✖️ What do you buy when you buy merch?
And: EC pressure to implement copyright directive; NFTs the future of music; Vaccine passports?; XR future; Pop music sold us on consumerism; Coping with Corona through music
Merchandise is important. It's important for fans who can express their fandom. It's important for artists and other rightsholders who use it as an extra revenue stream. But recently I've been wondering what you actually buy when you buy merch as a fan. And consequently, what that means for artists who look at merch as a form of revenue. It's important to ask what kind of merch you want to sell and who your audiences are for it. Especially in a world where platforms like Amazon Music, Instagram and Twitter improve their creator-focus by making it increasingly easy to sell merch I see three major answers to the title of this piece:
You buy something physical like a t-shirt, a mug, or a record or something virtual like a skin, an AR filter, or a digital download
You buy status, showing off your fandom and gaining access to an in-crowd of superfans
You buy into an artist and show your love and, more and more, gain access to the artist
🦚 NFTs may seem like frivolous fads. They should be the future of music (Samantha Hissong)
“NFTs aren’t just reserved for the digital events space. As long as you own a mobile smartphone, they can act like an inimitable ticket or backstage pass. Next year, Lewis Capaldi hopes to host the first-ever show to require entry through NFT ownership, according to press materials reviewed by Rolling Stone.”
🎨 I went to Cannes XR and saw the future (and the past) (Roman Rappak)
“What shape will this artform take? What will XR’s story arc look like? Perhaps it’s too early to say, but it’s going to be a fascinating story, one authored by everyone from industry giants like Pressman films and Orange to three-person indie outfits hacking away in a Tel Aviv bunker.”
🐾 When numbers lie: how to spot fake data in music and why it matters (Brian Harrington)
“Both to meet the demands of the various people paying for bots, and to keep the bots listening habits realistic enough to help fool the algorithm into thinking they’re real users, bot services will often put multiple artists that paid them for streams on a playlist scattered amongst hit songs that the bots can then play through. These playlists will typically have a large amount of likes and a high song count. If you’re really uncertain, try to look up the playlist creator to see if they are an actual person/source. Legitimate playlist curators promote themselves and should come up easily in a search, whereas a profile making playlists for bots to stream will intentionally have a name that is not optimized for search engines.” [emphasis mine]
📟 How AI empowers employees in the music industry (Cyanite)
“[L]et’s explore how AI can actually help humans working in the music industry if the goal is not to maximize profits and productivity but empower the workforce.”
🛒 Twitter Shopping: Testing the shop module (Bruce Falck)
As per my writing today, Twitter joins the likes of Instagram and Amazon Music in integrating shopping into their platform. It makes sense, considering their increased courting of creators and the close to vertical integration that’s happening with Square, Revue, Cashapp, and Tidal.
🛂 Lollapalooza back in Chicago, but COVID vaccine proof or negative test required to attend (Rebecca Klapper)
There’s a lot of talk about proof of vaccination surrounding the live event industry in recent weeks. Of course, all eyes are on one of the biggest festivals right now and how they’re dealing with it. However, I also want to highlight the piece Bas and I wrote together back in March on vaccination passports and their role in opening up live music. There’s a lot of arguments for and against, but one thing is for sure and that’s that it’s a messy solution.
🥗 Coping with Corona through music (L. Fink et al)
“The novel genre of “coronamusic” is especially noteworthy. This term refers to musical responses to the coronavirus crisis, such as newly composed pieces, themed playlists, and famous well-known songs whose lyrics were changed to fit the pandemic. The research team found that the more interested respondents were in coronamusic, the more music listening and making seemed to help them cope emotionally and socially.”
🔨 European Commission ramps up pressure on EU states to implement the copyright directive (Chris Cooke)
“With EU directives, each member state is meant to amend their national laws to bring them in line with changes in European law. The deadline for doing that with the copyright directive was 7 Jun. But there have been some delays in many countries. What with some of those copyright reforms being rather complicated and somewhat controversial. And the small matter of a slightly distracting global pandemic. And, of course, all round laziness in the law-making chambers of Europe.”
➕ Spotify Today’s Top Fans: Here is how to find your most streamed artists and songs (Hayley Soen)
More feature roll-outs from Spotify, and like before it’s squarely aimed at sharing data related to your listening across social media. With Top Fans, Spotify lets you see what your most listening to artists are. For me, it’s Kendrick Lamar apparently.
💳 Pop music sold us on consumerism, one single at a time (Ann-Derrick Gaillot)
“The spiritual emptiness of American consumer culture, and pop culture by extension, is a constant boogeyman in the birthplace of credit cards and Black Friday sales. Pop music is one place where the tension between artistic expression and the forces of production and consumption are particularly jarring. When a pop artist speaks on why they wrote a certain song, the answer is rarely, “Because of my contractual agreement to a record label that needed something to sell.” And yet, pop music and the market are one, shaping and reinforcing one another as major label releases are bought and sold just as coldly as any other commodity.”
I often wish I could speak Spanish. More so when I’m listening to the wonderful and estranging music of Juana Molina. I always assume being able to understand her lyrics would greatly amplify my enjoyment. In the meantime, I listen to her voice as another instrument in her ever-evolving sonic palette. Some people call it ‘folktronica’ others call her music ‘eerie’. For me, her music, and especially her record Halo, is like standing in a cold shower, uncomfortable yet strangely gratifying.