BBC Sound of 2017: longlist

Industry News

­BBC Sound of 2017 longlist has been released.

‘Sound of..’ is an annual poll taken by industry figures in hope to find the most promising new musical talent for the upcoming year. Compiled by a panel of 170 international DJs, music critics and writers that were asked to name their top three favourite new artists from any genre.

Previous winners include Adele and Sam Smith who have gone on to become global megastars with Adele obtaining a total of eight Brit awards and ten US Grammy awards and Sam Smith with three Brit awards and four Grammy Awards.

2017’s longlist includes: socially-conscious indie pop artist Declan McKenna, bluesy soul artist Rag N Bone Man, West London’s MC AJ Tracey, singer songwriter Tom Grennan and rock band The Amazons.

Celebrating Grime’s move into mainstream, due to Skepta winning this year’s Mercury prize, it’s no wonder why Urban acts such as newcomers Ray BLK and Nadia Rose dominate the longlist and are predicted for success.

International artist Maggie Rogers who made the annual list, became known after a stunned video of Pharrell Williams watching her perform went viral.

Sound of 2017 longlist:

  • AJ Tracey
  • Anderson .Paak
  • Cabbage
  • Dave
  • Declan McKenna
  • Jorja Smith
  • Maggie Rogers
  • Nadia Rose
  • Rag N Bone Man
  • Ray BLK
  • Raye
  • Stefflon Don
  • The Amazons
  • The Japanese House
  • Tom Grennan

Radio 1 DJ Mistajam said: “From the driving rock of The Amazons to Dave’s 18-year-old inner city street tales. The list shows the breadth and quality of what we can all expect next year.”

Head of Music, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, Chris Brice said: “The BBC Music Sound Of panel, always the broadest and most objective list of new music tastemakers assembled each year – which now includes international voices too – has delivered yet another exciting and diverse list of new and emerging talent to look out for next year.”

The Sound of poll however has been criticised for creating a self fulfilling prophecy, Guardian critic Kitty Empire wrote: “Many of us are editors commissioning, and journalists writing, our own ones-to-watch forecasts. In order not to look like idiots, we tend to tip acts with records coming out rather than some lad with a tin whistle we found on MySpace”.

The top five acts will be announced by BBC Radio 1 DJ’s Huw Stephens and MistaJam live on Clara Amfo’s show from the 2nd of January. The winner of Sound of 2017 will be revealed on the 6th of January.

Words By Amy Codd

Prince’s Estate Sues Roc Nation For Copyright

Industry News

Prince’s estate has sued Jay Z’s Roc Nation for a copyright infringement, claiming that streaming service Tidal has been illegally streaming the catalogue of Prince’s music.

According to Prince’s NPG Records, a deal was agreed with music and sports management company Roc Nation in June which gave them permission to stream his music for 90 days.  Tidal have been streaming 15 Prince records up to now and according to Prince’s estate they did so without authorisation.

The lawsuit states that “Roc Nation, through its Tidal service, is exploiting many copyrighted Prince works”.

This is a big blow to Tidal who pride themselves on being different to streaming service rivals such as Apple Music and Spotify due to them paying higher royalties – some reports suggest that Tidal will be paying double. This underlines the fact that Tidal is for the artists, created by artists as when Jay Z launched the streaming service he had strong support from Kanye West, Coldplay and Madonna.

Jay Z relaunched the streaming service last year after buying Swedish technology company Aspiro via his own company Project Panther LTD for $56 million, who run both Tidal and WiMP.

Roc Nation‘s roster includes artists such as Rihanna and J Cole as well as sports stars such as German international footballer Jerome Boateng and Puerto Rican former boxing World Champion, Miguel Cotto.

Tidal exclusively debuted Prince’s 38th studio album ‘HitnRun Phase One’ in September, just two months after the artist took all of his music down from other streaming services. Tidal also exclusively streamed Prince’s ‘Rally 4 Peace Concert’ in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray. Despite these links with Tidal, NPG records say there was no further arrangement for the artists music to be used on the streaming site.

Earlier this month, Prince’s estate agreed a deal with Universal that gave them full rights to the late musicians music, which complicates the issue with Tidal even further considering the agreement gave Universal exclusive Worldwide publishing rights.

A spokesman for Tidal declined to comment on the story.

Words by Ben McQuaide

The Great Escape showcase its ‘First Fifty’

Industry News

The Great Escape is a festival in Brighton and Hove which showcases the best in new music across a wide variety of genres. Taking place in May, around 300 bands play across 30 venues within the city. The first 50 artists have been confirmed to perform at the 2017 event and for the first time and a selected assortment of them performed across East London in one of ten shows over the past week.

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Photographs: Anna Straker, shot by Phoebe Fox.

After attending three days of the event, I spoke to Joe Hamm, lead singer of Indigo Husk who headlined Kamio on November 24.  He’s a fan of First Fifty. “It’s good because it allows people more time to get to know who’s playing and to get gassed for Brighton,” he says.

The First Fifty allows festival goers to get a head start on who they want to see in May, giving the keen individuals who attended a taster into what May has to offer. “Husky Loops’ enthralling studio sound enticed me to the First Ffty,”  says audience member Calum Cashin. “And I’ll almost certainly be there in Brighton following them around.”

There’s no doubting that six months before the event, there’s already a buzz surrounding The Great Escape 2017.

Photographs: Indigo Husk at Kamio, shot by Phoebe Fox.

Kevin Moore, Event Manager of The Great Escape, said: “TGE continues to break the mould and here we come again with the first fifty bands confirmed to play in 2017 that demonstrate what a unique and diverse festival we are…It’s our mission to give everyone the opportunity to discover their new favourite artist.”

Photographs: Indigo Husk at Kamio, shot by Phoebe Fox.

The fifty artists announced are: ABATTOIR BLUES / ALMA / ANNA STRAKER / BE CHARLOTTE / BRIAN DEADY / CABBAGE / CARYS SELVEY / CASI / CHERRY GLAZERR / CROOX / DRONES CLUB / EAT FAST / FIL BO RIVA / GOAT GIRL / GOLD CLASS / GOTHIC TROPIC / GURR / HANNAH GEORGAS / HUSKY LOOPS / IDER/ INDIGO HUSK / JACQUES / JAMES HERSEY / JAMESZOO / KLANGSTOF / L.A. SALAMI / LOWELL / MARTHAGUNN / MATT MAESON / MIDDLE KIDS / MILES FROM KINSHASA / MOSES / NILÜFER YANYA / PLAITUM / POTÉ / RAG’N’BONE MAN / RAY BLK / SAINT PHNX / SARATHY KORWAR / SHAME / SHELLS / SHITKID / SIGRID / SKOTT / SLØTFACE / SOPHIE HUNGER / STURLA ATLAS / THE AGE OF L.U.N.A / THE MOONLANDINGZ / TIGERTOWN / YONAKA

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Words By Phoebe Fox

Spotify Gives Swedish Artists Global Advantage

Industry News

 

Playlists on streaming services have become increasingly popular and more powerful as a means of spreading new music. One of the biggest growing concerns of 2016 was that these playlists might increase the dominance of a rather small number of (mainly) North American artists, driven by their popularity in the U.S – the world’s largest market. Artists such as Justin Bieber, Drake, and The Chainsmokers having spent long runs at the top of the charts globally has further driven the discussion.

However, it is interesting note that Sweden has a different take on this. Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter has been examining the overseas success of local artists, fuelled by Spotify particularly. It notes that songs that become successful in the Nordic countries have a bigger chance of landing up on playlists that get spread globally.

Nordic tracks were listened to 1.4bn times globally on Spotify, with more than 60% of the listeners to Swedish artists coming from outside their homeland. Tove Lo and Zara Larsson are two of the biggest Swedish acts, being the 29th and 25th most popular artists on Spotify worldwide. Mike Perry whose ‘The Ocean’ track has been a global house hit with 313.3m streams is listed as another breakthrough example.

“The Nordic market is mature and has many users on streaming services, so when a song becomes a hit in the Nordic countries, it often gets on the global top charts, giving it a trampoline effect” says Eva Laegdsgaard Madsen, responsible for Scandinavian label collaboration on Spotify. Over the past three years, Swedish revenue from music played abroad has increased – from 31% to 36%, according to the Swedish music industry organization STIM. And between 2009 and 2015, revenues from the Swedish music exports increased by 1 billion crowns (around 87 million pounds).

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Photograph: Harper Smith (Zara Larsson)

 

Lukas Graham is another Nordic-turned-global success story. The Danish band had a massive breakout with their hit ‘7 Years’, which was the product of a carefully worked campaign by the their labels and Spotify. Dagens Nyheter acknowledges however, the tensions even in Sweden around the spoils of global success for local artists.

“Streaming still mainly benefits those with very large catalogues – like the major labels,” suggests Per Herrey from the Swedish Musicians Union. Nevertheless, Nordic up-and-coming artists have a great advantage in the streaming world, and the more Spotify grows in popularity, the more we will probably see new Swedish artists on the rise.

Words by Nina Vasu

Featured Photograph: Johannes Helje (Tove Lo)

The next step for music streaming?

Industry News

ejukeboxlede

Newest streaming player, Electric Jukebox, has just hit the UK and is allowing users to stream ad-free music without a subscription cost. With nearly 30 million songs added to their library, the latest music platform lets you listen to music via your TV by plugging the Electric Jukebox TV stick into your HDMI port and then connecting to your Wi-Fi. You can use the controller to point and click on songs, as well as being able to use the microphone to deliver voice commands.

Available at Selfridges, Amazon and Argos with a UK RRP of £169 for the Electric Jukebox TV stick and controller, you can get a year’s ad free streaming before having to purchase another year’s worth of ad free membership for £52. With the option of streaming for free but with advertising, Electric Jukebox still works out cheaper than competitors Spotify, Deezer and Apple Music. Showing support from Stephen Fry, Alesha Dixon and Robbie Williams, as well as signing deals with Warner, Sony and Universal amongst others, should Spotify be worried? I don’t think so.

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A new survey has shown that on average, Britons are spending £144 a year on music streaming services, so it’s not a long shot to expect users to fork out £169. But with app usage on mobile phones/laptops/PC’s more than doubling since 2014, are users going to want to spend money on a service that is only available on their TV? Especially when this service doesn’t even provide the option to watch music videos. Pretty lame. You can just go onto YouTube for free.

The man behind the product, Robert Lewis, has said “Streaming is the future but today only 8% of UK consumers subscribe because it is expensive, difficult and complicated.” I’m not sure about you, but I feel a bit skeptical about this. Surely having to buy the product and then hook it up to your TV is a lot more complicated then streaming from your phone or laptop? I praise Electric Jukebox for their concept, but I can’t see this taking the UK by storm.

Tia Corquaye

You may well have heard of Blockchain, but what actually is it? Paige Talbot reveals all.

Industry News

Blockchain is a database that was used as part of the virtual currency Bitcoin and, with enough support, could change how the public stream, buy and listen to their music.

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Blockchain is essentially a ledger which removes the record label so no one owns the ledger and everyone (artists, publishers, songwriters etc.) gets paid fairly, whereas now only artists like Taylor Swift or Jay Z have enough power to remove themselves off streaming sites like Spotify and not need them.

Two main companies using this software at the moment are UjoMusic and PeerTracks and pride themselves on only taking a 5% fee where as Apple take 30%. Eddie Schwartz, head of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) put into perspective for me how unfairly people behind the making of a song are paid with this quote “In the latter part of the 20th century, if a song of mine sold a million copies, I would receive about $45,000 in mechanical royalties, and I was awarded a platinum record. Today, a major music service pays me an average of $.000035 per stream, or about $35 for a million streams, thus reducing a reasonable middle class living to the value of a pizza.”

The software works as a wallet and creates a smart contract which would issue a license to the user – you can buy different licenses such as the right to play in a bar, in a YouTube video, or just when sitting at home with friends and then the money would be sent directly to the artist – whereas now it can take up to two years for the artist and everyone involved in the song to receive their payments, having no idea what is happening in between with it being left to the major record labels.

Artists using Blockchain can see who is using their music and what it is being used for, then the artists can use this data to see who their biggest supporters are and then offer them perks such as free concert tickets or early previews of new work – a Toronto based rock band, 22Hertz has already embraced the software, the band’s online store is currently running a promotion where fans pay half price for CDs and t-shirts if they go direct and pay in Bitcoin.

In 2015 Imogen Heap released her single Tiny Human was released on UjoMusic – people could download the song itself or all the vocal and instrumental stems of the song for commercial or non-commercial use, then via a smart contract all the musicians were paid immediately to their personal wallets and now Imogen is actually trying to create her own streaming platform, called Mycelia which uses Blockchain.

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Words by Paige Talbot

WILL THE ARTISTS OF THE NEXT GENERATION BE ROBOTS?

Industry News, News

You walk downstairs in your pyjamas on a lazy sunday, open the french doors to your balcony overlooking the cityscape and put on the radio. The radio presenter introduces the new chart topper, the number one song composed by a robot. You look down onto the street and a robot is playing music tailored to your taste, something so beautiful it sends goosebumps down your spine. Looking down at the newspaper, one of the headlines announce how artificial intelligence is contributing to the music stream subscriptions and going to performances of artists. The prospect seems like something out of a sci fi movie, but futurist Ray Kurzweil believes it could be done by 2045.

On November 23rd 2016 at “Music’s Smart Future” at BPI’s headquarters in London, Ed Newton from Jukedeck announced that his company had created and innovated artificial intelligence so advanced that it had composed music, or 500,000 tracks to be precise. Of course, when I first read this, I had to do my research, how could artificial intelligence be so developed all of a sudden? But the more I looked into it, the more I found AI is being used already in Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer. They’re used to pick similar songs, you the consumer, would probably like to listen to. Other companies like Google Play have gone a step further by measuring the weather, where you are and if you’re taking part in activity or not, all to give the best recommendations.

Marketing campaigns involving Bastille’s second album were set up by chatbots, where you would be able to message the “band”. Robbie Williams and Olly Murs have also used chatbots to promote their work, and tailor a response to you as if the band would. So what does this mean for the future of music?

In the report produced by Jukedeck, it outlined that the artificial intelligence could be very beneficial to the music industry, that “gut instinct, passion for the music and human experience remain fundamental qualities in A&R and marketing, but as a sector we should not ignore new tools that allow us to reach fans in innovative new ways” however I remain skeptical, if Jukedeck have developed technology to the point they say they have, surely they would want it to be successful and make a distinct profit? An article on Music Ally describe the “next Napster moment, but much bigger”, but it doesn’t look like we have to wait long until we find out the full impact.

Words Amy Heddle

Scalpers selling Coldplay tickets at exorbitant prices

Industry News

Ticket-reselling websites such as Stubhub, Seatwave and viagogo, have become popular in the recent years, allowing fans to buy and sell tickets. However, scalpers are buying tickets in bulk and using these sites to sell them at unreasonably high prices.

British rock band, Coldplay, recently announced the dates for the Asian leg of the “A Head Full Of Dreams” Tour in 2017. They included countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan and Korea.

In Singapore, less than 2 hours after tickets went on sale, the show was sold out. Due to the high volume of traffic online, the ticketing system crashed leaving thousands of buyers empty-handed.

These tickets soon started appearing on many resale sites at exorbitant prices. The original prices ranged from S$78 to S$268. On Viagogo, the tickets were going for S$700 to S$1000 and VIP tickets were being resold for prices between S$1,350 and S$9,912, which is about a 350 to 3,000 percent increase.

“I waited online in the virtual waiting room for 4 hours before the tickets went on sale and didn’t even manage to buy one. I went online to see the tickets selling at $500. It’s frustrating for us fans that these touters are trying to extort our money and profit from it. I can’t afford it,” said Rachel Loh, a 19-year-old University student.

Concert organiser, Live Nation Lushington, decided to invalidate a “number of tickets” found on resale sites. A statement was put out to urge fans to refrain from purchasing any tickets from unauthorized resellers as the tickets may have already been voided. Michael Roche, the managing director of Live Nation Lushington, told local newspaper The Straits Times, “Even the band saw what happened, and said, ‘Michael, we have to do something.’”

Coldplay announced the date for a second show in Singapore to meet the overwhelming demand. Not missing this second chance at getting their hands on tickets, thousands of fans queued at the National Stadium’s box office and at post offices, with many waiting overnight.

21-year-old Ellina Arfan said, “I waited at the post office for 3 hours and when it finally reached my turn, I only managed to get restricted view seats. But it’s okay cause I still managed to get tickets.”

The organisers announced that all 100,000 tickets, including standing inventory and restricted views seats, for the two-day Coldplay concert in Singapore had been sold out.

Words by Dazale Choy