"Catalog" records accounted for a stunning 82.1% of total recorded music consumption in the US in the second half of 2021, MBW reports. On the other hand, that means "current" records made up just 17.9% of US music consumption in the last six months of 2021. "Catalog" music counts as anything released over 18 months before a consumer made a purchase and/or pressed play. MGW later admitted they miscalculated, and that the actual percentage was  73.1%.

David Bowie's estate has sold his publishing catalog to Warner Chappell Music for upwards of $250 million, Variety reports. The deal includes songs such as 'Heroes', 'Changes', 'Space Oddity', Rebel Rebel', 'Ziggy Stardust' and hundreds more from the 26 studio albums released during his lifetime, as well as the posthumous studio album release, 'Toy', which comes out on Friday.

A California judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Spencer Elden, the baby from 'Nevermind' cover, alleging that Nirvana’s naked-baby artwork for the epic album constitutes child sexual exploitation, BBC News reports. Elden, who is now 30, claimed he suffered “lifelong damages,” including loss of wages, as a result of the album cover, and described the enterprise as a “sex trafficking venture”. The lawyers also noted that, until recently, Elden had seemed to enjoy the notoriety of being the "Nirvana baby": "He has re-enacted the photograph in exchange for a fee, many times; he has had the album title... tattooed across his chest; he has appeared on a talk show wearing a self-parodying, nude-colored onesie; he has autographed copies of the album cover for sale on eBay; and he has used the connection to try to pick up women".

London rapper Central Cee is the first musician shortlisted on BBC's Sound of 2022. He's been doing music for 10 years, but he's been in the limelight for the last year. He talked to BBC about his perseverance: "Within those 10 years there's obviously been bumps in the road and whatever but I was determined for the most part". His plan for 2022 is to - "stay alive and get richer!".

The New Yorker looks back to the career of pianist and composer Hasaan Ibn Ali and his new release 'Retrospect In Retirement Of Delay: The Solo Recordings' - which features him in privately recorded performances from 1962 to 1965. The recording "reveals his profundity, his overwhelming power, his mighty virtuosity. It does more than put him on the map of jazz history—it expands the map to include the vast expanse of his musical achievement".

Dean Blunt

Tone Glow assembled a list of their favourite albums of 2021 (not the best). An interesting list of experimental music:

Michael Pisaro-Liu - 'Revolution Shuffle'

Yvette Janine Jackson - 'Freedom'

Wild Up - 'Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine'

DJ Sprinkles - 'Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits: 1998-2017 12-Inches & One-Offs'

Éliane Radigue - 'Occam Ocean 3'

Jana Rush - 'Painful Enlightenment'

Dean Blunt - 'Black Metal 2'

Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt - 'Made Out of Sound'

Haptic - 'Weird Undying Annihilation'

Injury Reserve - 'By the Time I Get to Phoenix'

L’Rain - 'Fatigue'

Lucy Liyou - 'Practice'

Juçara Marçal - 'Delta Estácio Blues'

MIKE - 'Disco!'

Lucia Nimcová & Sholto Dobie - 'DILO'

William Parker – 'Migration of Silence into and Out of the Tone World (Volumes 1–10)'

RP Boo - 'Established!'

ThouxanBanFauni - 'Time of My Life'

Richard Youngs - 'CXXI'

RXK Nephew - 'Slitherman Activated'

The Russian government has officially labeled Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Nika Nikulshina as “foreign agents”, BBC reports. The designation is a Russian government effort to stifle dissent and discredit anyone carrying the label. “Foreign agents” are required to append disclaimer statements to their social media posts, news reports, and other public-facing content. Tolokonnikova was arrested and spent two years in prison after a 2012 protest inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Nikulshina was detained with other members of Pussy Riot for rushing the field at the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow.

Chance the Rapper made a great cover of Nelly's 'Hot in Herre' in - country rock style. CTR was performing as a guest in Jimmy Fallon’s new music and comedy variety game show series 'That’s My Jam' where the participant gets a song and completely different genre that they have to sing it in. Chance the Rapper remixed the song with an extra twang, and fake Southern accent. Great fun. Watch it below!

"The curse of being a music hound is that you’ll never be able to hear everything; the blessing is that there’ll always be something new to discover" - Boston Globe writer points out in the article about musical discoveries from this year. It's actually all well-known names, but not for everybody, some had the luck of finding out excitement in something all else knew.

2.11 million vinyl records were sold in the week ending on December 23rd in the US, marking vinyl’s biggest week in sales since 1991, Billboard reports. It is also the first time vinyl sales have exceeded two million units in decades. Kid Cudi just broke the record for the biggest vinyl sales week for both a male artist and a rap album with 41,500 in sales of his album 'Man on the Moon III: The Chosen'. However, the best-selling vinyl album in the past week was Adele‘s '30', which moved 59,000 copies.

"This year, many of the books we loved most used music as a lens through which to examine broader issues of politics, history, and identity — whether it was the story of capitalist circulation as heard by Joshua Clover in the Modern Lovers’ 'Roadrunner', Hanif Abdurraqib riffing on everything from 'Soul Train' to 1920s dance crazes in his panoramic 'A Little Devil in America'or Eric Harvey exploring depictions of African American life in Eighties pop culture" - Rolling Stone starts the introduction to their selection of the best 22 music books released this year.

Vinyl sales in the UK topped five million for the first time since 1991, BBC reports adding that almost a quarter of the albums bought this year (23%) were on vinyl. Abba's 'Voyage' was the biggest-seller, followed by Adele's '30', Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours', Ed Sheeran's '=', and Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black'. This year marks vinyl's 14th consecutive year of growth, with sales up by 8% on 2020. Sales of CDs continued to fall - just 14 million discs were bought, a 12% drop compared to the previous year - the lowest figure since 1988. Cassette sales increased for a ninth consecutive year - around 190,000 tapes were purchased in the past 12 months, up by around 20% year on year.

Dr. Dre has reached a settlement that will see him pay $100 million to his ex-wife Nicole Young, which includes more than half of Dre’s liquid assets, as well as a Rolls Royce, Range Rover, Spyder motorcycle, Escalade limousine, and all of her jewelry. Divorce papers filed with L.A. Superior Court on Nov. 18th show him to be worth $458.2 million, with $182.7 million cash, $6.3 million in stocks, and $269.2 million in property and assets, Consequence reports.

Turnstile

"It's hard to narrow down all the albums we loved this year, but we whittled a list down to 50, which spans over a dozen different genres of music, from breakthrough debut albums to career-high peaks from veteran artists and plenty of the in-between" - Brooklyn Vegan points out introducing their Top 50 albums of 2021. Here are their Top 10:

10. Japanese Breakfast - 'Jubilee'

9. Billie Eilish - 'Happier Than Ever'

8. Every Time I Die - 'Radical'

7. Cassandra Jenkins - 'An Overview on Phenomenal Nature'

6. The Weather Station - 'Ignorance'

5. Little Simz - 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert'

4. Tyler, the Creator - 'Call Me If You Get Lost'

3. Low - 'HEY WHAT'

2. Jazmine Sullivan - 'Heaux Tales'

  1. Turnstile - 'Glow On'

Music writer Cherie Hu had gathered "over 40 of our community members across industries, geographies, career stages and skill sets... to try to make sense of the immense challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for music/Web3's future. The result is a first-of-its-kind, five-part syllabus on the state of music/Web3, with a selection of clear market maps, best practices and calls to action for music-industry stakeholders to use Web3 as a tool for fostering a more innovative, sustainable and equitable environment for everyone involved". Read it.

MusicREDEF compiled a list of more than 600 people from the music world who died this year - "men and women who deeply enriched our musical lives—and who continue to live through the music they made or helped make possible". A few of them are Lee "Scratch" Perry, DMX, Charlie Watts, Chick Corea, Vicente Fernández, Drakeo the Ruler, Sophie, Lou Ottens, Joey Jordison...

The MIT Press Reader published what is actually a funny essay about the first reactions to waltz when it came to Germany and France at the beginning of the 18th century: "The German poet Ernst Moritz Arndt described the French 'nationalization of this German dance' in moralizing terms: The closed-couple hold, he said, allowed the male dancers to squeeze “the lady dancers as close as possible against themselves” while placing their hands “firmly on the breasts” of their partners... Partners experimented with a vertigo whose centrifugal force and intoxication 'exhausted' their bodies and 'heated' their imaginations. Through touch, the exchange of perspiration, and a rapidity that solicited the imaginations of the dancers embracing one another, the dazzling intimacy of the waltz was said to produce a ravishment that — according to the doctors who described it — menaced the health of an entire generation of youth" - 🙂 .

Guarding us from bad music

Guardian chooses best albums of 2021

An interesting list of the 50 best albums of 2021 chosen by the Guardian writers. Before that, let's mention their list of the best global music albums, headed by Toumani Diabaté and the London Symphony Orchestra's 'Kôrôlén', and their list of best folk albums, with John Francis Flynn taking the top spot with 'I Would Not Live Always'. Going back to their general list, the top 10 are:

10 Mdou Moctar – 'Afrique Victime'

9 Arlo Parks – 'Collapsed in Sunbeams'

8 Olivia Rodrigo – 'Sour'

7 Dry Cleaning – 'New Long Leg'

6 Sault – 'Nine'

5 Tyler, the Creator – 'Call Me If You Get Lost'

4 The Weather Station – 'Ignorance'

3 Little Simz – 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert'

2 Wolf Alice – 'Blue Weekend'

1 Self Esteem – 'Prioritise Pleasure'

Sometimes lists might be summarized

Little Simz tops BBC's best albums list

'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert' by Little Simz has been named the best record of 2021 in BBC's summarized list. The album topped a BBC News "poll of polls" that combined the results of 30 critics' end-of-year lists. BBC points out that this "journey through her family background and artistic struggles" has been "praised for its 'razor-sharp lyricism' and 'extravagant, orchestral' songs". The best songs list is topped by 'Good 4U' by Olivia Rodrigo.

The Guardian was so cheeky to ask, and Noddy Holder was so cool to (kind of) answer the question about the amount of money he makes from the 1973 hit single 'Merry Xmas Everybody' he released with the Slade. “It’s like having a hit record every year. So it’s a nice pension plan, I’ll say that” - Holder says. Guardian quotes The PRS, who reported £512,000 annually for Holder from the Christmas hit, whereas the Daily Mail goes with a £1m.

"This year, we finally got to dance together again. But due to dodgy drugs, heightened concerns about women’s safety and the politically polarising impact of the pandemic, the euphoria was tainted with a darker vibe" - The Face looks back at the UK dance scene in 2021. The writer Chal Ravens adds: "The history of club culture demonstrates that raving was never intended to be a government-sanctioned activity; dance music has almost always existed in opposition to the state and its racist and homophobic laws. But the healthy suspicion of authority that permeates the nightlife milieu is useless without an analysis on which to base our grievances. A tinfoil hat is not a political position".

"He was easily the most original artist from the West Coast in a generation. In his music, he had the unique ability to make death, with its cheap suit and bad manners, seem like a droll, if malevolent, snake-oil salesman. His low-key register made him sound like he just woke up, looming like a groggy gangster who’d decided to spend the day cracking inappropriate jokes" - Rolling Stone looks back at the music of the slain rapper.

The Nirvana lawyer has responded to a lawsuit by Spencer Elden, the baby from the 'Nevermind' cover, Billboard reports. Elden filed the lawsuit on August 24, accusing Nirvana of violating federal pornography laws and also accusing them of exploitation. The lawyer argues that plaintiff Elden’s claims are “barred by the applicable statute of limitations”, adding in the paper that “Elden’s claim that the photograph on the Nevermind album cover is ‘child pornography’ is, on its face, not serious”. The lawyer also claims that the lawsuit was filed too late.

YouTube music critic The Needle Drop also comes out with his selection of best albums of 2021. A really very versatile selection, covering genres such as death metal, classical music, rock, conceptual pop... The top 5 albums chosen by The Needle Drop: St. Vincent, Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra, Arca, Lingua Ignota, and Spelling.

YouTube music theorist 12tone analyses the rhythm and emphasis in James Brown's 'I Feel Good'. It's actually a reaction to another YouTube music theorist's video, Adam Neely's video on the same song. 12tone points out how analysis gets in the way of imagination.

"Rappers like Young Thug and Lil Nas X incorporate rock sounds just as the Beatles and the Stones appropriated rhythm and blues, the category of rock itself seems to be reconstituting itself. Band guys are still around, many making great music. But they're sharing space and the culture is better for it" - NPR writes in its interesting essay about the nature of the band.

"Christmas songs vary hugely in genre – you’ve got everything from Songs-of-Praise-core to “Mad World” – and as you will see throughout this list, we are not afraid to challenge boundaries and perceptions. (One of the songs included, for example, doesn’t actually exist.) Not all Christmas songs mention Christmas, and not all Christmas songs are even “songs” as you may know them. Your mother screaming at you to get the dog out of the living room while there’s ham out, say, is just as much a Christmas ditty as “Silent Night” herself. You may not be able to play all our choices on your little Spotify, but they are all undoubtedly Christmas songs in that they contribute to the sounds and the mildly deranged mood of the season" - Vice kind of argues in favor of its list of 50 best Christmas songs. A mad list.

The first trailer for Robert Eggers' epic Viking revenge saga 'The Northman', has been released, and it features Björk making her first on-screen appearance since 2000’s 'Dancer in the Dark', playing a seeress. Alexander Skarsgård, plays Amieth, a Viking prince seeking revenge for his murdered father. The story is based on the medieval Scandinavian legend, which served as the inspiration for Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet'. Ethan Hawke plays Ameith’s father, King Horvendill, who is married to Queen Gudrun, portrayed by Nicole Kidman.

"Clearly, we need more tailored solutions for creators. The billions of dollars poured into the creator economy might suggest that the space is oversaturated, but that’s far from the truth. There are tons of burgeoning hobbyists who need help with marketing. For rising multi-hyphenates... the opportunities are there. But the tools are not keeping up" - Dan Runcie said in his call to the tech industry to offer creators technology they need.

Rapper Drakeo the Ruler was fatally stabbed backstage at the Once Upon a Time in L.A. Festival in Los Angeles on Saturday night, TMZ reports. The 28-year-old rapper was stabbed with a knife during an altercation that took place around 8:30 p.m. local time. He was taken to an area hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Following the incident, the remainder of Once Upon a Time in L.A. was canceled, including headlining sets from 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. LA Times reports about LA's hip-hop community mourning the loss of the rapper.

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YouTube music theorist Adam Neely ranks polyrhythms people have sent him. His Sungazer bandmate, drummer Shawn Crowder plays those strange polyrhythms and then they rank them together. Very nerdy stuff, but still plenty of fun.

Rob Sheffield writes a lovely ode to the CD (not sure he really proved the CDs are back, although in 2021, CD sales increased for the first time in 17 years): "It’s an inarguable fact that music sales reached their all-time peak when the CD was king. No audio device did a sharper job of separating fans from their 20-dollar bills. People loved to buy those digital discs, in numbers that look crazy now. We all spent the Nineties going to the 'record store' ('CD stores' never existed, even though most record stores had no vinyl), browsing the racks, taking something weird home, listening all the way through. You invested time and emotional energy, instead of giving up quick as you do with streams. The disc encouraged you to turn off your 'meh' reflex and let yourself hear whatever weird shit was going on".

Every time they break up

Every Time I Die break up

Acclaimed metalcore and hardcore band Every Time I Die has announced that their last show together took place on December 11th, Loudwire reports. The band breaks up after a 20-plus year career. Every Time I Die had just released their ninth album, 'Radical', in October.

Still haven't found a good song

Bono "embarrassed" by U2 songs

Bono doesn't like hates the band’s name, and is “embarrassed” by most of their songs, as he's told the Awards Chatter podcast (via CNN). When it comes to band's name “in our head it was like the spy plane, U-boat, it was futuristic — as it turned out to imply this kind of acquiescence, no I don’t like that name. I still don’t really like the name”. The music isn't much better either: “I’ve been in the car when one of our songs has come on the radio and I’ve been the color of, as we say in Dublin, scarlet. I’m just so embarrassed”.

Guitarist and former Smiths axeman Johnny Marr talked to The New Cue about how he managed to stay sane over the last couple of years: "I've been into meditation for years so I suspect that it's doing me some good. It’s become a habit and I'd miss it if I didn't do it. I imagine things would be a little bit more wobbly without it, or a little stranger. To be serious for a minute, that's kind of what creativity is for. And work, in whatever field it is. I’m extremely lucky because I’ve had a creative outlet since I was a kid, but you don't have to be an artist to lean into some of those things that make life more pleasurable".

A great thread by the Future of Music Coalition about Bandcamp Fridays, a day where the company waived its usual cut of the revenue to pass on more money to artists and rightsholders. In 15 Bandcamp Fridays since March 2020 fans paid artists/labels $61 million. The waived rev-share works out to an effective donation by Bandcamp of roughly $7 million.

An interesting point by Michelle Lhooq in her latest Rave New World post: "Clearly, we are entering the most absurd era of the pandemic, where ravers are actively trying to catch the virus, the scarcity of COVID testing is a joke, and the President himself is tweeting 'LMFAO IDK just Google it'. As the void closes in, the question lingers: is there any use resisting the nihilism of this moment? Or do you just cross the goddamn Rubicon, and jump into the gabber rave mosh pit?".

Very interesting facts in Rolling Stone's article about last year's highest-paid musicians. The world’s 10 highest-paid musicians of 2021 made in a combined $2.3 billion, which is more than double what they were making annually in the years before Covid-19. Only Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Taylor Swift made the top 10 without a massive catalog sale, the others like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Red Hot Chili Peppers made a majority of their income by selling their catalogs.

Ronnie Spector, who rose to fame as the leader of 1960s girl group the Ronettes and emerged as one of pop music’s first female stars, has died at the age of 78. "With her towering beehive hairdo and powerfully melancholic, melodramatic voice, Spector is among the most distinctive figures in American pop" - Guardian points out.

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