CD Baby No Longer Distributing Physical Media

CD, Record Store

CD Baby:

CD Baby is closing our warehouse and ending our physical distribution service.

Ars Technica:

Like other services that date back to the late-1990s dot-com boom, CD Baby has gradually shifted away from its namesake offering. Launched from Woodstock, New York, in 1998 by Derek Sivers, it was one of the first web-based CD stores that focused on selling independent artists’ work. By 2009, according to the company, physical sales through its store accounted for only 27 percent of the revenue it paid out to artists.

The Last Recording Artist


Jaime Brooks, goes into an in-depth look at the impact of large language models on music and recording artists:

It continues to be the case that in streaming era, recording income is much lower than in the physical music era. Many big artists can scarcely be bothered to chase after it anymore, preferring to refrain from releasing new music until it can be incorporated into a larger plan to promote tours or clothing lines. The platform model would need to do an enormous amount of heavy lifting just to make recordings appealing as a revenue stream again, and that’s assuming it wouldn’t also do irreperable harm to the other pillars of a traditional recording artist’s business in the process. That’s not an assumption I’d personally be comfortable making, because “artist careers” have been driven by scarcity since the dawn of the recorded music era itself. As a society, we simply did not care so much about individual performers until after recordings became the primary way we all engage with music.

The artist model and the platform model are not just incompatible, but actively corrosive to one another. They cannot co-exist. I’m not arguing that one is better than the other, I’m saying that no living person will be able to do both effectively at the same time. The artist-as-platform model isn’t an evolution of the recording artist concept as we currently understand it, but a completely different proposition that would change the sound and character of popular music just as much as recordings themselves did during the “great music shift” of the fifties and sixties if it ever becomes dominant. For Vocaloid Drake to thrive, Drake the “recording artist” would almost certainly need to be destroyed. This is what advocates of “AI” are pushing for when they call for established artists to “open-source” their names, voices, and likenesses. They don’t understand how any of this works, and they don’t want to. They’re just here to break things. It’s all they know how to do.

The whole piece is worth your time.

Max of Eve 6 Not Writing a Memoir

Eve 6

Max of Eve 6 was going to write a book, now he’s effectively writing a blog, the first entry is up and if all of it’s like this, this will be a must read:

The success that we had happened because we were middle class kids who lived in Los Angeles, whose parents could afford to buy us instruments and drive us to gigs. There was some talent involved, sure, just not that much. Our hit song was more a product of guilelessness naivete than talent. A willingness to turn phrases that ought not be turned because the syllables punched. A process we could repeat but never match in entertainment value because it was accidental. This kind of thing isn’t easy to admit. You spend years taking credit for your successes and blaming your failures on others, but the thing that the truth sets you free from is the shackles of your own ego, and as my first sponsor who was equal parts simple minded and brilliant used to say “your ego, my friend, is not your amigo.”

Fall Out Boy Vulture Feature

Fall Out Boy


But to Wentz, who often speaks in pop-culture references (and has been watching The Last of Us), making more pop-oriented music felt like reaching quarantine in a zombie apocalypse. “We figured out how to exist somehow, but we’re like, mmm, kind of existing.” The band still had an appetite to do more, like on 2018’s Mania, a heavily programmed, hip-hop–influenced album that some fans feel veered too far into pop, but it gave the band a chance to flex new creative muscles. “It was me goofing around with what you could do to mangle sound waves,” Stump says. “And that was really fun, but we did that, so I didn’t want to just go back and do it again.”

The Untold Story of Elliott Smith’s Teenage Band

Elliott Smith


Back in 1985, Elliott Smith was just Steven Paul Smith, a shy new kid entering his sophomore year at Portland’s Lincoln High School. He soon befriended a small group of fellow music obsessives, and over the next four years, this tight-knit crew recorded six albums of original material. The songs on these records have a lot of… everything: sections, lyrics, time signatures, guitar solos, era-appropriate keyboard sounds. One track, 1986’s “Laughter,” crams more of all those things into its bulging nine minutes than most Rush albums do in their entire runtimes. These homemade epics were released on cassette and distributed locally—which meant that for a brief period in the mid-1980s, if you went to one of the band’s shows or frequented the right record store, you could buy one of these tapes and listen to it on your stereo. 

Decades later, when Smith was an acclaimed solo star giving interviews to major music publications, this idea seemingly kept him up at night. Whenever these recordings were mentioned, he dismissed them relentlessly. “I really promised myself a long time ago I would keep [them] from ever seeing the light of day,” he laughed when asked about his high school albums in 2003. He didn’t even want to share a band name with the interviewer for fear someone might “dredge it up.”

Well, someone has—or rather, the combined forces of fanbase curiosity and passing time have forced the recordings into light. Now, Elliott Smith diehards who know what to search for on YouTube can hear these records for themselves. Although judging by the videos’ current view counts, this music, made by a teenaged Smith with his friends, is still very much hiding in plain sight.


Spotify HiFi Was Announced Two Years Ago — Where Is It?

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

At this point, it’s fair to assume that something went wrong with Spotify HiFi. Two years ago today, during the company’s Stream On event, Spotify announced a new streaming tier that would let customers enjoy lossless, CD-quality audio from the leading subscription music service. 

Spotify felt the news was worthy of some star power and filmed a promotional video for HiFi with Billie Eilish and Finneas. It remains on the company’s YouTube page, and you can still read the blog post saying upgraded sound would arrive “later this year” — meaning by the end of 2021.

Inside Twitter’s Dumpster Fire


The Verge with a behind-the-scenes look at Twitter’s collapse:

It’s an open secret that many employees who remain at Musk’s “hardcore” Twitter are actively looking for other jobs. Even the most publicly cheerful Twitter workers can’t fully mask the despair. On December 29, one tweeted a selfie, smiling in front of an empty office, with the hashtags #solowork, #productivity, and #findingperspective.

Musk himself is starting to appear defeated. Tesla shares started 2022 trading at nearly $400. By September, Tesla’s stock price had dropped by 25 percent. It plummeted again after Musk bought Twitter and ended the year at $123. Investors are begging Musk to step away; Tesla employees are too. 

A real shame.

Taylor Swift Has “Shake It Off” Lawsuit Dismissed

Taylor Swift

The “Shake It Off” copyright infringement lawsuit has been dismissed.

A copyright infringement lawsuit against Taylor Swift has been dismissed with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs cannot refile the same complaint in the same court. The suit had been filed in a California federal court in 2017 by songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, who claimed that Swift who took lyrics from 3LW’s “Playas Gon’ Play” for her 1989 single “Shake It Off.”

Libraries Are Launching Their Own Local Music Streaming Platforms

Claire Woodcock, writing at VICE:

Over a dozen public libraries in the U.S. and Canada have begun offering their own music streaming services to patrons, with the goal of boosting artists and local music scenes. The services are region-specific, and offer local artists non-exclusive licenses to make their albums available to the community.

The concept originated in 2014 when Preston Austin and Kelly Hiser helped the Madison Public Library build the Yahara Music Library, an online library hosting music from local artists. By the time they completed their work on Yahara, they were confident they had a software prototype that other interested libraries could customize and deploy.

“That became kind of the inspiration for building MUSICat,” Austin told Motherboard, referring to the software platform he and Hiser created under a startup called Rabble.

Amazon Music Comes to Prime for Free


The Verge:

Steve Boom is the VP of Amazon Music, and he has a great name for the music business. He’s on the show because Amazon just announced that it is upgrading the music service that Prime members get as part of their subscription. Starting today, one of the benefits for Amazon Prime members is that you now get access to the entire Amazon Music catalog, about 100 million songs, to play in shuffle mode. That service used to only contain 2 million songs.

The Future of AI Music Generation


TechCrunch looks at Dance Diffusion, an AI music generator:

The emergence of Dance Diffusion comes several years after OpenAI, the San Francisco-based lab behind DALL-E 2, detailed its grand experiment with music generation, dubbed Jukebox. Given a genre, artist and a snippet of lyrics, Jukebox could generate relatively coherent music complete with vocals. But the songs Jukebox produced lacked larger musical structures like choruses that repeat and often contained nonsense lyrics.

Google’s AudioLM, detailed for the first time earlier this week, shows more promise, with an uncanny ability to generate piano music given a short snippet of playing. But it hasn’t been open sourced.

Dance Diffusion aims to overcome the limitations of previous open source tools by borrowing technology from image generators such as Stable Diffusion. The system is what’s known as a diffusion model, which generates new data (e.g., songs) by learning how to destroy and recover many existing samples of data. As it’s fed the existing samples — say, the entire Smashing Pumpkins discography — the model gets better at recovering all the data it had previously destroyed to create new works.

Forty Years Of The CD

CD, Record Store

Daryl Worthington, writing for the Quietus:

“The thing I find most interesting about the whole thing regarding format and materiality is that even though a large proportion of people may listen almost exclusively digitally to music, there is still a sense that if something doesn’t have a physical release it is a less substantial album. Even people who would never listen to CD, tape or vinyl I think still assign value to an album existing in a physical format. That physicality kind of haunts the release, giving it a substance even in its digitality. For me, given this, CD offers a really easy and practical way of providing this physical option.”

Paramore Talk With Guardian

Paramore sat down with The Guardian:

Much of the new album draws from the trio’s conversations from that period to look back at the environments they came from. They discussed growing up in the Bible belt. Williams moved from Mississippi to Tennessee when her mum fled her second husband. She met Farro through a homeschool programme, and he knew York. Early on, Paramore talked openly about being a Christian band, but now they are all at different stages of unravelling their relationship to faith, says Williams. “You’re brought up being told something is ultimate, you unpack that and then find out that it’s tangled up with some other random shit over here.” She sighs: “Zac and Taylor are the most gentle and kind about it, whereas I feel like my teeth are knives and I’m spewing fire, trying to throw all of it over the side of a cliff. It’s good to be challenged – like Taylor reminds me all the time, you can’t generalise. I can be very dualistic when it comes to good people and bad people, and a lot of the record talks about what it means that people aren’t just that.”

Matty Healy Interviewed in the New York Times

Matty Healy of The 1975 sat down with the New York Times:

It’s difficult to be big and say — genuinely — that I have zero commercial ambition. There’s definitely a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of thing, which is where, listen, we’ve never known what to do and we’ve never tried to do anything. So the second we stop doing that, we’ll probably [expletive] up. I tend to say no to stuff for money.

I don’t know how you can write this up without it being rude or inappropriate, but I just got offered a four-month tour next year of stadiums with the biggest singer-songwriter in the world that would’ve made me money that I’ve never even seen or heard of in my life.

Ed Sheeran?

Yeah. And I got offered to be main support and do whatever I want. Think about the money you think I’m getting offered — it’s not just offered, it’s what he can afford because of what he makes for shows — and then just triple it. It’s insane. The thing that’s stopped me just doing that is because — I don’t care. It’s not worth it. Not because I don’t like Ed Sheeran. I think he’s, in a lot of ways, a genius. And he does what he does better than anybody else. But opening up for somebody and not just being real, that’s the kind of stuff I think about.