A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: GREGORY PORTER
Everyone knows that Gregory Porter can sing. But at the heart of his preternatural talent lies something more complex: his eternal search for his father’s love. During a recent podcast, Porter matter-of-factly drops the bombshell that his father left him at a young age and never taught him a “dad gone thing”. The song from his fantastic new album All Rise which carries that phrase as its title starts off with a seductive groove, and when Porter sings as if he were preaching in a Southern church, we groove along innocently. Until we hear some lyrics about his father that seem incongruous to the sunshine of the music. “He could out-pray the Pope, More junk, more dope, He was my missin’ link – Pour him another drink.” Ouch. An overlooked weapon in Porter’s arsenal is his lyric writing. He formulates his songs “in motion”, on planes trains, and automobiles rather than at a piano. Lyrics and phrases “come to him quickly” but that does not make his craft any less precise. Internal rhymes, clever turns of phrase, and sometimes, as in the case of Dad Gone Thing, scathing lyrics that take your breath away.
Gregory Porter’s new album All Rise is out now! Listen here https://gregoryporter.lnk.to/AllRiseYD
AD OF THE WEEK: APPLE AIR PRO JUMP
I sometimes feel that I am becoming an Apple influencer because I keep selecting the silicon valley giant’s TV spots as my Ad of the Week. But the reason is simple: they are amazing. I love the way they are shot and cast, nothing is by rote, and the action is always unexpected and authentic. They are an expression of pure joy and creativity, like when (spoiler alert) the lead turns into a cartoon character. Brilliant. It is difficult to remember because most conversations about Apple tend to concentrate on how much money the company makes. But we tend to forget, and this ad reminds us, that Apple is first and foremost a stratospherically creative company offering its customers an opportunity to be the same.
INVENTOR OF THE CASSETTE TAPE, LOU OTTENS, DIES AGED 94
Lou Ottens, the inventor of the cassette tape, has died.
The Dutch engineer and inventor, who also played a key role in the development of the CD, died in his home in North Brabant on Saturday. He was 94.
Ottens started working for Philips in 1952, and by 1960 was made head of the company’s product development department. Within a year, he had developed the world’s first portable tape recorder, the EL 3585.
Fed up with the impracticality of reel-to-reel tape systems, Ottens and his team soon developed the cassette tape, which would go on to revolutionize the way people listened to music in the 20th century. “I got annoyed with the clunky, user-unfriendly reel to reel system, it’s that simple”, Ottens said later.
In 1963, he presented the first cassette tape at the Berlin Radio Show electronics fair and trademarked the ‘Compact Cassette’ title the following year. After making a deal with Sony, Ottens’ cassette design became the industry standard. It is estimated that over 100 billion cassettes have been sold around the world in the decades since.
2021 GRAMMYS AWARDS
The 63rd Grammy Awards were unlike any other, as socially-distanced music stars sat in a big, anonymous marque outside the LA Convention Center.
View the complete list of winners here
MUSICIANS STAGE GLOBAL PROTESTS AGAINST SPOTIFY
The streaming giant came under increased pressure during 2020, with high profile insight into its royalties exposing what many deemed to be unfair methods of paying musicians.
With the UK parliament organizing a committee into the process, Spotify is coming under pressure on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers organized a series of global protests yesterday (March 16th) at Spotify offices around the world, calling for increased transparency in their business methods. The union wants to obtain a user-centric payment model, raising the price of a single stream to one cent, alongside an end to lawsuits filed against musicians. The protests took place at 10 Stateside cities, alongside sites in Australia, Europe, Asia, Central and South America.
The Justice at Spotify campaign launched in October 2020 and has since gained around 28,000 signatures from artists and other members of the music industry. In a statement, UMAW organizer Mary Regalado – who is also a member of Downtown Boys – comments:
“Spotify has long mistreated music workers, but the pandemic has put the exploitation into stark relief… The company has tripled in value during the pandemic while failing to increase its payment rates to artists by even a fraction of a penny. Musicians all over the world are unemployed right now while the tech giants dominating the industry take in billions. Music work is labour, and we are asking to be paid fairly for that labour.”
MF DOOM NFT MASKS SELL FOR $810,000 USD
Sold on the NFT marketplace Illust.Space, the limited pieces of art were signed by Viktor Vaughn himself and can be displayed in the real world using geo-placement and web AR, or can be worn on your face like a mask filter. There were a few editions available like the Black Sludge Mask (9.5 ETH ~ $17,000 USD), the Green Metal Mask (101.0000 ETH), the Sludge Mask (200.0000 ETH), and the Mummy Mask (450.0000 ETH). With the sale of each MF DOOM AR NFT, ten percent of the proceeds will go to his estate. In other NFT news, here are all your questions about NFTs, answered (courtesy of Hypebeast)
SONOS ROAM IS THEIR MOST AFFORDABLE SPEAKER YET
SONOS has announced a new portable speaker called Roam. It’s their most affordable speaker yet and is designed to be used on the go, with 10-hour battery life on a single charge, wireless Qi charging dock, waterproof for up to 30 minutes, and connection as an extra speaker for the SONOS family, or can swap to the nearest speaker by pressing and holding play/pause button.
The Roam also automatically switches to WiFi when you get home to communicate with the rest of your SONOS system, and automatically connects back to Bluetooth when the WiFi is out of range. Sound-wise, there are two class-H amps, one tweeter, one mid-woofer driver and Trueplay system that automatically tunes the sound depending on its surroundings.
The Roam connects to the SONOS infrastructure that includes SONOS’s own radio with stations from the Chemical Brothers, FKA Twigs and more as well as integrating the usual streaming services like Spotify, TIDAL and Apple Music.
The SONOS Roam costs £159 and is available from April 20th.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash