Discover more from MUSIC x
✘ Ssshhh, it's not about the music, it's about you
And: Music and gaming on a collision course; Does the music industry still want NFTs?; Creating a music festival in Minecraft; UK agreement on music metadata; Annika Rose's NFT music video game
Let’s face it, the current music industry demands A LOT from artists. They need to post on social media, make videos, share personal stories, give insights into their music creation practices, network, do shows, be on podcasts, learn to code, and so on. What’s more, it’s all so fast-paced that it’s near impossible to cut through all the noise. With Myspace, people still felt they could safely express themselves. Then came Facebook and Twitter, where people loved how simple it was to make new connections and to stay up to date. Next up was Instagram, with its focus on the perfect image, followed by Snapchat stories. There, the fleeting element sort of brought back the safe expression mode, but the need for scrolling is stronger. Now, there’s TikTok and its barrage of interrelated videos. There’s subcultures on all of these apps, but that’s not their primary mode of engagement. And then, of course, there’s the incessant marketing invading all engagement on all of these platforms. Personality x brand strikes the chords for most people. But there’s more to the Internet than that.
Besides all these very public online places, more and more we retreat into private groups. Safe from marketing expressions and influencers; safe places to be our selves. This is Yancey Strickler’s Dark Forest Theory, where each of these places we create which allow for more private expressions of self allow us refuge from public over exposure. Over the past years, we’ve asked musicians to build their own dark forests. Forget about the music industry and build your own little world with people that actually care about you - and maybe more about you than your music. From private Facebook groups to Patreon profiles to Discords to Telegram Chats - if you live in the same world I do, you’re a part of many little Dark Forests. Within each, there’s an experiment running: how to create a sustainable life around music?
All of these experiments still deal with the traditional music industry in one way or another. And more often than not, they hit the brick wall of music industry complexities. Whether that’s the cartel nature of the current streaming economy or the web of copyright around doing anything with your music. It’s hard. Safe havens exist to deal with how hard that is. But creating one of those is also hard. It’s hard now, and it was hard before. While researching this piece, I came across a 2017 post by Bas called The “F*ck the long tail” manifesto. In it, he said:
Stay humble & positive.
And communicate your passion.”
None of this has changed. The only thing that keeps changing is the technology around you. Blockchain, NFTs, gaming, generative AI, VisionOS - there’s always someone who will tell you to do the new thing. You don’t have to. Find a tribe, cultivate a dark forest, locate a safe haven. From that place where you can shut out the noise, uncover creativity - together - and then make your own noise.
🎮 Danny Kelleher has set music and gaming on a collision course (Kat Bassett)
“Having said that, cultural products that cater for nerds who exist squarely at the intersection of music and gaming have, thus far, been thin on the ground. Danny Kelleher is here to change that — he’s the founder of Laced Records, a record label dedicated to adding an artisanal touch to the world of video game music. Laced provides a sprawling number of music-related services to the video games industry, spanning label services, sound design and publishing — but their signature product is the plush, special edition vinyl records they create for video game soundtracks. Their overall goal is to act as a bridge between the two spheres of music and gaming, helping to legitimise video game music as the art form it truly is. As Kelleher will tell us, music and gaming have a lot to learn from each other.”
✘ I feel like this will be one of those interviews that I’ll come back to in the future when I want to compose my thoughts around how music and gaming can benefit from each other.
💭 Does the Music Industry Still Want NFTs? (David Turner)
“The frustration I’ve held over the years with the attention around this technology was both a desire to hyper-financialize music fandom without any sense of what fans may want or need. The desire to turn all parts of music into an investable asset is repeatedly shown not to be a product most fans want out of music (and also may be an unregistered security), and even the proposals for live music can be done in a far easier manner. That music technology in the 2020s so far can be summed up in trying to find new ways to sell functionless MP3s and wasting incredibly labor and energy-intensive technology to produce cheap soundalikes mirrors a broader malaise in the industry. NFTs/Web3 promised to revolutionize the industry but it’s even more intellectually bankrupt than labels chasing TikTok hits. Those songs at least get heard.”
✘ This argument exists, and it exists because there’s a lot of examples to support it. At the same time, there’s also a lot of positive developments. Examples that I often highlight here, where new technologies, such as NFTs, have a constructive impact on musicians’ lives.
“Conversely, I think this sort of project is a standard-bearer for the more traditional forms of clearance. If you can present an innovative, exciting, creative activation which has artists and their work at the front and centre, get the artist buy-in at the first hurdle and then use their passion for being involved as momentum to work collaboratively with all the stakeholders, then you can achieve something ground-breaking for everyone to benefit from in a short space of time with a relatively modest budget.”
✘ The traditional copyright ecosystem also shows that it can work, and it’s great to see amazing projects come to life. There’s lots of great insights here on what it takes to put a project like this together, and as per the above quote artist buy-in is a requirement.
🤝 UK Industry Agreement on Music Streaming Metadata (Intellectual Property Office)
“The IPI and ISWC are the preferred identifiers for songwriters and works. Although these identifiers are recognised as the best way to ensure accurate identification of writers and works, they are not used throughout the industry, and there are often challenges in obtaining them. In order to achieve wider adoption, the signatories agree to work together and with international partners including CISAC to make these identifiers more readily available to those who need them. Should sufficient progress on making IPI and ISWC more easily available not be made early on during the period covered by this agreement, alternatives may need to be considered.”
✘ This could be an important moment, especially with regards to the ISWC coming into play much earlier than is now often the case. I encourage everyone to keep an eye on how this will be implemented and how the international collaborations will develop.
🎞️ Nvak Collective partners with Annika Rose for NFT music video game (Tamzin Kraftman)
“The Bruises music video game is comprised of a three-part gameplay that requires you to collect tokens to reach each level that will soon grant players status within Rose’s fan community. As users move through the game, they consume her story and experience different activations in this modernised, direct-to-consumer digital model.”
✘ A great example of what the tech can do to help provide artists with new ways to creatively express themselves and fans to interact with the music and the artist they love.
This compilation is the first release for Black Artist Database as a label. They call it an introduction to their sonic universe. All I can think is how much I simply want to live inside these sonic worlds. Every track makes you want to dance. Every track showcases another side of electronic music. Every track demonstrates the artist’s creative work.