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.

Report: Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane ‘Plans to Flee U.S.’

Anti-Flag

Rolling Stone:

Anti-Flag’s lead singer Justin Sane is planning to imminently flee the United States amid a sexual assault lawsuit brought against the punk rocker, according to legal documents obtained by Rolling Stone

Kristina Sarhadi filed an amended complaint in the Northern District Court of New York on Thursday, alleging that Sane — real name Justin Geever — has “purposefully and unlawfully attempted to avoid service” of her November 2023 sexual assault lawsuit. 

Instead, she claims in her lawsuit and an accompanying statement on Tuesday that Geever recently sold his Pittsburgh home and has “sought to hide his assets by transferring funds overseas to an Irish bank account.” Geever — who allegedly maintains a dual citizenship and has an Irish passport — “plans to flee to Europe within the next few days,” the suit claims. 

And:

But according to Sarhadi, the band has “taken extreme steps to avoid responsibility” and “sought to coax my forgiveness through a Restorative Justice process” only to abandon talks in early 2024. “To date, no member of Anti-Flag has owned up to their actions or apologized for failing their duty to reasonably protect their fans and community,” Sarhadi said in a press release. 

The Delivery Rider Who Took on His Faceless Boss

Financial Times:

UberCheats was an algorithm-auditing tool. Samii, who was working as a cycle courier for Uber in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the time, had lost trust in the automated system that essentially functioned as his boss. He had become convinced the Uber Eats app was consistently making errors and underpaying him. After weeks of trying and failing to get a human being at Uber to explain, he felt he had no choice but to take matters into his own hands.

Spotify Adding Music Videos

Spotify is rolling out music videos as a new beta feature for some artists.

The beta version of music videos on Spotify begins rolling out today with a limited catalog of music videos, including hits from global artists like Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat, and Ice Spice, or local favorites like Aluna and Asake.

New Music Streaming Bill Aims to Increase Streaming Royalties

Pitchfork

Pitchfork:

U.S. House representatives Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman have introduced to Congress a new bill aiming to boost streaming royalties for artists. The Living Wage for Musicians Act would create a new payment system, the Artist Compensation Royalty Fund, that circumvents record labels and other intermediaries, funneling listeners’ money directly to artists. Tlaib said in a statement, “Streaming has changed the music industry, but it’s leaving countless artists struggling to make ends meet behind. It’s only right that the people who create the music we love get their fair share, so that they can thrive, not just survive.”

The funds would come from two sources: an added subscription fee (proposed as an extra half, with a $4 minimum and $10 maximum) and a 10 percent cut of streamers’ non-subscription revenue, from sources such as ads. The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) has long supported the bill, noting that streaming platforms are already planning price hikes, and the proposal ensures extra fees go to the artists themselves.

Universal Music Still Not Available on TikTok

Technology

Reece Rogers, writing for Wired:

Over a month after the first songs vanished, it remains unclear when Universal and TikTok might reach new deals. “I think one of the risks for the music industry in general is if it turns out that the users on TikTok simply adapt,” says Cirisano, “and start using more unlicensed music. Start using more independent music. Start making more videos without music.” It’s quite frustrating for users to wake up one day and discover that videos with millions of views are now muted, and they might rethink their approach to making content.

Flop Rock: Inside the Underground Floppy Disk Music Scene

The Verge

The Verge:

Nobuko believes the proliferation of floppy music in Western cultures is linked to strong punk movements with a DIY aesthetic. “Also, the lobit scene seems to be bigger in countries that had bad internet connections, so they would already use lobit encoding to upload or download things online,” he explains. In a similar vein, Hilkmann believes that floppy recordings are an explicitly anti-capitalist niche that exists outside the usual means of publishing music today on Spotify and other streaming services. “A medium, artistically, is only interesting as long as it’s available,” he says. “Now that floppy disks are becoming more and more difficult to get, they’ve become more and more a collector’s item almost, while a few years ago, it was more like almost a trashy medium that you could quickly get your hands on and do fun things with.”

Adobe Reveals a GenAI Tool for Music

Technology

TechCrunch:

Today at the Hot Pod Summit in Brooklyn, Adobe unveiled Project Music GenAI Control, a platform that can generate audio from text descriptions (e.g. “happy dance,” “sad jazz”) or a reference melody and let users customize the results within the same workflow.

Using Project Music GenAI Control, users can adjust things like tempo, intensity, repeating patterns and structure. Or they can take a track and extend it to an arbitrary length, remixing music or creating an endless loop.

A video example.

G’Ra Asim Writes for the Boston Globe

Baby Got Backtalk

Baby Got Back Talk’s vocalist/bassist G’Ra Asim wrote an essay for the Boston Globe about the importance of keeping alternative music an equitable space:

Black History Month is getting a lot more punk rock. Today sees the release of “Articulate at That Level,” a mixtape featuring musicians of color and/or women artistswho are bona fide philosophers of rock. My band, Baby Got Back Talk, curated this playlist as a cross-section of the gnarliest noise emanating from today’s underground.

But make no mistake — the artists we’ve assembled aren’t tokens we scrounged up just to appease some fussy diversity, equity, and inclusion bureau. They represent the vanguard of alternative music in 2024.

Tennessee Republican Objects to Honoring Allison Russel

Grammys

The Tennessean:

Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, criticized House Republicans on Monday after a Republican leader objected to a ceremonial resolution honoring a Nashville-connected musician for winning a Grammy earlier this month.

Jones brought two resolutions to honor the band Paramore and singer-songwriter Allison Russell, who took home the Best American Roots Performance Grammy Award.

But House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, objected to the Russell resolution, a procedural move that kicked Jones’ resolution off the night’s consent calendar and back to committee, where objected consent items often die.

Well, that’s pretty fucking gross.