jerryking + music   389

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy has been harnessed for good and ill
october 14, 2019 | FT.com | by Helen Brown.
Ode to Joy is the EU's anthem, music that was written by Beethoven. But “Ode to Joy” was composed with the dream of European peace and unity very much at its heart.

“Ode to Joy” appears like a burst of sunlight in the fourth and final movement of Beethoven’s stormy Ninth (and final) Symphony. The composer’s decision to bring a choir into the piece was revolutionary, giving soaring voice to a poem that had thrilled Beethoven as a young man: Freidrich Schiller’s “An die Freude”. Written in 1785 — on the brink of the French Revolution — the popular poem expressed a yearning for peace and egalitarianism: “All men will become brothers … Be embraced, you millions!”

As soon as he heard Schiller’s words, the young Beethoven imagined setting them to music. Like many liberal, cosmopolitan youths of the time, the German composer was excited by the ideals of the French Revolution and dedicated his Third Symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte before scratching out the name.
Beethoven  choirs  composers  EU  music  Napoleon_Bonaparte  poems  songs  symphonies 
6 hours ago by jerryking
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay — why Otis Redding’s biggest hit wasn’t actually a soul song
October 6, 2019 | FT.com | by Dan Einav.

“This is my first million seller,” announced Otis Redding to nervous-looking studio bosses in early December 1967. He was referring to his upcoming record, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, which would indeed prove to be his first seven-figure release, eventually selling several times that amount. It would also be the last song he ever worked on. Two days after his second recording session on this breezy new ballad, he was dead — killed in a light-aircraft crash.

Executives at Atlantic Records cynically requested that a new song be released immediately. Redding’s collaborator and studio guitarist, and the song’s co-writer, Steve Cropper, was forced to set aside his grief and transform the rough cuts of “The Dock of the Bay” into a coherent track in just 24 hours. The result was an unassuming yet near-perfect composition that would serve as a fitting legacy for one of soul’s greatest talents.

But “The Dock of the Bay” wasn’t really a soul song in the conventional sense. In the summer of 1967, Redding immersed himself in The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper and was inspired by the band’s devotion to stress-testing the limits of popular music. “It’s time for me to change my music,” said Redding, as his wife and employers voiced concerns about his “poppy” new direction which took him away from his roots in soul and R&B.

That autumn Redding was recovering after a punishing touring schedule on a houseboat in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco, owned by promoter Bill Graham. It was there, idly watching the ferries sail to-and-from the harbour, that he conceived of that scene-setting first verse and the basic chords for “The Dock of the Bay”. Back in the studio, he asked Cropper to flesh out the melody and the brilliant, bittersweet lyrics.
'60s  1967  Beatles  music  Otis_Redding  pop_music  R&B  singers  songs  soul  Stax  tributes 
8 days ago by jerryking
Smalltown Boy — Bronski Beat’s 1984 hit was a heartfelt cry for liberation
September 29, 2019 | FT.com | Paul Gould.

Rejection and heartbreak are recurring staples of pop music, but every now and then a song turns the stuff of sadness into an irresistible dancefloor filler. One such song, mining an upbeat theme of liberation from a downbeat tale of homophobia, is Bronski Beat’s 1984 hit “Smalltown Boy”.
'80s  music  songs 
14 days ago by jerryking
Overlooked No More: Robert Johnson, Bluesman Whose Life Was a Riddle - The New York Times
Sept. 25, 2019

41
Overlooked is a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

By Reggie Ugwu
African-Americans  blues  music  musicians  obituaries 
16 days ago by jerryking
Hootie & the Blowfish, Great American Rock Band (Yes, Really)
June 6, 2019 | The New York Times | By Jon Caramanica.

Even in the years before Hootie, an earnest and deceptively easygoing roots-rock band, became a global pop phenomenon, there were indignities. The South by Southwest festival turned them down, year after year. Record labels sent stiff rejection letters.....Hootie persevered, thriving in the face of indifference. .......Released with something of a whimper in July 1994, three months after Kurt Cobain’s death, “Cracked Rear View” went on to become one of the defining albums of the 1990s, spawning three indelible, sublime Top 10 hits: “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry” and “Only Wanna Be With You.” It’s the 10th most successful album of all time in this country according to Recording Industry Association of America certification.......For about 18 months, there was no more prominent artist in music: ....post-1996, Hootie became, to some, a punch line — shorthand for the kind of middlebrow rock music that arrived in the wake of grunge’s demise......In the 25 years since the release of “Cracked Rear View,” the band has been generally reviled, or shrugged off, or forgotten. At minimum, it is excluded from conversations about the great rock music of the 1990s. When Hootie was functioning at an exceptionally high level, it was not perceived as functioning at an exceptionally high level. And once the band began to recede from the center of pop, it was effectively erased......At its peak, Hootie & the Blowfish was a genuinely excellent band. Earthen, soothing, a little ragged. And also deft, flexible and unflashily skilled. It splendidly blended the Southern college rock of the late 1980s (the dBs, R.E.M.) with shades of vintage soul, bluegrass, blues and more, rendering it all with omnivorous-bar-band acuity. In the gap between late grunge and the commercial rise of hip-hop and rap-rock, Hootie was a balm.....For the three years before the release of “Cracked Rear View,” grunge had dominated the American rock music conversation, an ostensible triumph of gritty, real-emotion guitar music over the blowhard arena rock of the 1980s, and gangster rap was experiencing its first mainstream success. The country was hovering at a steady boil — the first gulf war, the Los Angeles uprisings, an economic recession. Pop music was tense and serrate.

And then came Hootie, catapulted to success not by critics, or alternative-rock radio, but by an appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”.....even though Hootie had some compatriots — Gin Blossoms, Dave Matthews Band, Toad the Wet Sprocket — in the retrospectives of the 1990s, it became a footnote, a casualty of a war it never asked to fight......During the “Letterman” performance of “Hold My Hand” that catapulted the band into the national spotlight, Rucker sang with a voice that verged on scarred; behind him, the rest of the band propped him up with hope.

That balance was the hallmark of the best Hootie songs. Rucker has — no exaggeration — one of the great voices in contemporary pop music, a dynamic and sophisticated baritone that’s full of gravity. It ensured that even the brightest Hootie songs weren’t frivolous, and has secured him a long-running second career as a country music star. .......Hootie was stupefyingly famous, until it wasn’t. The fall happened quick. After 1996, the year Hootie won two Grammys, it never again cracked the Billboard Hot 100, and after 1998, none of its albums placed in the Top 40 of the album chart.....In the last decade, Rucker has become one of country music’s biggest stars, not a complete shock, given that Hootie provided a template for the roots-rock that occupies such a prominent spot near the center of contemporary country music.....“‘Cracked Rear View’ would have to be a country record today,” Rucker said.

That might say less about country music than it says about the desiccated state of contemporary rock. The sort of centrist, agnostic, big-tent rock that Hootie specialized in, and that served as a bridge between eras of far more abrasive material, has all but vanished from the rock mainstream, inasmuch as there is even a rock mainstream anymore.
'90s  anniversaries  erasures  grunge  indignities  journeyman  music  pop_music  roots_rock  the_South  uncool  under_appreciated 
june 2019 by jerryking
Woman in Love - YouTube
Radio Demerara and GBS while growing up. Attending St. Margaret's and BHS.
'70s  nostalgia  music  songs 
june 2019 by jerryking
Everybody Wants to Rule the World — Tears for Fears’ 1985 hit was the subject of a radical re-reading — FT.com
Ravi Ghosh APRIL 8, 2019

Tears for Fears’ 1985 hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was a breakthrough for the English band, a worldwide success that topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and spent six weeks in the UK’s top five. Taken from their 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair, it epitomised the maturation of founding members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith from relative low-liers in the mod revival band Graduate, to a globe-conquering synth-pop outfit. Thanks to a bigger, reverb-heavy sound which resonated worldwide, Songs from the Big Chair sold five million copies in the US alone.

They also became part of the “second British invasion” of the US — a new wave of acts who, thanks largely to MTV coverage, found favour among American audiences with their synth-based sounds and glossy videos. The invasion was spearheaded in 1981 by The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, with bands such as Duran Duran following in their wake and Tears for Fears joining the party in the mid-1980s.

“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” emerged when singer and songwriter Roland Orzabal was in the studio sessions towards the end of recording Songs from the Big Chair and came up with a two-chord riff; the rest of the song, he later said, was “effortless”, though it did undergo some changes.
'80s  music  second_British_invasion  songs 
may 2019 by jerryking
Rihanna to lead new LVMH fashion house
May 10, 2019 | Financial Times | by Harriet Agnew in Paris.

Pop star will launch a new line of ready-to-wear luxury clothing, footwear and accessories brand named Fenty, becoming the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH. This is significant because it is one of the most high-profile creative tie-ups to date between a celebrity and a luxury group, and illustrates the lucrative potential of celebrities to draw attention — and sales — through Instagram (Rihanna has 70.5m followers). .....LVMH said Fenty would be “centered on Rihanna, developed by her, and takes shape with her vision . . . including commerciality and communication of the brand”....Rihanna joins other singers such as Beyoncé in launching her own clothing line.....
accessories  apparel  beauty  brands  celebrities  creative_class  digital_influencers  entrepreneur  entrepreneurship  Fenty  footwear  greenfields  Instagram  luxury  LVMH  music  partnerships  singers  clothing  clothing_labels 
may 2019 by jerryking
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
While My Guitar Gently Weeps — George Harrison’s song began life as a folksy ballad
April 21 2019 | FT.com | by Dan Einav.

The track became one of The Beatles’ finest moments — thanks to Eric Clapton’s uncredited guitar playing..........For most, the song is unmistakably Harrison’s personal triumph; “Only a guitar player could write that,” Mick Jagger noted. Luckily, Harrison remembered that was what he was when he wrote the song: “While My Sitar Gently Weeps” probably wouldn’t have been quite such a hit.
1968  beatles  guitarists  music  philosophy  songs  songwriters 
april 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
Daryl Dragon, of the Captain and Tennille Pop Duo, Dies at 76 - The New York Times
By Neil Genzlinger
Jan. 2, 2019

*Love Will Keep Us Together.
* You Never Done It Like That
* Do That to Me One More Time
'70s  music  nostalgia  obituaries  singers  duos  pop 
january 2019 by jerryking
Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood on the art of the set list
NOVEMBER 23, 2018 | Michael Hann | Michael Hann.

The nature of the set list — the selection of songs an artist chooses to perform in concert — is problematic. What is it for? To satisfy the performer’s artistic urges? To promote their latest release? Is it simply to provide people who might have paid a great deal of money for a ticket with the most satisfying entertainment possible?

In a new book, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood has collected the set lists he handwrites for the band’s rehearsals, and then for shows. At first it was just for fun, Wood tells me; he had always loved calligraphy. But soon his artworks began to serve a practical purpose. “The next thing I know, I come into rehearsals and they’re going round the walls,” he says, “and the rest of the boys are going, ‘Have we played “Fool to Cry?” ’ ‘Yeah, we played it on Tuesday.’ The boys are starting to use it as a reference, which is great, because when I started doing it, Mick [Jagger] used to come up to me and go, ‘Ronnie, stop writing that bloody list, and get on with the songs.’ ”

The resulting book, The Rolling Stones Set Lists, captures the huge range of songs the Stones will bring to life during one of their tours — about 80 for a show of 19 or 20 songs. It also gives the rest of us some clues as to the rules of writing the dream set list.
books  concerts  lists  live_performances  music  songs  rollingstones 
november 2018 by jerryking
Turn! Turn! Turn! — The Byrds’ 1965 hit used lyrics that dated back more than 2,000 years — FT.com
Nick Keppler OCTOBER 30, 2018

The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” has been used in films and TV shows to evoke collective memories of the 1960s — starting in 1970, when Homer, one of the first coming-of-age films about a Vietnam war soldier, featured the song on its soundtrack. Since then, the unmistakable chord progression and chorus have ceaselessly popped up in 1960s period pieces: More American Graffiti, Heart Like a Wheel, Forrest Gump, TV’s The Wonder Years (in three episodes) and Ken Burns’s documentary series The Vietnam War.

The song reached number one in the US in December 1965. That year, American ground troops arrived in Vietnam, men on campuses burned their draft cards, black civil rights activists withstood fire hoses and police dogs, and President Lyndon Johnson promoted his “great society” reforms. A chorus of shaggy-haired young men pressed the nation to “turn, turn, turn” and accept that change is inevitable, history is a cycle, strife is temporary, and to everything there is a season.

The song also carries the sonic imprints of the era: Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn once called the chord structure “Beatley” and said they borrowed the drum beat from Phil Spector. But the song itself was concocted by the leader of American folk music’s old guard using lyrics that dated back more than 2,000 years.

Pete Seeger composed “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in 1959 in response to a letter from his publisher. “Pete,” it read, “can’t you write another song like ‘Goodnight, Irene'? I can’t sell or promote these protest songs.” ("Goodnight, Irene” was actually written/adapted by Lead Belly, but Seeger had popularised it with The Weavers.) The response from the rabble-rousing troubadour was predictably defiant. “You better find another songwriter,” Seeger wrote. “This is the only kind of song I know how to write.”

He turned to his pocket notebook, where he jotted down pieces of text for recycling. He found parts of the Bible he had copied, “verses by a bearded fellow with sandals, a tough-minded fellow called Ecclesiastes”, Seeger recalled.

Specifically, it was Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, from one of the “wisdom books” of the Old Testament, collections of truths and sayings. The words attributed “a season” to a series of opposing actions: “A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap; a time to kill, a time to heal,” etc. Seeger took the text almost verbatim. He added the “turn, turn, turn” to build a chorus and tacked on his own hopeful concluding line for cold war audiences: “A time of peace; I swear it’s not too late.”
'60s  Beatles  biblical  folk  hits  music  opposing_actions  pairs  protest_movements  scriptures  songs  songwriters  sonic  soundtracks 
november 2018 by jerryking
50 Years Later, a New Spin on the Beatles’ ‘White Album’ - WSJ
By Darryn King
Oct. 30, 2018

The new album was chaotic where “Sgt. Pepper” was kaleidoscopic. Acoustic ballads (“Blackbird,” “Julia”) alternated with scorching rock (“Helter Skelter,” “Yer Blues”). The playfulness of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Honey Pie” and “Piggies” contrasted with the extended, serious-minded sound experiment “Revolution 9.”

Over the years, the patchwork nature of the album has led to speculation that it chronicled the discord among the band members. But new special-anniversary editions, to be released on Nov. 9, may dispel that idea.
anniversaries  Beatles  music  George_Martin  1968  '60s 
october 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | How James Brown Made Black Pride a Hit
July 20, 2018 | The New York Times | By Randall Kennedy, law professor at Harvard.

African-Americans have internalized society’s derogation/denigration of blackness....It was precisely because of widespread colorism that James Brown’s anthem “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” posed a challenge, felt so exhilarating, and resonated so powerfully....the song was written a half century go.....but, alas, the need to defend blackness against derision continues......Various musicians in the 1960s tapped into yearnings for black assertiveness, autonomy and solidarity. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions sang “We’re a Winner.” Sly and the Family Stone offered “Stand.” Sam Cooke (and Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding) performed “A Change is Gonna Come.” But no entertainer equaled Brown’s vocalization of African-Americans’ newly triumphal sense of self-acceptance.

That Brown created the song most popularly associated with the Black is Beautiful movement is ironic.....At the very time that in “Say It Loud,” Brown seemed to be affirming Negritude, he also sported a “conk” — a distinctive hairdo that involved chemically removing kinkiness on the way to creating a bouffant of straightened hair. Many African-American political activists, especially those with a black nationalist orientation, decried the conk as an illustration of racial self-hatred....by 1968... prejudice against blackness remained prevalent, including among African-Americans.....Champions of African-American uplift in the 1960s sought to liberate blackness from the layers of contempt, fear, and hatred with which it had been smeared for centuries. Brown’s anthem poignantly reflected the psychic problem it sought to address: People secure in their status don’t feel compelled to trumpet their pride.....Colorism was part of the drama that starred Barack and Michelle Obama....Intra-racial colorism in Black America is often seen as a topic that should, if possible, be avoided, especially in “mixed company.” .....Colorism, however, remains a baleful reality.....
'60s  African-Americans  blackness  black_liberation_movement  black_nationalism  black_pride  Black_Is_Beautiful  colorism  James_Brown  music  Negritude  self-identification  songs  Spike_Lee  soul  white_supremacy  biases  self-acceptance  self-hatred  shadism  hits  1968 
july 2018 by jerryking
Music’s ‘Moneyball’ moment: why data is the new talent scout | Financial Times
JULY 5, 2018 | FT | Michael Hann.

The music industry loves to self-mythologise. It especially loves to mythologise about taking young scrappers from the streets and turning them into stars. It celebrates the men and women — but usually the men — with “golden ears” almost as much as the people making the music....A&R, or “artists and repertoire”, are the people who look for new talent, convince that talent to sign to the record label and then nurture it: advising on songs, on producers, on how to go about the job of being a pop star. It’s the R&D arm of the music industry......What the music business doesn’t like to shout about is how inefficient its R&D process is. The annual global spend on A&R is $2.8bn....and all that buys is the probability of failure: “Some labels estimate the ratio of commercial success to failure as 1 in 4; others consider the chances to be much lower — less than 1 in 10,” observes its 2017 report. Or as Mixmag magazine’s columnist The Secret DJ put it: “Major labels call themselves a business but are insanely unprofitable, utterly uncertain, totally rudderless and completely ignorant.”......The rise of digital music brought with it a huge amount of data which, industry executives realized, could be turned to their advantage. ....“All our business units must now leverage data and analytics in innovative ways to dig deeper than ever for new talent. The modern day talent-spotter must have both an artistic ear and analytical eyes.”

Earlier this year, in the same week as Warner announced its acquisition of Sodatone, a company that has developed a tool for talent-spotting via data, another data company, Instrumental, secured $4.2m of funding. The industry appeared to have reached a tipping point — what the website Music Ally called “A&R’s data moment”. Which is why, wherever the music industry’s great and good gather, the word “moneyball” has become increasingly prevalent.
........YouTube, Spotify, Instagram were born and changed the way talent begins its journey. All the barriers came down. Suddenly you’ve got tens of thousands of pieces of music content being uploaded.......Home computing’s democratization of recording removed the barriers to making high-quality music. No longer did you need access to a studio and an experienced producer, plus the money to pay for them. But the music industry had no way to keep abreast of these new creators. “....The way A&R people have discovered talent has barely changed since the music industry began, and it’s fundamentally the same for indie labels, who put artistry above sales, as it is for major labels who have to answer to shareholders. It’s always been about information.....“We find them by listening to new music constantly, by people giving us tips, by going out and seeing things that sound interesting,”.....“The most useful people to talk to are concert promoters and booking agents. They are least inclined to bullshit; they’ll tell you how many people an act is drawing,”...like labels, publishers also have an A&R function, signing up songwriters, many of whom will also be in bands)....“Journalists and radio producers are [also] very useful people to give you information. If you know you’ve got particular DJs or particular writers who are going to pick up something, that’s really good.”
.......Instrumental’s selling point is a dashboard called Talent AI, which scrapes data from Spotify playlists with more than 10,000 followers.....“We took a view that to build momentum on Spotify, you need to be on playlists,”....“If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to suddenly start streaming a track you’ve just put up. It happens when you start getting included on playlists.”......To make it workable, the Talent AI dashboard enables users to apply a series of filters to either tracks or artists: to sort by nationality, by genre, by number of playlists they appear on, by the number of playlist subscribers, by their industry standing — are they signed to a major? To an independent label? Are they unsigned?
.......What A&R people are looking for, though, is not totals, it’s evidence of momentum. No one wants to sign the artist who has reached maximum popularity. They want the artist on the way up....“It’s the direction. Is it going in the right direction?”....when it comes to assessing what an artist can offer, the data isn’t even always about the numbers. “The one I look at the most is Instagram, because that’s the easiest way for an artist to express themselves in a way other than the music — how they look, what they’re into,” she says. “That gives a real snapshot into [them] and whether they really have formulated a world for themselves or not.”......not everyone is delighted with the drive to data. “[the advent of] Spotify...became the driving force for signings...“A&Rs were using their eyes rather than their ears — watching numbers change rather than listening to music, and then jumping on acts....they saw something happening and got it out quickly without having to invest in the traditional A&R process.”... online heat tends to be generated by transient teenage audiences who are likely to move on rather than stick around for a decade: online presence is a big thing in electronic dance music, or some branches of urban music, in which an artist might only be good for a single song. In short, data does not measure quality; it does not tell you whether an artist has 20 good songs that can be turned into their first two albums; it does not tell you whether they can command a crowd in live performance..........The music industry, of course, has always had an issue with short-termism/short-sightedness: [tension] between the people who sign the cheques and those who go to bat for the artists is built into the way it works..........The problem is that without career artists, the music industry just becomes even more of a lottery. It is being made harder, not just by short-termism, but by the fact that music has become less culturally central. “It’s so much harder to connect with an audience or grow an audience, because there’s so much noise,”
.......Today the A&R...agree that the new data has its uses, but insist it still takes second place to the evidence of their own eyes and ears.......As for Withey, he is not about to tell the old-school scouts their days are done....Instrumental can tell A&R people which artists are hot, but not which are good. Also, there will be amazing acts who simply don’t get the traction on the internet to register on the Talent AI dashboard.....All of which will come as a relief to the people running those A&R departments. .....when asked if data will become the single most important factor in scouting talent: “I hope not. Otherwise we may as well have robots.” For now, at least, the golden ears are safe.
A&R  algorithms  analytics  data  dashboards  tips  discoveries  filters  hits  Instagram  inefficiencies  momentum  music  music_industry  music_labels  music_publishing  Moneyball  myths  playlists  self-mythologize  songwriters  Spotify  SXSW  success_rates  talent  talent_spotting  tipping_points  tracking  YouTube  talent_scouting  high-quality  the_single_most_important 
july 2018 by jerryking
Review: Beyoncé Is Bigger Than Coachella
APRIL 15, 2018 | The New York Times | By JON CARAMANICA.

Beyoncé's Coachella performances this weekend and next are her only solo U.S. dates this year. “Thank you for allowing me to be the first black woman to headline Coachella,” she said midset, then added an aside that was, in fact, the main point: “Ain’t that ’bout a bitch.”

Big-tent festivals, generally speaking, are blithe spaces — they don’t invite much scrutiny, because they can’t stand up to it. But Beyoncé’s simple recitation of fact was searing, especially on the same night that, in Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame finally inducted Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 15 and 45 years after their deaths, and also Bon Jovi, a band in which everyone is very much alive.
live_performances  music  Beyoncé  Coachella  superstars  celebrities  concerts  artists  music_festivals  women 
april 2018 by jerryking
Why Hotel California marked a watershed for rock
Peter Aspden

APRIL 3, 2017

It started, as things did in the heyday of rock music’s golden era, with a few strums of a guitar on a beach sofa in Malibu. Don Felder, guitarist of The Eagles, improvised a chord progression that he recorded on to a cassette, and handed to the rest of the band.
Don Henley started to write a lyric, set in a West Coast hostelry, and addressing the issue of America’s slow implosion into decadence. “Hotel California” was born.

The song was the title track of an album of the same name, released in December 1976, which represented The Eagles’ finest hour. They started as a wannabe country rock band with great hair and sumptuous harmonies. After Hotel California, they lost their touch. The release of “Hotel California” as a single marked a watershed for the band, but also for the course of popular music.
music  California  '70s  songwriters  country_rock  the_Eagles  rock-'n'-roll  songs  golden_age  turning_points 
january 2018 by jerryking
Gord Downie, a Canadian Rock Legend, Sings Goodbye -
OCT. 18, 2017 | NYT | The New York Times. | By SIMON VOZICK-LEVINSON.
Gord_Downie  tributes  music  singers  obituaries 
october 2017 by jerryking
Tom Petty, an Unfussy Rock Star Who Kept His Tenacity Under Cover - The New York Times
By JON CARAMANICAOCT. 3, 2017
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tributes  music  obituaries  songwriters 
october 2017 by jerryking
Legendary rocker Tom Petty dies at 66
October 3, 2107 | The Globe and Mail | BRAD WHEELER.

Mr. Petty and the Heartbreakers – as capable a backing band as ever assembled – made music destined for open-road listening. As with fellow classic-rock troubadours Mr. Springsteen and John Mellencamp, he wrote about outcasts and broken dreams, albeit with a mellower, stoned aesthetic.

American Girl, the Heartbreakers' dark second single, led like a novel: "Well, she was an American girl, raised on promises."

In the prosperous Fifties and the summers-of-love Sixties, the promises of America were bankable and often fulfilled. The 1970s, on the other hand, was a time of gas shortages, Watergate and rude awakenings. Mr. Petty's early material (sometimes co-written with band members) reflected the dim, grim era, yet offered glimmers and prospects.......Beyond 13 studio albums with the Heartbreakers and three solo albums, Mr. Petty released a pair of albums with the good-natured supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. Along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison and the Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne, the Wilburys perhaps introduced younger listeners to the group's fifth member, Roy Orbison (who only lived long enough to appear on Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1).

Mr. Petty's best solo work is likely found on 1989's Full Moon Fever, a record that found the songwriter working with well-acquainted collaborators from the Heartbreakers and the Wilburys, while lyrically touching upon familiar themes of regret (Free Fallin' ), defiance (I Won't Back Down) and open-road existentialism.
obituaries  music  musicians  guitarists  Brad_Wheeler  rock-'n'-roll  classic-rock  singers  songwriters 
october 2017 by jerryking
Foo Fighters Stand Up for the Power of Rock (Again) on ‘Concrete and Gold’
SEPT. 13, 2017 | The New York Times| By JON PARELES.

A turbocharged Foo Fighters blast through “Concrete and Gold,” the ninth studio album by a rock band that has been working since 1994 and can still headline arenas. The album is a tenacious attempt to retain the classic-rock virtues that Foo Fighters cherish while using all the flexibility of a digital era.....In the 1990s, grunge and its radio-friendly “alternative rock” descendants were at the center of both rock and pop. But more recently, the old rock paradigm — a fixed band making albums together, year after year — has been destabilized and pushed aside by the free-floating collaborations of dance music, hip-hop and pop, while the electric guitar was dethroned, to be treated more like an accessory than a cornerstone. What once was a vanguard, and then a mainstream, is now a subset of classic rock. Yet Foo Fighters have been proud to be classicists, keepers of the flame.......On “Concrete and Gold” Foo Fighters reflect the entire timeline of the classic-rock format; there are clear homages to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, glam, thrash and grunge. But the band has a new producer, Greg Kurstin, who has collaborated with Adele, Pink and Beck. And with him, Foo Fighters now shuffle genres, even within songs, more suddenly and whimsically — more digitally — than ever. Previous albums have presented studio-enhanced versions of the band onstage, while on “Concrete and Gold,” Foo Fighters can switch configurations in an instant, from brute-force riffing to platoons of multitracked vocals.
Foo_Fighters  music_reviews  music  Pink_Floyd  rock-'n'-roll  songwriters  singers  classic-rock 
september 2017 by jerryking
The music industry dances to the beat of TV revenue - The Globe and Mail
September 4, 2017 | Globe and Mail | by JOSH O’KANE.

Toronto's Barenaked Ladies first blew up in the 1990s, when CDs were king. But music sales have since collapsed and streaming services such as Spotify have replaced some, but not nearly all, of that revenue. Bands such as Mr. Robertson's have made up for lost sales in large part by touring. As the fall TV season begins – including The Big Bang Theory's season premiere later this month – getting music on a TV show, film or commercial is becoming an increasingly enticing revenue stream for musicians and the businesses that back them.

As streaming-video platforms keep adding new, original shows and films on top of traditional broadcast channels, the opportunities to license music increase as well. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the recorded music industry's global lobby group, reports that in 2016 Canada brought in $7.8-million (U.S.) in "synchronization" revenue for artists and labels from using music in TV, film, ads and video games.

While that represents less than 1 per cent of total revenue, it's a 32-per-cent increase over the previous year, signalling growing attention for recordings' revenue stream. Meanwhile, SOCAN – which collects royalties for songwriters and music publishers in Canada – says more than a third of all of its royalty revenue comes from TV sources.
films  licensing  music  musicians  music_industry  music_publishing  royalties  streaming  songwriters  television 
september 2017 by jerryking
How A.I. Is Creating Building Blocks to Reshape Music and Art - The New York Times
By CADE METZAUG. 14, 2017
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artificial_intelligence  music  Google 
august 2017 by jerryking
Subscription Music Service Sounds a New Note: Profit - WSJ
By Ethan Smith
Updated June 30, 2017

NYC-based Saavn is a relative minnow among them, with 22 million monthly active users who are predominantly in India and seven nearby nations. To them it offers a free service with unlimited access to 30 million songs—both Indian and Western—in exchange for sitting through ads. Charts and playlists spotlight music from various regions, eras and artists, such as Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.

Outside South Asia, Saavn is subscription-only. For around $5 a month, users in the U.S., U.K. and about 200 countries gain access to 11 million songs, most of them Bollywood tunes and other Indian music. Users in India can pay 99 rupees (about $1.54) a month for an ad-free “pro” option.

The service also offers music from 10 artists it has signed directly to record label-style deals, along with 30 talk shows.
ad_supported  free  Bollywood  Spotify  Apple_Music  streaming  ethnic_communities  music  India  subscriptions  Indian-Americans 
june 2017 by jerryking
“Sgt. Pepper” at 50: Why doesn’t the greatest album ever have more hits? | The Economist
Jun 1st 2017by J.T

“Sgt. Pepper” is one of a select group of albums to have sold more than 10m units in the United States, with 5m in Britain (the third-highest in the country’s history). Its cover, with the Fab Four sporting garish military dress in front of a wall of famous figures, is rivalled only by the zebra crossing on Abbey Road in the iconography of the world’s most famous band. Rolling Stone magazine has voted it the greatest album of all time.....
Beatles  hits  anniversaries  1967  '60s  music  iconic  cultural_touchpoints  psychedelic  kaleidoscopic 
june 2017 by jerryking
The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ at 50: Still Full of Joy and Whimsy
MAY 30, 2017 | The New York Times| By JON PARELES.

A half-century after its release, the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a relic of a vanished era. Like a Fabergé egg or a Persian miniature, it speaks of an irretrievable past, when time moved differently, craftsmanship involved bygone tools and art was experienced more rarely and with fewer distractions.

It’s an analog heirloom that’s still resisting oblivion — perhaps because, even in its moment, it was already contemplating a broader sweep of time. ..........We simply can’t hear “Sgt. Pepper” now the way it affected listeners on arrival in 1967. Its innovations and quirks have been too widely emulated, its oddities long since absorbed. .......... “Sgt. Pepper” and its many musical progeny have blurred into a broader memory of “psychedelia,” a sonic vocabulary (available to current music-makers via sampling) that provides instant, predigested allusions to the 1960s. Meanwhile, the grand lesson of “Sgt. Pepper” — that anything goes in the studio — has long since been taken for granted.......“Sgt. Pepper” has been analyzed, researched, oral-historied and dissected down to the minute differences between pressings,......The new box rightfully incorporates “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” the masterpieces recorded alongside “Sgt. Pepper” but released before the album. ...For people who, like me, heard the album brand-new in 1967, “Sgt. Pepper” remains inseparable from its era. It was released on June 1, the beginning of the Summer of Love. It was a time of prosperity, naïve optimism and giddy discovery, when the first baby boomers were just reaching their 20s and mind-expanding drugs had their most benign reputation.

In 1967, candy-colored psychedelic pop and rock provided a short-lived but euphoric diversion from conflicts that would almost immediately resurface: the Vietnam War and America’s racial tension. “Sgt. Pepper” remains tied to that brief moment of what many boomers remember as innocence and possibility — the feeling captured perfectly in “Getting Better,” even as Lennon taunts, “It can’t get no worse.”......

“Sgt. Pepper” had an immediate, short-lived bandwagon effect, as some late-1960s bands sought to figure out how to make those strange Beatles sounds, and others got more studio time and backup musicians than they needed. Artistic pretensions also notched up.......Yet while “Sgt. Pepper” has been both praised and blamed for raising the technical and conceptual ante on rock, its best aspect was much harder to propagate. That was its impulsiveness, its lighthearted daring, its willingness to try the odd sound and the unexpected idea. ......It’s the sheer improbability of the whole enterprise, still guaranteed to raise a smile 50 years on.
1967  anniversaries  music  George_Martin  Beatles  '60s  psychedelic  kaleidoscopic  cultural_touchpoints  ingenuity  daring 
may 2017 by jerryking
Gregg Allman, Influential Force Behind the Allman Brothers Band, Dies at 69
MAY 27, 2017 | The New York Times | By BILL FRISKICS-WARREN.

The band’s lead singer and keyboardist, Mr. Allman was one of the principal architects of a taut, improvisatory fusion of blues, jazz, country and rock that — streamlined by inheritors like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band — became the Southern rock of the 1970s.

The group, which originally featured Mr. Allman’s older brother, Duane, on lead and slide guitar, was also a precursor to a generation of popular jam bands, like Widespread Panic and Phish, whose music features labyrinthine instrumental exchanges.

......Gregg Allman’s vocals, by turns squalling and brooding, took their cue from the anguished emoting of down-home blues singers like Elmore James, as well as from more sophisticated ones like Bobby Bland. Foremost among Mr. Allman’s influences as a vocalist, though, was the Mississippi-born blues and soul singer and guitarist known as Little Milton.

“‘Little Milton’ Campbell had the strongest set of pipes I ever heard on a human being,” Mr. Allman wrote in his autobiography, “My Cross to Bear,” written with Alan Light (2012). “That man inspired me all my life to get my voice crisper, get my diaphragm harder, use less air and just spit it out. He taught me to be absolutely sure of every note you hit, and to hit it solid.”

The band’s main songwriter early on, Mr. Allman contributed expansive, emotionally fraught compositions like “Dreams” and “Whipping Post” to the Allman Brothers repertoire. Both songs became staples of their epic live shows; a cathartic 22-minute version of “Whipping Post” was a highlight of their acclaimed 1971 live album, “At Fillmore East.”

More concise originals like “Midnight Rider” and “Melissa,” as well as Mr. Allman’s renditions of blues classics like “Statesboro Blues” and “Done Somebody Wrong,” revealed his singular affinity with the black Southern musical vernacular.
music  singers  Southern_rock  obituaries  country_rock  songwriters 
may 2017 by jerryking
Guaranteed to Raise a Smile
May 19, 2017 | WSJ | By Dominic Green

Pop music, psychedelia and nostalgia fused together in the album that defined the 1960s.

Universal Music Group, which owns Capitol Records, is marking the anniversary by issuing a multi-disc box set. There is also a box-full of books intended to reintroduce to us the act we’ve known for all these years. Brian Southall, a pop journalist when the band was together, handled publicity for EMI in the 1970s. Mike McInnerney designed the sleeve of the Who’s “Tommy.” Lavishly illustrated, their books reflect the synthesis between pop entertainment and thoughtful art that the Beatles were after......The 1960s formed the Beatles. The Beatles, with a little help from their friend, producer George Martin, made “Sgt. Pepper.” Now “Sgt. Pepper” defines the ’60s............“Pepper” endures not just because it caught the mood of the Summer of Love, or because it married pop music to the modernist techniques of the collage and the tape loop, or because it sounds quaintly futuristic. “Pepper” endures because it entered the past so quickly. On June 25, 1967, little more than three weeks after the album’s release, the Beatles joined Maria Callas and Picasso in the first live international satellite broadcast, for which they performed a new song, “All You Need Is Love.” The event initiated our age of simultaneous global media and announced the triumph of television. Like its Edwardian costumes and parping brass, “Pepper” was a colorized document from history—from a past in which music, not the visual image, could still change the world.
Beatles  '60s  anniversaries  music  iconic  cultural_touchpoints  pop_music  psychedelic  nostalgia  art  1967  kaleidoscopic 
may 2017 by jerryking
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