A great video by music theorist 12tone where he analyses a month-old video by another music theorist, Rick Beato who did a livestream called 'Why Today's Music Is So BORING. The Regression of Musical Innovation'. Beato attempted to argue that modern music was no longer doing interesting things. 12tone argues Beato's wrong. 12Tones' argument is also beautifully illustrated.

"What do musicians who blend fact and fiction owe their real life subjects?" - NPR's Ann Powers writes exploring "self-referential musicians making waves in 2021 not only because so many notable current songs tread this ethically shaky ground between self and other, true and imagined, but because that's what songwriters who perform their own work have been doing for at least a half-century... What unites these artworks is a thrilling immediacy that comes at the risk of their makers' dignity and their close companions' right to anonymity". A clever text about the sensitive issue.

Revolver asked a number of musicians "which scream stands alone as the greatest out there". The Black Dahlia Murder's Trevor Strnad, Coheed and Cambria's Travis Stever, Testament's Alex Skolnick, Incendiary's Brian Audley, and more select Tom Araya, Bruce Dickinson, Chino Moreno, and others.

"Very little of the present, internet-wise, may survive. The paradox of today is that we chronicle mundane existence to a degree that no human beings have ever done before, but we do so on phones with short lifespans and via platforms that will one day be bought, folded into each other, and shut down" - freelance writer and blogger Chris O’Leary says in Music Journalism Insider interview. "The 2000s already are full of holes—there are so many dead websites, ghost message boards by now... You see this play out all the time on YouTube—one day you’ll have every musical performance on David Letterman on there, then two months later, half of those videos have been pulled. Maybe they come back, maybe they don’t. It’s all sandcastles, really".

"Tokyo has shaped the sound and image of songs all the time, and this Tokyo emerging in 1964 is the one that shapes ‘70s “new music,” that provides the glitzy excess of “city pop” and other ‘80s offerings (not to mention the fake memory of the capital latched on by people today), the continent-hopping cool of Shibuya-kei in the ‘90s and even the more glum post-Vocaloid hits of now" - Make Believe Mailer writes introducing part one in a series of texts about music from Japan and the Olympics.

Ceephax Acid Crew

Looking for some quality experimental music? Tone Glow writers chose 32 albums from the year’s second quarter that they enjoyed. Their selection includes various albums: there's vocal jazz and Mongolian long song on Enji's 'Urgal'; Vanessa Rosetto's 'Legends of American Theatre' recorded from artist's New York window showing "a theatre deprived of curtain calls where people-watching persists"; Naoko Sakata's 'Dancing Spirits' characterized by "wilderness"; Neupink's 'Seaweed Jesus' which just might pass as hard-core hyper-pop; and plenty more unusual music.

Pop Smoke has two albums to his name, both of which were released posthumously, and both of which have reached the No. 1 on Billboard 200 albums chart, according to Billboard. 'Faith' debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart this week starting with 88,000 equivalent album units earned. 'Faith' features more than 20 guest stars, including Chris Brown, Future, Dua Lipa and Kanye West. Pop Smoke previously topped the Billboard 200 with his debut album 'Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon' last July. Pop Smoke was killed on Feb. 19, 2020, at age 20, after being shot during a home-invasion robbery in Los Angeles.

Well, that's a music store

Splice - a place to buy sample packs

Splice is a cloud-based music creation platform that sells downloadable collections of vocal hooks, drum sounds, instrumental riffs and other sounds creators can use to build songs, Billboard reports. Splice subscriptions start at $9.99 a month and let users access over 2 million riffs, beats and sounds, all royalty-free, so creators who use them, own their work. It's growing big - in 2019 the platform had 250,000 subscribers. Two years later, that number had more than doubled, and during the pandemic daily downloads increased almost 50% amid “a pretty extreme explosion in new users”. In February, Splice raised $55 million in series D funding led by Goldman Sachs, on a valuation of close to $500 million, and the company is approaching $100 million in annual recurring revenue.

"Ultimately you must be totally prepared but you must also be empty. Empty of pre-conceived ideas on what you practice or study at home. You can use these ideas which you practice and study but only if it serves the music at hand at the necessary moment. It's not much different from theater acting in that way" - corneter and composer Graham Haynes said in 15 Questions interview about improvising. His collaborative album 'Echolocation' witch producer Submerged is out now.

"Woodstock ’99 was the hedonistic, capital-drive fantasy of a fratty rape culture, one with all the privilege in the world but a surfeit of anger for which there was no outlet" - producers of the 'Woodstock '99: Peace, love, and rage' argue in their documentary. Consequence doesn't disagree completely, calling it "a case study for the confluence of white millennial entitlement and Boomer nostalgia, it’s certainly gripping, a disaster movie in documentary form". Rolling Stone counts down 19 worst things about the fest, including late-July timing of a fest situated on tarmac and concrete, overcrowding, lack of available water etc.

Sony Music Entertainment has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against fitness apparel brand Gymshark, valued at approximately $1.3bn, Music Business Worldwide reports. Sony claims that Gymshark “has achieved its success by infringing sound recordings and musical compositions belonging to a number of different content owners on a massive scale”. According to the filing, Gymshark has “largely eschewed traditional advertising” and has instead promoted its products in videos posted to the likes of Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. This may be an important case, because it highlights the place where platform-wide licensing deals for use of music in user-generated content meet the world of sync licensing. Regular users can use music in their videos, but rules change when it comes to brands and influencers paid by those brands, which is a commercial activity.

Kanye West announced his latest album 'Donda' for this weekend, although it wasn't released at the end. He did however throw an album listening party at the Atlanta football stadium, which impressed Music REDEF's Matty Karas: "It *looked* amazing. It wasn't a live performance so there was no stage. And there was no one sitting on the field which was covered in some kind of white material, over which Kanye roamed, in a red puffer jacket and WATCHMEN-like mask, while the album played. He would stand or sit in place for long stretches and then resume roaming, not saying a word, often raising one or both arms as if to give himself an amen. A lone, silent prophet wandering on what you might imagine was a cloud, surrounded by fans but also at a distance from them. It was less-as-more taken to its logical conclusion, and as arresting a music visual as I've seen in a long time".


After that awesome detour into jazzy club music with Moses Boyd, Alewya goes into the dark clubbing mode with ‘Spirit_X’; avant/hip-hop artist Moor Mother goes psychedelic on ‘Shekere’ featuring Lojii; ‘Superstate’ is a new graphic novel with 15 new songs from Graham Coxon, ‘Yoga Town’ is the first taste from it; Jamaican dancehall artist Skillibeng goes aggressive and dark on ‘Pull Up’, a collaboration with UK rapper Dutchavelli; Japanese post-metallers Mono rip it up on (khm!) ‘Riptide’; Homeboy Sandman shares an intense and jazzy ‘Lice Team, Baby’, featuring Aesop Rock.

Paul McCartney becomes decades younger via deepfake technology in the music video for 'Find My Way', his collaborative song with Beck from the McCartney remix album 'McCartney III Imagined'. The video shows the de-aged McCartney emerging from a hotel room, dancing in the hallway, and being whisked away to different dream-like environments. The clip was directed by Andrew Donoho, choreographed by Phil Tayag, and co-produced by Hyperreal Digital, a company that “specializes in the creation of hyper-realistic digital avatars”.

'Mr. Soul!' is the award-winning documentary about the public television variety show 'Soul!' and its host Ellis Haizlip, coming to HBO Max August 1st. Produced and directed by Melissa Haizlip, the documentary chronicles how her uncle, enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, created the influential show which was ahead of its time. 'Soul!' was a celebration of black music, politics, literature, dance, and poetry during a tumultuous time for black Americans (1968-1973), featuring countless performances by and interviews with the era’s luminaries like James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Al Green, Mavis Staples, Harry Belafonte, Roberta Flack, Kool and the Gang, Max Roach, and many more. Watch the trailer below.

Live Nation announced a run of new $20 “all in” ticket prices for nearly 1,000 outdoor amphitheater shows in the US taking place this year, Music Business Worldwide reports. Artists who will be playing shows under the $20 ticket offer include the Jonas Brothers, Kings Of Leon, Zac Brown Band, Trippie Redd, Maroon 5, Alanis Morissette, Lil Baby, KISS, and Korn. The $20 tickets will be available to the general public starting next Wednesday, July 28th at 12pm ET/9am PT on LiveNation.com for a limited time only.

The estate-approved Whitney Houston hologram concert will arrive this October for a lengthy residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas. Over five years in the works, 'An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Concert' made its debut in 2020 London, featuring holograms of Houston from all stages of her career alongside in-the-flesh backup singers, dancers, and musicians. Base Hologram Productions CEO Marty Tudor told Rolling Stone of their efforts to make a “tasteful” homage to the late singer: “It’s a complicated mix of disciplines if you will. I could’ve made Whitney fly around stage if I wanted to, but she didn’t. One of the things that’s really critical is we want to be authentic. To me, it’s creepy and eerie if you make the artist do something they never would’ve done. But if you are authentic and live within the rules of who they were, this is a celebration of her legacy”.

Brian Jones

New Spotify Original podcast 'Deathbed Confessions', covering some of the most notorious dying words throughout pop culture history, has debuted this week. The first episode covers the unsolved 1922 murder of silent film director William Desmond Taylor, who was found dead from a gunshot wound in his apartment in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Future episodes will cover Frank Thorogood, the building contractor who claimed he murdered the Rolling Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones, who was thought to have drowned accidentally in a swimming pool; and the conspiracy surrounding CIA Agent E. Howard Hunt, who claimed, while sick, that he and several others had played a role in JFK’s assassination.

Current rock star Bruce Springsteen and former American president Barack Obama are publishing a book titled 'Renegades: Born in the USA' (is that title ironical?!?). Based on their podcast conversations, it comes in an oversized, illustrated format, with handwritten Springsteen lyrics, annotated Obama speeches, and other archival material, AP reports. It's out October 26.Aud

Facing each other in a garage over a small plastic table, rappers Uriya & SAZ hurl ethnic insults and clichés at each other, tearing away the veneer of civility overlaying the seething resentments between the Jewish state and its Palestinian minority in a rap video that has gone viral in Israel. Sincere, passionate, touching! The New York Times reports, via Washington Mail.

"Murder ballads are part of Appalachian, hillbilly, and country music traditions. But they also exist in blues, spirituals, and slave song traditions" - the author of excellent podcast Songs in the Key of Death writes in the Esquire on the origins of murder ballads. Courtney E. Smith argues there's segregation beneath: "Ice-T still faces derision for writing a song from the point of view of someone who is fed up with abuse from the police ['Copkiller'] but Johnny Cash is a hero for singing the lyric 'I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die'".

Max Martin

Billboard staff picked the 50 greatest producers of this century: the most innovative, impactful and important knob-twiddlers since 2000. The top 5 are:

5. Mike Will Made-It because he loves twisting the familiar into something far weirder and more rewarding

4. The-Dream & Tricky Stewart thanks to their zooming keys, gentle-but-insistent percussion, expansive soundscapes and the era's most lethal toplines.

3. Timbaland - fourth-dimension funk, with rattling drums, squelching bass, unrecognizable and disembodied vocal hooks

2. Pharrell Williams / The Neptunes - Liquid guitars, clanging percussion, and the most intoxicating synth tones you've ever heard

1. Max Martin -  the hooks we crave, the choruses we want to belt out, from the stars that have defined the mainstream over the past two decades

"In the last 15 years, everything has changed a lot. I don’t feel any hostility; in fact, just the opposite. There is a lot of interest and support: from the public, from orchestras, from managers, and from the critics" - conductor Oksana Lyniv says in the New York Times interview about female conductors. This Sunday, Lyniv will conduct a production at The Bayreuth Festival in Germany, becoming the first woman to conduct a production in the festival’s 145-year history.

The Mercury Prize 2021 shortlist:

Arlo Parks – 'Collapsed in Sunbeams'
Berwyn – 'Demotape/Vega'
Black Country, New Road – 'For the First Time'
Celeste – 'Not Your Muse'
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra – 'Promises'
Ghetts – 'Conflict of Interest'
Hannah Peel – 'Fir Wave'
Laura Mvula – 'Pink Noise'
Mogwai – 'As the Love Continues'
Nubya Garcia – 'Source'
Sault – 'Untitled (Rise)'
Wolf Alice – 'Blue Weekend'

Cultural critic Steven Hyden discusses the no-band-t-shirt-to-that-band-gig rule in his latest blog post. He first makes a distinction - it's quite ubiquitous on a metal show, but a no-no at an indie-rock show. His point: "When you go to show, nobody cares about what you are wearing. If there is one quality that all humans share, it’s that we’re all too wrapped up in ourselves to think about the shirts on the backs of strangers".

Eric Clapton said he will not perform at any venues that require attendees to prove that they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19, NPR reports. Clapton issued his statement in response to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that vaccine passes would be required to enter nightclubs and venues. Clapton previously shared a message about his “disastrous” health experience after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Songfinch is a music tech startup where fans can order personalized songs for $199. Users select the style of their song and share stories to shape the lyrics. Songfinch then matches users with an artist who writes and records the song for the user. Customers get a personal use license in perpetuity, but they can't monetize the song. Songfinch users can't choose specific artists and prices are fixed at $199. The platform has just had a $2 million seed round - investors included The Weeknd, XO Records CEO Sal Slaiby, and Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman. Trapital's Dan Runcie compares it to audio Cameo, and predicts where it might go from here.

Expensive guitars don’t write better songs - Finneas wrote on his Twitter, making a good point (albeit an obvious one). Later he also tweeted "you ever see someone walking with headphones on and you can just tell they are feeling SO fresh because of whatever they’re listening to?", and "no music on a dead planet". In a less metaphysical moment, he remembered the late Linkin Park singer - "4 years. RIP Chester Bennington. Sad forever about this".

"His endearing videos are part history lesson, part nerdy tech outlet, part philosophical soapbox" - Pitchfork writes lovingly presenting Hainbach, an old-machine enthusiast and music producer. "The project grew from his fascination with obsolete test equipment—everything from particle accelerator components to lunks of antique metal used in nuclear research to a dolphin-locating device once used by the U.S. Navy". When he collected plenty of those, he arranged them into towers, and recorded their sounds live, calling the album 'Landfill Totems'.

Featuring cameos by Henry Rollins and Vince Staples, the new advertisement for Converse directed by Tyler, the Creator is a funny little video. The clip centers on a meeting of “The Really Cool Converse Club”, which includes greasers, punks, pirates, and more, who convene to revoke membership from one of their own.

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In the three months to the end of June 2021 (Q2), YouTube generated a whopping $7.002 billion from advertising alone – equivalent to approximately $77 million a day, or $3.2 million every hour, Music Business Worldwide reports. The rise is astonishing - YouTube’s Q2 2021 ad revenue was up by 83.7% on the equivalent figure from 2020. In the six months to the end of June this year, the platform generated $13.007 billion in ad revenues, almost double what YouTube generated in the equivalent six months of 2020 ($7.850 billion). These numbers don’t include subscription revenue on YouTube generated by those customers paying for YouTube Music and YouTube Premium each month. Looking back, the numbers impress even more - YouTube rode out 2020 having generated some $19.77 billion from ads in the year – actually up 30.5% on the equivalent annual figure from 2019.

ZZ Top's bassist of 50 years, Dusty Hill has died on Wednesday at the age of 72, on Thursday the remaining member Billy Gibbons announced that the tour they just began would resume Friday after a brief lull, with their guitar tech of three decades filling in. It's what Hill had wanted, Gibbons says in the Variety interview: "But knowing that we can take his wishes forward and give him all due respect… You know, he was adamant. He said, 'I’m going to go down and see what’s up. In the meantime', he said, 'the show must go on. Don’t forget it'. And he was pointing his finger and shaking it".

Spotify's Premium Subscriber base grew to 165 million in the second quarter of 2021, which was up 20% year-on-year. The company’s total global monthly active users grew 22% year-on-year to 365 million in Q2 2021. Spotify’s Premium subscriber growth translated into revenue of €2.056 billion in Q2. That's big numbers, there are some small numbers, on which everything depends really - the firm’s average monthly revenue per subscriber landed at €4.29 in Q2. Music Business Worldwide takes a closer look at the numbers.

Apart from their societal influence, K-pop septet is a major money-maker in their country. According to the Korea Culture And Tourism Institute, BTS is bringing an estimated 5 billion dollars to the South Korean economy each year. The group is fueling interests in all things Korean - tourism, language, films, television, fashion, and food. NPR discusses BTS' influence in the latest podcast.

"A voice is inherently communal. I learned how to use my voice by mimicking the people around me through language, through centuries of evolution on that, or even vocal styles. A pop music vocal is often you're kind of emulating something that came before and then performing your individuality through that kind of communal voice. So I wanted to find a way to kind of reflect that communal ownership" - experimental musician Holly Herndon says to The Fader about her audio deep-fake AI Holly+. Herndon encourages her fans to upload audio files so they can be sung in her voice. She goes into the metaphysics of it: "I mean, we've been able to kind of re-animate our dead through moving picture or through samples, but this is kind of a brand new kind of field in that you can have the person do something that they never did. It's not just kind of replaying something that they've done in the past. You can kind of re-animate them in and give them entirely new phrases that they may not have approved of in their lifetime or even for living artists that they might not approve of. So I think it opens up a kind of Pandora's box".

Pempo Khan and Group / Anahad

Seventy percent of India’s musicians practice folk, but they earn only 2% of the industry’s revenues. Indian nonprofit Anahad Foundation stepped in to help them, bringing the music of unsung folk artists to the urban mainstream. Anahad provides them with free residencies with established bands, and also helps artists create a digital portfolio on their website, complete with new music videos, and teaches them entrepreneurial skills. Today, the site lists groups that include more than 1,000 artists. Christian Science Monitor reports on the issue.

Last Thursday Kanye West had an album-release party, and the day after his 10th album 'Donda' was to be released. It didn't come out. Vice explores "how quickly could 'Donda' - or any other record, for that matter - actually hit streaming services after it’s finished? The answer depends on who you ask, and who you are".

"The practise of ticket touting is once again an issue for the dance music industry — this summer, tickets are on sale for more than 10 times their original price on reselling sites like Viagogo" - DJ Mag points out, and investigates how can promoters, venues and artists create meaningful change on this issue.

Drums really can be used to convey speech - an award-winning new study published in the journal Frontiers in Communication shows. It proved Dùndún drumming, an oral tradition among the Yorùbá peoples of Western Africa which involves a special type of drum that, when used properly, can mimic the unique patterns and sounds of Yorùbá speech. So close is the resemblance that the instrument is sometimes referred to as the “talking drum”, Cosmos Magazine reports.

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