This Week In Music – 7th February 2019

A weekly update on all things music, advertising and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM


It has been an eternity since a drummer has clocked his/her name on the marquee. Even though we have had some famous drummers throughout the years – Phil Collins, Don Henley, Ringo Starr, Meg White, Karen Carpenter, Dave Grohl and Buddy Rich – only Buddy Rich was a household name and big band leader. So it is refreshing to see a new face picking up where Rich left off. A virtuoso rhythm-master leading a group of eclectic and virtuoso musicians. Drummers, by dint of what they do, sit behind the band, providing rhythmical support to the rest of the music. But McCraven has turned this notion on its head. Physically and sonically he occupies a central role. Firstly, his drum set is positioned on the side rather than behind the other musicians. Secondly, he drives the music rather than supports it. The musicians follow him, play to his beat, wait for his every cue. It makes for exciting stuff. And the youthful audience laps it up.

At the end of one song from the London Boiler Room Session 2016, when McCraven drops his drum stick, he shouts out over the applause, “Fuck that stick, I don’t need that stick anyway.” His comment says it all. McCraven is making his own rules and in doing so, redefining what it means to be a drummer.


It is all about the Super Bowl this week. Whilst the game between the Patriots and the Rams was a rather insipid affair, with the 13-3 scoreline being one of the lowest in recent memory, the ads were actually pretty solid. One stood out from the pack. It had no celebrities, no CGI and no exotic location. Just a simple story about what happens when a company steps up and makes a product a particular kind of customer really need. A line of dialogue stands out, spoken by a young man afflicted with a missing limb or non-functioning limb: “I didn’t think it was unfair, I just thought, hey, it’s never going to change.”

Somebody at product development heard that little boy and others like him and decided to make a difference. Microsoft was written off as a company in permanent decline just a few years ago. However the new CEO, Satya Nadella, has turned it around, with financial analysts last month predicting the company will soon be worth $1trillion. This Super Bowl ad says a great deal about where the company stands today and where it is heading.


Streamer reports first quarterly profits and reveals plans to broaden beyond music

Spotify has bought two podcast firms and plans to spend up to $500m (£385m) on further acquisitions in an attempt to move beyond its music streaming roots for new growth.

The Swedish company has acquired Gimlet, the firm behind a string of popular podcasts including Homecoming, which was adapted into an Amazon TV series starring Julia Roberts.

It has also acquired Anchor, a platform that allows individuals and companies to create, publish and monetise podcasts. No price was disclosed for either deal, but Gimlet reportedly cost Spotify $230m.


Last month we reported HMV was heading to go into administration (again), but Sunrise Records owner Doug Putman has saved UK music and entertainment retailer HMV from going bust. The Canadian entrepreneur has emerged as the successful bidder for the embattled retailer after administrator KMPG confirmed last month that a number of offers had been made.

The deal will see 100 stores taken over, with around 1,500 jobs rescued. The remaining 27 stores will close immediately, with 455 redundancies being made as a result. Putman’s Sunrise Records took over around 70 HMV stores in Canada when the chain went under in 2017. There are over 80 Sunrise Records locations in Canada, having grown from five when Putman acquired the brand in 2014. Putman will continue to operate to the UK stores under the HMV name.


The rapper portrayed himself as an Atlanta-based native who grew up on the city’s rough east side. In reality, he is from the United Kingdom and arrived in the United States when he was already teenager. It was a surprise to both fans and critics. But instead of sympathy, social media quickly dragged the rapper over the proverbial coals for hiding his true roots. 

Charles Kuck (his lawyer) asserts that his client has a pending visa application on file with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He also says that his client has children that he supports who are US citizens, making him eligible for relief from deportation.


He played to 10 million people during an event held in the game

This weekend, the world’s largest ever virtual concert took place within the video game FortniteA 10-minute DJ set by Marshmello was streamed to a reported audience of 10 million viewers who were playing the video game. An additional 17 million views have since racked up on the DJ’s set, via a stream uploaded to YouTube.

Marshmello, real name Christopher Cormack, tweeted: “The first ever live virtual concert inside of Fortnite with millions of people in attendance. So insane, thank you Epic Games and everyone who made this possible!” 

Ed note: This represents a very interesting space for artists. Being able to “perform” in a virtual environment and reach millions of fans> part PR, part audience building, expect to see many more artists doing the same in months to come.


Transforming your vocals

The Roland VP-330 is a classic string synth and vocoder from 1979 that was a key influence on modern vocoder synths of a similar ilk. This is Roland’s digital homage to the device. For purists, Behringer is developing an unofficial analogue clone, the VC-340, due early next year.


Written by Anthony Vanger

Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf

Artwork by Gustav Balderdash

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