✖️ A simple guide to disrupting the music industry
And: China axes Tencent's exclusive label deals; Spotify's What's New feed; Minecraft Club Matryoshka closes; Audius x Solana x Metaplex $5m creator fund; Splendour XR
There’s a common misunderstanding that everything travels linearly through value chains in music. If only the middlemen could be cut out, all problems would be solved. In this piece I aim to show:
how these intermediaries are actually participants in a network
why founders who set out to disrupt so often fail
how one might bring innovation to the music business instead
Dive in by hitting the button.
💼 China orders Tencent Music to relinquish exclusive licensing deals (Yujie Xue and Iris Deng)
Here’s what the decisions by China’s antitrust watchdog agency mean for the company:
Tencent Music must end its exclusive music licensing deals with global record labels within 30 days
It can still retain exclusive deals with independent artists
It cannot ask copyright owners to give it any other type of preferential treatment over other DSPs (without prior approval)
Previously major labels exclusively licensed their catalogues to Tencent Music, which Tencent then sub-licensed to other players in the market. That practice is thus coming to an end.
💰 Blockchain Solana announces $5 million creator fund with music streaming protocol Audius and Metaplex (Solana)
“The Fund seeks to help creators pioneer new works in frontier categories like music streaming, NFTs, and The Metaverse, create new fan experiences using permissionless software, and spur innovation around creator-first business models.”
🔔 Spotify adds an attention-grabbing ‘What’s New’ feed to addict users to its app (Sarah Perez)
“This seemingly minor addition to the Spotify app is actually a quite calculated one — and one that steps back from the humane technology movement that emerged in recent years as a way to counter the overuse of growth hacks and other tricks to make apps more addictive.”
The article takes an interesting angle, but as a music fan I’m just happy to finally be able to actually find all new releases of artists I like in one place. Long overdue. I expect artist teams will try to figure out ways to leverage - maybe even move away from releasing only on Fridays?
🔮 Spotify and music listening 10 years from now (Mark Mulligan)
“Selecting mood and activity-based playlists will look incredibly mechanical in this world. Think of it like the change from manual gear change to automatic in cars.”
👾 Gaming economics, NFTs and the metaverse (Adam Cochran)
Great Twitter thread (50 parts, so has the length of a blog post) about the evolution of multiplayer game design and the economics thereof. It then weighs the implications of that for the budding metaverse.
(via Mark Redito on the Songcamp Discord)
🌇 "We felt pressured to constantly do something bigger than the last": Club Matryoshka goes on indefinite hiatus (Samantha Nicole)
One of the most impressive virtual world-building projects in recent years (especially within the context of music). The author’s words sum it up well:
“There’s a certain level of madness in devoting hours and skipping sleep to build a virtual escape that constantly aims to top itself after every experience. However, the Filipinos behind the beloved space have reframed minds on the infinite possibilities of organizing immersive shows.”
🕺 The origins of Budots, the Philippines’ catchiest viral dance craze (Lex Celera)
Last year while lockdown-surfing, I came across an artist on Spotify (DJ Red Core) who made this in this quirky electronic and I realized I hadn’t quite heard something like it before. I started exploring it, but found it hard to learn more since I wasn’t sure what I was listening to or what the context for the music was. Some of the characteristics reminded me of baile funk or early hiphop in that it’s often derivative and tries to create a sound for a certain social context (very different sound from the two though). This article details the sound and its origins. I’ve since also come across it in viral TikToks like this particular fitness craze.
✅ Mixed reaction to Covid passes in Europe (James Drury)
“Small music venues – the same size as many pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses, which are likely not to be affected by this policy – must not be treated any differently when it comes to the need for proof of vaccine certification.”
Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, UK
💉 Australian fans clamour for return of int’l artists (IQ)
“Not only will [getting vaccinated] keep our communities, families, friends and colleagues safe, it will ensure the future of our industry. Don’t wait. Do it now so we can welcome the world’s greatest acts back to the country that they love visiting and performing in.”
Evelyn Richardson, CEO of Live Performance Australia
💻 Splendour XR: virtual music festival was an eerie, empty reminder of what we’ve lost (Shaad D’Souza)
“When it comes time for the first night’s headliners, an age-old festival conundrum emerges: Denzel Curry and Phoebe Bridgers are playing at roughly the same time. (I wonder initially why a utopian virtual festival would have any clashes at all, before realising that – of course – on-demand viewing of missed sets is a $20 add-on.)”
My friend Ant Orange has a new album out. Sonically it feels like a journey into club music, but more like how you might remember things in a dream or a flashback than what club music actually sounds like. He’s taken a reductionist approach which doesn’t take away from the fullness of sound. A very pleasant, calm experience - great for fans or trip-hop or artists like Lorenzo Senni.