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Macklemore, 1 Year In

Their album, The Heist, was an amazing commercial success with millions of records sold and several hit singles. And yet, almost everything about the band is independent. They decided against signing with a label, despite offers, because they wanted to control their art and future.

This post looks back at the last year, their rise to fame, and some of the decisions that came with it. I really respect what they’ve done, musically and more. This bit was my favorite.

He said, “Basically, if you sign this deal there is a potential that you will turn into a super star. Your life will change drastically. And once that happens, there is no going back. If we don’t go this direction, there is a ceiling to your career. You can continue to play the same rooms you’ve been playing and have a strong run as an underground rapper. But taking it to the next level will not be attainable. I see positives and negatives to both sides, and will support you either way. What do you want to do”?

I knew immediately that this a decision that would alter my life forever. I knew that getting played on the radio would alienate a core group of fans; that I’d be labeled a sell-out, maybe even a “one hit wonder” if the song got big. But despite those risks, I knew at the core what I wanted.

My logic was simple. If “Thrift Shop” blew up, the floodgates would open. People beyond even the core group of supporters would learn about our music and buy the album. The masses would not only hear a song about saving money and bargain shopping, but would discover songs about marriage equality and homophobia, consumerism, addiction, sobriety, relapse. My story would be told. That is what mattered to me.

Ben Folds on Independent Releases

Ben Folds Five will be releasing their first new album in a decade later this year and Mr. Folds gave us an update on the progress. If you’re a fan, read his entire note. It will make you fidget with excitement.

Ben succinctly described the value in an independent release (which they’re planning to do in September) later in the post.

Just seems [that] a musical experience I hate to be in [is] the position of selling it to people who don’t care. I’d rather spend my time telling people who DO care and save the money and time. Sell fewer records probably to those who want it. That leaves more time to make new records and tour. Less ass kissing, more music and life.

It makes you wonder why anyone passionate about their craft and connecting with people would do anything else.

Grantophone

I am not a (talented) musician, but I recognize game when I see it. At last night’s Hack and Tell, Grant Kot demoed his mobile app (iOS and Windows 7) that functions as a digital musical instrument. I bought it (99 cents on the app store) and had fun with it on the couch tonight. Of course, Grant, who’s a Julliard student, shows you what’s really possible in this video (should start 45 seconds in).

Lily Allen Doing Womanizer

Helloooooooo wheelhouse!* Internet, please deliver me an album of covers of Britney’s best tracks. Thanks in advance. [via etta’s shake]

* This wheelhouse consists of acoustic covers of pop hits.

Kanye West is Great, But...

A long and fantastic piece about Kanye West, the music industry and one of the prejudices that no artist seems to want to fix. It’s the best thing I’ve read in a month. I’d quote it here, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

Said the Gramophone's Best of 2010

These are their top 100 songs of last year and it’s a really eclectic list. I marked down some bands I liked, but hadn’t heard of.

PS I Love You
Basia Bulat
Sharon Van Etten
Little Scream
Peter Nalitch
Young Galaxy
Kurt Vile
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra
Bertrand Belin
The Morning Benders
Steve Mason (formerly of the Beta Band)
Parlovr
The Octagon
Jai Paul
Warpaint
Ô Paon
Glasser

The Perfect Hold Music

Posted January 2, 2011

Like thousands of other travelers, I had my flight cancelled to New York. I was stuck on hold with JetBlue as I waited for someone to take pity on me. All together, I spent a couple hours waiting to talk to people. JetBlue is not the worst offender, but they have inspired me to consider what I believe to be the perfect hold music.

Before I begin, I’m not even going to consider the hell that is a phone tree. That pain deserves its own post.

  1. Tell me how long I have to wait. It doesn’t have to be to the second, but a rough approximation will soothe my nerves a bit.
  2. Play innocuous, classical music. It’s hard to please everybody, so don’t try to pick out cool music. You may have an image to uphold, but when I’m stuck on hold, I just don’t care. All I want is something that holds my attention just enough to indicate you haven’t hung up on me.
  3. Don’t interrupt the music. Again, I just want to zone out until I can talk to a human. It’s okay if you want to update me on my hold time, but only do it every 5 minutes. If you play an ad, or anything really, every minute, you may as well skip the music. It just makes me think a person is coming on the line.
  4. Unless I’m waiting for technical support. Assuming you have a rough idea of my problem, feel free to offer some of the most common solutions while I’m waiting. Just make sure you’ve already put me in the hold queue. Calling 311 is infuriating, because I have to sit through 30 seconds of parking regulations.

It seems simple because it is. I’m not opposed to creative hold-tainment (hard to believe that I just made that up), but you need to remember that people are likely calling because something went wrong and you want to keep them calm. It’s going to make the talking part easier on everybody.

Fluxblog 2010 Survey Mix

Matthew Perpetua has put together an eight-disc set of 157 of the best and most notable songs of 2010. This is much appreciated, as I’m starting to think about my favorite things of the year. My only complaint is Matthew’s reference to the archaic concept of a “disc”.

I think you’ll find that this serves as both a helpful guide to some of the year’s most exciting music and a surprisingly listenable series of mixes. Discover new stuff! Rediscover familiar artists in a new context! Jam out to ten and a half hours of world-class tunes! If you enjoy this, please do pass it on.

Will do, Matthew.

20100920covers.jpg My Type of Music

Periodically, Yves Peters rounds up recent album covers and talks type. It makes me miss buying CDs.

20100903jurado.jpg Other People's Songs

A free collection of 9 covers by Damien Jurado and Richard Swift. I’m a sucker for all things Jurado.

The Hit Whisperer

Dr. Luke has produced “Since U Been Gone”, “I Kissed a Girl”, “Tik Tok”, “Right Round” and “California Gurls”. That’s an impressive stable of hits.

20100805akb48.jpg Paige Ferrari Explains Japanese Pop Group AKB48

As you can see from the photo above, we saw this band everywhere. And yes, I am joining the group next year. [via dj]

Mr. Akimoto’s real genius is knowing the power of numbers. Keeping the group big is important. In addition to making promotional duties a breeze, it prevents individual members from becoming too famous and, thus, inaccessible or… perhaps, more importantly, irreplaceable.

The Chipophone

“The Chipophone is a homemade 8-bit synthesizer, especially suited for live chiptune playing. It has been built inside an old electronic organ.” The video is worth your time.

Graphic: How Much Do Music Artists Earn Online?

The graphic shows that artists make their money back fastest by selling self-pressed discs and slowest by streaming on Spotify (it’s a 32,000x increase). While it’s important to note how little artists make from streaming music, it doesn’t consider how much they make on merch and concert tickets as a result of the increased exposure a streaming service may provide.

It seems more and more artists consider their music loss-leaders for physical goods and experiences.

This Drummer is in the Wrong Gig

In my mind, he’s filthy rich and gives back to the community by improving crappy local bands with insane drumming.

If Tori Amos Were a 12 Year-Old Boy and Covered "Paparazzi"

That kid’s got chops. [via buzzfeed]

The Ballad of That Guy From Titus Andronicus (As Told To Matthew Perpetua)

Well done, Matthew. In an alternate universe, this story would be published as a Shouts & Rumors piece.

Metacritic's Best Music of the Decade

They look at the best average score of all of an artist's albums released in the 00s (minimum of 3 albums). The winner: Spoon.

Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart

Posted November 23, 2009

To quote my wife after I sent her the link to this song, "it sounds kind of 80s / i mean like 80s power ballads / which i LUUUURVE". Yes, you are right, wife. This song is awesome. [thanks chris]

Audio Analysis of the Beatles Multitrack Masters

"While digging through Usenet, I stumbled on these three unidentified tracks that pick apart three of the Beatles' original multitrack masters, isolating and highlighting pieces from 'She's Leaving Home,' 'A Day in the Life,' and 'Come Together.'"

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