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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2018 » June » 15


MUSIC MIDTOWN TICKETS ARE ON SALE!

Delivered... Spacelab - Independent Music and Media | Scene | Fri 15 Jun 2018 6:45 pm
Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Post Malone and Fall Out Boy headline! Weekend tickets are available in three different packages.

What Do Broadcasters and Media Companies Need to Know About the GDPR?

Delivered... Emilie de Lozier, Aaron Burstein and Joshua Bercu | Scene | Fri 15 Jun 2018 4:16 pm

By now, you have probably heard that the European Union (EU) has a new data protection law on the books, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – but what are the new rules, and how might they apply to broadcasters? Below we address these and other commonly asked questions about the GDPR.

What is the GDPR? The GDPR is a new European privacy law that, as of May 25, 2018, generally governs how organizations – including those EU-based and many that are not – collect, use, disclose, or otherwise “process” personal information. While some limited exceptions exist (e.g., businesses with fewer than 250 employees are exempt from some requirements), the GDPR imposes an array of obligations on companies subject to it.

Who does the GDPR apply to? The GDPR clearly applies to companies established in the EU that collect personal information about individuals in the EU, but it also claims a broad extraterritorial reach. Indeed, it can apply to organizations, including broadcasters, without an EU presence. For instance, it can apply to broadcasters who collect or use data to provide services like streaming TV or radio to individuals in the EU. It also can apply to broadcasters who use website cookies and other online tracking mechanisms to “monitor” individuals in the EU (e.g., profiling for behavioral advertising). That said, it remains to be seen whether regulators will enforce the GDPR against companies that for the most part are not serving EU citizens and do not have EU operations, but may occasionally and unknowingly acquire data of an individual in the EU or an EU citizen in the United States.

The GDPR applies to both “controllers” and “processors” of “personal data” of EU citizens. “Personal data” is broad. It includes any information that relates to an identifiable natural person, including, for example, online identifiers and other similar information that has not always been considered personally identifiable information in the United States. Controllers and processors also are considered broadly. Generally speaking, a “controller” is a company that directly interacts with consumers (e.g., by providing a website) and collects their personal data. And a “processor” provides data processing services on behalf of a “controller,” such as, for example, cloud computing and storage.

If the GDPR applies, what do I have to do? Among other things, companies subject to the GDPR must have a “legal basis” for processing personal data. Consent offers one such basis. Consent must be “freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous,” and it cannot be inferred, so companies must allow consumers to “opt-in.” At a high level, to ensure that consumers are informed about data practices, privacy policies and other discussions of data practices should be written in clear and plain language (not legal jargon) and state, among other things, the specific purpose or purposes for processing individuals’ data. Importantly, consent previously obtained may no longer be valid if it does not meet the GDPR’s more stringent requirements.

Is GDPR compliance really that simple? The short answer is no. Obtaining consent, or otherwise establishing another legal basis for processing personal data, is only the beginning of GDPR obligations, not the end. Other obligations relate to access, accuracy, data security, data minimization, accountability, and providing a “right to be forgotten,” just to name a few. Companies subject to the GDPR may need to establish new internal mechanisms in order to address the expanded rights available under the law and the requests that can be made. As just one example, the GDPR provides the right to receive one’s data in a “machine-readable” format and transfer it to another company entirely.

So if I have good in-house practices, I no longer need to worry? Unfortunately, not quite. Companies subject to the GDPR may require greater oversight over, and cooperation with, vendors and other partners (e.g., cloud providers that provide storage). If your vendors and partners are processing data you obtained from consumers in ways inconsistent with the law, you could be on the hook.

If the GDPR is primarily an EU law, why are U.S. companies so concerned? U.S. companies are worried for several reasons, but one that may drive much of the anxiety is the exorbitant fines available under the GDPR: Severe violations of the GDPR can result in fines up to 4% of a company’s annual global revenue or 20 million Euroswhichever is higher! The GDPR also makes it easier for individuals to bring private claims against companies in EU court and/or complain to EU data protection authorities. EU data protection authorities also present a bit of an unknown – their enforcement priorities remain to be seen, but it’s clear that at least some intend to aggressively enforce the new law.

OK, I think I understand the GDPR and how it may or may not apply to me. Is that all I really need to focus on in terms of new privacy laws? For now, maybe. But the emergence of the GDPR could have trickledown effects both home and abroad. In particular, the GDPR to date has at least started some conversations about whether the U.S. needs to respond through legislation or other modifications to its consumer privacy approach. Time will tell, but for now, stay tuned!

The GDPR framework is complex, and detailed analysis of compliance should be undertaken with counsel qualified to interpret all of its nuances. So note that this article provides only a general description of the GDPR and should not be viewed as legal advice. If you think that your operations may trigger GDPR obligations, get that legal advice to provide a full analysis of your compliance obligations.

 

A protest Song without a Slogan

Delivered... Philipp Rhensius (Norient) | Scene | Fri 15 Jun 2018 10:13 am

Often, the politics of a song are carried in its lyrics. However, can instrumental electronic music also create concrete criticism? Or provoke feelings that the listener can link to specific realities? Norient author Philipp Rhensius investigates the song «Gentrification Death Certificate» by experimental drone musician D. Glare and ends up in claustrophobic spaces built by transforming acoustics.

Peter Kogler’s abstract rooms seem to change size – as in D. Glare’s track «Gentrification Death Certificate»

A dripping sound, like leaking water, amplified and warped, soon transforms into a low, sonoros drone. Its amplitude, therefore the musical movement, slowly moves up and down, creating sequences as the pitch gradually changes. Soon after, an alienated piano climbs up the scale, before suddenly, a poorly tuned bass guitar plays a few unrelated tones that reverberate through the air, reflecting back and forth with long decays,as if the player had beamed himself to a big, empty space. Something is wrong here. The room is radically changing in size, expanding and contracting like a deep breath in slow motion.

Instrumental music is abstract by nature. Sound is not as precise as words, at least in a semantic sense. Instead, sound always entails thousands of possible meanings. But is pure instrumental music able to express concrete criticism or social injustice? A simple reproduction of reality would not suffice. This is where abstraction plays an important role.

The experimental drone music of D. Glare, whose song I described above, surely does not copy the reality. Instead, it bends, cuts, comments and stretches it. It invites us into an imaginary setting that is, at least, hinting on real things. Here, it might refer to a space that is transforming constantly in size and volume, probably with the use of room modulating effects and specific recording techniques – while the drone might have been made by a recorded instrument that is manipulated afterwards. The bass guitar seems to be recorded with a microphone that is placed in the room.

With this in mind, but even more with the title of the song, «Gentrification Death Certificate», the abstract turns into something concrete. The immanent structure of the music communicates a certain distress and makes it a protest song without a slogan. We feel the precariousness of the living situation, hinted at by the sudden change of room size, resulting in a strange feeling between claustrophobia and freedom. Is this feeling intended? Not really, if we follow D. Glare: «There wasn’t a grand idea behind making the record», he says in an email interview. Still the song contains traces of Glare`s experience. These traces might be vague in their meaning, but take shape after investigating the context, the album Style Synonymous With Technique, which the song is on, is, in Glares words, «a sort of diary of a strange existence, fleeting, slipping in and out of security gates late at night». It is, he writes in an email, about how «the effects of gentrification seemed intensely magnified, a society twisted in a way that shoves unwelcomed poverty into the front lines of where the money is».

If instrumental music is able to express criticism, the form and content has to coincide as it does here. The form would be the perceptible difficulties of the recording process resulting from the change of places, whereas the content is the dissonant, arhythmic sounds and, most importantly, the song title, as it is this that leads the perception in a quite explicit direction.

Music always contains a certain time and space, and the conditions that it is made in. «Gentrification Death Certificate» is a story about gentrification and its symptoms, the rise of rental costs and the eviction of people who are dependent on low rents. This story is musically aestheticised and therefore artificial, but by that it is able to express an alternative, more distanced, even less victimizing perspective. In this context, dripping water can turn into the leading motif of a protest song.

Read More on Norient

> Philipp Rhensius: «Facing Fear with Siavash Amini»
> Eric Mandel: «Untrain Your Ear»
> Dahlia Borsche: «Locating Music»

Minds, machines, and centralization: AI and music

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 15 Jun 2018 9:23 am

Far from the liberated playground the Internet once promised, online connectivity now threatens to give us mainly pre-programmed culture. As we continue reflections on AI from CTM Festival in Berlin, here’s an essay from this year’s program.

If you attended Berlin’s festival this year, you got this essay I wrote – along with a lot of compelling writing from other thinkers – in a printed book in the catalog. I asked for permission from CTM Festival to reprint it here for those who didn’t get to join us earlier this year. I’m going to actually resist the temptation to edit it (apart from bringing it back to CDM-style American English spellings), even though a lot has happened in this field even since I wrote it at the end of December. But I’m curious to get your thoughts.

I also was lucky enough to get to program a series of talks for CTM Festival, which we made available in video form with commentary earlier this week, also with CTM’s help:
A look at AI’s strange and dystopian future for art, music, and society

The complete set of talks from CTM 2018 are now available on SoundCloud. It’s a pleasure to get to work with a festival that not only has a rich and challenging program of music and art, but serves as a platform for ideas, debate, and discourse, too. (Speaking of which, greetings from another European festival that commits to that – SONAR, in Barcelona.)

The image used for this article is an artwork by Memo Akten, used with permission, as suggested by curator and CTM 2018 guest speaker Estela Oliva. It’s called “Inception,” and I think is a perfect example of how artists can make these technologies expressive and transcendent, amplifying their flaws into something uniquely human.

Minds, Machines, and Centralisation: Why Musicians Need to Hack AI Now

IN THIS ARTICLE, CTM HACKLAB DIRECTOR PETER KIRN PROVIDES A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CO-OPTING OF MUSIC AND LISTENING BY CENTRALIZED INDUSTRY AND CORPORATIONS, IDENTIFYING MUZAK AS A PRECURSOR TO THE USE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE FOR “PRE-PROGRAMMED CULTURE.” HE GOES ON TO DISCUSS PRODUCTIVE WAYS FOR THOSE WHO VALUE “CHOICE AND SURPRISE” TO REACT TO AND INTERACT WITH TECHNOLOGIES LIKE THESE THAT GROW MORE INESCAPABLE BY THE DAY.

It’s now a defunct entity, but “Muzak,” the company that provided background music, was once everywhere. Its management saw to it that their sonic product was ubiquitous, intrusive, and even engineered to impact behavior — and so the word Muzak became synonymous with all that was hated and insipid in manufactured culture.

Anachronistic as it may seem now, Muzak was a sign of how tele-communications technology would shape cultural consumption. Muzak may be known for its sound, but its delivery method is telling. Nearly a hundred years before Spotify, founder Major General George Owen Squier originated the idea of sending music over wires — phone wires, to be fair, but still not far off from where we’re at today. The patent he got for electrical signalling doesn’t mention music, or indeed even sound content. But the Major General was the first successful business founder to prove in practice that electronic distribution of music was the future, one that would take power out of the hands of radio broadcasters and give the delivery company additional power over content. (He also came up with the now-loathed Muzak brand name.)

What we now know as the conventional music industry has its roots in pianola rolls, then in jukeboxes, and finally in radio stations and physical media. Muzak was something different, as it sidestepped the whole structure: playlists were selected by an unseen, centralized corporation, then piped everywhere. You’d hear Muzak in your elevator ride in a department store (hence the phrase, elevator music). There were speakers tucked into potted plants. The White House and NASA at some points subscribed. Anywhere there was silence, it might be replaced with pre-programmed music.

Muzak added to its notoriety by marketing the notion of using its product to boost worker productivity, through a pseudo-scientific regimen it called the “stimulus progression.” And in that, we see a notion that presages today’s app behavior loops and motivators, meant to drive consumption and engagement, ad clicks and app swipes.

Muzak for its part didn’t last forever, with stimulus progression long since debunked, customers preferring licensed music to this mix of original sounds, and newer competitors getting further ahead in the marketplace.

But what about the idea of homogenized, pre-programmed culture delivered by wire, designed for behavior modification? That basic concept seems to be making a comeback.

Automation and Power

“AI” or machine intelligence has been tilted in the present moment to focus on one specific area: the use of self-training algorithms to process large amounts of data. This is a necessity of our times, and it has special value to some of the big technical players who just happen to have competencies in the areas machine learning prefers — lots of servers, top mathematical analysts, and big data sets.

That shift in scale is more or less inescapable, though, in its impact. Radio implies limited channels; limited channels implies human selectors — meet the DJ. The nature of the internet as wide-open for any kind of culture means wide open scale. And it will necessarily involve machines doing some of the sifting, because it’s simply too large to operate otherwise.

There’s danger inherent in this shift. One, users may be lazy, willing to let their preferences be tipped for them rather than face the tyranny of choice alone. Two, the entities that select for them may have agendas of their own. Taken as an aggregate, the upshot could be greater normalization and homogenization, plus the marginalization of anyone whose expression is different, unviable commercially, or out of sync with the classes of people with money and influence. If the dream of the internet as global music community seems in practice to lack real diversity, here’s a clue as to why.

At the same time, this should all sound familiar — the advent of recording and broadcast media brought with it some of the same forces, and that led to the worst bubblegum pop and the most egregious cultural appropriation. Now, we have algorithms and corporate channel editors instead of charts and label execs — and the worries about payola and the eradication of anything radical or different are just as well-placed.

What’s new is that there’s now also a real-time feedback loop between user actions and automated cultural selection (or perhaps even soon, production). Squier’s stimulus progression couldn’t monitor metrics representing the listener. Today’s online tools can. That could blow apart past biases, or it could reinforce them — or it could do a combination of the two.

In any case, it definitely has power. At last year’s CTM hacklab, Cambridge University’s Jason Rentfrow looked at how music tastes could be predictive of personality and even political thought. The connection was timely, as the talk came the same week as Trump assumed the U.S. presidency, his campaign having employed social media analytics to determine how to target and influence voters.

We can no longer separate musical consumption — or other consumption of information and culture — from the data it generates, or from the way that data can be used. We need to be wary of centralized monopolies on that data and its application, and we need to be aware of how these sorts of algorithms reshape choice and remake media. And we might well look for chances to regain our own personal control.

Even if passive consumption may seem to be valuable to corporate players, those players may discover that passivity suffers diminishing returns. Activities like shopping on Amazon, finding dates on Tinder, watching television on Netflix, and, increasingly, music listening, are all experiences that push algorithmic recommendations. But if users begin to follow only those automated recommendations, the suggestions fold back in on themselves, and those tools lose their value. We’re left with a colorless growing detritus of our own histories and the larger world’s. (Just ask someone who gave up on those Tinder dates or went to friends because they couldn’t work out the next TV show to binge-watch.)

There’s also clearly a social value to human recommendations — expert and friend alike. But there’s a third way: use machines to augment humans, rather than diminish them, and open the tools to creative use, not only automation.

Music is already reaping benefits of data training’s power in new contexts. By applying machine learning to identifying human gestures, Rebecca Fiebrink has found a new way to make gestural interfaces for music smarter and more accessible. Audio software companies are now using machine learning as a new approach to manipulating sound material in cases where traditional DSP tools are limited. What’s significant about this work is that it makes these tools meaningful in active creation rather than passive consumption.

AI, back in user hands

Machine learning techniques will continue to expand as tools by which the companies mining big data make sense of their resources — from ore into product. It’s in turn how they’ll see us, and how we’ll see ourselves.

We can’t simply opt out, because those tools will shape the world around us with or without our personal participation, and because the breadth of available data demands their use. What we can do is to better understand how they work and reassert our own agency.

When people are literate in what these technologies are and how they work, they can make more informed decisions in their own lives and in the larger society. They can also use and abuse these tools themselves, without relying on magical corporate products to do it for them.

Abuse itself has special value. Music and art are fields in which these machine techniques can and do bring new discoveries. There’s a reason Google has invested in these areas — because artists very often can speculate on possibilities and find creative potential. Artists lead.

The public seems to respond to rough edges and flaws, too. In the 60s, when researcher Joseph Weizenbaum attempted to parody a psychotherapist with crude language pattern matching in his program, ELIZA, he was surprised when users started to tell the program their darkest secrets and imagine understanding that wasn’t there. The crudeness of Markov chains as predictive text tool — they were developed for analyzing Pushkin statistics and not generating language, after all — has given rise to breeds of poetry based on their very weirdness. When Google’s style transfer technique was applied using a database of dog images, the bizarre, unnatural images that warped photos into dogs went viral online. Since then, Google has made vastly more sophisticated techniques that apply realistic painterly effects and… well, it seems that’s attracted only a fraction of the interest that the dog images did.

Maybe there’s something even more fundamental at work. Corporate culture dictates predictability and centralized value. The artist does just the opposite, capitalizing on surprise. It’s in the interest of artists if these technologies can be broken. Muzak represents what happens to aesthetics when centralized control and corporate values win out — but it’s as much the widespread public hatred that’s the major cautionary tale. The values of surprise and choice win out, not just as abstract concepts but also as real personal preferences.

We once feared that robotics would eliminate jobs; the very word is derived (by Czech writer Karel Čapek’s brother Joseph) from the word for slave. Yet in the end, robotic technology has extended human capability. It has brought us as far as space and taken us through Logo and its Turtle, even taught generations of kids math, geometry, logic, and creative thinking through code.

We seem to be at a similar fork in the road with machine learning. These tools can serve the interests of corporate control and passive consumption, optimised only for lazy consumption that extracts value from its human users. Or, we can abuse and misuse the tools, take them apart and put them back together again, apply them not in the sense that “everything looks like a nail” when all you have is a hammer, but as a precise set of techniques to solve specific problems. Muzak, in its final days, was nothing more than a pipe dream. What people wanted was music — and choice. Those choices won’t come automatically. We may well have to hack them.

PETER KIRN is an audiovisual artist, composer/musician, technologist, and journalist. He is the editor of CDM and co-creator of the open source MeeBlip hardware synthesizer (meeblip.com). For six consecutive years, he has directed the MusicMaker’s Hacklab at CTM Festival, most recently together with new media artist Ioann Maria.

http://ctm-festival.de/

The post Minds, machines, and centralization: AI and music appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Sophie: Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides review – taking it to sexy extremes

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 15 Jun 2018 9:00 am

(Transgressive)

In the same extruded plastic lane as pop provocateurs PC Music, Sophie emerged in 2013 with tracks that were as shiny, artificial and joyously fun as the plastic waterslides of their cover artwork: they lurched around, you could feel the joins to each section, and serious people refused to go near them. A shadowy figure, she was snapped up to work with Madonna, Charli XCX and Vince Staples, before emerging earlier in 2018 with the first single from this debut full-length, It’s Okay to Cry.

Like nearly all the tracks here, it is extremely powerful, and marks a deepening of her already unique aesthetic. Using her own quiet but determined voice, it’s like a trance track with the insistent beats removed – a brilliant trick she repeats to even more dramatic effect on Is It Cold in the Water, like a beatless trance breakdown unmoored from its original track and left floating in ecstatic inertia. It segues into cathedral-filling power ballad Infatuation, a weighty, sad track saved from mere moping by her usual authorial flourishes: whinnying sirens, urgent whispers.

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Ammar 808: Maghreb United review – an exuberant, full-tilt affair

Delivered... Robin Denselow | Scene | Fri 15 Jun 2018 8:30 am

(Glitterbeat Records)

It starts with the sound of distant voices at what could be an ancient North African ceremony. Then come repeated, chanting vocals from Sofiane Saidi, urged on by the pounding, insistent electro-percussion that dominates this intriguing blend of ancient and modern styles.

Ammar 808 is the name currently used by Sofyann Ben Youssef, the band’s Tunisian leader, producer and arranger, responsible for the electronics on the album, and it was inspired by his love of that vintage drum machine, the TR-808. Until now, Youssef has been best known for providing the bass rhythms for the rousing Tunisian folk-rock band Bargou 08, who matched electronica against traditional acoustic instruments. Now he has applied the same technique to music from right across the Maghreb, with even more impressive results.

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