Wednesday, 31 May 2017

I’m running out of greetings to start off with so this week it’ll be a simple “Hi, hello.” So, 7th blogpost. This week I want to talk about my own opinions on what this blogpost is themed on. The internet and music. I don’t think I’ve really touched on my own feelings on the subject directly.

So, generally speaking 3.2 billion people have access to the internet with 1/3 of the entire earth’s population on social media. Yeah, a lot of people. So, imagine the opportunity this presents to a young budding artist that wants to be the next big thing. I think this all stems from the Internet’s nature of accessibility. I say nature because currently having access to the Internet is considered a human right in society, especially when it comes to education. But if we talk specifics then the Internet provides a myriad of platforms that can enable a new artists career. I’m talking about Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube the list could go on.

For the past dozen weeks, I’ve been conducting research on the effects of the internet on music promotion and the results of said research have basically reinforced my original opinions. Digital revenue accounts for 50% of Global sales for music in 2016 and its forecast to go even higher in 2017. Now when you think about it, this really isn’t surprising. Streaming services have popped up out of nowhere and are being used globally in the millions. YouTube is being used by some of the biggest labels as launch platforms for songs as well as Twitter for announcements. The entire music industry is evolving into a digital market.

But the ones who benefit off this movement the most is the ones who aren’t making money of their music career… yet. It’s like I mentioned, artists have all these opportunities to get noticed. In the past the ways of marketing yourself was through physical means of playing live shows and handing out mixtapes. While those methods are still present the Internet turns those past methods on their head by making it possible for artists to generate their own spotlight as opposed to looking for an already existing one to stand in. It all became independent. Take Chance The Rapper for example. He’s won three Grammys without selling a single album. He makes all his revenue from touring, merchandise and streaming and he hasn’t signed to any labels in a feat to have total control over his music. His is a success story that large executives are keeping an eye on and what is inspiring a new generation of artists.

If Chance can do it then why can’t anyone else. Artists are now able to organically build their audience entirely on their own and then further create a management team for themselves without ever being bound by any contracts. For me it’s a whole new barrel of fish where the fish are starting to jump of the barrel and land in the ocean. As long as the Internet remains free and accessible then the possibilities of progression are endless. If Vine can create a community of content creators who all live in the same apartment complex why can’t music?

Until Next time, stay tuned

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Aloha ohana, how are we feeling today? We feeling good? I’m feeling good. This week I want to delve into a world of music production that is rarely highlighted or appreciated in the eyes of the public. “Remixing” by definition means to mix again and this is what happens when a song is remixed. Tracks from the song are rearranged to alter the balance of the song and new elements are added that add the remixing artists flavour to the original mix. Some songs are altered so much that the song can become barely recognisable from the original. Remixing songs is how a lot of artists in the electronic scene establish a fan base and then become famous in the mainstream.

Remixing in music has been around since the 70’s and 80’s where hip hop pioneers such as Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa would take samples from other songs and mix them together live on a turntable. This practice is prominent in modern hip hop as well with Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole using samples from Motown tracks and other sources of inspiration in their tracks. J. Cole even sampled George W. Bush.

I listen to both hip hop and electronic music religiously which has made me notice a specific difference in the remix culture of both genres. Hip hop and rap music builds on top of a track that has been sampled whereas electronic music builds around a track that has been sampled. In my opinion, the difference in the arrangement styles stems from the internet’s hold of modern electronic music.

In one of my past posts I detailed the history and significance of Soundcloud and how it provided a platform for anybody to post music. With the introduction of powerful music software, anybody could now make music without any prior knowledge of music theory. These artists with no prior music experience would take songs that they like and add their own flair to it. They would then post it onto online platforms such as Soundcloud and people would stumble upon the music. As artists got better with production and sampling the quality of remixes rose. Artists started taking note and labels started holding competitions for publicity using remixes as a forefront to reach out to new audiences. Artists such as Kygo started of strictly making remixes and he was discovered for the quality of the remixes he made. Some of his most famous works are remixes of Ed Sheeran, Marvin Gaye and Ellie Goulding. My favourite one being his remix of The Weeknd’s “Often”. Kygo was even commissioned by Coldplay to remix their song Midnight.

Some remixes even generate more noise than the original song. Off the top of my head I’ve listened to Hippie Sabotages remix of Tove Lo’s “Habits” than I have the original song. R. Kelly’s classic anthem Ignition (Remix) is titled that way because? Yes, that’s right, it’s a remix of his own song Ignition which is actually a groovy song on its own with the classic R. Kelly bounce.

In my opinion, the only reason remixes aren’t coming out to the forefront of popular music is because of copyright laws. However, there are steps forward being made for the recognition of remixes with the establishment of the Remix awards in 2016. Hopefully soon the art of remixing will become more known and appreciated publicly.

Until next time, stay tuned.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Salutations, to all. This week I kinda just want to have more of a conversation than anything. I feel like the past 4 blogs I’ve done all have this tone of an “article” more than anything and my last post, while enjoyable to write and research, was a little stretch from the main theme of this blog. So, I want to just try out a shift in structure or tone and see how it works out.

So, this week I’m going to run through an interesting point from an interview I conducted recently with Ffion Williams, a budding recording artist based in Singapore who I used to go to School with. I wanted to get her opinions on social media, streaming sites and the internet in general with regards to the music business especially for someone who is trying to break out onto the scene and contrast that with what I’ve heard and feel regarding the same topics.

The point I want to bring up from the interview is a mix of opinions regarding Spotify. I personally use Spotify on a daily basis and pay a monthly fee for the premium option to remove ads from my playback. I’ve not really thought about how the artist on the other end of the line is affected by my purchase. Ffion talked about how Spotify (Singapore) is actually very hands on with pushing and promoting new artists and has helped her the most so far in her career. They place new artists onto playlists that are then circled around the Spotify community. While she’s based in Singapore, Taiwan is the country with the most first-time listeners. Spotify have also brought her into their Singapore offices for some press as well as networking with other artists that are featured on the same playlists.

I love how Spotify is helping new artists in furthering their horizons considering how some big name, established artists have quite a bone to pick with them. It’s quite a contrast when you see people like Taylor Swift pull their music off the streaming platform for monetary reasons however it’s not like their arguments aren’t invalid. Each artist has their own reasons however the line is drawn when it comes to the cash-money. Some artists want to convey the point that they think streaming platforms devalue their music since users have the option to cherry pick songs from an album as opposed to listening to the whole thing. This argument is also applied to other platforms such as iTunes that let you purchase individual songs. Garth Brooks is very vocal about this viewpoint. Others have their minds fixated on the word “purchase”. For artists to make any significant revenue from streaming services their songs require an absurd number of listens which can only be consistently obtained by names such as Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran. If any revenue is made, then artists only receive a small cut of it since their record label while bite off a bigger chunk than a Bull Shark. Spotify have repeatedly stated that 70% of their revenue is being actively flowed back into the music industry so maybe some of this hatred of Spotify is misdirected.

For me, I believe artists should be rewarded fairly for their own creative expressions but I am also that person who only listens to 2 – 3 songs per artists. There are only three albums in my life that I have repeatedly listened to and I’ve only purchased a digital copy of one of them. If I have to purchase an entire album to put one song into a personal playlist then I’m just not going to listen to that song (Illegal downloading is bad, kids). If artists want to pull all their music from streaming platforms so be it. They will always have fans who will follow the music.

Until next time, stay tuned.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening my delightful daffodils! Today we are going to dive into the theme of movie soundtracks.

There are some songs out there that are so synonymous with the movies they were licensed for that there is no way an image or a scene does not pop into your head. (If you have seen the movie of course) Being featured in a movie is a form of promotion that can be a great marriage between two mediums that result in a slingshot effect for an artist or bands career. The songs become timeless and this results in the movies even being included into modern pop culture for generations. This can be attributed to the introduction of streaming services the likes of Spotify and ITunes as well as Youtube.

Now, if we are going to dive into this topic why not start with probably one of the biggest there is.

The Rocky Franchise created by Sylvester Stallone contains 7 films including the most recent instalment “Creed”. While the classic trumpeting anthem of the Rocky movies can be recognized globally the 3rd instalment “Rocky III” can be credited with probably the greatest sports entrance songs there is; “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

So, in the beginning Stallone wanted to license “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen however that fell through and thus Survivor was given the opportunity. “Eye of the Tiger” won a Grammy for “Best Rock Performance” and toped the billboard charts for six consecutive weeks.

Next we have a classic from “The Breakfast Club”

The song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” recorded by the Scottish band Simple Minds was originally offered to big names such as Billy Idol. Funnily enough, along with Idol, Simple Minds had initially rejected the offer but were then persuaded to by their label. However, legend says that Simple Minds only took three hours of their time to rearrange and record the song and then promptly ignored it until it took the American audience by storm when “The Breakfast Club” became a massive hit. The song stayed at no.1 on the US Top Rock Tracks chart for three weeks and stayed on the UK’s chart though 1985 and 1987 even though the song only reached no.7.

Now it’s borderline impossible to not belt out the timeless ballad from one of the most successful films of all time “Titanic”.

As is the running theme it seems, Celine Dion initially did not want to record the song since she was fresh off recording the theme song for Beauty and the Beast. James Cameron also did not want to have a full vocal song to be featured in his movie however changed his mind after deciding that a hit song would benefit his movie in the long run. His decision was the correct one in the end since “My Heart Will Go On” won the 1997 Academy Award for best original song. The Grammy for record of the year was awarded to Dion in 1999 marking the first time in history for the award to be won by a Canadian. “My Heart Will Go On” has also been named one of the songs of the century, as it deserves to be.

The previous three songs mentioned are truly timeless classics however it doesn’t mean that modern songs cannot share the same claim to fame.

In my honest opinion, one of the catchiest songs ever written was released in 2013 as part of the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack. “Happy” written, recorded and produced by Pharrell Williams has reached the top of a multitude of charts worldwide. The song was originally written for CeeLo Green however CeeLo’s label decided against it. Since “Happy” was so well received worldwide I believe that it is a great example of how a song can over shadow the movie that it was a soundtrack of.

Movies and music have forever been synonymous with each other with soundtrack albums being released alongside their visual counterpart. Which is why, I want to take a quick moment to bring up Guardian of the Galaxies soundtrack, or even Marvel soundtracks in general, because they have resulted in the introduction of older classic songs to a new generation of kids who would never have known they existed. While some the bands featured in Marvel movies such as ACDC in Iron Man don’t need the promotion per say, it is still beneficial to the longevity of their sound.

Having a song promoted through a movie release has worked in the past for artists in bands a like and is still consistently being used in modern days.

Some other great examples of Movie soundtracks are:

“I Believe I Can Fly” recorded by R. Kelly for the movie “Space Jam”

“Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová for the movie “Once” and was awarded an Oscar for best original song.

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman for “Toy story”

“Lose Yourself” written and performed by Eminem for “8 Mile” for which he won a Best Song Oscar for.

“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr for, yeah you guess it, “Ghostbusters”


Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Listen up, girls and boys! Class is in session. This week we talk about Soundcloud. My past 2 posts have talked about some concepts and results of online music promotion however I decided it would be a good idea to outline one of the .com companies that shaped how musicians put their sound out in the 21st century.

So, let’s do a rewind back to Stockholm, 2007. Two engineering students, Eric Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung, had found a void in the online space that needed filled. Both had a background in music with Ljung writing scores for films and Wahlforss releasing an electronic album and through their experiences in music they had discovered that there was no simple, straightforward way for a piece of audio to travel between two points and then to any number of recipients. At the time, this type of media sharing was already established for other mediums with Flickr being for pictures and Vimeo being for video but not for music.

In 2008, Ljung and Wahlforss set up in Berlin to fill this gap. Soundcloud allows users to upload any piece of audio they want onto their own personal profile. Users can then create “tags” on their songs in order to make it easier for people to find their music through the search bar using key words such as Remix, Bass, Live etc. Soundcloud also provides statistics for users to see how many times their songs were listened to in total and within the week. A stream acts as your front page as you open Soundcloud which highlights any new songs that have been released or reposted by the artists you are following. This includes your own posts as well. Soundcloud’s free accounts allow up to 120 minutes of audio space however if you upgrade to one of its subscription services you are then allowed unlimited upload time as well as access to other statistics that the site provides.

Now some of you may be thinking “But what about Myspace?”

Hush, my little lamb. You aren’t wrong with bringing up Myspace since it was dominating the scene in 2007 and had the ability to upload audio files however the main difference between Myspace and Soundcloud was that Myspace was designed for the artist and not for the audio. Myspace was social media and Soundcloud is audio sharing.

Since setting up in Berlin in 2008, Soundcloud had successfully targeted the niche market of audio creators that they wanted to set up the platform for and due to hitting this niche, Soundcloud had bounced out into other markets that were looking for an online audio platform. Starting out with an aim to hit thousands of semi-pro audio producers, Soundcloud to date has 175 million users that range from podcast creators, kids in bedrooms with too much free time, chart topping artists and white house representatives.

It’s safe to say that Soundcloud has successfully earned both its corporate and user value over the years. It is considered “the YouTube of music” and was valued at up to $1Billion. However, times are tough for the Berlin based business. In 2015 Soundcloud’s losses grew larger than its revenues with a $22m dollar intake and a $52m haemorrhage. In 2014, Twitter was working its way towards a $1billion acquisition of Soundcloud however backed out due to a myriad of reasons including the head ache inducing copyright issue that Soundcloud was still discussing with massive music labels such as Sony, Universal and Warner.

In 2016, Spotify also were in talks of buying Soundcloud however decided to pull out as well. Currently, there are rumours floating about that Google is looking towards purchasing Soundcloud for $500m.

No matter what happens, Soundcloud is currently still losing money and is at risk of running out of funds by December 2017 if nothing is changed. What this means for artists and listeners is that they are losing the biggest and most personal audio sharing platform that the net has to offer. All those obscure remixes, hundreds of Soundcloud exclusive podcasts, and personally created playlists will return to that void which Ljung and Wahlforss had filled.

Soundcloud provided a platform when there wasn’t one and soon enough that platform might just disappear just like everyone’s best friend Tom. However, it will forever be known as the “YouTube of Music”.

Until next time, stay tuned.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Alright Boys and Girls put on your lucky underwear, strap on your seatbelts, turn the volume up to 11 and smile for the camera because on this week’s episode of “Oh yeah that song” we are going to have a discussion on “Viral Videos”. Of course, to keep in tune with my blog’s overall theme we will detail the effects of virality to the promotion of artists.

To start off with let’s just gloss over what virality is within online mediums. Taken from, virality is “The tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another; the quality or fact of being viral.” So, for something to go viral it requires a large number of online users to share or repost a piece of media within a very short amount of time. The most common type of viral videos can be a singular video being passed around like a new born baby or it can be a theme that multiple users use to film themselves hopping onto the virtual bandwagon.

Due to the mob culture of the internet, songs and artists can become internet sensations overnight skyrocketing them into fame. Social media has provided the rocket for the rocket fuel that artists produce and have resulted in some individuals forming a successful career from it. In other cases, they have only become one hit wonders and have crash landed in the graveyard of memes that is internet pop culture.

Now that that has been addressed let’s start this rollercoaster and see some examples of virality in action. (Warning: some of these examples may trigger you and bring back some repressed memories. User discretion is advised)

First off, let’s look at a duo who have sculpted a career out of a song going viral. These two lads, Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, comprise electronic dance sensation The Chainsmokers. Before they became household names and regulars at some of the most attended music festivals, The Chainsmokers rose to fame through the virality of their song #Selfie.

#Selfie was a song that The Chainsmokers had produced as a joke targeted at the vanity of society. The song blew up and within 4 weeks it had 12.1 million views on YouTube. In addition to the song itself, the “Let Me Take a Selfie” fad surged on Vine with 23,000 videos tagged #letmetakeaselfie. The Chainsmokers very convincingly proved that they were not one hit wonders and currently their song “Closer” featuring the siren songstress Halsey was No.1 on the UK charts for 4 weeks and is currently still in the TOP 40’s thirty-one weeks after its release.

Next, let’s look at the faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar end of the spectrum and study the vocal prowess, lyrical genius, onscreen presence and viral enigma that is Rebecca Black. This is where that trigger warning becomes relevant.

In case you didn’t know, Rebecca Black is an amateur YouTuber who back in March 2011 had a dream of being a famous singer. Now she’s famous for her singing with her chart toping debut single “Friday” currently having a staggering 2.5 million dislikes. During the time that “Friday” was invading everyone’s feeds it had more dislikes than Justin Bieber’s “Baby”.

The video was shared and posted all over the internet on sites such as Tosh.0, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and was a top trend on Twitter after being initially found by The Daily What. Black even was invited to do live renditions of “Friday” on ABC Good Morning America and NBC Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Now, I’m not saying that “Friday” is on my End of Week Party Playlist but the song generated so much discussion online which she or ARK had no control over. She was very easily the most detested “singer” during the spring of 2011 where some of the comments that were targeted towards her were well past the cyber bullying threshold.

Black, however, was only a one trick pony even after releasing a follow up single titled “Saturday”. Black however did appear on the music video for Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” and currently is still releasing music.

As seen from these two contrasting examples, virality is the result of the astonishing rate that information can pass through the internet and due to this, careers can be made. Some more beneficial than others but the point still stands. Some other examples of songs that reached fame through trending fads are:

“What does the fox say – Ylvis”
“Harlem Shake – Baauer”
“Gangnam Style – PSY”
“We Might Be Dead Tomorrow – Soko”
“Never Goona Give You Up – Rick Astley”
“Ultimate – Denzel Curry”

Now if you must take a life lesson away from this just remember kids, be careful when posting videos of yourself rapping a few bars over Thomas the tank engine cause you might just be remembered by 300 million online users as the Thomas the Tank Engine Kid and that will be your life legacy.

Stay Tuned.

Friday, 17 February 2017


Welcome to my blog! My name is Josh and I am a student at North East Scotland College. The purpose of this blog is to publish posts about how I feel the internet and online platforms in general have altered music promotion for both recognised and fresh artists. In other words, my mixtape is fire but why is nobody listening to it and how do I get people to listen to it. Shameless Soundcloud plug incoming. 

Now, hands up how many of you use YouTube to play music in the background while doing your studies, laundry, workout, cleaning, whatever?

One, two, three, yeah, okay pretty much all of you.

“But Josh I prefer to use Spotify instead” you may be thinking.

Perfect, hold that thought. Now, how many of you have stumbled upon a song on YouTube, or even just an artist, but couldn’t find a trace of them or the song on Spotify? I know I have. That soul crushing feeling that your personal playlist will forever be incomplete and that no other song can fill that silent void happens on a weekly basis for me.

Don’t fret however my little cub. Almost every obscure cover, remix, bootleg, flip, you name it, will be posted on Soundcloud more often than not by the original producer. The way music promotion works online is not dissimilar to how it is physically, it’s just all interconnected on a much broader scale to the point where online promotion is done more by the people promoted to than the promoter itself. On top of this, the entire virtual aspect allows for producers and artists a like to collaborate almost immediately either in person or on the other side of the world.

Let’s take a look at Chance the Rapper’s track “No Problem” on his Grammy winning mixtape “Coloring Book”. Chance enlisted the creative minds of Brasstracks, a duo comprising of Ivan Jackson and Conor Rayne that work around genres from electronic, funk, rap, R&B or anything that comes to mind.

Based in Brooklyn, New York Brasstracks are particularly known for their incorporation of brass instruments to provide melodies that pierce through groovy bass and drum lines. Seriously, give them a listen if you haven’t. Even if they aren’t your thing I’ll give you a sticker for trying.

Brasstracks’ first song off of their Good Love EP

The duo stated that the collaboration with Chance came about due to the high demand from fans commenting on every single song on their Soundcloud account asking for the Chicago based MC’s vocals. Ivan then tweeted the fans demands and tagged Chance not really expecting anything to come from it. Chance retweeted it and in January 2016 the duo met up with him in L.A. to record what eventually became the track “No Problem”.

If you’d like to read further on Brasstracks themselves as well as the collaboration with Chance check out this article by XXL.

While Chance won 3 Grammy’s in total, Brasstracks shares one of those Grammy’s for “No Problem”. It’s amazing to think that if that one single tweet had not been sent and had there not been a constant flow of comments from their fans on their Soundcloud posts, Brasstracks would be one track short of a Grammy and international acclaim. I mean, Zane Low played the track four times in a row on Beats 1 when it dropped. This is but one example of how the internet has resulted in a wonderful collaboration between artists who want to work together to make the music they love and the music that their fans love to listen to.

In further posts to come, I will be focusing on more specific aspects of online platforms that have allowed music promotion to evolve while hopefully providing you, the reader, a light insight into the music production world as well as introducing you to some artists and genres you may never have heard of.

Stay tuned.