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As I talked about a little in this week's podcast, I've been working on a lengthier article in response to a lot of the stuff that's been going on in our music scene lately. It's on my blog because it gets long and I think it's a better reading experience there.
Sometimes I find myself trapped in a cycle of cynicism, believing that the way things are is the how they will stay. I remember feeling this way a lot during those first Bush-as-President years, and I’ve felt the dark coils wrapped around my mind again recently. With all of the news popping up around the Pure Noise Records situations, the what-feels-like weekly new discoveries of misconduct within the music scene, and the almost...
Jason Tate on 05/23/15 - 11:25 AM
Thomas Nassiff is here to convince you to listen to Bruce Springsteen. Is that the guy that sounds like Brian Fallon?
The quintessential starting point for Springsteen is your dad’s favorite album, Born to Run. In his early days, Springsteen was very much a “DIY” type of artist – he and his band would play in and around New Jersey, go on small tours and generally jam a lot. Remember, this was the ’70s, and there was no true rapid-fire success to be found. Columbia Records signed Springsteen to an album deal in the hopes that it was signing the next Bob Dylan. But while Springsteen is majorly influenced by Dylan, he has never been content to restrict his art to just himself and an...
Jason Tate on 05/20/15 - 01:13 PM
The Verge breaks down the leaked contract Sony Music had with Spotify.
This contract — like every other contract involving a music label and a streaming service — has been secret until now. Given the myriad ways Sony Music came out as the winner, it’s worth asking who really should shoulder the blame for the lackluster streaming payments that artists like Swift have been complaining about — the labels or the streaming service?

Submitted by mr_raccoon
Jason Tate on 05/19/15 - 11:19 AM
Stereogum has profiled the ... issues ... the VNYL service has had since their Kickstarter. Who would have guessed?
In short, the service being pitched by VNYL would have violated copyright law. The old-school Netflix model worked well for DVDs because movies weren’t covered in the Record Rental Amendment — but applying that same model to vinyl records (or cassettes, or CDs) would have been illegal. VNYL was supposed to start shipping records to subscribers in early February, but it didn’t actually do so till early April. When those records arrived, there were no instructions for how they might be returned — almost as if VNYL had simply forgotten to include such instructions.
Jason Tate on 05/14/15 - 11:39 AM
Warner Music Group said it now makes more money from streaming than downloads
Streaming revenue from the company’s recorded music unit, generated by companies like Spotify and YouTube, grew 33 percent in Q2, Warner CEO Stephen Cooper announced during the company’s earnings call. Warner says digital revenue grew 7 percent overall — which means download sales from outlets like Apple’s iTunes decreased during the same period.

Submitted by mr_raccoon
Jason Tate on 05/12/15 - 10:27 AM
Derek Thompson, writing for The Atlantic:
New analysis from researchers in the United Kingdom, who studied the chord structure and sounds of 17,000 songs in last half-century, determined that 1991 marked the most significant revolution in the history of modern pop music. The rise of rap and hip-hop, they authors wrote, marked “the single most important event that has shaped the musical structural of the American charts."
Jason Tate on 05/12/15 - 12:21 AM
Amy McCarthy, writing for Salon:
In the nearly 10 years that I have been attending and reviewing live music, I have been punched, groped and had beer thrown in my face. I have snuck out of shows early to escape the aggressive advances of a man who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I have watched and intervened as men tried to take advantage of falling-down-drunk women who could barely keep their eyes open. I have seen artists make sexually inappropriate remarks about me and other women from the stage. Unfortunately, my experience as a woman in music is not unique.
Jason Tate on 05/11/15 - 09:57 PM
John Gentile, writing for The Runout, about sweatshop merch being sold by punk bands.
Yet, fans are as much the reason for this as bands, if not more. (Actually, fans are probably more to blame). We all need to realize that the age of the $10-$12 shirt is over. I looked at the calendar. It’s not 1986 anymore. You know what? Twenty bucks for a t-shirt is reasonable. Don’t give me that hooey that you “Can’t afford a $20 shirt.” First, if you can’t afford a $20 shirt, then a $10 shirt made by a twelve year old who just lost his fingers is a pretty lousy alternative. Second, I’ve seen you all at the show. I saw *YOU* buying a $4 beer (plus one dollar tip!). If you can afford a band shirt,...
Jason Tate on 05/11/15 - 11:53 AM
Carl Magnes, writing for Jacobinmag:
High pay comes with serious restrictions. Musicians must agree to a radius clause that prohibits them from performing within a radius (say one hundred miles) of the festival for a certain number of months (often six). The radius clause is also coupled with a subtler exclusivity clause: the inability of fans who can’t afford the $200+ ticket prices to enter a major festival. When a show at a high-cost festival will be your only show for six months in a region, you offer your working-class fans a cold silence.

Submitted by Love As Arson
Jason Tate on 05/11/15 - 11:50 AM
After the events of the last few days, I'm donating to RAINN tonight. I hope others will join me. Thank you.
RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
Jason Tate on 05/06/15 - 09:47 PM
Spenser Milo, writing on The Daily Writ, about Brand New's "Mene" and the expectational bias new music creates.
Now, with context, “Mene” isn’t just a song anymore; it’s a highly-anticipated monster of a single that, to some fans, fell absolutely flat. Why? Because there’s that hanging suspense that’s set in unrealistic fantasies of what the band can perfectly achieve for every individual fan out there. The song, and now the band’s new album, is plagued with expectational bias.
Jason Tate on 05/04/15 - 12:22 PM
Fantastic profile in The New Yorker about one of the largest music piracy rings on the internet back in the day.
Then, in January of 2007, one of RNS’s topsites mysteriously vanished. The server, which was hosted in Hungary, began refusing all connections, and the company that owned it didn’t respond. Kali ordered the group shut down. RNS’s final leak, released on January 19, 2007, was Fall Out Boy’s “Infinity on High,” sourced from inside the plant by Glover.
Jason Tate on 04/27/15 - 03:51 PM
Dan Ozzi takes a look at the biggest "sell out" albums in punk and re-reviews:
The move was never received well, and always seen as an affront to those who had launched the bands out of the basements in the first place. Whether the band's major label debut was a commercial success or a flop, a critical darling or panned piece of trash, many fans stuck a middle finger to the whole thing, as if to say, "We support you, but not enough for you to be able to quit your job at Whole Foods!"
Jason Tate on 04/02/15 - 07:04 PM
Ben Thompson, writing for Stratechery, about Tidal and the future of music.
This is why, by the way, I’m generally quite unsympathetic to artists belly-aching about how unfair their labels are. Is it unfair that all of the artists who don’t break through are not compelled to repay the labels the money that was invested in them? No one begrudges venture capitalists for profiting when a startup IPOs, because that return pays for all the other startups in the portfolio that failed.
Jason Tate on 04/01/15 - 11:29 AM
Mike Campbell writes for Noisey about how independent labels are being squeezed out by the "vinyl revival."
The result we are seeing in most recent years is that independent releases are being pushed aside, becoming less of a priority due to the fact that vinyl orders from indies are usually a fraction of the size of most major label artist orders. To give an example, the first pressing of Philadelphia indie-punk band Cayetana’s debut LP, Nervous Like Me, released in 2014 on independent label Tiny Engines was limited to 1525 copies. The band was only able to get 400 copies to sustain their merch sales on their six-week tour supporting the album’s release, as the rest of copies were...
Jason Tate on 04/01/15 - 11:08 AM
Jonathan Diener, writing for Nothing Original:
I am the guy standing in the back of the crowd. I’m most likely crossing my arms and not singing along. Even in a situation when there’s a circle pit, stage diving or crowd surfing, I’m most likely not participating. When the singer of the band shouts out to the show-goers for a wall of death or to clap along, I don’t indulgethem. If you’re having a good time up front and look back to see me standing there, you probably think I’m trying to be cool. You probably think I’m not enjoying myself. If you assume those things, you’re in the wrong. I couldn’t be cool even if I tried and I’m probably having a great time. If that’s the case, then why...
Jason Tate on 03/28/15 - 01:01 PM
Sarah Sahim, writing for Pitchfork:
What substantiates this are the microaggressions, as well as overt and covert expressions of racism, that happen as a result of those systemically held ideals. Some may take the success of artists of color as threat to their space or scene. White art is deemed more worthy of respect, and so white audiences respond to it positively—it is set up for success. It’s evidenced the last week of news: be it the insidious petition urging Glastonbury to drop Kanye West in favor of a "rock band" (read: a white artist), or the repeated co-option of Indian and Desi pop culture by Major Lazer going unremarked upon. White art additionally dilutes and flattens...
Jason Tate on 03/28/15 - 12:58 PM
Lena Dunham wrote an article for The New Yorker called "Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz." -- the boyfriend being Jack Antonoff of Bleachers.

Submitted by mr_raccoon
Jason Tate on 03/28/15 - 12:53 PM
Laura Jane Grace, of Against Me!, writing for Noisey:
I made three laps around the world last year and every single airport interaction always included a "sir" addressed to me. Checking in, security, passport control, boarding, de-boarding, getting a cab, checking into the hotel, checking out of the hotel, the security guard at the club, some bartender, a waitress, some drunk dickhead telling me I look like Mark Wahlberg in Rock Star instead of a woman, another bartender, another taxi, and then do it all again the next day. Shoot me in the fucking head.
Jason Tate on 03/28/15 - 11:40 AM
Nathaniel Cramp, writing for The Guardian:
“You can spend many thousands more than you’d like,” one shop owner told me. “Then your profit is tied up in the records that haven’t sold. A small shop could feasibly sell everything on the day and pay its rent for a year, but it could drive a shop out of business.”
Jason Tate on 03/20/15 - 10:44 AM
Jack Conte, from the company Patreon and band Pomplamoose, talks about the intersection of independent art and money in a recent interview.
As an independent artist, it’s really unfortunate that people think art and money are different things and should never be joined—that art lives in this perfect vacuum, unaffected and unchanged by money. That has never been the case; it’s not the case now. Money funds everything. I don’t care if you’re a tech startup; I don’t care if you have an … [electric] bill to pay; I don’t a care if you’re an artist. If there’s no green, it’s not going to work.
Jason Tate on 03/16/15 - 03:32 PM
Paul Adler, writing over at Medium, has posted a piece looking at the sexual violence that has occured at Warped Tour.
But over the past half-decade, a handful of alt-scene, so-called “Warped Tour” bands have found themselves accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Musicians have been convicted of crimes, and other bands have been condemned for their apparent advocacy of physical and sexual violence, especially toward women. Of course, the bands and the tour are separate entities, and Warped isn’t legally responsible (moral responsibility is another matter) for the actions of its acts. Nonetheless, it’s tempting to let these scandals color the general perception of the tour. More...
Jason Tate on 03/16/15 - 11:09 AM
Sculptures out of crayons? Why of course. I am particularly fond of the Batman, Hobbes, and Star Wars ones, but these are all pretty awesome. I hope everyone has a great Friday and a good weekend. Thanks for reading our website.
Jason Tate on 03/13/15 - 01:54 PM
Jeff John Roberts, writing at Gigaom, looks at the different legal cases related to royalties and the music industry that are set to shake out this year.
A solution from courts or Congress is in order. The danger, though, is that a partial solution will protect parochial interests such as FM stations or labels that own 1960's recordings without creating a sustainable system for royalties in the digital age. There's also a risk that changes to the law will simply scapegoat companies like Pandora and Spotify, which represent the future of music, or even kill them off altogether. In any event, watch closely. This is the year that a lot of long-time log-jams in the music industry appear set...
Jason Tate on 03/11/15 - 06:29 PM
Zac Lomas, writing for PunkOut, looks at pop-punk's heteronormativity:
The pop-punk scene needs to make a stand and support pop-punk bands that openly identify as LGBTQ and whose songs give the LGBTQ community something to identify with. The LGBTQ community needs to hear Jordan Black from Like Pacific scream about his failed relationships, they need to hear Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace sing about the harsh realities of being Trans in America, and they need their own Soupy.
Jason Tate on 03/11/15 - 11:20 AM
Rene Chun, writing for Wired, looks at a group of audiophiles paying top dollar for top quality vinyl. The "hot stampers."
This is what passes for fiscal restraint in the world of high-end audio: drawing the line at three figures for mass-produced records that sold in the millions, the same dorm room relics found in milk crates at tag sales. But Port insists that his meticulously curated discs are special. Unlike many record dealers, he doesn’t peddle the usual dreck pocked with scratches and pot resin. He traffics strictly in “hot stampers,” the very best of the best.
Jason Tate on 03/06/15 - 01:07 PM
Peter Kafka, writing at Recode, looks at how Apple and Beats may be relaunching their service later this year.
Apple executives, led by media head Eddy Cue and Beats Music founder Jimmy Iovine, have been arguing that the music business “needs to get behind a paywall,” say people who have talked to them. Apple bought Beats last year, partly to help it gain a foothold on streaming music just as iTunes sales of digital downloads had started to drop.
Jason Tate on 03/06/15 - 12:45 PM
Megan Seling, writing for the Nashville Scene, takes a look at how summer festivals in our music scene are handling representation. Some are clearly doing better than others -- some barely look like they're trying.
Male musicians, if you're finding yourselves on lineups where women are so grossly underrepresented, ask the promoter why that is. Ask to include more female musicians in your shows and tours. Prove to festivals that women deserve more than 2 percent or, worse, to only get attention when magazines and festivals produce shit like "Hottest Chicks of Hard Rock"or "Girls Only" stages. I'm goddamn tired of female musicians being treated like lesser humans or tokens in the music...
Jason Tate on 02/24/15 - 07:33 PM
Starbucks will stop selling CDs.
"We will stop selling physical CDs in our stores at the end of March," a rep for the Seattle-based company tells Billboard, adding: "Starbucks continually seeks to redefine the experience in our retail stores to meet the evolving needs of our customers. Music will remain a key component of our coffeehouse and retail experience, however we will continue to evolve the format of our music offerings to ensure we're offering relevant options for our customers. As a leader in music curation, we will continue to strive to select unique and compelling artists from a broad range of genres we think will resonate with our customers."
Jason Tate on 02/20/15 - 11:44 AM
Shea Serrano speculates on Grantland about what it would be like if Kanye West had never interrupted Taylor Swift.
For starters, if he doesn’t interrupt her, then he never gets shredded into a million pieces in the news. And if he never gets shredded into a million pieces in the news, then he never makes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which was his emotional response to the blowback, and that is truly devastating, because MBDTF is a (very nearly) perfect album. If there’s no MBDTF, then that means we never get RZA drunk-mumble-shouting, “Fuckhhn ruhdihhkulus” on “So Appalled,” and oh no, but also we never get Pusha T admitting to cheating on a girl and telling her, “All right, all...
Jason Tate on 02/16/15 - 12:56 PM
Marah Eakin, writing over at AV Club, looks at how pop-music is the "whitest" it's been in over 35 years.
Something happened with both the Hot 100 chart and Grammy nominations in the mid ’00s, however, and black artists started declining again. That’s only gotten worse over time, and in 2013 there wasn’t a single black artist with a No. 1 single on the Hot 100. A black artist hasn’t won a Grammy in any of the four major categories—Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist—since 2010.
Jason Tate on 02/12/15 - 04:21 PM
Mashable has a "22 emo songs that helped you through your high-school breakup" playlist up for genre purists to lose their mind at.

Submitted by HeyItsAllyssa
Jason Tate on 02/11/15 - 12:54 PM
Rembert Browne, writing my favorite piece on Kanye West and social media reaction we saw yesterday:
A planned Kanye says, “I want to be like Andy Warhol.” But how could you possibly want that version of Kanye? If you are genuinely holding out any hope that our biggest and brightest can also be our most honest and flawed, you have to want, “I am Warhol.” You have to. He wants respect, but even more than that, repeatedly, wants the people he respects to get respect. It’s not a foreign concept. But because he’s Kanye, it’s different. Because it lacks the grace that society has deemed necessary to make such demands.
Jason Tate on 02/10/15 - 01:45 PM
Paul Cantor, writing about why the Grammys weren't all that great this year:
And blockbusters are what the music industry is all about, or used to be about, or occasionally still thinks it’s about, or tries to be about, but is actually not really about. And maybe that’s why the Grammy’s weren’t so good this year. It’s an old show built on an old formula that celebrates old metrics of success that just don’t hold up these days. This is not the fault of Grammy Awards, this is just reality.
Jason Tate on 02/10/15 - 01:42 PM
Mike Masnick, writing for TechDirt, on where most of the money from streaming services is going:
And, it appears, there's a decent reason why those labels haven't been eager to be transparent: because they're keeping most of the money. The Music Business Worldwide site has the details on a new report put together by Ernst & Young with the French record label trade group SNEP, concerning where the money from streaming services Deezer and Spotify ends up. Spoiler alert: it's not with the artists.
Jason Tate on 02/07/15 - 12:23 PM
If you drag and drop an MP3 onto this website, it'll play while you fly over a 3D rendered landscape that moves in time with the music. Not a bad way to pass the time on Friday. Hope everyone has a great weekend.
Jason Tate on 02/06/15 - 12:16 PM
The Groundhog saw his damn shadow. Bill Murray is still trapped.
Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most beloved and furry seasonal prognosticator, saw his shadow on Monday morning (despite overcast skies), portending six more weeks of winter.
Jason Tate on 02/02/15 - 12:39 PM
Bryne Yancey, writing at The Runout, about vaping at shows.
Vaping is harm reduction for smokers looking to either use less nicotine or wean themselves completely off of it. That’s great, because cigarettes are gross. They make your breath, clothes, and if they’re downwind that day, your friends smell terrible. There’s also the whole “they cause cancer” thing. But this isn’t about extolling the virtues of vaping as an alternative to smoking, or decrying vape pens as mouth fedoras as the joke goes. It’s about exercising common courtesy.

Please stop vaping at indoor punk shows. Seriously. Cut it out.
Jason Tate on 02/02/15 - 12:27 PM
Eamonn Forde, writing for the Guardian, looks at why Taylor Swift trademarked a bunch of her lyrics.
“What she is trying to do is to protect individual phrases within her lyrics where those lyrics have become catchphrases,” explains Alexander Ross, a partner at law firm Wiggin who specialises in music. “Once you have a trademarked phrase you have the right to stop someone else using it on things like merchandising.”
Jason Tate on 01/29/15 - 11:17 AM
Zoe Keating writes about the problems YouTube's new music service (and the ensuing agreement they want everyone to sign) is causing for some musicians and artists on the service.
My Google Youtube rep contacted me the other day. They were nice and took time to explain everything clearly to me, but the message was firm: I have to decide. I need to sign on to the new Youtube music services agreement or I will have my Youtube channel blocked.

This new music service agreement covers my Content ID account and it includes mandatory participation in Youtube’s new subscription streaming service, called Music Key, along with all that participation entails.
Jason Tate on 01/23/15 - 08:40 PM
Ray Waddell, writing for Billboard, on how the dropping gas prices across the country have helped touring artists.
The cost of fuel has been dropping since June of 2014, and by Jan. 12 had reached a five-year low -- which is great news for the touring industry. Based on U.S. Dept. of Energy averages, diesel fuel was running around $3.91 per gallon a year ago, and is currently about $3.13 on a national average. At that rate, an arena tour with 10 trucks and four buses averaging five miles per gallon is saving as much as $22,000 over 30 tour dates and 10,000 miles. Extrapolate that into the summer months, when more than 1,000 buses and 10 times that many touring trucks are on the road,...
Jason Tate on 01/21/15 - 10:57 AM
Killer Mike wrote an op-ed about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy over at Okayplayer.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Revolutionary, simple and plain. He did not get to live a regular life and have an 86th Bornday. He died a murder victim because he had the audacity to challenge a war machine bent on keeping people impoverished and men and woman dying for an illegal war. Martin was more than a speech-giving, marching, de-segregationist. He was a human being that dared to call out the hypocrisy of asking young people to refrain from violent protest on the one hand, while on the other allowing them to be cogs in a war machine that was making Vietnam a hell on earth for natives of that...
Jason Tate on 01/20/15 - 01:33 PM
Philip Ball, writing for Scientific America, explains how game theorists have "cracked poker." Hope everyone has a great Friday and a great weekend.
A new computer algorithm can play one of the most popular variants of poker essentially perfectly. Its creators say that it is virtually “incapable of losing against any opponent in a fair game”. This is a step beyond a computer program that can beat top human players, as IBM's chess-playing computer Deep Blue famously did in 1997 against Garry Kasparov, at the time the game's world champion. The poker program devised by computer scientist Michael Bowling and his colleagues at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, along with...
Jason Tate on 01/09/15 - 01:26 PM
Amy Davidson, writing for The New Yorker:
This was an attack on a publication and a neighborhood, a country and its press, and on any journalist, in any city. The magazine made fun of people—of many faiths, for many follies, which we all need to be reminded that we have. Some of the cartoons were blatantly, roughly sexual, and not designed to endear them to Jews or Christians. Satire was Charlie Hebdo’s mission, and a necessary one. There were times when the French government asked the magazine to hold back, but the magazine kept being itself, which is what one wishes for in a free press. Wednesday’s crime should not cause anyone to second-guess Charlie Hebdo’s editorial decisions....
Jason Tate on 01/07/15 - 12:52 PM
D.A Wallach, writing on Medium.
The problem is simply that no central database exists to keep track of information about music. Specifically, there are two types of information about a piece of music that are critically important: who made it and who owns the rights to it. Right now, this information is fiendishly difficult to track down, to the great detriment of artists, music services and consumers alike.

Decentralized, open-source, global cyryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ripple (full disclosure: I am an investor in Ripple Labs, which is developing this currency) offer a model for how we might address this bedeviling status quo. By applying the technical breakthroughs of...
Jason Tate on 12/16/14 - 07:46 PM

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