A tech startup called Beatly has launched what it says is a decentralized platform where it claims "people can put their music up without being taken down". In a post on Product Hunt, one of the platform's founders, Alexander Zwerner, insists that the startup "understand[s] how important it is for this AI music to have a safe and reliable platform to be shared with the world. That's why we've developed a decentralized hosting structure that backups and ensures your music will never be taken down".

American consumers bought 41.3 million vinyl records in 2022, compared to 33.4 million compact discs, which means that annual vinyl sales exceeded CD sales in the US last year for the first time since 1987, MBW reports. The difference in revenue is even bigger - income from vinyl jumped 17.2% year over year to $1.2 billion in 2022, while revenues from CDs fell 17.6%, to $483 million. Music sales data company Luminate also found that 50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months in the US own a record player, which of course means that 50% of vinyl buyers - don’t own a record player.

Harry Belafonte, the pioneering Calypso singer, actor, and civil rights leader, has died at the age of 96. In his music career, there are several firsts, and groundbreaking moves. His second album, 'Belafonte', was the first No 1 in the new US Billboard album chart in March 1956. His third album, 'Calypso', featuring songs from his Jamaican heritage, brought the feelgood calypso style to many Americans for the first time, and became the first album to sell more than a million copies in the US. Bob Dylan’s first recording – playing harmonica – was on Belafonte’s 1962 album, 'Midnight Special'. The previous year, Belafonte had been hired by Frank Sinatra to perform at John F Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.

The season of summer festivals is fast approaching with all the great music, and the pollution it produces, Consequence spoke with a number of experts in the festival and environmental fields looking into the possibilities of carbon neutral activities and solutions:

A host city with a large and interested population - reduces the need for distant travel

Public transit options - the most effective travel option

Access to a clean-energy municipal grid - avoiding big diesel generators

Camping can help reduce electricity usage and transportation emissions from commuters

Cutting out meat and other animal products

Plentiful water refill stations are also a must, to stave off dehydration and the use of disposable bottles

Rethinking festival hours - a festival that runs from 11:00 am to sundown could do away with lighting entirely

Sabine Salamé

"Rap has become one of the most important tools to resist, criticise, and protest against oppression, dictatorship and corruption" - Gal-Dem points out in the introduction of their recent selection of the key players from the progressive rap scenes in Syria and Lebanon. Standing out in this part of the Arab peninsula are Bu Nasser Touffar, Amir Almurrai, Bu Kolthoum, El-Rass, Sabine Salamé, and Ebaa.

Culture and music editor Eleanor Halls looks into Frank Ocean's Coachella unique performance which had left fans disappointed and enthralled. She draws comparison to Elvis Presley and Lauryn Hill in this regard. "What happens when an artist refuses to play ball?" - Halls asks, and wonders whether fans should really be disappointed.

Music writer Ted Gioia remembers one essential bit of advice saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre gave him on organizational theory. "He explained that musicians played better when they were happier. Now that was a word I’d never heard in organizational theory class. Giuffre continued to spell it out for me—surprised that I couldn’t figure this out for myself. Didn’t I know that people are always happier when they were with their friends? So group productivity is an easy problem to solve. In other words, if my three best buddies played bongos, kazoo, and bagpipe, that should be my group."

59.5% of artists are already using AI to create music, a new research which included 1200 users of music distribution company Ditto Music has revealed. The majority would use AI for mixing, mastering, or music production, MixMag reports. A minority of 28% of respondents said they would avoid using AI in their music-making process

Cassette sales in the UK grew by 5.2% in 2022, reaching their highest level since 2003, following 10 consecutive years of growth, Forbes reports. All in all, 195,000 audio cassettes were sold last year in the UK, compared to 3,823 sold in 2012. All 20 of the U.K's biggest-selling cassettes in 2022 were released that year, with the most popular cassettes sold being The Arctic Monkeys' ‘The Car’ and ‘Harry’s House' by Harry Styles. Similarly, in the U.S. 2022 sales of albums on cassette tape jumped by 28% to 440,000 - up from 343,000 in 2021,

Berlin-based saxophonist Bendik Giske is releasing his third album in June, and has shared the teaser song 'Rush' from it. He uses physicality, vulnerability and endurance as his tools of expression, with a change of approach on his new release, produced by Beatrice Dillon. On the new self-titled album he puts greater focus on rhythm, yet the melody, judging by 'Rush', is still there.

Chartmetric researched data about Spotify genres trying to learn more about the relative power of major and indie catalogs on the streaming platform, as well as about recommendations across the most prominent music niches and communities. What they have found out is that majors hold a vast share of the music market thanks to the evergreen catalogs and the "passive" market share that comes with it. "However, if we move away from these 'golden' genres, independent players will often carry more power than the majors. And when it comes to emerging genre spaces, such as underground hip hop and viral rap, things can get uniquely independent—one might even say self-released".

A great interview in Billboard with former The Rapture frontman, who now lives in New York, and works as a life coach, and enjoys it very much. “As a singer and songwriter you get very narcissistic, and you get up on stage, and everyone validates that through applause and large amounts of money and meeting other celebrities and fancy meals around the world. So, being a coach is actually very healing, because it is the polar opposite of that.” What are his credentials for the job? "I have a long, successful marriage. I’m a good parent. I have gotten over massive childhood dysfunction, sexual abuse, multiple suicides in my family, drug addiction in my family, my own addictions, on and on. That’s my business car."

Andy Chatterley of MUSO, a London-headquartered technology firm providing anti-piracy services and market analytics for music companies, discusses the hot topic of the recent "fake Drake" song that appeared on streaming platforms, only to be soon taken down from them.

He's got a few questions about it:

  • "How can we be certain the ‘fake Drake’ track is AI and not a canny marketing tool?
  • If this is indeed AI, [and] if musicians and/or content creators are being used as source data for an AI model, should they be compensated?
  • How do you prove, as a creator, that your work has been used as source material for AI?
  • Who owns the AI in any given case?
  • How do you sue something that has no name, no social security number and no company number?
  • Do you sue the prompt engineer who inputs the command to make the track?"

An amazing story by Ted Gioia, who has discovered, with a little help from other music lovers, a song that has over 50 different titles, and over 50 different writers credits attributed to it on Spotify. There were other instances of the same phenomena on other streaming platforms, with other songs as well (mostly short and lousy). What's going on? "Spotify may be working to switch listeners from songs released by major labels to generative music, which could be licensed at low royalty rates or even purchased as a work-for-hire. Under this scenario, a streaming platform could lower its costs substantially, and improve profitability—but with the result of less money paid to flesh-and-blood musicians."

A great video by the touring musician Adam Neely who brings out the pain and stress of having to give away a precious instrument to airline workers and just hope it'll come safe and sound to the destination. Neely gives advice on how to try and protect it, and how to talk to flight attendants in order to have the instrument treated as hand luggage.

People engaged in making music are at a higher risk for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, according to researchers at Frankfurt’s Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. Results of the study suggest there is an overlap between inherited genetic variants associated with a tendency to make music, and those that increase the risk for mental illness. Van Magazine talked to Laura Wesseldijk, one of the authors of the study, herself a musician too.

"For all its ostensible simplicity, techno is a genre with a complicated history that can mutate and shift depending on whom you’re talking to" - The New Yorker looks into the origins of techno music. The author finds the first threads both in Detroit and Frankfurt, however, it points out that many techno pioneers feel that Black and queer artists in Detroit have been overlooked at the recently opened Museum of Modern Electronic Music (MOMEM) in Frankfurt’s Hauptwache square,

Understanding a mockingbird

Soundfly: Why do birds (actually) sing?

Online music school Soundfly shares an interesting article about birds' singing and why they do it. Soundfly is looking for reasons for the beautiful bird habit, such as trying to draw attention, communicating, avoiding troubles, or just having pure fun.

The MusicREDEF newsletter author shares his thoughts on the latest developments regarding A.I., trying to keep up with the subject: "I can imagine 'a future where Drake licenses his voice, and gets royalties or the rights to songs from anyone who uses it.' But I'm not looking forward to that future, and I’m all for resisting it. I want a future where artists freely use AI (as much or as little as they choose), not a future where AI freely uses artists."

Music writer Ted Gioia shares a news section from his new book 'Music to Raise the Dead' about musicians being the first heroes, and songs as their superpower. He based his theory on ancient texts from Mahābhārata, the Bible, and others. How did it come to this? "Songs tap into a power that transcends representation... For many individuals, music is their only pathway into ecstatic mindstates. And even for the adept who has mastered the journey, the song is often the most important thing brought back from the trip—or, in many cases, music served as the engine that propelled it forward in the first place."

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Greenday

The 50 best stoner albums

4/20 - the international counterculture holiday based on the celebration and consumption of cannabis - is coming, so Consequence marijuana lovers have put together "an essential list of the 50 Best Stoner Albums from the worlds of pop, hip-hop, electronic, rock, and heavy metal". The list starts with Black Sabbath's 'Master of Reality', and finishes with Tame Impala's 'Lonerism'.

The music writer and romance expert is trying to understand and/or explain why do young people see jazz as romantic: "Romance has been rationalized in our lives, much like a factory process. All the unnecessary steps get bypassed. And from a purely pragmatic point of view, swiping through profiles on a phone app seems far more efficient than a slow, ritualized process of courtship and romantic bonding... There’s a death of enchantment in our culture—that’s the best term I can come up with for this phenomenon... In this situation, jazz starts to play an unusual role. It gets associated with the last generation that did romantic body-contact dancing on a regular basis. It’s perceived as the soundtrack for the ritualized apparatus of courtship. Just hearing it magically summons a nostalgic longing for a more romantic age".

Reclusive West London-bred singer and producer Jai Paul performed his first-ever live set at Coachella’s Mojave stage last weekend, only one of the most anticipated gigs of the year. Jai Paul has released three singles in 12 years, yet he has climbed to cult-like status, although, or maybe thanks to, withdrawing from the public in general. It seems, however, he is relaunching his career - Jai Paul is set to play two consecutive nights in New York at Knockdown Centre on 25 April and 26 April at Brooklyn Steel, and in London on 9 and 10 May at underground venue space HERE at Outernet.

After a few A.I.-generated songs that sound like Drake, The Deeknd, and Ice Spice appeared online, the music industry reacted with demands for these songs to be blocked on streaming services. "This feels like Napster in 1999. New technology is here and the industry’s protocol is to resist" - Dan Runcie points out in his memo, suggesting the labels shouldn't fight back, but rather embrace it. "It’s in the superstar artist and record label’s best interest to enable experimentation—as long as there’s a fair way to compensate the artist and rights holder. Their work would be the most-accessed music for generative songs anyway, so why not lean in?".

The Face is wondering whether artificial intelligence is going to take our jobs: "Again, as long as we value human emotion, creativity and connection, there’s only so far AI can take us. Like music, for example. Sure, AI can churn out catchy TikTok songs which makes for genuine competition when it comes to already-manufactured pop tunes. But we value music for the meaning, person and creativity behind it, all of which would be massively diluted if made by robots, who, to put it simply, can’t feel anything. That goes for DJs, too. We happily pay to watch a human spin some tracks in a sweaty club – would you pay to listen to a machine to the same?".

"It started off as a little exercise during lockdown keeping me busy and bringing all these musicians on board and as it grew into an album... With every contribution someone would send me, it was always surprising because it always changed the song completely and did something that I wouldn’t have predicted. It still feels like this magical thing" - comedian and musician James Acaster says to The New Cue about his project Temps, which is about to release its debut 'Party Gator Purgatory'. There are about 40 musicians collaborating on the album - including Open Mike Eagle, Joana Gomila, NNAMDI, Shamir, Quelle Chris - with Acaster acting as a producer/director. It's a versatile album - "I think now, anyone who engages in current music appreciates that genre is a thing of the past and the best music is just completely boundless", with one connecting thread - "mostly what I was doing with this was to tailor it to my exact music tastes and having everything that I liked in music in just one thing".

Ted Gioia wrote a great obituary to jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, who died on Sunday aged 92: "Other musicians have changed the sound of jazz in various ways. But Ahmad Jamal actually transformed time and space. He opened up an alternative universe of sound, freer and less constrained than what we had heard before. The rules of improvised music were different after he appeared on the scene... Ahmad Jamal sat down at the piano, and just floated over the beat."

"Unlike other trends and even other festivals, Coachella developed a brand that can sell itself. This festival could sell out tickets before announcing a lineup if it wanted to. Fans want the vibes. The influencers, fashion, and activations will be there regardless of who performs on stage. In the early 2010s, the festival became a who’s who for celebrity attendance. Attending was a flex, like sitting courtside at a Lakers game" - Trapital's Dan Runcie looks into Coachella in his latest podcast. He is joined by Tati Cirisano from MIDiA Research. They also talk about untapped opportunities for Coachella, how the rise of concert ticket prices impacts it, and how festival lineups are becoming homogenous.

Folk music legend Joan Baez met two members of the Tennesee Three on a flight from Nashville to Newark on Sunday, and reacted upon her activist impulse. Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were recently expelled from the Tennessee legislature over their participation in a gun control protest, This week both have officially been reinstated to their old seats. On Sunday, when the plane landed in Newark, Baez sang two songs with Jones, the traditional freedom songs 'We Shall Overcome' and 'Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round'.

Michelle Lhooq talks to writer and scholar McKenzie Wark in her latest memo about raving culture, ravers, and what it means to different people. "If I go to the rave at four or five in the morning, it's a lot of people who do service work, and are used to being nice to people all day. There’s also sex workers, who similarly are having to use their body, their subjectivity, and their emotions in service of the job. They go to a space to get out of that. Then there are people like me—'intellectual workers'... When I’m in rave spaces, language is going on in my head, but I'm not paying attention to it. It's just there but I'm not in it". She also talks about being connected - "I don't think it's a bad thing for people to learn to be intimate with each other on the dance floor, in close proximity, to be vulnerable to each other. Sometimes, it makes very weak networks. But even those are not bad things to have. There's people around that you're gonna see in other contexts and you just know a little about each other. Yeah, it's not the revolution. It's not utopia. But it's not nothing".

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"This year, favorite artists like SZA, Sufjan Stevens, and Fever Ray returned with reliably stunning releases, rising artists like Nourished by Time, Amaarae, and yeule pushed the boundaries with breakthrough releases that set the tone for where music might go next, and some of the year’s biggest surprises also happened to be just the thing we needed (hello, André 3000 flute album!)" - Pitchfork points out introducing their selection of the best 50 albums of 2023. It's Pitchforky, of course, but still, worth checking.

"As the band name suggests, there was a breakneck, YOLO verve to everything Branch did that goes double here. Wolf-like howls punctuate these tracks, vying for primacy with scything, bowed strings. Rhythms drive, tumble and sashay" - the Guardian writes reviewing the posthumous album by jazz trumpeter Jaimie Branch and her bend Fly or Die (5 of 5 stars is the verdict). Pitchfork points out that "'((world war))' provides a precious document of her artistry... and a reminder that the struggle for a better world is a beautiful and worthwhile endeavor" (tagged in Best New Music, with grade 8.5). Treblezine likes how borderless and non-final it is: "These nine songs burst about with full-throttle, hellion-rowdy, freaky consciousness-expanding shaman type verve... If anything, it’s a lovely bouillabaisse of branch’s way of gathering the tribes and bringing folks together".

Irish singer and activist Sinéad O'Connor has died at the age of 56, The Irish Times reports. O'Connor, who was outspoken in her social and political views, released 10 studio albums between 1987 and 2014, but she was best known for her single 'Nothing Compares 2 U', written by Prince and released in 1990, which went on to hit number one around the world. In 1992 she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on the US TV show Saturday Night Live, looking at the camera and saying "fight the real enemy", a protest against the Catholic Church. O'Connor's 17-year-old son Shane died last year, days after he was reported missing. The singer later cancelled all live performances for the rest of 2022, and paid t

Nick Cave was asked on his Red Hand Files blog, by a pew persons who never listened to his music, to list his best songs. He can't, however: "My relationship to my songs is too entangled with their personal history, and I have no clear understanding as to which are the good ones and which are not. For instance, I think that ‘Brompton Oratory’, which was recorded in one take on a Casio I found in a junk shop, is a way better song than ‘The Mercy Seat’, which took months to write, weeks to record and had multiple ‘producers’ mix it; for a whole lot of despairing reasons, I think 'Ghosteen' is, by any metric, the best album the Bad Seeds have ever made, however The Bad Seeds song I love the most is probably ‘Sad Waters’ from Your Funeral, My Trial' — I cried at its slippery beauty when I first played it to my then girlfriend, Elisabeth, as we sat on her bed in Schöneberg, Berlin"...No favourite chilkd

Billboard charts and market share charts point to a decline of hip-hop in recent years, however, it's not that simple, Dan Runcie points out. Lil Uzi Vert’s 'Pink Tape' will be the first 2023 hip-hop album to top the Billboard 200, which will be the furthest in the calendar year it took for a hip-hop album to top the Billboard 200 since 1993 (that year, Cypress Hill’s 'Black Sunday' topped the chart on the week of August 7). Billboard argued it is due to the lack of hip-hop stars who released albums, less room to grow than other genres, the impact of deaths, drugs, and legal issues, chart stagnation, and the return of club music. Runcie on the other hand argues "If hip-hop’s global impact were categorized appropriately, no one would talk about a 'decline'. Latin music is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, and most of that revenue is generated by artists who, like Bad Bunny, consider themself hip-hop".

TikTok Music has launched as a premium-only music subscription service in Indonesia and Brazil, including the catalogs of all three major record companies: Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music. Described as a “social music streaming service,” offering users a “full catalog of music from thousands of labels and artists, uninterrupted ad-free listening and a download function for listening offline”. The "social music streaming service" will let its users stream full versions of viral TikTok songs on TikTok Music, TechCrunch reports.

ByteDance is launching a new, AI-powered, free-to-use music production app, called Ripple, with the idea to have aspiring creators make the music for their short-form videos themselves using the app. Ripple has two key features: a ‘Melody to Song’ generator and a virtual recording studio, the MBW reports. The Melody to Song feature lets users sing or hum a melody directly into the app, and Ripple will then expand the melody by generating an instrumental in a variety of different genres.

Music writer Ted Gioia recalls singer-songwriter Nick Drake who would have turned 75 today. "Drake is now more than a music star, almost an emblematic figure. And I say with some sorrow, but with complete conviction, that his life and times remind me of so many people nowadays who have been cast adrift in our society—suffering in ways spookily reminiscent of what he experienced fifty years ago."

"When I first studied philosophy, the course began with Socrates—he was the originator of Western rationalist thinking, or so I was told. You can draw a direct line from him to analytic logic and the codification of a scientific worldview. But where did Socrates get the idea of philosophizing? Strange to say, he got it from music" - music writer Ted Gioia argues in his new book 'Music to Raise the Dead'.

Global tools for local use

The rize of “glocalization”

Graph: Will Page

In the latest Trapital podcast, Dan Runcie talks to Will Page, the author, and economist, about "glocalization", the phenomenon which means creating products for global markets that bring local cultures together. Runcie and Page argue that "glocalization makes it harder for mega superstars to emerge, especially from established markets... The major record labels must sign and develop talent in each region to maintain market share. With increased costs (without the promise of increased revenue), glocalization will shift everything from KPIs, value props to new artists, and future expansion plans".

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