First Look – HiFadility Releases Another Edit From The Queens: SWV – “Weak”

HiFadility has released another Track from his Queens EP, an edit of SWV’s Weak, which follows his remix of Queen Latifah’s U.N.I.T.Y.  Looking to commemorate the voice of woman of color in popular culture and bridge generations by bringing back old 90s favorites with new sounds, The Queens has been a very exciting project thus far, and we can’t wait until we get to hear it in full.

At first, this track has a very hard exterior, with lead singer Coko’s strong voice and a shell of synthesizer sounds, but it is worth the listen as it breaks way into smooth droplet sounds and wonderful warm and floaty piano chords that ushers in the trap high hats. The high hats creates another genre flip in the track, creating a hard hitting booty bouncing feel.  Perhaps the hard sonic exterior of this track that gives way to the warm melty sound is a metaphor for the overwhelming force of love that gives way into an appreciation HiFadility mentioned in his statement that he released with the track.  HiFadility definitely gave a new meaning to the New Jack Swing genre, a very contemporary blend of hip hop/trap and R&B.

The composer stated when he released the track:

SWV’s classic single WEAK was begging to be remade. The message of: Love being a force that sometimes knocks us out…not because of spite or anger, but sometimes because of the overwhelming sensation of a bond. I’ve been feeling like that lately. Super emotional about the world and all the things happening…this was my way of saying sorry for the griminess and yet thank you so much for accepting my growth and development. To Peace. To Love. To Prosperity for All.

-HiFadility

Be sure to check out this track on HiFadility’s soundcloud, and follow him on his social media (facebook, twitter, tumblr) for more updates regarding new music releases or his events in Boston and NYC.

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Jay Z Mocks Apple, Google, YouTube, Spotify In Tidal Freestyle

I get why Tidal is ‘good’ for artists – cut out the middle man, own your content (well, at least it’s good for the established artists anyway). But I’m still at a loss as to what the consumer proposition of Tidal actually is? Where is the value to the consumer? Better sound quality…huh? Would love to see some examples of direct to consumer models (where the ‘disrupting’ companies weren’t that different from competitors) that START right off the bat with a subscription model. Yes, iTunes started with subscriptions, but I’d argue they had a stickiness factor for a time with the iPod…that is, before streaming services made the music listening process even easier/convenient. Artists can complain all they want about the middleman, but arguably, it’s the consumer way of thought that matters. Just confused as to why Tidal doesn’t build /scale its subscriber base first (i.e. offer the service for free, unlimited), before going after the direct revenues.

That said, when everyone is complaining about your startup, but paying attention at the same time…perhaps that’s the affirmation you need to believe you’ve got something special.

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.

Case of the Mondays: Focus Artist – Courtney Barnett

It’s a little late for a Case of the Monday’s post, but I have to say that I’m a new fan of Courtney Barnett, who performed at the SXSW festival this year. The artist just dropped her new album today, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Her lyrics are incredible, intricate, thought-provoking…and just downright good story telling. Even better, she released the album through her own label Milk Records through indie stalwart Mom + Pop.

One of songs garnering a lot of attention on the album is “Depreston.” Pitchfork writes:

“Depreston” is Barnett’s somber tale of house-hunting in the suburbs of Melbourne, a sad neighborhood with few cafés and visible crime, heavy with an emptiness you can feel in this spacious, mid-tempo music. The song is rooted in a dilemma of all artists—that of finding a cheap place to live on the outskirts, of embracing domestic self-reliance and just brewing your own coffee—but it winds its way into a poignant ballad of memory, death and growing.”

I’m also a huge fan of Avant Gardner, a song from her last EP, and “an autobiographical account of trying to turn a life around through gardening, only to be foiled by a severe allergic reaction.”

For reference, born in Sydney but raised in remote Tasmania, Barnett started playing guitar at 10 and was in several bands before settling in Melbourne, where she enrolled in art school and eventually took a job at a shoe store. “I was good at it but started hating myself,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘This is f—ed corporate shit, selling overpriced shoes to kids who saved up their pocket money.’ ”

In other words, Barnett is the artist that really doesn’t care what others think..which ironically, will probably make people care about her more.

Calling all Artists in NYC

my friend is hosting an awesome event series titled Art We All (Human) at 3:15 pm EST today (update: it will be hosted every week). Details below. Email barsandchords@gmail.com if you’d like the location

Summary Paragraph: 

Art We All (Human) is an inter-genre collective of millenial artists looking to use the power of artistic expression to activate social change and challenge the status quo. In a salon setting, artists meet to discuss and deconstruct notions of power and privilege, and then use collective energy to create fluid, conscious art.

Rules of Engagement 

  1. Open minds build movements

No bigotry, no hatred, no subversive power plays. We are all here to make something beautiful, and can only do that in a space where we all feel free.

  1. YOUR truth, not THE truth

This is space where vulnerability and honesty are inextricable from the final product. Speak your truth to the extent that you are comfortable, but please don’t take it upon yourself to make that normative.  

  1. Embrace the Awkward

We will always open our space to new voices. Embrace the awkward conversations, talk to the new guy – everyone in the space has a gift to give.

  1. The Commons

This is a project centered on the creative commons. The work we do is the product/journey of the collective, and we will always come back to the commons as a locus of self. So, be self-aware and self-interested but never self-ish. If one of us wins, we all will – this is not about a profit margin.

  1. By the people, for the people, of the people

The art will always speak to whatever moves those in the room, but the responsibility of the collective will always be to the community. 

  • Do you have any questions after this? 
  • Is it too wishy-washy?  

How it Works

 

Who Comes?  

  

a)      15 artists are invited at random, from a larger cohort of 30-45 artists

 

Every quarter, there will be a larger, open session with an open mic component

 

c)      Each session will have a theme, all participants will be advised of it before the session in an invitation email

 

d)     Each session will have a different facilitator from the group – keeps it honest/non-hierarchical (first few will be me, once we have a reliable amount of people involved I will hand it over)

 

[is this naïve? Should I retain control? Very anti-hierarchical spaces but it needs to work, every time]

 

e)      Each session will be documented in some way – photographer, visual artist, videographer, writer etc (appointed in the email)

 

What Happens?

 

Each session will last three hours, comprised of the following

 

Free thought exercise (20 minutes)

 All attendees will be asked to provide a statement around the theme (can be a line of song, small picture, actual line, line of poetry, whatever) – theme will be put up on the board and the other items will surround it (20 minutes)

 

Introductions (15 minutes)

             Name, craft of choice

 

Updates + Theme (55 minutes)

Participants update the group on current projects/projects from the last session

Space for participants to vocalize what they’re looking for in the space

Participants can talk about their feelings on the theme/issues that have come up with existing projects in a group setting

 

Studio Session (1 hour)

Break away from the group into individual/studio sessions (people can do what they want, work together in groups from the last time)

The Come-Down (30 minutes)

 Take someone’s initial thought/experience from the beginning and use it to express where you are now.

 

What then?

 

  1. Follow up email called the After Thought (circulated a few days after the meeting)
  2. Provide the dropbox link to the group (will contain whatever the documentarian has chosen to create to honor the session)
  3. Provide a dope quote/video/picture to the group
  4. Provide the contact list for everyone in attendance so attendees can follow up if needed 
  5. Allow participants to opt-in a referral (invite someone to come to the next one) 

Upcoming themes: 

  • IDentity 
  • Abstraction 
  • “Dat New New” 
  • Vintage? 
  • Love and other drugs
  • Other drugs 

Wow…Empire Beats Madonna to Snag #1 Album on Billboard 200

Fox’s TV breakout hit Empire stole the number 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart, beating out Madonna’s new Rebel Heart album! While this rumor had grown over the past few days, Empire wasn’t even in the discussion a week ago. 

 The Empire soundtrack was released March 10 through Columbia Records and has 130,000 equivalent album units earned through March 15, according to Nielsen Music vs. Madonna’s Rebel Heart at 121,000 in the same time frame. Empire is the first TV soundtrack to debut at No. 1 since Glee. 
 

I have to say, I am an avid spotify user and like to discover new music on the platform….over the past few weeks, I have subconsciously been finding myself bumping my head to songs from Empire, which are continuously rotating through the Hot 100 Pop and Hip Hop tracks playlist. As noted by Billboard, a lot of Empire’s listens have come through streaming. Welcome to the digital age of music. 

 Here’s a fun video of Jussie Smollett four years ago singing ‘Fatigue’….wish you had known him before the fame, huh? The guy has talent.

Tyler, The Creator is Launching a Media Platform – Here’s Why I’m Skeptical

Why do record labels still make money today? In fact, why do they even exist? Technically, they are the ‘middle man’ – the man that delivers the artist’s content to the consumer. And technically, this role has become obsolete in the third wave of the tech revolution.

Think about it. The first wave of the tech revolution was PC/desktop internet (1Billion users); the second was mobile (2B); and the third is the Internet of Things, or IoT (IoT refers to the billions of robots making our lives easier…wearables, Nest thermostat, autonomous cars, precision agriculture, etc.).

Industry analysts estimate that ~30B of devices will be wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020. That’s a lot of devices, especially for a world suffering from mobile addiction, and it will ultimately change how people consume everything.

tech 2

So let’s discuss why this is this important for music. We’ve previously walked through how streaming (which was and is being facilitated by the second wave of the tech revolution – mobile), has altered the way that consumers listen to music. This has in turn altered the way artists deliver music. Artists no longer have to beg a radio station to play their track, or stand outside of a record label trying to prove their ‘dedication.’ They can simply build a fan base online, that – if it grows big enough – will ultimately get them a record deal.

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SNL’s Music Moments

The great thing about music is that it penetrates every part of our lives. Whether you listen to music on a road trip with friends, fall in love with the soundtrack to a movie, or listen the performance of a breakthrough artist on a TV show. I thought about this after watching the Saturday Night Live 40 year anniversary show. From the very beginning, the team has included musical performances as a part of the show, speaking to how important music is in the world of entertainment. Village Voice recently ranked Saturday night Live’s Forty Essential Music Moments, Continue reading