A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: WORKING MEN’S CLUB
Only England seems to be able to conjure up this type of band. It is a mystery, but let’s have some fun figuring out the riddle. As soon as you hear the opening bars, with its bouncy and almost robotic beat, you are transported to the dance culture that exploded across the UK in the 90s. Add a DIY approach to music-making where music dexterity takes a back seat to simmering rage, that taps into elements of UK punk and 80s synth-pop bands like Depeche Mode and Human League. Then there is an almost evangelical focus on the aesthetic so that the music is always cool, never pedestrian. Think Roxy Music, Marc Bolan, and Bowie. Top it off with 17-year-old lead singer, Sydney Minsky-Sargeant’s approach to singing, which is almost atonal and undeniably British. As the young singer explained recently, “We grew up in northern towns trying to get into pubs in social clubs because that’s all we had. The name [of the band] is an ode to that.” That adds the final element: young men and women from working-class towns with dreams of escaping the dreariness and the only way is often through music. Working Men’s Club is another example of this powder-keg of creativity and originality that has allowed the UK to punch way above its weight on the world musical stage for so many years.
Website – https://workingmensclub.net/home
AD OF THE WEEK: WWF
An Elephant Wreaks havoc on a city in holiday ad from WWF.
A poignant new ad from WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) reminds us of the importance of having a home. As the charity explains in the press release for the campaign, “2020 has been challenging for us all. It’s reminded us of the importance of our homes and families, particularly at Christmas. That’s why our Christmas advert this year is on elephants – animals who rely on family ties too, yet are losing their homes every day.”
Check out more info: https://fal.cn/3bfIZ
US ELECTION 2020 AND MUSIC
How the rival candidates have used music in their campaigns
YMCA has been on Donald Trump’s playlist at rallies for well over a year, and the Village People are on a long list of artists who – as in 2016 – have asked the president’s campaign to stop using their music.
Various levels of denunciation and threats of legal action have come from, among others, Phil Collins, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, and Queen – whose guitarist Brian May has called it an “uphill battle” to get the Trump campaign to stop playing the band’s 1977 hit We Are The Champions.
While there’s a long history of artists objecting to their music being used by politicians, it has become a torrent around Trump. Normally a “cease-and-desist” letter suffices – and plenty have been sent – but the president, or his campaign team, have ignored all requests.
Joe Biden has enjoyed a rather more cooperative relationship with the musical world. Bruce Springsteen has authorized the use of his song My Hometown for a Biden ad, which the singer also narrates, centered on Scranton, Pennsylvania where the candidate grew up. Soul legend Steve Wonder has also lent his classic track Higher Ground to the campaign.
Similarly, the Beastie Boys departed from their usual refusal to license their work for advertising by allowing the use of Sabotage in a piece featuring an embattled music venue to highlight the shortcomings of Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an indication of just how tense this election is, the ad was pulled after the owner of the venue started receiving threats.
SPOTIFY TO OFFER ARTISTS AND LABELS THE OPTION TO PROMOTE THEIR MUSIC IN YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS
In exchange for a lowered “promotional recording royalty rate.”
Spotify has announced a new feature for artists and labels seeking to increase exposure. In a press release issued November 2, the digital streaming platform unveiled a new function that will allow creators at all levels to boost their visibility through Spotify’s algorithmic music selector that the app defaults to on the radio and autoplay functions.
“In this new experiment, artists and labels can identify music that’s a priority for them, and our system will add that signal to the algorithm that determines personalized listening sessions,” the statement reads. “This allows our algorithms to account for what’s important to the artist.”
Just last week, over 4,000 independent artists in the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers presented a new campaign demanding that Spotify pay at least one cent per stream, among other requests for a more equitable streaming environment. “Music workers create all of the enormous wealth Spotify accumulates for its CEO, its investors, and the major labels,” the Union wrote in an open letter. “But we artists continue to be underpaid, misled, and otherwise exploited by the company.”
THE GRAMMYS DROPS THE TERM ‘WORLD MUSIC’ DUE TO ‘CONNOTATIONS OF COLONIALISM’
The category will be renamed Best Global Music Album
The GRAMMY Awards is changing the name of its Best World Music Album category to Best Global Music Album to avoid “connotations of colonialism”.
The Recording Academy released a statement saying: “Over the summer we held discussions with artists, ethnomusicologists, and linguists from around the world who determined that there was an opportunity to update the best world music album category toward a more relevant, modern, and inclusive term.
“The change symbolises a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied while adapting to current listening trends and cultural evolution among the diverse communities it may represent.”
WATCH A FILM WITH MASSIVE ATTACK TALKING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
Massive Attack has released a short film talking about climate change and the effects the coronavirus pandemic is having on the music industry.
Released in partnership with the Tyndall Centre For Climate Change Research, the film – produced by Unit 3 Films – sees Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja talking about their awareness of the damage live touring does to the environment, how the pandemic opens up time for reflection regarding the climate crisis and how the music industry “couldn’t or wouldn’t move fast enough for live music to play its part in rapid decarbonisation.”
PIONEER DJ’S HDJ-CUE1 HEADPHONES ARE IDEAL FOR DJ BEGINNERS
Pioneer DJ‘s HDJ-CUE1 headphones are ideal for those starting out as a DJ.
Lightweight and foldable, the headphones are also equipped with a swivel mechanism which means the ear cups can be turned 90 degrees.
The HDJ-CUE1 range comes in four different models: the HDJ-CUE1 in a dark silver finish (£59), the HDJ-CUE1BT-K (matte black), the HDJ-CUE1BT-W (matte white) and the HDJ-CUE1BT-R (matte red). The latter three are Bluetooth compatible and priced at £89.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash