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Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello have all appealed to their millions of followers to take coronavirus more seriously, as other artists are criticised for continuing tours

Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande are among the pop stars using their considerable clout with fans to appeal for behavioural change during the coronavirus outbreak.

Eilish delivered a five-minute Instagram story to her 57 million followers, saying: Ive seen a lot of young people out in the world, all over the place, going to the club or going to the beach or just going out and hanging out, and its really irresponsible. She highlighted that young fans could pass it to more vulnerable relatives, and added: Please take responsibility for your endurance of this.

Swift spoke to her 128.2m Instagram followers to say: I love you guys so much and need to express my concern that things arent being taken seriously enough right now Im seeing lots of get-togethers and hangs and parties still happening. This is the time to cancel plans. Dont assume that because you dont feel sick that you arent possibly passing something on to someone elderly or vulnerable to this.

On Sunday, Grande wrote to her 72m Twitter followers: I keep hearing from a surprising amount of people statements like This isnt a big deal it is incredibly selfish and dangerous to take this situation that lightly. The We will be fine because were young mindset is putting people who arent young and/or healthy in a lot of danger. You sound stupid and privileged and you need to care more about others. Like now.

Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande)

please pic.twitter.com/N9WkKyVNn1

March 15, 2020

US singer Camila Cabello said: Especially as young people, even if we are healthy, its important to practice compassion and help others that could be suffering. We are in this together, lets not be indifferent to others risk. She advised her 48m Instagram followers to practise meditation to help quell any anxiety.

Their appeals come as other music stars have been criticised for going ahead with concerts during the crisis. Welsh indie band Stereophonics played a series of arena concerts over the weekend, attracting tens of thousands of fans, and defended the decision by saying: The UK governments position was that at this phase there was no need for a ban on large public gatherings. Acting on this guidance, we continued with the last three shows of our UK tour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as did many other events across the entertainment industry.

Lewis
Music stars including Lewis Capaldi, pictured performing in London last week, have been criticised for going ahead with concerts. Photograph: Burak ng/Redferns

Scottish pop singer Lewis Capaldi used the same reasoning for playing an arena concert after Scotland announced the cancellation of large-scale events but before the ban came into force.

A spokesperson said of the Scottish governments advisory document: The advice applies from Monday March 16, and is not expected to have a significant impact on the spread of Covid-19, and this is not its purpose, but that it aims to relieve pressure on public services, including emergency services. Security, first aid, medical and welfare teams were paid for by the organisers as normal and the venue had additional signage in place to highlight best practice on hygiene during the event.

Tens of major tours have been cancelled, including those by Elton John, Foo Fighters and Celine Dion.

Stars are now looking to livestreaming as an alternative. Coldplay frontman Chris Martin took to Instagram Live yesterday to perform his bands songs as well as a cover of David Bowies Life on Mars. Maybe 9/11 was the last time I felt like we were all together, he said.

The performance was part of a new initiative from the World Health Organization and Global Citizen called Together, at Home. John Legend is the next performer lined up for the series.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/mar/17/pop-stars-criticise-fans-over-coronavirus-inaction-billie-eilish-taylor-swift-ariana-grande-camila-cabello

TikTok, the hugely popular social media app, found a lot of early traction by giving users a way to create funny lip-synced versions of clips from well-known songs and then share them with friends (its predecessor in the West was even called Musically). Now at long last, TikTok’s owner, China’s ByteDance, is doubling down on the music connection with the release of its first standalone full music streaming app, starting first in India.

Today, the company is launching Resso, which describes itself as a “social music streaming app”: users are encouraged to share lyrics, comments and other user-generated content with each other, alongside full-length tracks of music that they can consume and also share with others. And the music begins to auto-play as soon as you open the app.

Resso is not disclosing how many tracks are on the service at launch, but it notes that it has secured licensing deals with Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Merlin and Beggars Group, as well as big publishers specifically in the Indian market, including T-Series, Saregama, Zee Music, YRF Music, Times Music, Tips, Venus and Shemaroo, as well as Speed Records, Anand Audio, Lahiri Music, Divo and Muzik 247.

You might have clocked one notable holdout in that list: Universal Music, one of the “big three” global music publishers. Resso would not comment on why it has yet to ink a deal with Universal, but it’s notable that one of biggest investors in the music company is Tencent — an arch competitor to ByteDance in China that took a 10% stake in Universal at the end of last year that is valued at around $3.4 billion.

Unlike its sister app TikTok, which is free to use and is built on an ad-based model, Resso is following the freemium route that a number of other big music apps, such as Spotify, have taken. A free tier includes ads and limits streaming quality to 128 kbps; a premium, ad-free tier boosts streaming to 256 kbps, includes downloads and the ability to skip tracks and costs INR 99/month ($1.35/month) on Android and INR 119/month ($1.62) on iOS. Resso is not commenting on why the iOS price is higher.

The launch comes about two months after Resso opened up for testing in two markets, India and Indonesia (it remains in test mode in the latter). The choice to focus first on India was to tap into the country’s massive, youthful population of mobile users.

“India has the largest population of GenZ as compared to any other country globally,” Hari Nair, Head of Music Content & Partnership, Resso India, told TechCrunch. “With the core of Resso’s target audience being GenZ, it is only logical for Resso to make its debut in India. We will discuss additional markets when appropriate.”

TikTok-firm

Resso’s Nair at a briefing with media in New Delhi

India is music to ByteDance’s ears

TikTok is already huge in India — around 200 million users as of last October and expects to add another 100 million this year. But even without a clear TikTok connection — the app is published by “Moon Video” on Google Play, for example, and there are no obvious pushes to prioritise TikTok shares on the app — the test version has already seen some traction.

Resso has been installed by approximately 1 million App Store and Google Play users to date in India and Indonesia, research firm SensorTower told TechCrunch, with 600,000 of these installs in India, and 400,000 in Indonesia.

“All our marketing efforts are focused towards building a strong community of passionate music fans,” Nair said. “The idea is to have a digital first approach where in we identify the right set of audience groups and reach out to them.”

The market for music streaming is very competitive in India — where Resso will compete against not just Spotify, but Gaana, JioSaavn, Apple Music and YouTube Music, among others. Even so, partly because of the success of TikTok, Resso was highly anticipated. It comes after months of rumors stretching back almost a year, as well as a number of music licensing deals to expand the catalog — critical not just for Resso itself but for sister app TikTok, whose existing deals last year approached expiration.

While a lot of the currently streaming services in India offer near identical catalogs, Resso is banking on its ability to convince users to “express and engage.”

The app, by default, rolls somewhat relevant videos in the background whenever a song is playing. Users can comment and also read lyrics of songs. Resso’s user interface is designed to persuade users to share lyrics directly on other platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and of course, TikTok.

And alongside more social features wrapped around the music listening experience, Resso’s other differentiating feature is to push genre-based discovery more prominently, organising its music library by names that it says “address the tastes of today’s generation of music enthusiasts,” such as alternative, experimental, fusion, post rock and indie rock as well as more specific categories like popgaze, bow pop (I had to look this one up), indie psych pop and ambient.

As with services like Spotify aiming to build features also for artists in a two-sided marketplace, Resso is also dabbling in this area, noting that it “empowers artists to reinvent their catalog by providing a fresh way for fans to engage with their music and introduces them to new listeners.”

On the flip side, ByteDance may soon find out just how difficult it is to get Indians to pay for content. Resso’s pricing in India is in line with those of Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Times Internet-owned Gaana, and Reliance Jio’s JioSaavn.

Jayanth Kolla, chief analyst at research firm Convergence Catalyst, said there still is a big room for growth for music streaming services in India. “More than half of internet users in the country are yet to join this bandwagon,” he said.

But none of these services have made significant inroads in their search for paying subscribers. Bloomberg reported in December that YouTube Music / Premium, had amassed over 800,000 subscribers in India, more than any other music streaming service.

And on top of this, according to one estimate, there is not a ton of money to be made in India currently. According to research firm Statista, music streaming services in India will clock about $244 million in revenue this year, compared to the much mature U.S. market, where they are estimated to generate $4.5 billion this year

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/04/resso-music-india-bytedance/

TikTok, the fast-growing user-generated video app from China’s ByteDance, has been building a new music streaming service to compete against the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. And today it’s announcing a deal that helps pave the way for a global launch of it. It has inked a licensing deal with Merlin, the global agency that represents tens of thousands of independent music labels and hundreds of thousands of artists, for music from those labels to be used legally on the TikTok platform anywhere that the app is available.

The news is significant because this is the first major music licensing deal announced by TikTok as part of its wider efforts in the music industry. Notably, it’s not the first: I’ve confirmed TikTok has actually secured other major labels but has been restricted from going public on the details.

The Merlin deal is therefore a template of what TikTok is likely signing with others: it includes both its mainstay short-form videos — where music plays a key role (the app, before it was acquired by ByteDance, was even called “Musically”) — as well as new music streaming services.

Specifically, a source close to TikTok has confirmed to TechCrunch that the licensing deal covers its upcoming music subscription service Resso.

Resso was long-rumoured and eventually spotted in the wild at the end of last year when ByteDance tested the app in India and Indonesia. ByteDance owns the Resso trademark, so it’s a good bet that it will make its way to other markets soon. (Possibly with features that differentiate this later entrant from others in the market? Recall ByteDance acquired an AI-based music startup called Jukedeck last year.)

“Independent artists and labels are such a crucial part of music creation and consumption on TikTok,” said Ole Obermann, global head of music for TikTok, in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Merlin to bring their family of labels to the TikTok community. The breadth and diversity of the catalogue presents our users with an even larger canvas from which to create, while giving independent artists the opportunity to connect with TikTok’s diverse community.”

Music is a fundamental part of the TikTok experience, and this deal covers everything that’s there today — videos created by TikTok users, sponsored videos created for marketing — as well as whatever is coming up around the corner.

A music streaming app, which TikTok has reportedly been gearing up to launch for some time, is one way that the company could help generate revenue. Despite being one of the most popular apps of 2019, monetisation has largely eluded the company up to now.

One reason why monetising may happen is because of the lack of deals at the other end of the chain. As of December, TikTok reportedly had yet to sign any deals with the “majors” — Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music. From what we understand, Merlin is the first big deal of its kind announced by the company, but others are already in place.

In any case, the company is ramping up its bigger music operation.

Obermann, who was hired away from Warner Music last year, in turn hired another former Warner colleague, Tracy Gardner, who now leads label licensing for the company. And just yesterday, the company opened an office in Los Angeles, the heart of the music industry.

The move to bring more licensed music usage to TikTok (and other ByteDance apps) is significant for other reasons, too.

On one hand, it’s about labels trying to evolve with the times, collecting revenues wherever audiences happen to be, whether that is in short-form user-generated video, in advertising that runs alongside that or in a new music service capitalising on the new vogue for streamed media.

“This partnership with TikTok is very significant for us,” said Jeremy Sirota, CEO, Merlin, in a statement. “We are seeing a new generation of music services and a new era of music-related consumption, much of it driven by the global demand for independent music. Merlin members are increasingly using TikTok for their marketing campaigns, and today’s partnership ensures that they and their artists can also build new and incremental revenue streams.”

Times are changing in the music industry. Sirota himself only joined Merlin earlier this month, after working on music efforts at Facebook for the last couple of years (and before that at Warner Music, like TikTok’s two key executives).

On the other hand, the deal is significant also because it underscores how TikTok is increasingly working to legitimise itself in the wider tech and media marketplace.

While ByteDance’s acquisition of TikTok continues to face regulatory scrutiny, the company has been working on ways to assert its independence from China’s control, which has included many clarifications about where its content is hosted (not China! it says) and even a search for a new U.S.-based CEO. On another front, more licensing deals should also help the company with the many legal and PR issues that have been hanging over it concerning how it pays out when music is used in its popular app.

Updated with clarification that Obermann works for TikTok, not ByteDance, and the news that there are other music deals in place that have yet to be announced.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/23/tiktok-inks-licensing-deal-with-merlin-to-use-music-from-independent-labels-in-videos-and-new-resso-streaming-service/

Spotify has worked with Amazon Echo since 2016, but only for premium subscribers. Today, that changes as Spotify says its free tier will now stream across Alexa-powered devices, as well as other smart speakers from Sonos and Bose. The Alexa support will be available for users in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Support for Sonos and Bose is more broadly available to users around the world.

In the case of Alexa devices, like Amazon Echo speakers or the Fire TV, users will be able to ask Alexa to play Spotify’s playlist, like “Today’s Top Hits,” or their personalized playlist, “Discover Weekly,” among others. The service can also be set as the default, so you can use commands like “Play my Discover Weekly,” “Like this song,” or “Pause,” and more, without having to say “on Spotify.”

Meanwhile, on Sonos and Bose speakers, users can set up Spotify Connect from the Spotify app. This works with Bose smart speakers and soundbars, as well as all Sonos smart speakers, including the new indoor/outdoor speaker Sonos Move and the Symfonisk IKEA WiFi Speaker, integrated with the Sonos Home Sound System.

To use Spotify Connect, you’ll tap the “Devices” icon on the screen to select which speaker you want to use. This will also require the Bose and Sonos devices are updated to the latest firmware, the company says.

The expanded support for smart speakers comes only a day after Amazon directly challenged Spotify with a major move of its own. On Tuesday, Amazon announced its own music service would become free across devices, including the web, Fire TV, iOS, and Android. Before, the free, ad-supported music service was only available on Echo devices. While the services is a rival of sorts to other free services, like Spotify and Pandora, it has a more limited catalog of just 2 million tracks. That makes it better for those who only casually listen to music stations and curated playlists.

Spotify’s stock dropped almost 5% on Tuesday after Amazon’s announcement, however.

By now making Spotify’s free tier more accessible, it’s likely that many people will choose Spotify’s free streaming over Amazon’s free streaming, given the larger catalog of over 50 million songs. In addition, Spotify is best known for its personalization capabilities that help introduce users to new music based on their likes and listening history, which continues to be a major draw.

However, Amazon is only one of many challengers Spotify faces these days, with Apple Music, YouTube Music and regional players in big markets like India and China, also vying for users.

In addition, TikTok owner ByteDance is said to be preparing to move into music streaming, aiming for markets like India, Indonesia, and Brazil. That’s a huge threat not only because of the markets it’s targeting but because you can now draw a direct line between TikTlk top tracks and No. 1 tracks and hits on Spotify, which gives it a competitive advantage.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/11/20/spotifys-free-music-service-will-now-stream-on-alexa-devices-plus-bose-and-sonos-smart-speakers/

“It was SoundCloud’s opportunity to lose and now it’s ours,” says Audius CEO Roneil Rumburg. Plenty of musicians and fans are sick of SoundCloud’s expensive hosting costs, haphazard content takedowns and lagging user experience as the site’s status withers. Audius wants to be the opposite, and offer a new home for artists where they’ll eventually earn 90% of revenue earned and the startup itself can’t remove songs.

Today Audius launches its music streaming and free hosting service backed by DJs like deadmau5 and Zed’s Dead, plus $5.5 million in A-list venture capital. Music makers can upload their songs at no cost, and users can browse, follow and get listening recommendations. The catalog is small to start, with just a few hundred artists, but Audius has big plans for how to lure artists choosing between other SoundCloud alternatives, from Mixcloud to YouTube.

Audius

The secret sauce is that Audius isn’t just a web and mobile site, it’s an open-source protocol built on the blockchain, not that users need to be versed in cryptocurrency or do anything special to sign up. Audius doesn’t actually host the music, but decentralizes it across independently operated nodes, which it believes will protect it from lawsuits and record label pressure. It’s distributing its own crypto tokens to incentivize artists that join early, as well as the node operators, with the insinuation that these might rise in value if the service grows popular.

Audius is completely free for listening at high-quality 320kbps. For now, artists can’t make money, though many still can’t on SoundCloud. But in early 2020, the startup plans to let artists opt into requiring users to occasionally listen to ads or pay a few dollars per month for an Audius subscription. Ninety percent of revenue will go to the artists and 10% to the node operators, and there are also plans to cut in playlist curators. Audius itself hopes the value of its tokens will rise so it can sell from its stockpile to generate revenue.

Audius

“Audius’ dedication to empowering artists through supporting direct relationships with fans, censorship resistance, and fair pay is so important in a time when artists are being mistreated regularly,” writes dance music superstar deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, who’s on the startup’s advisory board. Other artists like Zeds Dead, Mr. Carmack and Rezz have pledged to put some exclusive music on Audius, ranging from finished tracks to rough drafts. They were attracted by the promise of bigger and faster payouts, plus a transparent copyright takedowns process.

The biggest challenge for Audius will be playing catch-up recruiting artists and listeners over a decade after SoundCloud launched and when Spotify already has 108 million paying subscribers from its 232 million users. For now there’s not much special about the user experience, where you can listen to a feed of what you follow or library of saved songs, or check out trending artists and playlists. At least sign up is easier than most blockchain apps, requiring merely an email address or Twitter sign-in, though crypto kids can use MetaMask. The lack of native mobile apps won’t help, though.

Audius

All the artists-first philosophy won’t matter if it never gains traction. But if Audius does grow, it has a savvy approach to preventing unnecessary content takedowns. Rumburg claims an estimated 80% of takedowns on apps like SoundCloud and YouTube are not actually infringing copyright, leading to great content disappearing. “Audius doesn’t have the ability to deplatform you or censor you,” says Audius co-founder Forrest Browning.

Audius

Audius co-founders (from left): Forrest Browning, Roneil Rumburg

First, because it doesn’t host the songs itself, it will just pass copyright-holder complaints on to the uploaders themselves. Owners can be reassigned the revenue being earned by a song rather than have it taken down. And instead of pulling down a whole DJ set, the rights-holder of a five-minute song in an hour-long mix would get 1/12 of the proceeds. Browning tells me, “A lot of artists are completely fine with their content being remixed or mashed up.”

If disputes aren’t resolved, rights-holders can approach the operators of nodes hosting the music and file a local equivalent of a DMCA takedown request, though the music might still live on other nodes beyond the law. In that case, rights-holders file a complaint to the Audius arbitration committee made up of users. That group can vote on whether a track legally should be removed or its revenue reattributed, and both plaintiffs and committee members must put up a small financial stake they’ll lose if their claim is frivolous or they make erroneous decisions.

We’ll see if this hands-off approach to censorship actually flies with the law. If so, it could give artists confidence in joining Audius that they lack elsewhere. Many are frustrated after constantly having to rebuild their audience on different platforms, from Myspace to iTunes to Spotify to SoundCloud, especially if their tracks are disappearing. One benefit of being open-sourced and decentralized… “Let’s say our company closes up shop in 5 years? Audius and the content will live on forever, as long as folks continue to operate the nodes,” Rumburg explains.

To make sure it stays in business as it stretches its venture funding from General Catalyst and Lightspeed, Audius has plans for additional tools that could make it and artists money. From being able to crowdfund future albums to selling merchandise or VIP experiences, Audius could become a gateway to spending on independent music. It could have to compete with itself, though, since Audius’ on-demand streaming site is just one client built on its open-source protocol. The founders say they hope other people will build Pandora-style radio clients, music discovery apps and more listening options through its APIs.

Audius

Rumburg and Browning met the summer after high school at a camp of Stanford admits. Throughout college, the recent graduates got deeper into dance music subgenres by devouring everything on SoundCloud. But watching their favorite artists get music kicked off that app while their DJ friends struggled to break through the algorithms, Rumburg says they wondered “how can we remove the platform from this equation?”

Music businesses aiming to free art from “the man” so often end up becoming him. But by decentralizing control and funneling money directly to creators, Audius may code its way into music culture.

Audius

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/24/audius-music/

We live in theGaming and podcasting could be next. Where are the startup opportunities in this shift, and in the next shift that will occur?

I sat down with Pär-Jörgen “PJ” Pärson, a partner at European venture firm Northzone, to discuss this at SLUSH this past winter. Pärson – a Swede who now runs Northzone’s office in NYC – led the top early-stage investor in Spotify and led the $35 million Series C in $45/month sports streaming service fuboTV (which has roughly 250,000 subscribers).

In the transcript below, we dive into the core investment thesis that has guided him for 20 years, how he went from running a fish distribution to running a VC firm, his best practices for effective board meetings and VC-entrepreneur relationships, and his assessment of the big social platforms, AR/VR, voice interfaces, blockchain, and the frontier of media. It has been edited for length and clarity.

From Fish to VC

Eric Peckham:

Northzone isn’t your first VC firm — Back in 1998, you created Cell Ventures, which was more of a holding company or studio model. What was your playbook then?

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/03/talking-the-future-of-media-with-northzones-par-jorgen-parson/

The music streaming service faces a claim on behalf of artists including Neil Young and Janis Joplin as it prepares a share sale

Music streaming service Spotify has been sued by a music publishing company for $1.6bn (1.18bn), for hosting songs it allegedly doesnt have the full rights to. The news comes at an awkward moment for the tech company, which is reportedly preparing for a stock market sale.

Wixen, a Californian company that collects royalties on behalf of artists including Tom Petty, Neil Young, Janis Joplin and the Doors, alleges that Spotify took a shortcut when it cut deals with major labels to host their back catalogues.

The suit states that under the US Copyright Act, each song has two copyright claims: one to the recording, and the other to the composition. Wixen claims that Spotify didnt obtain the composition rights in their deals, and is seeking damages of $150,000 per song, for over 10,000 songs.

The company is the most successful in the music streaming business, with over 60m paying subscribers. It is reportedly valued at $19bn, and is expected to be floated on the stock market later this year.

According to news website Axios Spotify has filed documents for an initial public offering (IPO) in December. Spotify will reportedly go public under a direct listings which allows a company to sell stock without the usual investor roadshow and saves on some banking expenses.

If the company lists on the New York Stock Exchange, as expected, it would be the first to do so with a direct listing. NYSE recently changed its rules to accommodate such sales and a successful listing would likely encourage others to follow. Spotify declined to comment on the story.

Nor has the company yet commented on the suit, but it has faced similar claims in the past. In 2015, the company launched a publishing administration system to more fully recompense royalty holders, after punk label Victory Records claimed it was missing out on composition royalties, but Spotify has nevertheless faced further lawsuits since. In 2016, it paid over $20m in outstanding royalties to a number of publishers via the National Music Publishers Association, while in May 2017, it settled a lawsuit with three small publishers, including the estate of Jaco Pastorius, for over $43m.

Spotify has two outstanding lawsuits filed against it in July 2017, from publishers including Bob Gaudio of the group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/03/spotify-sued-for-16bn-in-unpaid-royalties

YouTube, social media and even Bitcoin are allowing musicians to reject major labels and go it alone but the industry is fighting back. Can artists use technology to stay truly independent?

All the hits … Bugzy Malones video for Moving has been viewed almost 10m times on YouTube.

The guys are cool and massively helpful, he says of ADA. But theyre taking the lead from me and what it is that I want to do. They are there to back up the vision and be on the wagon that is already moving.

Yet record companies still profit from deals such as Bugzys and take a cut of artists earnings. Plus, their grip on companies offering services to independent artists is getting tighter. Sony Music now fully owns distribution firm The Orchard, while, on the label-services side, Warner Music owns ADA, Universal Music owns Caroline International and Kobalt owns AWAL (Artists Without a Label). All the record labels, major and indie, have an equity stake in Spotify.

But while the teeth marks of the old music business can be found in the emerging one, there are still ways acts can remain totally independent.

Benji Rogers set up direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic in 2009 to allow acts to pre-sell, distribute and market their music. It turns out that direct communication makes the artist the most money, he says. Rogers is also an early investor in SuperPhone a supercharged communication and engagement tool built by musician Ryan Leslie, whereby all contacts and fans are managed through one phone number. He is not in the mainstream, says Rogers. He is literally the definition of independent.

Leslie was signed to Universal, but left to pursue a career where technology would give him the independence to create a new type of fan engagement that he felt the label system was too ossified to bend towards.

Selena Gomez has 128 million Instagram followers, but she is definitely not selling 128m albums, says Leslie of the fundamental disconnect between social media profile and sales, from where the idea for SuperPhone sprang. What I realised is that social media connections are very weak.

Selena
She has 128m Instagram followers, but she is definitely not selling 128m albums … Selena Gomez. Photograph: Chris Polk/Getty Images

In 2013, he gave his phone number to his Twitter followers to sign them up to SuperPhone. Within six months, 35,000 people had texted the number and, of that, 33,000 had responded to an automated request for more information about themselves. The following year, he went on tour and announced it to his fan database. We sold 40,000 tickets with no label, no manager and no PR, he says. All straight off SuperPhone.

After raising $75,000 in seed funding, he opened it up to all artists, including rappers such as Lil Wayne and Cardi B. They are all vetted in advance, so that they dont abuse the tools to spam fans, but rather use it carefully to maintain regular contact with them. Success, in any iteration, happens at the speed of communication, he says.

All this comes as a reaction against the three-card trick Facebook has played on users: if you have a million followers, at best 2% of your audience will stumble across your posts, unless you pay Facebook to boost them, according to research by Ogilvy.

Quick Guide

Five tips for staying independent in music

Think like an entrepreneur

Young aspiring artists are also aspiring entrepreneurs, says Ryan Leslie, suggesting they find at least five key contacts for every part of their career from lawyers and producers to video directors and graphic designers. The top five in each category will hopefully be the nucleus that will catapult your career.

Be a digital polymath

Its about making sure you are across as many platforms as possible and utilising all of them, suggests Luke Hood. No one wants to rely on one revenue stream.

Avoid sales tactics

Dont try and sell anything to people, even music, proposes Sephi Shapira. Just monetise the engagement with the consumer.

Own everything

Its one thing to license copyrights for a while, but its entirely another thing to give them up in perpetuity, says Tim Clark. It is the same thing with data.

Be outgoing even if you dont feel like it

You have to be tenacious, says Brian Message. If you are a bit of a shoegazer in your bedroom, it will be a lot tougher than being a gregarious personality who is driven.

Every artist you know is in some way, shape or form paying Facebook and Instagram to reach their fans, argues Rogers. What you get here is a sickness cycle. Would I build my business on Facebook? Hell, no! Because, in their business, I am the product. What is it giving me back?

In a similar vein, social app EscapeX was set up to decentralise social media and give artists new levels of autonomy by putting them, rather than the major social networks, in charge of their communities. The engagement economy is different, argues Sephi Shapira, the companys CEO. Its not really the amount of fans that you have; its how engaged you are and the spending power of your fans.

Thirteen-year-old Danielle Cohn a megastar on lip-sync video app Musical.ly, where she has more than 8 million followers recently signed up with EscapeX to take more control of her fanbase. In the app, she has a monthly subscription option, but Shapira says this only accounts for 10% of the money she makes there. The other 90% comes from fans paying to rocket themselves up the leaderboard to be in her top-three fans, where, according to the apps description, they will be guaranteed to be seen by Dani Cohn effectively buying their way into her line of vision.

The Faustian pact of these apps and social media platforms is that musicians get data about their fans in return, but become dependent on the service in question still being in business and relevant six months from now. As MySpace crumbled, artists made SoundCloud the main place to upload their music. But SoundCloud is teetering on the brink of insolvency, recently laying off 40% of its staff and raising emergency funding of $170m to stay afloat. If it goes down the tubes, the underground will lose one of its biggest tools.

German
If it goes down the tubes, the underground will lose one of its biggest tools … German songwriter Bibi Bourelly at a SoundCloud event. Photograph: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Musician and tech activist Mat Dryhurst believes, however, that a new wave of funding and technological disruption is brewing that will finally put artists in the driving seat moving them beyond apps and social media altogether and propping up their underground communities in perpetuity.

He laments a world in which platforms rise and fall based, not on a lack of demand, but on a lack of ability to return profits to a small group of venture capitalists. He argues that the cryptocurrency community the people behind online cash such as Bitcoin could create alternative to the ad-funded models beloved of Silicon Valley.

He suggests an ICO initial coin offering to fund a music hosting and sharing platform a kind of cryptocurrency IPO. It would allow for open-source utopian developers to raise significant amounts of money with an engaged user base and build something potentially revolutionary, he says.

Its best thought of as crowdowning we could distribute governance of these platforms to the people who care the most about them. In return for your contribution, you receive something of value that can be used within the ecosystem and also potentially a portion of ownership that gives you decision-making rights.

Royalties are possible under a cooperative model, like Resonate.iss proposed model for more equitable streaming payments. You could also make membership and uploading entirely free in return for contributing value in other ways to the platform. One artist making the first steps into this space is Bjork, whose new album, Utopia, can be purchased using various cryptocurrencies.

SuperPhone, EscapeX and ICO-powered platforms are early indicators of a self-sustaining 21st-century counterculture. In that world, artists own and control everything data, copyrights, fan relationships. For now, however, they are trapped, toggling between Tin Pan Alley and Silicon Valley.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/nov/22/we-could-build-something-revolutionary-how-tech-set-underground-music-free

‘The US hasn’t been this divided since the 60s’: Slipknot’s Corey Taylor on how to save America

For his new book, America 51, the Slipknot frontman has been examining the sicknesses at the heart of US culture and from Donald Trump to modern dating, heres his exclusive guide to navigating them

Dont fear Donald Trump

He is so ineffectual. Everyone was worried about the crazy things hed do, but theres nothing that hes done that cant be changed in another administration, like the Paris agreement. Theres no need to panic. Too many I dont want to say liberal lambasts are hitting the panic button too quickly, instead of bringing up issues and talking about them. For me its really a case of: whats going on with the senators, whats going on on a local level?

Sure, Trump is the firebrand, and everyone wants to talk about the return of Nuremburg after that Boy Scout rally, but whatever. People forget: he hasnt done shit. He really hasnt. Even with his party in control of both houses, nothing has happened. He hasnt fulfilled one promise.

So what am I scared of? I think people need to calm down, and keep fighting the illogical with logic. He won by the smallest of margins. And honestly, he only got in on a technicality. Its shit like that you have to keep reminding yourself of, because they will try and paint a completely different picture. Rhetoric is swirling around. If only there was an interconnected device to look back in time to see what the truth and the reality was! I say that with all the sarcasm in the world.

He
He hasnt fulfilled one promise… Donald Trump. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Toxic masculinity has been in America forever

Its only because of this presidency that we are getting a really good taste of it. In a misogynistic culture, theres this misconception that doing good things for people, and trying to take care of them, is a pussy move. The result is a bunch of people pumping their chests up, and talking shit on women, talking shit on gay people, talking shit about everyone. They feel threatened; their way of life feels threatened.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that the liberal and LGBT community is coming at them fast and loose with concepts they are not used to; theyre not part of their culture, and yet they are being forced to accept them. Theres liberal fascism in response to the conservative fascism, and its keeping good people in the middle scratching their heads and thinking: I dont know what to believe. And part of that reaction is this pumped-up masculine middle finger going: You dont tell me how to live my life. Its their mind balking at the fact that they may have to accept something when they havent had the chance to understand what it is.

For so many years they have been in control of what is culturally accepted, and the whole LGBT community is trying to override that, because theyre tired of being marginalised, theyre tired of being treated like a perversion. Its very much a war. I lived through the Reagan years and I grew up during the gas shortage, I grew up seeing some serious shit go down. But I dont think the country has been this divided since the 1960s.

Im
Im about as qualified for senate as he is, ie not at all … Kid Rock. Photograph: Getty

Celebrities: stop running for senate

Kid Rock is for running for senate, and Im about as qualified as he is, ie not at all. Its the same as the Rock I love the idea of him saying he wants to run for president but theyre just another pair of voices saying that they can get it done, and look where thats got us.

There are still so many cabinet positions that have not been filled in this administration, because Trump is completely overwhelmed. And thats a guy who reportedly knows how to run a business. So what the hell is Kid Rock going to do? Its the biggest form of ego I have ever heard in my life. Please go ahead. Drive a car with a blindfold on and see how far it gets you.

Modern dating is gross

It brings out this crazy psychosis in all of us. At least on a blind date you have to kind of be yourself theyre going to see the sweat, and see youre struggling. But dating sites and apps put you at ease, and so all the little gnarly quirks and perversions come out. Hey, if it brings freaks together, who am I to judge? I think everyone has someone out there, and I would like to see people get together. But are you really trying to meet the love of your life on Grindr?

Romance isnt dead, though. As long as there are hopeless romantics like myself, I dont think it will die. We will just see an evolution of what romance means. There are still people who love selfless acts. And if its something as weird as a very heartfelt post on Twitter, to some people thats huge. To some people thats the ultimate act of romance.

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Im the worst hypocrite… Corey Taylor in his civvies.

Were addicted to our phones

Im the worst hypocrite because I bitch about it, but Im just as bad as everyone else. I wander around with this tiny little tablet in my hand, and I look up and see that someone has asked me a question. Its so embarrassing. These devices are bringing out all the dopamine that I had wasted for years on smoking and drinking and drugs, and Im waiting for what the hangover is going to feel like. I dont know what the repercussions are going to be, but maybe were starting to see the end of face-to-face relationships, and more and more people being comfortable with long distance relationships. Why do I need to touch anyone? All I need is my phone and this contact and thats all I need.

Dont worry about the environment

My contribution to being eco-friendly is quitting smoking. I recycle. I do this and that. But all you can really worry about is your own side of things. If you start to think about it on a huge scale then you get overwhelmed. At the same time, Id like to think were trying to do the right thing and we are trying to get this planet on the right track; not because of the planet, but because of us. George Carlin nailed this 25 years ago. He said: the planet is fine, the people are fucked!

The planet is going to be here long after we are gone. Dont try and bullshit me that we are saving the planet we are saving ourselves. We put so much emphasis on the planet and not on the people, because we feel its more selfless, but if people were more honest maybe we would get more done with climate change. Im not trying to save shit. I dont give a fuck about the planet I just want to keep my kids alive.

The music industry is like the wild west

The industry is trying to make peace with streaming, theyre finding out how to monetise it, but theyre still screwing over the artists. Its sad because Im seeing a lot of bands get out because they cant make a living. How are you supposed to make a living when its completely taken out of your hands?

Im in a unique situation because Im in the old system, but Im actually able to make a pretty decent living with the new system. I find it hard to bite the hand that feeds me. But at the same time I see all these other bands who cant get a break. I dont know what the answer is to be honest. Im stoked for people like Ed Sheeran that kid worked his ass off, so why shouldnt he get the recognition? But at the same time when his songs dominated [the charts] because of streaming, where is the fairness? What about the other artists who worked their asses off, but maybe didnt have a million streams?

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DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper and Ed Sheeran… Corey Taylor is a fan of one of these men the others, not so much. Photograph: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Hip-hop has dethroned rocknroll as Americas music

I could have told you this 20 years ago. The thing that bothers me is that people differentiate pop and hip-hop but theyre the same thing. I hate most new hip-hop. Its all the same mush-mouthed bullshit, and it doesnt say anything except I want to get fucked and drink champagne. Its pathetic. The hip-hop I grew up with had a message. Theres a reason Chuck D is my hero, let me put it that way.

Artificial intelligence is taking over the world

A lot of people are upset because too many manufacturing jobs are gone, but there are so many companies coming up that need a workforce. Theres a reason the market is doing well in America even though the presidency is shit, because the prior presidency actually left behind a healthy infrastructure with growth happening. Trumps going to try and take credit for that, but theres always a two or four year hangover. The problem comes when you start to see deregulation happening on a federal level when it comes to big business thats when the machines come in, thats when the outsourcing comes in.

But all of these insurance companies are hiring, all of these tech companies are hiring. People look at those industries and go: Im not intelligent or pretentious enough. But if you want to feed your family, then a job is a job. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and go with what you have to do. Follow where the work is. If industries want to keep outsourcing and replacing people with programs, then stop buying those products. Hit them where it hurts. Thats what it comes down to.

Corey
Corey Taylor on stage with Slipknot. Photograph: Raphael Dias/Getty Images

Everyone is appropriating metal culture

Youre seeing grandmas in Slipknot shirts. Its really weird. It makes it easier for me to blend in, which I am completely happy to do; you get tired of the stares after a while. But punk and metallers take fascist imagery like shaved heads and black clothing and divorce it from racism and nationalism, to make a statement about disaffection; youre now seeing people like Richard Spencer who are not only appropriating the imagery of nationalism, but also the rhetoric. The anger, the racism of it. It worries me. Oh, but Justin Biebers line in pseudo-metal T-shirts? He can kiss my ass.

  • Corey Taylor was speaking to Harriet Gibsone. America 51 is out now, published by Da Capo. His new album with Stone Sour, Hydrograd, is out now on Roadrunner; the bands UK tour begins at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena on 29 November. The Slipknot documentary Day of the Gusano will screen nationwide on 6 September.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/06/slipknot-corey-taylor-how-to-save-america-donald-trump

Drake is Spotifys most streamed artist of 2016

Canadian star topped Spotifys most streamed charts in the year his hit One Dance became ubiquitous

Drake is Spotifys most streamed artist of 2016. In a year in which the Canadian rapper and singer broke records with his track One Dance, the artist has topped many of the music streaming services end of year lists.

Thanks to the success of his album Views, Drake accrued more than 4.7bn streams this year, more than doubling his record of 1.8bn streams in 2015.

With the top album and the top song this year, as well as his successful Summer Sixteen tour, Drake continues to engage his fans in a way that only Drake can; its no surprise he is dominating the music industry, said Spotifys chief content and chief strategy officer Stefan Blom.

With 2.5bn streams, Rihanna was the most streamed female artist both in the UK and globally for second year in a row following the release of her eighth album, Anti.

Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Coldplay and Twenty One Pilots were the next most streamed male artists after Drake, while Sia, Adele, Ariana Grande and Beyonc featured in the female top five.

David Bowie was named the most popular artist in the alternative category, with Glenn Gould the most streamed classical artist, the Beatles who made their catalogue available for the first time to the service at the end of 2015 ruling the classic rock category, and Bring Me the Horizon topping the metal genre.

Most streamed artists worldwide

1. Drake

2. Justin Bieber

3. Rihanna

4. Twenty One Pilots

5. Kanye West

Most streamed female artists worldwide

1. Rihanna

2. Ariana Grande

3. Sia

4. Adele

5. Fifth Harmony

Most streamed male artists worldwide

1. Drake

2. Justin Bieber

3. Twenty One Pilots

4. Kanye West

5. Coldplay

Most streamed tracks worldwide

1. One Dance (feat. WizKid and Kyla) Drake

2. I Took A Pill in Ibiza (Seeb Remix) Mike Posner

3. Dont Let Me Down (feat. Daya) The Chainsmokers

4. Work (feat. Drake) Rihanna

5. Cheap Thrills Sia

Most streamed albums worldwide

1. Views Drake

2. Purpose Justin Bieber

3. Anti Rihanna

4. Blurryface Twenty One Pilots

5. Beauty Behind The Madness The Weeknd

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/01/drake-spotify-most-streamed-artist-2016