Taylor Swift Breaks Modern-Era Record for Biggest Vinyl Album Sales Week

Taylor Swift

Billboard:

In just three days, Taylor Swift’s Evermore has set the record for the biggest sales week for a vinyl album in the U.S. since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991.

The vinyl edition of Evermore, released on May 28, sold over 40,000 copies in the U.S. through May 30, according to initial reports to MRC Data. That beats the record for an entire single-week of vinyl sales, held by the debut frame of vinyl devotee Jack White’s Lazaretto, when it launched with 40,000 copies in the week ending June 15, 2014. (MRC Data began electronically tracking music sales in 1991, when the company was known as SoundScan.) It’s presumed that Evermore’s vinyl sales sum will grow by the end of the tracking week on Thursday, June 3.

Demi Lovato Comes Out As Non-Binary

Demi Lovato

Consequence:

The 28-year-old pop singer discussed their gender fluidity during an episode of their new podcast 4D with Demi Lovato. “Over the past year and a half I’ve been doing some healing and self-reflective work,” Lovato explained. “And through this work, I’ve had the revelation that I identify as nonbinary.”

Lovato said that changing their pronouns to they/them “best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and still am discovering.”

TikTok Is Helping Make Pop-Punk a Thing Again

Tik Tok

Aliya Chaudhry, writing at Consequence:

But there’s another major factor bringing pop-punk back, and it’s causing a lot of change in the music industry. TikTok has been revitalizing hits from the 2000s and 2010s – many of them scene staples like 3OH!3’s “DONTTRUSTME”, Paramore’s “All I Wanted”, and All Time Low’s “Dear Maria, Count Me In”. It’s also bolstered newer songs, like “I Miss Having Sex but at Least I Don’t Want to Die Anymore” by pop-punk-adjacent band Waterparks, who didn’t even release the track as a single (and have subsequently signed to hip-hop label 300 Entertainment). YUNGBLUD, whose work combines elements of pop and punk with other genres, frequently collaborates with Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker, and his song “parents” went viral on TikTok earlier this year.

Next level: When TikTok can get all those pop-punk bands that should have been huge back in the day a viral hit. Come on, let’s see some Lucky Boys Confusion dance move videos.

Facebook Bans Honest Signal Ads on Instagram

Facebook

Shoshana Wodinsky, writing at Gizmodo:

A series of Instagram ads run by the privacy-positive platform Signal got the messaging app booted from the former’s ad platform, according to a blog post Signal published on Tuesday. The ads were meant to show users the bevy of data that Instagram and its parent company Facebook collects on users, by… targeting those users using Instagram’s own adtech tools. 

The actual idea behind the ad campaign is pretty simple. Because Instagram and Facebook share the same ad platform, any data that gets hoovered up while you’re scrolling your Insta or Facebook feeds gets fed into the same cesspool of data, which can be used to target you on either platform later.

John Mayer Nearing Deal to Host ‘Later’ Talk Show on Paramount Plus

John Mayer

Variety:

Sources tell Variety that “Later With John Mayer” has been pitched to prospective broadcast partners as a series featuring performance segments as well as interviews with musicians, artists and other cultural figures in a setting designed to look like an after-hours club for musicians.

The series would run as a weekly offering on Paramount Plus, ViacomCBS’ streaming platform which was relaunched March 4. The plan is to have specials derived from the show’s performance segments air periodically on CBS as well. There is also talk of tie-ins with the Grammy Awards, which are aired on CBS.

Streaming Music Payouts

This breakdown from Nick Heer about music streaming payouts touched on a point I think about often:

I get millions of songs for my $10 per month. In about the same timeframe in 2009, I also added Burial’s “Untrue” to my library. I have played the thirteen songs on that album 684 times in total, leading to an estimated payout of $6.84. My CD copy of that album probably cost $15, of which William Bevan probably earned just a few pennies. Apple Music obviously has not existed since 2009 but, if it had, I cannot work out how much less artists would have made if I had streamed all of my music instead of buying physical copies.

Somehow, we are still paying just $10 per month for music in an era where streaming must be paired with live performance to have any hope of generating an income for an artist, all the while fighting the paradox of streaming music, and artists are still getting screwed in the middle of all of it. There would not be a music industry without music, but the industry gets all of the money while musicians still have to fight for scraps.

Make Everything Important

What a great interview with Mads Mikkelsen:

Q: Is there a life philosophy that you feel has carried you through your career?

A: My approach to what I do in my job — and it might even be the approach to my life — is that everything I do is the most important thing I do. Whether it’s a play or the next film. It is the most important thing. I know it’s not going to be the most important thing, and it might not be close to being the best, but I have to make it the most important thing. That means I will be ambitious with my job and not with my career. That’s a very big difference, because if I’m ambitious with my career, everything I do now is just stepping-stones leading to something — a goal I might never reach, and so everything will be disappointing. But if I make everything important, then eventually it will become a career. Big or small, we don’t know. But at least everything was important.

They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines

McDonalds

Andy Greenburg, writing at Wired:

Of all the mysteries and injustices of the McDonald’s ice cream machine, the one that Jeremy O’Sullivan insists you understand first is its secret passcode. 

Press the cone icon on the screen of the Taylor C602 digital ice cream machine, he explains, then tap the buttons that show a snowflake and a milkshake to set the digits on the screen to 5, then 2, then 3, then 1. After that precise series of no fewer than 16 button presses, a menu magically unlocks. Only with this cheat code can you access the machine’s vital signs: everything from the viscosity setting for its milk and sugar ingredients to the temperature of the glycol flowing through its heating element to the meanings of its many sphinxlike error messages.

“No one at McDonald’s or Taylor will explain why there’s a secret, undisclosed menu,” O’Sullivan wrote in one of the first, cryptic text messages I received from him earlier this year.

Wild story.

Arts Venue Closures Likely After Months-Long Delay in Federal Grant Program

Riot Fest

David Dayen, writing for The Prospect:

A critical $16.25 billion grant program to sustain thousands of small creative venues that haven’t been able to open since the pandemic began has yet to deliver a cent of relief four months after passage, due to delays and faulty technology at the Small Business Administration (SBA). A website constructed to take grant applications closed last week after only four hours online, because of constant crashes and an inability to intake documents. It has not been restored and there’s no timetable for its return.

The program, based on the landmark Save Our Stages legislation put into last December’s COVID relief bill, was the largest investment in the arts in U.S. history. But the byzantine application process (often requiring over 100 pages of documents) and stubborn lack of payout has music clubs, small museums and movie theaters, and other venues either closing or looking to sell out to larger firms.

Is the Deluxe Album Trend Bad For Music?

I found this conversation over at Complex, talking about the “deluxe album” trend, interesting:

Whenever an artist released a deluxe album last year, there were usually comments like “no one asked for this.” And in theory, I can agree with the perspective that less is more. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean have built incredible legacies by being selective with the music they’ve decided to share with the world. But complaining about new music has always been a ridiculous concept to me. No one is forcing you to listen to these deluxe albums if you don’t want to. They serve a purpose. Hardcore fans will be happy to hear new music, and casual listeners can pick through and save their favorite songs to playlists. We always hear stories about rappers like Future and Thug making eight songs in a night, so why not share some of those with fans? During a pandemic when artists were scrambling for ways to make money, this trend makes sense. I will admit one downside, though, is it opens the door for fans to start pressuring artists into dropping more music just moments after the release of a new project. Watching fans hound Playboi Carti to release a deluxe album full of leaks within hours of Whole Lotta Red dropping was a low point. Let him live for a minute. He finally dropped the album!

Personally, I’m more a fan of deluxe albums than I am the “new” EP re-packaging for streaming services technique. (Or just releasing only singles.) I’m always down for more music from the artists I love, but I think letting the album breathe after its release, for fans to sit with and digest, is also important.

Songwriters Sign Open Letter “Pact”

Mark Savage, writing for BBC:

In an open letter, the writers behind songs like Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” and Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” said “a growing number of artists” were demanding a share of publishing royalties, even if they had contributed nothing to a song.

”These artists will go on to collect revenue from touring, merchandise [and] brand partnerships,” they said, but “songwriters have only their publishing revenue as a means of income”.

They added that composers were often subjected to “bully tactics and threats” by artists and executives who wanted to take a share of the songwriting royalties.

You can read the open letter at The-Pact.org.

Streaming Saved Music. Artists Hate It.

The New York Times

Ben Sisario of the New York Times talks with Shira Ovide about the economics of streaming music:

Haven’t many musicians always felt exploited and underpaid?

Yes, but the streaming model has exacerbated the divide between superstars and everybody else. It’s also a fallacy to dismiss musicians’ complaints. Economic inequality has been around a long time, but it still should be addressed.

What’s the solution? Can streaming ever work for everyone?

There is talk of changing the payments systems to a “user-centric model” that would allocate payments based on what people listen to. If I listen only to Herbie Hancock on Spotify, my subscription fee goes only to him, after the service takes its cut. Proponents say this system would be more fair, especially to artists in niche genres. But there have been studies that say it’s not that simple. And I wonder if it’s too late to change.

Clickbait-y title aside, that study that shows switching to a payout model based on individual listening habits sure is depressing for indie musicians.

Seven More Women Accuse Mark Kozelek of Sexual Misconduct

Sun Kil Moon

Pitchfork:

In the seven months since Pitchfork published an article detailing claims of sexual misconduct against Mark Kozelek, seven more women have come forward with similar allegations about the Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters singer-songwriter. These new allegations include nonconsensual nudity and masturbation, unwanted touching, and one claim of nonconsensual intercourse. They span two decades, from Kozelek’s beginnings as a professional musician in the early 1990s with Red House Painters to the peak of Sun Kil Moon’s popularity in the 2010s.

Geoff Rickly Shares Recovery Story

Thursday

Geoff Rickly of Thursday talks to The Ties That Bind Us about recovering from addiction:

Until he got clean in 2016, shortly before Thursday returned after a five-year hiatus, Rickly spent the last several years of his addiction trying desperately to salvage his personal life while putting on a professional front that still managed to move forward. He joined No Devotion, a Welsh alternative bound formed from the ashes of Lostprophets, in 2014 and signed the band to his Collect Records label. Whatever success he enjoyed, however, was eclipsed by the growing realization that his drug problem was slowly consuming everything.

“The last few years of using heroin, of course I wanted to stop, but it was literally impossible,” he said. “They tell you (in recovery) to take it a day at a time, and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to make it another 10 minutes. What are you talking about?’ It was so hard to imagine having to be without the thing that made me feel like a person, because unless I got really high, I didn’t really feel connected to people. If I wasn’t high, every sensation, every thought, was another expression of unbearable pain. Spiritually, I was so empty.”

Coachella Music Festival Moving to 2022

Coachella

Variety:

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is moving from October 2021 to April of 2022, two industry sources with knowledge of the situation tell Variety. It is expected that the country-music themed Stagecoach festival, which takes place the weekend after Coachella’s two weekends, will move as well.

Reps for Goldenvoice, the event’s promoter, and AEG Presents, its parent company, either declined or did not respond to Variety’s requests for comment.