Music streaming from websites such as Spotify to help dictate UK singles chart | Music | The Guardian

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The chief executive of the Official Charts Company, Martin Talbot, said this was a natural development to reflect to the changing ways the public now access music. He said: “The singles chart in the UK has always been purely based on the sales of singles, whether it be downloads or CDs or cassettes or even 7in vinyl, so broadening that for the first time to incorporate audio streams is a significant event. The chart has always evolved over 50 years to incorporate lots of different formats and the different ways people consume music and I suppose this is part of this evolution.

via Music streaming from websites such as Spotify to help dictate UK singles chart | Music | The Guardian.

 

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The sound of silence: LA band raises $20,000 through Spotify without recording a note – News – Music – The Independent

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Mr Stratton and his bandmates Theo Katzman, Woody Goss and Joe Dart have released three previous albums as Vulfpeck. Sleepify consists of 10 tracks with titles including “Z”, “Zzz” and “Zzzzzz”. Spotify’s average rate for royalties is $0.007 per track streamed, and a song must be played for at least 30 seconds to register.

All the tracks on Sleepify clock in at 31 or 32 seconds; an eight-hour night of continuous streams could thus generate more than $5 in royalties.

via The sound of silence: LA band raises $20,000 through Spotify without recording a note – News – Music – The Independent.

Sony stops selling tape Walkman in Japan after 30 years – Telegraph

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I think the papers are making more of this story than they should (since Sony are in fact still selling tape-based Walkmans in some markets), but the story is an opportunity to consider how the Walkman changed us.

Often cited as one of the greatest gadget inventions of all time it has been squeezed out by portable CD players and latterly the advent of digital rivals, most notably Apple’s iPod.

Since its launch in 1979 around 220 million Walkmans have been sold worldwide and the ground-breaking, pocket-sized music player was cherished by a generation of joggers and teenagers.

via Sony stops selling tape Walkman in Japan after 30 years – Telegraph.

David Hepworth, over on his blog, posts a short piece about how the Walkman made music – which was always a social activity – into a private one. I think the Walkman is to blame for the tendency to insulate yourself from the world in earbuds, but music is still a social activity for some people.

For example, teenagers on buses do like to annoy their fellow passengers by playing their grime music through tinny little speakers on their phones – much as Teddy Boys in the 50s would have played their rock ‘n’ roll through a transistor radio.

People do like to share headphones, too, though unless all your music is encoded in mono at least one of you is missing out on Eric Clapton’s guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

And as a commenter points out on David Hepworth’s post, people do tend to yack yack their way through gigs. This tends to be seen by true music fans as anti-social behaviour. In the end, the Walkman and the iPod are probably responsible for making us all a little bit more selfish and less concerned about other people.

bcwax

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Bandcamp, the music web site for independent musicians (untainted by News Corp), has started to press records, and they’re doing so in a unique way. By simply looking at the site traffic for artists who are seeing some success for their recordings on the site, they can propose to produce a physical record – sharing the profits with the artist, but explicitly NOT taking ownership of the artist’s recording. This seems like such a sane arrangement that you can’t for the moment imagine why the music industry operates any differently.

bcwax.

From Wired: The industry that cried wolf

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Peter Kirwan writes over at Wired (UK edition) on the surprisingly healthy state of the music industry.

It turns out that – surprise! – they can’t be trusted. The industry that exploited artists and ripped off fans for decades is – it seems – exaggerating when they whinge about how online “piracy” is killing them softly with its love of free downloads.

Just as they were, if you’re old enough to remember, in the 1980s, when they complained that “home taping is killing music.”

It turns out that sales last year were pretty damn good, considering the state of the economy. It also turns out that income from licenced “broadcasts” of music – in workplaces and retail spaces, online and on air – was absolutely huge, outstripping retail sales. And it turns out that legal downloads are still only 13% of revenues, which means that an awful lot of people are still buying CDs.

But it doesn’t suit this industry to talk about their actual health, because they’re busy trying to persuade governments all over the world to introduce reactionary and regressive extended copyright laws. Snip:

Proclaiming good news from the rooftops would go against the industry’s grain. As a spokesperson for PRS For Music told me: “At the time, there was a lot of other noise in the media about the extension of copyright and the decline of physical sales, so we didn’t want to clutter it with these figures.”

Ah yes: other noise. All of it depressive, and much of it required to wring further concessions out of governments.

For the music industry, acknowledging the existence of a brighter future will become inevitable at some point. That time may well be nigh.

Band Camp

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BoingBoing have a thing for ukulele music at the moment, and because of this I learned about BandCamp, which is a WordPress-like web tool that allows you – the artist – to create and manage your own web site, with downloadable tracks, album artwork, and so on.

It looks cleaner and less cluttered than MySpace, and they promise you won’t end up with dodgy ads on your page (which sometimes happens over at SlideShare, you’ll notice). One of the key features is that it encourages you to upload a full-resolution 16-bit file, which they then process to make lower-resolution versions (including Apple Lossless, which not many people use) available for download.

Beyond this, if you have a PayPal account (it has to be a Pro Merchant account), you can have paid downloads, with prices fixed by you or a version of the “honesty box” system that Radiohead used.

I was struck immediately by how classy the site looks. As well as album artwork, a custom header (and background, if you want) and colour scheme, the site has a visualiser like the one in iTunes. If you’ve used blogging software, it’s easy to set up. You end up with a domain like this: http://yourbandname.bandcamp.com, though the site (like WordPress) also supports custom domains.

I’ve set up a site for my own stuff (if you remember the name of my old band you’ll be able to find it – no spaces), not because I expect to make money from it, but because I thought it looked nice and I wanted to try it. I’m currently struggling to select a collection of 10-15 out of the 100 or so songs I’ve recorded over the years.

I think this is the best example yet of how new media allows artists to take control of their own careers, by-pass the record labels, and do things for themselves. If only I was twenty years younger and twenty times more talented…