Music industry

Childish Gambino’s NPR Rap Growing Pains

“Buy me out of my contract” is a record industry gripe most often reserved for major label artists who’ve been placed in limbo. Signed but not totally developed, unable to release music despite being paid (often large quantities of money) to do just that. Artists like Azealia Banks, JoJo, and Angel Haze are recent poster children, and acts like The Stone Roses and Prince have suffered through similar ordeals. By contrast, Childish Gambino — otherwise known as comedy actor/writer Donald Glover — is neither signed to a major label nor being barred from releasing music. This did not stop him from going off on a brief Twitter tirade Monday. … Read More

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Don’t Stop ‘Til You Earn Enough: The Bullshit of the Posthumous Michael Jackson Album

A few days after Michael Jackson died in June 2009, I found myself up in Harlem at the Apollo Theater covering a wake of sorts, led by Reverend Al Sharpton and Spike Lee. I had never seen an entire neighborhood out in the streets, mourning their icon no less. By the time the memorial let out, it was raining. The crowd’s homemade posters were slowly deteriorating, sort of like Jackson himself as time ticked away, but there is one I will never forget: “MJ, you will live on forever” in red glitter paint. At the time I didn’t anticipate the lengths to which the music industry would go to make these words true. … Read More

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Lady Gaga to Critics at SXSW Keynote: “You Don’t Know Fuck About the Music Industry”

AUSTIN, TX: Twelve hours after headlining a show for Doritos, Lady Gaga took an anti-consumerist stance at her SXSW keynote interview. Fuse’s John Norris led a softball interview that allowed Gaga to wax poetic about her art vs. commerce philosophies. Much of her speech was critical of the music industry, including the Billboard charts and her record label, Interscope, as well as technology as a whole: “As you get more successful, they push the rule book at you more.” … Read More

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Is Taylor Swift the Biggest Pop Star in the World? Not Yet

For all that New York magazine’s Jody Rosen has written, count ‘em, 6000 words about Taylor Swift for the cover story of this week’s issue, the article’s most interesting and contentious claim comes in the headline: “Why Taylor Swift Is the Biggest Pop Star in the World.” But wait, is she? You could probably make an argument about her being the biggest pop star in the US right now, but the world? It’s like calling whoever wins the NBA Finals World Champions. … Read More

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8 Great Books About Record Labels for Music Nerds

A truly great record label has a distinct sound, and in most cases a look, that makes it stand out from the rest of the pack. Those labels are the ones that go on to define certain scenes, or even the generations during which they put out their best music. Books about two such labels — 4AD and Stax — have come out recently, and they’re both superb. They lead off our list of great books about record labels that will give you the inside scoop on how some of your favorite music got… Read More

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How Much Does a Professional Musician Make in 2012?

You may remember the shitfight that ensued after the publication of Nitsuh Abebe’s New York magazine cover story earlier this year about Grizzly Bear’s parlous financial state. The article led to much online debate (including an epic comments-section slanging match on Stereogum) as to whether the band members were being courageous in throwing a spotlight on the fact that music is a shitty way to make a living or acting like spoiled, entitled brats for complaining that they couldn’t afford health insurance. … Read More

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What Do We Want Out of a Band Website in 2012?

We were interested to read the news earlier this week that WordPress.com is launching a bespoke platform for bands and musicians. It’s a crowded but fragmented marketplace for bands these days — the void MySpace left with its decline into irrelevance has never really been filled, and these days bands find themselves juggling Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and possibly their own custom-built website. It seems to be the last of these gaps that WordPress is trying to fill, and this got us thinking as to what a band website should offer in 2012, and how a new platform might help achieve this. We also asked several industry friends — including members of Azar Swan, Leda, and our own Silent Drape Runners — for their perspective as to what both bands and fans want out of a band website in 2012, and what sort of features a new player on the scene could offer to distinguish itself from the pack. It’s an interesting discussion, and we’d love to get some other perspectives, so let us know your thoughts in the comments. … Read More

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Why Are Those “Now!” CDs Still So Successful?

It’s another day, and yet another Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation album is available for consumption. Not to make anyone feel old or anything, but we’re at volume #41! (In the UK, where the series began in 1983, they’re at #80). Artists featured this time around include LMFAO, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and, for those who prefer to rock, Nickelback.

If the past is any indicator of the future, this album is bound to be a hit. In a recent press release, the Now! team states that “every album in the numeric US series has reached Billboard’s Top 10, and 15 Now! releases have reached #1, second only to The Beatles in chart history.” Indeed, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, every Now! album has achieved either Gold or Platinum status, with only a few exceptions. In 2006, Slate music critic, Jody Rosen, wondered if Now! could save the music business, calling the franchise “one of the great success stories in the record business over the last decade.”

So, in our age of digital downloading and cloud computing, of Pandora and Sirius and Spotify and even YouTube, how are these records comprised of jams found everywhere still so successful? … Read More

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