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January 21, 2024

Trapital's best posts

The season of best lists is over, but not at Dan Runcie's Trapital. He has segmented their best content - essays, podcasts, memos, and more - into different categories like fanbase, partnership, investing, ownership, labels, and streaming. Runcie promises that's just the start, and the page will be built out in the meantime. Find it - here.

All tucked up
January 21, 2024

Fans sue Madonna over late concert

Two Madonna fans, Michael Fellows and Jonathan Hadden, are suing the pop star for starting her New York concert late, claiming that they “had to get up early to go to work” the next morning. Fellows and Hadden bought tickets to a 13 December show at Barclays Center as part of Madonna’s Celebration tour. The show was advertised to start at 8.30pm, yet the 65-year-old musician took the stage after 10.30pm, according to the lawsuit. The concert was held on a Wednesday, the late finish on the weeknight show affected Fellows' and Hadden's ability to “take care of their family responsibilities the next day”, NBC New York reports.

Condé Nast is merging Pitchfork with men’s magazine GQ — a move that will result in layoffs at Pitchfork, including the exit of editor-in-chief Puja Patel, the AP reports. Features editor Jill Mapes, also being laid off, posted on X/Twitter: “after nearly 8 yrs, mass layoffs got me. glad we could spend that time trying to make it a less dude-ish place just for GQ to end up at the helm.” GQ editor-in-chief Will Welch, who assumed the top editorial role at the magazine in 2018, started his career as a music journalist on the staff of The Fader. Platformer's Casey Newton looks for reasons for Pitchfork's decline (mostly AI and streaming).

"From Young Thug’s witness expert to a top London barrister, key members from Art Not Evidence have spoken about why we need to restrict the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court" – the NME reports about the important issues of freedom of speech and artistic liberties. "As of June 2023, over 240 people in the UK have been jailed after a court decision that was in part based on their involvement with rap music".

Sound and vision
January 11, 2024

Pinterest predicts vintage jazz is coming back

"Jazz-inspired outfits, dimly lit venues and lo-fi looks are all on the rise" - Pinterest has made a prediction based on an analysis that draws on billions of searches on the website. So, this is the future: "In 2024, Millennials and Gen Z will trade in their electronic beats for something far more retro: vintage jazz".

The needle and the recovery done
December 28, 2023

The Needle Drop's album of 2023: Jeff Rosenstock's 'HELLMODE'

The YouTube music critic Anthony 'The Needle Drop' Fantano also made a selection of the 50 best albums of 2023, with punk veteran Jeff Rosenstock's 'HELLMODE' coming out at the top. Still, a list of fresh, even some avant-garde music.

"...A document of a road-tested rock band riding high, a landmark of songwriting as world-building, and as a reminder that well-worn sounds can still be combined into something brilliantly, bracingly new" - Stereogum wrote about their choice for the best album of 2023. Check out all the 50.

"'False Lankum' defies genre while yanking classics into the 21st century... An undeniable work of scale and dynamic builds, with few songs ending sounding as they started" - Guardian points out in favor of their choice of the best album of 2023, released quietly by the Irish folk band Lankum. Check out all the 50 selected.

"This year, favorite artists like SZA, Sufjan Stevens, and Fever Ray returned with reliably stunning releases, rising artists like Nourished by Time, Amaarae, and yeule pushed the boundaries with breakthrough releases that set the tone for where music might go next, and some of the year’s biggest surprises also happened to be just the thing we needed (hello, André 3000 flute album!)" - Pitchfork points out introducing their selection of the best 50 albums of 2023. It's Pitchforky, of course, but still, worth checking.

Irish singer and activist Sinéad O'Connor has died at the age of 56, The Irish Times reports. O'Connor, who was outspoken in her social and political views, released 10 studio albums between 1987 and 2014, but she was best known for her single 'Nothing Compares 2 U', written by Prince and released in 1990, which went on to hit number one around the world. In 1992 she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on the US TV show Saturday Night Live, looking at the camera and saying "fight the real enemy", a protest against the Catholic Church. O'Connor's 17-year-old son Shane died last year, days after he was reported missing. The singer later cancelled all live performances for the rest of 2022, and paid t

No favourite child
July 09, 2023

Nick Cave picks the best Bad Seeds songs

Nick Cave was asked on his Red Hand Files blog, by a pew persons who never listened to his music, to list his best songs. He can't, however: "My relationship to my songs is too entangled with their personal history, and I have no clear understanding as to which are the good ones and which are not. For instance, I think that ‘Brompton Oratory’, which was recorded in one take on a Casio I found in a junk shop, is a way better song than ‘The Mercy Seat’, which took months to write, weeks to record and had multiple ‘producers’ mix it; for a whole lot of despairing reasons, I think 'Ghosteen' is, by any metric, the best album the Bad Seeds have ever made, however The Bad Seeds song I love the most is probably ‘Sad Waters’ from Your Funeral, My Trial' — I cried at its slippery beauty when I first played it to my then girlfriend, Elisabeth, as we sat on her bed in Schöneberg, Berlin"...No favourite chilkd

TikTok Music has launched as a premium-only music subscription service in Indonesia and Brazil, including the catalogs of all three major record companies: Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music. Described as a “social music streaming service,” offering users a “full catalog of music from thousands of labels and artists, uninterrupted ad-free listening and a download function for listening offline”. The "social music streaming service" will let its users stream full versions of viral TikTok songs on TikTok Music, TechCrunch reports.

ByteDance is launching a new, AI-powered, free-to-use music production app, called Ripple, with the idea to have aspiring creators make the music for their short-form videos themselves using the app. Ripple has two key features: a ‘Melody to Song’ generator and a virtual recording studio, the MBW reports. The Melody to Song feature lets users sing or hum a melody directly into the app, and Ripple will then expand the melody by generating an instrumental in a variety of different genres.

Japan boy band King & Prince have set the record for 2023’s fastest-selling album in Japan, with their compilation album, 'Mr.5', selling more than 1.2 million physical copies in its first week, MBW reports. The ‘best of’ album also became the first album of 2023 to sell more than one million copies during its first week in Japan. On April 26, King & Prince sold over 1 million CD copies of their single 'Life Goes On' in its first week, which was the first time in three years that sales threshold was crossed.

Music about AI making music
May 14, 2023

Google's AI MusicLM now available to the public

Google's experimental AI tool that can generate high-fidelity music from text prompts and humming, MusicLM, has been made available to the public to test out, TechCrunch reports. Google explains that the tool works by typing in a prompt like “soulful jazz for a dinner party”. MusicLM will then create two versions of the requested song. The person can then vote on which one they prefer, which Google says will “help improve the AI model”.

SoundCloud is rolling out a new tool Fans that lets artists use the service’s proprietary data to discover and connect directly with their most-engaged fans on the platform. The tool has been used in beta by 10,000 artists enabling them to direct message (DM) superfans with the option to attach a track to these communications. This week, SoundCloud is expanding the beta availability of its ‘Fans’ feature to more than 50,000 Next Pro artists.

Zack de la Rocha of RATM / Missy Elliott / Kate Bush / George Michael

Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, and the Spinners will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the Performer category. Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, and Bernie Taupin will receive the Musical Excellence Award, DJ Kool Herc and Link Wray will be presented with the Musical Influence Award, and Don Cornelius is getting the Ahmet Ertegun Award, Billboard reports. Rolling Stone is angry - the classic rock media insists heavy metal should get its proper number of places in the Hall of Fame.

Pitchfork made a selection of eight songs that established Gordon Lightfoot "as a force in the United States and his native Canada—the songs that capture his essence". The New York Times has also made a selection, of 10 tracks. Guardian shares a short biography, full of famous admirers.

"Do you remember when the guitar was a wild, unpredictable instrument? (...) Well, Daniel Champagne still plays the guitar in that bold, unconstrained way" - Ted Gioia recommends the Australian guitarist (now living in Nashville). "You feel as if he just invented the instrument yesterday and was discovering its possibilities afresh. And I haven’t even started telling you about his singing and songwriting—but go find out for yourself."

"Italy's politically radical clubs of the '60s, New York City's disco scene, Detroit and Chicago's house and techno paradises, Ibiza's counterculture communal retreats, Britain's rave culture, and Berlin's techno scene" find their place in the new book 'Temporary Pleasure: Nightclub Architecture, Design and Culture from the 1960s to Today' by John Leo Gillen, who insists that the industry’s ​“one constant is change”. "The book wants to transform our expectations of club spaces. With cities, scenes and clubs in constant flux, they suggest we embrace that ephemerality through extensive photos and interviews" - The Face points out.

A federal jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel on charges including conspiracy, witness tampering, and failing to register as an agent of China, CNN reports. Prosecutors alleged that Malaysian fugitive businessman Jho Low paid Pras roughly $100 million to influence American politics, first with illegal political payments intended to support Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012, and later to influence Donald J. Trump and his administration to end a Department of Justice investigation into Jho Low. Leonardo DiCaprio was called as a witness during the trial due to his connection with Jho Low, who helped finance DiCaprio’s film 'The Wolf of Wall Street'. Pras Michel faces up to 20 years in prison.

Can't touch this!
April 26, 2023

Beatly - a platform for your AI music

A tech startup called Beatly has launched what it says is a decentralized platform where it claims "people can put their music up without being taken down". In a post on Product Hunt, one of the platform's founders, Alexander Zwerner, insists that the startup "understand[s] how important it is for this AI music to have a safe and reliable platform to be shared with the world. That's why we've developed a decentralized hosting structure that backups and ensures your music will never be taken down".

To precious to be played
April 26, 2023

50% of vinyl buyers in the US don't own a record player

American consumers bought 41.3 million vinyl records in 2022, compared to 33.4 million compact discs, which means that annual vinyl sales exceeded CD sales in the US last year for the first time since 1987, MBW reports. The difference in revenue is even bigger - income from vinyl jumped 17.2% year over year to $1.2 billion in 2022, while revenues from CDs fell 17.6%, to $483 million. Music sales data company Luminate also found that 50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months in the US own a record player, which of course means that 50% of vinyl buyers - don’t own a record player.

Harry Belafonte, the pioneering Calypso singer, actor, and civil rights leader, has died at the age of 96. In his music career, there are several firsts, and groundbreaking moves. His second album, 'Belafonte', was the first No 1 in the new US Billboard album chart in March 1956. His third album, 'Calypso', featuring songs from his Jamaican heritage, brought the feelgood calypso style to many Americans for the first time, and became the first album to sell more than a million copies in the US. Bob Dylan’s first recording – playing harmonica – was on Belafonte’s 1962 album, 'Midnight Special'. The previous year, Belafonte had been hired by Frank Sinatra to perform at John F Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.

Sabine Salamé

"Rap has become one of the most important tools to resist, criticise, and protest against oppression, dictatorship and corruption" - Gal-Dem points out in the introduction of their recent selection of the key players from the progressive rap scenes in Syria and Lebanon. Standing out in this part of the Arab peninsula are Bu Nasser Touffar, Amir Almurrai, Bu Kolthoum, El-Rass, Sabine Salamé, and Ebaa.

59.5% of artists are already using AI to create music, a new research which included 1200 users of music distribution company Ditto Music has revealed. The majority would use AI for mixing, mastering, or music production, MixMag reports. A minority of 28% of respondents said they would avoid using AI in their music-making process

Cassette sales in the UK grew by 5.2% in 2022, reaching their highest level since 2003, following 10 consecutive years of growth, Forbes reports. All in all, 195,000 audio cassettes were sold last year in the UK, compared to 3,823 sold in 2012. All 20 of the U.K's biggest-selling cassettes in 2022 were released that year, with the most popular cassettes sold being The Arctic Monkeys' ‘The Car’ and ‘Harry’s House' by Harry Styles. Similarly, in the U.S. 2022 sales of albums on cassette tape jumped by 28% to 440,000 - up from 343,000 in 2021,

Berlin-based saxophonist Bendik Giske is releasing his third album in June, and has shared the teaser song 'Rush' from it. He uses physicality, vulnerability and endurance as his tools of expression, with a change of approach on his new release, produced by Beatrice Dillon. On the new self-titled album he puts greater focus on rhythm, yet the melody, judging by 'Rush', is still there.

Reclusive West London-bred singer and producer Jai Paul performed his first-ever live set at Coachella’s Mojave stage last weekend, only one of the most anticipated gigs of the year. Jai Paul has released three singles in 12 years, yet he has climbed to cult-like status, although, or maybe thanks to, withdrawing from the public in general. It seems, however, he is relaunching his career - Jai Paul is set to play two consecutive nights in New York at Knockdown Centre on 25 April and 26 April at Brooklyn Steel, and in London on 9 and 10 May at underground venue space HERE at Outernet.

Ted Gioia wrote a great obituary to jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, who died on Sunday aged 92: "Other musicians have changed the sound of jazz in various ways. But Ahmad Jamal actually transformed time and space. He opened up an alternative universe of sound, freer and less constrained than what we had heard before. The rules of improvised music were different after he appeared on the scene... Ahmad Jamal sat down at the piano, and just floated over the beat."

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