Category Archives: blogs

Your Favorite Rapper Is a Girl – Tamara Bubble

You have got to check out Tamara Bubble! Tamara is a rapper, singer songwriter and commentator on the human condition. Bubble on Deck is a brilliant and hilarious podcast where Tamara will discuss any topic from airport security to Pringles. You can also check out Tamara’s EP release below.

On this EP release, Tamara doesn’t shy away from the stigma of being labeled a “female rapper” as long as you know she’s your favorite rapper PERIOD. Tamara Bubble is primarily known for her singing in many genres, but she’s back with 100% bars this time because her fans asked for it! Within 7 tracks, Tamara will turn you on, make you dance, think, and lyrically turn you out! Topics include domestic violence, gambling vs. saving, investing,

Tamara Bubble
Check out Bubble on Deck


Popular Music and American Culture

Go to the profile of Richard K. Yu

The state of popular music in the United States is arguably determined by a diverse set of subgroups of individuals with similar backgrounds and life experience, to which that popular music holds appeal.

The very idea of popular music is inherently tied and determined by the tastes of groups within the population, so the evolution and characteristics of popular music are more intimately connected with the groups with which it is associated. On a broader scale, large political and cultural events relevant to one period of time also represent an axis upon which this set of tastes in the population might vary.

For instance, recalling the periods of historically popular music, it may be observed that some political or cultural trends inform the popularity of certain genres: the counter culture of the 1960s along with the advancements in civil rights liberties for minorities, the appearance of rock and roll in the 1970s and 1980s, and so forth. The temporal aspect of popular music often can be used to characterize the events and moments of that generation of individuals because of this influence of historical political events on popular music.

Though the music industry has largely desegregated today in light of changes in legal practices surrounding civil rights, the populations that listen and engender popular music in the United States are still similarly divided, as indicated by the drastically different forms and messages that appeal to different groups, some which document a history of marginalization.

Upon reflection of the types of popular music present in contemporary times, one often imagines the upbeat, idealistic tunes of popular music or popular music related to social trends. Such types of popular music today may represent a degree of escapism in society, but they are more often indicative of the current feelings of a specific group. Notably, the relative peace of the 21st century has allowed for music commenting on inconsequential social idiosyncrasies to emerge and become popular.

Justin Bieber

However, this feeling of peace that has manifested for majority groups in the United States often shuns more serious and pressing social issues also present in the nation, and in this way, a population’s indulgence in peace may be considered a sort of escapism from the harsher social realities of marginalized groups. For instance, consider the set of popular songs such as “#SEFLIE” by the Chainsmokers, “How Deep Is Your Love?” by Calvin Harris, “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, or “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber.

These songs either mock current social trends or behaviors, or they expound on a certain set of feelings, often related to the transience of romance. The appearance of popular music that satirizes a specific set of popular social behaviors should indicate the presence of a sort of flippancy or superficiality in that social paradigm. This call to attention to such flippant behaviors (taking a superfluous amount of selfies at social events) is enhanced when the actual behavior is constituted by conspicuous and repeated performative acts made with an attention-seeking goal.

Picture Source: Calvin Harris

Moreover, the other songs listed above all demonstrate the existence of such a superficial social paradigm in relation to romance. Calvin Harris’ video for “How Deep Is Your Love?” consists of a repetitive set of party scenes that include a multitude of time skips, to illustrate the briefness of these social and romantic encounters.

The question that is repeated in the video itself “How deep is you love?” almost seeks to escape from this endless cycle of brief and meaningless encounters, longing for profundity and depth in relationships.

Picture Source: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” more explicitly refers to this idea of brief romantic encounters that are torn apart by their unstable foundation and beginnings. Consider how: “I can make the bad guys good for a weekend”, one of the verses of “Blank Space”, illustrates this dynamic relationship between male commitment and female sexuality that stands as the motivation for the briefness of romance in modern contexts.

“What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber once again describes a similar model of romance, referring to the insecurities and uncertainties of young love. Though love songs have always persisted in popular music in some form, popular music today documents a very real degeneration germane to romance.

The songs that receive hundreds of millions of views and the songs that are at the forefront of the public consciousness deal with the collective inability of individuals to reconcile romantic desire, sexual interest, and long-term commitment.

Music, in this case, presents a cathartic quality to all the individuals who find themselves in the unpredictable and unreliable landscape of romance today, and the popularity of such music represents a collective acknowledgment of these issues.

Picture Source: Jake Gyllenhaal

The cathartic quality offers individuals a sort of escape from their own dissatisfaction with failed romantic endeavors (i.e. Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal resulting in the “I Knew You Were Trouble” single). However, the popularity of such musical forms also detracts from the more darker aspects of society ignored by the majority as they engaged in their self-absorbed escapist fantasies through the performativity of music.

What are these darker aspects of society, spurned and ostensibly shoved under the rug by the majority in favor of this escapist romantic narrative? The very continuation of social inequality and abuse of the civil rights of minorities is documented in music.

The American music industry may have formally desegregated, but its population is still very much unequal and cordoned off into groups, roughly by race and socioeconomic class. Consider Kendrick Lamar’s recent single “Alright”, where he deals with the moral considerations and consequences of rampant materialism, as well as the struggle of the African American people in a society with power structures that continue to marginalize them.

In regard to materialism, Lamar reflects on his own experiences subsequent to his fame: “Painkillers only put me in the twilight / Where pretty pussy and Benjamin is the highlight”. Here, Lamar describes how opiates and similar classes of drugs only temporarily absolved him of life’s hardships by allowing him to indulgence in material pleasures and women.

Throughout the song, he also makes frequent reference to the troubled history of African Americans in the United States and their current struggles: “When you know, we been hurt, been down before, nigga / When my pride was low, lookin’ at the world like, ‘where do we go, nigga?’ / And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga / I’m at the preacher’s door/ My knees gettin’ weak…” Lamar paints a vivid narrative of a beaten down and broken race of individuals struggling to survive in spite of the continual frustrations and dangers that beleaguer them.

Picture Source: Kendrick Lamar

When we compare this narrative, which has received only a five million views, to the hundred of millions of views given to the romantic troubles of Taylor Swift, it should inform our perspective regarding the disproportionate representation of social issues in the United States.

Ultimately, though peace has predominated in the 21st century and though segregation is outlawed, civil inequality is still incredibly blatant. The trends in popular music pertaining to superficial romances illustrate a collective ignorance and solipsism to more serious and pressing social issues in the United States.

When one observes the music most popular and relevant to different groups in the United States, one begins to realize the alarming nature of “popular music” in relation to the culture and society of this time, where the public prioritizes and gives more notice to casual sex and romance over the plight of an entire race.

Introducing a prodigious young talent – Singer Songwriter, Kacey Hacquoil

By Roger Moisan

Many young girls dream of becoming singers and pop stars. They emulate their idols, singing along into the hairbrush handle with the mirror as an appreciative audience. I speak as a brother to two sisters and a father of two daughters!

Kacey Hacquoil
Kacey Hacquoil

However, very few young women have the courage and talent to go out, stand up and perform  in front of a real live audience. Kacey Hacquoil is one of those rare young women who not only writes her own songs but possess the confidence and personality, as a performer, to put it out there for the world to enjoy.

A little bit of Kelly Clarkson at the Horse and Hound this evening with Acoustic Jersey 😄

Posted by Kacey Hacquoil Music on Thursday, 1 February 2018

Equally at home on the big stage or an intimate pub gig, Kacey is a true performer who was born to be a musician.

Invited to perform an impromptu video shoot at the Opera House with Neil Collins of the Johnny Cash Roadshow. Thankyou ever so much.

Posted by Kacey Hacquoil Music on Thursday, 24 August 2017

It is in my humble opinion that Kacey Hacquoil is a future star and I know that my record label, FFM Records, would be more than happy to release a Kacey Hacquoil single whenever she is ready.

You can follow Kacey at

Kacey Hacquoil Music

Kacey Hacquoil Music
Kacey Hacquoil Music

Coltrane Pitch Diagrams

Go to the profile of Lucas Gonze

In the mid 90s I was browsing in the bookstore at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I was looking for Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, a book of algorithmically-generated scales which had a following among jazz musicians, most notably John Coltrane.

Near it on the shelves I came across a similar but more peculiar book, Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns, by Yusef Lateef.

As a frontispiece he had included two surprising images.

What were these? A small note at the bottom of the acknowledgements said:

Geometric Drawings: By John Coltrane, 1960. Gifts to Yusef from John.

Over time I became fascinated by the Coltrane drawings and set about decoding them using a protractor, compass and tracing paper.

First I made a clean schematic of Coltrane’s marked-up diagram.

In thinking about it I realized it could be simplified from two rings to one without losing any of the intrinsic relationships.

Of course, from a musician’s perspective this had the surprising result of converting from a whole-tone scale in Coltrane’s original to a chromatic scale in my single-ring version. Then I realized there could be a three-ring version as well, with the intervals on each ring describing diminished triads.

This new three-ring version was visually strange and beautiful, and had a feature that wasn’t evident in either the one-ring or two ring versions: a winding pattern.

Pick a section starting with C and walk to the next C, one semitone at a time. The first four notes of the series would be C, C#, D, Eb. In the one and two ring versions D and Eb are adjacent, but in the three-ring version Eb is on the far ring.

That got me to thinking of the series as a winding banner.

And from there a 3D pattern, not a flat one.

I made a clean final version of this sketch.

From there it was natural to go on to versions with four, five and six rings.

When I had finished my six-ring version, I was sorry that I couldn’t go any further, because each set of rings shows a symmetric interval, and there are no symmetric intervals larger than this.

My drawings were complete, so I made a little title page for the collection.

Not long after I went to a Yusef Lateef concert. It was at Lincoln Center in New York City. He was a stellar player and the show was unforgettable.

After the performance I made my way to the crowd of people chatting by the stage door with the musicians, introduced myself, and asked him to sign my copy of his book.

We talked about the Coltrane diagrams. I showed him a version of my work. He told me that Coltrane had been drawing the original diagrams between sets on a gig they did together, and had given them to him. Lateef said this wasn’t the first time. “He was always doing that,” Lateef said.

That was probably during a period when Coltrane was studying Slonimsky and thinking about generative patterns for melodies. The year was 1960. He was growing from the modernist formalisms of bebop harmony — all bright lines and strict causality — to the ecstatic spirituality of free jazz. The connection between his post-bop and free jazz was numerology, a belief that divine or mystical phenomena can arise from quantitative thinking.

1960 was arguably his peak year. He founded his landmark band with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones and recorded his signature hit, “My Favorite Things.” Whatever the diagrams meant to him, they were connected with his best art.

Lateef was warm and generous with his time. I promised to send my own schematics, and later that year I did, along with a cover letter.

Einstein’s violin could fetch $150K at auction

A violin owned by Albert Einstein will go under the hammer on Friday — and experts believe it could fetch up to $150,000.

“Made for the Worlds Greatest Scientist Professor,” reads the inside label.

The instrument, dubbed Lina, was constructed by Pennsylvania cabinet maker Oscar H. ­Stegerr in 1933, the year the German-born Einstein decided to remain in the United States after Hitler came to power. It is being sold by Bonhams Fine Art division in New York.

Einstein reportedly played the violin often and was known to crank out Mozart while working.

“Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” he once said. “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music . . . I get most joy in life out of music.”

10 Fundamental Things People Don’t Understand About Practice

By Nicolas Cole

People that boast how many days they’ve gone without sleep in hopes of proving their dedication to their craft are missing the point.

Practice is an art — it is not a simple “plug and chug” of hours in and skill level out. And in order to actually make the time you spend practicing meaningful, you have to bring a heightened level of awareness.

You have to know what to look for, what to fix, and ultimately, how to enter your “zone.”

1. It’s not about just “practicing.”

Going through the motions isn’t enough.

You have to be present and aware while you practice, and actively looking for all the things you still need to improve upon.

2. Your schedule and your practice times go together.

If you are practicing in the morning some days, evening other days, and afternoons at random, you are not as effective as the person who practices at the same time, every day.

Your schedule needs to be based around your practice hours — not the other way around.

3. Consistency is the most important part.

Rome doesn’t get built in a day.

You can’t go 5 days without practicing and then try to pull a 12-hour marathon to make up for lost time. Practicing a little bit each day is far more effective than day-long sprints.

4. The “sweet spot” for practice is 3–4 hours.

Reason being, that first hour you are still warming up, and that last hour you are entering “burn out.”

So in reality, a 4 hour practice session is really only 2 hours of truly quality practice — which means it is exceedingly important that you are “mentally present” during those middle 2 hours.

5. Don’t practice what you’re already good at.

Competition inherently looks for weaknesses.

If you are a master of one thing but a total newbie at another, then all someone has to do is target your weaknesses. Make it a point to practice what you’re not good at, so that you are more well-rounded.

6. Reflect after each practice session.

Ask yourself, “What did I improve upon today? Did I learn something new? Did I challenge myself? What can I work on next?”

You want to constantly be asking yourself questions so that you know what to improve upon next.

7. It’s not about “getting it done.”

It’s about getting it done “right.”

If you are the type of person who times how long you’ve been practicing, you’re already starting off on the wrong foot. It’s not about practicing for the sake of “just practicing.” You have to have a vision, something you are working toward.

Then, it no longer becomes about time. It’s about skill.

8. Study yourself.

The ability to watch and learn from yourself is also extremely undervalued.

If you are an athlete, record yourself playing your game. If you are a gamer, record your screen as you play. If you are a writer, go back through your work with a pen and look for improvement areas. If you are a musician, record yourself and listen to yourself play.

You will never be able to see your mistakes while you’re in the moment of practicing. So separate the two.

9. Watch other people.

If you can learn how to record and learn from your own practice sessions, you will have a better eye for watching how your competition operates as well.

You will be able to pick apart what it is they are doing, and then steal their strategies.

This learning then becomes an inherent part of you — your process.

10. Always be growing.

Always be looking for how you can improve.

Always be focusing on your weaknesses, not your strengths. Always be searching for new competition. It’s a journey and on you to stay moving forward at a consistent pace.

NME to close print edition after 66 years

Publisher of music magazine consulting about redundancies, while title will continue online.

The NME is to cease publication in print after 66 years, the weekly music title joining a growing list of once mighty magazine brands that now only exist online.

The website will continue, replacing the print edition’s cover star interview with a new weekly digital franchise, the Big Read.

The NME will continue to keep a sporadic presence in print with special issues such as its paid-for series NME Gold, to cater for music stars’ appetite for appearing in a printed product.

In 2015, the magazine stopped being a paid title after a decade of sales declines saw its circulation drop to just 15,000. It relaunched as an ad-funded, free title with a circulation of 300,000 in a last throw of the strategic dice for the print edition.

“Our move to free print has helped propel the brand to its biggest ever audience on,” said Paul Cheal, the UK group managing director, music, at NME publisher Time Inc UK. “We have also faced increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market. It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”

Time is consulting with the NME’s 23 editorial and commercial staff about possible redundancies.

NME, which has been printed weekly since 1952, managed to make money as a brand overall through spin-off activities such as awards and events.

The first front cover of the magazine featured the Goons, Big Bill Broonzy and Ted Heath and cost sixpence. When the magazine went free in 2015 the cover price had risen to £2.60.

Early readers of the magazine included John Lennon, Malcolm McLaren and T Rex frontman Marc Bolan, while its writers have included Bob Geldof and Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde. The film director, Michael Winner, was NME’s film critic in the 1950s and 60s.

NME’s sales peaked at almost 307,000 in 1964 when the magazine was a must-read for keeping up with the latest exploits of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

The magazine hit what is regarded as its golden age in the 70s, becoming a cheerleader for punk and then a champion for the the new wave and indie acts that flourished in its wake, including Joy Division and the Smiths.

In the 90s, NME was at the forefront of Britpop, amping up the media-hyped rivalry between Blur and Oasis with its “heavyweight championship” cover in August 1995 when rival singles Country House and Roll With It were released.

The magazine – whose initials stand for New Musical Express – began to feel the pressure in the noughties as music listings went online and music discovery started moving to services such as Spotify. This was exacerbated by the wider issue of readers moving to digital media, resulting in the falling sales and ad revenue that have claimed many other magazine titles in the past decade.

“NME will also be exploring other opportunities to bring its best-in-class music journalism to market in print,” Time said.

The closure of the weekly comes a week after Time, which also publishes titles including Marie Claire and Country Life, was sold to private equity group Epiris in a £130m deal.

Epiris had been expected to sell or restructure a number of titles – the company said it wanted to bring “clarity and simplicity” to the magazine portfolio – with the print edition of NME known to have been loss-making for a number of years.

“Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years,” said Keith Walker, the digital director of NME. “By making the digital platforms our core focus we can accelerate the amazing growth we’ve seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they’re most naturally using.”

In October, Condé Nast, the publisher of Glamour magazine, shocked the market announcing that the UK’s 10th biggest magazine would stop printing monthly. Instead, it is focusing on a digital-first strategy with a print edition just twice a year.

Join the fastest growing and most dynamic International Musicians Community – FFM on Facebook

Join Freedom For Musicians at our Facebook Home

Freedom for musicians is an international cooperative for musicians to share and cross promote each other’s work. In our Facebook group you can promote your gigs, products and
services to an international audience. You can also feature on our website

What Freedom for Musicians can do for you:

By joining the Facebook group you are automatically a member of FFM.

You can have your music blog or articles published on the website.

You can have your music videos and youtube channel published and promoted at FFM.

You can list your products and services on our musicians directory and in the musicians market.

You can publish your events and concerts on our Upcoming Events feature.

You can be a featured artist.

You can become an FFM Ambassador for your country.

Music students can featured in our Spotlight.

You can release your digital music via our own independent record label FFM Records.

Come and join FFM’s Facebook community and be part of the fastest growing and most dynamic international musicians network.

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"Mutter & Soehne" haben ihr Debutkonzert bestanden ! Megastimmung und spitzenmäßiges Publikum ! DANKE !!!🤘

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Spotify Limited & Apple Records. Can Spotify pull a Netflix?

Go to the profile of M.G. Siegler

The following seems inevitable. But sometimes stating the obvious draws some interesting concepts out of the woodwork. Such was the case earlier this week on Twitter when I shared a link to an Economist article suggesting Spotify may become a music label one day. The key bit:

The streaming service’s most intriguing point of leverage is that it could use these advantages to become a recorded-music label itself, working directly with artists. Matthew Ball, an analyst, argues that Spotify is sure to start cutting deals with artists in which it pays an upfront guarantee and promises a percentage of streaming revenue that is much smaller than it pays labels, but far more than artists get now.

This seems like Econ 101. Spotify pays most of its revenue to the labels to license music rights. The labels then pay a small amount of that money to artists. In the age of record pressing, compact disc encoding, physical distribution, and the like, such a middle man was needed. Today, that middle man seems, well, antiquated. The labels, of course, will say they do far more than this, and maybe they do — for now. But come on, this middle man is so getting cut out of the equation at some point.¹

And Spotify, more so than any company before it — aside from maybe Apple (more on that in a bit) — is in a position to do just that. Of course, they can’t come out and say this — though it sure sounds like Jimmy Iovine did recently (again more in a bit) — because it would be declaring open war on their most important partners. But this is inevitable: Spotify will work with artists directly to produce and distribute their music, becoming, effectively, a label.

From the same Economist article:

Becoming a label will not happen soon, partly because it would infuriate the incumbents who supply most music. But the growth of Spotify’s core business has come at a cost that is hard to ignore. Its royalty payments are a built-in, large expense. (Some rights-holders are clamouring for even more; in December Wixen Music Publishing sued Spotify for $1.6bn.) Competition from other paid streaming services mean it is hard for it to raise its own prices. To fund itself Spotify raised $1bn in debt in 2016 under terms that allowed two of the lenders, TPG, a private-equity group, and Dragoneer, a hedge fund, to convert to equity at a discount that increased with time, making an early public listing desirable. As long as its losses mount, it will seek other ways to turn a profit.

As it continues to grow, Spotify can, and has been, renegotiating the cut they must pay out to the labels. But at some point, this is going to stop making sense for new music.² As more money keeps flowing through the system, more folks are going to come in wanting their piece. And again, the biggest part of that piece is going to the labels.³ This fundamental flaw is why most music startups fail. The situation is untenable as its currently constructed.

I believe Spotify knows this and has known this for a long time. They’re playing the game they have to play for now, with their eyes on a much bigger prize. And going after such a prize likely plays into their timing to go public.

In terms of execution, this is going to be closest to the Netflix playbook — with some key differences. Netflix, of course, started the streaming aspect of their business by licensing content from the Hollywood studios. Over time, they were able to gather enough user data to know what might make for a successful show they could produce on their own — hence, House of Cards was born. These days, when you open Netflix the majority of what you see — even if the licensed content tail is still far longer — is original content.

At a high level, Spotify can do the same thing. But it’s going to be a bit different because of the differences between video content (movies and television) and music. But it actually makes even more sense to go direct to the content sources in music because of the aforementioned label take (again, for doing increasingly less and less) with one big “if.

If, consumers are conditioned by video services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and the like to pay for multiple services, Spotify can easily make this move. If consumers are not, this is going to be a lot harder for Spotify to execute — not least because they’re going to enter an even bigger war with Apple (and presumably Amazon, and Google, etc).⁴

That is to say, people are used to paying for a music service and having access to basically all music in existence — which is still wild! They’re not used to having to pay for Spotify and Apple Music in order to get access to all the content they want. I think this will change for the reasons listed above, but it’s going to be a harder transition, largely because music is more passive than video content is — it would (and will) be annoying to have to remember which song is streaming on which service.

Still, beyond the economic equation, as Apple (and Amazon, Google, etc) continue to fight Spotify for market share, this is all inevitable. And again, beyond this going slowly because these guys literally can’t afford to piss off the labels (again, right now — so perhaps they become some sort of newfangled A&R service first, as Christina Warren suggested on Twitter), some artists will probably balk at not having their music available everywhere. Which will be ironic given that this is what other artists — the biggest ones — use as their leverage point for getting what they want.⁵

Now, Apple has already been dipping their toes into some exclusive content. But this has largely been based around exclusive windows — that is, the ability to sell music first. This is the first step towards the above, but it’s something that is really only relevant for the top tier of artists. Spotify used to be adamantly opposed to this, then caved (in exchange, in part, for the lower percentage payouts). Though it’s not even clear the labels actually like this anymore. (Nor that any of us should.) Of course, when you are the label…⁶

The only real question in my mind is when Spotify makes the real move to exclusive content. Or if Apple does it first…

Per above, here’s what Jimmy Iovine said recently:

As an example of what “more interesting might be,” Iovine drew from subscription television. “Netflix has a unique catalog, because they don’t buy HBO and they have their own catalog. Then on top of that they have a little thing called $6 billion in original content. HBO has $3 billion, Amazon probably has $4 billion. Well, guess how much original content streaming has: zero! Fundamentally. All the catalogs are exactly the same,” he told the crowd.

Some wonder if he just means exclusive live content or the like. And maybe he does, at first. But the broader ambition here seems pretty clear. Again: follow the Netflix playbook.

I think that in going public now, Spotify is ramping up for this. While they may not be raising money in their direct listing IPO, it will open them up to easier access to more forms of capital. Apple, of course, needs no more capital. They literally already have more than they know what to do with (but still will undoubtedly continue raising more debt for projects such as this because it’s so cheap).

And how might the labels react? They must know this is coming. They can see what Netflix just did to their Hollywood brethren. And they still remember what Apple did to them in the age of downloads (beyond saving them from piracy, which is conveniently forgotten, of course). I’m just not sure what they can do. Beyond maybe touting their other reasons to exist — promotion! guidance! — none of which are sustainable. But I know something else inevitable: this will all get ugly at some point.⁷

Regardless, I’m pretty bullish on Spotify as it gears up to go public. It won’t be easy or quick, but if they can execute the transition into a label, a new label for a new age, this could be a massive business. Like Netflix, but with an even larger potential base paying them each month. There are a lot of unknowns in terms of timing — and if they get said timing wrong, the company could actually be in trouble. But again, this all feels inevitable. In 10 years, we’ll have Spotify Limited and Apple Records.⁸ And probably Google whatever and Amazon something. And yes, we’ll be paying for all of them.

But at least they won’t be paying the majority of that to the labels.

Photo by Natalie Perea on Unsplash

(Disclosure: Just to be clear, I have nothing to disclose here. I’m not a Spotify shareholder — though I might be when they go public! — and actually, I’m an Apple Music user. Though I suspect I’ll be a Spotify member as well in the not-too-distant future per above.)

¹ Because Spotify, Apple Music, and the like — as well as some newer ideas — are the newfangled middle men! And that’s a undoubtedly a good thing, certainly for artists, it would seem.

² This is important: I suspect there may always be some sort of relationship with the labels necessary to ensure catalog access, which is vital for any streaming music service. But new music is a different beast in this new world.

³ I won’t wade into the publisher and rights’ holders part of the equation here as it makes things even more complicated. But those guys seem to be in a better position than the labels.

⁴ I suspect all the big tech players with their audio assistants and hardware (both things like the Echo, Home, and HomePod, but also eventually the AirPods) use these as new points of leverage as well, since music will be key for all of these new devices and services. This could be both a strength for Spotify as they can be the Switzerland here — since they have no hardware, at least not yet. But also a potential weakness, in particular if one platform in the space becomes dominant.

⁵ And let’s not even talk about Tidal here. You know, the “artist-owned” service, which has been a disaster from day one.

⁶ Another wild card is if Spotify could become a label and still license their content to Apple Music. Sounds crazy, but maybe it’s not. Again, the real reason to go direct would be to cut out the ridiculous payments to the labels. If consumers throw up on the notion of exclusivity, this could be an option. That would be slightly awkward as Apple Music would have to license content from Spotify and vice versa, but presumably both of those guys would be more reasonable in their payment expectations. Anyway, just throwing that out there, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

⁷ A fight that will undoubtedly be even more awkward since the major labels all hold equity positions in Spotify. Will they sell once the company is public? We shall see…

⁸ Again! It would seem Apple could do this, if they wanted…

My 39 Favorite Albums Of 2017 – Hanif Abdurraqib

Go to the profile of Hanif Abdurraqib


Much like last year, I have decided on a somewhat random number of albums. I do appreciate how the list format can be equal parts exciting and somewhat exhausting during this time of year. But for me, it’s a good place to mention a lot of albums that I loved but didn’t always get to write about or talk about a lot this year. In 2017, I went from (arguably) writing too much about music to not having nearly as much time to write about music as I wanted to. I hope to strike a balance in 2018. In the meantime, here are my 39 favorite albums of the year. Like last year, if there was good writing on the artist or album, I’ll link that as well.

39. Big K.R.I.T. — 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

This track-by-track breakdown is really cool.

38. Wiki — No Mountains In Manhattan

37. Migos — Culture

You’ve probably read enough about Migos this year. Here’s a gif I like of Offset adjusting his cuff links in preparation for a potential physical altercation.

36. Paramore — After Laughter

This one really came and went for a lot of folks! This NYT profile was good.This Fader piece was also good. And though I try not to share my own stuff when I do these, I also enjoyed dissecting the album.

35. Syd — Fin

34. Gas — Narkopop

33. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings — Soul Of A Woman

This piece on the making of the album after the death of Sharon Jones is heartbreaking and good.

32. Sabrina Claudio — About Time

31. Julien Baker — Turn Out The Lights

A lot of good writing on Julien Baker this year — I most enjoyed thisthis, and this.

30. DJ Quik & Problem — Rosecrans

29. Bell Witch — Mirror Reaper

This Bandcamp piece about the album’s making and process is good.

28. Jonwayne — Rap Album 2

Jonwayne is not too big on interviews, but The Guardian did a solid one.

27. Idles — Brutalism

A good profile was done here.

26. Vince Staples — Big Fish Theory

Mychal Denzel Smith on Vince Staples was one of my favorite things to read this year.

25. Sleigh Bells — Kid Kruschev

24. Harry Styles — Harry Styles

Anne Donahue wrote many things on Styles this year, this was among my favorites.

23. Slowdive — Slowdive

Lots of cool stuff written on Slowdive’s return this year. I most enjoyed This Noisey profile and this NYT Piece on Shoegaze.

22. Converge — The Dusk In Us

It’s quite long, but this exhaustive history of Converge is very good.

21. Stormzy — Gang Signs And Prayer

There’s not enough good writing on Stormzy, I think. But I did enjoy this British GQ profile.

20. Chelsea Wolfe — Hiss Spun

19. Kendrick Lamar — Damn

A lot has been written about Kendrick and that’s fine but instead of any of those things, here’s 2 Chainz freestyling over the DNA instrumental — which was my favorite freestyle of the year until like three weeks ago.

18. Kelela — Take Me Apart

Loved this piece in The Fader.

17. Protomartyr — Relatives In Descent

All Songs Considered broke down the album well.

16. Rapsody — Laila’s Wisdom

15. Grizzly Bear — Painted Ruins

I enjoyed reading this GQ piece.

14. L.A. Witch — L.A. Witch

13. Power Trip — Nightmare Logic

A couple good interviews with Power Trip Here and Here.

12. Oddisee — The Iceberg

This profile was good.

11. Kelly Clarkson — The Meaning Of Life

There should be more in-depth writing on this era of Clarkson IMO, but this piece was a good one.

10. Daymé Arocena — Cubafonía

Short, but a good piece on the artist for those potentially unfamiliar.

9. 2 Chainz — Pretty Girls Like Trap Music

I wrote this pretty weird thing about 2 Chains and bowling.

8. LCD Soundsystem — American Dream

7. Jlin — Black Origami

Great feature on Jlin here.

6. Lorde — Melodrama

A lot has been written on Lorde this year, but I got some joy out of revisiting this Rolling Stone article from 2013, and then reading this one from 2017.

5. Thundercat — Drunk

Good profile here.

4. Open Mike Eagle — Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

3. Kehlani — SweetSexySavage

2. Richard Dawson — Peasant

1. Sza — CTRL

Here and Here and Here.

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