Having just unveiled Subsidia Night Vol. 3in early February, the label has announced a return to its wonky and grimy Subsidia Dusk: Vol. 3 compilation. The latest installment in the Dusk serial offers hair-raising beats from names like Ray Volpe, Pax Impera, Blvck Sheep, as well as tons of new up-and-coming bass artists who fans will want to start following early in the course of their careers. The past two editions of Dusk have given bass fanatics something to talk about despite festivals taking a backseat, and this next offering is sure to do the same.
The UK government has announced a £300 million boost to the Cultural Recovery Fund, intended to keep the industry afloat amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came ahead of today’s spring Budget (3rd March), and will go toward providing financial support for music venues, independent cinemas, museums, galleries, theatres and heritage sites throughout the UK. The funding boost will be added to the £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund announced in July last year.
Tweeting yesterday ahead of today’s budget, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “It’s a relief we can look ahead now so this funding is not just about survival, but planning & preparing for reopening of theatres, galleries and gigs.”
Along with the Culture Recovery Fund boost, Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced that the government would be extending the furlough scheme to September, and extending the Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to 600,000 new starters.
Business rates relief will be extended to the end of June, followed by a 66% rate until next April. The reduced VAT rate of 5% for the hospitality and tourism sector will be extended to September.
UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has responded to today’s Budget, broadly welcoming the Chancellor decisions. “The £300 million boost to the Culture Recovery Fund is welcome and will be a lifeline to many venues and organisations,” he said, “but the fund should be extended to include freelancers, as is the case in Scotland and Wales.”
He added: “The expanded support for freelancers and the self-employed is a step in the right direction in an industry where three-quarters of the 200,000 workforce are self -employed. However, there are still many in our industry who fall in the gaps of the financial support schemes and need help.”
Njoku-Goodwin also emphasised the importance of implementing a Government-backed insurance scheme for festivals hoping to go ahead this summer, stating how necessary it will be “to protect against the risk of losses if a festival or concert is forced to cancel due to Covid”.
He added: “To make sure we can move ahead with live events, festival and concert organisers need the confidence that there is the safety-net of an insurance scheme that is already enjoyed by the film and TV industries.”
Sacha Lord, co-founder of Parklife festival and the Warehouse Project, and night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester echoed UK Music’s positivity, tweeting that he thinks “today’s Budget is very welcome and supportive for Hospitality across the UK”, with full comments to come later.”
Lord has also been vocal on the importance of Government-backed insurance for festivals. He told the Guardian last week: “Let’s follow in the footsteps of other countries, where there is an insurance indemnity policy. We are not expecting a free handout and we will pay a small percentage of the turnover figure. Putting a festival on is hard without insurance in place, that is why Glastonbury cancelled.”
Njoku-Goodwin said in his statement: “We are grateful for the economic support we have received from Government, but we don’t want to draw on that support any longer than we have to. The best way to achieve this is to ensure activity starts to happen again as soon as possible and musicians can get back into work.
“However, the clock is ticking when it comes to staging live music events this summer. Organisers are making decisions in the next few days and weeks about whether they can proceed or will be forced to cancel.
“We want to create an unforgettable Summer of Sound and showcase the best of British music as we emerge from the impact of the pandemic. The music industry wants to play a leading role in driving the post-pandemic economic and cultural recovery.”
Ice Cube says that Warner Bros. studios has ‘refused’ to make any more sequels to the Friday film franchise.
In 1995 the rapper and actor wrote and starred in the stoner buddy comedy alongside Chris Tucker, which went on to develop cult status along with its sequels Next Friday (2000) and Friday After Next (2002).
Now, Ice Cube has claimed that Warner Bros. has “hi-jacked” the franchise, preventing its creators from making any more films. In 2019, Ice Cube appeared on ESPN’s The Jump and said that a fourth script, titled Last Friday, was almost ready to go and that he was pushing for production to commence to mark the original film’s 25th anniversary in 2020. That never materialised, and Ice Cube has reportedly become increasingly frustrated with the studio, who he alleges is preventing the film from being made.
In a recent Instagram post, Ice Cube stated: “#freefriday from the jaws of Warner Bros. who refuses to make more sequels. They have hi-jacked the happiness of the culture”
At the time of writing, Ice Cube’s post has almost half a million likes.
Watch the trailer for the original Friday film below.
Just a few days into Women’s History Month, Dirtybird has marked their books for a four-day livestream event in commemoration. Co-sponsored by nonprofit organization She Is The Music, the Women in Music digital festival will bring together powerhouse women and femme-identifying artists for an extravaganza of music, sets, and activities. The event will take place March 11-14.
Mija, Louisahhh, LP Giobbi, Gina Turner, Worthy, Uffie, Jenniluv, and several more grace the diverse women-centric lineup. Streaming on Dirtybird’s Twitch channel, Women in Music will kickoff with a yoga session led by Turner, with more activities to be announced soon.
The Dirtybird and She Is The Music partnered event will also offer interactive opportunities with attendees, including featuring video submissions from all women who work in the industry in the livestream. Artists, musicians, managers, promoters, and more are encouraged to submit 60-second videos here. View the full lineup below and stay tuned for more information.
Beatport DJ is a browser-based tool that combines finding music with mixing it right away. It is definitely where the company’s LINK subscription is going. And we’ve got a first look at the interface – plus what it might mean for anyone making and releasing music (and what’s missing so far).
The quick summary:
Beatport DJ is a browser-based tool for Chrome and compatible browsers (Microsoft Edge, Opera).
It does everything you’d expect a two-deck DJ tool to do, but in the browser. You could actually run a DJ set off this – it even has MIDI input, controller support, and separate headphone outs, plus features like hot cues and looping. But you’ll probably use it to preview music and assemble playlists to DJ elsewhere.
It’s now released to all subscribers to Beatport’s LINK service, but will be “an entry-level stand-alone subscription tier within the LINK offering by mid-April.”
What’s in it for artists and labels – theoretically, the potential for more DJs and more streaming revenue for your music when distributed to Beatport. There’s some real potential there, as I think you’ll see, in that this removes obstacles to more people DJing with music. Since a lot of dance music gets easily lost on Spotify and Apple Music, and those tools don’t have DJ features, that’s a big deal. But what’s missing, and which I still hope will be added, is more tools for humans to share playlists and allow direct interaction with artists and labels, rather than having an entire DJ tool be dominated by Beatport charts and genre selections.
Background – about subscriptions, and different user stories
It’s worth remembering how we got here. Since the advent of digital music on computers, the digital DJ workflow has existed across some divided worlds. There’s acquiring your music – promos, stores, illicit methods. There’s cataloging your music, in a separate tool – generally Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor, and so on, though plenty of people also use something like iTunes for management. Then there’s playing your music. You might then DJ in that same tool (Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor, VirtualDJ). Or then to play on hardware decks, there’s you might use a librarian software (now almost certainly Rekordbox) to spit out your music onto a USB stick.
But notice the potential confusion between those steps, especially as syncing libraries is a major chore even for fairly experienced users.
Download stores – Bandcamp, Juno, and Beatport’s download side – all presume you buy music, then do the management of the files that gets it into your DJ software. And anyone sending out promos is generally assuming the same.
A subscription service like Beatport LINK looks more like the DJ equivalent of Spotify and Apple Music – pay one fee, and manage files in the cloud. It’s referring to the subscription aspect that’s more accurate than saying “streaming,” even though the two are sometimes used interchangeably in casual everyday speech. The pricing model is really everything. Any DJ subscription worth its salt still allows you to download files locally, or else you’d be worried about the Internet connection remaining reliable at a venue. And if the pandemic era has taught us anything, it’s that the planet’s Internet infrastructure is often dodgy.
But if the tension between that subscription (to a platform) and direct payments to artists/labels is apparent, that’s relevant, too.
The presumption here is that this kind of subscription is likely to appeal to beginners, so much so that it might even reach first-time casual DJs who might otherwise just give up. That means there are several use cases for talking about what Beatport DJ is:
A casual or beginning DJ wanting to explore
A more experienced DJ who already uses Beatport as a source of music
A label or independent artist who’s curious about the impact of this kind of tool on their distribution channels
Obviously, category #3 may well be skeptical about that impact – and rightfully so, but I’ll be looking at that, as well.
Beatport DJ – what’s in the Web tool
We’ve seen some increasingly powerful in-browser tools, but Beatport DJ is by far the most sophisticated tool for DJs. Beatport could have just built some simple cross-fading and called it a day, but they kept going.
Here’s what’s in there:
Browsing the full Beatport catalog
Support for your existing Beatport collection
Cover art support (which looks rather nice, as you’ll see)
Cueing (with separate headphone routing, though I didn’t get to test this yet)
Manual sync (switch off sync and use the separate pitch faders)
MIDI support for external DJ controllers (also need to test this)
There’s also an Automix option which will just start playing through music as you browse, with fairly robotic mixing (but enough to let it run in the background if you want to use this almost like radio).
If you have a Beatport LINK account at any tier, this is live for you now – it’s a private beta, but you’re in it. Everyone else, I’ll try to give you a taste.
Here’s a tour (click to embiggen any image):
The main window really could be mistaken for an entry-level DJ tool – everything is there. Discover and Genres give you the usual Beatport-curated music, if you’re into that sort of thing. Collection gives you access to music you’ve added to your LINK subscription – or here, stuff I actually bought and downloaded.
Sync works really well, and since the metadata is already embedded in the music, there’s no separate analysis to do. And you can still turn it off, even from this Web interface. Beatmatching with a mouse is a bit tough, but it does of course allow you to hear the original pitch/bpm.)
So yeah, remember when we used to talk about “Googling ourselves”? Of course, I did what you’d probably do if any of your music is on Beatport – I did a quick search for myself. If you hit Automix, whatever is displayed in the bottom pane will automatically get mixed together.
As you navigate music, you can queue up tracks to the left or right deck.
One feature that is missing, but that Beatport tells me is planned – there’s no direct “buy” link in the software. For those of us who still want downloads, or who want people to buy downloads of our music, that’s a big omission, so it’s one I’ll be looking for them to add. You can link to the existing Beatport page, though, and buy there.
Each deck supports extensive controls. The FX inserts even have tiny little KAOSS Pad-style effects modulation for two parameters each.
You’ll find tons of other options in Settings (the cog on the upper right hand corner), including performance options.
And yeah, you could actually route this to headphones.
This is a big deal in particular for Google Chromebooks, as this is the most extensive in-browser DJ option available. And as those are big in some education circumstances, that isn’t a non-issue.
It might also be a friendly option for Linux users, since it runs there, too – remember, with full audio and MIDI support.
Playlists, and what’s missing for independent humans
There is an area of Beatport DJ that seems weirdly disconnected, and that I hope gets addressed in the beta.
Hey, did you notice the last 12 months? I sure did. Apart from performances going dark and hugs becoming a thing of the past, there has been a steady drumbeat about what independent music makers need – and that is the ability to directly share their work and for their fans to directly support it.
This is not just about downloads versus streaming, or even individuals versus platforms. Tons of DJs have turned to tools like Twitch to stream directly to fans. That’s streaming, and it’s even an Amazon-owned platform.
But a year of artists turning into Bandcamp advocates, even in dance music, ought to send a message industry-wide. Artists care about ownership models and direct support. And many want to support each other, now more than ever.
The issue I have with Beatport DJ is, it has the potential to do these things but then … well, doesn’t.
The missing “buy” link is important not as just a legacy handout to some aging DJs who still believe in downloads and USB sticks. It’s also a gesture of direct support to the label and artist putting out the music. Maybe it’ll take a new form in a subscription model but – it’s not there yet.
Beatport acknowledged in a demo to me that some of their users still want to buy music, but even though they said that’s a large group – somewhere just shy of a third – they also said they want to transition those users to subscriptions. That seems to ignore DJs for whom ownership models are a core value and practical reality. But even in the context of streaming and subscription models, it means relying on largely invisible streaming royalties, which also flies in the face of direct gestures of support seen now on platforms like Twitch and Patreon.
Those are thorny topics, to be sure. But Beatport left out features in this beta that exist in their current tool. Yes, it’s a beta, but that means it’s worth observing. Let me be the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, Beatport, and strongly urge you to reconsider.
For example, they’ve nuked the feature that is the whole reason I even log into Beatport – and I’m sure I’m not alone. “My Beatport” gives you a feed of new releases based on artists and labels you follow or purchased in the past. It looks like this:
I’ll sometimes wind up buying a hundred bucks worth of music this way. I’ve written editorial features on it, assembled charts with music I spotted here. And it arguably makes even more sense in Beatport DJ, because then you’d have the ability to audition and mix those new releases.
But – it’s not there. Not yet.
One feature that does work really terrifically well is the playlist editor in Beatport DJ. Here I’ve assembled a chart:
There is a disclosure menu in the Playlists pane that lets you view the same playlist on Beatport. But for now you don’t have the ability to share easily with others.
There’s also real potential for this far-superior playlist editor to replace the somewhat clunky “charts” feature that’s now in Beatport. We need these kinds of charts badly now partly because they’re disappearing elsewhere. Resident Advisor quietly killed its own charts feature in January.
That leaves tools like buymusicclub (for Bandcamp) or even currents.fm, but a lot of dance labels rely heavily on Beatport and charts remain important. Given these kinds of tools, they might embrace Beatport DJ and even be a part of attracting first-time DJs. Without them, they would understandably better invest efforts elsewhere. (And Beatport does still have competitors.)
Look, let’s be clear about one thing – this app is fun, no question. It’s a fantastic way to navigate music. And whatever your feelings about Beatport or LINK, I have no doubt that it’d be great to get to navigate stores like this. I’d pay extra to stream like this as a preview, and pay again to buy downloads, even.
But the whole potential of the browser should be sharing. Instead, Beatport DJ is an insular experience – and the recommendations you see are all the old-fashioned kind of charts and recommended genre picks.
There are some clear places to start – more playlist sharing (which at least I am told is planned), in-browser buying (so users can themselves choose whether ownership matters or not), and user-curated follows (as with My Beatport), and crucially the ability to share outside Beatport. The company already has an innovative tool for Twitch, so they’re on their way if they so choose.
From Twitch streamers to Bandcamp Friday, human-to-human sharing and support is the common theme of all the musical practices that have gotten us through a year of terrible isolation.
Beatport has built an amazing player in a browser. Now they just need to add the Internet of humans back in – so it isn’t only an island.
We’ll be watching this evolve and where producers and labels will most benefit.
With its predecessor, Worlds, having been released seven long years prior, it’s safe to say that fans have been waiting for Porter Robinson‘s sophomore album with bated breath. That wait is nearly over though, as Robinson himself recently confirmedNurture‘s upcoming release date of April 23. The light at the end of the tunnel feels even closer today, however, with the release of the forthcoming album’s final single, “Musician.”
Robinson has always been one to pour his heart into his productions, but if the singles leading up to Nurture‘s release are any indication, his musical expression is only growing more vibrant. The new single continues this trend with a trifecta of self-performed vocals, colorful and candy-coated melodies, and production value that is truly second to none. Accompanied by a fully animated music video, “Musician” dons the immersive artistic aesthetic that has further defined Robinson’s image.
Listen to “Musician” below, and pre-save Nurturehere.
Though 3LAU‘s interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain isn’t new, his non-fungible token (NFT) sale record is. On February 28, the Ultraviolet producer set a new benchmark for NFT sales in a single auction by selling 33 unique NFTs for a grand total of $11,684,101—all made in less than 24 hours.
The auction, held on his custom-made digital token auction site developed by Origin Protocol, celebrated the three-year anniversary of Ultraviolet. The top 33 bidders won an Ultraviolet vinyl NFT redeemable for special edition vinyls, unreleased music, and “special experiences,” according to 3LAU’s digital auction platform.
Prizes differed across the auction’s three different reward tiers (platinum, gold, and silver). For example, the sole platinum tier winner (the highest bidder) won an NFT redeemable for a custom-created 3LAU song, access to unreleased music, and a bonus physical vinyl. 3LAU is notably the first artist to sell a crypto-album, though he certainly will not be the last, particularly as the NFT format continues to gain traction as a sales and artistic dissemination strategy of interest among artists.
History has been made! The auction for the world’s first tokenized album has finished.
SoundCloud has introduced “fan-powered royalties,” a new strategy that will revamp the way the streaming platform distributes money to its artists. The fan-powered royalty model of payouts is driven directly by an artist’s fan base. With this move, each listener’s subscription or advertising revenue is distributed among the artists that they listen to (rather than their streams being pooled). This move—the first of its kind in the music streaming industry—is expected to benefit rising independent artists.
SoundCloud CEO Michael Weissman spoke about the platform’s decision to restructure its payment model in an official release, stating,
“Many in the industry have wanted this for years. We are excited to be the ones to bring this to market to better support independent artists. SoundCloud is uniquely positioned to offer this transformative new model due to the powerful connection between artists and fans that takes place on our platform.” He continues, “The launch of fan-powered royalties represents a significant move in SoundCloud’s strategic direction to elevate, grow and create new opportunities directly with independent artists.”
SoundCloud has launched fan-powered royalties in the hope that this alternative to stream pooling will ‘level the playing field” between emerging and established artists. This strategy is also thought to empower listeners to support their favorite artists through streaming their music, now that there is a direct connection between streaming and an artist’s payout.
Bunny Wailer, the legendary reggae artist and co-founder of The Wailers alongside Bob Marley, has died, aged 73.
Wailer died on Tuesday in hospital in Jamaica. No official cause of death has been shared, though he had been hospitalised regularly after suffering a debilitating stroke in July 2020.
Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, has paid tribute to the legendary figure, describing his death “a great loss for Jamaica and for reggae”.
Wailer founded The Wailers in 1963 with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, performing vocals and percussion. Wailer was pivotal in guiding reggae to international acclaim, particularly on the group’s 1973 album, ‘Burnin’’.
Wailer left the group to pursue a solo career in 1974, and remained active in music for decades to come. He won the Grammy award for best reggae album three times, in 1991, 1995, and 1997, and was awarded the Order Of Jamaica in 2012.
Tributes to Bunny Wailer have come from across the global music scene. See some of those, and listen to his iconic track, ‘Dream Land’, below.
RIP Bunny Wailer truly an iconic figure and music maestro who’s solo career resulted in one of the most brilliant and inspiring albums in the entire Reggae lexicon…’Blackheart Man’. His contribution to Jamaican music across the past 60 years is immeasurable. pic.twitter.com/TELnet19mz
Rest in Power, Bunny Wailer (AKA Neville O’Riley Livingston). A true Reggae icon and Jamaican legend, a brother, a father, an uncle, a friend. Bunny played alongside Peter Tosh and Bob Marley in the most influential Reggae group of all time, The Wailers… pic.twitter.com/WMBQlnjEbC