A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: MILES DAVIS
Why Miles Davis this week? Simple: I just finished his autobiography, Miles, the autobiography by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe (Picador Books), which like Davis himself, is not an easy read. Musical genius, pimp, innovator, heroin addict, pioneer, woman beater, superstar – all these conflicting, competing and colliding descriptions applied to him and he was the first to admit it. He was not the nicest guy you could meet. By his own admission, he could be brusque and downright rude to people he did not know. He was tough on his band members, cutting them off mid-solo during a live concert if he judged the playing was not up to scratch. But the flip-side is that he played with the greatest jazz musicians in the world from 1944 to 1948, sometimes known as the bebop years. Legends such as John Coltrane (sax) , Charlie Parker (sax), Bill Evans (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Max Roach (drums) and many many more. He also handed so many young musicians their break and many of them went on to have successful careers. Herbie Hancock (bass), Daryl Jones (bass, Rolling Stones), Wynton Marsalis (sax, Sting) are all indebted to Davis’ patronage. Rolling Stone described him as “the most revered jazz trumpeter of all time, not to mention one of the most important musicians of the 20th century.” When you listen to him play, aside from the beautiful tone of his trumpet, the main thing that emerges is his fierce, proud and uncompromising intelligence.
His seminal album Kind of Blue (1959, Columbia Records) remains the best selling jazz album of all time. If you haven’t heard it, open a bottle of wine, curl up on a comfortable sofa and turn the volume up to 5 – not too loud, but loud enough to fill the room – and tell me that isn’t one of the most amazing things you have ever heard.
AD OF THE WEEK: NINTENDO MARIO KART
Nintendo’s iconic multiplayer game finally comes to smartphones
To kick-start the next generation of go-kart champions with Mario Kart Tour, the franchise’s highly anticipated mobile instalment, creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles and Google Play have taken some of the game world’s most iconic aspects—zany tracks, infamous banana peel obstacles and coins galore—and inserted them into a playful, appropriately chaotic real-world environment by way of racing smartphones.
I love this ad because of its technical wizardry. It doesn’t happen that often that you see an ad and wonder, “How did they do that?” I also like that throughout the ad the filmmakers have peppered the action with specific references to the game. For example, each phone is based on a character: Donkey Kong, Peach, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, Mario or Bowser. Or in the opening shot, there’s a street sign for Rainbow Rd. Rainbow Road is the final course of the Special Cup featured in all Mario Kart games and is the climactic course of each game it appears. This kind of geeky detail gives the ad some real authenticity. If the mobile instalment is as good as the ad, expect it to be a runaway success.
IDRIS ELBA’S NEW FASHION BRAND 2HR SET IS AN ODE TO DJ CULTURE
The British actor and DJ has linked with Fatboy Slim for a “back2back” clothing collaboration.
The versatile and popular British actor and DJ Idris Elba is getting into the fashion game with his new streetwear brand, 2HR SET.
Elba teased the brand last year in the UK with sold out results and has now put together a full line of unisex apparel inspired by his passion for DJ culture that’s available worldwide.
Elba recently linked up with Fatboy Slim for a “back2back” apparel collaboration for 2HR SET. The new collection is the first in a series of limited edition collaborations with various clubland acts.
“I can’t think of anyone that’s going to rock a merch range better than the man himself Big Driis,” Fatboy Slim stated. “Escape to hedonism in these fine rags!”
The website currently features a variety of gear, including hoodies, t-shirts, sweatpants, caps and more that can be purchased online.
HMV OPENS UP IN-STORES TO UNSIGNED BANDS
HMV has been busy since Doug Putman took over the business earlier this year.
As well as a major vinyl expansion plan the chain is relaunching its website to drive pre-orders and has big ambitions for increasing in-store performances.
But it’s not all about the artists targeting a big first week sale by greeting queues of fans at stores around the country. Developing artists and unsigned bands are now being invited to perform at their local HMV, if they have physical product to sell off the back of any in-store activity.
HMV head of music, John Hirst, confirmed that its in-stores will now go beyond the big names.
“We’re opening up to a lot more local artists as well, it’s about creating events in store particularly at the weekends,” he said. “So we’ve opened up to local artists and we’ve relaxed our rules on stocking local artists’ products, so local acts can drop into their nearest HMV and get their stock on the shelf in there.”
The move is in line with the chain’s ambitions to restore its specialist credentials and create a music retail community hub.
DEATH ROW RECORDS IS NOW OWNED BY TOY GIANT HASBRO
To quote Alanis Morissette, “Kind of ironic, don’t you think?” The largest toy company in the world, Hasbro, has acquired Death Row Records as part of a $4 billion dollar deal.
The procurement of this famous gangster rap label comes as part of Hasbro’s deal to buy Entertainment One, also known as eOne, which owns animated, family-friendly kids shows such as ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘PJ Masks’. They also happen to own one of the most infamous hip hop labels ever created.
Death Row Records was founded in Los Angeles, CA by The D.O.C., billionaire hip hop producer Dr. Dre and the label’s controversial father figure, Suge Knight. It’s imprint came to define West Coast hip hop in the ’90s, releasing iconic albums by Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube and more.
The label was forced to file for bankruptcy after a series of lawsuits in 2006 landed Suge Knight in jail. He is currently serving 27 years in prison for a hit-and-run incident that resulted in manslaughter.
The label has changed hands several times and ended up with Entertainment One when it was bought for $280 million in 2013.
APPLE MUSIC LAUNCHES ‘NEW MUSIC DAILY’ PLAYLIST
Apple Music says that New Music Daily will feature more than 60 tracks each day.
Apple Music editors will choose one song each day to feature in the top spot on the playlist and the selected artist will be featured as the New Music Daily playlist cover star for the day.
“The cadence of music delivery has changed and now with streaming, artists can drop new tracks for fans whenever they feel like it – and they do,” said Apple Music in a statement.
“Which means we are always hard at work programming all of our playlists with new music, and the New Music Daily playlist provides the ultimate opportunity for fans to discover new music in real time.”
SPOTIFY QUIETLY EXPANDS MUSIC SHARING INTO FACEBOOK STORIES
Spotify is re-introducing a way to share music through Facebook Stories.
The new Facebook Stories integration includes 15-second song previews for viewers. The viewer can tap the “Play on Spotify” button in the story to open the Spotify app. Spotify says the feature is designed mostly with artists and their teams in mind. It gives them another avenue to share new hits across Facebook.
It’s unclear how potent this sharing vehicle will be for artists, though a lot depends on whether a group’s fans are using Facebook. Spotify, of course, is touting the big benefits.
Last year, Spotify introduced the music sharing feature for Instagram Stories. Albums, tracks, and playlists now are available on both Instagram and Facebook Stories.
It looks like Spotify’s integration with Instagram Stories has bolstered both platforms, with increased engagement on users’ Stories and traffic flowing back to Spotify.
BANG & OLUFSEN’S FIRST EVER SOUNDBAR IS A 550W POWERHOUSE
The Beosound Stage has the looks to match its power and performance with the inclusion of Dolby Atmos and 11 powered drivers.
Due to be released in late October, is what you would expect from the brand in terms of minimalist style. It was designed in collaboration with Danish studio NORM Architects with a brief to use simple geometric shapes and natural materials.
The £1,250 soundbar’s simple frame can be specced in aluminium, bronze-tone aluminium or – if you want to pony up for the £1,900 version – smoked oak, complete with traditional dovetail joints. The natural and bronze frames are both made from a single piece of forged aluminium, so no messy seams.
Available later this year – more details
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash