FKA Twigs directs skateboarding film for the Tokyo Olympics

FKA Twigs has directed a skateboarding film for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which run in the Japanese capital until 8th August 2021. 

The project was inspired by the Olympic Committee’s decision to allow skateboarding into the Games for the first time this year. This then sparked a global campaign by Facebook and creative agency Droga5, ‘We Change the Game When We Find Each Other’, focused on worldwide communities united through skating. 

The social media giant approached FKA Twigs to direct one of four videos to support the initiative. ‘Longboard Family’ is two minutes long, and celebrates the art of longboard dancing with choreography by Mike Tyus and Joy Brown. Renowned skaters Lotfi Lamaali, Marina Correia, Aboubakry Seck, Ko Hyojoo, and Giu Alfeo all feature in the mesmerising action. 

“I had the honour of directing this dance video about the longboard community and how they have used a Facebook group to share moves and grow their longboard family,” said Twigs in an Instagram post. “It was so amazing being immersed into their world, and as a movement artist and obsessor myself, I felt humbled by the skill levels and beautiful athletes that I shot.”

Earlier this month, FKA Twigs unveiled the video she made to accompany the Koreless track ‘White Picket Fence‘. In 2020, she won Best [Difficult] Second Album at the Association of Independent Music Awards [AIM] for the long-awaited sophomore LP, ‘Magdalene‘, produced by Nicolas Jaar. She also directed two videos to accompany the record, for the tracks ‘Holy Terrain’ and ‘home with you’.

Notting Hill Carnival announces series of live shows to raise funds for 2022 event

Organisers of the Notting Hill carnival have launched a fund to ensure that the annual August event can go ahead next year, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the west London street celebration to be cancelled for the second consecutive year.

The team behind the event said the Carnival Trust Fund would be used to “help support the carnival community”, including bands and artists that might, without assistance, have had to stop performing.

“Notting Hill carnival belongs on the streets, but the COVID pandemic presented too much uncertainty to plan for a safe event over the August bank holiday weekend,” said Matthew Phillip, CEO of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd. “It also put bands in a difficult financial situation that had the potential to close them down, despite decades of history.”

The funding campaign will take in a book, ‘Carnival: A Photographic and Testimonial History of the Notting Hill Carnival’, which will be sold to raise money, while proceeds from a series of live events will also go towards the cause.

The events will take place under the Carnival Culture in the Park umbrella, and will feature traditional and contemporary Caribbean music as well as opera. It will run across three days as part of the Opera Holland Park festival, in central London, from the 19th to 21st August.

This summer’s edition of the Notting Hill Carnival will take place online, as was the case in 2020. Full details on what it will involve will be announced in the coming weeks. It’s hoped a full in-person event will be able to return in 2022.

Majority of Spotify’s highest streamed artists make less than $50,000 a year from platform

A new study has found that the highest-streamed artists on Spotify struggle to make a significant income from the streaming platform.

A report for Rolling Stone, carried out by Tim Bingham, who is founder of Music Business Worldwide, focused on the highest-earning ‘Gold Club’ of Spotify. It found that among the top performing 0.8% of artists – which amounts to around 57,000 musicians – 76.49% made under $50k (or £36k) in 2020.

Of these top artists, only 13,400 (0.2%) earned over $50k last year, and around 870 of the highest-streamed artists made over $1 million. Adele, Drake and Ed Sheeran are among those 870 artists.

“Delving into these granular stats guarantees us that these 13,400 artists – the $50,000-a-year-plus minority within our 57,000-strong “Gold Club” – cumulatively generated a minimum of $2.22 billion on Spotify last year,” Ingham concluded.

He continued: “This all reveals a painful truth: Even among the elite 0.8% “Gold Club” of artists on Spotify, there is a vast disparity between successful and unsuccessful, with the majority of artists firmly in the latter category.”

A recent UK Government report concluded that music streaming needed a “total reset” in order to make the system fairer for more artists and creators.

Orchestral Tools Intros Tableau Chamber Strings Virtual String Section

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Orchestral Tools has introduced Tableau Chamber Strings, a new virtual instrument designed to let you create the sound of a comprehensive chamber-sized string section.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

“Tableau Chamber Strings delivers rich string sounds with 20 instruments: 5 first violins, 4 second violins, 4 violas, 4 celli, and 3 basses. All instruments were recorded in situ, with musicians in traditional seating positions, to give users the balanced, natural sound of a full chamber ensemble.

The new library was recorded with talented players on the large Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin—the same location used for Tableau Solo Strings as well as Orchestral Tools’ own Berlin Series libraries. All sections were recorded with multiple mic positions, so that users can dial in a finely-tuned mix, or set up the mic channels for surround sound.

Instruments were captured using a single dynamic layer approach, which allowed players maximum freedom of expression during the sampling session. The players also recorded multiple dynamic articulations—swells, crescendos, and decrescendos—plus sustains and spiccato notes, giving users key ingredients for creating dramatic, emotional passages. In addition, long, melodic legato phrases were recorded within musical contexts to provide the most natural, realistic sound.”

Tableau Chamber Strings Walkthrough Video:

Here’s a walkthrough from composer Maxime Luft:

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Pricing and Availability:

Tableau Chamber Strings is available now, priced at €179.

SampleScience Intros Free French Violin Virtual Instrument

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SampleScience has introduced French Violin, a free violin VST/AU for Mac & Windows.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

“French Violin is a beautiful multi-sampled violin with a lot of character and charm. Played to sound authentic, French Violin has a very warm and natural sound. It’s the perfect violin plugin to add a touch of strings to your music production without using GB of hard drive space.

French Violin comes with 6 articulations: arco vibrato, arco non-vibrato, pizzicato vibrato, pizzicato non-vibrato, spiccato, and tremolo.”

Features:

  • 6 articulations
  • One sample per note
  • Multi-LFO
  • Room reverb
  • Low CPU usage
  • Highpass/Lowpass filter
  • Amplitude range controls
  • 3 voice modes: polyphonic, monophonic, and legato

It’s available now as a free download (email address required).

The Beirut Synthesizer Center Offers A New Space For Learning & Collaboration

The Beirut Synthesizer Center is a newly-formed, informal co-op for electronic music enthusiasts.

The Center, which opened its doors on June 25th, 2021, was co-founded by artists Bana Haffar, Elyse Tabet, Hany Manja, and Ziad Moukarzel. It was created in the context of ongoing turmoil in Lebanon, which has left a vacuum of support for the arts.

The founders took inspiration from places like The San Fransisco Tape Music Center, the Synth Libraries in Prague and Portland, Signal Culture and Asheville’s Black Mountain College.  The Center’s goals are to provide a physical space for self-directed study, with access to various synthesizers and resources; and to create a base for learning and collaboration.

The Center has initial plans to be open throughout the summer of 2021, featuring open house hours, workshops, artist lectures, discussion nights, movie screenings and a small reference library. Future plans are still to be determined.

Upcoming events include a hands-on workshop on the basic electronic components of an oscillator on Wed Jul 28th; Enter the Synth – an introduction to synthesis on Thurs July 29th; and Max/MSP~izza, featuring patch presentations and pizza on Friday, July 30th. See the Center’s Facebook page for more upcoming events.

박혜진 Park Hye Jin shares new album track, ‘Whatchu Doin Later’: Listen

It’s the second track to be unveiled from forthcoming LP ‘Before I Die’

Christian Eede

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 – 19:01

박혜진 Park Hye Jin has released a new single, ‘Whatchu Doin Later’.

The track, which is out today (27th July), is the second to be unveiled from the artist’s forthcoming debut album, ‘Before I Die’, after the release of lead cut ‘Let’s Sing Let’s Dance’. The new song sees her switch between sung and rapped vocals in her native Korean.

‘Before I Die’, which Ninja Tune will release on 10th September, is entirely written, produced and performed by Hye Jin and comes off the back of a series of collaborative tracks with the likes of Galcher Lustwerk, Clams Casino and Blood Orange.

You can listen to ‘Whatchu Doin Later’ below.

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Vinyl sales increase by 108% in first half of 2021

19.2 million vinyl albums were sold in the US in the first six months of 2021, a 108% increase on the same period of last year.

The figure is significantly higher than the 9.2 million vinyl LPs that were sold in the first six months of 2020, and part of an ongoing trend that has seen vinyl make a huge resurgence in recent years.

Vinyl album sales also just outedged the sale of CD albums, which sat at 18.9 million for the first six months of 2021, according to MRC Data, an analytics firm that specialises in collecting data from the entertainment and music industries. It follows on from vinyl surpassing the annual revenue of CDs in the US last year for the first time in 34 years, which was the first time that had happened in 34 years.

The increase in music consumption isn’t just limited to physical sales, with audio streaming up by 15% in the first half of this year.

The top-selling vinyl albums at the midpoint of the year are Taylor Swift’s ‘Evermore’, Harry Styles’ ‘Fine Line’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Good Kid M.A.A.D. City’ and Billie Eilish’s ‘When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’

One significant problem with the resurgence in demand for vinyl, however, is the strain it is putting on vinyl pressing plants, with many struggling to keep up with demand, pushing release dates back or forcing record labels to release music to streaming and digital services long before the vinyl release follows.

Earlier this month, a pop-up record store giving away free vinyl opened in London.

It was also recently reported that independent label releases make up 25% of UK music consumption.

Cherry Audio Voltage Modular Overview & Demo

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The latest Sonic Lab video takes a look at Cherry Audio Voltage Modular – a software modular synthesizer that is inspired by Eurorack modular synths, but without the physical limitations and financial barriers.

The platform now offers more than 1,000 modules. The base system comes with 22 modules. Options with a wider selection of modules are also available, and it features a built-in module store.

For more info, see the Cherry Audio site.

If you’ve used Voltage Modular, share your thoughts on it in the comments – and how you think it compares to Reaktor, VCV Rack and other modular options.

Vinyl Sales Double In One Year, Driving Growth In Physical Album Sales

Vinyl sales have doubled since last year, according to MRC Data’s 2021 U.S. Midyear Report.

Overall consumption grew 13.5% year-over-year (YOY) during the first six months of 2021, thanks to a 15% increase in on-demand audio streaming.

And, for the first time at the midyear point in MRC Data’s history (since 1991), vinyl album sales actually outpaced CD album sales — with vinyl album volume at 19.2 million versus CD album volume at 18.9 million.

Vinyl’s 108.2% YOY increase also allowed total industry physical albums to experience its first year of growth in years.

The numbers reflect long-term trends in the growth of streaming, the decline of interest in CDs and renewed interest in vinyl as a format. But the spike in vinyl sales is also leading to material shortages, manufacturing backlogs and delayed releases.

Some recent vinyl releases have lagged their CD and digital releases by 6 months or more, while CDs can have turnaround of about 2 weeks. At this point, vinyl sales are being limited by the fact that there is not enough manufacturing capacity to meet demand. This means that independent artists may struggle to get their music released on vinyl, too, as more capacity gets tied up with major-label releases.