U.N.I.T.Y. – Queen Latifah x HiFadility

Recently, HiFadility released a new track, U.N.I.T.Y., a flip of the classic Queen Latifah humanist anthem.  We have posted about HiFadility several times over the past couple of years, and we are always excited about new releases because of the unique sound.  In a very pleasant way, you never know what to expect!  In this track, it’s really interesting how this production retains the 90s boom bap sound, and at the same time blends the echo-y 808s and stuttering high hats of trap and a jazzy sound.

HiFadility keeps Queen Latifah’s vocals, continuing his sonic tradition of including spoken thoughts on social equality from notable figures. We saw a lot of this on his earlier works Where The Soul Lies (2012) and C’est La Vie (2012), so it’s interesting to hear how artists evolve their sound and production. Continue reading

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If It’s Magic, Why Can’t it Be Everlasting?

Today’s post features a musician on tour right now that you may have heard of: Stevie Wonder. Not to be too dramatic here, but I think seeing Stevie Wonder in concert should be at the top of the bucket list for anyone who appreciates music and the powerful impact it can have on the world. There is little debate that Stevie will go down as one of the greatest musicians of all time…but it’s not just his gift for music that he’ll be remembered for; he’ll also (and perhaps moreso) be remembered for his heart.

I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert. While he often deviated from the intense Songs in the Key of Life album that the tour is based on, his speeches about love, “hate no one,” justice and equality reverberated around the stadium, and I hope it continues to penetrate the world. In particular, he sang the below song – “If It’s Magic,” with the background harp played by Dorothy Ashby who died of cancer at the tender age of 55.

Stevie Wonder is one of those artists that takes you into another place and another time when he sings. He has an incredible gift that cannot be duplicated.

Music Streaming Wars: What Jay Z’s Tidal, YouTube Music, Beats, etc are all Missing

tidal-share.e86656feIt’s interesting to see the amount of streaming services coming to the market this year – particularly led by the support of the musicians themselves. Feels like it was just yesterday when artists were complaining about streaming / unlimited subscription fees, doesn’t it?

As outlined by the Atlantic, several subscription services are hitting the market that may change the industry…

The latest is Jay Z’s Tidal, announced a week ago with a splashy press conference involving some of today’s most popular musicians. In the coming months, Google will take its YouTube Music Key service out of beta and Apple will put on an ambitious relaunch of Beats Music.

Right. So that’s three huge market disruptors arriving in the space of one year. More competition means more choices for consumers, but possibly more confusion…

In an interview with Billboard, Jay Z made clear that Jimmy Iovine, the legendary record executive who now works with Apple, had been competing with Tidal for celebrity-musician endorsements. This might explain why big names like Taylor Swift and Drake didn’t join their friends Nicki Minaj and Madonna at last week’s press conference; it’s possible they’re aligned with Beats instead.

So what do you do? Go for Taylor or Nicki? (Nicki clearly) …should consumers have to make a choice? My view is that there is a fundamental problem with artists shifting from one platform to another. Artists themselves are the product being sold (yes, artists are a product, a brand, an image defined by the work they create…) I’m all for giving artists power over their work, but it seems they are indirectly about to engage in a competition with one another. And in truth, I’m not down with doing an easter egg hunt to try to listen to my favorite ones.

Then again, maybe there’s another issue here. The last line of the article puts it well…

When artists lament Spotify’s meager payouts, the real culprit isn’t the streaming service, which pays out 70 percent of its revenue to labels and musicians—it’s the fact that streaming doesn’t make a whole lot of revenue to begin with. The most likely way for that to change is for there to be more paying users in the system. So if the golden age of simplicity for streaming’s early adopters is coming to an end, the health of the music industry might be worth it.

What will it take to get more users to pay for streaming services? There are people dropping close to $1000 at Coachella…I’m struggling to believe that the price of streaming really the problem. Maybe it’s just the experience? Perhaps people do want to support artists, who often get paid a lot more doing shows than making albums. Paying Spotify / Pandora just feels distant…like paying for the convenience of using a big machine.