✖ One year of COVID-19 lockdowns

And: Clean NFTs; Facebook's fan monetization; clubs are open in Melbourne; electric guitar shortage; visual creative code algorithms; clubs reopen as virtual locations

✍️ Today’s newsletter is written by Bas Grasmayer.

It’s been one year since I launched the MUSIC x CORONA newsletter, which eventually merged with MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE to form the newsletter you’re receiving now.

It’s been quite a ride, so before digging into the latest innovations & forward-thinking insights in the sections below, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on that uncertain time in the early months of last year and appreciate how far we’ve come since, turning 12 months of various states of lockdown into a year of innovation.

Read Now


Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working with the team of Karajan Music Tech to curate part of their program. Every day of the next week, we’ll be discussing interesting topics in music tech: mixed reality, NFTs, online music education, rights management. We’ll also have exciting performances every evening.

You can register for Karajan Music Tech (for free) here & be notified when the line-up is made public this week.


TECH

🎨 A visual catalogue of useful creative code techniques. Why it’s important: not just because music culture is a visual culture, but also because these technologies can often be applied to music, too. For instance, in the field of Music Information Retrieval, engineers often abstract sound to image, because it’s easier to do pattern recognition on an image. That information can then be used for music recognition or recommendation algorithms.

📷 On an algorithmic note: this AI can turn a set of photos into a 3D image. “Our method achieves the best overall scores across all major metrics on these datasets with more than 1000× faster rendering time than the state of the art.”

🤝 Techstars Music has announced its new batch of startups. Worth a look. Good range of diversity, ranging from Volta, a platform for artists to build live mixed reality experiences, to Westcott Multimedia, which automates advertising campaigns for catalog music through AI, based on events like artist birthdays, holidays, etc.

Cherie Hu put me onto dynamic NFTs: they’re NFTs that can interact with the outside world, e.g. by responding to data & existing infrastructure. Worth an investigation.

Personally, I’d love to see an NFT platform create smart contracts that destroy the NFTs or data associated with them (ie. art) when we hit 1.5 degrees of global heating - let’s pump some of that brainpower into fighting for a better climate. It’s good to see a lot of NFT auctions being paired with carbon offset schemes at the moment, having said that: not all schemes are created equally, with some having 0 positive contribution. Do your research. There is also an active community of people trying to identify cleaner ways for NFTs (Discord link) - via Catherine Moore.

Facebook is rolling out more options for monetizing fans’ attention through ads (to benefit short-form creators) and a virtual tipping feature… is this revenue now going to sit in the domain of social networks and are music services too late to the game?

“"Stars," like Twitter’s new "Super Follows" feature, allow users to send small acknowledgements to their favorite content creators to boost their visibility and connection with the creator and add to the creator's earnings.”

CORONA

🦘 Clubs are open down under - at 33% capacity. Resident Advisor interviews the people behind Melbourne’s Colour, a club that opened just half a year before the pandemic.

🌼 A newly designed medical mask can be planted after use and turns into flowers. Reminds me of an initiative with festival wristbands called Plantjebandje.

A post shared by Marie Bee Bloom (@mariebeebloom)

😞 Quoting this tweet by the NYT’s Michael Cooper: “Unpaid for nearly a year, the players of the Met Opera found themselves relying on unemployment, scrambling for virtual teaching gigs and selling tools of their trade. About 40% left the area. More than a tenth retired.

🎉 The prospect of going through another year without a proper concert or rave is killing me. Bring on the vaccines. Meanwhile, two virtual reimaginations of real-world venues are set to have a couple of big nights. London’s Tobacco Dock is now virtual on virtual events platform Sansar and will have a launch party on April 2 & 3 featuring Skream, Riva Starr, Sasha, Chase & Status, and many more. LiveJar, a Minecraft club I’ve written about before, is based on the former location of Berlin’s Griessmuehle. They’ve now partnered with the club to do an event on March 20 featuring Ellen Alien, FJAAK, and many more.

🎸 The guitar business got hit with an increased demand due to lockdowns… however, lockdowns initially also meant a contraction in supply: how Covid-19 caused an electric guitar shortage.


JOBS

Every week, Christine Osazuwa (WMG’s Director of Data & Insights - Global Marketing and founder of Measure of Music) creates a round up of new openings in the music & entertainment business on LinkedIn.

Part 1 | WMG, YouTube Music, SoundCloud, more.

Part 2 | Walt Disney, UMG, Songtradr, more.

Part 3 | Sony Music, Twitch, Amazon Music, more.

Part 4 | TikTok, Songtrust, Ticketmaster, more.

Click on each part to open the relevant LinkedIn posts.

This will be the last weekly edition of this section. I’m happy it’s been valuable to many of you. For now, I want to bring this newsletter’s focus back to its core purpose and that is delivering insights & long-term perspective about the music business.

👉 To keep getting Christine’s awesome roundups of jobs, make sure you follow her on LinkedIn & you’ll get them in your feed.


MUSIC

Thanks Andrew Apanov for sending through Louisahhh’s latest album The Practice of Freedom in response to a question on Twitter. It’s a great blend of techno and EBM, with occasional hints of electroclash although opinions may differ with regards to the latter.