It May Be Time to Backup Your Bandcamp Purchases


David Rutland:

You can’t rely on other people or organisations to hold onto your media forever, and it’s a tired but true maxim that the cloud is just someone else’s machine.

If you’ve spent your hard earned cash supporting independent artists through Bandcamp, a series of ownership changes and layoffs suggest that now might be the best time for audiophiles to download their audio files to secure offline storage.


While we’re not saying that Bandcamp is going to disappear into nothing (MySpace is still around after all), we think it’s perhaps prudent to download your albums from Bandcamp and store them offline. You never know – that’s all we’re saying.

The Bandcamp UI isn’t really designed with massive downloads in mind, and there are a lot of boxes to tick.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to download all of your Bandcamp music using the excellent Batchcamp extension which is available as both a FireFox addon, or as a Google Chrome extension.

YouTube Negotiating With Labels Over AI


Lucas Sha, writing for Bloomberg, details the record labels and YouTube negotiating an AI tool that would let people create content using major musicians’ voices:

When YouTube hosted an event for creators in late September, the company unveiled a bunch of new AI-powered tools, including ones for video backgrounds and dubbing.

YouTube had hoped to unveil a tool that would let users perform using the voices of major musicians. Imagine you are an amateur creator uploading a video or a song, and you could sound like Dua Lipa.

Just one problem: None of the major music companies have agreed to participate — at least not yet. Music companies have some questions, and YouTube is still working to supply the answers.

This could be a pivotal moment for the use of AI in the creative industries. For all the fuss about the potential of AI, many of the most-hyped new tools have yet to establish meaningful commercial relationships with artists (aka rights holders). That’s why there are so many lawsuits; nobody has decided how copyright law is going to work in this new(ish) field.

While this is just a test — YouTube wants to try the feature with a little more than a dozen artists — it is still a negotiation between the largest music service in the world and the largest music companies that could result in artists consenting to the use of their work.

Look, I get it, I’m old and not cool and am probably yelling at clouds, but I can’t put into words how much I hate this idea.

Discogs’ Vibrant Vinyl Community Is Shattering

The Verge

Natalie Weiner, writing at The Verge:

Discogs attributed the need to raise fees to its “significant investments in recent years to ensure compliance with various regulatory programs, including tax support and privacy protection.” The company said the change would allow it to “continue to devote resources to maintaining the Discogs Marketplace and develop better tools for collecting, selling, and enjoying music.” 

Many sellers who spoke with The Verge speculated, in line with the viral thread, that the company was trying to pump up its valuation for a potential sale. All of them, though, had the sense that Discogs was trying to increase its profit margins without necessarily offering any improvements to its product in retur

Streaming Is Changing the Sound of Music

Wall Street Journal:

To keep the “skip rate” as low as possible, musical artists are increasingly moving a song’s hook or chorus to that initial 30-second sweet spot. Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding, the hosts of the “Switched on Pop” podcast, have coined the term “Pop Overture” to describe a new trend in which a song “will play a hint of the chorus in the first five to 10 seconds so that the hook is in your ear, hoping that you’ll stick around till about 30 seconds in when the full chorus eventually comes in.”

Creators are modifying more than just the introductory sections of tracks for optimal performance on streaming. Every track that is listened to for more than 30 seconds counts as a play, but whether a listener makes it all the way through a song helps to determine whether a streaming service like Spotify will recommend similar songs in the future.

Apple Acquires Classical Music Label


More than 80% of the music we listen to today is delivered over streaming, according to figures from last year. But when you look at classical music, it’s been a stubborn hold-out, accounting for just a tiny fraction of that, with just 0.8% of streams (and that’s in the stream-friendly market of the U.S.). Apple’s bet is that this percentage will grow, though, and it wants a piece of that action.

Robert von Bahr, founder of BIS:

We thought long and hard on how to maintain and build upon our prestigious history and looked for a partner who would further our mission, as well as an increased global platform to bring classical music to new audiences all over the world. Apple, with its own storied history of innovation and love of music, is the ideal home to usher in the next era of classical and has shown true commitment towards building a future in which classical music and technology work in harmony. It is my vision and my sincerest dream that we are all a part of this future.

TikTok Is Launching a Livestream Music Competition

Fan Shot Video

Mia Sato, writing at The Verge:

TikTok will host a music contest similar to popular talent shows like The Voice, the company announced today. The competition, called Gimme the Mic, will be held on TikTok livestreams and will incorporate live voting from fans as part of the contest.

The competition is split into three portions: audition, semifinal, and the grand finale. Beginning today, budding artists can submit a 30-second audition video using the #GIMMETHEMIC hashtag. The top 30 submissions will then advance to the semifinal, where they will pair up and perform in a livestreamed event. Live viewers will be able to vote for their favorites to advance. The September 10th US finale will include the top 10 performers — one of whom will get to compete in a global competition with winners from around the world.

Google and Universal Music Negotiate Deal Over AI ‘Deepfakes’


Financial Times:

Google and Universal Music are in talks to license artists’ melodies and voices for songs generated by artificial intelligence as the music business tries to monetise one of its biggest threats. The discussions, confirmed by four people familiar with the matter, aim to strike a partnership for an industry that is grappling with the implications of new AI technology. The rise of generative AI has bred a surge in “deepfake” songs that can convincingly mimic the voices, lyrics or sound of established artists, often without their consent.

Artists Pledge Boycott to Facial Recognition at Live Events

Fan Shot Video

Ethan Millman, writing at Rolling Stone:

Over 100 artists including Rage Against the Machine co-founders Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha, along with Boots Riley and Speedy Ortiz, have announced that they are boycotting any concert venue that uses facial recognition technology, citing concerns that the tech infringes on privacy and increases discrimination. 

The boycott, organized by the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, calls for the ban of face-scanning technology at all live events. Several smaller independent concert venues across the country, including the House of Yes in Brooklyn, the Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles, and Black Cat in D.C., also pledged to not use facial recognition tech for their shows. Other artists who said they would boycott include Anti-Flag, Wheatus, Downtown Boys, and over 80 additional artists. The full list of signatories is available here.

Spotify Planning More Expensive Subscription Tier

The Verge:

Spotify is reportedly planning to include lossless audio streaming in a new, more expensive subscription tier codenamed “Supremium” internally, according to Bloomberg. The lossless streaming feature was first announced in February 2021 as “Spotify HiFi,” but is still yet to release over two years later. Bloomberg reports that the new more expensive plan could release later this year, initially in non-US markets. 

The pricing of Spotify HiFi has been a source of much speculation in the years since its announcement, especially after competitors Amazon Music and Apple Music started offering lossless streaming as part of their standard plans at no additional charge. Bloomberg reports that Spotify delayed the release of HiFi after Amazon and Apple’s announcements.

Key Word Spam is Ruining the Web

Mia Sato, writing for The Verge:

[Jennifer] Dziura still updates her personal blog — these are words for people.

The shop blog, meanwhile, is the opposite. Packed with SEO keywords and phrases and generated using artificial intelligence tools, the Get Bullish store blog posts act as a funnel for consumers coming from Google Search, looking for things like Mother’s Day gifts, items with swear words, or gnome decor. On one hand, shoppers can peruse a list of products for sale — traffic picks up especially around holidays — but the words on the page, Dziura says, are not being read by people. These blogs are for Google Search.

Nick Heer comments:

The sharp divergence between writing for real people and creating material for Google’s use has become so obvious over the past few years that it has managed to worsen both Google’s own results and the web at large. The small business owners profiled by Sato are in an exhausting fight with automated chum machines generating supposedly “authoritative” articles. When a measure becomes a target — well, you know.

Amen. Pieced together with this article talking about just how badly Reddit (and Twitter) fucked up really puts a point on just how much worse the internet has become:

We are living through the end of the useful internet. The future is informed discussion behind locked doors, in Discords and private fora, with the public-facing web increasingly filled with detritus generated by LLMs, bearing only a stylistic resemblance to useful information. Finding unbiased and independent product reviews, expert tech support, and all manner of helpful advice will now resemble the process by which one now searches for illegal sports streams or pirated journal articles. The decades of real human conversation hosted at places like Reddit will prove useful training material for the mindless bots and deceptive marketers that replace it.

I guess there’s a reason I’m nostalgic for, and still run, a blog that’s about stuff I want to write about. But I’d be lying if I don’t feel like a dying breed. A dinosaur watching the astroid from my bedroom window.

Apollo Shutting Down


The best Reddit app, Apollo, is shutting down due to Reddit’s API changes:

Eight years ago, I posted in the Apple subreddit about a Reddit app I was looking for beta testers for, and my life completely changed that day. I just finished university and an internship at Apple, and wanted to build a Reddit client of my own: a premier, customizable, well-designed Reddit app for iPhone. This fortunately resonated with people immediately, and it’s been my full time job ever since.

Today’s a much sadder post than that initial one eight years ago. June 30th will be Apollo’s last day.

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.

Google Releases Text-to-Music Tool


Kyle Wiggers, writing at TechCrunch:

Google today released MusicLM, a new experimental AI tool that can turn text descriptions into music. Available in the AI Test Kitchen app on the web, Android or iOS, MusicLM lets users type in a prompt like “soulful jazz for a dinner party” or “create an industrial techno sound that is hypnotic” and have the tool create several versions of the song.

Users can specify instruments like “electronic” or “classical,” as well as the “vibe, mood, or emotion” they’re aiming for, as they refine their MusicLM-generated creations.