A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: PUMA BLUE
Soporific or genius? For a decade, Puma Blue – aka Jacob Allen – was struggling to cope with chronic insomnia with barely a couple of hours sleep at night. But he managed to write and release music that has connected to a wider audience. Since the release of his debut single Want Me in 2017, and EPs Swum Baby and Blood Loss, Allen has been rewarded with stratospheric streaming numbers and sell-out shows. Allen’s sound has elements of King Krule and James Blake. Thousand-yard stares where the silences are just as important as the music. Delivering his message in an androgynous falsetto (Bronski Beat anyone?) with lashings of reverb, Allen seduces the listener. This album is a product of Covid. Listening to it puts me right back in the throat of the lockdown when we were imprisoned in our homes. Now we are finally emerging, we can hear what the sound of loneliness was like for many and for some, continues to be.
‘Already Falling’ performed live at Battersea Arts Centre from ‘A Late Night Special’ film. The debut album ‘In Praise of Shadows’ is out now. https://ffm.to/pb-shadows
AD OF THE WEEK: GREENIES “STICK”
Who does not have a soft spot for pet ads? Greenies, the Mars Petcare dental treats brand, is back with another comedic spot in its ongoing campaign via Adam&Eve/DDB, themed around dogs’ decided lack of intelligence when it comes to knowing what’s good for them.
The newest ad revolves around a castaway on a desert island. When a plane flies over, he leaps up in delight, but then looks horrified as his dog runs up the beach carrying a stick. The reveal is that the dog has removed part of the word “Help” that he’s laid out in the sand. Instead, it reads “Helo,” to which the pilots enthusiastically respond from above. Nice work from agency adam&eve.
PRESIDENT OBAMA AND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN DEBUT PODCAST ON SPOTIFY
Spotify announced last week that former President Barack Obama and musician Bruce Springsteen will host a podcast exclusive to its platform. The eight-episode series is called Renegades: Born in the USA and will explore topics such as “race, fatherhood, marriage, and the future of America.”
According to the Spotify press release, the two will discuss their “hometowns and role models, explore modern manhood, and confront the painfully divided state of the country today.” Obama states: “On the surface, Bruce and I don’t have a lot in common. But over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility. About work, about family, and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.”
FACEBOOK LAUNCHES RAPPING PLATFORM ‘BARS’
Facebook has launched a brand-new platform called BARS, where users can record short clips of themselves rapping and freestyling over beats.
Like TikTok, each video will be capped at 60 seconds. Once users finish recording their videos in the app, they can share them across various social media outlets. Users who come across freestyles they like can respond with fire emojis.
The app is still in its early testing period and doesn’t seem to be entirely intuitive, according to some sources. There isn’t a pause button and it isn’t easy to figure out how to follow other users. But these issues, presumably, will be resolved once Facebook decides to officially launch the app. Moreover, the app will come with auto-tune and rhyme-dictionary features, coupled with freestyle games where users will be required to work in auto-generated words to their freestyles.
SOUNDCLOUD IS ABOUT TO REVOLUTIONISE STREAMING PAYOUTS, LAUNCHING USER-CENTRIC ROYALTIES FOR 100,000 INDIE ARTISTS
One of the most hotly-debated concepts in the modern music rights business is user-centric licensing. This model sees streaming royalties paid out based on individual subscriber behavior – with a percentage of each subscriber’s subscription fee being distributed only to the artists/labels they have individually listened to that month.
This model is in contrast to the current pro rata streaming payout system, which sees all royalties on a service like Spotify pooled at the end of each payment period… after which recorded music rights-holders are paid according to their market share of total plays across the platform.
In an industry-first move, SoundCloud is introducing what it calls “fan-powered royalties” – its own branding of the user-centric model – which it says will mean “each [SoundCloud] listener’s subscription or advertising revenue is distributed among the artists that they listen to, rather than their plays being pooled”.
“Fan-powered” royalties will launch on SoundCloud on April 1 (in 30 days’ time), and the platform suggests the move will “benefit rising independent artists with loyal fans”.
SUPREME HAS COLLABORATED WITH AKAI ON ITS MPC LIVE II SAMPLER
Supreme has collaborated with AKAI on its MPC Live II sampler.
The new-look sampler is part of Supreme’s SS21 collection, which will be rolled out from February 18. It’s a fully working piece of kit, with 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 7″ multi-touch display, built-in speakers, and stereo studio monitoring. The AKAI MPC Live II sampler is synonymous with hip hop, with producers historically sampling old tunes to make new beats.
Supreme’s new drop has a hip hop theme running through it as it also features a T-shirt with Notorious B.I.G on it and a T-shirt with the artwork of ‘H.N.I.C’ – an album by Mobb Deep’s Prodigy – printed on it. Preview the Supreme SS21 collection here and check out the B.I.G and Prodigy items below.
Written by Anthony Vanger
Additional reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf
Artwork by Gustav Balderdash