Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition - in 21st century

Barcelona: Five days of protests after rapper gets jailed

Five nights of protests in Barcelona have followed after the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasél, convicted of criticizing the country's monarchy and glorifying a separatist group in a series of tweets, Reuters reports. Thousands took to the streets Saturday night, protesting Hasél's conviction and nine-month sentence. Protests turned violent on Saturday with protesters throwing objects at police, setting fires and looting and vandalizing many luxury shops.

Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda becomes the first major label artist to launch a single via NFT - non-fungible token auction, according to Loudwire. 'Happy Endings' is a collaboration featuring rising vocalist Upsahl and alt-pop star Iann Dior, and he is using the cryptocurrency as a new avenue to promote his music. Shinoda gave his fans the opportunity to bid for a chance to win an original print of the single artwork signed by him and contemporary artist Cain Caser at a cryptocurrency auction.

Discogs has seen a big growth in sales last year, their year-end report shows: the marketplace is up 35.78% to 8,845,534 orders over the prior year and in total 16,290,197 pieces of physical music were sold around the world, bringing an overall 40.12% increase year-over-year. The most popular physical music format sold in 2020 was vinyl - 11,961,998 records were sold, up 40.75% from 2019. CDs have also increased 37.18% year-over-year with 3,441,769 compact discs purchased. Interest in cassettes hasn’t died down, with a total of 282,798 sold through the Marketplace, a 33.33% increase over 2019.

"Surrounding her voice with saxophone and fretless bass, drum loops and field recordings, acoustic instruments and new age synth, Jenkins’ accompanists mirror the conversational tone of her writing, ensuring that the revelations aren’t limited to the lyric sheet" - Pitchfork writes in the review of Cassandra Jenkins' second album (tagged it Best New Music, grade 8.3). Brooklyn Vegan thinks highly of it as well: "Warm, '70s-style folk music is still one of the big influences here, but 'Overview' also finds Cassandra embracing a sophisti-pop/indie rock blend... The instrumentals alone on this album are gripping enough to stop you in your tracks, but sealing the deal is Cassandra's lyricism and vocal delivery, which feel casual and conversational but also poetic and quietly devastating".

Experimental Indonesian metal Senyawa are releasing their new album ‘Alkisah’ on 44 different independent labels around the world (release dates vary from Feb 19 to Feb 21). Labels span from the experimental duo’s hometown of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to the United States, United Kingdom, EU and other Asian countries, the New York Times reports. Senyawa confirmed the album release will vary by label, each with their own “different design and packaging, with multiple remix/reinterpretations by various artists”. Senyawa said that the concept of releasing through multiple labels would decentralise the “former hierarchical system of music distribution” and would allow shipping distances and cost to be reduced, and empower “smaller scattered powers to grow and connect”.

Đjorđe Balašević, a Serbian folk-pop singer who remained widely popular throughout the former Yugoslavia after the wars of the 1990s, has died aged 67 after contracting the new coronavirus, ABC reports. Balašević started his musical career in late 1970s, and, as an anti-nationalist and a pacifist during the wartime-era, he remained popular in ex-Yugoslav states, filling up concert halls after the wars. In 1998 he was named UN's Goodwill Ambassador. Balašević is survived by his wife, three children, and his music.

The third album by East London rapper "depicts honest tales of London through the art of true lyricism, a tradition that will never die out" - NME writes about Ghetts' 'Conflict of Interest', an album rich in lyrics and collaborations (and minutes - it's over an hour long). Alexis Petridis says the album "feels like the work of an artist who’s in it for the long haul rather than short-term rewards". Clash Music puts it simple: "His strongest album to date, and one of grime’s true classic".

Billboard examines the financial side of Morgan Wallen's scandal, estimating that Wallen's label, Big Loud, is currently making more than $1.5 million a week from sales and streaming of his album 'Dangerous'. This record has been the #1 album in the US for five weeks, two of those weeks coming after his racial slur. Officially, Big Loud has suspended Wallen, but his fans are coming to his defense, so the sales of that double album have gone up. Country star Maren Morris sums it up pretty good: "I think that your fans are a reflection of you and what you’re about. And you can’t control a human being, but you absolutely can let them know where you stand", meaning it's a change that'll take time.

Music mogul Irving Azoff has acquired a majority interest in Beach Boys' music, their master recordings, a portion of their publishing, the Beach Boys brand, memorabilia, an archive of photos, videos and interviews, for an estimated $100 million to $200 million, Rolling Stone reports. Azoff, manager of the Eagles and Jon Bon Jovi, takes control over everything from Beach Boys' social-media accounts to their names, likenesses, and life stories. Azoff's company Iconic will be overseeing Beach Boys their work even after the remaining members die.

Death is not the end - of music

Pop Smoke a year after - a superstar

A year ago Pop Smoke was shot and killed at age 20, as he was preparing to release his debut album. Although he died, his music reached high levels in the meantime, as Independent sums it up. Last summer, the rapper’s breakout 2019 single 'Dior' became fuel for the Black Lives Matter movement. His posthumous single 'What You Know Bout Love' reached the top spot on the US rhythmic radio chart last month. Song 'For The Night' is now a staple among the top five played songs on urban radio stations. His posthumous album 'Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon' has topped the Billboard 200 twice...

1980s pop singer Glenn Medeiros was often asked for sex by music industry figures in return for help with his careers - as he has told the Celebrity Catch Up podcast. Medeiros said he saw these offers "everywhere", and he refused them all, but other artists, as he said, would accept them: "I had friends who specifically said, 'I am going to be moving in with this person because this person is going to be helping me with my recording career. The person's attractive and I like them anyway, so it's OK"". Medeiros now runs a school in Hawaii.

Miles Cooper Seaton, a founding member of the experimental rock band Akron/Family, has died aged 41, Stereogum reports. Seaton took a multi-instrumental role in Akron/Family releasing six albums with the band in the 2005-2013 period, continuing to make experimental music under his own name in the following years.

Perseverance, the largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world, touched down on Mars Thursday, carrying for the first time a small microphone that will have recorded the sounds of the descent and the martian environment itself. NASA doesn't really make audio-recordings - “in the space business we don't do a lot with microphones and sound, since most of our research is done in a vacuum”, so the microphone was designed by Jason Achilles Mezilis, a Los Angeles–based rock musician, composer, and lifelong space enthusiast. The mic is scientifically focused, and it sits in an instrument called SuperCam to help study what happens to rocks when they get zapped with a laser. It could also record ambient sound. Wired brings the amazing story.

Prince Markie Dee, a member of the pioneering hip-hop group the Fat Boys, died aged 52 on Thursday, a day before his birthday, Rolling Stone reports. Together with Human Beatbox and Kool Rock Ski he launched Fat Boys in 1983, becoming one of rap’s premier pop culture ambassadors. The Roots' Questlove said “they were figuratively (no weight jokes) the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time. Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it". After the band's breakup, he wrote and produced pop songs for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey under his birth name Mark Morales.

Guardian made a nice little survey among artists and its writers about descriptions of night-clubs in art. Róisín Murphy chose the party scene in Paolo Sorrentino’s 'The Great Beauty', as well as Elaine Constantine's 'Northern Soul' which turned out well because the director taught the teenagers in the movie how to dance. The G's film critic Peter Bradshaw chose the sex/nightclub scene from 'Mektoub, My Love' by Abdellatif Kechiche. Music critic Alexis Petridis thinks that the one is the description of "the feeling of chemically enhanced, musically driven transcendence" from 'The Sparsholt Affair' novel by Alan Hollinghurst.

Named after a variety of bee-attracting orchid, Apifera create free, improvisatory, and live sound, combining jazz, psychedelia, and electronics. They recently released their debut album 'Overstand' for Stones Throw, with influences ranging from folk music, classical music and transcendental jazz. Their recent live tape shows them more in electronic mode.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have announced a charity prize draw with the goal of raising £200,000 to support their tour crew. They've collected over 100 prizes, including The Bad Seeds' own signed instruments, a limited edition art print of Nick Cave, deluxe album copies, show tickets, gift vouchers, and much more. To participate in the draw, fans can purchase tickets until March 12. Winning tickets will be drawn at random, and each winning ticket will grant the winner a random lot out of the 100+ prizes. There's also an option to donate without entering the prize draw. They have already collected over £78,000.

Pioneering Jamaican reggae vocalist and dancehall innovator, credited for pioneering the vocal style known as "toasting", U-Roy, has died at the age of 78. U-Roy is credited for pioneering “toasting,” the vocal style in which a performer talks or chants, usually in a monotone melody, over a reggae or dancehall beat, Loop Jamaica reports.

"Paid memberships - the decades-old model in which fans contribute a regular fee directly to their favourite creator or brand in exchange for exclusive content and experiences - are back in vogue in the music industry" - Cherie Hu writes in DJ Mag about the lifesaver of electronic musicians in lockdown - Patreon. In the seven years since it launched, "Patreon has facilitated total membership transactions of over $1 billion between 6 million fans and 200,000 creators, half of which launched their respective pages in the last six months. The music category has grown by 200% over the past half-year (by the number of creator pages), making music one of the top two categories on Patreon for the first time in the company’s history".

"I think that it's a good thing that you can be destructive in music without fucking things up too much. Whereas if you're destructive in the kitchen, you're just going to make yourself sad, because it'll taste terrible" - Sam Pillay of Virginia Wing told the Quietus about their chaotic new album. TheQ says that tracks on 'private LIFE' often feel like "performers stumbling groggily on stage, elegantly shooting themselves in the foot, then somehow pirouetting off, perfectly choreographed, in unison... It's paradoxically both chaotic and comforting, mirroring the way everyday life carries on during crises, wrestling just a little bit of order away from entropy".

"With haunting serenity, there is a flitting consciousness to the these brief, nightmarish lullabies that leaves you transfixed within a realm of broken intimacy" - Secret Meeting writes in a review of debut EP by New York singer-songwriter Maria BC. They are classical training as a mezzo-soprano, but their voice, hushed in pop melodies, seems to reach only a portion of what might next from them. Promising...

American singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren has embarked on a virtual tour of 25 American cities which is broadcast from the same Chicago stage, but geo-targeted to different regional markets, Variety reports. Shows come with visual cues saluting the would-be host towns and multiple shout-outs to the virtually targeted city. The focus is on making each show a unique event, with a virtual perimeter that will restrict viewing of a particular show to audience members who live there. Prior to shows, there’s the sound of murmuring people looking for their seats, and for every city on the video wall behind the band there'll be a picture of the actual proscenium stage. This virtual tour runs February through March. Tickets go for $35.

Spotify, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora and 15 other digital service providers paid out a total of $424.38 million to the Mechanical Licensing Collective in accrued historical unmatched royalties, Forbes reports. It's 10 years of royalties DSPs have collected but couldn't match countless songs to their writers and publishers, so they just - sat on that half a billion dollars. In addition to their payments, the DSPs also delivered more than 1,800 data files, which contain in excess of 1.3 terabytes and 9 billion lines of data. The MLC is now reviewing and analyzing the data in order to find and pay the proper copyright owners.

A great article in Stuff about Rebecca Black who went through ten years of recovering after her song 'Friday' brought her unwanted attention as "the worst song/video ever" (she was 13 at the time of the song). She says "It's not normal for a person - for a kid, especially - to have the entire world make fun of them and then just laugh along with it... What it did was dehumanise me even more into some version of a spectacle because none of that is real". She was also bullied in school, started with home-schooling, and it took her years before she dared to make music again.

Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West talked to Beatport about the origination of house and techno by African American creators, going into the philosophy of black music. West argues it is a vessel to travel through time and be connected with time and space. He also discusses the hijacking of music made by black people.

Printworks

DJ Mag describes what have the UK night clubs been up to in lockdown. Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh - reopened as a pizza bar; Printworks, London - hosted production projects and live-streams; Studio 338, London - transformed into a food bank; Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool - used as a COVID-19 testing centre; Fabric, London - has been reflecting and “identified lots of little details and some larger improvements"...

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Hu / Turner

Bob Dylan has sold his entire songwriting catalogue to Universal Music for $300 million; Beach Boys sold their masters and brand to Irving Azzoff to $100 million; Taylor Swift is re-recording her older records; Round Hill has bought some Beatles The Rolling Stones, and Backstreet Boys classics for $282 million; Neil Young has sold 50 percent of his catalogue for $150 million - these are only some of the deals in the music business last year. Music business podcast Money 4 Nothing talks to Cherie Hu of Water & Music and David Turner of Penny Fractions about whether this makes any business sense, and how will it shape the future of music.

Huck tells the story of the LA punk scene which survived the pandemic with dozens of backyard gigs. The magazine argues "this attitude – of taking personal responsibility for yourself and your actions, despite what the rules say – is a common one in the DIY punk scene". Beko, the singer and frontman of punk band Lazy Dream, explains the attitude: “Our whole method is do-it-yourself. We were tired of waiting for people to do the recording thing, so we just did the recording ourselves… With the shows, we did that as well. We were like, ‘Ok, we have this backyard right here, might as well throw a show. Because if no one’s going to hire us or invite us anywhere, might as well do it ourselves’”.

Pussy Riot shared 'Toxic', a new collaborative single with Dorian Electra, produced by 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady who adds plenty of hyper-pop sonics. Nadya Tolokonnikova said “‘Toxic' is political, because personal is political. The single reflects on the importance of self-care, cherishing your mental health and staying away from relationships that poison you", according to Pitchfork.

"I'm a girl from a cotton field that pulled myself above the destruction and the mistakes. And I'm here for you" - Tina Turner says in the official trailer for the documentary 'Tina', which is set to follow her early life and childhood, People reports. The brief interview clip refers to Turner's youth. At 11, Turner's mother Zelma left her family and the abusive relationship she had with Turner's father Floyd. The documentary also features interviews with Tina in her hometown of Zurich, Switzerland and shows new footage, audio tapes, and personal photos.

Adrianne Lenker

Singer-songwriter Jim Ghedi shares his new album 'In the Furrows Of Common Place' with 'Beneath the Willow' as the stand-out track; Adrianne Lenker shares the new Big Thief song 'Simulation Swarm', played by her alone; Debbie Friday shares a dark electro-pop song 'Runnin''; José González is back with his first new song in six years, Spanish-sung 'El Invento'; female trio Horsegirl share their dreampop/shoegaze single 'Ballroom Dance Scene'.

The use of Splice, a highly rated app for mobile video editing, has boomed during the pandemic, as people stuck at home experimented with making their own tracks, Bloomberg reports. The company specializes in royalty-free samples, which allow people to use drum sounds or flutes from a large library for a monthly fee. The company has just raised an additional $55 million from investors, raising the value of the company at close to $500 million.

Spotify is expanding into over 80 new markets in more than 36 new languages – including key territories across Africa such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, Spotify reports. Together, these 80 markets house more than a billion people with nearly half of them already using the internet. The vast expansion over the coming days means that Spotify will be active in more than 173 markets.

Bruce Springsteen has teamed up with former American president Barack Obama for a new podcast series titled 'Renegades: Born in the USA', Reuters reports. The eight-episode series will cover a range of topics, including race, fatherhood, marriage, and the state of America. The first two episodes are available on Spotify.

Trapital believes there is great potential for Non-fungible tokens in hip-hop: "The late MF DOOM had just held an auction for augmented reality NFTs for his signature masks. Soulja Boy recently minted his own NFT. Hip-Hop Legends NFT is also selling several collectibles on its marketplace". An NFT is a unique and not interchangeable digital asset that relies on blockchain technology, which makes it easier to verify authenticity. Cherie Hu said in Water & Music on NFTs that hip-hop is ahead of most genres.

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