A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: FLEET FOXES
The Fleet Foxes have always inhabited their own universe. From their first single, White Winter Hymnal (check it out here), which came out in 2008, the band’s layered harmonies, homespun instrumentation, and mystic lyrics harked back to a distant time and place that may or may not have existed. Unique is a word that gets bandied about a lot in music reviews, but in this case, it really applies. Critics classify their sound as psychedelic folk, but I feel that label misses a lot of the textures the two members of the band, singer-songwriter Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset, bring to the recordings. With their fourth album, Shore, the duo has definitely moved on – which can be a problem – but in this case, it feels like a positive and necessary evolution. The music is fuller, more produced, and richer. The title track from the album, Can I Believe You, channels earlier Fleet Foxes, but there are elements of The Byrds and the breeziness of that era of rock and roll (minus the drugs). According to Pitchfork, the band has spent their whole career “transforming anxiety into euphoria with towering, wall-of-sound choruses that belie the unease that inspires them and this album is no exception”. Once you have heard this track, check out their early work. If they are not already on your playlist, I guarantee they will be now.
Listen to the full album here
“Can I Believe You” by Fleet Foxes from the album ‘Shore’, available now
Stream & download: https://fleetfoxes.ffm.to/shore
AD OF THE WEEK: DIE HARD
‘Die Hard’ Star Bruce Willis Reprises John McClane in Hysterical New Car Battery Commercial
Any ad that ponies up the cash to hire a global superstar is always worth a watch. I adopted this philosophy from my brother Gregory who lives in LA and has worked as a producer for over 30 years. He told me once he would go and see any film with a budget of $100 million because if someone had thought a project was worth $100 million to spend on, it has to be worth seeing if they were right. And the same applies to this ad, which runs at a generous 2 minutes with a suitable level of mayhem for a Die Hard outing. It’s been seven years since Bruce Willis last took to the big screen as Detective John McClane, star of the Die Hard movie series, and to be fair, he still looks like he could cause some damage, although with limitations – which he gently winks to when looking at an escape path that involves crawling through air vents in the ceiling. The ad is fun and brings back two of the movie’s main characters as a nice bonus. No, I am not going to tell you who they are – but go and watch it for yourself – you won’t regret it.
MPS TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER ARTISTS ARE PAID FAIRLY FOR STREAMING MUSIC
MPs are to launch an inquiry into the streaming music market, looking at whether musicians are paid fairly by services like Spotify and Apple Music.
Streaming is now the major source of income for the record industry, generating just over £1bn last year. But many artists say the payments they receive are negligible. DCMS committee chair Julian Knight MP said the growth of the streaming market “cannot come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists”. The inquiry will begin in November, and is seeking evidence from industry experts, artists and record labels as well as streaming platforms themselves.
At present, Spotify is believed to pay between £0.002 and £0.0038 per stream, while Apple Music pays about £0.0059. YouTube pays the least – about £0.00052 (or 0.05 pence) per stream. All of that money goes to rights-holders, a blanket term that covers everything from massive record companies to artists who put out their own music, before being divided up.
Often, the recording artist will only receive about 13% of the revenue, with labels and publishers keeping the rest. As well as the issue of pay, MPs will investigate how playlists and algorithms distort the music market, and whether new music is being strangled by the dominance of big names like Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and Drake.
The committee will also consider whether the UK needs an equivalent to the EU’s Copyright Directive, which states services like YouTube could be held responsible if their users upload copyright-protected movies and music
STORMZY’S STAB-PROOF VEST UP FOR MAJOR DESIGN AWARD
Stormzy’s stab-proof vest, which he wore whilst headlining Glastonbury Festival last year, has been nominated for a major design award.
The Banksy design was donned by the grime star to highlight structural racism.
The winner of the Beazley Designs of the Year prize will be announced by London’s Design Museum next month.
In June 2019, Stormzy made history by becoming the first-ever black British solo act to top the bill at the Worthy Farm event.
Wearing the stab-proof Union Jack vest, he used his set to bring attention to inequality in the justice system and the arts. The eye-catching vest was created by the famously anonymous artist Banksy from a former police issue garment.
The organisers of the new exhibition said it was “a defining cultural moment”.
BEASTIE BOYS LICENSE A SONG FOR AN AD FOR FIRST TIME EVER, FOR JOE BIDEN SPOT FOCUSED ON LIVE MUSIC SHUTDOWN
The Beastie Boys had never before licensed any of their songs for an advertisement, but that commercial blackout came to an end during Sunday’s Steelers/Browns game, when the sounds of “Sabotage” accompanied a spot for the Joe Biden presidential campaign.
It wasn’t just any campaign spot, but one that focuses on how the COVID-19 shutdowns have decimated the live music industry. The ad focuses on a club in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Blind Pig, that remains shuttered this year after a 50-year run as a pillar of the community, which the owner blames on what he considers Donald Trump’s shortsighted response to the coronavirus crisis.
A Biden campaign spokesperson said the Beastie Boys, who had “never licensed music for an ad until now,” agreed to the use of “Sabotage” in the spot “because of the importance of the election.
NEW APPLE HOMEPOD MINI
Apple’s tiny version of the HomePod, priced at $99. Coming in November.
Apple in October 2020 unveiled the HomePod mini, a new, more affordable $99 HomePod option that’s being sold alongside the standard HomePod.
The HomePod mini is a smaller version of the HomePod, measuring in at 3.3 inches tall compared to the HomePod’s 6.8-inch height. Available in white and space grey, the HomePod mini features a fabric-covered spherical design with a flat top that has a backlit touch interface interface for activating Siri and controlling music.
Like the HomePod, HomePod mini is meant to work with Apple Music, but it also supports podcasts, radio stations from iHeartRadio, radio.com, and TuneIn, with support for Pandora and Amazon Music coming later in the year.
Check out the eye catchin video
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash
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