This Week In Music – 24th September 2020

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


Do you want to know what will music sound like next year? Maybe you should listen to the latest track, Silver, by English producer A. G. Cook. The instruments have been reduced to shards of sound. The beats have been chopped up into digital bits. The only recognizable instruments are a topline synth and his voice. Everything else has been deconstructed. It sounds like what is going on in the world right now. It also sounds like what artists will gravitate towards when they hear this. Sure they will smooth the rough edges and make it more commercial, but this track has shunted the sound of pop towards a new north star. No surprise that Cook has already worked with English singer Charli XCX and produced for the likes of Jonsi, Caroline Polachek, Hannah Diamond, Li Yuchun, among others. So already he is a tastemaker. But this track feels different, more important, and ultimately more of a lasting influence.


Sometimes it’s all about the casting. How can you resist Paul Stewart and Mark Hamill? Two icons of sci-fi pop culture in an ad about food delivery? Star Wars vs Star Trek. Sure. I’ll watch it. Hamill, 68, played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy and the recent sequel film. Patrick, 80, portrayed Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The hilarious ad sees the two actors battle it out in a disused warehouse over what order they will place with Uber Eats. In August, Uber announced that its delivery service Eats had become the company’s biggest source of revenue. Revenue from Eats reached $1.2 billion in the second quarter, double a year earlier, the company reported. This ad is meant to capitalize on this success. Stewart tweeted the ad out, teasing that the debate in the video is even greater than the long-lasting debate between Star Wars and Star Trek fans. ‘Honoured to have battled it out with @hamillhimself to settle one of the greatest debates of all time: what’s for dinner?’ Stewart said, adding #ad and @ubereats. Hamil also tweeted out the ad, repeating one of his lines from the commercial, with, ‘So it’s come to this @sirpatstew …’ adding the #ad hashtag and @ubereats. So which phrase will you end your order with? “May the force be with you,” or “Make it so”?


Records accounted for $232million in revenue during the first half of 2020.

Vinyl outsold CDs in the US for the first time in over 30 years during the first half of 2020. 

In total, the Recording Industry Association of America reports $232million sales of vinyl music between January and June of this year, compared with just $144million CD sales. 

Nevertheless, US sales of digital ($351million) and physical ($376million) music dropped below the level of revenue created by ad-supported streaming services for the first time, according to the same report. Platforms like YouTube and Spotify accounted for $432million in revenue.

Online music marketplace Discogs has also reported a lift in sales, with physical orders through the website increasing by almost 27% compared with 2019. This reflects an ongoing trend, with UK vinyl sales hitting an all-time record high last year. Read our take on whether the resurgence of plastic records can fit with an environmentally conscious dance music scene. 


New study shows

The study (which you can download here) was conducted by online rights monitoring company INCOPRO. It found that stream-ripping sites now account for over 80% of the 50 most popular music-only infringing piracy sites in the UK.

The explosion in stream-ripping piracy usage in the UK comes as usage of BitTorrent (P2P) download sites continues to decrease significantly.

INCOPRO found that within the top 50 music piracy sites in the UK, there was a notable drop in the proportion of BitTorrent sites versus the prior three years – decreasing from 14 to six.

The report found that the No.1 stream-ripping site in the UK is, which had the highest usage of all sites monitored. Despite the overall usage of stream-ripping sites skyrocketing over the last three years, the actual volume of stream-ripping sites online actually significantly decreased in the period.

This, said the report, was possibly due to the industry’s disruption efforts against these stream-ripping services, such as the geo-blocking of in Q3 2017.

INCOPRO found that in the last quarter of 2019, only 17 stream-ripping services were recorded with usage in the UK.


SoundCloud has launched a new non-partisan, pro-democracy campaign called “Turn up the Vote” aimed at encouraging young voters to exercise their right to vote.

Turn Up the Vote is described as a multi-phased campaign focused on “key actions young voters need to take to get registered, get informed and vote”.

SoundCloud has also announced that it is now making election day an annual paid holiday for its US employees “to take time off to vote and engage in civic activities”.

SoundCloud has teamed up with HeadCount, a nonprofit youth civic participation organization to create a dedicated voting resource hub.

According to SoundCloud, “with an emphasis on voter registration and early voting, the hub will help make the complex, state-by-state voting process easier for new and first-time voters”.

Outreach will spread on SoundCloud and across all of its owned and operated channels, including a special on-platform advertising PSA campaign launching in October.


After the UK government announced the new restrictions this week

Last night (22nd September), the UK government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced new restrictions on a number of UK industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the new measures announced were changes for the hospitality industry, with businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs, and restaurants), and social clubs, required by law to close between 10 pm and 5 am. The announcement also noted that in licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table. The guidance made it clear cinemas, theatres, and concert halls can continue operating beyond 10 pm, but only if the performance started before 10 pm and alcohol cannot be served after 10 pm.

In response to the announcement, MVT published a statement, asking for further clarification on the points included in the announcement, and more support for the grassroots music venues sector.

“Businesses impacted by this decision must have the full furlough scheme extended immediately, and a financial support package must be created and provided to ensure such businesses survive this crisis.”

You can read the full statement from The Music Venue trust here.


Featuring artist input from Trent Reznor, King Britt and Hans Zimmer

Moog has launched a new book in collaboration with artists Kim Bjørn called Patch & Tweak with Moog, a Moog-specific follow up to his 2018 book Patch & Tweak. The coffee-table book looks at the fundamentals of synthesis, specifically around modular synths, as well as understanding the theories behind patching and routing signals. 

The book is the result of more than “a year of extensive collaboration with electronic music icons, established and emerging artists, and Moog employee-owners.” It also features input from over 30 artists and engineers, such as Suzanne Ciani, Trent Reznor, Hans Zimmer, Michael Stein, Paris Strother and more. 

The book focuses on Moog’s own product line including the DFAM, Mother-32, Grandmother, and more. Find out more about Patch & Tweak with Moog here.

Written by Anthony Vanger

Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf

Artwork by Gustav Balderdash

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