The low barriers to entry for podcasting made it harder for exclusive premium podcasts to stand out over free alternatives that are ad-supported and widely distributed" - Dan Runcie argues in his latest memo about why the exclusive audio strategies have struggled in the past. However, all is not lost - "as local language music continues to rise in the streaming era, we may see more wins from digital streaming providers that aren’t based in the western world. In podcasting, paid products have found value in the right circles. Ben Thompson’s Stratechery has evolved into a paid podcast network, which was tied to his subscription-based media business".

Warner Music Group has announced Rhythm City - “a first-of-its-kind music-themed social roleplay experience” on kids gaming platform Roblox. The experience lets users choose from a variety of roles including music producer, DJ, dancer, and many more “to explore, dance, and bond with friends while enjoying the world’s hidden gems and competing in mini-music challenges”. It will be available on the Roblox platform on February 4, 2023, across Android, iOS, Mac, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Singer and songwriter Jaafar Jackson is to portray his uncle Michael Jackson in the upcoming biopic 'Michael,' directed by Antoine Fuqua, Deadline reports. Lionsgate movie is expected to depict the complicated legacy of King of Pop, “including his most iconic performances that led him to become the greatest entertainer of all time.” The film is being made with the cooperation of the Michael Jackson estate. 'Michael' will be the first major film role for the 26-year-old Jaafar Jackson, the second-youngest son to songwriter, producer, and Jackson 5 member Jermaine Jackson, Michael Jackson's brother. John Logan, who wrote 'Gladiator,' 'Skyfall' and 'Spectre,' is penning the screenplay.

"When did you become a Hallmark card hippie? Joy, love, peace. Puke! Where’s the rage, anger, hatred?" - a fan named Ermine asked Nick Cave. He responded on his Red Hand Files blog - "things changed after my first son died. I changed... Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world... contemptuous of beauty, contemptuous of joy, contemptuous of happiness in others, well, this whole attitude just felt, I don’t know, in the end, sort of dumb... I felt a sudden, urgent need to, at the very least, extend a hand in some way to assist it – this terrible, beautiful world – instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it".

SZA’s SOS racks up a seventh consecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 111,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending Jan. 26, Billboard reports. 'SOS' is also the first R&B/hip-hop album by a woman, or R&B album by any act, to spend its first seven weeks at No. 1 since Whitney Houston’s 'Whitney' in 1987. The last album by a woman with seven weeks at No. 1 was Taylor Swift’s 'Folklore', more than two years ago.

Barrett Strong, singer-songwriter, and a pivotal figure in the history of Motown, has died at the age of 81, the Associated Press reports. He sang the label's first major hit, 'Money (That's What I Want)', in 1959. Peaking at No 2 on the R&B singles chart and No 23 on the Hot 100, 'Money' came to define the early years of Motown, and was later recorded by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Strong went on to co-write classic songs like 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine', 'War' and 'Papa Was a Rollin' Stone'. Those hits were "revolutionary in sound and captured the spirit of the times", Motown founder Berry Gordy said in a written tribute to the musician.

A woman named as Jane Doe in court papers has accused Marilyn Manson — whose real name is Brian Warner — of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor, in a new lawsuit filed Monday in the Nassau County Supreme Court on Long Island, New York. The woman, alleges in the suit that when she was 16, she was invited onto Manson's tour bus after a 1995 show, where he "performed various acts of criminal sexual conduct upon Plaintiff", Rolling Stone reports.

Virtual girl group MAVE debuted on metaverse with a video for their song 'Pandora’s Box', taken from an EP of thew same name. The four members of the K-pop group — MARTY, TYRA, ZENA, and SIU — were unveiled at the beginning of the year. The group has an eccentric fictional storyline that centers around the members coming from the future and crash landing on Earth, trying to find the freedom of emotions.

This week’s special edition of Music Journalism Insider is bringing interviews with nominees for the Grammy Award for Best Album Notes. MJI talked with four nominees - Gareth Murphy, who earned his nomination for the notes to the important Irish album 'Andy Irvine Paul Brady'; Fernando Gonzalez who is nominated for the notes to 'Astor Piazzolla: The American Clavé Recordings' about the tango master; Bob Mehr, the liner notes author for the important Wilco album 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'; Ted Olson who wrote liner notes for 'Doc’s World: Traditional Plus'.

Happy being sad

The 20 best sad albums

Consequence has rounded up a list of "20 of the most bleak, grim, melancholic albums out there for the most efficient commiserating", because "sad songs are so cathartic". The interesting list starts with Greet Death’s 'New Hell', at No. 20, to reach the catharsis with Mount Eerie's 'A Crow Looked at Me' at No. 1. Check out the full list.

UK rapper slowthai has shared his new single 'Selfish', and has announced his third studio album, UGLY (an acronym for “U Gotta Love Yourself”), set for release in March. The chaotic, propulsive 'Selfish' features strong drums and guitar. To promote the new track, Slowthai has live-streamed himself hanging out in a custom-built room fitted with floor-to-ceiling two-way mirrors. Watch the video of the track below.

Singer, songwriter, and guitar player for influential New York band Television, Tom Verlaine has died aged 73 after a "brief illness", the New York Times reports. Verlaine shaped the sound of rock and punk music in the 1970s and beyond, applying a poetic flair and serious musicianship to the rougher edges of the wider movement. After Television broke up in 1978, Verlaine embarked on an extensive solo career that saw him release ten albums across the ensuing decades, exploring a variety of musical themes that generally get tossed together under the label “post-punk. Television's first album 'Marquee Moon', released in 1977, is one of the most critically heralded punk/post-punk albums of all time.

Belgian Tomorrowland has been voted world’s No. 1 festival in the DJ Mag Top 100 Festivals poll 2022, with over 100,000 verified votes counted. "Since launching in 2005, Belgium's Tomorrowland festival has pushed the boundaries of production, imagination and curation", DJ Mag argues, adding "the flagship event expanded from two to three weekends in July 2022 for 'The Reflection of Love', welcoming 600,000 visitors from 200 countries, and hosted its Winter edition in L'Alpe d'Huez in France".

The top 10 festivals on DJ Mag's list are:

  1. Tomorrowland, Belgium
  2. Ultra Music Festival, USA
  3. EDC Las Vegas, USA
  4. Creamfields North, UK
  5. Exit, Serbia
  6. Glastonbury, UK
  7. Awakenings, Netherlands
  8. Coachella, USA
  9. Untold, Romania
  10. Sunburn, India

"I think art is the best medium for this awareness. Art comes from the heart, the pain and the suffering. I know that’s the case for me and other artists doing amazing work right now. The truth of my work is what is happening in Iran right now. I am just mirroring it" - Iranian rapper Säye Skye says in a Mix Mag interview about using revolutionary rap in the current protests in Iran. "The regime takes these mediums, and deals with them, very seriously. They know that having a podium and speaking the truth of the people can resonate with society, it can unite communities and that’s what they are afraid of. For the past 40 years the regime has been trying to diminish the power and value of art."

Thomas Bangalter, known for being one half of Daft Punk, has announced his first full-length record since the duo split in 2021. The album titled ‘Mythologies’ was originally made for the ballet of the same name choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj and premiered at the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. Set for release April 7, the album includes 23 tracks which “embrace the history of orchestral ballet music”. The announcement states that over the last thirty years Bangalter has "explored the world of technology" with electronic music and sees him now exploring “humankind” in this album with him quoting ancient and modern myths.

Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney has released her debut solo music as part of an Icelandic grassroots arts compilation ‘DRULLUMALL 4’. The compilation is made up of tracks from Icelandic artists, with Björk's daughter sharing a soulful track ‘bergmál’.

The second season of 'BMF', a television drama series inspired by the true story of a drug-dealing family and a record label, has premiered, following the story of taking the business nationwide. Season one introduced brothers Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, who were dealing cocaine together in high school in the 1980s, and eventually went on to run the Black Mafia Family, one of the largest drug empires in the USA. In 2005 the authorities eventually caught up with the pair and arrested them. By the early 2000s Demetrius had also founded BMF Entertainment – a hip-hop music titan that included a record label, promotion agency and magazine. It represented Bleu Da Vinci and associated themselves with artists including Diddy, T.I., and Jay-Z. Complex presents the characters from season two.

Music critic and publicist Simon Reynolds gave ChatGPT an assignment - to write an essay in the style of music critic Simon Reynolds that expresses skeptical views about A.I. taking over the role of the music critic. It was done in seconds, Reynolds writes impressed. "The argument itself struck me as averagely intelligent, making entry-level points about how A.I.-generated prose is necessarily deficient in empathy and nuance, and how it would lack the unique and personal perspective of a human critic". The style, or the "voice" of the A.I. was "earnest, plodding, attuned to bland generalities rather than arresting specifics, and irritatingly fair-minded. Not promising attributes for a critic!"

The tention mounts

Give Kali Malone a chance!

Kali Malone’s new album 'Does Spring Hide Its Joy' lasts three hours consisting solely of Malone on sine-wave oscillators, Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) on guitar and Lucy Railton on cello. The critics insist the album is powerful and demands total surrender. Pitchfork connects it to the pandemic and the future: "There’s something utopian about music driven by an attention to understanding those around you, music that pushes listeners to expand their understanding of how time is experienced and demarcated. In a period of upheaval, letting go of expectations of how things should be, beginning with how music should move or present itself, can be a powerful step toward reimagining the future."

First Floor takes a closer look at the current hype around Latin sounds and rhythms within the wider electronic music world. It examines how these flare-ups of interest have historically been not only fleeting, but shallow, playing into stereotypes and misinformed notions of what constitutes “authentic” Latin culture while also doing little to concretely benefit artists and scenes located in Latin America.

Each week, music journalists Courtney and Melissa sit down with a guest to discuss the one song they can never hear quite the same way again thanks to a past relationship. Big Joanie bass player Estella Adeyeri swings by Song My Ex Ruined to talk about how Mitski's 'Happy' was "almost" ruined by an ex but she refused to let it. Adeyeri says - "I just love the storyline that she sets in that song where it’s like, oh, like she didn’t hear them leave, and now’s, now I’ve got tidy up. It’s the come-down. It’s like, oh, this person’s here and stuff, and they made everything about them and not really considered my input, like my time. A few years later you’re like, 'Why was I so impressed about this man? Shouldn’t have been.'"

"The first thing you learn as a Palestinian is that you’re probably going to die. You have to engage a little bit extra because life could be over in 10 minutes” - DJ Sama' Abdulhadi says in a Guardian interview. Talking to Resident Advisor, she goes a step further: "We're human beings before anything else, and it's our trauma that creates our music and makes us who we are. It's just normal life for us, which is sad, because we're much more than that". She says her goal is to bring the world closer to Palestine—and Palestine closer to the world. Sama' Abdulhadi's short documentary, 'Portrait of Sama' Abdulhadi', will premiere online January 31st.

"Medieval Córdoba had more influence on global music than any other city in history. A thousand years before New Orleans spurred the rise of jazz, and instigated the Africanization of American music, a similar thing happened in Córdoba, Spain. You could even call that city the prototype for all the decisive musical trends of our modern times" - Ted Gioia proclaims in his latest post, about the culture hub which at the time had the largest population in the West - 450,000 inhabitants (much more than Paris, London, or Roma at the time). “This was the chapter in Europe’s culture when Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived side by side,” asserts Yale professor María Rosa Menocal, “and, despite their intractable differences and enduring hostilities, nourished a complex culture of tolerance.” It is that intersection of cultures that made it so impactful - "It is our single best example of how the West can enter into fruitful cultural dialogue with the outsider—to the benefit of both... The Córdoba Model still has something to teach us today. If we flourished by living together a thousand years ago, why shouldn’t it happen again now? The role model we need isn’t hard to describe—the rules are tolerance, connectivity, interaction, sharing, a welcoming attitude to new peoples and influences".

The inclusion of 'Elvis' and 'Tár' amid this year’s big nominees fits a recent pattern, as the Oscars have taken more of an interest in music movies since 2018... Both focus on individuals with humble beginnings who concoct over-the-top personas, fall under the influence of powerful mentors, travel the world, wear impeccable suits, womanize, end up at the center of controversy, and bottom out in uncomfortable ways. Both feel like fever dreams, where the titular star is haunted by spirits and their own inner darkness. Both could easily be re-cut as horror films. Both are endlessly debatable. But only one of these films is good - Pitchfork looks into Oscar's Best Picture category and the two music-themed nominees.

Last year's The Rising Star winner at the Brits, singer-songwriter Griff, talks to Lyor Cohen, the Global Head of Music at YouTube. about women, creativity, songwriting, and new talent in The Face. "Female talent is still looked at as a product. So there’s so much more doubt that we could possibly be involved in the back-end of creative. And it’s frustrating. But that’s something that I’ve just tried to shut away" - Griff says. She adds "I’m trying to now be really intentional about protecting my work and not letting loads of people come in, just because the pressure is on and we need a hit song. Actually I am a producer and I am a songwriter, and the same talent that you signed, so I can still do this. So, yeah, it’s frustrating!".

"It’s mainly business, but it’s cool because you get to work with people who you may not have ever been in the room with if it was just being an artist... I can write records for people that I would never write for myself. I’ve been doing this for 31 years; there’s nothing I can’t do with a pen, but certain things would not make sense for my brand" - Skyzoo, rapper and ghostwriter, says in a Tidal interview. "When I make records with people, I’ve really morphed into who they are. I never want to be the ghostwriter that when you hear it, you can tell that I wrote it. I want you to really think that person wrote it and all of a sudden just went crazy [laughs]. The one thing I do when I ghostwrite, I try to sneak in at least one moment that’s my style, just for fun" - Skyzoo says, adding he's "made records with Maino, Lloyd Banks, Jill Scott, Raheem DeVaughn. I’ve worked with John Legend". When it comes to money, he says - "I get paid twice. I get work-for-hire pay, and then I get paid when the record gets placed. And I get my points and my publishing and all that stuff".

"At the lowest levels in a corporation, those analytical STEM skills help you get a promotion and a raise. But at the highest levels of management, your creativity, imagination, and core values are tested constantly. When you face the biggest decisions, there are so many trade-offs that no spreadsheet or algorithm can guide you—everything from worker motivation to community support can be at stake. You can’t even quantify those things, let alone calculate their trade-offs. You need something deeper. It’s more a matter of values and creative insight than math" - music writer Ted Gioia writes in favor of putting creative people to run big companies, even someone like Miles Davis. Gioia is inspired by changes happening recently at Barnes & Noble.

Oscar news! In the Best Original Song, the following are nominated. Rihanna was nominated for her 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' song “Lift Me Up,” Lady Gaga got a nomination for “Hold My Hand” in 'Top Gun: Maverick,' Sofia Carson is up for 'Applause' from 'Tell It Like a Woman', Son Lux’s song 'This Is a Life' featuring Mitski and David Byrne from 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' is also up for Oscar, as well as 'Naatu Naatu' from 'RRR' by Rahul Sipligunj, Kaala Bhairava, and M.M. Keeravani. In the Best Picture category, music-themed 'Elvis', and 'Tár' are nominated. Rolling Stone reports.

"NOIA and Buscabulla aren’t concerned with simply mirroring the architecture of a grief-stricken bolero; here, they reimagine it altogether. 'Eclipse de Amor' shines thanks to its unexpected production flourishes: Over the bolero percussion, an incandescent synth line from Buscabulla’s Luis Alfredo Del Valle flickers like a loose lightbulb, and in the outro, there is the whistle of Puerto Rico’s beloved coquí frogs" - Pitchfork emphasizes the latest track by the Barcelona-born, Brooklyn-based experimental pop artist NOIA.

Hipgnosis Songs Capital has announced that they have acquired Justin Bieber’s 100% interest in his Publishing Copyrights, Master Recordings and Neighboring Rights for Bieber’s entire back catalog, comprising over 290 titles released before December 31, 2021. The deal, worth $200 million, as reported by Billboard, is the largest rights sale for any artist of Bieber’s generation. It’s also Hipgnosis’ biggest acquisition to date.

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"Any effort to demystify the Grammys voting process tends to raise more questions than it does answers. The Grammys’ definition of excellence in Dance/Electronic music is as it applies to voting members of the Academy, who are not necessarily experts in dance music. Their choices more often than not reflect tracks and albums that have sold well and/or gone viral on TikTok" - Mixmag tries to find out who actually decides the nominations and the winners in the Dance/Electronic field at the Grammys, and what determines a track or album’s eligibility.

Lizzo has managed to patent the "100% that bitch" phrase, which she used on her breakout single 'Truth Hurts' when she proclaimed “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch”. In 2019, the musician expressed interest in trademarking the phrase for later use on clothing and merchandise. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which denied Lizzo’s application last year, had its ruling overturned by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Now, she can sell the phrase as her original, the CMU reports.

TikTok has removed major record company music from its service for a number of its users in Australia, who no longer have the choice to use it in their videos, Bloomberg reports. MBW is guessing that TikTok is aiming to use the results of the experiment in their next round of record company licensing negotiations. The estimate is TikTok is hoping that the removal of major label music won’t have a profound effect on the engagement of users on the service. This then opens up a conversation about the true monetary value of music licensing from major record labels.

Tickets resellers have started posting listings for tickets for Beyoncé's Renaissance tour for as much as $3,000 a ticket, although they don't actually have them, Rolling Stone reports. Some of the best seats for Beyoncé’s So-Fi Stadium show in Los Angeles in September are selling for $3,064 per ticket on VividSeats. The cheapest were listed at $570. This isn't the first such case - tickets for Fall Out Boy’s 'So Much For (Tour) Dust' Tour were listed on resale sites the day before the official start of sale for hundreds of dollars a ticket.

Tone Glow talked to Detroit techno trio HiTech about their debut album, and also, among other issues, about reaching for freedom through dance:

"King Milo: I be tired of seein’ people be locked up. You gotta understand, and I know you understand this for sure, bro—when people, these days, are at a show, they’re a little more tightly-knit since before COVID. And after COVID, you have to get these people to chill the fuck out. Release these inhibitions out, and kind of let it go, and have fun. You’ll have people out to shows, and if it’s not one of those A-tier joints, they tend to be a little more reserved until they see a million people be unleashed. I want people to feel like it can be ten, twenty, thirty, a thousand people there and you can unlock, just jazz out. I don’t want no locked in, confinement of the mind and expression.

47Chops: We want people to have fun, not worry about all that other shit. And, dancing is not only spiritual, but it’s good for you, it’s healthy.

Milf Melly: Burnin’ hella calories (laughter).

47Chops: Relieves stress".

“I give people confidence. They give me money.”

Ted Gioia: ChatGPT - the slickest con artist of all time

Music writer Ted Gioia doesn't like ChatGPT, he doesn't like it one bit: "ChatGPT is hotter than Wordle and Taylor Swift combined... People love it. People have confidence in it. They want to use it for everything—legal work, medical advice, term papers, or even writing Substack columns... But that’s exactly what the confidence artist always does. Which is:

  • You give people what they ask for.
  • You don’t worry whether it’s true or not—because ethical scruples aren’t part of your job description.
  • If you get caught in a lie, you serve up another lie.
  • You always act sure of yourself—because your confidence is what seals the deal".

Tunisian producer and composer Ghoula is about to release his new album 'Demi-écrémé'—which translates roughly to "semi-skimmed", and which features songs built around the sounds he captured during his travels around Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Lebanon. On that voyage he found a lot of vinyl, so he played around with chords, tunes, and instruments to make his second album. "It’s like being in conversation with another person through sound. I found myself thinking, ‘These sounds are derivatives of the original source.’ So I’ll call it 'Semi-skimmed'” - he says to Bandcamp Daily.

"The punch-drunk beat... comes from Leon Vynehall, The Invisible’s Dave Okumu is on guitar, and the mixdown by Lexxx is perfectly weighted, evoking small-town claustrophobia without crowding Wesley out" - Gabriel Szatan recommends 'Hiatus' by the London rapper. Then there's vocals: "His elastic, ruminative flow about teenage years spent hopping buses between Walsall and Birmingham to escape the stultifying sense of 'feeling navy' is captivating enough, yet it doesn’t remotely telegraph the track’s surprise denouement, where Wesley lets ring a falsetto so far up his register, you might be hoodwinked into thinking it’s a choir".

Great musicians nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2023: Iron Maiden, George Michael, Soundgarden, Missy Elliott, Rage Against the Machine, A Tribe Called Quest, Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, the White Stripes, Cyndi Lauper, Warren Zevon, Willie Nelson, and the Spinners. Joy Division and New Order are nominated together for first-time Rock Hall consideration.

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