By: The Busted Amp Staff
It's that time of year again; the GRAMMYS have released their 2016 nominees. And for people who still take stock in these sort of things, the release of the nominees is like a second Christmas
While we at the Busted Amp don't like the popularity (or name recognition) contest that the GRAMMYS can so often be, we'd be remiss to not give an overview for your viewing pleasure. (Stay tuned later this month for our end of year lists!)
Without further adieu, here are the nominees:
Boy, are there some head scratchers in this bunch. I think this award comes down the 1989 vs. To Pimp a Butterfly. There's no denying that Taylor Swift put out the epitome of a good pop album this year, and naysayers of the genre need not look farther than Ryan Adams' cover album to see that the songs have cross-genre appeal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Kendrick Lamar gave the world a poignant, politically charged, genre-fusing hip-hop masterpiece that cemented his spot in the top echelon of rap artists.
Admittedly, I was not super familiar with Chris Stapleton, and even though I think Traveller is a better country release than just about anything else in the genre this year, I cannot see it being more appealing than the above two. Sorry Chris. Last but not least, Alabama Shakes. This is the pick that, throughout the varies categories, I don't understand. Yes, I thought Sound & Color was a good album, and I liked the change of direction that the band took from their debut Boys & Girls, but that's about it. For me, this album didn't have nearly the punch as To Pimp a Butterfly or the repeatability of 1989. In fact, after a while I thought the album was a little forgettable, even in its own genre, which I'll talk about a little later.
We are going to agree on this one. Both in who should win and who will win. The GRAMMYS are absolutely going to favor the popular selection as they always do, but as usual the popular selection is not the best. While none of these albums will likely make it on my top 5 albums of the year, only one of them will make it to my top 10. King Kendrick's latest album is a cultural masterpiece, and one that will be looked at in the future as the 2010's Straight Outta Compton or The Chronic. It's already being compared to some of the greatest and culturally relevant hip hop albums ever. But none of those albums won a GRAMMY, and the same will almost certainly stay true here. It's been over a year since 1989 was dropped, but it's easy to forget that it was 2014's only album to go platinum on the sales charts. While it's definitely not the best album of the last year, it's hard to justify not rewarding the success of 2014's biggest seller. Expect this one to be winning a lot of undeserved awards. Don't worry, Adele fans: this will be her next year.
PS-While it's on a totally unrelated note, don't cast aside Chris Stapleton's debut album. Now granted I live in Nashville so I'm in the heart of country music, but I cannot tell you how many people have come into my store asking for his album. I've had more requests for this artist's new album in the last few months than any other artist combined. Just saying.
Who should win: Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (consensus)
Who will win: Taylor Swift - 1989
Another easy to predict category. None of these songs are anywhere near my top 10 songs of the year, but then again they never are. This one is T. Swift's category to lose, but out of these choices I would personally go for "Girl Crush." Derek and I will likely disagree on this one, but honestly "Alright" was not my favorite single from King Kendrick. However the raw emotion of "Girl Crush" is what ultimately does it for me. But here I'm really just picking my favorite song out of a list of, frankly, dull songs. In my opinion the GRAMMYS put together this list so they could give T. Swift a GRAMMY among a group where even haters would have to agree it's ok she wins.
On another note, why is "Blank Space" specifically up for all the awards? Wasn't "Shake It Off" the more popular song? I know I liked that song far more than "Blank Space." Honestly I thought "Blank Space" was pretty forgettable. Oh well. What do I know.
Ah, the old "Record of the Year vs. Song of the Year" debate, we meet again. It's my understanding that Record of the Year is more about songwriting and Song of the Year is "the year's best single". If that's the case, then they got these nominations pretty right for what you'd expect them to be. Don't speak too soon, Joe, "Alright" isn't my favorite single either, and especially in the context of songwriting. "King Kunta" takes the cake there. But I digress.
Taylor Swift is bound to win a few of these, it's just a matter of which ones. I think she takes this one instead of Record of the Year, and that's fine with me.
Who should win: None of them, Derek: Taylor Swift - "Blank Space"
Who will win: Taylor Swift - "Blank Space" (consensus)
Hey! I actually have a preference here! "Uptown Funk" was easily my favorite mainstream hit from the past year. Its awesome combination of modern-day electronic music and '80s style funk made it the catchiest and funnest single of the year in my opinion. It absolutely deserves this award, but will it win it? Probably not. Once again I expect the committee to cave and give another award to Taylor Swift, because she really needs more recognition. But in all seriousness, this is a pretty tight category when it comes to successful singles from the past year. Definitely tighter than Song of the Year. I think the consensus will be pretty split between "Blank Space" and "Uptown Funk," however this split may open the door to pretty much anyone in this category. If The Weeknd's name gets called here, I would honestly not be even remotely surprised.
There's no doubt that "Uptown Funk" has been one of the biggest earworm in recent memory. That old school feeling, Bruno Mars, and all the girls hitting you hallelujah (woo!). When it comes to the best single, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are the heavyweights. The only problem being that they're up against other heavyweights. Taylor Swift and The Weeknd released two powerhouse songs of their own. Personally, I don't think "Blank Space" is as strong as, say, "Shake It Off", but both it and "Can't Feel My Face" are going to make this category mighty interesting. As for the other two nominees, Ed Sheeran has the unfortunate match up against the formerly mentioned songs, and this year "Thinking Out Loud" just doesn't have the fighting power. I'd be shocked if D'Angelo wins, not that "Really Love" isn't a good song, but to me it's not even in the same league.
Who I think should win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - "Uptown Funk" (consensus)
Who will win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - "Uptown Funk"
This category has always been one of the most mind-boggling, frustrating categories of the GRAMMYS, especially recently. I think the favorite to win this category is Meghan Trainor, even though she was nominated twice last year for Record and Song of the Year for "All About That Bass". I think between Sam Hunt, James Bay, and Tori Kelly, it's really anyone's game. Hunt is also nominated for Country Album of the Year, so I think his chances are a bit higher than the rest. The indie crowd, including myself, are going to be pulling for Australian Courtney Barnett because of her fantastic release Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, which has, in my opinion, some of the best storytelling of any album released this
I definitely agree that in recent years this category has been a head-scratcher. I think Meghan Trainor will win this category easily because GRAMMYS will want to include her in this year's festivities somehow. Even though she was also nominated last year....? This makes little sense, but I won't question it. I'll be hoping for Courtney Barnett to pull off the upset but I think too many pop fans would storm the Twitter front if she actually did for the GRAMMYS taste. I do miss the years when Bon Iver would win and the pop fans would storm Twitter though....
Who should win: Courtney Barnett
Who will win: Meghan Trainor
I have a few bones to pick with this year's Rock Album nominees. First, how in the world do they consider James Bay rock? Second, if Slipknot's song "Custer" is up for Best Metal Performance, how is the album up for Best Rock Album and not Best Metal Album? Third, Muse's album Drones has to be one of the biggest piles of shit this year. It was utterly terrible and borderline unlistenable. Either I'm just getting old, forgot what rock is, or this category is nothing but junk this year. I certainly don't think rock had this bad of a year.
Out of this list, give the GRAMMYS to Death Cab For Cutie, even though I didn't think that album was phenomenal either, but at least it was dark and brooding because Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel divorced. This list is so forgettable that I don't have any clue who they'll actually pick. I'm going to say James Bay for the sole reason that he's had the biggest "hits" of this year from the nominees. Either him or Muse - solely because of name recognition, because it can't possibly be for the actual album.
Lol. That's all I have to say. Every year, the GRAMMYS have at least one "Lol" category with an absolutely ridiculous group of members comprising the category. Last year it was the Best Metal Category. This year it's the Best Rock Category. I really don't care for any of these albums, so I will refrain from having a stake in this fight at all, but I will 100% agree with Derek. Muse was once my favorite band. I stuck with them all the way through The Resistance, but in recent years even I admit they have lost much of their former glory, and the fact that they are on this list is an insult to the genre. I'm worried that the GRAMMYS will take this whole thing one step further and even nominate them for a victory simply due to the recognizability of their name. But, I don't think they will go THAT far and will instead hand this ridiculous category to James Bay. Shame on you, GRAMMYS.
Who Derek wants to win: Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi
Who will win: James Bay - Chaos and the Calm
For clarity, Best Performance is for the people who actually perform the song as well as the songwriters. Best Song (see below) is for the songwriters only.
The inclusion of Alabama Shakes was a no brainer considering their inclusion in the Album of the Year discussions. It's definitely the single that's gotten the most airplay from the album, and a worthy addition to the nominees since there is no "Best Alternative Performance". "Something From Nothing" was the best single on the new Foo Fighters ambitious album/tv series, even though the tv series was much better than the album itself. Wolf Alice is huge across the pond in the UK, but hasn't quite broken out here in the USA yet. A win here could change all of that, and "Moaning Lisa Smile" is a churning, guttural jam of a song to debut with.
I'm a little confused on the category choices for Florence + The Machine and Elle King. Florence is also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Elle, in my opinion, is straight up pop. Despite all of this, I think Florence + The Machine take the prize.
Ya, I think Florence is on this list so she can win a category, because she is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of rock music. She's also not the second or third thing that comes to mind either. Yet, here she is, and she'll likely win the category. Which is a shame because, while I do like Florence Welch despite my terrible experience seeing her live, I absolutely loved "Moaning Lisa Smile." It's one of my favorite songs of the year and is a shining example of where the rock genre can move towards. Never thought I'd be upset at the prospect of Florence Welch winning a GRAMMY but I guess that day was bound to come eventually.
Who should win: Wolf Alice - "Moaning Lisa Smile"
Who will win: Florence + The Machine - "What Kind of Man"
Again, for clarity, Best Performance is for the people who actually perform the song as well as the songwriters (see above). Best Song is for the songwriters only.
My opinions here aren't much different than the Rock Performance category. I don't see why the songwriting for James Bay and Highly Suspect are any better than Wolf Alice, Foo Fighters, and even Courtney Barnett, who's up for Best New Artist.
If Florence wins the last category, Elle King will win this one. Or it will be reversed. This year rock was the official dumping ground for the GRAMMYS, with most of the picks making little to no sense or not even being classified as rock by everyone but the GRAMMYS. And ya, why are James Bay and Highly Suspect both in this category when Wolf Alice and Foo Fighters aren't? And why least rock-iest tracks in both categories? Oh. That's right. So the GRAMMYS can give them these categories and let T. Swift sweep the pop categories. Give the people what they want, right?
Who should win: Alabama Shakes - "Don't Wanna Fight"
Who will win: Elle King - "Ex's & Oh's"
I think I am one of the few people in the music world that doesn't understand why Bjork gets the praise that she does. To me, at least, her voice is abrasive and hard to listen to and a lot of the music is jumbled and noisy. Part of me wouldn't be surprised if she takes this category, because she has 14 nominations without a win, which is the sixth highest all time without a win. I think it would be unfortunate if she got it here though.
The big gun here is obviously Alabama Shakes, who is also nominated for Album of the Year. If they don't win the latter, I wouldn't be surprised if they win this. If they do win Album of the Year, however, I can see this award going to someone else.
Personally, I'm rooting for Tame Impala, which put out one of the best records of the year, and an album I'm still listening to on heavy repeat. I wouldn't be shocked if they gave it to Wilco because they have a pretty huge following and Star Wars was a pretty decent album overall...(Star Wars HYPE).
I think My Morning Jacket is the clear underdog here with The Waterfall, even though it was a solid follow-up to the also GRAMMY nominated Circuital. Even though I think hit a sweet spot between Circuital and frontman Jim James' solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God, I think there are too many better choices here for them to garner the necessary votes.
For all my bitching about the GRAMMYS, I will give them this category. They did an excellent job here, lining up some of the best albums of the year in this category. I'm with Derek on this one, though: I really want to see Tame Impala walk away with the most prestigious honor at this year's ceremony, but I don't think the GRAMMYS have the guts to give this award to an experimental/psychedelic group. No, I think we'll just have to be impressed with the fact that they even received a nomination. I think this award will come down to either Bjork or Alabama Shakes.
While I do like Bjork more than Derek does, I do also think she's rather overrated. So many people revere Bjork, and I don't really see why short of the fact that she's inspired a lot of big name artists we see today. But this album to me was just meh, and it would be a damn shame to see this category go to her simply because the GRAMMYS feel bad they've nominated her 14 times without a nomination, because her fans are the kind of fans to be acutely aware of this fact. Wilco stands a pretty good chance just because of his fervently loyal following, but his following also couldn't care less how many awards his albums receive. Alabama Shakes will likely be the ones to walk away with this award, especially since they don't stand a chance in the main category against T. Swift. I'm ok with this because Sound & Color is an excellent album, but both My Morning Jacket and Tame Impala had better albums this year.
Who should win: Tame Impala - Currents
Who will win: Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
While there are a lot of other categories we could talk about, that would make for a ridiculously long post, so we'll just leave you with some of our thoughts.
While we can be left to wonder what the heck the GRAMMYS were thinking with their rock categories, it's pretty hard to deny that Kendrick Lamar is going to sweep the rap categories. Especially given the infamous "Macklemore over Kendrick" debacle that happened a few years ago. The Best Country Album category is also going to be a tight one, with the GRAMMYS likely wanting to hand the award to Sam Hunt or Kacey Musgraves to stay in line with "pop" country, but they'll be overlooking one of the best traditional country albums of recent memory in The Traveler in the process. Other than that, the only other thing I want to mention is the egregious overlook of Kamasi Washington's The Epic in Best Jazz Album. That's a head-scratcher if I ever saw one, given the fact that The Epic is very close to my favorite album of the year and a monumental accomplishment within the jazz world, but whatever, guys. That's cool.
I could not agree more with Kamasi Washington. The Epic is a fascinating, heart-stopping, exhilarating adventure and its absence on the nominee list for Best Jazz Album is a travesty. For Best Country Album, I was not at all impressed with Kacey Musgraves' album, and I found her live act at Bunbury Music Festival to be lacking in both energy and interesting material. I think this one goes to the heavy hitting newcomer, Chris Stapleton, who actually released a gritty, relatable album.. And finally, for the rap categories, Kendrick is life, Kendrick is love.
Enjoy the show.
By: Joseph Kathmann
Last week, a major event went down in the music industry. SESAC, the third-largest performing rights organization, or PRO, in the country, purchased Harry Fox Agency, the country's only distributor of mechanical royalties. Isn't that amazing? Did I just blow your mind? I know. It's hard not to be blown away by that news. Well, for those of you who have no idea what I just said, I'll fill you in. So SESAC (what that stands for is outdated so don't worry about it) is one of three performing rights organizations in the great US of A. What does that mean? Well, a PRO is what gets songwriters paid. They are the distributors of royalties, or what a songwriter lives off of as he/she tries to makes a living. So why do songwriters exist? Well, many major pop and country artists today do not write their own music. They simply perform it. This practice is so widespread that Taylor Swift makes a big deal out of the fact that she's also her own songwriter. The practice also dates back to the dawn of modern music. Elvis? He was a performer, not a songwriter. The Rolling Stones manager famously locked Keith Richards and Mick Jagger in a room until they came out with an original song, "As Tears Go By," and wrote their own music ever since. There's a lot of money to be had in being a songwriter, which is why many make a (somewhat) comfortable living doing it.
Next up, what's a mechanical royalty? A mechanical royalty is a the royalty a songwriter gets from every album sold. Right now, when you buy Brad Paisley's hit single "Whiskey Lullaby," songwriter Jon Randall gets a mechanical royalty for it. When you buy Paisley's album Mud on the Tires, Randall will get another mechanical royalty for that song and any other song he wrote on the album. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's a rough summary of what a mechanical royalty is.
So, now that you know what everything means, is it a big deal to you yet that SESAC bought Harry Fox Agency? No? Well, here's why it matters: up until now, Harry Fox Agency was the sole distributor of mechanical royalties. They kept the royalties the exact same for every songwriter and artist, regardless of what PRO they belonged to, (there are three in the US, remember, and every selling artist and songwriter in the country is a member of one of them) and everything went by smoothly. That is, until the Internet came along.
The dawn of streaming services, both for music (Spotify) and TV shows, (Netflix) and piracy has thrown mechanical royalties for a major loop. Time after time we see a songwriter come out and say they made only $2,700 in songwriting royalties off a song streamed 43 million times on Pandora. We see songwriters complain about laughably minuscule royalties on their music in TV shows that's streamed on Netflix. iTunes has been targeted for not distributing royalties properly. The numbers are wildly inconsistent, and songwriters are struggling to even make a poor living off of these small royalty checks nowadays. In an attempt to combat this, the other two PROs, ASCAP and BMI, (both have more songwriters in their memberships than SESAC) have been lobbying Congress recently to allow them to distribute mechanical royalties (and other royalties, but we won't get into that). They are doing this in an attempt to make themselves look more appealing for incoming songwriters who are trying to decide which PRO to join, while also benefiting these songwriters by distributing higher/more thorough mechanical royalties in the process. The problem with this is that ASCAP and BMI are publicly traded companies; they are reigned in by government laws, many of which were put in place before anyone had even heard of the word "internet." The rumor had long been that had ASCAP and BMI successfully convinced Congress to allow them to get into the mechanical royalty business, SESAC, a privately-owned company, would purchase Harry Fox Agency to compete with ASCAP and BMI. Well, even though ASCAP and BMI have yet to convince Congress to let them in on the mechanical royalties game, SESAC went ahead and purchased Harry Fox Agency to get a head-start on the other two PROs.
So, now that I bored you with a lot of music industry drama, here's the question that matters. Why should you care? After all you don't care about songwriters, you just want good music right? Well, that's exactly it. Without Mark Ronson, there is no "Uptown Funk." Without Pharrell, there is no "Blurred Lines." Without Leonard Cohen, there is no "Hallelujah." Without Albert Hammond, there is no "One Moment in Time." The songwriter is a pivotal part of the creative process, and nowadays they are treated with little to no respect. After all, Beyoncé has more money than she knows what to do with, so why should we care about where the money goes. Well, because there are thousands of talented songwriters vying to get their music heard. Vying just to make a living doing what they love. Julie Keltonic is a songwriter (and a member of SESAC) who has made a living writing Christian music. "I see so many insanely talented writers turning away from their calling, and perusing other industries in the name of survival," she says. "We need people advocating for writers."
That's what SESAC is hoping to do by purchasing Harry Fox Agency. Many songwriters have never seen a check from Harry Fox Agency-mechanical royalties always get sent to the PRO and publishers first before being distributed to the songwriter-but with SESAC's acquisition, many songwriters within the PRO will likely see an increase in mechanical royalties in time. This acquisition also puts additional pressure on Congress to allow ASCAP and BMI to distribute mechanical royalties as well. Additional competition = higher royalties for songwriters. Higher royalties for songwriters = better songs written as fewer talented songwriters are discouraged by a lack of money in the industry. Better songs written = better music you get to listen to! Better music is always good, right? While this acquisition will not fix all the problems within the music industry, (not by a long shot, but that's for another conversation) it's definitely a mighty good place to start. "I look forward to seeing how [SESAC] implements new ideas to make licensing more valuable for writers and publishers," Keltonic says. "I trust the people at SESAC to continue their good work with their new acquisition."
http://www.musicrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/sesac-hfa.jpg (SESAC, HFA photo)
http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18iwgcfj83c3gpng/original.png (Spotify logo)
http://assets.rollingstone.com/assets/images/story/exclusive-book-excerpt-leonard-cohen-writes-hallelujah-in-the-holy-or-the-broken-20121203/leonardcohen-624x420-1354563972.jpg (Leonard Cohen photo)
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Well, it's hard to believe, but we're already halfway through 2015. So, it's only natural for us to talk about some of our favorite albums of the year so far, right? We have a few categories on this list. First is our top five albums of 2015 so far. Then, we'll talk about what we feel is the most disappointing album of the year thus far, and then a few songs that we've been playing on repeat for the last few months. Ok ready?
JOSEPH'S FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2015 SO FAR (In no particular order - scroll over the album for an explanation.)
Twenty One Pilots - Blurryface
Kamasi Washington - The Epic
Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
Susanne Sundør - Ten Love Songs
JOSEPH'S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2015 SO FAR
Mumford and Sons - Wilder Mind
For all the hype surrounding this album; with the hullabaloo surrounding the notion that Mumford and Sons were "going electric," what we got was an extremely bland The National-ripoff. I've listened to Sigh No More so much in the car, but now, two albums later, Mumford and Sons have all but lost the magic of that first album that made them as a great as they were. What's worse, now we might get one more electric album before we get a "triumphant return to folk" or some crap. You used to be good, Mumford and Sons....
JOSEPH'S FAVORITE SONGS OF 2015 SO FAR (In no particular order)
Florence + The Machine - "Delilah"
X Ambassadors - "Unsteady"
Father John Misty - "Chateau Lobby #4"
Twenty One Pilots - "Heavydirtysoul"
Susanne Sundfør - "Memorial"
DEREK'S TOP FIVE ALBUMS OF 2015 SO FAR (In no particular order - scroll over the album for an explanation)
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
Kamasi Washington - The Epic
The Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
The Lone Bellow - Then Came The Morning
DEREK'S BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2015 SO FAR
Mumford and Sons - Wilder Mind
It's Bob Dylan goes electric...badly.
DEREK'S FAVORITE SONGS OF 2015 SO FAR
Tame Impala - "Let It Happen"
The Decemberists - "Make You Better"
Shamir - "On The Regular"
Houndmouth - "Sedona"
By: Derek Jung with an addendum from Joseph Kathmann
DEREK: Cincinnati production company Self Diploma announced Monday evening that it will be cancelling its popular summer concert series on Fountain Square in response to the violence that led to at least seven arrests, one hospitalization, and a two injured police officers. The series, which has hosted some of the biggest up-and-coming hip-hop and electronic artists as well as popular DJs, often attracts several thousand attendees to the square on Saturday nights during the summer.
According to police reports, groups in the crowd became unruly around 11pm, and when officers moved in, they started throwing bottles, fireworks, and other items at police. Backup was called and officers in full riot gear eventually dispersed the crowd. Read a full report of the incident here.
My family and I were unlucky enough to stumble upon the aftermath of the unrest. We were about a half block away from the square when we heard two distinct booms approximately a half second apart. Immediately a flood of people turned the corner of 5th Street and Walnut and ran south towards us. While we later learned that people were setting off fireworks in trash cans, at the time we thought for sure that it was gun fire. We ran down to 4th Street and west to Vine before entering the hotel adjacent to the square to avoid the chaos. I counted around a dozen police cars on scene, but by that time the incident was over.
Many people have been clamoring about the racial implications of cancelling the series, and while I do think that the Self Diploma concerts have a higher minority demographic than the Midpoint Indie series on Friday or other events during the week, I think organizers made the right decision in cancelling the remaining dates after this coming weekend's show. This wasn't the first incident at one of their shows. Police have been called on several occasions in the past for rowdy and disorderly crowds, but nothing of this magnitude.
I think the Self Diploma shows could return given appropriate security changes. For example, I think that these events need to be at least 18+, preferably 21+. Three of the seven people arrested were between the ages of 16 and 23, and witnesses at the scene have said that it was these teenagers specifically that instigated and escalated the violence. I think next week's show, which Self Diploma stated will have extra security, is a big test as to whether a return would be an option with the City, 3CDC, and with sponsors. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Self Diploma has now cancelled next week's show as well) In a city environment that is already on edge from the jump in gun violence this year and being in the spotlight for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game next week, this was an unneeded black eye that necessitated a swift, albeit unfortunate response.
Read Self Diploma's full press release below.
JOSEPH: I wasn't there. Let's just get that out of the way. So I can't provide a firsthand account. That's Derek's job, and he did it swimmingly. However, I have been following the situation closely, and am disappointed with fallout. While ultimately necessary, it is unfortunate to see this great event be cancelled outright because of this incident. My biggest quirk, however, is how this event immediately became an issue of race. Conservatives are upset because a couple African American teens beat up a White dude and it was recorded, and are now looking at the actions of a few as a representation of the entire African American community. Liberals are now upset with response of the city and Self Diploma, claiming that the city is racist themselves for canceling the concert series. Well, I'm going to upset everyone: hush up. Seriously. You're both wrong. Conservatives: group mentality is a powerful thing. Systemic racism has been piling up all across the country like gasoline, and all it takes is one person to throw a match on the situation in any way and it lights the fire of group mentality. Once the crowd got rowdy, there was no stopping it. And don't say you'd act any differently. Had you been an African American forced to grow up in constant fear of being targeted because of the color of your skin, you would've done the exact same thing in that moment on Fountain Square. If you deny that, you're just ignorant. I don't care how you were raised, because there were lots of good people in that mob too. Liberals: the city has to do everything they can to ensure that we don't have an incident like this during All-Star Week. For one week, we are on the national stage, and if we mess it up it will tarnish the image of the city for a ridiculously long time. Honestly part of me was shocked that this event wasn't cancelled sooner just as a precaution. I wouldn't have even blamed them then. The city needs to do everything in its power to make the biggest week of the year go by perfectly, and if that means canceling the entire Fountain Square concert series for a few weeks, then I wouldn't complain. You have to look at the big picture, guys. Here's to hoping they bring it back next year, and we be more grateful for it when they do.
EDIT: Yesterday, Self Diploma cancelled this Saturday's performance as well. With the start of All-Star Week on Sunday, the city felt the move was necessary. Self Diploma hopes to return next year.
By: The Busted Amp Staff
JOSEPH: So, let's talk about the big issue rattling everyone's brains right now: Apple Music. As you know, there's been a lot of controversy surrounding this new streaming service. The biggest of which was the controversy surrounding the issue of royalties (or lack there of) due to artists during the service's 3-month trial period. A contract was leaked by the record industry that said that no royalties whatsoever would be paid to artists, labels, or anyone while us, the listener, was using the trial period of the service. Or if someone was given the service for free from Apple. The timing would be killer: the 3-month trial period would kill indie artists everywhere that release their music before the holiday season. Traditionally, the holiday season is when major artists drop new albums, and as a result indies tend to avoid this time because, as much as I'd like to think Kishi Bashi can compete with Beyonce, he cannot. So all of their new music would be streamed to no end on Apple Music, and they wouldn't see a dime of revenue for it. Additionally, there were reports of Apple threatening smaller labels and artists, saying, "If you don't put your music on Apple Music, we're going to remove it from iTunes." This would obviously kill smaller artists, as their biggest revenue stream digitally is still purchases on iTunes. However, Taylor Swift recently used her power as an extremely influential artist to write an open letter to Apple vowing to never put her music on the site because of these tactics. Then, suddenly, Apple changed its mind. Now, they will pay royalties during the trial period, however I'm not convinced everything is now perfect in Cupertino.
I'm about to kick it over to you, Derek, but I wanna throw up a few quick thoughts to get us going: I'm not buying the whole Taylor Swift and Apple were in cohorts conspiracy theories. However, I don't trust Apple at all. I say this as I type on my 2010 MacBook Pro, and I'll likely text you in a bit from my iPhone 5, and before I go to bed I'll scour my iPad 2's MLB At Bat app for a few Cincinnati Reds highlights. (If there are any.) But my trust in the company has been completely destroyed in the last year, as I've watched the company become more obsessed with itself and more and more anti-consumer in the process. Apple's entry into the streaming industry has been surrounded by controversy, (let's not forget how before the announcement of Apple Music, they were putting pressure on labels to get them to ask Spotify to remove their free tier completely-the definition of a conflict of interest and one which they are still in legal heat over) and also why the largest company in the WORLD, with more market capital than anyone else in the WORLD, couldn't afford to spare some money to give to artists during their trial period is BEYOND me. They are trying to position themselves as the saviors of the music industry. How do they expect to convince those of us who care about the music industry's well-being that they're our saviors when it takes Taylor Swift getting the mainstream listener involved for them to be like, "Whoa. You're right. We'll pay you." I mean, seriously? I'll tell you what I think I'm going to do, Derek. I will likely use this service for about a day, then I'm going to go back to my Spotify Premium. Sure, Spotify has its problems, but at least it doesn't threaten indie artists with removing their music from iTunes if they don't agree to Apple Music's stipulations. What do you think?
DEREK: First off, let me say that the last Apple product that I bought was an iPod Classic because it had the most space for an MP3 player and I had a substantial music library at the time, so I am not beholden to the almighty Apple. Second, I think that you made some great points about Apple's motivation (good or bad) for not paying artists during the first 3 months. I think that, as a publicly traded company, they are expected to trim expenses where they can.
In this respect, one can also argue that since record labels agreed to these terms with Apple, artists like Taylor Swift have less of a right to disagree with terms their labels agreed to already. This is from a purely business perspective and not at all on what I consider right or wrong.
I think Taylor needs to have more understanding of what people in her camp are doing. She's been getting some backlash from photographers for what her management firm makes them agree to in order to shoot her concerts. Namely, the photographer has to get permission every time they use or publish pictures taken at her shows. Critics, including myself, say that photographers should have exclusive rights to their photographs without exception because that is their art form, just as music is to Taylor Swift. If she is going to publicly claim that her rights as an artist are being violated by Apple Music, she needs to know the nuances of her business as a whole too.
In the end, this may be one of the nails in the coffin for Apple Music. I think one thing that AM has over a service like TIDAL is that most people have already used the iTunes Store. There's already brand recognition beyond that of the artists involved. The problem with being one of the last to enter a market is that, as was a problem for TIDAL, people are already in the habit of using services like Pandora or Spotify. I have yet to see a reason, application feature or pricing, what would take me away from a freemium service that I'm already in the habit of using. I can tell you right away that I haven't tried TIDAL, I have no plans to try Apple Music, and I probably won't try whatever else is released until there are service features that get me excited enough to change my habits.
JOSEPH: Excellent points. Building off what you said towards the end there, I really think Apple is going to back track on not having a free tier shortly after the 3 month trial period ends and the service sees a mass exodus. So it's important for them as a company and for the artists/labels involved that are putting their music on there that they begin to establish royalties for the inevitable free tier once they go freemium. Not only that, but now they've put themselves in the position to give any amount they want for royalties on the trial tier that will likely transfer over to the freemium tier. Can you say $1 for 1,000,000 streams? Given Apple's recent track record, this is a very scary possibility to me.
Now I'm not going to sit here and call Taylor Swift a savior, because she has her own problems for sure. But at least she has the balls to step up and use her power and influence as a major mainstream artist for good. Because all of you saying that this should've been an indie artist who sent in the open letter instead of Taylor Swift, I got news for you: the only people who care what Automagik has to think is Automagik fans. That's it. Most of their 2,000 Facebook fans will say, "Right on guys! Way to speak the truth and stand up for what you believe in!" and then do nothing. But every mainstream fan will say, "Who?" and then stop caring. That is if they even hear about it. The music industry DESPERATELY needs more mainstream musicians willing to stand up for controversial beliefs like Taylor Swift does, and even though she is far from perfect herself, I still respect her tremendously for at least putting herself out there.
Finally, the music industry has long struggled to come to grips with the popularity of digital media, and they have always been behind on the popularity of anything involved with it. The notion that Apple is going to save the music industry? Well, if Steve Jobs were still alive and a major piece of the company, I might agree with you. But now? It's pure BS. As you said, Derek, the only reason anyone will use Apple Music is for the name, and we'll have to see if the name alone is worth enough to get people to leave Spotify. I'd be willing to bet the farm it isn't.
https://consequenceofsound.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/apple-music.jpg?w=807 (Apple Music)
http://cdn.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/taylor-swift-apple-music-644x373.jpg?20efae (T Swift Apple pic)
http://s.thestreet.com/files/tsc/v2008/photos/contrib/uploads/tidal.jpg (TIDAL pic)