“How NBC’s The Voice Sold 20 Million Songs Without a Single Star”

I’ve never watched this show, and that’s why I don’t get the current music culture.

…The Voice isn’t actually designed to discover a new pop star. The show, which pulls in close to 14 million viewers each week and is currently the most watched reality-TV program, works best as a vehicle for the judges’ careers.

…Maybe that’s why shows like Idol and The Voice do so well: People feel like they’re discovering new artists even though they’re listening to the same old tunes.

70% of Nothing is Nothing

On Spotify payouts:

“Here’s the simple fact that no one wants to talk about. Spotify says it pays out seventy per cent of its revenues to rights holders. Well, that’s very nice, that’s lovely. But if I’m making a shoe, and it costs me a hundred dollars to make it, and the retailer is selling that shoe for ten dollars, then I don’t care if he gives me seventy per cent, I don’t care if he gives me one hundred per cent—I’m going out of business. Dead is dead.”

Shazam’s Hit Detection

While most users think of Shazam as a handy tool for identifying unfamiliar songs, it offers music executives something far more valuable: an early-detection system for hits.

…“We know where a song’s popularity starts, and we can watch it spread,” Titus told me. Take, for example, Lorde, the out-of-nowhere sensation of 2013. Shazam’s engineers can rewind time to trace the international contagion of her first single, “Royals,” watching the pings of Shazam searches spread from New Zealand, her home country, to Nashville (a major music hub, even for noncountry songs), to the American coasts, pinpointing the exact day it peaked in each of nearly 3,000 U.S. cities.

So that’s why you only get 6 skips an hour

We all skip tracks while listening to music — whether on CD, via Pandora, or via our favorite music service like Spotify, Beats, Rdio, Google Play, Deezer, etc.

What most of listeners don’t realize, however, is that royalties are paid for music that we skip. In fact, and in most cases, a full royalty is paid for music that we skip — even if we skip a track in less than a few seconds. Whether you think it is fair or not, in order to get the license, services pay for music even when a track is skipped.

Not a dry eye in the house

Seems like Billy Joel is done with love:

Before long, at the sound check, he began substituting bawdy lyrics: “I just want someone . . . to have sex with” and “Now you know I’m . . . full of shi-it.” “I couldn’t have loved you any better, unless . . . you grew some bigger tits.” Cohen walked by, shaking his head.

After a while, Joel stopped. “Should we really do that one? Really?”

“There won’t be a dry eye in the house,” the saxophonist Mark Rivera said.

“How U2 Blew It”

Bob Lefsetz:

This looked like nothing so much as what it was, old farts using their connections to shove material down the throats of those who don’t want it. It’s what we hate so much about today’s environment, rich people who think they know better and our entitled to their behavior.

For a moment I thought I’d have to explain to my mom and dad why there’s a U2 album that came out of nowhere on their iDevices – then I remembered that they don’t even touch the Music app.

“Don’t shove your music into people’s homes”

Sasha Frere-Jones:

What Cook and U2 probably wanted to duplicate yesterday was the organic delight when Beyoncé released an entire album out of the blue last December on iTunes. Instead, U2 stuffed a locksmith card in your doorframe, which you’ve probably already tossed.

…imagine what it would have been like if, instead of a free U2 album, Apple gave away a brand new Dr. Dre album.

“This Isn’t Disco”

On the electronic dance music boom.

For older Americans, or those with an interest in music history, the rise of EDM might seem eerily familiar. Disco took the country by storm in the late 1970s, only to flame out spectacularly amid a fierce backlash from rock music enthusiasts. Proponents of the genre obviously don’t think history will repeat itself. “This isn’t disco,”John Boyle, the CFO of Insomniac, an EDM tour promoter, said in comments reported by The Verge. “This is hip hop with a lot more legs.”

How is it hip hop?

Chris Ruen – “How a generation’s freeloading has starved creativity”

What’s very damning are the sites people go to for free stuff that benefit by selling advertising space.

A report by the Digital Citizens Alliance released earlier this year found that pirate sites took in nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in revenues in 2013, with the largest 30 sites averaging $4.4 million in ad revenues and even the smallest sites pulling in $100,000 annually, all on the backs of uncompensated artists. As these sites need not bother with licensing fees, their profit margins are estimated to range between 80 and 94 per cent.

It’s more lucrative to leach than it is to create.

You Got The Touch

On Stan Bush’s “The Touch” in Boogie Nights:

I had no idea that Dirk Diggler and Reed Rothchild (Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly) were even doing a cover; I thought that Anderson simply wrote exactly the kind of song these two dummies would if they existed in the real world.

The sound track to Transformers: The Movie is on Spotify – featuring “The Touch”

4 Reasons Why Music Careers Are Getting Trounced By Tech

Bobby Owsinski:

It used to be that if our best and brightest had any affinity for music at all, they would go to great ends to enter the business, with a long-term vision in mind. Not so today, as music careers are getting trounced by the tech industry when it comes to job choice and availability, and there’s no end to this movement in sight.

Where music was once seen by many as one of the highest callings possible, that perception seemed to die with the 90’s even as the music business hit its peak. It’s been all downhill since as the brain drain and lack of incoming talent has only helped to accelerate the industry’s fall to where it is today at about half its all-time high revenue.

Reading this I feel like I was caught in the middle of a transition. I was too late on the music as a career option, but too early to get in on the App gold rush (which has already peaked).

Design Help From John

A profile on the guy who showed Richard D. James how to use Photoshop to make those freaky album covers.

He retired from music:

“For me, in terms of working in design, there’s almost nothing to do in the music industry. I mean, what would you really be doing? Design is of far less importance than ever. I think video still has a certain degree of importance, but what are covers now? They’re little thumbnails that pop up in Spotify. You can have a little visual language around that that matters, but not so much now. I mean, can you imagine Richard doing his portrait thing now, how striking that would be now? Where would you see it – as a thumbnail on iTunes or something?”