889 posts categorized "My Music"
1) Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective: This record came out in January and has been a staple the entire year. After getting completely into Merriweather, I went back into their catalog and also got deeply into Strawberry Jam, Feels, and Sung Tongs. And I also went to see them play live - an experience unlike anything else and not for everyone. Merriweather is probably their most accessible record to date and Animal Collective is making some of the most original and interesting music these days. It really wasn't even a contest for number one this year. Merriweather pretty much blew everything else away in my book.
2) Miike Snow - Miike Snow: Like the Shout Out Louds in 2005, Miike Snow came blasting out of Sweden this year with a record that got played non-stop in our home. Miike Snow is not a person and it is not a band, it is a group of three producers and writers who have worked with dozens of artists over the years. This is the first work they've put out under the Miike Snow name and I sure hope it is not the last. With Miike Snow, you get great beats, slick production, and indie pop perfection. That's a killer mix in my book.
3) Man On The Moon - Kid Cudi: I heard Kid Cudi's song Up, Up, and Away on the hype machine as this record leaked over the summer and I was hooked on Kid's mix of indie and hip hop (a theme for me this year). There are a half dozen great songs on this record that were all candidates for my top tracks of 2009. The whole record is a great listen end to end. I'm sure it is on many best of 2009 lists and may even be headed for a Grammy. I hope Kid Cudi gets one.
4) Humbug - Arctic Monkeys: In 2005, as the Arctic Monkeys were breaking big with their first record, they wrote "In five years time, will it be "Who the fuck's Arctic Monkeys?" Well it's almost five year's later, and they are still putting out great records. I've always liked Alex Turner's crooner side myself and we are getting more and more of it on each successive record. They still rock out, as Crying Lightning shows, but songs like Cornerstone and Secret Door are the tracks that really got me on this record. I saw them live twice this summer and they still have that hyperactive sonic soud.
5) Bitte Orca - Dirty Projectors: Man did I fall hard for this record. From early June to the middle of July, I listened to hardly anything else. I tried to get my friends and family into it but not many bit. The Dirty Projectors are an acquired taste it seems. I love the idiosyncratic nature of Dave Longstreth's music, the quirky guitar riffs, and the harmonies between him and Amber and Angel (pictured on the cover of the record). I hadn't listened to this record in a while as I moved on to other things, but in relistening as I was putting this post together, I was sucked right back into the magic of Bitte Orca. It's certainly one of the best records made this year.
6) XX - XX: Indie bands/records break in the blogs these days and this was the indie debut of the year in the music blogs. The signature sound is the back and forth male and female vocals with a heavy bass beat in the background. This is the kind of record you can put on and listen to it over and over. The XX's sound comes out of London's "dubstep" electronic dance scene but this is not a dance record. It is moody and reminiscent of bands like the Cure and the Smiths. It's the perfect record for a slow weekend morning.
7) Album - Girls: In the opening track, Lust For Life, singer/songwriter Christopher Owens sings "Oh I Wish I Had A Sun Tan. I Wish I Had A Pizza And A Bottle Of Wine, I Wish I Had A Beach House. Then We Could Make A Big Fire Every Night" And that's what this entire record sounds like. You want to go to a beach house, kick back with friends, and sing these songs. This record reminds me of the Rural Alberta Advantage's Hometowns record last year. It is a terrific record start to finish.
8) Middle Cyclone - Neko Case: I've been a fan of Neko's since seeing her sing with the New Pornographers a few years ago. Her voice and striking red hair leaves an indelible impression. But until this record, I'd never gotten into her solo work. Middle Cyclone is a very fine piece of work. I particularly like Magie To The Morning, People Got A Lot of Nerve, and I'm An Animal. When Neko really goes for it with her voice, it's a sound of beauty.
9) The Swelly Express - Chiddy Bang: I'm a sucker for concept records like The Street's A Grand Don't Come For Free and Green Day's American Idiot. Following the story is as much fun as listening to the songs. And that is what The Swelly Express is. If you click on that link, you'll see that The Swelly Express is not available as a commercial release yet. It's a free downloadable mixtape showcasing the talents of Chidera Anamege (Chiddy) who does the raps and Xaphoon Jones who does the beats. Watch out for these guys. I think they have got some serious talent.
10) Monsters Of Folk - Monsters of Folk: When I heard that three of my favorite musicians, Conor Oberst, M Ward, and Jim James were working on a record together, I was super excited. And the result lived up to my expectations. Monsters Of Folk is a collection of wonderful songs sung together by these amazing musicians (including Mike Mogis). The Gotham Gal and I saw them perform live recently at the Beacon Theater in NYC and the live show was just as strong as the record. If you like folk music, you have to get this record.
Hold Time - M Ward: Every record he has made has been excellent and this one is no exception.
Changing Horses - Ben Kweller: Not sure how this didn't make my top ten. It was a tough one.
Three Rounds And A Sound - Blind Pilot: This is an outstanding record.
A few more things:
The Gotham Gal's top ten list is a bit different than mine but since we listen to a lot of music together, it has a bunch of great stuff on it that I enjoyed very much this year.
Bijan's top ten list is also a bit different than mine, but I highly recommend everything on his list. He has the Rural Alberta Advantage record on his 2009 list. It was on my 2008 list so I did not put it on my list this year. It is a great record.
I am going to post my top 25 tracks of 2009 tomorrow (in a streamable playlist) and my top records of the decade on Monday (the list is about 40 long right now, I might cut it down to 25 or increase it to 50).
So lot's of music on AVC right now. I hope you enjoy it.
For years the number that musicians and their business partners, managers and record labels, would focus on was the soundscan results. From the soundscan website:
Sales data from point-of-sale cash registers is collected weekly from over 14,000 retail, mass merchant and non-traditional (on-line stores, venues, etc.) outlets.
My friends in the music business would always say things like "we scanned 25,000 units last week". In a world where the sales of CDs (and before that albums) was the key goal, it made sense. Scans were revenues.
But the world has changed and more and more music is available on the Internet for free or via subscription services every day. And just because you scanned a record, doesn't mean you listened to it.
I think it is time to stop focusing on scans and start focusing on listens. But how do you do that?
I bumped into my friend Spencer Hyman yesterday at breakfast. Spencer used to run last.fm. I asked him if you could use last.fm as a panel, like Nielsen or comScore, to measure music listens. He said you could but you'd need to do some statistical weighting by geography and genre.
If you look at the last.fm charts for 2009, you'll see that Lady Gaga was most listened to artist on last.fm with 755,000 different listeners and 18.5mm "album scrobbles". If you go to the Lady Gaga page on last.fm you'll see that her song Poker Face has been listened to 235,000 times in the past six months.
If you think of the people who scrobble their listens to last.fm as a panel, then you can scale up these numbers to get to worldwide listens. Last.fm hasn't done this work but they should. They could be the new soundscan as the key metric moves from scans to listens.
As an example of why this metric will be increasingly valuable, let's go back to that Lupe Fiasco mixed tape that includes the HP advertisement as a track in the mix. That advertisment track is called HP Skit. Last.fm says HP Skit was listened to 3,850 times last week. Let's say 50x is the right multiplier for this artist and song (it's an educated guess). Then HP Skit was listened worldwide about 200,000 times last week. If that ad is worth a $20 cpm, then Lupe could have earned $4000 in ad revenue last week.
All of that is hypothetical to some degree but hopefully instructive. Music is moving from a physical good where scans is what matters to a virtual good where usage and engagement matters. So let's start measuring it correctly. That may help the artists get paid correctly.
So Google and the music industry have teamed up to create Vevo, which aims to corral all music videos into a separate part of YouTube where they will be monetized by higher quality (and higher cost) video advertising.
Vevo launched last night and I spent some time on it this morning. At first look, I'm not sure I get this thing.
The first thing I did is search for Arctic Monkeys and I get a response that there are no results for that term.
Second thing I did is click on the link to Kid Cudi and watch the Pursuit Of Happiness video. But before I could watch that I had to sit through a 15 second AT&T pre-roll. That's not a great experience. I wonder if people will really sit through a 15 second pre-roll to watch a music video.
Then I went to YouTube and did a search for Kid Cudi Pursuit Of Happiness. The video I saw on Vevo is absolutely not on YouTube, but there are plenty of Pursuit Of Happiness videos there to watch including a really cool Steve Aoki remix.
Then I went to Google and did a search on Kid Cudi Pursuit Of Happiness and there are links to a bunch of videos on YouTube and MTV.com but no links to Vevo.
It's probably that Vevo is not completely rolled out yet but it would seem to me that for it to be successful, the Vevo videos will have to show up in YouTube and Google search results. And they don't right now.
It is absolutely true that for many, YouTube is their streaming music service. There is so much music on YouTube. You can get a result for most any song you look for. So it makes sense that the music industry is trying to get its arms around this new form of music discovery and listening.
But I wonder if cordoning off the "official" music videos into a separate site will achieve this goal. We'll see. I'm not that optimistic about this one.
My daughter turned me onto Lupe Fiasco a couple weeks ago. When I start listening to a new artist, I often will go to the Hype Machine and listen to a stream of their music. In the process of doing that, I came across Lupe's new Enemy Of The State mixtape which is the "artist of the weekend" on fredwilson.fm this weekend.
Enemy Of The State is a mixtape which means it is a bunch of tracks that Lupe remixed and put out for free on the Internet. Artists who Lupe remixed on Enemy Of The State include Radiohead, Lil Wayne and Jay-Z.
I don't know what the economic relationship is between Lupe and all of these artists he remixed. Clearly that impacts the cost of putting out a mixtape. But the fact that a major recording artist like Lupe is putting out free music is pretty interesting to me. He plans to put out another mixtape called "Friend Of The People" later this month.
The last track on Enemy Of The State is called "HP Skit".
I was in a board meeting last week and one of the company founders made a very interesting assertion about the difference between old media and new media. He asserted that old media is about how much money you can charge each viewer. New media is about how many viewers you can get.
Now that's a gross oversimplification of his assertion, but the point is useful. The whole free mixtape movement is about getting as many listeners as possible, using existing music for the most part. The idea of monetizing it with lightweight advertising (nobody forces you to listen to HP Skit and it comes at the end) is very interesting to me.
It will be interesting to see if we get more of this kind of thing. I think we will.
I use a lot of music web services but I don't like to invest in this sector. Nonetheless, it's an area that I spend a lot of time thinking about. I've written endlessly on this blog about the music web services I use, why I use them, and where I think the music web is going.
The most interesting music web service to me has been audioscrobbler (aka last.fm). I'm not all that interested in last.fm as a social network, but I am obsessed with it's value as a data asset. I report all my music listens to last.fm via the audioscrobbler technology and it has built a deep data asset on my musical listening habits (and therefore musical taste). Since October 2005, I've recorded 60,168 song listens with audioscrobbler. That's roughly 40 listens per day. Sounds like a lot, right? Well we listen to music all the time in our house and we've had audioscrobbler on our Sonos for the past year or so.
There are a bunch of music web services I use that leverage the power of the audioscrobbler data via the last.fm api. So I show up at a new music web service and it can instantly know what I like to listen to by simply asking me for my last.fm user name and password. It's like magic. I love it.
The developer of audioscrobbler is a guy named Richard Jones (aka RJ) who built it while he was in college. He merged it into last.fm and became the CTO.
Well RJ is back to building interesting new web music stuff and his new thing is called Playdar. And like audioscrobbler, I think this could be a powerful foundational platform technology for the music web.
Playdar is a "music content resolver" platform. You put the Playdar software on all the machines you have with music on them. And then Playdar makes it so that you can play your music via the web whenever and wherever you want. This is not the first effort to do this sort of thing, but it is the first time this has been done as an open source platform.
This is an important distinction. Like audioscrobber was the foundational technology for last.fm and many other music web services, Playdar can and will be the same.
The Playdar ecosystem is just getting going but there are already some interesting demos. I like Toby Padilla's Playgrub which turns web pages into playlists. I also like James Wheare's Playlick which turns last.fm accounts into playlists.
Open platforms and ecosystems are powerful and the music web needs more of them. I am excited to see where Playdar goes. I'll be following it closely and if you are into web music, you should too.
I read the Google blog post announcing their enhancements to music searches this morning. I think it's terrific that Google has made these enhancements but there's one thing I don't like.
Now, when you enter a music-related query — like the name of a song, artist or album — your search results will include links to an audio preview of those songs provided by our music search partners MySpace (which just acquired iLike) or Lala. When you click the result you'll be able to listen to an audio preview of the song directly from one of those partners. For example, if I search for [21st century breakdown], the first results provide links to songs from Green Day's new album. MySpace and Lala also provide links to purchase the full song.
I really dislike the "audio preview" experience. It's been available for years in the iTunes store and I never use it. A 30 second sample of a song is an awful experience in my opinion.
When I want to search for music, I'll do an mp3 search on the Internet or go to the hype machine and do the search there. I almost always get the result I want with one of those two approaches and I can listen to the entire song.
Of course, it is not Google's fault that they are being limited to an "audio preview", it is the fault of the rights holders who won't let Google offer a full song sample. But as we've seen again and again, this only drives users to the "gray market" where they can get a full song sample which is often just a right click away from an illegal download.
A smarter approach would be to allow Google to offer a full song sample (one play per person based on cookies or some other approach) and then a link to purchase. That would allow Google and the music rights holders to take share back from mp3 search engines and encourage music purchases instead of illegal music downloads.
I have an internet radio station called fredwilson.fm. You can listen by clicking on that link or by clicking on the black banner at the bottom of this blog.
I add one new song each day and so when you listen to fredwilson.fm, you are listening to my favorite songs (mostly new stuff that I find on the web) in reverse chronological order. That's it. Pretty simple and very easy for me to program.
As Internet radio services go, fredwilson.fm is tiny. It averages around sixty listeners per day and gets around 1,300 visitors per month.
Fredwilson.fm is a perfect example of nanomedia. The service has a tiny audience and will never amount to anything other than a hobby of mine. There may be some hardcore fans of fredwilson.fm, but they are measured in the tens, certainly less than a hundred. It will never be a commercial property. It will never run advertising.
So it's easy to ignore services like this. And many do. But those who do miss a very important point about nanomedia. Each service in its own right is borderline meaningless. But the aggregation of all of these nanomedia services are a big deal.
My friend John Borthwick and I were interviewed by Seth Goldstein a few weeks back at his social media bootcamp. The video of that interview is here. I asserted then that "the aggregation of all of this social media is the greatest media that has ever been created."
Let's keep looking at music blogging (which is what powers fredwilson.fm). My stream and your stream and your friend's stream might not get much of an audience. But when you combine them all together as the Hype Machine, elbo.ws, and We Are Hunted have done, you get music services which start to amass sizeable audiences.
On the open web, services get built on top of services. Fredwilson.fm is built on top of Tumblr and Streampad. Hype Machine and Elbo.ws are built on top of services like fredwilson.fm. As we move up the aggregation stack, we start to assemble larger audiences. And then a song like the Velvet Underground song, Pale Blue Eyes, I posted to fredwilson.fm a while back can get more plays (1505 as of right now) than the total number of visits fredwilson.fm gets each month.
The new media is a disaggregated medium, where the channels themselves may be small but the microchunks that flow out of them can be very large. And that's why nanomedia is important.
I was meeting with the team at one of our portfolio companies last week and we got to talking about music. I was asked if I ever "broke a band" on this blog. I said, "I don't think so." Then someone suggested that I had in fact "broken" the Rural Alberta Advantage with this post earlier this year. I am not sure that post "broke" the band, but it did get a lot of people to come out and see the band play their first US show at Piano's in late January.
Since then, the RAA have taken off, signed a label deal, and are touring around the US and Canada this summer. I am so glad to see it. They write great songs and deserve this success.
As part of the re-release of their record Hometowns on Saddle Creek (their new label), the band also wants to make a vinyl 7" re-recording of two of their songs; Frank AB and Deadroads.
The RAA is raising $5,000 to fund the production of the 7". Here's the Kickstarter widget explaining why they want to do this and soliciting your contribution to help them make it a reality. I've given $50 and hope all you RAA fans out there join me in making this happen for them and for us.
|Mike Davis||Lino Wiehen||Lucas Gonze|
|William Khoe||Douglas Kim||Dave Warmerdam|
|Amit Behere||Suman Nichani|