It Was A Good Day,
Beats Music Presents: The Live 90′s Hip Hop Playlist

24hr Concert Marathon Premieres Exclusively on Revolt TV
6am EST 
Sunday April 20th through 6am EST Monday April 21st

REVOLT TV will air a 24-hour Beats Music marathon highlighting the star-studded 2014 Grammy weekend concert that marked its official launch. The special, titled “It Was A Good Day, Beats Music Presents: The Live 90′s Hip Hop Playlist,” is an instant classic, headlined by industry icons such as Dr. DreEminemNasPuff DaddyIce Cube and Mase, featuring additional performances by Cypress HillBusta RhymesMethod Man & RedmanBone Thugs-N-HarmonyGeto BoysSouls of Mischief, and Fatlip & Slimkid (formerly of The Pharcyde). Each of these legendary superstars performed one song, resulting in a perfectly curated playlist brought to life and featuring the very best of 90s hip-hop- an experience only Beats Music could bring.

It Was A Good Day
Beats Music Presents: The Live 90′s Hip Hop Playlist
Sunday, April 20 – Monday, April 21, 2014
6am – 6am EST
Exclusively on REVOLT TV
Sign-up to watch online Monday 4/21 at

Rome Was Not Built in a Day

The rise of the streaming music services.

There has been a cavalcade of articles and blog posts spinning their way across the Web recently that purport to provide insights that predict the future of streaming music services. Unfortunately except for a tiny minority, they tend to lack two things: facts and gravitas.

What they don’t lack are headlines that attract attention; hence the Web swirl. For the most part, they are negative about the future prospects of streaming music services. This negativity is nothing new; we have seen many articles where the author knows, just knows, that streaming music services will fail, and what then follows is a list of why they will fail. It would be great if these articles reflected how their authors had parsed the data.

We might say that attempting to predict the future is a fool’s errand.

By nature I am an optimist, but this does not mean that I don’t look at cold hard facts before making a determination about a topic, a service, a change in plans, etc. My take is clear: music fans (who are not exactly a small subset of society) have shown a clear preference for accessing music via their mobile devices when they are on the go.

Just enter any office and note what is taking place; most of the time you will see people sitting at their desks, wearing headphones, streaming music. Perhaps the in-office Sonos system is streaming music for all? Now clearly, that is only anecdotal evidence at best, not a robust user study, and yet I would challenge anyone who says they have not seen evidence of this societal shift. A simple question from me would be “so, how do you access your favorite music?”

To me, that reality makes a streaming music model inevitable. But it will take time. The fact is that the recorded music industry is under pressure because of this shift by music fans. If there’s one prediction I would stand behind, it would be that we are not going to see a return to the days of CDs selling by the millions every week. I know some very smart people in the recorded music world and they understand what’s happening to their business.

None of the above is a suggestion from me that there haven’t been, or will continue to be, pitfalls. Over time there will be changes and adjustments to how streaming music services adapt to these still fluid markets. This is where the continued engagement between streaming music services, labels and musicians is paramount.

We all have to understand and solve real problems, not perceived problems.

At Beats Music we have nothing but the utmost respect for music and musicians. That is why we are striving to provide real solutions for everyone involved: Musicians, labels and the music fans.

As the title of my post says – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Patience is required.

Nirvana Nostalgia: Seattle Memories, Tech Tales, and The Passing of a Legend

My Dad and I laugh all the time about how much technology has changed things over the last 20 years. It’s something I’m thinking about even more today as we mark the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s tragic death–where we were, what we did, and how we reacted back then in the pre-smartphone, pre-Internet, pre-social media days.

I think back to 1994 Seattle. I was 16 years old, and music was my life. Already, I was juggling three radio station gigs I’d had for a couple of years: pulling shifts at a college radio station during the peak of the grunge movement, a high school dance station, and overnight at a Hip Hop Station KUBE 93. I have stories I will tell my grandchildren, but none more than these three memorable Nirvana experiences…

The Show

Back then, Seattle had enacted the Teen Dance Ordinance–a “Footloose-esque” law which made it nearly impossible for venues to host all ages shows–which unfortunately remained in effect for my entire youth. I had already missed one Nirvana show as a result, so when Nirvana announced the In Utero Tour, it became my top priority.

Today, getting concert tickets online is a snap. But back then, tickets would go on sale at 10 a.m. (during school!) at Ticketmaster. You would need to either call in to purchase tickets or camp out at a Ticketmaster location to buy them in person. With no cell phones, calling in wasn’t an option. I don’t remember how we got tickets to In Utero. I’m not sure if someone ditched school to get the tickets or one of our parents saved the day but, somehow, about 10 of my friends and I got tickets and all went to the show.

Maybe it was the hassle of obtaining tickets, or the enormity of Nirvana’s post-Nevermind return, but it was one of the most memorable concerts of my life. It took place at the Mercer Arena, where security was so lax at the time that kids could lick the red stamp on their wrists that gave them access to the general admission floor and rub them on their friends wrists to get them in as well. So the ENTIRE arena was on the floor, resulting one, huge, mosh pit from the stage to the back.

I spent the entire show just trying to stay alive… I’m not kidding. I’m talking both feet planted firmly on the floor, clutching my purse, with an entire arena’s worth of people slamming into me every 4 seconds. I have never been more trapped, tired, and honestly potentially at risk of being trampled in my entire life. All I really remember seeing at that show were the “In Utero” mannequins being demolished at the end of the night like a biology classroom being ransacked, Kurt smashing every last thing on stage to pieces, and the feeling of euphoria I had leaving the venue.

The News

The day they found Kurt Cobain’s body I remember being in the car and hearing it on the radio. We didn’t have the Internet, Twitter, or cell phones. We were glued to the radio. I babysat for a woman who was interim Program Director at KXRX in Seattle, which was the radio station the electrician who spotted Kurt’s dead body called before calling the police. My friend had to make the decision whether or not to go on air with the story. That’s how close to home it was.

The city was in shock, and it jolted us all out of our pre-defined roles. This was before the “iPod generation” made listening to different types of music the norm. Back then, people who liked rock hung out with other rockers. Kids that liked pop music stayed in their lane. Hip Hop was so “street” that some radio stations edited the “rap” out of TLC’s “Waterfalls.”

But after Kurt Cobain died, the city was so shook up that the hip hop radio station I worked for, KUBE 93, started playing Nirvana every hour between Snoop Dogg and 2 Pac, and eventually changed formats to “The New Music Revolution” playing both rock and hiphop interchangeably. It was the only thing anyone could talk about, but could only do so through radio call in times, or with each. Imagine if Twitter existed that day!

The Memorial

Eventually, KUBE 93 called me to report live from Kurt’s memorial. But my Mom didn’t want me to go. I’m an only child and I had really strict parents. I wasn’t allowed to “drive into Seattle” from our suburb about 20 miles away. As the news reported on rumors of potential copycat suicides and kids not being able to handle Kurt’s death my Mom thought there could be “riots” at the event. “This is the most important event in music history and you’re making me miss it!” I sobbed. Finally, my Dad caved, and he volunteered to take me himself.

At Seattle Center, there were thousands of kids sprinkled all over the grass. It was somber with candles, flowers, flannels, and Doc Martins as far as your eyes could see. They played a tape of Courtney reading the suicide letter out loud. The most alarming part about the tape was her commentary on Kurt’s suicide note, calling him an asshole for saying certain things, then asking the crowd to scream “asshole!” which they loudly did. The only footage of this that exists now is old TV clips. No Intagram. No Foursquare or Facebook.

As kids mounted the Seattle Center fountain, and Nirvana music played, I kept dashing back and forth to the pay phone to go live with news reports for the radio station. I hand to phone. I couldn’t live-Tweet this. It’s hard to believe that now I’m in my 30s, because as timeless as Nirvana’s music is… remembering back to an era when we didn’t have social media, access to the Internet, or even cell phones makes me feel 100 years old!

I can’t believe Kurt Cobain has been gone for 20 years. My Seattle memories are stories I will tell my grandchildren. In the meantime, enjoy my playlist Big In Seattle: My Teen Spirit! We lost a legend on April 5th but there was so much more to that music moment. Please enjoy some of my favorites from growing up in the 206!

Big In Seattle: My Teen Spirit


Beats Music and Transom Capital Group Reach Agreement for Topspin Platform

When Beats Music acquired Topspin last month, we noted that Topspin’s e-commerce unit wasn’t our core business, and as such we’d be looking for a partner to handle that element of the Topspin platform.

Today, I’m happy to announce the Topspin board has found that partner. Transom Capital Group’s entertainment licensing and merch business BandMerch/Cinder Block has agreed to acquire the ecommerce and fulfillment elements of the Topspin platform, along with the Topspin Media name. This is the perfect home for Topspin. BandMerch and Cinder Block  merged into one company last month to become a leader in the sports and entertainment merch space. Adding Topspin’s technology and artist relationships to that mix is the best home I could have envisioned for them.

Meanwhile, here at Beats Music we’re working on some exciting things built on the Topspin Artistlink platform that we’ll unveil in the coming months. Stay tuned!

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet… Beats Music Welcomes Bozoma Saint John as SVP, Head of Global Marketing

StJohn_4Beats Music has made quite a bit of noise since our launch in January, but things are about to get a lot louder around here with our latest addition to the executive team. Today, we’re psyched to announce that media maven Bozoma Saint John will be joining the company as head of our growing marketing team.

In her role as SVP, Head of Global Marketing, Saint John will take the lead on all Beats Music marketing initiatives, from brand and performance marketing to collaborations with Target, Chevy, Beats Electronics and others. She will utilize her experience combining music with powerful international brands to further the Beats Music mission of delighting music fans and supporting a sustainable music business. Hand in hand with the Beats Music and Beats Electronics executive teams, Saint John will execute strategic marketing initiatives in order to earn and nurture true consumer brand recognition, loyalty and equity that will enable Beats Music to take its rightful place at the forefront of pop culture. She will report to Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers.

“Boz’s passion for music and experience working directly with artists on behalf of a powerful international brand makes her a perfect fit for Beats Music,” Rogers said. “We’re fortunate to have her on our team.”

For the last decade and a half, Saint John has been blazing marketing and advertising trails across various industries including consumer packaged goods, digital music/entertainment, fashion, automotive and sports. Prior to joining Beats Music, she served as the head of the Music and Entertainment Marketing Group at Pepsi-Cola North America where she was responsible for leading breakthrough, integrated & sustained consumer engagement plans for brands across the soda giant’s beverages portfolio. Saint John has spearheaded multiple 360-degree integrated programs that engaged tastemaker-consumers in the Pepsi brand through music, film, TV print, online, grassroots, events, and retail vehicles.

During her tenure at Pepsi-Cola, she also activated celebrity endorsements with Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Katy Perry and her idol, Michael Jackson as well as managed brand integrations with media juggernauts like the Super Bowl, GRAMMY Awards, MTV VMAs, and CMA Awards. Her prior experience includes Vice President of Marketing for fashion brand Ashley Stewart, and traditional advertising agency management at Arnold Worldwide and Spike Lee’s SpikeDDB.

“When I was in the 10th grade I decided to run for a position on the student council with the campaign slogan “Nuthin but a Boz thang” so you might say joining Beats Music is like coming full circle, “ said Saint John. “I’ve been working my whole career to get here! I’m thrilled, and ready to win!”

Throughout her career, Saint John has been recognized by some of the industry’s most influential media outlets including Billboard Magazine’s Top Women in Music, and Top Executives 40 Under 40, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Ebony Magazine’s 100 Top Executives, and was featured on the cover of AdWeek as one of the most exciting personalities in Advertising. She also contributes her expertise to various groups including serving on the Leadership Council for the United Nation’s partnership with the PVBLIC Foundation, and as a mentor for the Levo League.

A graduate of Wesleyan University with a BA in English and African American Studies, Bozoma is a native of Ghana (West Africa), was raised in Colorado, is an avid reader, hip hop music fanatic, Tupac Shakur academic and an insatiable shoe-zealot.

Gang Of Four – Entertainment! – A look back

In September of this year it will have been 35 years since my band released our debut album. They say time flies, but in this case perhaps it’s  time warping. Looking through the lens of history often begs nostalgia. The problem is that nostalgia is a misplaced ideal. After all, History’s Bunk.

The online magazine Caught In The Carousel has been documenting through interviews with me and Gang of Four drummer Hugo Burnham, the history of the album. Old band photos have surfaced and looking at them now I can only wonder – who is that guy in that picture, who are the other three people? Time/warp.

We are no longer the same young men who created that album.

If you don’t mind me saying so, what I do know is that the four young men in those pictures created an album that has remained loved and revered over three and a half decades; its influence never seems to wane. Sonically it stands still in time because of how it was recorded; basically live with only minimal overdubs and with no additional trickery, such as adding reverb in the mix. If you listen to the album today it doesn’t sound dated and it is absent certain sonic pointers such as the Linn drum,  a machine that sonically fixed albums in certain eras.

And then there were the lyrics and our politics. Kevin Dettmar, W. M. Keck Professor of English at Pomona College, Claremont, CA., has written a book in the 33 1/3rd series about his personal experience with Entertainment!. In an interview about the book  he describes how he approached those lyrics and our political bent:

KD: Gang of Four’s engagement with British Marxist thought is explicit, which is why I’d thought I’d make it explicit in the book. One can argue that, for instance, Jean Baudrillard was important to U2 as they were cooking up Achtung Baby and Zooropa, and I think there’s a good case to be made. But Jon King and Andy Gill were students of T. J. Clarke at Leeds. Jon references the Situationists all the time in interviews. It’s not a stretch to connect them to this body of political thought. As Au Pairs might say, “It’s obvious.”

“Natural’s Not in It” is the perfect example. I love that opening line, “The problem of leisure….” The very idea that “leisure” is a “problem”: already we’re on some pretty strange turf for rock music. Raymond Williams, in his book Keywords - with which members of the band were familiar – says that “nature” and “culture,” which are locked into this sort of yin-and-yang structure, each one determining and defining the other, are the two most complex words in the English language. “Natural’s Not in It” is about the use of the term “natural” to cover up the fact that our reality is shaped by power, rather than just given to us. When we believe that something’s natural, we stop thinking about it, stop analyzing it, stop worrying about it. If we think that poverty is just a natural consequence of human nature, we stop worrying about the poor.

In particular “Natural’s Not in It” is about the most “natural” thing in all of human relationships: sex. And if we’re honest, anyone who has had it would have to admit that “natural” is at most half of it! In the song Gang of Four are concerned with the ways that cultural notions of male dominance play out in the bedroom, cloaked under the guise of “nature.” Gang of Four is more often identified with Marxist than feminist thought, but no band I know of from that period, with the exception of Au Pairs and The Slits, were doing more targeted feminist work in their music.

My favorite track on Entertainment! is Natural’s Not In It, and I was deeply thrilled when Sophia Coppola chose it as the title track to her film, Marie Antoinette.

Dettmar takes this on in his book:

It’s a delicious and insouciant move: Sophia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antonette opens on a bored Marie, conspicuous consumer of pâtisseries, la belle dame recumbent on her chaise longue, attended by her lady’s maid. Cue Andy Gill’s clanging guitar, thin but very loud, accompanied in short order by the rumbling of Hugo Burnham’s drums and Dave Allen’s sinuous bass line. “The problem of leisure / What to do for pleasure…” Ha! What indeed. It’s a brilliant conceit, and the scene’s powerful visuals have the unexpected benefit of throwing certain other lines in the song (such as “your relations are all power”) into new and surprising relief. And given the way that “nature” was bent to human will in the gardens at the Trianon, “Natural’s Not In It” works to prepare certain minor motifs occurring in the film, as well.

There are so many more words I could type here but I will spare you. I will close by sharing with you that our time together was one of friendship, of conflict and contradiction, of bliss and passion, of not knowing at times, then understanding. We fought bitterly, we could be belligerent with each other, but in the end the mysterious mix of luck, talent and charisma created an unassailable collective that brought the world two amazing albums, Entertainment! and Solid Gold.

If I may say so.

VIDEO: Tinashe ft. ScHoolboy Q “2 On”

There’s something special about witnessing the emergence of a new artist. In late January, we added Tinashe’s “2 On” featuring ScHoolboy Q to our Trending Tracks: R&B mixtape. In mid February, the single bubbled up to our Top 25: R&B mixtape. Three weeks ago, Tinashe stopped by the Beats Music office—a day after shooting the “2 On” video”—and told us about the exciting road to her upcoming RCA Records debut.  A week and a half ago, I watched her charm the Hype Hotel crowd during an electrifying performance at SXSW. Today, she premiered her “2 On” video.” 106 & Park, here she comes! Look out for the Beats Music sentence at the 31 and 36 second marks.

She’s one of music’s fresh faces, but Tinashe struts with the confidence of a veteran throughout the clip. The video shows her at a dance studio rehearsing with her girls before a big club performance.  Hannah Lux Davis did an amazing job directing the clip. There’s a few dope silhouette shots throughout the clip—one image in particular captures Tinashe in a Charlie’s Angels-esque pose right as she sings, “bang, bang!”

The timing couldn’t have been better. ScHoolboy Q’s coming off a #1 album in Oxymoron so Tinashe will undoubtedly benefit from his buzz. But, as “2 On” continues to grow into a hit, Q will benefit from appearing on the song as well. It’ll expose him to a different audience. But, I digress.

This feels like the beginning of something big—the birth of a star, which is especially exciting since there’s been such a void in R&B. Tinashe’s only 21 but this video will eventually become a time marker for the younger generation. “Remember that Tinashe ‘2 On’ video?,” young teenage girls will say. “I was in middle school when it came out.” I can hear it now.

Top 5 SXSW Moments by Carl Chery


Beats Music returned to SXSW this year. We took part in events from curation partners Pitchfork and Trasher Magazine in addition to having a small presence at The Illmore. I spent a lot of my time checking out a number of shows, of course. In recent years, the focus of SXSW changed from putting the microscope on emerging artists to companies spending big money to produce unofficial events featuring superstar talents. I tried balancing both this year—briefly attending Lady Gaga’s Doritos concert as well as a showcase for Mac Miller’s new imprint, Remember Music, among other shows. But SXSW has never exclusively been about live entertainment. It’s an experience. Here are my personal Top 5 Moments of SXSX 2014.

5. YMCMB Invades The Illmore

The Illmore—SXSW’s resident hip-hop after party—seemingly gets cooler every year, but they reached a new plateau for their grand finale in 2014. Practically everyone from YMCMB with the exception of Nicki Minaj and Drake were in attendance in addition to 2 Chainz, who stopped by, and Jeezy who jumped on stage for a quick rendition of “R.I.P.” Buzzworthy MC Young Thug took the stage with Lil Wayne, Birdman, Mack Maine, and many more, to perform “Stoner” and “Danny Glover.”

4. Def Jam 30 SXSWi Showcase

The legendary Def Jam Records closed out SXSW Interactive with a concert to celebrate its 30-year anniversary. The lineup featured label vets Method Man and Redman, upstart Vince Staples and current acts Pusha T and 2 Chainz, to name a  few. Red and Meth were especially entertaining, bouncing off each other with effortless chemistry while reciting classics like “Da Rockwilder” and “How High.” The event got SX off to a solid start.

3. A Toast to Erykah Badu

Motown Records hosted a toast to Erykah Badu in conjunction with Samsung Galaxy. It was a welcomed change of pace from my seemingly never-ending show schedule. Badu’s DJ, A1 of the Cannabinoids, played nothing but Erykah songs and samples. I briefly got to speak to Erykah towards the end of the evening. She has new music coming sooner than later. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

2. ScHoolboy Q’s Riotous Complex Performance

ScHoolboy Q took to the Complex stage for an energetic set featuring  “Hands on the Wheel,” “There He Go,” “Collard Greens,” “Yay Yay,” “Man of the Year” and his upcoming single, “Studio” with the capacity crowd hanging on to his every word. Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator and Taco watched the performance stage-side.  Q had the stage shaking and seemingly ready to relapse at any given moment  throughout his set. The stage didn’t cave in, but the feeling that it could somehow made the show that much more exciting.

1. Tinashe’s Coming Out Party

Tinashe’s performance at the Hype Hotel was nothing short of incredible. The crowd didn’t necessarily seem to be familiar with her music, but it didn’t matter. With her two dancers in tow, Tinashe confidently bounced all over the stage during renditions of mixtape favorites like, “Boss.” “Aaliyah!” some concertgoers shouted, clearly charmed by her performance. After teasing DJ Mustard-produced hits “Show Me” (Kid Ink) and “My Hitta” (YG), Tinashe closed her set with her current single “2 On,” also produced by Mustard. People were floored. I got a chance to speak to her moments after she got off the stage. “You see this wristband?” I told her, gently tugging at my credentials for Lady Gaga’s Doritos concert. “You and Lady Gaga had shows at the same time. I basically picked you over Gaga. That’s how much I believe in you.” Believe me. It’s only a matter of time before you guys feel the same way.

White Ants and Flying Saucers

Flaming Lips stage set Sasquatch 2008. Image: Dave Allen

“We all have opinions, where do they come from?”

— Gang of Four: Why Theory?

This weekend I was spending time with one of my favorite albums – Push The Sky Away by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. I would describe Cave as a lyrical author rather than just a lyricist; his songs are narratives, poems and short stories; often the characters in his stories are street-hardened naifs living lives that skirt between fantasy and reality. At their best, on this album and others, his songs could be the soundtrack to that dark, brooding novel by Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian.

Cave’s awareness of his music as art shows up as a subtle third person reference in Finishing Jubilee Street where he speaks/sings “I’d just finished writing Jubilee Street, I laid down on my bed and fell into a deep sleep.” Bertolt Brecht would have been proud.

That preamble is a set up for where I’m going here. I just finished The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths a fascinating non-fiction book by John N. Gray. A synopsis I would apply to the book is that humans have always struggled with the idea of progress and often don’t realize their response to progress is laced with illusions and myths. (Dear Nick, a freebie – there are many ideas for songs here should you need them…) I’ll return to the book’s insights later in this post.

In response to musician’s plaints against the way people access their music these days, I’ve often said that I don’t believe in the nostalgic idea that there was once a Golden Age of music; a period where the music recording industry was overflowing with cash, so much cash that it showered it evenly to all musicians, proving its largesse whilst creating an egalitarian income stream that treated everyone the same. I’d argue that the business has been pretty steady for decades except for a bell curve in the eighties and nineties when music fans bought CDs to replace their vinyl collections and concert ticket prices went through the roof. If I look to the left and to the right of that bell curve I’d say that the recorded music industry has regained a kind of equilibrium.

A question that might be put to me: Are you suggesting that the Internet didn’t flatten the recorded music industry? I would reply: Not entirely flattened it, but it didn’t adapt well to it. I would also reply that the Internet certainly flattened many, many businesses – Kodak comes to mind – and the businesses that adapted to the opportunities that the Internet brought – Oakstreet Bootmakers for example – came out on top. The correct question might be this: Do you agree that the Internet disrupted not only business, but culture and society too? And I would reply: Now that’s something that we agree on.

We have been living with the Web for two decades now and in that time two new generations of young people have been building upon its startling capabilities and opportunities. Not blinded by nostalgia, these young people see only a bright future. They are building Apps for example, and some of those builders are only nine years old. Those Apps may well upend your business very soon. These young people are hackers, they embrace Makerbot and flock to Hackathon days whenever they pop up. They may well jump into building something in the new Beats Music Public API. In other words, the new era of technological progress is not just about musicians and the recorded music industry; I believe we are looking at another major societal shift.

Is this progress, and if so what is it? If we were to ask John Gray he would say it is an illusion, that humans believe in the idea of progress because it gives us hope for the future. While the recorded music industry was looking in the wrong direction for two decades, that idea of progress marched on in a different manner. There were attempts to control what was happening – hello, the RIAA – and that was because the controlling of things is built into the human psyche. Those efforts fell flat; society had shifted. Napster created fear; The fear of the new led to missed opportunity. Music fans weren’t concerned with progress, they were enjoying the new toys that technology companies had invented.

Today, music fans know what they want and they know how to get it, to paraphrase the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten. And I’m not talking about illicit music file sharing.

There’s a brilliant metaphor in the book. Gray points us to Maurice Maeterlinck’s study of the White Ant: Life of the Termites. 

“All this destruction is carried out without one’s perceiving a living soul. For these insects, which are blind, are endowed with the genius to accomplish their task without being seen. The work is done under the cover of silence and only an alert ear is able to recognize the noise of the nibbling of millions of jaws in the night, which devour the framework of the building and prepare for its collapse…”

If the recorded music industry doesn’t quickly adapt to music’s White Ants, that building is theirs.

There is no room for pessimism here. I see only optimism and an opportunity for growth. I do not have to look too hard for evidence of music’s brilliance and musician’s ability to right the boat in the darkest of storms.

Jon Pareles, in an article about the reunion of Outkast, points to the major festival circuit in the United States – Governors Ball, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and Firefly, to name a few. It is not hyperbole to say that hundreds of thousands of tickets will change hands, as hundreds of thousands of music fans bear witness to some of the strongest festival line-ups in 2014. Another article I read recently, Brooklyn On The Spree, tells of how a “bohemian cadre of ex-New Yorkers is invading Berlin’s libertine club community and electronic music scene.” This is a geographical reversal of what happened when the Brits, Germans, French and Italians made the Spanish island of Ibeza the Mecca of European dance and electronic music decades ago; Americans heading east to ‘kick out the jams’ as it were.

The experience of gathering in tribes at music festivals cannot be duplicated after everyone has decamped. It is an innate, emotional response; we developed in the womb to the beat of our mother’s heart. These large musical gatherings are not going away anytime soon – if ever.

Something else that is not going away anytime soon is the way people access their music these days. We will not be seeing a return en masse to the CD; people will still buy those shiny discs as well as vinyl records while collectors of tactile recorded music products will still collect. That is a fact. Musicians will continue to make music under any circumstances. That too is a fact. Music fans have shown a huge preference for accessing their music through music streaming services such as Beats Music. That is also a fact. Yet it would be disrespectful of me, or anyone else, to simply say that record labels and musicians should just deal with it. It goes much deeper than that.

Here I turn to cognitive dissonance to help explain why musicians and other subsets of society feel abused when things don’t go their way.

Gray points to a social psychology study undertaken by Leon Festinger and his team. The study was published as a book, When Prophecy Fails, in 1956. Festinger wanted to test the theory of cognitive dissonance. (Let me help you out here in case you think I’m going off the rails. An example of this theory goes like this: an individual is likely to experience dissonance if he or she is addicted to smoking cigarettes and continues to smoke despite believing it is unhealthy.)

Festinger summarizes the process as so:

Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irreversible action because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong; what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may show a new fervour about convincing and converting other people to his view.

Leon Festinger realized: ”Humans are not a rational animal, but a rationalizing one.,” and T. S. Eliot wrote in Burnt Norton: Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Gray responds: “Cognitive dissonance is the normal human condition.’

So yes, everyone, and I mean everyone, is downloading music for free! Not. Streaming music services are the Devil and will destroy the music industry. No. As the famous phrase goes: You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. This is not to say there won’t be another transitory effect that may destabilize the current models, it is just to say that we must work hard to untangle our strongly held beliefs from the actual reality of the situation. That is where the opportunity for informed debate lies, and the opportunity should be embraced by all who have strong and passionate feelings for the “future of music.”

Meanwhile, I’m with WME’s Marc Geiger here when he outlined the future of the recorded music industry at Midem this year. He imagines a $100 billion global recorded music industry in two decades. That statement comes with a proviso though: only if it (the current recorded music business) abandons pushing music ownership and fully embraces the streaming subscription model.” 

White Ants exist; Flying Saucers exist too if you believe they do…

Must-See Music at SXSW 2014

Every year, SXSW brings together the hottest new artists from every genre of music to showcase their talent.

The editorial staff at Beats Music has curated the ones they’re most excited about seeing live this year. So whether you’re packing your bags and headed to Austin TX, or just curious about who’s on the rise, who’s already hot, or what big names will be performing this year, we got you – regardless of what you’re into.

SXSW 2014: Indie


A mix of our favorite must-see indie acts at SXSW this year including BANKS, Cloud Nothings, TRUST, Perfect Pussy and more.

SXSW 2014: Hip-Hop


This year’s SXSW lineup features everyone from Def Jam veterans Method Man and Redman to buzzworthy newcomer. Here’s a glimpse of the rap artists to watch at the festival this year.

SXSW 2014: Metal


A mix of our favorite must-see metal bands at this year’s SXSW including Iron Reagan, The Shrine, Obliterations, Indian, Whores and more.

SXSW 2014: Punk


A mix of our favorite must-see punk bands at this year’s SXSW including Against Me!, Protomartyr, Bl’ast! Dead Chosts, Eagulls and more.

SXSW 2014: Experimental


Check out these hand-picked selections from 25 sonically adventurous artists we’ve got our eyes and ears on, all scheduled for SXSW 2014.

SXSW 2014: R&B


The one and only Erykah Badu, rising star Aloe Blacc and newcomer Tinashe lead the pack of must-see R&B artists at SXSW this year.

SXSW 2014: Rock


A mix of our favorite must-see rock bands at this year’s SXSW including The Black Angels, Ume, Temples, Wild Throne, Drenge and more.

SXSW 2014: Alternative


A mix of our favorite must-see bands at this year’s SXSW including Cherry Glazerr, September Girls, Crosses, Sir Sly, little hurricane and more.

SXSW 2014: Pop


Rapidly rising pop artists to watch at Austin’s South by Southwest festival this year.

SXSW 2014: Alt-Country


Whether you’re in Austin for SXSW or not, this playlist featuring Billy Joe Shaver, Kelly Willis, Bruce Robison and Chuck Mead, among others, will feed your alt-country need.

SXSW 2014: Electronic


A mix of our favorite must-see electronic acts at SXSW this year including The Range, Lunice, Wave Racer, Roosevelt and more.