Music industry

What Most Music Fans Don’t Realize About Record Store Day

Rule #1 among the indie record-label folks I know: don’t talk about Record Store Day at social gatherings. The annual event — this Saturday marks its eighth year — has been known to inspire bouts of industry anxiety starting in January and lasting ‘til nearly May. And the fact that factions of the music industry are questioning a holiday meant to bolster the primary brick-and-mortar institution of music culture is proof that it is damn near impossible for an industry in upheaval to execute solutions that will satisfy everyone. What is in theory a straightforward, hugely positive event to sell records has become, well… it’s complicated and depends on who you ask. So we asked a few people on both sides of the debate. As it turns out, some of the downfalls of Record Store Day are less apparent to music fans than others, which may help to illuminate the recent… Read More

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Does Tidal’s Exclusive Content Actually Matter In The YouTube Age?

When Tidal relaunched last week, the celebrity-owned streaming service’s promise of all-star exclusives was a little underwhelming: Daft Punk’s nine-year-old Electroma film (streaming on YouTube), Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” (for sale on iTunes), a few curated playlists from Tidal’s co-owners (including Beyoncé and Jason Aldean), and exclusive footage from an Alicia Keys concert. This weekend, however, the service delivered those big exclusives referenced in last week’s press conference. … Read More

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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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