Spotify to Launch New Premium Plan

Bloomberg:

Spotify Technology SA will introduce a new, higher-priced premium plan for its most ardent users later this year, according to a person familiar with the plan. Users will be charged at least $5 more per month for access to better audio and new tools for creating playlists and managing their song libraries, said the person.

America’s Best Decade

The Washington Post

Andrew Van Dam, writing for The Washington Post:

So, we looked at the data another way, measuring the gap between each person’s birth year and their ideal decade. The consistency of the resulting pattern delighted us: It shows that Americans feel nostalgia not for a specific era, but for a specific age.

The good old days when America was “great” aren’t the 1950s. They’re whatever decade you were 11, your parents knew the correct answer to any question, and you’d never heard of war crimes tribunals, microplastics or improvised explosive devices. Or when you were 15 and athletes and musicians still played hard and hadn’t sold out.

Spotify to Discontinue Car Thing

The Verge:

Spotify’s brief attempt at being a hardware company wasn’t all that successful: the company stopped producing its Car Thing dashboard accessory less than a year after it went on sale to the public. And now, two years later, the device is about to be rendered completely inoperable. Customers who bought the Car Thing are receiving emails warning that it will stop working altogether as of December 9th.

Unfortunately for those owners, Spotify isn’t offering any kind of subscription credit or automatic refund for the device — nor is the company open-sourcing it. Rather, it’s just canning the project and telling people to (responsibly) dispose of Car Thing.

When Do We Stop Finding New Music? A Statistical Analysis

Daniel Parris:

Ultimately, cultural preferences are subject to generational relativism, heavily rooted in the media of our adolescence. It’s strange how much your 13-year-old self defines your lifelong artistic tastes. At this age, we’re unable to drive, vote, drink alcohol, or pay taxes, yet we’re old enough to cultivate enduring musical preferences. 

The pervasive nature of music paralysis across generations suggests that the phenomenon’s roots go beyond technology, likely stemming from developmental factors. So what changes as we age, and when does open-eardness decline?

Survey research from European streaming service Deezer indicates that music discovery peaks at 24, with survey respondents reporting increased variety in their music rotation during this time. However, after this age, our ability to keep up with music trends typically declines, with respondents reporting significantly lower levels of discovery in their early thirties. Ultimately, the Deezer study pinpoints 31 as the age when musical tastes start to stagnate.

Spotify’s New Royalty Model to Pay Songwriters Less

Kristin Robinson, writing at Billboard:

When Bloomberg reported that Spotify would be upping the cost of its premium subscription from $9.99 to $10.99, and including 15 hours of audiobooks per month in the U.S., the change sounded like a win for songwriters and publishers. Higher subscription prices typically equate to a bump in U.S. mechanical royalties — but not this time. 

By adding audiobooks into Spotify’s premium tier, the streaming service now claims it qualifies to pay a discounted “bundle” rate to songwriters for premium streams, given Spotify now has to pay licensing for both books and music from the same price tag — which will only be a dollar higher than when music was the only premium offering. Additionally, Spotify will reclassify its duo and family subscription plans as bundles as well.

To determine how great this loss in royalty value would be for the music business, Billboard calculated that songwriters and publishers will earn an estimated $150 million less in U.S. mechanical royalties from premium, duo and family plans for the first 12 months that this is in effect, compared to what they would have earned if these three subscriptions were never bundled

Spotify Recommending A.I. Generated Music

Spotify has been recommending “A.I. generated music” to some users:

My favorite example of this is AI music spreading across on Spotify right now. A user on X this week spotted an Artist page called Obscurest Vinyl that was promoted by Spotify’s Discovery Weekly.

The story behind the page is interesting. Obscurest Vinyl started as a Facebook page that would photoshop fake album covers for classic records that didn’t exist. The page recently shifted into posting AI songs to go with the fake album covers. As one commenter noted, you can tell the songs are AI because most of them feature bass and drum parts that don’t repeat in any discernible pattern. The account also regularly fights with users on Instagram who gripe about it using AI. 

Look, I think songs titled things like, “I Glued My Balls To My Butthole Again” are, honestly, pretty funny, AI or not. But they’re being uploaded to Apple Music and Spotify, which is where the snake starts to eat its own tail. Popular AI music generators like Suno clearly have datasets that include at least some copyrighted material (likely a lot). Which means, in this instance, Spotify is promoting and monetizing an account using an AI likely trained on the music that’s been uploaded to their platform that they don’t actually pay enough to support the creation of. And this is happening across every corner of the web right now.

Vinyl Me, Please Fires and Sues CEO

Denver Post:

The Denver record company Vinyl Me, Please has ousted its top executives and sued them for allegedly funneling company funds to their pricy pet project in RiNo.

Vinyl Me, Please was founded in 2012 and has become a popular record-of-the-month subscription service in the dozen years since, with 20,000 subscribers today, it said. CEO Cameron Schaefer and Chief Financial Officer Adam Block led the company in recent years.

But the company’s board fired them, along with Chief Strategy Officer Rich Kylberg, in March. And on Wednesday, all three were sued by the company they led.

The stated cause for their ouster is a new 14,000-square-foot vinyl record production plant at 4201 N. Brighton Blvd. That plant, which started pressing records this year, has been hyped by national and local media, as well as Schaefer, Block and Kylberg, since 2022.

Cold Years Talk with Kerrang!

Cold Years

Cold Years talked with Kerrang! about their new album:

“I think Against Me! were the last punk band who got a million-dollar deal,” he ponders. “If you look at how major labels invest in bands, a lot of the time the money’s in pop music or hip-hop or viral sensations off TikTok. The days of punk bands getting deals like that are gone. We all work normal jobs because we want to do this – I want to be able to pay my bills so I can go on tour assured that I have a wage to come home to. Brexit’s killed it for Europe and we have a lot of upfront costs now, so it’s not a viable living anymore unless you’re doing it 365 days a year, because record sales aren’t what they used to be. So it’s a hard life, but it’s also an amazing life, because I get to experience things not a lot of other people experience. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

The Starting Line Talk With Variety

The Starting Line

The Starting Line talked with Variety about the Taylor Swift shoutout:

“You know, it’s been sort of a point of conversation of, how much do you lean into something like this?” Vasoli admits, a little cagey even with himself about how much to be seen as taking advantage of it. “Because something like this is not something you really plan for in your music career,. The reverberations have been very big and we’re just sort of trying to accept it with gratitude at this point, sitting back and just seeing what happens from it.”

Although the singer says those two concert dates “are it for now, there’s gonna be more that’s coming down the pike and more that’s getting booked. The vast majority of the band has day jobs that keep them obligated to stay home a little bit, more than some of the other bands. So we don’t hit the road for too long on a regular basis, but we’re trying to get into a rhythm where we can do more of it.”

“There’s been an uptick in us playing together, and a really great interpersonal dynamic between the band members recently that has been very creative and inspirational, playing together recently. So we’ve been into a creative process writing new music since last year. We’re just collecting everything and figuring out the best way to get that out there. But we’re generating music and have been for a bit of time. With us trying to get back into a more usual pace with the band, after all this time, it’s nice that we’re getting a little bit of light on us at this moment, especially given that we’re engaging more than ever since like 2007, when we kind of let our foot off the gas.”

Spotify Plans New Remixing Tools

Wall Street Journal:

The audio streaming company is developing tools that would allow subscribers to speed up, mash up and otherwise edit songs from their favorite artists, according to people familiar with the discussions. It is a bet on the future of music consumption that Spotify hopes will deepen user engagement and appeal to young users, while generating new revenue for artists. 

Kinda hate this.

Jack Antonoff Writing Music for ‘Romeo + Juliet’ Reimagining

Bleachers

The Wrap:

Rachel Zegler (Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story) and Kit Connor (Netflix’s “Heartstopper”) will star in a new Broadway musical version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a reimagining with the modern political environment in mind that will premiere this fall. 

Directed by Tony winner Sam Gold, the production — stylized as “Romeo + Juliet” — will feature music by multiple-Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Jack Antonoff. Tony winner Sonya Tayeh is writing the movement.

Behind the Collapse of Vice

Elizabeth Lopatto, writing at The Verge:

Sometimes certain lines of business weren’t told about the revenue goals they were expected to fulfill. Meanwhile, the company’s actual accounting and expense controls were messy. For instance, Vice’s digital division had expenses from NetJets — a private jet service — on its profit and loss statement, two sources told me. (A third confirmed the NetJets account existed without saying which balance sheet it was on. Two sources took credit for eventually canceling the NetJets account. “Since at least 2021, Vice has not had a NetJets account,” according to Vice spokesperson Samira Sorzano.) One executive source alleged that the digital division was funding a production executive’s $350,000 salary — an executive who the source claims did virtually nothing. Another exec heard, to their shock, that someone had reportedly spent $24,000 on a one-way ticket from New York to London.

Matt Farley Tries to Match Every Search Term on Spotify

The New York Times

Brett Martin, writing for the New York Times:

Largely, though not entirely, on the strength of such songs, Farley has managed to achieve that most elusive of goals: a decent living creating music. In 2008, his search-engine optimization project took in $3,000; four years later, it had grown to $24,000. The introduction of Alexa and her voice-activated sistren opened up the theretofore underserved nontyping market, in particular the kind fond of shouting things like “Poop in my fingernails!” at the computer. “Poop in My Fingernails,” by the Toilet Bowl Cleaners, currently has over 4.4 million streams on Spotify alone. To date, that “band,” and the Odd Man Who Sings About Poop, Puke and Pee, have collectively brought in approximately $469,000 from various platforms. They are by far Farley’s biggest earners, but not the only ones: Papa Razzi and the Photogs has earned $41,000; the Best Birthday Song Band Ever, $38,000; the Guy Who Sings Your Name Over and Over, $80,000. Dozens of others have taken in two, three or four digits: the New Orleans Sports Band, the Chicago Sports Band, the Singing Film Critic, the Great Weather Song Person, the Paranormal Song Warrior, the Motern Media Holiday Singers, who perform 70 versions of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” substituting contemporary foods for figgy pudding. It adds up. Farley quit his day job in 2017.

Pitchfork Lived and Died by the Internet

Pitchfork

Nick Heer:

If your music listening experience is mostly driven by playlists and suggestions, you might be less interested in reviewers and critics. That is not a denigration of how anyone listens to music, mind you — I am not a prescriptivist about this kind of stuff. You should experience art in the way you choose.

But streaming music is ultimately just a catalogue into which anyone can dive. It reduces the bar to entry and, on the other side of the same coin, reduces the cost of exiting. If you do not like an album, there is not a $20 sunk cost compelling you to keep going. But you also do not need to spend $20 to experiment with something you are unsure if you will like.

Spotify Experimenting With Online Video Courses

Jon Porter, writing for The Verge:

Spotify’s UK users are getting access to a fourth category of content to sit alongside its existing library of songs, podcasts and audiobooks: online courses. The company is today launching a new experiment that’ll see video-based lessons from BBC Maestro, Skillshare, Thinkific, and PlayVirtuoso made available via Spotify’s apps on mobile and desktop. The experiment is running in just the UK, and there are currently no guarantees that it’ll get a wider more permanent launch.