A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: AUTOMATIC
What comes around goes around. Automatic, formed in 2017, is a neo-punk trio from Los Angeles. They have just released their debut album, Signal. Anyone hear echoes of Blondie, Go-Go’s and any other female band from the early 80s? The music is basic – one song has only one line of lyrics – and the players’ skills rudimentary. Lyrics are droned rather than sung. Their guitar-less, minimal sound plays with avant-guard synth experimentation to create a kind of neon soundscape. All good bands have a clearly defined sound and the rigour to stick to it and Automatic’s deceptively simple neo-pop-punk sound stays true across the whole album. They take us on a journey, forward and backwards at the same time, to a place we may have visited before. Check out the album here: shorturl.at/elFHI #automatic
AD OF THE WEEK: BUDWEISER WASSUP REBOOT
How Budweiser reimagined ‘Whassup’ for a digital era
I loved the original ad because it had so much humanity. Watching the protagonists giving each other the “Waaaaaaaaasssssssssuuuuuuuuuuup” down the phone and intercom along with spiffy editing and a great script made for advertising gold. The ad became an international phenomenon, made stars of its creators and won Cannes Grand Prix and Grand Clio awards in 2006. And now the brand has the temerity to reimagine it for our digital times. Verdict: It is pretty damn good, but it’s a stretch to relate to a machine, however well it says, “Waaaaaaaaaaassssssssssssuuuuuuuup”.
WARNER MUSIC GROUP FILES TO GO PUBLIC
Warner Music Group has caught the music industry by surprise with plans for an IPO.
WMG has filed documents with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a public offering of its stock.
The high-stakes move is the latest financial twist in the booming music sector, following Spotify’s 2018 IPO and the agreed sale of 10% of UMG to Tencent by parent Vivendi at the end of last year.
The major was previously public until it was acquired by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries in 2011. Back then, off the back of years of declining revenues across the industry, WMG was sold for $3.3 billion (£2.55bn).
That now seems like a bargain and Blavatnik looks set to reap the rewards from several years of streaming-led growth. Market leader UMG was recently valued at €30 billion (£25.5bn).
In a statement, WMG said the number of shares of common stock to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined.
SPOTIFY BOOSTS WRITER VISIBILITY WITH LAUNCH OF PAGES FEATURE
We’re edging towards a full 12 months since Spotify controversially appealed against a legal decision forcing it to pay songwriters more from its service in the United States.
Spotify has made a pitch to improve its relationship with the songwriting community with an important upgrade to its service.
The streaming platform began publicly displaying song credits in 2018, and claims to have seen a 60% increase in how often labels and distributors credit songwriters on their new releases.
Now, Spotify is revamping the way it credits songwriters, with the launch of a beta version of ‘songwriter pages’, which SPOT says will ‘help fans, collaborators and industry partners dive deeper into some of the creators behind their favourite songs’.
When songwriters included in the beta are credited on a track, listeners can click their names to view a page showcasing the songs they’ve written as well as their most frequent artist collaborators.
Songwriters can also share a link to their pages on social media or a website.
A FIRE HAS DESTROYED THE APOLLO/TRANSCO VINYL MANUFACTURING FACILITY
There is now only one lacquer production factory left in the world
A fire has completely destroyed the Apollo/Transco vinyl production facility, which was one of the only two lacquer pressing companies in the world.
The Apollo/Transco plant was based in Banning, California and produced lacquer discs that are imperative in the production of vinyl records.
It’s reported over 80 firefighters tackled the blaze on Thursday February 6, and while luckily nobody was hurt, the building suffered “catastrophic damage”.
Apollo released a statement on its website describing the damage caused: “It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage.We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time.”
With MDC in Japan now being the only other lacquer production company for vinyl left, vinyl production now looks likely to encounter length delays as they struggle to keep up with the demand.
SPOTIFY’S STANDALONE KIDS APP ROLLED OUT IN THE UK AND AUSTRALIA
Spotify Kids is now available in Australia, the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, and New Zealand and will eventually roll out to all markets that have Premium Family.
Initially launched in in beta in Ireland in October 2019, the app is exclusive to Spotify Premium Family subscribers and intended for children, ages three and older.
The app is ad free and parents can select the “Audio for Younger Kids” or “Audio for Older Kids” options.
The expansion of Spotify’s standalone children’s app comes amidst a rise in audio content for children.
SENNHEISER HAVE ANNOUNCED A CHEAPER VERSION OF THE HD-25S
The HD-25 LIGHT is a more affordable version of the popular DJ cans
Sennheiser have announced a cheaper version of their popular DJ headphones, the HD-25s. The HD-25 LIGHTs cost £87 rather than the £129 of the 25s or £179 for the 25 PLUS model. The LIGHTs seem to have less replaceable parts – something that made the originals so popular in the first place – instead opting for a fixed headband and a dual-sided detachable cable rather than the usual two-pronged connectors.
Sennheiser say the sound is identical, so if you’re used to using the 25s in the booth or on the road, you can now pick up a spare pare for cheaper.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash