Music industry

Jay Z’s Tidal: Can Music’s Celebrity 1% Save Its Other 99%?

Yesterday, during the star-studded press conference announcing the relaunch of music streaming service Tidal, I was reminded of a figure cited by world-renowned economist Paul Krugman less than two weeks ago. On a panel about the future of music’s celebrity economy, alongside Win and Will Butler of Arcade Fire, Krugman noted that the bulk of music industry revenue is increasingly going to the kinds of artists who can fill arenas. And as of yesterday, it’s the superstars at the highest echelons of that list — your Beyoncés, your Coldplays, your Kanyes — who want to save the music industry for everyone. … Read More

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Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” Rollout Is Even More Badass Than You Think

There’s a moment towards the end of Rihanna’s game-changing performance of “Bitch Better Have My Money” at last night’s iHeartRadio Music Awards where Bad Girl Ri Ri struts towards the end of the stage, past the shrieking fans set in place for the show’s broadcast. Exuding wealth in a campy yet powerful way via kelly green fur and pleather, Rihanna reaches the end of the platform, where the stage meets banquet tables. She grins. The camera pans out. Nick Jonas applauds. … Read More

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Why Music Fans Need to See Colin Hanks’ Tower Records Doc ‘All Things Must Pass’

AUSTIN, TX: “Everybody in a record store is your friend for 20 minutes or so,” Bruce Springsteen announces in All Things Must Pass, Colin Hanks’ nerdy, nostalgic documentary about Tower Records, which premiered last week at SXSW after seven years in the making. As ex-Tower clerk Dave Grohl points out later, this is not necessarily true of most record store employees, who have a snobbish reputation. But Tower was different. … Read More

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The Beautiful Story of Snoop Dogg and Willie Nelson’s 4/20 Trip to Amsterdam

AUSTIN, TX: As Snoop Dogg himself admitted this morning, the first thing he thinks about after waking up is smoking weed. So when I heard that he’d be giving the music keynote at SXSW — held at 11 AM in recent years — I wondered what kind of state he’d be in, as he discussed his career and the music industry for an hour. In this regard, the highlight of the conversation was incredibly on-brand: tales of a trip to Amsterdam. With Willie Nelson. On 4/20. To shoot a video for a song called “My Medicine.” … Read More

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Arcade Fire’s Win Butler: Even a Free Burrito Is “Selling Out”

AUSTIN, TX: To quote the leader of one of the biggest rock bands in the world, “It’s a waste of mental energy to think about this cesspool. You should just be in your cheap bedroom making something good.”

This cesspool, of course, is the music industry — specifically its current obsession with social media and digital data. Our… Read More

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Your Favorite Indie Record Stores Explain Why a Global Album Release Day Is a Bad Idea

A few weeks back, it was announced that the record industry had decided that from August, all albums around the globe will be released on Fridays. Well, some of the record industry had decided. For independent record stores in North America and the UK, though, the shift from Mondays and Tuesdays, respectively, doesn’t make much sense. “Friday and Saturday are your busy days anyway,” says Josh Madell, cofounder of Other Music, one of lower Manhattan’s last great indie record stores. “Why concentrate everything at the end of the week?” … Read More

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Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late': When Contractual Obligation Albums Go Right

Drake releases have long been treated as events, but since the December 2013 SoundCloud premiere of “Trophies,” we’ve experienced escalation. Further drops followed with little to no warning and impressive frequency, often showcasing a sound and flow noticeably tougher and less overtly commercial than 2013’s Nothing Was the Same or 2011’s Take Care. “Draft Day” had Drake on a boom-bap tip, while ballads like “Days in the East” and “Heat of the Moment” explored space in ways radio songs simply aren’t permitted to. “0 To 100” and the aforementioned “Trophies” packed in so much cocksureness and braggadocio that the beats barely had room to breathe. And while his civic pride for Toronto on these tracks felt a touch excessive, it became increasingly more difficult to judge Drake solely by the sensitive sad-boy standards and tropes his critics — professional and otherwise — had come to rely on. Released suddenly Thursday night, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late capitalizes on all of these… Read More

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It’s Not Just About Beck and Beyoncé: Grammy Album of the Year Is a Flawed Award

By now you may have heard Kanye West’s thoughts regarding last night’s Album of the Year Grammy win for Beck, that Beyoncé was robbed again at the hands of a white music industry that’s “disrespectful to inspiration,” that “smack[s] people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music.” These are salacious sound bites indeed, and they’re only enhanced by Kim Kardashian’s, “Uh oh, don’t let this be another ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people’ moment” face. And really, Kanye isn’t wrongnot even Beck thinks so. … Read More

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How to Get Away With Pop Music Plagiarism

This week, the big topic of conversation among music fans is whether the chorus of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” sounds enough like Tom Petty’s 1989 hit “Won’t Back Down” to warrant the 12.5 percent songwriting credit recently awarded to Petty and his co-writer, Jeff Lynne. Copyright infringement as it applies to songwriting plagiarism goes beyond merely how a song sounds, and if a songwriter even intended to copy the work of another. The field has become more and more litigious in recent decades, and to an outsider, the situation can look a bit creatively limiting. Sometimes people do go to court and win, but many big cases settle out of court on the basis of subconscious plagiarism. What a scary landscape to live in as a musician — being responsible for inadvertently copying someone else’s work you’ve never even heard. … Read More

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