There is a lot of what is called “music news,” but really, not much – if any – of it has anything to do with music. Apparently, things like chord structure, harmony, melody, and lyrical integrity are too “wonky,” so the media resorts to celebrity-type coverage of musicians, rather than attempt any thoughtful assessment of the music and its cultural relevance.
Here at Josephmooon HQ (Hua Hin, TH) we’ve collected a few recent examples:
First of all, the rash of superstar artists who have surrendered the rights to their music to a big investor in exchange for a big paycheck. Good for them. Dylan, Springsteen, Sting, Bowie, et al, reportedly have received $200 to $600 million (USD) for their catalogs. Some of the deals include songwriting royalties alone, but others include performance rights as well. And it’s not just marquee artists who are getting paid – everyone from Stevie Nicks to the Red Hot Chili Peppers are lining up for the highest bidder. Even Motley Crue and Shakira have cashed in.
The landscape of future music nostalgia certainly will be determined by these transactions, as the “new owners” of the music will be anxious to recoup their investments without delay. Their goals dovetail with those of another tech steamroller: Tik Tok.
There has been a significant shift in how music interacts with society, from dancehalls and campfires, to radio and MTV, and now curated playlists and streaming services. The next Big Thing appears to be Tik Tok.
Now, I’m not going to comment on Tik Tok because I haven’t personally used it, and have seen only a handful of videos that have been created for the platform. But it is quite popular, and its handlers seem to think they have caught the proverbial lightning in a bottle.
Listen to Ole Obermann, Tik Tok’s head of music (interview by Agence France-Presse):
“When a disruptive tech platform appears, understandably the rights-holders get uncomfortable. Obviously, we had to pay out substantial amounts of money. The good news is we’re totally licensed now and we’re talking to [labels] every day about new things that haven’t been done before. We think we’re on to something. It’s early days in deciding exactly how we work with these artists on building their careers. But we see we can play a much bigger role in the artist discovery process in a very hands-on way. But it’s always day one and you have to keep reinventing yourself to stay relevant.”
Basically, Obermann is talking about the growing the $500 million global business of placing music into advertising to several billion dollars within the next few years. That’s right, your favorite music comin’ atchya in a million commercials (adverts), any day now. Ugh.
Another disruptor, Spotify, saw its stock value and listenership fall when it supported the right of podcaster Joe Rogan to spread disinformation about the coronavirus, despite the protests and removal of their music on the platform by Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Again, the bigger numbers win the day, with Rogan’s revenue-generating power far outstripping that of the consciousness-raising 1960s superstars. Paving paradise, indeed, old man.
And the “gladiator” approach to music continues with the newly-created American Song Contest, to be hosted by Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson. The show is based on the Eurovision song competition and will include entries from all 50 U.S. states as well as various territories.
Sure, Josephmooon threw its hat into the ring. Wish us luck.