A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
I am jumping shamelessly on the bandwagon. The new album Ghosteen by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds is spectacular. And to say that I did not expect to feel that way is an understatement. I have never been a massive fan. My problem was that he was one of those artists everybody said they loved, but actually did not listen to. Kind of like a musical version of Salman Rushdie. But now here we are, 17 albums later, and Nick has delivered a perfect, ambient pop record that is a strong contender for Album of the Year.
Fans have been effusive, one saying it was “the band’s best work to date”, whilst another described it as “hauntingly beautiful”. One listener said it was “a poetic meditation on loss and grief”, another added that it “moved them to silence.” So be like me, jump on the bandwagon and the next time someone asks if you like Nick Cave, you can say yes without crossing your proverbial fingers behind your back.
AD OF THE WEEK: BORN FREE FOUNDATION
I can’t remember the last time I watched an ad that literally punched me straight in the gut. There is not much to say about this one. Watch it. Now.
Most lions in South Africa are born and raised in captivity. Keepers charge tourists to hug and take photos with them. Then, when they grow too big for cuddles, they’re sold to trophy hunters and shot in private game reserves. Not only is this cruel and inhumane practice legal, but it’s flourishing in South Africa. Sign the petition to the South African government to end lion farming for good. bornfree.org.uk/great-betrayal
THE MAJOR LABELS ARE STARTING TO FIND LIFE TOUGHER IN SWEDEN.
IS THIS A WAKE-UP CALL FOR THE FUTURE?
Sweden has long been a harbinger of trends that affect the global music business. The latest data coming out of the market should be monitored closely by major labels because, if it starts to bite on a global scale, it’s going to cause some headaches.
Driven by the popularity of local hip-hop, the market share of independently-distributed artists on Spotify’s Top 50 daily chart in Sweden hit an all-time high earlier this month, rising to 44% (i.e. 22 tracks out of 50) on September 5 (research firm, Amuse, which is based in Stockholm but operates globally.)
In fact, Amuse’s analysis, provided to MBW this week, suggests that an average of 38% of Spotify’s daily Top 50 chart in Sweden so far this month has been claimed by indie artist tracks. Although this figure has been dragged up by some big-league recent independent album releases (from artists like Einár, Dree Low and Ant Wan), it could represent an important trend away from the traditional players of the music industry.
71% OF PRODUCERS & SOUND ENGINEERS HAVE WORKED FOR FREE IN THE PAST 3 YEARS, REPORT FINDS
A report from the Music Producers Guild reveals that 88% of sound engineers and producers are asked to work for free. 71% agreed to gratis work for at least one client in the last three years.
The report was shared at the MPG’s annual Pivotal Music Conference. When surveyed, 50% of people indicated that they were “doing a favour for a friend” and 20% said they felt “under pressure to do a favour for an existing client”. 42% of participants reported doing ‘on spec’ work — meaning they’re only paid if the client ‘liked the work.’
That’s a startling statistic, but it turns out self-funding artists are the most common recipients. 77% of respondents reported doing a favour for a self-funded artist. 34% of them said the unpaid work was for an indie label. What’s astounding is that 17% of respondents reported doing unpaid work for a major label. Other beneficiaries of free sound production include TV and film productions, radio stations, and charity projects.
SPOTIFY USERS CAN NOW COMBINE MUSIC AND PODCASTS ON PLAYLISTS
At long last!
Starting now the streaming company has added what it describes as a ‘frequently requested functionality’: the ability for users to add podcasts to their own playlists.
Spotify posted the news, writing that “until recently, playlists were exclusive to music. But now, in the true spirit of Audio First, Spotify users can combine music and podcasts on the same playlists”.
GOOGLE DEBUTS PIXEL BUDS 2
Google has plans to introduce its second-generation Pixel Buds 2 soon.
Google’s Pixel Buds opted for a unique design with a cable running between them. At the moment, we know nothing about the design of the upcoming Pixel Buds 2.
Amazon recently announced its Echo Buds with Alexa built in. Google has updated the Pixel Buds at least twice since their release in 2017. A firmware update recently rolled out to address audio lag on the buds in YouTube videos.
The Made by Google event is happening October 15th in New York City.
Google is expected to unveil its next-generation Pixel phones along with a slew of other hardware.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash