A weekly update on all things music, entertainment and technology, coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: AI-GENERATED MUSIC
Last week a painting created by artificial intelligence sold for $432,000 at the Christie’s Prints and Multiples art auction in New York. The piece, called “Portrait of Edmond Belamy,” is the first artwork made entirely by AI to go up for sale at a major art auction. Well if that does not get your attention, I am not sure what will! When they said the robots were coming, I always assumed they were talking about basic tasks currently fulfilled by humans being phased out in favour of a more reliable, cheaper machine. But now AI is encroaching upon areas of human endeavour that always seemed uniquely human: our capacity to make art, to think, feel, empathise, imagine, take risks, destroy, rebuild. However, rather than run to the hills, TWIM embraces this evolution, as music and technology have often produced fantastic results (TR-808, Pro Tools, plug ins) and we suspect AI-generated music will be no different. This week we look at two projects.
Lil Miquela, a CGI Instagram influencer with over 1.5 million followers, released her latest single “Hate Me,” a collaboration with EDM producer Baauer, in August 2018. As of the date of this newsletter, the track has been streamed over 2.8 million times on Spotify, and even got its own billboard in NYC’s Times Square. Miquela’s 2017 summer single, “Not Mine,” has racked up around 1.7 million streams so far. Beyond music, Miquela has also done several fashion-oriented magazine covers and brand partnerships with companies like Vogue, Prada, Ugg and Opening Ceremony. TWIM was recently told that major labels had the chance to sign Miquela a few years ago, but dismissed the opportunity as “frivolous and pointless”.
SKYGGE, a French AI/music collective founded by songwriter Benoît Perrier and computer science researcher turned Spotify exec François Pachet, released a full-length album Hello World last December, and has gotten a handful of placements on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist. Their most popular single, the gibberish-sounding “Magic Man,” has over 3.4 million streams on Spotify; next up is “Hello Shadow” (ft. Kiesza), which has 2.6 million streams. The creative process with SKYGGE is actually quite similar to how Obvious made its Belamy paintings: an AI ingests hundreds to thousands of songs of a particular genre (e.g. ‘80s French disco), and outputs melodies and chord progressions that it thinks fit the genre “best.” Human composers and artists like Perrier and Kiesza then evaluate, curate, interpret and perform those results.
Ed note: Please let me know your thoughts on AI-generated music.
AD OF THE WEEK: WWF FIGHT FOR YOUR WORLD
I love ads that have the courage to do what is says on the tin. This ad by client WWF and agency, Uncommon Creative Studio does just that. We are the first generation to know we are destroying the world. But we could also be the last to be able to reverse the damage.
The message is clear. The images hit you hard and the music delivers. To adopt, donate or join, please go to www.wwf.org.uk
UK MUSIC INDUSTRY WORTH £4.5BN, BECOMING GLOBAL LEADER
The UK music industry grew by 2% in 2017, contributing a record £4.5 billion to the economy, according to a study by UK Music. The organisation’s Measuring Music 2018 report, which covers all areas of the industry, showed a £100 million increase on 2016.
The annual economic study by UK Music and its members showed that the industry continued to grow last year across almost every sector. Recorded music saw a rise of 9% to £700 million, while music publishing grew by 7% to £505 million in 2017. Exports of UK music soared in 2017 by 7% to £2.6 billion, thanks to acts including Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Rag’N’Bone Man, Stormzy, Harry Styles and Depeche Mode. Live music contributed £991 million to the UK economy last year. The report also showed that musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists generated £2bn in 2017 (up 1%).
HMV OVERTAKES AMAZON FOR PHYSICAL MUSIC
Traditional High Street Music Store bucks trend and shows growth
John Hirst, HMV’s head of music, has told Music Week that the retailer’s online sales are its “big success story” of 2018 as figures showed that the chain overtook Amazon to be No.1 in the physical market.
HMV has been under pressure from the declining physical market. But according to the latest data on physical entertainment sales from Kantar Worldpanel, the former high street stalwart experienced market share growth for the second consecutive period.
Based on music sales for the 12 weeks up to September 23, HMV increased its market share to 28% and moved ahead of Amazon (21.1%) to become the biggest physical music retailer. Gifting sales at HMV were up 21% over the period. Now That’s What I Call Music 100 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again proved to be strong physical sellers over the three months.
BBC SOUNDS LAUNCHES WITH ARTIST-CURATED CONTENT
‘It is a really significant landmark’
The BBC has launched its BBC Sounds platform, which brings together 80,000 hours of music, radio and podcasts, available live and on-demand in a personalised single app and website.
BBC Sounds encourages discovery of content including exclusive music mixes, radio shows and BBC podcasts, as well as popular podcasts made outside the BBC.
Forty new music mixes have been curated, including selections available now or soon from Nile Rodgers, Kylie Minogue, Mabel and Tom Grennan. A Behind The Album inspirations feature is available from Rita Ora, with forthcoming editions include The Prodigy and Years & Years.
TPI AND MASTERSOUNDS PARTNER ON NEW TURNTABLE ISOLATION SOLUTION
The TRBxM is designed to limit vibrations and maximise sound quality.
TPI and MasterSounds have partnered on a new turntable isolation device called the TRBxM. The unit is designed to sit underneath a standardised turntable like the Technics SP-1200/10 – though other kits are available for other types of turntable – and significantly reduce the vibrations that may cause needle skips and unwanted interference. The TRMxB is designed to reduce feedback at 1kHz and 450Hz, frequencies commonly known to cause issues in live environments.
The TRBxM is available now at a price of £249.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash
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