information about music listeners in history, and it has profoundly altered the industry: it has made Spotify music’s kingmaker......when an artist travels abroad to promote a new album, the meeting with the local Spotify office is more important than the TV appearances or the newspaper interviews. ...Spotify enables artists to plan their band’s set lists so they can play the most popular song in any given city.............So what? What does it matter if one model of music distribution has been replaced by another.....It matters because Spotify has profoundly changed the listener’s relationship with music....Older musicians often wax about how, when you had to buy your own music as a kid, you listened to it until you liked it, because you wouldn’t be able to afford a new album for another month. Now you simply skip to the next one, and probably don’t give it your full attention. Without ownership, there’s no incentive to study...........Faced with the impossibly wide choice of Spotify, it becomes easier to return to old favourites — easier than when flicking through your vinyl or CDs, because the act of looking through your own music makes things you had not thought of in years leap out at you. Spotify actually makes people into more conservative listeners, a process aided by its algorithms, which steer you towards music similar to your most frequent listening.....The theme of Krukowski’s book is that the changes in the way the music industry works have been about controlling and eliminating excess noise. That’s in a literal sense and in a metaphorical one, too. Streaming has stripped music of context, pared it back to being just about the song and the moment....but noise is the context of life. Without noise, the signal becomes meaningless......The world of the old EMI was one of both signal and noise; where myths and legends could be created: The Beatles! Queen! The Beach Boys! Pink Floyd! It was never all about the signal. The world of Spotify is one of signal only, and if you don’t appreciate that signal within the first 30 seconds of the song...all may be lost
abundance  algorithms  Apple_Music  books  book_reviews  business_models  curation  cultural_transmission  data  decontextualization  EMI  gatekeepers  Guy_Hands  hits  indoctrination  iTunes  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_industry  music_publishing  noise  piracy  platforms  playlists  royalties  ruination  securitization  signals  songs  Spotify  streaming  subscriptions  talent  talent_scouting  talent_spotting  Terra_Firma  Tidal  transformational 
may 2019 by jerryking
The death of cultural transmission
April 3, 2019 | FT Alphaville | By Jamie Powell.

music publishing = the business of licensing songs for films, television and advertising.

Valuing [a record label's] music catalogue is... crucial for anyone looking to bid for a stake in the business.

Despite the prominence of new music, established artists are still fundamental to recorded music's success. .......So let's think about these golden oldies as assets. Assets whose appeal has, arguably, only been heightened by the advent of streaming which, with its recurring revenues and growing audience, has made recurring payments from established acts even more bond-like in their cash flow consistency.
But like fixed-income assets with long durations, these cash flows are also sensitive to the smallest assumptions about their future viability. Assumptions which are not as rock solid as some investors might imagine. Let's use The Beatles as a point of reference here, as "The White Album" was UMG's fourth best-selling album last year. (If you're asking “why The Beatles?” Well, Alphaville likes The Beatles, sure. The Fab Four could easily be replaced by its other legacy acts, such as Queen and Nirvana).

But the problem for a prospective buyer is why we're a fan. To put it simply: we had no choice. We were indoctrinated.

On a long car journeys to coastal summer holidays, or at home on a knackered JVC stereo, we, like many of our friends, were limited to a dozen or so records (jk: finite resources). One of which, inevitably, would be some form of John, Paul, George and Ringo (and George).

Call it the cultural transmission effect. Music would be passed on generation to generation, amplified by the relative scarcity, physical space constraints and high prices of recorded media.

This provided a boon for the major labels as it not only meant lower marketing costs but reissues, limited editions, and remasters became an easily repeatable trick, as younger generations grew up to become consumers themselves.......The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Marley are after all, great artists. Their music will live on. But that's not the question for a perspective investor.

The question is: to what degree will the royalties from these artists continue to flow? Assume Sir Paul and Sir Ringo will continue to grow exponentially richer off the back of streaming, and perhaps the quoted multiples don't look quite so mad. In this age it's hard to find assets which both grow, and have semi-predictable cash flows.

But if the next generation doesn't hold the same affinity to the artists which defined the first fifty years of the pop era, where does that leave the labels' back catalogues? May we suggest: in a tougher spot than most imagine.
Apple_Music  artists  assets  Beatles  biopics  bonds  cultural_transmission  digital_strategies  finance  finite_resources  golden_oldies  hard_to_find  indoctrination  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_publishing  platforms  Rollingstones  royalties  Spotify  strategic_buyers  streaming  superstars  U2  UMG  valuations 
april 2019 by jerryking
Steven Brill's "Tailspin": How My Generation Broke America
May 17, 2018 | | Time | By STEVEN BRILL.

From matters small – there are an average of 657 water-main breaks a day, for example – to large, it is clear that the country has gone into a tailspin over the last half-century, when John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier was about seizing the future, not trying to survive the present..............The Meritocracy’s ascent was about more than personal profit. As my generation of achievers graduated from elite universities and moved into the professional world, their personal successes often had serious societal consequences. They upended corporate America and Wall Street with inventions in law and finance that created an economy built on deals that moved assets around instead of building new ones. They created exotic, and risky, financial instruments, including derivatives and credit default swaps, that produced sugar highs of immediate profits but separated those taking the risk from those who would bear the consequences. They organized hedge funds that turned owning stock into a minute-by-minute bet rather than a long-term investment. They invented proxy fights, leveraged buyouts and stock buybacks that gave lawyers and bankers a bonanza of new fees and maximized short-term profits for increasingly unsentimental shareholders, but deadened incentives for the long-term growth of the rest of the economy.....[We need 'guardrails' against legal and financial excesses.]......Forty-eight years after Inky Clark gave me my ticket on the meritocracy express in 1967, a professor at Yale Law School jarred the school’s graduation celebration. Daniel Markovits, who specializes in the intersection of law and behavioral economics, told the class of 2015 that their success getting accepted into, and getting a degree from, the country’s most selective law school actually marked their entry into a newly entrenched aristocracy that had been snuffing out the American Dream for almost everyone else. Elites, he explained, can spend what they need to in order to send their children to the best schools, provide tutors for standardized testing and otherwise ensure that their kids can outcompete their peers to secure the same spots at the top that their parents achieved.

“American meritocracy has thus become precisely what it was invented to combat,” Markovits concluded, “a mechanism for the dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.”.....
Daniel_Markovits  baby_boomers  entrepreneur  income_inequality  politics  revenge_effects  Steven_Brill  political_polarization  fractured_internally  books  meritocratic  America_in_Decline?  elitism  lawyers  self-perpetuation  upper-income  inequality  privilege  the_best_and_brightest  tailspins  guardrails  the_American_dream  cultural_transmission  wealth_transfers  partisan_politics 
may 2018 by jerryking
America’s elite: An hereditary meritocracy
Jan 24th 2015 | The Economist | Anonymous.

America has always had rich and powerful families, from the floor of the Senate to the boardrooms of the steel industry. But it has also held more fervently than any other country the belief that all comers can penetrate that elite as long as they have talent, perseverance and gumption....But now, the american elite is self-perpetuating by dint of school ties, wealth....Today’s elite is a long way from the rotten lot of West Egg. Compared to those of days past it is by and large more talented, better schooled, harder working (and more fabulously remunerated) and more diligent in its parental duties. It is not a place where one easily gets by on birth or connections alone. At the same time it is widely seen as increasingly hard to get into.

Some self-perpetuation by elites is unavoidable; the children of America’s top dogs benefit from nepotism just as those in all other societies do. But something else is now afoot. More than ever before, America’s elite is producing children who not only get ahead, but deserve to do so: they meet the standards of meritocracy better than their peers, and are thus worthy of the status they inherit....wealthy parents pass their advantage(s) on to their children....
Colleges_&_Universities  elitism  hereditary  Matthew_effect  nepotism  education  values  parenting  public_education  legacies  admissions  alumni  endowments  SAT  social_mobility  self-perpetuation  super_ZIPs  opportunity_gaps  college-educated  upper-income  compounded  meritocratic  cultural_transmission 
january 2015 by jerryking
"The Hidden River of Knowledge"
May 21, 2007 | New York Times | Commencement address by David Brooks.

In short, things are about to change big time. And one of my messages today is that you know that uncertainty you feel today? It never goes away. The question is, do you know how to make uncertainty your friend?....here's one other thing I've noticed that separates the really great people from the merely famous ones. They talk to dead people.

Merely famous people have pictures of themselves on the wall. Really great people have pictures of dead people on the wall, and on their desks. It's one of the first things I look for when I go into somebody's office...And they talk about these dead people....
The dead were alive to them, and looking over their shoulder....The Greeks used to say we suffer our way to wisdom...Success is not something that we do or that happens to us. Success is something that happens through us....We inherit, starting even before we are born, a great river of knowledge, a great flow from many ages and many sources. The information that comes from millions of years ago, we call brain chemistry. The information that comes from hundreds of thousands of years ago from our hunter and gatherer ancestors we call genes. The information that was handed down thousands of years ago we call religion. The information passed along hundreds of years ago we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago we call family. The information you absorbed over the past few years at Wake Forest we call education....We exist as creatures within this hidden river of knowledge the way a trout exists in a stream or a river. We are formed by the river. It is the medium in which we live and the guide about how to live.

The great people I've seen talking to the dead do so because they want to connect with the highest and most inspiring parts of the river. When people make mistakes, often it is not because they are evil. It's because they don't have an ideal to live up to.

These great people also talk to the dead because they want a voice from outside their selves....the best people I've met don't feel that smart or that special. They have powerful jobs, but they don't feel powerful. They don't feel like architects building these great projects from scratch. They feel instead like river boat captains negotiating the currents around them.

They want to step outside their egotism and understand the river of events. They want to feel how people in the past have negotiated its channels. They want other voices in their heads so they can possess the ultimate power, which is the power of facing unpleasant truths.

Finally, I think they talk to the dead because they want to widen their time horizons....Think hard about who you marry. It's the most important decision you will ever make. Devote yourself to your kids. Nothing else is guaranteed to make you happy. The only thing I'd add is, create a posse of dead people. Create an entourage of heroes. Put their pictures on your wall, and keep them in your mind.

They will remind you of your place in the hidden river of wisdom. They'll serve as models. They'll give you an honest perspective on how you're doing. They'll remind you that your blessings don't come from you but from those who came before you.
advice  affirmations  ancestry  blog  brain_chemistry  career  cognitive_skills  commencement  culture  cultural_transmission  David_Brooks  education  family  genes  Greek  hidden  happiness  heroes  humility  hunter-gatherers  ideas  inspiration  Managing_Your_Career  marriage  perspectives  role_models  sense_of_proportion  speeches  success  suffering  the_counsel_of_the_dead  transcendental  uncertainty  Wake_Forest  wide-framing  wisdom 
november 2009 by jerryking

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