Music industry

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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Coldplay and Spotify: What’s an Album Worth in 2011?

You’ve probably read recently about Coldplay’s decision to keep their new record Mylo Xyloto off insta-streaming sites like Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, etc. The move has led to much industry hand-wringing, and headlines like “Coldplay snub sounds alarm for streaming music.” It’s certainly an interesting choice on the part of the band and their management, and after the jump we wonder what might be behind it — and what a similar decision might mean for bands who aren’t quite the commercial juggernauts that Coldplay are. … Read More

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Q&A: Grooveshark VP Paul Geller on King Crimson and Copyright

Last week we ran a piece about the ongoing battles between King Crimson and Grooveshark. If you missed it, the upshot is that King Crimson have been struggling for months to get their songs taken down from Grooveshark, and apparently making little headway, so much so that the band provided email transcripts of their dealings with Grooveshark to industry website Digital Music News. After we published the piece, Grooveshark VP of Business Development Paul Geller contacted us and asked to present his side of the story. We figured this was only fair, and spoke to him earlier this week — we’ve published the transcript of our interview verbatim after the jump, and invite readers to draw their own conclusions. As we hope you’ll agree, it makes for very interesting reading. … Read More

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Is Grooveshark Purposely Screwing Over Musicians?

Here at Flavorpill, we’ve been happy to use Grooveshark in the past on the assumption that it was, if not entirely legal, at least a service that offered artists a chance to get their music heard and made for a convenient, free alternative to Spotify. On the basis of what we’ve read this week, however, we’re starting to wonder whether that view might be just a wee bit optimistic, and whether Grooveshark might in fact be just another representation of a recurring trend in the music industry as a whole — the trend whereby everyone gets rich at artists’ expense. Plus ça change, and all that. … Read More

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RCA Kills Long-Running Pop Labels Arista and Jive

Despite the news yesterday that album sales are up over last year, it looks like the ongoing music-industry apocalypse is still in full swing. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that RCA is folding two long-running labels that have represented some of the biggest pop stars of the past four decades. Arista, which was founded by Clive Davis in 1974, and Jive, launched three years later by Clive Calder and helmed by Barry Weis since 1991, will both be shuttered, and their artists funneled to RCA Records. According to RCA execs, the move is a branding decision: “The concept is that there is value in branding RCA and not having it confused or diluted by other labels,” RCA president Tom Corson told THR. Although Arista only represented a handful of big names (Jennifer Hudson, Santana, Whitney Houston), Jive — the label that was largely responsible for the turn-of-the-millennium teen-pop boom — still boasts an enormous roster ranging from Pitbull and Rick Ross to Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. A full list of artists currently on each label is after the jump. … Read More

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A Brief History of Litigious Music Industry Idiocy

You might have seen the picture doing the rounds on the web over the last couple of days – a screenshot of a YouTube video of John Cage’s 4’33″, with a whacking big notice at the bottom proclaiming, “NOTICE This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled.” The joke, of course, is that 4’33″ doesn’t have any audio — it’s four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. We’re sure that Cage would appreciate the humor here, but the fact that it’s all too believable that WMG might have actually done this is kind of sad. After all, getting this audio pulled from YouTube would be far from the most ridiculous thing the music industry has done in recent years in its ongoing war-on-drugs style exercise in copyright-litigating futility. Join us after the jump for some key moments in legal idiocy. … Read More

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