(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘music business

“To me, the ideal artist-to-audience relationship is a one-to-zero relationship. The artist should be granted anonymity.”*…

Wish granted…

Earlier this month a little piece of music history was restored. The news was easy to overlook. Sony Music Publishing announced that one of its outermost divisions would be rebranding: what had been EMI Production Music since 2011 would become KPM Music once again. The change may seem trivial, but it restores a name that has wielded a wide and surprising influence over popular culture.

The chances are you haven’t heard of KPM, despite its roots stretching back to 1780, when Robert Keith (the K of the name) set up a music shop in London. But you have almost certainly heard its music. Since 1956 KPM had been a producer of library music, which is not music to be played quietly for the benefit of readers, but music composed to a brief, kept on catalogue, and then used—in return for payment—to accompany something else.

You have probably encountered the work of KPM’s composers and musicians on television. In America the credits of “Monday Night Football” unfold to the sound of “Heavy Action” by Johnny Pearson; the melody for Channel 9’s cricket show in Australia was produced by KPM, though it was written with a news broadcast in mind. In Britain several shows have drawn on KPM’s library, including “All Creatures Great and Small”, “Mastermind”, “Grange Hill”, “The Two Ronnies” and the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon.

Even if you never watch TV, though, you will know fragments of this music, especially if you like hip-hop. kpm recordings have been a rich source of samples (a segment of sound used in another composition). Of KPM’s star composers, Brian Bennett has been sampled 114 times, by Drake, Nas, Kanye West and more. Les Baxter has been sampled 79 times by the Beastie Boys, Ghostface Killah and MF Doom, among others. Rap’s founding text, “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, sampled KPM stalwart Alan Hawkshaw—specifically the song “Here Comes That Sound Again”. “Library music is sought after by producers, collectors and writers because it was played by people, not manufactured by [a] machine,” Mr Hawkshaw once [said]…

One of the most sampled songs in pop history came from kpm musicians playing together for fun in 1968. “Champ” by The Mohawks has a distinctive organ hook—played by Mr Hawkshaw—that was sampled by Eric B and Rakim and Afrika Bambaataa in the 1980s and is still being remixed by Frank Ocean, Janelle Monáe and Nicki Minaj today. “People think that’s a black group from Detroit [playing the tune], but it was hashed together by session musicians in Yorkshire,” Mr Hawkshaw said.

Library music is not the rich trove of unexpected wonder it used to be. These days budgets are tighter and there is less inclination to hire whole orchestras for an afternoon, so there isn’t so much scope for the moments of brilliance a room full of musicians might create. Artificial-intelligence firms are also trying to muscle in on the market, offering computer-generated compositions to accompany video content for a fraction of the cost of real musicians. But there is still magic in the thought of those shelves, full of music composed and recorded for who knows what, sitting there waiting to be used for something else entirely…

Its artists aren’t famous and you can’t buy the records in shops; but its work can be heard everywhere: “KPM Music is one of the most important record labels in history,” from @TheEconomist.

* Glenn Gould

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As we honor the unnamed, we might send suspiciously on-key birthday greetings to Faheem Rasheed Najm; he was born on this date in 1984. Better know by his stage name T-Pain, he is a rapper, singer-songwriter, and record producer. But he’ll surely be best remembered as the person who popularized Auto-Tune pitch-correction technology. Indeed, T-Pain became so associated with Auto-Tune that an iPhone app that simulated the effect was named after him.

Developed in 1997, Auto-Tune was used in 1998 in Cher’s “Believe” to create vocal effects (though the producers attributed the result to a pedal, treating Auto-Tune as a trade secret). Years later, T-Pain popularized the tool… which has become a controversial staple in the recording industry (as it allows recording engineers to turn the tuneless into accomplished singers).

Time magazine quoted an unnamed Grammy-winning recording engineer as saying, “Let’s just say I’ve had Auto-Tune save vocals on everything from Britney Spears to Bollywood cast albums. And every singer now presumes that you’ll just run their voice through the box.” The same article expressed “hope that pop’s fetish for uniform perfect pitch will fade”, speculating that pop-music songs have become harder to differentiate from one another, as “track after track has perfect pitch.” According to Tom Lord-Alge, the device is used on nearly every record these days…

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“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”*…

 

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I would like to begin this talk on the future of “popular” music with a few cautionary notes about our ability to see into the future clearly. The fact is, it would appear we are not very good at it. Somewhere back in our Savannah DNA, we got very good at reacting to danger when it presented itself — say a lion or tiger. However, it seems we are less capable of looking ahead to avoid danger. In other words, we are a reactive rather than proactive animal. The contemporary analogy in relation to climate change is that we are similar to the frog in a pot of hot water who does not have the sensors to recognize the increasing temperature and the fact that he should get out of the boiling pot.

Yes, there have been a handful of futurists – H.G Wells, Aldous Huxley, and given the state of many current governments I would grudgingly include Ayn Rand. Probably the most successful futurists in our lifetime may have been Marshall McLuhan and Stanley Kubrick, but even so, all of these writers and film makers have been only partially successful gazing into the crystal ball. Given that the past is no more fixed than the future I begin this conversation with you.

What I hope to discuss in this time with you is the relationship between technology, the gift of music and the commodification of that gift and how that gift and the commodification of the gift has been eroded in the digital age, and as I see it, could continue to be eroded well into the 21st century…

A provocative talk by Ian Tamblyn, a pillar of the Canadian music world, on popular music and its uncertain future: “A brief history of why artists are no longer making a living making music.”

TotH to friend CE.  Image above: source.

* Hunter S. Thompson

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As we pay the piper, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married in the British Consul’s office in Gibraltar.  “We wanted to get married on a cross-channel ferry – that was the romantic part,” Lennon said in the Beatles Anthology documentary.  “We went to Southampton and then we couldn’t get on because she wasn’t English, and she couldn’t get the day visa to go across. They said, ‘Anyway, you can’t get married. The Captain’s not allowed to do it any more.'”

John and Yoko source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 20, 2019 at 1:01 am

“I didn’t have to work anymore in life when the rappers started sampling… I’m the most sampled artist in history”*…

A big part of making music is the discovery aspect, is the surprise aspect. That’s why I think I’ll always love sampling. Because it involves combining the music fandom: collecting, searching, discovering music history, and artifacts of recording that you may not have known existed and you just kind of unlock parts of your brain, you know?
Gotye

From Jonny Wilson– aka Eclectic Method

email readers click here for video

* Rick James

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As we muse on mash-ups, we might recall that it was on this date in 1878 that the modern music business was effectively born: Thomas Edison was awarded U.S. Patent No. 200,521 for his invention, the phonograph.

Thomas Edison with his phonograph, photographed by Mathew Brady in Washington, April 1878

source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

The Times They are A’Changin…

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan

Rebecca Black’s “Friday” has become a runaway sensation. As Kevin Rutherford, a columnist for Billboard, explained, “Black’s video for ‘Friday’ is one of those rare occurrences where even the most seasoned critics of Internet culture don’t know where to begin. From the singing straight out of Auto-Tuned hell to lyrics such as ‘Tomorrow is Saturday / And Sunday comes afterwards / I don’t want this weekend to end’ and a hilariously bad rap about passing school buses, ‘Friday’ is something that simply must be seen and heard to be fully appreciated.”

And “seen and heard” it has been, closing in on 34 million YouTube views at this writing– not counting the scores of parodies floating across the web.

Music industry exec Jay Frank captures the impact of a performance that has been called “bizarre,” “inept,” and “hilariously dreadful” with a set of a simple comparisons that illustrate the upending of the music business:

WINNER: REBECCA BLACK
As she’s shown on her Good Morning America interview, she is making lemons out of lemonades. Make no bones about it, this song is selling (reached Top 20 on iTunes) and is going to be a valuable copyright for years to come.

LOSER: EVERY SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST BAND
At my SxSW panel on Saturday, I did the math. If you combined every view of “Friday” and its parody videos, approximately 62 Million minutes were spent on this song. That’s presuming that, on average, the viewers only watched half the video. In the meantime, if the approximately 15,000 SxSW attendees watched 12 hours of music a day for all 5 days, that would only add up to 54 Million minutes spent watching music. All hopes of fame from Austin got upstaged by a 13 year old.

WINNER: YOUTUBE
Their ability for anyone to upload anything produces overnight successes like this. This attracts even more people to their platform. Also, this firmly makes them a broadcaster, probably more than any previous video. 21 million views in a week? That’s more than nearly EVERY show on TV (cable or broadcast) receives in a week INCLUDING the DVR play. The fact that they have also successfully conquered with mobile apps and IPTV just increases their reach.

LOSER: VEVO
The music industry’s supposed white knight got upstaged in a big way. Turns out quality (of the song or HD transmission) doesn’t matter. The viewer goes to what they want to see. Also, Rebecca Black got more views in 9 days of “Friday” than Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” did in 3x the days. Lady Gaga’s a huge star. Her new video got massive blog pickup like “Friday.” It was also hugely promoted as an “exclusive” on the Vevo site. If “Friday” can beat all that, something is wrong with Vevo and there’s some explainin’ to do.

WINNER: NEW CHART METHODOLOGY
In Austin, I discussed with Eric Charland of Ultimate Chart about how high Rebecca Black will debut next week. With the numbers she’s had, it’s painfully obvious that this dominated the entire conversation. Quality of the song was irrelevant. Since it wasn’t in heavy rotation on pop radio, it likely won’t be at #1 on their chart, but it’ll properly debut high. This will give Ultimate Chart even more credibility on truly leading in identifying a song’s true popularity.

LOSER: THE ALBUM CHART
When the Soundscan Top 200 album chart is released on Wednesday, Adele will be battling a new album by Rise Against. Nothing against either artist, but this week the battle was Rebecca Black vs. everything else. If you use Google search as a gauge, there’s just no competition. The album chart has been irrelevant for quite some time. It no longer reflects our time. This should end the discussion and let’s focus on singles where the business IS rather than albums where the business WAS.

[TotH to Bob Lefsetz]

 

As we recall that unit sales of the best selling album of 2010 wouldn’t have made the Top Ten in 2000, we might recall that it was on this date in 1973 that U.S. Immigration authorities ordered John Lennon to leave the US within 60 days… thus beginning Lennon’s fight to acquire permanent residency, which he received in July of 1976.

John Lennon’s Green Card (source)

 

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