This Week In Music: 26th November 2020

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


This week we are going way back to 1974. Many people know the J Geils Band from their 80s hits “Centrefold” and “Freezeframe”. But before this outfit went mainstream, they were considered one of the baddest live bands in the world, even by the Rolling Stones whom they supported on a 1982 tour. The best live album they put out, and a contender for the greatest live album of all time was Full House. Recorded at the Cinderella Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan, it captures the madness and exaltation of a band at the peak of its powers. The music has so much energy that it literally explodes out of the speakers. The drums crack like shotguns. The band is possessed. All the players are at the top of their game, every note has a reason to be there. Lead singer Peter Wolf’s vocals defy logic as he emits throat lacerating screams over a crowd that seems to have left its sanity at the doors of the auditorium. When Wolf banters in between songs, “Take out your false teeth Mama, I wanna suck on your gum”, it is clear that we are dealing with something entirely foreign, from another planet, dangerous, yet totally intoxicating. I discovered this record, courtesy of my mother, when I was 8 years and have been playing it ever since. There is only one way to listen to it: loud. You will be blown away. (PS. Start at 4mins in the video below from a 1979 show).



It is interesting to see how a once-mighty brand tries to reinvent itself. This latest ad ‘It’s in our spirit’ created by ad agency BBH Singapore for the venerable Swedish vodka brand Absolut borrows from so many sources – Japanese anime, hop hop, gaming – that it feels like a 50-year-old man squeezing into a pair of tight jeans and shouting, “I’m still cool!” Should Absolut stay true to its original customers or should it try to revamp its image in the hope that millennials embrace the drink as a classic – think J&B or Johnnie Walker? In the 80s and 90s if you were jostling for position at a busy bar, you would always catch an “Absolut on the rocks” over the din of the crowd. And now? This ad is most likely the first step in a long process of regeneration. Whilst not earth-shattering, it does offer the first step.


Revenue jumped 37% in 2019

SoundCloud has confirmed that it achieved its first-ever profitable quarter on an EBITDA basis in Q3 this year.

The news comes as fresh company filings reveal that SoundCloud posted €147.6m ($165.7m) in revenues in calendar 2019, up 37% year-over-year.

That represented significantly faster growth than the prior year: in 2018, SoundCloud posted a YoY revenue increase of 19%. SoundCloud’s 2019 revenue growth accelerated as the year went on: the firm says its quarterly revenues were up 17% YoY in Q1; in Q4, they were up by 43% YoY. Meanwhile, SoundCloud’s annual operating losses in 2019 narrowed significantly, down 28% to €23.8m ($26.7m) from €32.9m in 2018.


Since the start of the pandemic, direct-to-fan platform Bandcamp has been waiving its revenue share for one day each month, on so called ‘Bandcamp Fridays’.

So far, according to the platform, those days (eight of them) have raised $35 million for artists, which is in addition to the $126m that artists have been paid by fans via the platform since March. Now, the company is launching a new ticketed live streaming service called Bandcamp Live, and it will be waiving its 10% fee for the service until March 3, 2021.

Bandcamp Live is fully integrated with the Bandcamp platform, so fans will be automatically notified when artists announce shows. Artists can also showcase their music and merchandise next to their streams in a virtual merch table.

An optional chat box will also be available and purchases from the merch table will appear in chats, which Bandcamp states will help drive more sales.


Swallow Events has announced it is partnering with healthcare company Roche to launch a rapid COVID-19 testing service designed for the events industry.

The service will utilize the MHRA and CE approved test that produces results within 15 minutes with 96.52% sensitivity and 99.68% specificity.

A full pop-up testing service operated by government-approved healthcare professionals and worldwide shipping for supply only option of the required kit is available.

Oli Thomas, Founder and Managing Director of Swallow Events, said: “We are very proud to announce we are the first events company in the UK to offer an on-site rapid testing service for COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes, which, we believe, is a complete game-changer.

“Our rapid testing kits – a market leader (which meets MHRA target product profile with sensitivity: 96,52% & specificity: 99,68%) used in conjunction with track and trace data-collection and other Covid secure protocols such as touchpoint and temperature checks will help event organizers in all sectors from large scale festivals, concerts, stadia, business conferences, and trade shows through to agricultural shows and small boutique festivals. It will kick start a £39.1 billion contributing sector to the UK’s economy whilst helping to protect over 570,000 full-time jobs which are rapidly disappearing.

“Our mission is to support and lobby for events of all nature, working in close conjunction with local authorities and ultimately enabling organizers to open in a safe, responsible and COVID secure environment.”


The Claravox Centennial Theremin is a tribute to theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore

Moog Music has announced a new limited-edition theremin called the Claravox Centennial. The new unit marks the 100-year anniversary of the invention of the theremin in 1920, an instrument that’s played by moving your hands to control the volume and pitch of a single sine wave tone.

One of its early virtuosos, Clara Rockmore, is name-checked in the model name of the new hardware, and Moog has added more modern controls to make the notoriously challenging instrument easier to play. These include a quantize and scale mode so you can only play chromatic notes, as well as multiple waveshapes including sine, triangle, and square.

There’s also an on-board BBD delay to give depth to your performance. CV, USB and MIDI outlet you use it to control other instruments or DAWs and a front-panel preset to recall any settings you make. It costs $1,499 and is available now. Watch the video below to hear it in action.

Written by Anthony Vanger

Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf

Artwork by Gustav Balderdash

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