Several companies have spent billions of dollars buying music catalogs of established pop stars. Variety goes behind the new model in the music business: "A song catalog is an asset much more complicated than, say, a Picasso or even many real estate properties, and some investors seem to enter the arena on the mistaken premise that all songs, or even all hit songs, are created equal. In reality, they are demanding, ephemeral assets that require a lot of attention — pitching, repackaging, finding new opportunities — without oversaturating and thus damaging the artist (a.k.a the brand) or the songs".

Solange Knowles has created and written 'Pasage', a motion portraiture and celebration of the six 2021 International Woolmark Prize finalists. Scored by Standing on The Corner, it stars Dionne Warwick, Dominique Jackson, SahBabii, Joi and KeiyaA, and it goes into a deeply thoughtful exploration of sustainability, and the stages of creation: contemplation, courage, optimism, vulnerability, discipline and strength. Through 6 acts of concentrated motion between stage, nature and surrealism, the film echoes themes of conjuring and ceremonious celebrations, and creates abstraction to embody the various expressions of each designer.

Mali-born, France-based folk singer-songwriter and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara enlisted revered female musicians Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, China Moses, Inna Modja, Somi, Mayra Andrade, Thandiswa Mazwai and Terri Lyne Carrington to collaborate on track ‘Ambè’ meaning ‘altogether’ in Bambara, underlines the importance of harmony and togetherness in difficult and challenging times. Composed during the first lockdown, the unique collaboration between female artists of African origin or descent sends a message of cooperation and a world without borders.

Lady Gaga / Taylor Swift

New York-based Pershing Square Tontine Holding, led by billionaire CEO Bill Ackman, is to acquire 10% of Universal Music Group for approximately $4 billion. The deal would value the label at $40 billion and make it the largest ever investment by a blank check vehicle, Reuters reports. Universal, owned by the parent company Vivendi and controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, has benefited from growing streaming revenues at the world's biggest music label, which is behind artists such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. The deal would give Universal an enterprise value of 35 billion euros ($42.4 billion).

"Morrissey -  I’m proud to be one of what he calls his seven friends - says being alone is a great privilege. Not only is it a privilege but it is a great privilege of an affluent society because two thirds of the world you cannot be alone because you have to be in a huge team just to survive daily" - The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde tells to The New Cue looking back on how she wrote the song 'Alone'. However - "let us not in any way diminish the fact that loneliness is an epidemic in our society. I have been alone most of my life. As has Morrissey and I know for a fact that he fucking hates it too. We hate it but it is a privilege. We hate it and we don’t want to be alone but on the other hand we accept it because it affords us a lot of freedoms that otherwise we wouldn’t have”.

House of Pain

New York-based music rights company Reservoir has acquired the US record label and music publishing company Tommy Boy Music LLC - home to Queen Latifah, Afrika Bambaataa, Digital Underground, Coolio, De La Soul, House of Pain and Naughty By Nature, among others - in a deal valued at approximately $100m. Reservoir’s deal to buy Tommy Boy comprises 6,000+ masters including Coolio’s 'Gangsta’s Paradise', House of Pain’s 'Jump Around', and Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force’s 'Planet Rock', MBW reports. Apart from the hip-hop pioneers, Tommy Boy also introduced EDM to mainstream audiences through releases by LFO, Coldcut, and 808 State, while helping to establish the Latin Freestyle and Latin Hip-Hop genres with releases by TKA, K7, and Information Society.

The World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations agency tasked with the protection and promotion of intellectual property, issued a lengthy report Artists in the Digital Music Marketplace, where its authors Chris Castle and Claudio Feijoo took a clear stand: "Why does everyone in the streaming economy seem to be prospering except performers whose work drives it all?". The report recommends a new streaming music royalty that would be paid directly to "performers (and potentially to producers)" without going through labels or publishers.

"If you have financial privilege, you’d better be paying it forward — and if you are a white, straight person who is making money from music, you’d better be donating money to LGBTQ causes and Black Lives Matter and others that help marginalized people, because without marginalized people, music is gonna get really bad, really quick" - Justin Tranter says in a very interesting Variety interview. Tranter is the author behind Justin Bieber’s 'Sorry', Selena Gomez’s 'Lose You to Love Me', Imagine Dragons’ 'Believer' and dozens more. They also founded and run Facet Records and Music Publishing, which launched late in 2018.

'We Are Lady Parts' is a British television sitcom that follows an eponymous British punk rock band, which consists entirely of Muslim women. Rolling Stone appreciates the representation side of it: "It’s a fundamental social good for audiences to encounter people who look and talk like them in the stories they consume, and also for people from other groups to be exposed to characters who aren’t at all like themselves". AV Club likes how the British comedy, which comprises only six half-hour episodes, "manages to pack a punch with its fast-paced, comprehensive storytelling and cogent, comical writing".

"We know all the economics in the touring business are at 85% of ticket sales. So it's a crapshoot, and you cannot buy insurance against it. So many artists are just wishing for this to end, they need to pay themselves and their crews" - music mogul Irving Azoff says in Hits Daily Double interview. He's not really completely optimistic, but he's hopeful: "We're all in the business of gambling. So if I had to handicap it, I feel 75-25 that we're on the road to prosperity. And when it is 100% open, I think we're going to see unprecedented demand. Oh my God, I can't even imagine what it's going to be like at some of these early first sold-out shows—people are going to go nuts".

Amapiano is an offshoot of South African house, often featuring bright and airy chords and flourishes of jazz, Afrobeats and lounge music. Two authorities on the movement are DJ Maphorisa and Kabza de Small, who form the Scorpion Kings duo. They made a mix for The Face presenting the amapiano ("the pianos" in Zulu) sound, featuring, Kelvin Momo, DJ Stokie, Felo Le Tee, Lady Du and others.

11-year-old phenomenon Nandi Bushell ripped through a drum cover of Slipknot’s 'Duality', attracting the attention of Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg who tweeted “You’re the best, Nandi!!”. Bushell masters the intense double-kick pedal and controlled chaos of the song’s drum part, Consequence emphasizes. Bushell even sports a mask of Slipknot guitarist Mick Thomson to look appropriately spooky as she plays along.

The great YouTube music theorist Adam Neely tries to explain the Neapolitan chord, and goes on to argue why it's high time for that specific chord progression to come back. Man, he talks about classical music, and still makes it just so exciting, again! Some other fun stuff too in the video...

Olivia Rodrigo scores her first Number One on the Rolling Stone Artists 500 Chart this week to the tune of a staggering 283.7 million streams. As her debut album 'Sour' rules the Billboard 200 albums chart and 'Good 4 U' leads the Rolling Stone 100, Rodrigo becomes only the third female artist to sweep all three charts in one week, Rolling Stone reports.

Music theorist Rick Beato is a big fan of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb', which was a strong point in his growing up, so he takes it to analyse it. He also emphasizes the David Gilmour - Roger Waters relationship and how it affects both the song and Pink Floyd in general.

"I want to supply my people with some theme music so that they can feel self-confident, self-possessed; something to keep their heads up high" - 37-year-old vocalist, songwriter and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow says in the Guardian interview about her latest tape, 'Vweto III'. She made it to weather the “traumatic events experienced as a community online and offline”. It's not just racism that she's fighting against, there's also misogyny, which has given her some resilience - “It’s made me fierce. And what better obstacles than those of chauvinism, misogyny and racism to be a catalyst for becoming fierce?”.

YouTube paid artists, songwriters, and rights-holders over $4 billion in the last 12 months – money derived from both YouTube ads and YouTube Music / YouTube Premium subscriptions, YouTube’s Global Head of Music Lyor Cohen confirmed in a fresh newsletter sent to the music industry, Music Business Worldwide reports. YouTube paid the music industry over $3bn in 2019, and the streaming service added more paid ‘members’ in Q1 21 than in any other quarter since launch. Cohen states that the Alphabet-owned platform’s goal is now “to become the leading revenue generator for the music industry”. Spotify paid out over $5 billion to the music industry in 2020.

#ACFM podcast shared a podcast about the history of American folk music. It looks at the communism of Woody Guthrie and the singers of the Dust Bowl era, the Vietnam protest music of Bob Dylan and the Greenwich Village scene, and the folk psychedelia of the Incredible String Band and Vashti Bunyan. The episode includes over 40 musical examples spanning a period of around 100 years.

Hip-hop playlist RapCaviar made The Mount Rushmore of 2010s hip-hop, picking the first three and leaving it to its Twitter followers to pick out the fourth. RC first chose Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, with the Twittersphere picking out Nicki Minaj. Kanye West was close 2nd, followed by Future and Lil Wayne.

"The aim of artists is to put information out there, and when people are ready, they can come to it - and hopefully further themselves" - Sons of Kemet frontman Shabaka Hutchings says in Downbeat interview about their latest album 'Black to the Future' and sending messages with music. "If you have a surface-level understanding of racism or the legacy that we’re referring to, then if you encounter the music and suspect there is something deeper [with] the rhetoric around the album, and the message behind the album, it gives you clues and hints of ways to explore. For me, that’s the best thing, in that it gives people a way of going forward".

"I'm not naturally competitive but the hardest lesson I learned was that there are a lot of people in the music business who are extremely competitive and will sometimes do things that could be problematic" - Daniel Miller, the founder of Mute Records who published Depeche Mode, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, New Order, Can and many more says in The New Cue interview. One of his fondest memories comes from "when Moby made Animal Rights, a pure punk rock record, and everybody had written off his career and then he came back with 'Play'. When he did his first tour around 'Play', he was playing the Scala, and it was kind of semi full. The album started getting some airplay and, about a month later, he came back to play the Scala after a month on tour. And I've never had more guestlist requests than for that gig. Every celeb was there, wanting to be part of it, lots of other musicians. Nobody was interested three weeks before! The album got a full page zero out of 10 review in the Melody Maker".

Pakistan instrumental quartet Jaubi have released their debut album 'Nafs at Peace' where they "explore eastern mysticism and the spiritual Self". The modern traditional record "starts in the Indian classical tradition and extends its tenets outwards to subtly incorporate atypical instrumentation such as the guitar, synths and drum kit", the Guardian reviews. "Across seven tracks, Jaubi effectively convey this journey of the self via shifts in musical character – from a hip-hop swing to classical ragas and ferocious jazz improvisations – and a subtle increase in pace and intensity".

A great text by the American jazz critic and music historian Ted Gioia about how he worked as a fixer in the 1990s. He looks back into an episode from China where he had to find an "honest broker" - "true brokers, intermediaries between others. They aren’t going to participate in your deal, no matter what it is. They are go-betweens, really. But do not underestimate the power of this kind of brokerage. Whatever you need—a loan, a building permit, political influence, a place to land a private jet, whatever—they will introduce you to the right people and steer you away from the sharks. And they do this for a very simple reason: their prestige is enhanced by making these connections. In many cases, they don’t even want to be paid. Or let me put that differently—you repay them by becoming a trusted contact for them in future dealings". A great read!

YouTube music theorist Rick Beato shared a new video where he tried to explain the regression of musical innovation. He goes back decades to look at the pop music of the 1960s and the 1960s like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Earth, Wind & Fire, and compares it to Bruno Mars, Daft Punk, Jonas Bros., etc. Why is this happening?

Jacobin magazine goes into a quest to find socialism in hip-hop, starting with the most famous examples - Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. - and taking a left turn to find some new ones in underground hip-hop: "A handful of artists have been unequivocal in their willingness to operate under a red flag. Paris, Immortal Technique, and the Coup have been recording radical songs since the 1990s".

Fact has a documentary by Mia Zur-Szpiro about some of the key women working in India’s electronic music scene. Filmed across several months, it features interviews with women artists in the Indian scene, touching on themes of mental health, spirituality, overcoming racial and patriarchal prejudice and the impact music has had on their lives.

Sound Field hosts Nahre Sol and Arthur Buckner dive into the history and mystery surrounding Beethoven's 'Für Elise', one of the most widely recognizable classical pieces in the world. It has appeared in commercials, movies, and even garbage trucks in Taiwan. So how did it get so popular, and is it overrated?

The school of rock

What is "orgcore"?

Dillinger Four

Miranda Reinert goes on to explain the punk subgenre orgcore, melodic punk, different from in due to the way music is discussed online, namely, it gets defined simply as “music enjoyed by users of punknews”. It is also defined by the type of person who enjoys it, which is why sometimes it is called FestCore and Beard Punk, because both bands and fans in the orgcore scene typically have beards. Typical bands from the scene include Dillinger Four, American Steel, None More Black, The Loved Ones, and The Falcon.

Mereba

Mexican folk singer-songwriter Ed Maverick shared a piece of latino nostalgia called 'Contenta'; Berlin post-black metallers Praise The Plague released their intense single 'Blackening Swarm II'; American r'n'b'/soul singer Mereba shared some powerful R'n'B with ‘News Come’; Julia Jacklin and fellow Australians RVG cover beautifully Björk's 'Army Of Me'; Dusted shares some seaside rock with 'They Don't Know You'.

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The leader of North Korea described K-pop as a "vicious cancer" corrupting the young people of his country, and has started a crackdown on the cultural import, the New York Times reports. Kim Jong-un has declared a new culture war to halt the spread and influence of South Korean movies, K-dramas and K-pop videos to his citizens. Punishment for owning and/or watching South Korean entertainment has been lifted from five years of hard labor to up to 15 years in labor camps.

"Exactly what I said would happen is happening, I’m being erased. And that is something that this country is good at doing: Erasing black folks and disenfranchised people they feel do not matter" - blues singer Lady A says in the Rolling Stone interview a year after the country band Lady Antebellum effectively took her name. "The folks who made the statement that black lives mattered to them and the reasoning behind changing their name, I don’t want anybody to ever forget that". The two parties are counter-suing each other.

Rave New World is investigating a new party trend in Los Angeles post-covid. They found: a tea party at a Persian garden paradise of cannabis plants and chickens; a public art park with punk-techno on picnic tables; an art rave at a Route66 biker bar; DJs playing cosmic disco in a hidden nook of trees.

"Jubilant, unapologetically massive, and bursting with a cozy, melancholic sense of communal belonging" - RogerEbert.com's writer reviews musical drama 'In the Heights' about a shop in Washington Heights, New York City, where each member of the community pursues their dream of a better life. MovieFreak.com sees "a joyously rhapsodic spectacle", whereas Wall Street Journal asks "How much pleasure can you take? How much joy can you stand without flinching?".

18-year-old British composer/producer Rachel Sandy has gone viral with her parodies of indie-rock and indie-pop stars, Consequence reports. She launched her channel back in May by crafting a spot-on take on the type of Phoebe Bridgers song that the Pharbz would “eat right up” - the video racked up nearly one million views in just a few weeks. Since then, she has expertly lampooned the signature styles of Hozier (complete with *Irish forest sounds*), Mitski (“What key are we in?”), and Maggie Rogers (“More percussion please”). She garnered more than 12 million views so far for her six parodies.

The new episode of Sound Field explores the current debate in classical music of how much recordings should be edited. It explores why do classic musicians edit at all, how it differs from pop music, how it affects musicians, and what the future brings.

ex-directory presents several new artists and audio-makers who are producing field recordings in order to tell stories, connect online communities and even distill entirely new, otherworldly sounds. Field Recordings is a podcast dedicated to (literally) “standing silently in fields”. There are over 240 episodes, including ASMR-like clatter of fisherman sorting clams on a Portuguese beachchirping froglets in New South Waleswaves crashing on the frozen shores of Lake Ontario and a dog dreaming in the Wirral. Sounds of The Forest is an interactive "sound map" platform with one-minute recordings from local woodland from all over the world. MycoLyco's producer connects synthesisers to giant oyster mushrooms and quartz crystals, then records their output, with sounds ranging from the gentle ambient bubbling of an amethyst playing a Eurorack to the erratic chatter of oyster mushrooms performing on a modular synth

Music Business Worldwide goes into the reasoning around the precedent business move by Sony Music, as the big publisher has announced it is disregarding unrecouped balances for heritage catalog artists. "This would see modern-day royalty earnings of these acts get paid into their pockets, rather than being swallowed by a record label with whom they may have ended dealings decades ago". MBW argues that's a "small reduction in Sony Music’s margin today is worthwhile if it means that his company establishes a long-term reputation amongst the artist community – where power keeps growing – for generosity and fair dealing. (Quick math: if there’s, say, 2,500 legacy Sony artists who will benefit, and they’re paid through an average of $5,000 to $10,000 each per year that they weren’t getting before, the move will cost Sony Music $12.5m to $25m per annum)".

An interesting interview in Kerrang! with a new pop-punk star and Travis Barker (of Blink-182) collaborator KennyHoopla: “I love genres. Genre is very important, because there’s a certain language that only comes with certain genres. There’s so much stuff coming out right now that’s looking to blend genres, but I’m at a point where I want to make something real and not hide behind these undertones of doing something ground-breaking. I miss straightforward rock, pop and rap music... A lot of people think pushing music forward is just about blending a whole bunch of sounds together".

Morgan Wallen has quietly slipped back onto the air at most country stations in the US in the last few weeks, after being banned for four months due to a racial slur. Wallen however remains persona non grata at awards shows and other high-profile events. Variety reports. “It’s a thing that people are going to do quietly and not want to make a lot of noise about. It’s like, have him blend back into the mosaic of the thing and not make a big deal about it” - says a radio insider, who added that Wallen’s ongoing status is “the most over-discussed topic in the history of country music”.

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