Taylor Swift Pulling Her Music from Spotify Isn’t About Unfair Terms — It’s Because She Can

Three years ago, just as The Black Keys were in the midst of ascending to their current arena-rock status, the duo did something kind of groundbreaking for a mid-level major label band: they said “thanks but no thanks” to Spotify. It was a strategy their manager, Q Prime’s John Peets, told me they’d be monitoring through the record cycle for 2011’s El Camino. Based on the fact that the band’s No. 1 album Turn Blue, released this past May, does not appear on the streaming behemoth, I’m left to believe the strategy worked for them. Financial outcome aside, the Black Keys bellyached all over the place about Spotify’s unjustly low royalty rates, to the extent that I chuckle when I see what it says on their Spotify page: “The artist or their representatives have decided not to release this album on Spotify. We are working on it and hope they will change their mind soon.” … Read More

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Catfishing in the Content Farm: Angela Cheng’s War on Lady Gaga Drags Stan Culture Into the Spotlight

Late last year, as Lady Gaga was seemingly everywhere except at the top of the Hot 100 chart, a claim surfaced that she had lost her label, Interscope Records, $25 million on ARTPOP and that they would be forced to make layoffs. Sure, the album underperformed in comparison to Gaga’s previous work, but it still enjoyed sales figures that most artists would be delighted with — it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and has to date sold some 679,000 copies stateside, on top of millions more around the world. So how could it have lost so much money? The unsubstantiated report came from music industry “insider” Angela Cheng, and appeared on, a content farm that has done what all content farms hope to do: trick corners of the Internet into believing it’s a credible website. … Read More

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10 Billboard Campaigns That Aren't Trying To Sell You Anything

In a twist on the well-known Joyce Kilmer verse, Ogden Nash satirized, “I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.”
Billboards: ever-present in-your-face advertising that we mostly wish would just go away. Except for when they’re awesome! From political statements to subliminal poetry, read on for ten billboards we wish we’d see instead of ads for the newest McDonald’s snack wrap. … Read More

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A Guide to Musical Pioneers You’ve Never Heard Of

Last week, we were saddened to read that Brian Rust, the father of the modern discography, had died. Well, not initially — first, we had to find out who Brian Rust was. It’s typical: the stars get the headlines, but the technical pioneers that change things for real tend to stay in the back room. Here are ten such folks — some living, some not — who’ve helped make the world a more musical, and better, place. … Read More

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What's on at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds in Our Office

Today at Flavorpill, we looked at buildings that would be right at home in Bedrock. We watched Hoda lose her cool during a Today Show visit by Beyonce. We were kind of sad to see the cast of Glee top the Beatles’ record for the most appearances on the… Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. Is Jerry Seinfeld‘s new reality game show The Marriage Ref so bad that it cancels out the good of Seinfeld? [via


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The United State of Pop

Our roundup called the Grammys “the nerdy older sister of awards shows,” and this year impressed yet again with a strong showing of irrelevance and poorly performed, manic mashup choices. We were given “Speechless” with “Your Song,” Beyonce honoring Alanis Morrissette, Jamie Foxx and opera, and other baffling choices that make you feel like the Grammy organizers have been listening to a little too much Girl Talk. Unfortunately, not every hit song from 2009 earned airtime (can you imagine the hammered brothers in Kings of Leon motoring through “Use Somebody” with AC/DC?). Instead, we go to mashup artist DJ Earworm, who has created the United State of Pop 2009 by combining the top 25 songs on the Billboard chart from last… Read More

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