Other music for the people
November 28, 2020

'Other Music' documentary - "surprisingly moving"

'Other Music' was a cult record store in Manhattan, which opened in 1995, becoming a crucial hub of New York’s vibrant 00s indie boom, and closing in 2016. New docu of the same name "goes on to capture the store’s final days, before it gets physically ripped apart. Watching it could hurt even the coolest of hearts", Guardian says.

Twentysomething percent unusual
November 28, 2020

Jacob Collier - "strange-pop" British artist nominated for a Grammy

LA Times presents Jacob Collier, the British "strange-pop" artist with a jazz background. The 26-year-old of British and Chinese descent wasn't a household name until this week when he was nominated for the Grammy award for album of the year, alongside Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Post Malone and Coldplay. A nice boy...

Vinyl album sales in the US had their best week of the year last week with 55.5% increase to 943,000 copies sold, Billboard reports. That also marks the third-largest week for vinyl since 1991. The last time overall U.S. vinyl album sales were higher was in the week ending Dec. 26, 2019, when volume hit 1.24 million sold -- the largest week for vinyl album sales. Last week the record was set largely thanks to sale pricing and promotion at Walmart - the mega-store discounted all vinyl albums in-store to $15.

A bass guitar and effects pedal used by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, signed guitars from Liam Gallagher, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler, handwritten lyrics from Florence Welch, Robbie Williams, and Ellie Goulding, a mixing desk from Craig David, and a signed synth from Chemical Brothers are all on sale at an online auction with the aim to help live events industry workers. Stagehand auction also includes memorabilia from Sam Smith, Jess Glynn and FKA Twigs, with more constantly being added, NME reports. Also benefiting the Stagehand initiative will be Prints for Music, a sale of more than 100 intimate photographs of stars including Grace Jones, Neil Young and Fela Kuti. Today, a £10,000 box set by Porcupine Tree' Steven Wilson, limited to a single copy, was sold at an auction, with proceeds from the one-off item going to Music Venue Trust, the charity lobbying for the UK’s grassroots venues under threat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

One Spotify user has made a playlist of all the songs David Lynch mentions during his weather reports. The charismatic director has reinstated these reports during the early days of the pandemic, via his David Lynch Theater YouTube channel, and he has been doing them since. His reports are mostly quite similar - hot and sunny most of the days - so it's his favorite songs that make for a difference. His music taste includes This Mortal Coil, Portishead, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mazzy Star, Buddy Holly, his own music and more.

A$AP Rocky donated 120 meals to families at a homeless shelter in New York where he, his mother and sister spent some time nearly two decades ago. The rapper, real name Rakim Mayers, personally turned delivery man on Thanksgiving eve on Wednesday to distribute the food from one of his favourite eateries in New York, Amy Ruth's Restaurant in Harlem, according to People. The 32-year-old musician gifted the food to the Regent Family Residence - a homeless shelter that serves 83 families, including 111 children - where his mum, Renee Black, stayed after falling on hard times in the early 2000s.

The end (of the year) has begun
November 27, 2020

The 10 best global music albums of 2020

PopMatters made a good and versatile list of the 10 best global music albums of the year (PM still calls it "world music", which is increasingly becoming a politically un-correct term). The chosen ones are Keleketla project with an album that "goes in a number of different and utterly revolutionary directions", ONIPA with "an entire continent's worth of styles" on 'We No Be Machine', Evritiki Zygia playing mountain folk music from Eastern Europe on 'Ormenion', and others.

Power to the music
November 26, 2020

What’s the heaviest music ever made?

Guardian goes into a quest to find the heaviest music ever made, measured "in terms of the intensity of the music itself, the atmosphere it generates and how quickly it liquefies your innards". There are a few equally deserving candidates - Motörhead, Swans, Black Sabbath, Merzbow, Sun O)))...

Sympathy for the veggies
November 26, 2020

Keith Richards has taken up gardening during pandemic

Rolling Stones guitarist said he has taken up gardening to keep him occupied during the lockdown, leading to a “more normal way of life” after years of living as one of rock’s most notorious hell-raisers - "which is un-normal”. He told Goldmine Magazine, according to Contact Music: “I spent the whole summer actually admiring the garden and also doing a bit of gardening myself – watering the veggies and the stuff... I saw the garden grow – really quite unbelievable".

They are the champions
November 26, 2020

Queen share on-stage date with Maradona

Queen have shared an image of the time their original lineup met Maradona backstage in his home country. A March 8, 1981 performance at José Amalfitani Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina saw the band draw a crowd of 300,000 people. Among them was a 21-year-old Maradona, who Queen sought to meet. Freddie Mercury invites Maradona onstage during Queen's performance to the crowd's delight: "Right now, I'd like do introduce a friend of yours — and ours — tonight. I'm sure you all know him". "I want to thank Freddie and Queen for making me so happy," Maradona said, ahead of leading bassist John Deacon into 'Another One Bites the Dust'.

Tame Impala, Sampa The Great, Amy Shark and Archie Roach were among the big winners at the 2020 ARIA Awards, with Kevin Parker's psychedelic pop band taking home five awards including best group and album of the year for 'The Slow Rush'. Sampa The Great made history in 2019 when she became the first woman of color to win the ARIA for best hip-hop release, this year - she got it again. The singer and rapper also took out best female artist and best independent release for her debut full-length album 'The Return'.

"I feel like we exist at the behest of other people, but, yeah, I feel like I don't exist" - Phoebe Bridgers said about life in lockdown while talking to her new friend Bettye LaVette, who responded - "isn't it beautiful that we don't exist until the light come off and everybody applauds". Bridgers added - "I feel like my social life is built so heavily into music where I hire all my friends, I tour with my friends, so I don't even know how to exist at home". Listen to the funny conversation of the two ladies for the Talkhouse podcast.

Dua Saleh

Dua Saleh is in-between genres on 'Angel Rock', driven by strings; Lana Del Rey covered 'Summertime', this time George Gershwin's original; Gilles Peterson's Brownswood released electro-jazzy rap 'I Know You See Me' by Kassa Overall; singer-songwriter Postdata shared 'Twin Flames'; Fana Hues presents her great voice on 'Snakes x Elephants'; Dueling Experts deliver hip-hop old school NY-style on 'Revolve Around Sciences'; Kelly Rowland goes for and - gets a pop smash with 'Hitman'; Ash Koosha explores the “hallucination of a machine” on 'Hallucinato' (30 mins).

EDM producer i_o has passed away at the age of 30, after a short experimental pop solo career, and a pop highlight this year, EDM.com reports. Throughout his career, i_o explored new methods of music production and dissemination with an artistic philosophy rooted in the idea that "everything can be hacked". This year he released three EPs for mau5trap, the independent record label founded by deadmau5, and collaborated with Grimes on 'Violence' from her record 'Miss Anthropocene'.

The current system of payment for music streaming is threatening the future of music in the UK - Elbow’s Guy Garvey said in front of the UK parliament committee on the first day of an inquiry into the impact of streaming on the music industry. Garvey, and musicians such as O’Brien of Radiohead, Tom Gray of Gomez, and Nadine Shah have put forward equitable remuneration, increased transparency and user-centric streaming models as ways in which the industry could be reformed and made fairer for artists.

Craig Brown has won the Baillie Gifford prize, top British award for nonfiction, for his book 'One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time', a mix of history, diaries, autobiography, fan letters, interviews, lists and charts, Daily Mail reports. BG judges say it is “a joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration of the Beatles, a highly original take on familiar territory... a profound book about success and failure which won the unanimous support of our judges. Craig Brown has reinvented the art of biography”.

Haim

For the first time since its inception in 2012, the nominees for best rock performance at this year's Grammys are all-female or female-fronted: Fiona Apple, Big Thief, Phoebe Bridgers, Haim, Brittany Howard, and Grace Potter. Women also dominated the best country album category - it is the first time it has had five albums helmed in whole or in part by women: Little Big Town, Ingrid Andress, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, and Ashley McBryde, Variety reports. And yet another precedent - South Korean megastars BTS became the first K-pop act to receive a Grammy nomination. The boy band’s latest hit single, 'Dynamite', is competing in the best pop duo/group performance category, CNN reports.

Subversive Capital Acquisition company has acquired two California-based cannabis brands and named Jay-Z as the resulting holding company’s chief visionary officer, Marijuana Business Daily reports. Subversive Capital is acquiring the direct-to-consumer cannabis platform and brand Caliva as well as Left Coast Ventures, a cannabis and hemp producer, with investment from Roc Nation artists Rihanna, Yo Gotti, and Meek Mill. The deal makes Jay-Z the biggest music player in the California cannabis industry, worth $3 billion a year.

Illegal raves are now flourishing in the UK, with hundreds of events taking place over the last few weekends, Dazed reports from illegal British podiums. These raves started in rural Britain during the summer, and moved to urban areas when it became cold, into warehouses of companies closed due to Covid-19. VICE wrote there were three types of raves: established unlicensed parties, set up by an experienced crew and with safety measures in place; established free parties at which the community self-polices, including returning to clean up afterwards; ‘moneygrab’ parties advertised online with the aim of making money. The police are slapping them with £10,000 fines, while the locals from Welsh village of Banwen went viral for their laidback attitude, which saw them make cups of tea for the ravers.

Beyoncé scored nine nominations for the Grammys, including song and record of the year bids with 'Black Parade', as well as best R&B song and best R&B performance, CBS reports. Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' film that highlighted Black art, music, history and fashion is up for best music film while 'Brown Skin Girl', a song dedicated to dark- and brown-skinned women, is nominated for best music video. Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Ricch earned six nominations each. Check out the complete nominees list - here.

Chinese paywall
November 24, 2020

China helping out indie musicians

China’s two biggest streaming platform operators, Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) and NetEase Cloud Music, are battling for the DIY artist market. According to Music Business Worldwide, Tencent Music had paid 590 million yuan (over $84m) to date to indie artists using its ‘Tencent Musician’ program, as well as offered services such as music publishing, marketing, copyright management and professional training. Tencent's biggest rival in China, NetEase Cloud Music was, in October 2020, home to music from over 200,000 Chinese independent musicians – representing 100% year-on-year growth in volume terms. In similar news, several streaming platforms under the umbrella of Tencent - QQ Music, Kugou, and Kuwo, as well as WeSing, a karaoke application - are offering micropayments from fans to artists, which make a big difference; top creators on WeSing pocket more than $7,000 per month in tips alone, Slate reports.

Rainy days are over
November 24, 2020

SoundCloud posts its first ever profitable quarter

SoundCloud has achieved its first ever profitable quarter in Q3 this year, Music Business Worldwide reports. Also, SoundCloud posted €147.6 million in revenues in calendar 2019, up 37% year-over-year, which made for annual operating losses in 2019 narrowing significantly - down 28% to €23.8m from €32.9m in 2018. Some more good news - Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music currently have circa 70 million tracks on each of their platforms, SoundCloud now plays host to over 250 million tracks.

Nominothing
November 24, 2020

Grammy CD dies aged 25

The Recording Academy has called a halt to its annual 'Grammy Nominees' CD series after 25 years of featuring artists nominated for the American Academy award. Fifteen volumes in the annual series made the top 10 on the Billboard 200, with two volumes - in 2013 and 2014 - climbing as high as No. 2. The main franchise sold 9,8 million copies, with sales dwindling in recent years, Billboard reports.

A heart-warming story in the Pitchfork about Fiona Apple and her long-lost school friend Shameika Stepney, a theme in Apple's great album 'Fetch the Bolt-Cutters' with a reoccurring line "Shameika said I have potential". It goes back to when Apple was in third grade and trying to make friends with other children in her school, who in return rejected her. Shameika, then a fourth-grader, was passing by, saw something going on, and leaned down and said "Hey, why do you care about them? You have potential". Two women reunited this year for Shameika's song 'Shameika Said' featuring Fiona Apple.

Basement dads
November 24, 2020

Fender guitar sales grow sharply in pandemic

Fender is expecting a record year this year as guitar sales have grown 17% during the pandemic and are expected to rise to $700 million, from $600 million last year, CNBC reports. Fender's CEO Andy Mooney attributes the rise in sales to housebound consumers looking for new hobbies. The company also offered Fender Play, the online video platform for learning guitar, bass and ukulele. Introduced in July 2017, it was free for 90 days to the first 100,000 subscribers. Fender hit that mark the very first day, reached a half million sign-ups the first week and settled at about 930,000 subscribers by June. In similar, yet less positive news, Guitar Center, the largest American retailer of musical instruments, has filed for bankruptcy, CNN reports.

Pa Salieu

Alfie Templeman, Pa Salieu, Baby Queen, Biig Piig, Bree Runway, Griff, Holly Humberstone, Ivorian Doll, JOESEF, Olivia Dean, Bklava and others were chosen UK Amazon Music Programming Team as destined for big things in 2021, Music Week reports. These 25 acts will receive support and promotion across the platform over the next 12 months. The list is rounded-up by Berwyn, Christy, Cleopatrick, Dan D’Lion, Dutchavelli, Eli Brown, George Moir, Girl In Red, India Jordan, Joesef, Kamal, Mysie, Olivia Dean, Sharna Bass, Tamera and Zoe Wees.

Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, and Dan + Shay were the top winners at the American Music Awards, winning three awards each, Variety reports. With three nods from last night, Taylor has now won 32 AMAs, the most awards in the show’s 47-year history (Michael Jackson has 24). Swift won artist of the year for the sixth time, extending her record in that category. She also won favorite female artist - pop/rock for the fifth time, setting a new record in that category; Taylor accepted her awards via video since she is busy re-recording her first six albums. Bieber won favorite male artist - pop/rock for the fourth time, a record. See the full list of all winners - here.

AC/DC are back at the top of Billboard of 200 with their latest album 'Power Up' starting with 117,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending Nov. 19, Billboard reports. Physical album sales comprise the majority, 111,000 album units, of all sales. AC/DC also had the largest sales week of 2020 for a rock album. Other news from the top of Billboard 200 charts - Future and Lil Uzi Vert’s collab album 'Pluto x Baby Pluto' and Chris Stapleton’s 'Starting Over' bow at Nos. 2 and 3, Queen's 'Greatest Hits' reaches the top 10 for the first time and YoungBoy Never Broke Again logs his fourth top 10 of 2020 with 'Until I Return'.

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