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Mechanical Music Radio brings you 24-7 fairground organs and more

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 24 May 2019 2:10 pm

You asked for it – you’ve got it. It’s the biggest hits of orchestrions, street organs, fairground music, and mechanical tunes, from the 17th Century, 20th century, and yesterday.

Oh, you didn’t ask for that? Well… you get it anyway. “We’ve picked the most iconic instruments of all styles, from 17th century music boxes, to self playing MIDI accordions,” say the broadcasters of 24-hour-a-day Mechanical Music Radio.

Need a pick me up? You’re covered – there’s “feel good” toe tappers at 6pm and midnight to get your party going plus Friday night uptempo party lineups. And … daily at 6am and noon, because mechanical music lovers party at all kinds of hours. That’s how they roll. (The phrase “24 hour party people” I believe refers to listeners of this streaming radio station.)

Need the latest news of what’s happening in mechanical music events around the world? Top of the hour, every hour. (You need to know what’s up in street organ events, like hourly, way more than traffic and weather together on the 8s.)

Vinyl? Digital? No – fairground mechanical, for maximum fidelity and impact.

It’s the world’s first 24-hour mechanical music radio.

It’s also the world’s only 24-hour mechanical music radio, but I’ll establish a CDM tag for it just in case it inspires others.

Don’t know your barrel piano from your orchestrion? Sheesh, don’t let your friends find that out – check here for the instruments you’re hearing on the radio:
https://www.mechanicalmusicradio.co.uk/learn.html

Thanks to Graham Dunning, who has single-handedly made mechanical music a modern techno act:

And yeah, Graham has one of the coolest Boiler Rooms ever:

Here’s wishing you a great weekend of fairground bangers – no clangers.

http://www.mechanicalmusicradio.com/

Tune in now

The post Mechanical Music Radio brings you 24-7 fairground organs and more appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Composers doing normal s*** is one of the best things on the Internet right now

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 24 May 2019 1:30 pm

Composers. You’ve seen them literally put on pedestals, in bronze and granite. Here they are in daily life – and it’s charming.

Yes, it’s “Composers doing normal s***”, and in the midst of truly grotesque things on Twitter, it’s the breath of fresh air we need right now. Behold!

https://twitter.com/NormalComposers

Classic photos are often so exceptional that we forget that sometimes … they weren’t. Here’s Varese caught in a dull moment:

Pauline Oliveros, with coffee, and also with an elephant:

Xenakis and Feldman:

Debussy, slumbering, as you would expect a French composer to do:

Laurie Anderson may be “doing normal s***” but somehow looks awesome at it, retro NYC style:

Different trains? Different bikes. It’s a good activity, as long as it’s not gonna rain.

Meanwhile, Igor Stravinsky is all over the feed, always winning … and yes, even really clicking with some animals:

Igor reigns supreme. He’s only briefly outdone, as by Lutoslawski eating soup:

I’ll just conclude with a few more… my alma mater Sarah Lawrence College, which fellow music school graduate Meredith Monk models for … well, really, kind of on the nose, the be honest:

Sorry, this is a music technology site. Fine. Pierre Schaeffer with a record player. (DJ Concrete…)

Too low tech? Here’s Penderecki with a Nokia.

Happy? But that’s kind of a down note to end on, so here’s Lenny Bernstein on a swing – pure joy:

The post Composers doing normal s*** is one of the best things on the Internet right now appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Playdate is an indie game handheld with a crank from Teenage Engineering, Panic

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 9:08 pm

Playdate is a Game Boy-ish gaming handheld with a hand crank on it, wired for delivering indie and experimental games weekly. And it comes from an unlikely collaboration: Mac/iOS developer Panic with synth maker Teenage Engineering.

Yes, that svelte retro industrial look and unmistakable hand crank are the influence of prolific Swedish game house Teenage Engineering. And TE have already demonstrated their love of cranks on their synths, the OP-1 and OP-Z.

This isn’t a Teenage Engineering product, though – and here’s the even more surprising part. The handheld hardware comes from Panic, the long-time Mac and iOS developer. I’ve been a Panic owner over the years, having used their FTP and Web dev products early on in CDM’s life, as did a couple of my designers, and even messing around with Mac icons obsessively back in the day.

But now Panic are doing games – the spooky Wyoming mystery Firewatch, which has earned them some real street cred, and an upcoming thing with a goose.

The really interesting twist here is that the “Playdate” title is a reference to games that appear weekly. And this is where I might imagine this whole thing dovetailing with music. I mean, first, music and indie games naturally go hand in hand, and from the very start of CDM, the game community have been into strange music stuff.

The obvious crossover at some point would be some unusual music games and without question some kind of music creation tool – like nanoloop or LittleGPTracker. nanoloop got its own handheld iteration recently – see below – but this would be a natural hardware platform too.

Even barring that, though, I imagine some dovetailing audiences for this. And it does look cute.

Specs:
400×240 (that’s way more resolution than the original Game Boy), black and white screen
No backlight (okay, so kind of a pain for handheld chip music performance)
Built-in speaker (a little one)
D-pad, A and B switches
USB-C connector
… and it looks like there is a headphone jack

Not sure what the buttons on top and next to the display do – power and lock, maybe?

Involved game designers are tantalizing, too – and have some interesting music connections:

Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy)

Zach Gage (SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing)

Bennett Foddy (QWOP, Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, and – music lead again, he was the bassist in Cut Copy, remember them?)

Shaun Inman (also a game composer, as well as a designer of Retro Game Crunch, The Last Rocket, Flip’s Escape, etc.)

This takes me back to that one time I hosted a one-button game exhibition at GDC (the game developer conference) with Kokoromi, the Montreal game collective. That has accessibility implications, too, including for music. (Flashback to their game showcase at the same time.) So there is crossover here, I mean – and intersecting interests between composers and game designers, too.

US$149 will buy you the console and a 12 game subscription. Coming early 2020.

Music connections or no, it looks like a toy we’ll want to have.

https://play.date/

EDGE, the print mag, has an exclusive – with an excerpt of that feature online:

https://play.date/edge/

Thanks to Oliver Chesler for the tip.

Obvious marketing campaign, though only for Panic wanting to market to Americans of my age or so…

The post Playdate is an indie game handheld with a crank from Teenage Engineering, Panic appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Teenage Engineering has a record label and a pocket modular pop music video

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 8:38 pm

Dear young Buster: why do you look so sad and lonely? Don’t you know that having a yellow Teenage Engineering pocket modular is all the love you need?

Okay, so Buster is in fact Millenial Swedish pop star up and comer Emil Lennstrand, and he is the first face of a record label (really) from the perpetually-open-to-creative-distraction crew of Teenage Engineering. You see, having done cameras for IKEA and marketing campaigns and various synthesizers and … bicycles and lamps and other things … the Teenagers are now getting into a record label.

It’s surprisingly silky-smooth pop from this otherwise fairly hypernerdy and experimental Stockholm shop. But it does predictably feature Teenage Engineering instruments – in this case the pocket operator modular.

They bill the song as “partly produced” by that system 400 (what – the modular isn’t used on the vocals?). But it’s slick stuff, for sure.

The other star of the music video is this – TE’s pocket operator modular series.

So what’s up with the record label? It’s tough to tell from this one track, but here’s what the Teenagers say for themselves:

first teenage engineering started their own band to field test their instruments. now they are taking the next step starting a record label for songs made with teenage engineering products. there are just two rules, it needs to be a good song (easy) and have at least one of teenage engineerings instruments used in the song. the main distribution platform for their releases will be spotify.

Now that’s some serious Swedish loyalty, going Spotify only.

I’m slightly confused, but intrigued. To my mind, the OP-Z remains the best thing recently from Teenage Engineering hands down, but stay tuned for my explanation of why I feel that way.

And there’s more Teenage Engineering stuff to come, including me joining them in Barcelona during SONAR+D this summer – which means a chance to grill them for more information, of course.

https://teenage.engineering/

The post Teenage Engineering has a record label and a pocket modular pop music video appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A Buchla synth repair turned into an LSD trip, and made the evening news

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 23 May 2019 5:18 pm

It seems the legends are true – there really was LSD added to vintage synths. A Bay Area, California Buchla 100 reportedly triggered an acid trip decades later.

The equipment in question is a Buchla Model 100, 1960s vintage – the modular that defined what now some people call the “West Coast synthesis” style. I learned on one of these, too, though don’t recall any particular hallucinations.

The report comes from a local CBS television affiliate in San Francisco, KPIX, and their broadcast operator Eliot Curtis. (Synthtopia beats me to this one, though I’d seen the video last night – karma for when I was writing up Elektron news next to them this month!)

The LSD itself was located inside the machine, looking like crystals, and while we don’t have the specifics of the test, was apparently tested for authenticity. Finger contact with that substance triggered a nine-hour trip.

You may be wondering how this LSD lasted this long. I haven’t been able to find any data on that – which might suggest whether or not this LSD originated at the Buchla’s manufacture or whether someone added it later, or even if the story is true at all (CBS or not). The only study I could find deals with decomposition in urine, not storage of the chemical itself. But the synth should at least have kept the substance away from light and most likely also humidity, reducing its rate of deterioration. (Eliot also seems… well, fairly convinced!)

Whether you believe the LSD here is from the 60s or not, there is a verified association of Don Buchla and LSD and the use of the drug at some events. (That doesn’t mean everyone was tripping – I heard the Joshua Light Show creators explain that they needed to stay sober for their work, and the optical effects were effectively trippy enough!)

From the CBS report:

In 1966, some Buchla modules ended up on an old school bus purchased by LSD advocate Ken Kesey and his followers known as the Merry Pranksters.

During the last of Kesey’s acid tests — LSD-fueled parties — at Winterland on Halloween in 1966, electronic sounds, possibly from the Buchla, appeared to interrupt an interview of Kesey.

Buchla used LSD and was friends with Owsley Stanley, the genius behind the Grateful Dead’s sound system. Stanley, also known as Bear, was a masterful sound engineer and legendary hero of the counterculture. He was also famous for making the purest LSD to ever hit the street and kept such a low profile that not many photos of him exist.

What is in question here seems to be the exact provenance of these modules, which might locate the history of the alleged LSD discovery. Knowing who reads CDM, I imagine our readers may have some idea.

Also, while Synthtopia and others say this means the ‘red panel’ myth was true, that may be a stretch. The story is, the red paint on Buchla’s red panels had LSD in it – so you could, perhaps, lick the panel if you needed a little extra creative flow in the studio. I had also heard this story related when I was researching the Moog recreation of Keith Emerson’s modular – don’t forget, the East Coast was into some strange trips in the 60s and 70s, too. But those stories notwithstanding, it at least sounds like this particular acid had been stashed inside the machine, not in the paint as the legend goes.

Then again, who cares where it was – synths that can make you literally hallucinate are a pretty wild discovery, let alone the possibility that they might do so decades later.

As for the TV report, it’s worth watching just to see their reporter do the open in front of the synth – this is not your normal evening news special interest story, so thank you, Bay Area, you’ve still got it:

Repair Of Iconic ’60s Era Synthesizer Turns Into Long, Strange Trip For Engineer

Having just returned from Russia, let me say on behalf of people repairing Soviet instruments, “ah, lucky Americans, they get actual LSD causing their hallucinations, not old Communist chemicals…” (I’ll try to inhale deeply while I’m in Riga near some Polivoks and can let you know what happens. Seriously, don’t lick any eastern bloc electronics. Or… some of our current stuff, for that matter!)

For more Buchla 100 history, here’s an unboxing by the Library of Congress – though no word on whether this got the US government or this University of Chicago researcher high:

Unboxing the Buchla Model 100 [Library of Congress Blogs]

This song seems … literal now:

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Enter the freaky trippy acid 90s German synth world of Air Liquide

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Labels,Scene | Wed 22 May 2019 12:02 pm

If you need a break from buttoned-up techno, dance music as business and fashion statement and morose wallpaper – take a holiday with some “trippy mindfkk-muzzikkk.” Here, we’ve got 170 tracks from 1991 Cologne to today to get utterly weird.

In 1990s Cologne, if the techno scene was spread too thin, you could just manufacture a few dozen aliases and DIY the whole thing. At least that seems to be the approach taken by our friends Air Liquide, aka Cem Oral and Ingmar Koch, and a half dozen or so core artists – a band of buddies making weirdo sounds. See the full alias list at bottom, but DJ DB (aka DB Burkeman) traced the history of the duo for the now-defunct THUMP from VICE:

DB’s No School Like the Old Skool: Air LiquideMeet the German analogue techno duo that rocked the 90s underground with a hundred different pseudonyms.

Now, just when you thought it was safe to go back to Germany, Air Liquide have returned to make European electronics mindfkked again.

We’ve got over 16 hours – 170 tracks – on streaming services like Spotify, chronicling the evolution (or whatever it was) of Air Liquide from 1991 through today. The sounds are futuristic, spacey, hyperactive, bizarre – everything in turns. You know you need some broken ultra-fast acid piping through Spotify on your next workout, of course:

via Spotify playlist

Details:


“AIR LIQUIDE – almost complete” – spotify playlist with over 16 hours of trippy mindfkk-muzzikkk

It includes, for instance, tracks inspired by the TV show Robot Wars:

Or here’s a track compiled by Loveparade founder Dr. Motte:

If you like what you hear, you can download those releases now, on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/air-liquide/5352330#see-all/full-albums

and on Beatport:
https://www.beatport.com/artist/air-liquide/7230/releases

But in addition to that history, their label Blue is back.

Maybe this comes at an ideal time. With so many records sounding like generational loss – copies of copies of 90s records, watered down and sanitized and fed through Instagram – the new Air Liquide project is both real media archaeology and real invention. You get remasters and rereleases of the actual original records, and – this is important – they’re making new stuff.

Air Liquide are back.

So albums like Liquid Air and Mercury EP are returning on colored vinyl and cheap-for-everybody digital. But you can also expect new creations, like a mini-album called “ALTR” which they’ve let CDM know they’re finishing now with German rave legend t.raumschmiere. And there’s upcoming collaboration with American poet Mary S. Applegate – yes, the cousin of Christina Applegate – later this year, along with other releases.

There’s even some unreleased 1992-93 era stuff in store, they tell us.

They’re also acting as our guides through other freaky sounds, as on this new Spotify playlist “Der lärm der stille“.

Included is “some crazy tripmusic we love – paired with some of our own brain fkk trax” – up to 94 tracks and over 8 hours so far, from around the world and the years:

Their favorite machines

One thread through all this music is a real, profound love for sound and electronics – and synths and noisemakers and effects, like, everywhere.

CDM asked for some of the duo’s favorite stuff, and here’s what they’ve come up with:

dr walker:
drummachines:
erica synths technosystem
akai mpc3000 (modded)
akai mpc60 mk 1 (modded)
ensoniq asr x (modded)
superpocketoperator build by doc analog with 2x teenage engineering po32, ipad with patterning2 and erica synths fusion valve filters. all in an old army flightcase
roland tr8s
endorphin.es black noir with twisted electrons crazy8beats

synths
acd666
polyend medusa
erica synths liquid sky dada noise system
acl system 1
native instruments thrill
erica synths bassline
twisted electrons therapkid
gamechanger audio motorsynth
izotope iris 2

effects:
ninja tune zendelay
erica synths & gamechanger audio plasmadrive
bastl instruments dark matter
crazy tube circuits stereo splash mk III
snazzy fx wownflutter
catalinbread csidman

on the wishlist:
sequential rev2
korg prologue 16
emu e II+ (modded)
roland 750 (modded)
superlatives sb1 spacebee

Postlude: namedrop this, m************:

Yeah, okay, starting a sentence with “maybe you’ve heard of” with Air Liquide could take a while if you want to check on all their aliases. From the VICE report – amazingly, possibly even incomplete:

Madonna 303, Black One, Digital Dirt Inc, Ingy-Babe, John Amok, Unit 700, Acid All Stars, Der Tote, DR. Echo, Free Radicals, Flüssige Luft, G 104, Message, Oral Experience, Alpha Unit, Basstards, The, Bionic Skank, Cipher Code, Cube 40, Denpasar, Electronic Dub, Ethik II, Even Brooklyn Grooves, Fridge Pro 1, Future Shock Project, Futuristic Dub Foundation, G.L. Posse, German Electronic Foundation, M.F.A., Mental Bazar, Multicore L.T.D., Non Toxique Lost, Outernational Steppers, Restgeraeusch, Rub-A-Slide, Set Fatale, Slime Slurps, , Time Tunnel, Titanium Steel Screws, Tone Manipulators, Trancemagma, Dzeta Walker, Ultrahigh, UMO, Vene, View Point Odyssey, Zulutronic, Black One, Digital Dirt Inc, Dr. Walker, Ingy-Babe, John Amok, 370°, Acid Force, Air Liquide, Alternate States, Atlantic Trance, Bleep, The, Brotherz In Armz, Cipher Code, Commando, The Creature, Denpasar, Dr. Walker & Electro Atomu, Dr. Walker & M. Flux, Electrochic, Electronic Dub, Elevator 101, Ermionis Phunk Crew, Ethik II, Fridge Pro 1, Future Shock Project, German Electronic Foundation, Gizz TV & Walker, Global Electronic Network, Helden Der Revolution, House Hallucinates, GEF, Khan & Walker, Lovecore, Mental Bazar, Mono-Tone, Multicore L.T.D., Pierrot Premier, Planet Love Ink, Planet Lovecore, Psychedelic Kitchen, Radiowaves, Recall IV, Red Light District, Rei$$dorf Force, Resist 101, South 2nd, Stardate 1973, Structure, Tantra-M, Technoline, Time Tunnel, Trancemagma, Trip 2001, Unbelievable, Unlimited Pleasure, Vermona, View Point Odyssey, Dr. W and X-911.

They have shared this new short bio/history with us, to give you the full story:

AIR LIQUIDE

Born out of innovation & originality, Air Liquide are for many people one of contemporary electronic music cultures most pioneering, important and inspiring projects.

Cem Oral aka Jammin Unit and Ingmar Koch (Dr.Walker) first met in 1989 in a Studio in Frankfurt Main, in Germany. As it often is when like attracts like, it wasn’t long before they recognized their mutual love, not only for experimental, abstract and lo-fi musics but also for Alien, Bigfoot, Telepathy stories of Parallel Universes and Fairytales with a somewhat darker side. So it was just a matter of time before the two were getting together in the studio at the end of their respective dayshifts, to commence their own nightshift recording sessions of abstract noise, cut-ups and experimental soundscapes.

As well as Techno itself, likewise Acid, Industrial Noise, Ernste Musik, Ambient, Kraut Rock, Space-rock, 70s Psychedelia Underground Hip Hop and Musique Concrete were all somehow present and in the mix of the evolving Air Liquide sound, sitting comfortably and perfectly at home with elements of Turkish and Arabian traditional Music’s. The production process took on board a similar innovative and pioneering approach in its fusion of Modern Dub paired with the intensity of the all important groundbreaking Roland 909, 808, 303 and 101 must have technology of the day.

In 1991, they formed Air Liquide.

The fusion that was created boldly incorporated a past it was proud of, free of revivalism or plagiarism, clearly created in and reflecting undeniably a soundscape for the here and now that proclaimed uncompromisingly and assuredly, welcome to the future!

In keeping with every other aspect of their venture, Cem and Ingmar followed their intuition and instincts rather than established tradition, and immersed themselves in freestyle jam sessions, recording the entire one or two hours that they lasted. Upon later listening it would be decided if any parts of the jam session were up to the pairs criteria to be edited out and tweeked into tracks for release.
This is the paradigm within which the Air Liquide creative process birthed “Neue Frankfurter Elektronik Schule”, their first record, released in 1991 on their own label ”Blue”. The first pressing of 1000 copies, released on coloured vinyl, sold out in the first hour after its release!

This was a remarkable achievement, for an unknown band without any direct link to the House Music Scene. Via experimentation Air Liquide reintroduced a living breathing life affirming energy into contemporary music culture, much the same as techno and house did via rave and most importantly dancing. No surprise then that in a very short space of time, accolades like ‘The true heirs to Can’, ‘The Greatful Dead of Techno’ & ‘The spearhead of German Techno’ were incoming thick and fast from the International Music press. Their mixture of Hip Hop, Psyche & Krautrock, Acid & Techno endeared them to a rapidly established and increasing fan base around the Cologne area.

Their eclecticism, originality and self respect, as apparent in a seemingly “no respect for any rules” approach endeared them to that international music press, fans and professionals alike, especially as those professionals were born of the same spirit, as it had been in their own break through years. Like attracts like, the true fans of such musics, such fusions and the spaces that are created for and by these musics, of course could and can feel that, and step up to support it without question.

Then you have guests at your live jams like Michael Rother, Holger Czukay, Luke Vibert, Helmut Zerlett, Craig Anderton, Arno Steffen, Caspar Pound, Fm Einheit. Then your 100% improvised live shows successfully bring surprise, ecstasy, the unexpected and exactly all that people are wanting from you, as well in ways they are not expecting, all in a guaranteed we deliver way, regardless however it may be presented. Then you will be invited to join the roster of USA sm:)e records, the cult sub-label of Profile, that being the label of Run DMC. Likewise in UK, being asked to release on Casper Pounds all important Rising High Records.

And when your fusion of the experimental soul of contemporary electronica and krautrock creates such a superb and flawless fusion that fans from both sound spectrums love you for it, well then one of the all time forward thinking labels ever, Harvest records, will come out of retirement and re activate solely for the purpose of releasing your recordings.

Which is exactly what happened in 1993. That happens if you mean what your doing and if what you are doing is truly valid and unquestionably relevant.

Air Liquide were inspired, moulded by and arose from within that timeless borderless creative Freezone that births truly great Sound & Vision in every respect. It is where they still reside, and it is from there that they now re-emerge to mark 3 decades of living on the frontiers of International ground breaking contemporary ahead of the curve Music, Art, and attendant Technology subcultures.

Air Liquide represent the ultimate fusion of ideals, not believing the hype, not being swayed by past or present dogmas and staying true to their innermost aims and feelings, without question. The real thing if you will. Air Liquide were since their inception in 1991, always have been and still are very much the real thing, through and through!

Modern photos by George Nebieridze; all pictures courtesy Air Liquide.

The post Enter the freaky trippy acid 90s German synth world of Air Liquide appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

A Conversation With Clara! About Belgium, PRR! PRR! And The Enduring Appeal Of Reggaeton

Delivered... Derek Opperman | Scene | Wed 22 May 2019 11:20 am

The post A Conversation With Clara! About Belgium, PRR! PRR! And The Enduring Appeal Of Reggaeton appeared first on Telekom Electronic Beats.

Natalie Portman criticises ‘creepy’ Moby over ‘disturbing’ account of friendship

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Wed 22 May 2019 10:16 am

Musician says in memoir the pair dated, but Portman disputes account, saying ‘my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me’

Natalie Portman has criticised Moby for a “very disturbing” account of their friendship in his new memoir Then It Fell Apart.

In the book, the musician, now 53, claims the pair dated when he was 33 and Portman was 20, after she met him backstage in Austin, Texas. He recounts going to parties in New York with her, and to see her at Harvard University, “kissing under the centuries-old oak trees. At midnight she brought me to her dorm room and we lay down next to each other on her small bed. After she fell asleep I carefully extracted myself from her arms and took a taxi back to my hotel.” He says that he then struggled with anxiety about their relationship: “It wanted one thing: for me to be alone … nothing triggered my panic attacks more than getting close to a woman I cared about.” Later, he writes: “For a few weeks I had tried to be Natalie’s boyfriend, but it hadn’t worked out,” writing that she called to tell him she had met someone else.

Related: Then It Fell Apart by Moby review – sex, drugs and self-loathing

Continue reading...

Gorgeous electro-acoustic instruments mix sculpture and noise

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 21 May 2019 5:56 pm

Forget analog pedals or digital boxes – 10cars have made a series of electro-acoustic inventions covered in wires and springs. And they sound wild and strange.

“10cars” is a Berlin-based multimedia artist. He presented these works at the mighty trade show Superbooth, but these pieces are something else – part sculpture, part experimental noise instrument. And they’re one of the more compelling inventions to appear this month.

The lovingly handcrafted pieces meld collage with wires and springs and metal grates, as if someone were making a mouse trap and got distracted and crossed it with a kalimba and a spring reverb. These pieces are dubbed “autumn soundboxes” and range in price from 120 to 360 euros – yes, you can have your own.

10cars is part of the Liquid Sky collective (which now spans Berlin and other bits of Europe, ringleader Ingmar Koch having fled to Portugal). Liquid Sky have made some sound demos to give you a sense of what these are about.

Really lovely stuff.

You get plinks and plonks, otherworldly hums like lost Communist-era student sci film soundtracks or possibly what college radio sounds like on the planet Venus. There’s humming and creepy metallic bits and spacey madness. Well, listen:

Unrelated to anything, but I love that SoundCloud suggested this track when I was playing the sound demos.

More information (for real), plus an email address through which you can order:


lovely experimental noisemachines: 10cars “autumn soundboxes” – available 3rd week may 2019
[liquid sky]

The post Gorgeous electro-acoustic instruments mix sculpture and noise appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Stockhausen: the composer who makes Wagner look anaemic

Delivered... Kate Molleson | Scene | Tue 21 May 2019 4:50 pm

His ego knew no bounds … but nor did his operas that feature camels, helicopters and giant pencil sharpeners. As his epic Donnerstag aus Licht comes to the UK for the first time in 34 years, we separate the cult from the culture of Karlheinz Stockhausen

Matched in musical-myth-mania perhaps only by Richard Wagner, Karlheinz Stockhausen is the ultimate conundrum for those of us who believe keenly in shifting classical music culture away from its alpha-male genius complex – but are still enthralled by the music. Do we get to have it both ways?

The German-born composer was the self-mythologiser extraordinaire who had entrancing charisma, bullish intelligence, no shortage of game-changing opinions, nor shortage of confidence with which to assert them. A guru with disciples and rivals, he fostered a personality cult that went way beyond his music to encompass fashion, spirituality, even a galactic origin story. Isn’t this precisely the artist-as-hero narrative we need to dismantle?

He declared that God gave birth to him on the star Sirius, and that he was musically educated up there in the galaxy

Sink into Donnerstag and you'll hear wondrous orchestral kaleidoscopics, vocal elasticity, vintage 70s electronic wizardry

Continue reading...

The month’s best mixes: steely funk, Lisbon tarraxo and hardcore psychedelia

Delivered... Lauren Martin | Scene | Tue 21 May 2019 1:00 pm

Our May selection features Job Sifre’s bitter electro, TSVI’s polyrhythms, and a trip down memory lane with Tama Sumo

Related: 'We're not beard-strokers!' Wigflex, Nottingham's 'rudeboy techno' night

Related: The month's best mixes: dancefloor stormers and experimental sidewinders

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Turn your iPad or iPhone into a scriptable MIDI tool with Mozaic

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 20 May 2019 6:07 pm

Its creator describes it as a “workshop in a plug-in.” Mozaic lets you turn your iOS device into a MIDI filter/controller that does whatever you want – a toolkit for making your own MIDI gadgets.

Oh yeah and it’s just US$6.99, which is absurd but awesome.

The beauty of this, of course, is that you can have whatever tools you want without having to wait for someone else to make them for you. Developer Bram Bos has been an innovator in music software for years – he created one of the first drum machines, among some ground-breaking (and sometimes weird) plug-ins, and now is one of the more accomplished iOS developers. So you can vouch for the quality of this one. It might move my iPad Pro back into must-have territory.

Bram writes to CDM that he thought this kind of DIY plug-in could let you make what you need:

“I noticed there is a lot of demand for MIDI filters and plugins (such as Rozeta) in the mobile music world,” he says,”especially with the rising popularity of DAW-less, modular plugin-based jamming and music making. Much of this demand is highly specific and difficult to satisfy with general purpose apps. So I decided to make it easier for people to create such plugins themselves.”

You get ready-to-use LFOs, graphic interface layouts, musical scales, random generators, and “a very easy-to-learn, easy-to-read script language.” And yeah, don’t be afraid, first-time programmers, Bram says: “I’ve designed the language from the ground up to be as accessible and readable as possible.”

To get you started, you’ll find example scripts and modular-style filters, and a big preset collection – with more coming, in response to your requests, Bram tells us. There’s a programming manual, meant both to get beginners going in as friendly a way as possible, and to give more advanced scripters and in-depth guide. And you get plenty of real-world examples.

There are some things you can do with your iOS gadget that you can’t do with most MIDI gadgets, too – like map your tilt sensors to MIDI.

This is an AUv3-compatible plug-in so you can use it in hosts like AUM, ApeMatrix, Cubasis, Nanostudio 2, Audiobus 3, and the like.

Full description/specs:

Mozaic runs inside your favorite AU MIDI host, and gives you practical building blocks such as LFOs, pre-fab GUI layouts, musical scales, AUv3 support (with AU Parameters, transport events, tempo syncing, etc.), random generators and a super-simple yet powerful script language. Mozaic even offers quick access to your device’s Tilt Sensors for expressive interaction concepts!

The Mozaic Script language is designed from the ground up to be the easiest and most flexible MIDI language on iOS. A language by creatives, for creatives. You’ll only need to write a few lines of script to achieve impressive things – or to create that uber-specific thing that was missing from your MIDI setup.

Check out the Programming Manual on Ruismaker.com to learn about the script language and to get inspiration for awesome scripts of your own.

Mozaic comes with a sizable collection of tutorials and pre-made scripts which you can use out of the box, or which can be a starting point for your own plugin adventures.

Features in a nutshell:

– Easy to learn Mozaic Script language: easy to learn, easy to read
– Sample-accurate-everything: the tightest MIDI timing possible
– Built-in script editor with code-completion, syntax hints, etc.
– 5 immediately usable GUI layouts, with knobs, sliders, pads, etc.
– In-depth, helpful programming manual available on Ruismaker.com
– Easy access to LFOs, scales, MIDI I/O, AU parameters, timers
– AUv3; so you’ll get multi-instance, state-saving, tempo sync and resource efficiency out of the box

Mozaic opens up the world of creative MIDI plugins to anyone willing to put in a few hours and a hot beverage or two.

Practical notes:
– Mozaic requires a plugin host with support for AUv3 MIDI plugins (AUM, ApeMatrix, Cubasis, Auria, Audiobus 3, etc.)
– The standalone mode of Mozaic lets you edit, test and export projects, but for MIDI connections you need to run it inside an AUv3 MIDI host
– MIDI is not sound; Mozaic on its own does not make noise… so bring your own synths, drum machines and other instruments!
– AUv3 MIDI requires iOS11 or higher

With some other MIDI controllers looking long in the tooth, and Liine’s Lemur also getting up in years, I wonder if this might not be the foundation for a universal controller/utility for music. So, yeah, I’d love to see some more touch-savvy widgets, OSC, and even Android support if this catches on. Now go forth, readers, and help it catch on!

Mozaic on the iTunes App Store

http://ruismaker.com/

The post Turn your iPad or iPhone into a scriptable MIDI tool with Mozaic appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Pre-1972 Sound Recordings and the July 8 SoundExchange Filing Deadline

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Mon 20 May 2019 5:19 pm

Recently, the Radio Music License Committee sent out a memo to broadcasters about a July 8, 2019 SoundExchange payment deadline for pre-1972 sound recordings.  As with everything in copyright law, the issues surrounding pre-1972 sound recordings are complicated, and the RMLC notice, while seemingly straightforward, still resulted in our receiving lots of questions.  These questions may have been compounded because of notices sent to broadcasters back in April about another filing deadline concerning these recordings which caused much consternation for what was, for most broadcasters, a matter of little concern.  For most broadcasters, neither of these dates are of particular concern unless the broadcaster has been identifying pre-1972 sound recordings and not paying SoundExchange royalties when those songs are streamed, and we understand that most broadcasters have in fact been paying SoundExchange for these recordings.  But let’s try to explain what is going on in a little more detail.

First, let’s look at the basics.  Sound recordings (the recording of a particular band or singer performing a song) were originally not covered by federal copyright law.  The law provided protections for “musical works” (i.e. the musical composition, the words and musical notes of the song), but the mere recording of that work was initially not seen as a creative work.  It was thought of more as a mechanical rendering of the real creative work – the underlying song.  So when recordings came to have real value in the first half of the last century, recording artists had to rely on state laws to prevent other people from making and distributing copies of their recordings. Laws against what we would refer to as bootlegging or pirating of recordings were passed in most states, and lawsuits against bootleggers would be brought under these state laws.  It was not until 1972 that Congress, through an amendment to the Copyright Act, recognized that the recordings were themselves creative works entitled to copyright protection.  But that amendment did not fully make all pre-existing recordings subject to the Copyright Act, instead leaving most sound recordings first recorded in the United States prior to the adoption of the amendment to the Act in February 1972 subject to state laws until 2067.

The 1972 amendment to the Copyright Act also did not create a public performance right in sound recordings.  That meant that, when sound recordings were played to a public audience, the recording artist (or the owner of the copyright in that sound recording, usually the record label) did not get paid.  Instead, as had been the case prior to 1972, only the composer of the underlying musical work (or the copyright holder of that composition – usually a publishing company) got paid, usually through a performing rights organization (also known as a PRO – ASCAP, BMI and SESAC until recent years when other PROs including GMR arose).  It was not until 1995, and then again in a more definitive way in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”), that sound recordings received a federal performance right protection – but only for digital performances.

Royalties for non-interactive performances of sound recordings are paid to what is essentially a PRO for sound recordings – SoundExchange.  Royalties for interactive performances of sound recordings must be directly negotiated with the copyright holder.  See our articles here and here for an explanation of the difference between interactive and non-interactive performances.  But, the DMCA established these payment requirements only for those recordings covered by Federal copyright law, thus excluding pre-1972 sound recordings (except for certain foreign pre-1972 recordings which, by international treaty, were brought under federal copyright protections).

So, when the DMCA created the public performance right for digital transmissions of a copyrighted sound recording, some contended that, as these pre-1972 works were not subject to the Copyright Act, they were not covered by the sound recording performance right.  When the time came to pay SoundExchange for the digital performance right, some services counted the performances they had made of these oldies and did not pay the royalties on those songs.

However, most broadcasters and smaller webcasting services did not go through the trouble of determining which recordings were pre-1972 recordings and pulling them out of the computation of the number of performances reported to SoundExchange.  Why not?  Because most services found it to be too much trouble to subtract the pre-1972 recordings.  It is difficult to determine the recording dates of many songs, and the international recordings brought under the Act by treaty made that computation even more confusing.  Moreover, most broadcasters and webcasters use their streaming service providers to count performances through a system of matching through access to a station’s music scheduling software the song that is playing at a particular time with the number of listeners to the webcaster at the time.  These counting systems usually did nothing to identify which songs were pre-1972 recordings and thus did not make it easy to exclude certain songs – whether pre-1972 or ones to which a service received a direct license.  For the most part, it was only the very large webcasters who found it cost-effective to develop their own software systems to identify and count pre-1972 recordings and to exclude them from royalty payments.

But, in the last few years, several pre-1972 artists began to sue these bigger services that had not paid for pre-1972 sound recordings, arguing that the artists had a right the be paid under state laws.  Some of these artists even argued that broadcasters owed royalties for over-the-air performances of pre-1972 recordings under these state laws, even though there is no such right under federal copyright law.  No state had a specific public performance law for these pre-1972 recordings, but the argument was made that such a right was somehow inherent in the state law – even though, by practice, royalties had never been paid.  Most of these suits were unsuccessful (see for instance our articles on decisions in New York and Florida).  But California courts initially found liability (see our article here) and the litigation is ongoing.

Efforts followed to amend federal law to bring these pre-1972 recordings under the sound recording performance royalty.  One of these pending bills ended up being incorporated into the recently enacted Music Modernization Act.  The MMA makes clear that these recordings are covered by the sound recording performance royalty, and it also establishes a staggered system for bringing the recordings fully under federal copyright laws.  Since the adoption of the MMA, it is clear that SoundExchange must be paid for digital performances of pre-1972 sound recordings.

However, there was a recognition that some services had not been paying and that they might not be able to transition over to a payment system immediately upon the adoption of the MMA.  The April filing deadline provided for services that still were not paying for pre-1972 recordings after the enactment of the MMA to avoid statutory royalties if they registered and paid those royalties upon receiving a demand from the copyright holder.  Services that had been paying for these recordings for the most part did not receive a substantial benefit from this registration except to the extent that they might get a degree of protection if a service at some point in the future messed up and didn’t properly pay its royalties.  However, there is no provision for copyright holders of post-1972 recordings having to give notice before suing a service behind in its payments, and those post-1972 copyright holders would be entitled to statutory damages.  So the services that really benefitted from the April registration were those few digital services who were only playing pre-1972 recordings and not paying for them.

The new July date in the RMLC notice is for those webcasters who were not paying for digital performances of pre-1972 sound recordings prior to the enactment of the MMA.  They can avoid claims for back royalties, including state law claims, by paying SoundExchange by July 8 for all their pre-1972 performances in the 3 years prior to the adoption of the MMA.  For most broadcasters who had been paying for their streaming of pre-1972 sound recordings and were current in their royalty payments, there would appear to be nothing to true up in July.  But for services who had been excluding the pre-1972 performances from their SoundExchange payments, they should true up by July 8 to avoid liability.

The MMA specifically applies all of the exceptions to sound recording royalty obligations to pre-1972 recordings.  So over-the-air broadcasts of these recordings do not trigger a performance right, and performances in bars, restaurants, retail outlets, and other venues still do not trigger a performance royalty (though certain digital “business establishment services” providing music to these venues may have general royalty issues – see our article here about those royalties).

The enactment of the MMA and its provisions dealing with pre-1972 recordings, once fully implemented, should end our need to write about these issues.  These songs will eventually be treated for most purposes like any post-1972 recordings.  The MMA does, however, recognize that (especially for some of the older recordings) it may be difficult to determine who owns the copyrights to these recordings.  The Copyright Office separately has several ongoing proceedings for claiming those rights.  But, for broadcasters – pay your digital royalties for all that you stream, including the pre-1972 recordings, and if you were one of the few stations that had not been paying for these recordings prior to the adoption of the MMA, take care of your true-up for the prior 3 years prior to July 8.  As always, check with your own legal counsel for more details and specific analysis on how these changes affect your operations in connection with these confusing issues.

Pre-1972 Sound Recordings and the July 8 SoundExchange Filing Deadline

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Mon 20 May 2019 5:19 pm

Recently, the Radio Music License Committee sent out a memo to broadcasters about a July 8, 2019 SoundExchange payment deadline for pre-1972 sound recordings.  As with everything in copyright law, the issues surrounding pre-1972 sound recordings are complicated, and the RMLC notice, while seemingly straightforward, still resulted in our receiving lots of questions.  These questions may have been compounded because of notices sent to broadcasters back in April about another filing deadline concerning these recordings which caused much consternation for what was, for most broadcasters, a matter of little concern.  For most broadcasters, neither of these dates are of particular concern unless the broadcaster has been identifying pre-1972 sound recordings and not paying SoundExchange royalties when those songs are streamed, and we understand that most broadcasters have in fact been paying SoundExchange for these recordings.  But let’s try to explain what is going on in a little more detail.

First, let’s look at the basics.  Sound recordings (the recording of a particular band or singer performing a song) were originally not covered by federal copyright law.  The law provided protections for “musical works” (i.e. the musical composition, the words and musical notes of the song), but the mere recording of that work was initially not seen as a creative work.  It was thought of more as a mechanical rendering of the real creative work – the underlying song.  So when recordings came to have real value in the first half of the last century, recording artists had to rely on state laws to prevent other people from making and distributing copies of their recordings. Laws against what we would refer to as bootlegging or pirating of recordings were passed in most states, and lawsuits against bootleggers would be brought under these state laws.  It was not until 1972 that Congress, through an amendment to the Copyright Act, recognized that the recordings were themselves creative works entitled to copyright protection.  But that amendment did not fully make all pre-existing recordings subject to the Copyright Act, instead leaving most sound recordings first recorded in the United States prior to the adoption of the amendment to the Act in February 1972 subject to state laws until 2067.

The 1972 amendment to the Copyright Act also did not create a public performance right in sound recordings.  That meant that, when sound recordings were played to a public audience, the recording artist (or the owner of the copyright in that sound recording, usually the record label) did not get paid.  Instead, as had been the case prior to 1972, only the composer of the underlying musical work (or the copyright holder of that composition – usually a publishing company) got paid, usually through a performing rights organization (also known as a PRO – ASCAP, BMI and SESAC until recent years when other PROs including GMR arose).  It was not until 1995, and then again in a more definitive way in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”), that sound recordings received a federal performance right protection – but only for digital performances.

Royalties for non-interactive performances of sound recordings are paid to what is essentially a PRO for sound recordings – SoundExchange.  Royalties for interactive performances of sound recordings must be directly negotiated with the copyright holder.  See our articles here and here for an explanation of the difference between interactive and non-interactive performances.  But, the DMCA established these payment requirements only for those recordings covered by Federal copyright law, thus excluding pre-1972 sound recordings (except for certain foreign pre-1972 recordings which, by international treaty, were brought under federal copyright protections).

So, when the DMCA created the public performance right for digital transmissions of a copyrighted sound recording, some contended that, as these pre-1972 works were not subject to the Copyright Act, they were not covered by the sound recording performance right.  When the time came to pay SoundExchange for the digital performance right, some services counted the performances they had made of these oldies and did not pay the royalties on those songs.

However, most broadcasters and smaller webcasting services did not go through the trouble of determining which recordings were pre-1972 recordings and pulling them out of the computation of the number of performances reported to SoundExchange.  Why not?  Because most services found it to be too much trouble to subtract the pre-1972 recordings.  It is difficult to determine the recording dates of many songs, and the international recordings brought under the Act by treaty made that computation even more confusing.  Moreover, most broadcasters and webcasters use their streaming service providers to count performances through a system of matching through access to a station’s music scheduling software the song that is playing at a particular time with the number of listeners to the webcaster at the time.  These counting systems usually did nothing to identify which songs were pre-1972 recordings and thus did not make it easy to exclude certain songs – whether pre-1972 or ones to which a service received a direct license.  For the most part, it was only the very large webcasters who found it cost-effective to develop their own software systems to identify and count pre-1972 recordings and to exclude them from royalty payments.

But, in the last few years, several pre-1972 artists began to sue these bigger services that had not paid for pre-1972 sound recordings, arguing that the artists had a right the be paid under state laws.  Some of these artists even argued that broadcasters owed royalties for over-the-air performances of pre-1972 recordings under these state laws, even though there is no such right under federal copyright law.  No state had a specific public performance law for these pre-1972 recordings, but the argument was made that such a right was somehow inherent in the state law – even though, by practice, royalties had never been paid.  Most of these suits were unsuccessful (see for instance our articles on decisions in New York and Florida).  But California courts initially found liability (see our article here) and the litigation is ongoing.

Efforts followed to amend federal law to bring these pre-1972 recordings under the sound recording performance royalty.  One of these pending bills ended up being incorporated into the recently enacted Music Modernization Act.  The MMA makes clear that these recordings are covered by the sound recording performance royalty, and it also establishes a staggered system for bringing the recordings fully under federal copyright laws.  Since the adoption of the MMA, it is clear that SoundExchange must be paid for digital performances of pre-1972 sound recordings.

However, there was a recognition that some services had not been paying and that they might not be able to transition over to a payment system immediately upon the adoption of the MMA.  The April filing deadline provided for services that still were not paying for pre-1972 recordings after the enactment of the MMA to avoid statutory royalties if they registered and paid those royalties upon receiving a demand from the copyright holder.  Services that had been paying for these recordings for the most part did not receive a substantial benefit from this registration except to the extent that they might get a degree of protection if a service at some point in the future messed up and didn’t properly pay its royalties.  However, there is no provision for copyright holders of post-1972 recordings having to give notice before suing a service behind in its payments, and those post-1972 copyright holders would be entitled to statutory damages.  So the services that really benefitted from the April registration were those few digital services who were only playing pre-1972 recordings and not paying for them.

The new July date in the RMLC notice is for those webcasters who were not paying for digital performances of pre-1972 sound recordings prior to the enactment of the MMA.  They can avoid claims for back royalties, including state law claims, by paying SoundExchange by July 8 for all their pre-1972 performances in the 3 years prior to the adoption of the MMA.  For most broadcasters who had been paying for their streaming of pre-1972 sound recordings and were current in their royalty payments, there would appear to be nothing to true up in July.  But for services who had been excluding the pre-1972 performances from their SoundExchange payments, they should true up by July 8 to avoid liability.

The MMA specifically applies all of the exceptions to sound recording royalty obligations to pre-1972 recordings.  So over-the-air broadcasts of these recordings do not trigger a performance right, and performances in bars, restaurants, retail outlets, and other venues still do not trigger a performance royalty (though certain digital “business establishment services” providing music to these venues may have general royalty issues – see our article here about those royalties).

The enactment of the MMA and its provisions dealing with pre-1972 recordings, once fully implemented, should end our need to write about these issues.  These songs will eventually be treated for most purposes like any post-1972 recordings.  The MMA does, however, recognize that (especially for some of the older recordings) it may be difficult to determine who owns the copyrights to these recordings.  The Copyright Office separately has several ongoing proceedings for claiming those rights.  But, for broadcasters – pay your digital royalties for all that you stream, including the pre-1972 recordings, and if you were one of the few stations that had not been paying for these recordings prior to the adoption of the MMA, take care of your true-up for the prior 3 years prior to July 8.  As always, check with your own legal counsel for more details and specific analysis on how these changes affect your operations in connection with these confusing issues.

No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Labels,Scene | Fri 17 May 2019 7:18 pm

Pioneer and Beatport this week announced new streaming offerings for DJs. And then lots of people kind of freaked out. Let’s see what’s actually going on, if any of it is useful to DJs and music lovers, and what we should or shouldn’t worry about.

Artists, labels, and DJs are understandably on edge about digital music subscriptions – and thoughtless DJing. Independent music makers tend not to see any useful revenue or fan acquisition from streaming. So the fear is that a move to the kinds of pricing on Spotify, Amazon, and Apple services would be devastating.

And, well – that’s totally right, you obviously should be afraid of those things if you’re making music. Forget even getting rich – if big services take over, just getting heard could become an expensive endeavor, a trend we’ve already begun to see.

So I talked to Beatport to get some clarity on what they’re doing. We’re fortunate now that the person doing artist and label relations for Beatport is Heiko Hoffmann, who has an enormous resume in the trenches of the German electronic underground, including some 17 years under his belt as editor of Groove, which has had about as much a reputation as any German-language rag when it comes to credibility.

TL:DR

The skinny:

Beatport LINK: fifteen bucks a month, but aimed at beginners – 128k only. Use it for previews if you’re a serious Beatport user, recommend it to your friends bugging you about how they should start DJing, and otherwise don’t worry about it.

Beatport CLOUD: five bucks a month, gives you sync for your Beatport collection. Included in the other stuff here and – saves you losing your Beatport purchases and gives you previews. 128k only. Will work with Rekordbox in the fall, but you’ll want to pay extra for extra features (or stick with your existing download approach).

Beatport LINK PRO: the real news – but it’s not here yet. Works with Rekordbox, costs 40-60 bucks, but isn’t entirely unlimited. Won’t destroy music (uh, not saying something else won’t, but this won’t). The first sign of real streaming DJs – but the companies catering to serious DJs aren’t going to give away the farm the way Apple and Spotify have. In fact, if there’s any problem here, it’s that no one will buy this – but that’s Beatport’s problem, not yours (as it should be).

WeDJ streaming is for beginners, not Pioneer pros

This first point is probably the most important. Beatport (and SoundCloud) have each created a subscription offering that works exclusively with Pioneer’s WeDJ mobile DJ tool. That is, neither of these works with Rekordbox – not yet.

Just in case there’s any doubt, Pioneer has literally made the dominant product image photo some people DJing in their kitchen. So there you go: Rekordbox and and CDJ and TORAIZ equals nightclub, WeDJ equals countertop next to a pan of fajitas.

So yeah, SoundCloud streaming is now in a DJ app. And Beatport is offering its catalog of tracks for US$14.99 a month for the beta, which is a pretty phenomenally low price – and one that would rightfully scare labels and artists.

But it’s important this is in WeDJ as far as DJing. Pioneer aren’t planning on endangering their business ecosystem in Rekordbox, higher-end controllers, and standalone hardware like the CDJ. They’re trying to attract the beginners in the hopes that some of those people will expand the high end market down the road.

By the same token, it’d be incredibly short-sighted if Beatport were to give up on customers paying a hundred bucks a month or so on downloads just to chase growth. Instead, Beatport will split its offerings into a consumer/beginner product (LINK for WeDJ) and two products for serious DJs (LINK Pro and Beatport CLOUD).

And there’s reason to believe that what disrupts the consumer/beginner side might not make ripples when it comes to pros – as we’ve been there already. Spotify is in Algoriddim’s djay. It’s actually a really solid product. But the djay user base doesn’t impact what people use in the clubs, where the CDJ (or sometimes Serato or TRAKTOR) reign supreme. So if streaming in DJ software were going to crash the download market, you could argue it would have happened already.

That’s still a precarious situation, so let’s break down the different Beatport options, both to see how they’ll impact music makers’ business – and whether they’re something you might want to use yourself.

Ce n’est pas un CDJ.

Beatport LINK – the beginner one

First, that consumer service – yeah, it’s fifteen bucks a month and includes the Beatport catalog. But it’s quality-limited and works only in the WeDJ app (and with the fairly toy-like new DDJ-200 controller, which I’ll look at separately).

Who’s it for? “The Beginner DJs that are just starting out will have millions of tracks to practice and play with,” says Heiko. “Previously, a lot of this market would have been lost to piracy. The bit rate is 128kbs AAC and is not meant for public performance.”

But us serious Beatport users might want to mess around with it, too – it’s a place you can audition new tracks for a fairly low monthly fee. “It’s like having a record shop in your home,” says Heiko.

Just don’t think Beatport are making this their new subscription offering. If you think fifteen bucks a month for everything Beatport is a terrible business idea, don’t worry – Beatport agree. “This is the first of our Beatport LINK products,” says Heiko. “This is not a ‘Spotify for dance music.’ It’s a streaming service for DJs and makes Beatport’s extensive electronic music catalog available to stream audio into the WeDJ app.” And yeah, Spotify want more money for that, which is good – because you want more money charged for that as a producer or label. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the locker, the other thing available now:

WeDJ – a mobile gateway drug for DJs, or so Pioneer hopes. (NI and Algoriddim did it first; let’s see who does it better.)

Beatport CLOUD – the locker/sync one

Okay, so streaming may be destroying music but … you’ve probably still sometimes wanted to have access to digital downloads you’ve bought without having to worry about hard drive management or drive and laptop failures. And there’s the “locker” concept.

Some folks will remember that Beatport bought the major “locker” service for digital music – when it acquired Pulselocker. [link to our friends at DJ TechTools]

Beatport CLOUD is the sync/locker making a comeback, with €/$ 4.99 a month fee and no obligation or contract. It’s also included free in LINK – so for me, for instance, since I hate promos and like to dig for my own music even as press and DJ, I’m seriously thinking of the fifteen bucks to get full streaming previews, mixing in WeDJ, and CLOUD.

There are some other features here, too:

Re-download anything, unlimited. I heard from a friend – let’s call him Pietro Kerning – that maybe a stupid amount of music he’d (uh, or “she’d”) bought on Beatport was now scattered across a random assortment of hard drives. I would never do such a thing, because I organize everything immaculately in all aspects of my life in a manner becoming a true professional, but now this “friend” will easily be able to grab music anywhere in the event of that last-minute DJ gig.

By the same token you can:

Filter all your existing music in a cloud library. Not that I need to, perfectly organized individual, but you slobs need this, of course.

Needle-drop full previews. Hear 120 seconds from anywhere in a track – for better informed purchases. (Frankly, this makes me calmer as a label owner, even – I would totally rather you hear more of our music.)

There should be some obvious bad news here – this only works with Beatport purchased music. You can’t upload music the way some sync/locker services have worked in the past. But I think given the current legal landscape, if you want that, set up your own backup server.

What I like about this, at least, is that this store isn’t losing stuff you’ve bought from them. I think other download sites should consider something similar. (Bandcamp does a nice job in this respect – and of course it’s the store I use the most when not using Beatport.)

The new Beatport cloud.

Beatport LINK Pro – what’s coming

There are very few cases where someone says, “hey, good news – this will be expensive.” But music right now is a special case. And it’s good news that Beatport is launching a more expensive service.

For labels and artists, it means a serious chance to stay alive. (I mean, even for a label doing a tiny amount of download sales, this can mean that little bit of cash to pay the mastering engineer and the person who did the design for the cover, or to host a showcase in your local club.)

For serious users using that service, it means a higher quality way of getting music than other subscription services – and that you support the people who make the music you love, so they keep using it.

Or, at least, that’s the hope.

What Beatport is offering at the “pro” tiers does more and costs more. Just like Pioneer doesn’t want you to stop buying CDJs just because they have a cheap controller and app, Beatport doesn’t want you to stop spending money for music just because they have a subscription for that controller and app. Heiko explains:

With the upcoming Pioneer rekordbox integration, Beatport will roll out two new plans – Beatport LINK Pro and Beatport LINK Pro+ – with an offline locker and 256kbps AAC audio quality (which is equivalent to 320kbps MP3, but you’re the expert here). This will be club ready, but will be aimed at DJs who take their laptops to clubs, for now. They will cost €39,99/month and €59,99/month depending on how many tracks you can put in the offline locker (50 and 100 respectively).

You’ll get streaming inside Rekordbox with the basic LINK, too – but only at 128k. So it’ll work for previewing and trying out mixes, but the idea is you’ll still pay more for higher quality. (And of course that also still means paying more to work with CDJs, which is also a big deal.)

And yeah, Beatport agree with me. “We think streaming for professional DJ use should be priced higher,” says Heiko. “And we also need to be sure that this is not biting into the indie labels and artists (and therefore also Beatport’s own) revenues,” he says.

What Heiko doesn’t say is that this could increase spending, but I think it actually could. Looking at my own purchase habits and talking to others, a lot of times you look back and spend $100 for a big gig, but then lapse a few months. A subscription fee might actually encourage you to spend more and keep your catalog up to date gig to gig.

It’s also fair to hope this could be good for under-the-radar labels and artists even relative to the status quo. If serious DJs are locked into subscription plans, they might well take a chance on lesser known labels and artists since they’re already paying. I don’t want to be overly optimistic, though – a lot of this will be down to how Beatport handles its editorial offerings and UX on the site as this subscription grows. That means it’s good someone like Heiko is handling relations, though, as I expect he’ll be hearing from us.

Really, one very plausible scenario is that streaming DJing doesn’t catch on initially because it’s more expensive – and people in the DJ world may stick to downloads. A lot of that in turn depends on things like how 5G rolls out worldwide (which right now involves a major battle between the US government and Chinese hardware vendor Huawei, among other things), plus how Pioneer deals with a “Streaming CDJ.”

The point is, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of that. And there’s no rush – smart companies like Beatport will charge sustainable amounts of money for subscriptions and move slowly. The thing to be afraid of is if Apple or Spotify rush out a DJ product and, like, destroy independent music. If they try it, we should fight back.

Will labels and artists benefit?

If it sounds like I’m trying to be a cheerleader for Beatport, I’m really not. If you look at the top charts in genres, a lot of Beatport is, frankly, dreck – even with great editorial teams trying to guide consumers to good stuff. And centralization in general has a poor track record when it comes to underground music.

No, what I am biased toward is products that are real, shipping, and based on serious economics. So much as I’m interested in radical ideas for decentralizing music distribution, I think those services have yet to prove their feasibility.

And I think it’s fair to give Beatport some credit for being a business that’s real, based on actual revenue that’s shared between labels and artists. It may mean little to your speedcore goth neo-Baroque label (BLACK HYPERACID LEIPZIG INDUSTRIES, obviously – please let’s make that). But Beatport really is a cornerstone for a lot of the people making dance music now, on a unique scale.

The vision for LINK seems to be solid when it comes to revenue. Heiko again:

LINK will provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists. The people who are buying downloads on Beatport are doing so because they want to DJ/perform with them. LINK is not there to replace that.

But I think for the reason I’ve already repeated – that the “serious” and “amateur”/wedding/beginner DJ gulf is real and not just a thing snobs talk about – LINK and WeDJ probably won’t disrupt label business, even that much to the positive. Look ahead to Rekordbox integration and the higher tiers. And yeah, I’m happy to spend the money, because I never get tired of listening to music – really.

And what if you don’t like this? Talk to your label and distributor. And really, you should be doing that anyway. Heiko explains:

Unlike other DSP’s, Beatport LINK has been conceived and developed in close cooperation with the labels and distributors on Beatport. Over the past year, new contracts were signed and all music used for LINK has been licensed by the right holders. However, if labels whose distributors have signed the new contract don’t want their catalog to be available for LINK they can opt out. But again: LINK is meant to provide an additional revenue source to the labels and artists.

Have a good weekend, and let us know if you have questions or comments. I’ll be looking at this for sure, as I think there isn’t enough perspective coming from serious producers who care about the details of technology.

https://www.beatport.com/get-link

The post No, Beatport’s subscription will not kill music – here’s how it really works appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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