Mixtape Vol.2 – ArcticBieber

This blog post will guide you through the considerations I made when I created my latest mixtape, ‘Mixtape Vol.2 – ArcticBieber’. Since the mixtape has to cover a very broad range of topics, there are very different songs on it from the Arctic Monkeys to Justin Bieber, hence the name.

Just like the first mixtape I made, this mixtape also reflects the topics covered in class in its song selection.
The topics are:
-Gender and Popular Music
-Sexuality in Contemporary Music
-The movie: ‘No one knows about Persian Cats’
-The Impact of the Internet on Popular Music
-Crowdfunding
-Fan generated Performer Footage

The songs on the mixtape are:
-I bet you look good on the dance floor by the Arctic Monkeys (live)
-Hotel California by The Eagles (live)
-Creep by Radiohead covered by Prince (live)
-Punk Prayer by Pussy Riot
-I want to hold your hand by The Beatles
-Whistle by Flo Rida
-I can’t breath by Pussy Riot
-Smile by Lily Allen
-Rocking in the Free World by Neil Young
-Baby by Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris

The first song on the mixtape is ‘I bet you look good on the dance floor’ by the Arctic Monkeys. This songs belongs to the topic ‘The Impact of the Internet on Popular Music’, the Arctic Monkeys were one of the first bands ever to become famous through the internet. They built their fanbase by posting their songs to MySpace where they very quickly became viral  before they even got recognised by the music industry. Without the intent the Arctic Monkeys probably wouldn’t be famous today.
The next song is ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles, this song belongs to the topic ‘Fan generated Performer Footage’, The Eagles have banned phones completely from their concerts, on an Eagles concert you are not allowed to have your phone even switched on and if you are caught using it you’ll have to leave the concert. And since footage of a performer can only be taken on a live gig, the song on the mixtape is a live version.
Song number three is ‘Creep’ originally by Radiohead here in a live cover version from Prince, thematically it belongs to the same topic as the previous song, because Prince also banned all phones from his gigs, no phone is allowed and the security is not to shy to enforce that. I chose this song in particular, because Prince actually removed all footage of his concerts from the internet, but he was pressured by Radiohead to put this song back on because the rights for it belong to Radiohead and Prince has no authority over it.
The next song on the mixtape is ‘Stay with me’ by Sam Smith and it belongs to the topic ‘Gender and Popular Music’. I wrote about this song in the corresponding blog post and that’s why this song his on the mixtape.
Almost all love songs send a certain image of sexuality about society and about the people singing the song, but this song doesn’t do that, it has almost no reference to sexuality although it is a love song, which I think is quite remarkable these days.
The fifths song is ‘Punk Prayer’ by Pussy Riot and it belongs to the topic ‘No one knows about Persian Cats’, a movie that deals with Iranian musicians who are not allowed to play their music and are being prosecuted by their government. Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist-punk band who was imprisoned for nearly two years in Russia for ‘hooliganism’. They performed their song ‘Punk Prayer’, which criticises the Russian government and the Russian church, in a Cathedral in Moscow in 2012.
Many said that Russia’s president Putin wanted to make a showcase out of their conviction to oppress future protest movements.
Song number six is ‘ I want to hold your hand’ by The Beatles, this song belongs to the topic ‘Sexuality in Contemporary Music’. The Beatles might be a few days old by now, but when the song was released in 1963 the title (I want to hold your hand) was considered quite sexually suggestive, which leads to song number seven: Whistle by Flo Rida.
It belongs thematically to the same topic and I put these two songs in a row, because they show what ‘sexually suggestive’ means in 2012.
The chorus goes: “can you blow my whistle baby whistle baby let me know. Girl I’m gonna show you how to do it and we start real slow. You just put your lips together and you come real close, can you blow my whistle baby whistle baby, here we go.”
That is sexual innuendo 2000’s style.
Please, excuse the inappropriate joke, but the next song is called ‘I can’t breath’, a title that had to be put after ‘Whistle’, both in a sexual innuendo way and also literally (or can you breath after 4 minutes of whistling).
Despite the funny context of this song on the mixtape it is a song dealing with a very serious issue. This song is sung by Pussy Riot and belongs to the topic ‘No one knows about Persian Cats’ and it is the first song they released after the band was freed from jail and it deals with police brutality. The title is a quotation of the last words of Eric Garner, a black man in New York that was killed by the police after he was being choked.
Song number nine on the mixtape is ‘Smile’ by Lily Allen
and it belongs in the same category as the Arctic Monkey’s song and just ike the Arctic Monkeys Lily Allen also became famous through MySpace.
The tens song on the mixtape is ‘Rocking in the Free World’ by Neil Young and it belongs to the topic ‘Crowdfunding’. Neil Young funded a company called Pono Music which is working on developing a portable music player that plays music in very high quality as opposed to the rather poor quality of mp3 players. Interesting about this, and also the reason why he made it onto the mixtape, is that he raised the money for his company using crowdfunding via KickStarter.
The last song on the mixtape is ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris, it belongs to the same topic as Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys. I put it on the mixtape, because Justin Bieber also became famous thorough the internet. He posted videos of himself covering songs from Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder etc. on youtube and within months he had a large fanbase, to this day Justin Bieber is one of only a few artists who have a video on youtube with more than 1 billion views, an achievement that he accomplished with his song ‘Baby’.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2015/02/18/i-cant-breathe-pussy-riots-first-song-in-english-is-about-eric-garner/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/23/freed-pussy-riot-amnesty-prison-putin-humiliation

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/feb/25/the-eagles-fly-too-close-to-the-sun-by-banning-mobile-phones-at-their-concerts

http://petapixel.com/2013/08/24/prince-joins-increasing-number-of-artists-banning-photography-at-their-concerts/

http://www.biography.com/people/lily-allen-20935273

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/neil-youngs-pono-kickstarter-raises-over-6-million-20140415

http://www.biography.com/people/justin-bieber-522504

 

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User generated content (from a performer’s perspective)

Nowadays it is a very common occurrence to see people at concerts taking pictures and videos of the show. And many different people have many different opinions on that, so in  this blog post I will shine a light on that topic from a performer’s point of view.

Some performers don’t seem to have a problem with people taking photographs and videos during the gig, for them it is an opportunity for free promotion, because many of the people taking videos and pictures at gigs are from younger generations and many of them will show the video to their friends or even post it online on their facebook page etc. For the performer that is basically free promotion and is often appreciated, but only if the footage taken has a decent quality. The last thing any performer wants is footage of him/her online that has such a poor quality that it makes them sound bad. This is the opposite of good promotion, for many people who have never been to a concert of an artist the footage of them they see online will be the only ‘live-like’ impression they get from him/her and it’s commonly known that there is only one chance to make a good first impression. Hence many artists will appreciate decent fan footage, but they will disapprove of bad fan footage and many performers even will get it removed from the internet. Not to mention the legal side of unofficially taken live footage from a concert.
Another aspect that might concern performers is that the atmosphere at a concert decreases with every filming camera phone. It puts the performer under more pressure than he is anyway, for every single movement of him/her will be filmed from a hundred different angles and digitally immortalised. And it also decreases the vibe of the crowd at the gig, because people how would usually cheer and sing along are now staring at their phone screen instead of ‘participating’ in the show.

For all those reasons I think it is legitimate if performers do not allow fans to take footage of them during gigs. I personally don’t approve it, because let’s be honest when I pay 80€ for a concert ticket I want to make the most of that,  which for me means to take at lest one or two pictures of the show, but from the perspective of the performer it is understandable not to allow fans to make footage.

Crowdfunding

Today I’m going to discuss the different aspects of crowdfunding in relation to the music industry.

The principle of crowdfunding is a relatively new concept, the first crowdfunding company ever was ArtistShare, a website that has been created in 2003. On the website musicians can publicly present their ideas for projects and name a certain amount of money that they need to execute said idea. If people are are convinced by the project they can invest money in it, once the amount of money that has been raised reaches a previously set threshold, the initiator of the project can keep the money (and everything above) that has been raised and use it for his/her project, however if the amount of money doesn’t reach the threshold at all the people who invested money get it back and the initiator of the project doesn’t get any money at all. As a ‘reward’ of investing in their project the fundraiser often give something back to the people who invested money in them, the reward depends on the amount of money that the people have invested, if somebody invested 100€ into a project maybe he gets (in the case of a music related project) he gets free VIP access to the next show while somebody who invested 10€ might only get a free copy of the next album. ArtistShare was the first crowdfunding company, but the idea has really taken off. Now there are many more crowdfunding companies for all kinds of different projects and not only music. the most successful one among them is the company Kickstarter, which many (famous) people have used and still use to raise money for their ideas, for instance Scrubs star Zach Braff use Kickstarter who used it to raise money for his independent movie ‘Wish I was here’ and Neil Young used it to raise money for his company Pono Music, which is currently working on developing a portable music player that is capable of playing high quality music as opposed to the rather poor quality of mp3 players.
Crowdfunding has many advantages, one being that the fundraiser can keep almost all money that has been raised, the crowdfunding company usually only takes a small fee. Another advantage is that through crowdfunding very unconventional projects can be funded, in which traditional investors would not invest such as the “Grilled Cheezus” (a toaster that toasts the face of jesus onto your bread) or the “Ostrich Pillow” (a pillow shaped like a lightbulb in which you can stick your head).
Musicians who don’t have a deal with a record label can raise the money for their projects via crowdfunding, a way that many bands chose to go.
In that regard crowdfunding is a very good way to raise money without having to fulfil the demands of the investors, but that is only true at first sight, because past crowdfunding projects have shown that the amount of money people are willing to invest into a project depends on the level of transparency that the initiator of the campaign provides. Initiators of crowdfunding campaigns have to be very open to the public on how, why, where and when they are going to spend the raised money. In that regard it is actually not much different than having to convince a traditional investor, with the downside that you have to do it publicly, which is a big disadvantage of crowdfunding, because you basically have to expose the very details of your business idea (or any other idea too) to the public. Another disadvantage of crowdfunding especially in regards to music related ideas is that most people are only willing to invest money once in one person’s idea. So it might be very well possible to raise the money for one album, but it is very unlikely that an artist will be able to raise money from their fanbase more than one time. This is arguably the biggest disadvantage of crowdfunding, because traditional investors will most likely  reinvest in you and your projects if they turn out to be profitable, while people who invest in crowdfunded ideas probably won’t.
That is the reason why I personally would not invest money in the crowdfunding ideas of musicians, because you won’t help them in the long run, because even if the project succeeds, the next project won’t. Therefor I think you help musicians more by going to their concerts and maybe buy their merchandise products, that will give them money and help them to sell out their shows. For the same reason I would not start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for my album etc. for it will probably only be a flash in the pan.

Popular Music and the Internet

In this blog post I am going to reflect on the impact the internet has on popular music.

The internet was the biggest game changer in the music industry since it has become popular in the beginning of this millennium.
Today the internet is the predominant medium for listening to music. People don’t buy many CDs anymore instead the search for their music online and they either download the music they like or stream it (listen to it online). The rise of streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal etc. has made streaming a widely used practise for listening to music online. Another name that can’t be unmentioned while discussing music on the internet is the video platform Youtube. Youtube was founded in 2005 and has increased its popularity ever since, many amateur musicians and professionals have youtube channels on which they upload music videos of their songs.
Many people in the music (traditional) industry had and some still have a very critical opinion about the internet and its effect on music, they say now that anybody has access to an almost unlimited amount of music online the music industry loses money which harms the creative process of professionally producing music.
This opinion has some very valid points, one being that the music industry  (e.g record labels, producers, radio stations) used to filter music. They decided what kind of music was worth playing and the consumer had no power over what music was played to him. The good aspect of this was that the industry had some kind of ‘quality filter’, music that was considered not good or inappropriate etc. was not distributed. On the other hand this took away the consumer’s choice for he could only choose to listen to music that was distributed by the music industry
The internet changed that aspect, now anyone can distribute their music without getting involved in the traditional music industry at all.
Any musician/band can record an album and upload it to their youtube channel, post it on their Facebook page or put it on Sound Cloud. This means many good musicians who earlier never would have had the chance to be heard can now make their music available to anyone. This is THE biggest advantage of the internet for upcoming musicians.
Bu it has to be taken into account that the internet is making it harder for established musicians to make as much money from their music as they used to make before the internet. Because selling music over the internet (via iTunes for download or vie Spotify for streaming) brings significantly less profit than selling it in the traditional way via CDs.
In conclusion one could say that the internet has evened out the field in favour of smaller artists and independent musicians, for they have now a chance to distribute their music on their own, but at the costs of an overall decrease of profit for the individual artist.

Movie reflection: “No one knows about Persian Cats”

Recently we watched the movie “No one knows about Persian Cats” in class. It is an Iranian movie that tells the (real) story of two young musicians in Teheran who perform indie rock music. That does not seem very special from a european point of view, but in Iran most kinds of western music such as pop, rock and rap are prohibited and people performing such music are being persecuted by the government.
The two protagonists in the movie are truly brave persons which becomes even more apparent as they are being played by them selfs giving the whole movie an almost documentary like feeling.
It makes the audience ask them selfs the question, ‘What would I do in such a situation?’ would I put my life at risk to pursue my passion?
Of course that question can not be answered truthfully because it is completely different to imagine what it would be like to be in such a situation than actually being there, but I tend to say that I (as a music production student) would probably not perform music under such circumstances. I would still write and play music, but I wouldn’t do publicly anymore. Maybe I would answer the question different if a actually was in a situation like in the movie, they say you only know what you have when you don’t have t anymore and I think that saying applies here very well. The value of music in an oppressed society like in Iran is totally different from the value of music in the 21st’s century western society. For us (or at least me) music is a passion, but at the other hand it is also ‘only’ a product of consumption that is nice to have, but not essential for my well being. In a society like Iran music is way more than ‘just’ a product of consumption, music is a way to protest against the government and all the restrictions it forces upon the people it is a bohemian way of protest and as such it becomes much more than only music. That has to be kept in mind while trying to answer the question and makes it way more complicated to answer it, too. Of course do I want to perform music and be a musician, but I don’t want to be a protestor who shows their protest through their music, which you ultimately are in such circumstances whether you want it or not, but I  want to make music for the sake of the art and not to protest the government or  any other institution. That’s why I would keep making music, but I would not perform or produce it publicly if I would live in a society like in the movie.
and if I wanted to protest I would choose a different way than doing it through music.

My first Mixtape

Recently I created a mixtape, which is available as a playlist on youtube and in this post I lead you through the thoughts and considerations that I had when I created it.

The mixtape is called ‘Mixtape Vol.1 – Rock # my Life’, I chose this title to indicate that it is my first mixtape, hence the ‘Vol.1’ and the ‘Rock # my Life’ because it refers to the theme of the mixtape which is mostly rock and punk, which are my favourite genres of music. The title can either be read as ‘Rock my life’ or it can be read as ‘Rock, my Life’, the title is open in that matter which I did intentionally to indicate that sometimes rock music means a lot to me, as in ‘Rock, my Life’ and sometimes is just there to entertain me as in ‘Rock my life’.

Mixtape Vol.1 – Rock # my Life

1. Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
2. Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry
3. Anarchy in the UK by The Sex Pistols
4. Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin
5. Sweet Dreams by Marilyn Manson (cover)
6. Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones (live version, Texas ’72)
7. Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
8. Come together by The Beatles
9. Ain’t it fun by Dead Boys
10. The End by The Doors
11. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Guns ‘N Roses (cover)

The mixtape is structured in a way that there is always two songs that belong thematically together, topics are the different topics covered in class and therefore can be referenced to the previous posts on this blog. The mixtape also reflects the life of rock music (the history of rock music) because from the 50’s onwards there is a song from each decade on the mixtape.
Topics are:
Six songs of me
My favourite musical genre
Subcultures
Moral Panic
Fandom

The Mixtape opens with Boulevard of Broken Dreams which is part of the ‘Six songs of me’ post, in that post Boulevard of Broken Dreams is mentioned as ‘the song that makes me, me’ and what is more obvious than selecting the song that makes me, me as a starting point for a mixtape that is called ‘Rock # my life’. The next song on the mixtape is Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, this song belongs to the ‘Moral Panic’ blog post and I put it into the playlist because it is one of the first big Rock ‘n Roll hits. When Rock ‘n Roll became famous it caused a moral panic and was also one of the first musical subcultures, that’s why I put this track on the mixtape. I put it second on the mixtape, because for one it is quite different from Boulevard of Broken Dreams which comes first and the song also tells the story of a boy and how Rock ‘n Roll was important in his life, which matches nicely with the theme of the mixtape.
The third song is ‘Anarchy in the UK’ by The Sex Pistols, the song belongs to the ‘Subculture’ post in which I wrote about punk rock as a musical subculture. And this is one of the ‘must-know’ punk songs, that’s why I put it on the mixtape. The next song is ‘Dazed and Confused’ by Led Zeppelin and it refers to the blog post about ‘My favourite musical genre’ which is rock, as you can read in the post, and Led Zeppelin is one, if not THE biggest rock band of the 70’s and that’s why they made onto the mixtape. The fifth song is ‘Sweet Dreams’ originally by The Eurythmics here in a cover version sung by Marilyn Mason. Thematically the song belongs to the ‘Moral Panic’ blog post and I decided to use a  Marilyn Mason tack for it because Marilyn Manson was subject of a moral panic regarding the columbine high school massacre. The media accused him of being partly responsible for the shooting, because his music allegedly had motivated the two killers to do the shooting. The actual song I chose can be understood as a sarcastic comment, meaning: ‘sure, Marilyn Mason’s music caused the school shooting, keep dreaming’ hence the title ‘Sweet Dreams’.
Song number six on the mixtape is ‘Gimme Shelter’ by The Rolling Stones and I chose it for the same reasons for which I chose ‘Dazed and Confused’.
The next song on the mixtape is ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana and it belongs to ‘Fandom’, the most recent topic covered in class. Nirvana instantly became famous when they first came out and made Grunge globally famous, especially Kurt Cobain who became the voice of a generation. ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ is Nirvana’s greatest hit, therefore I chose it to represent Nirvana on the mixtape. The next song also belongs to the topic ‘Fandom’ and in a way it’s more obvious than the Nirvana track, because it is ‘Come together’ by The Beatles. The Beatles were the first band ever to actually create such a thing as ‘Fandom’ and they made their fans to go crazy to a level that was unlike to anything else before it. The amount of screaming girls that would make the Beatles the number one priority in their life was horrendous and the whole phenomenon of famdom that we can see happening today with band like One Direction started with the Beatles. The song I chose can again be seen as an additional comment, because fandom is all about getting together with other people of the same interest and creating some kind of group identity and group dynamic, as in ‘Come together people, let’s be crazy fans’. The ninth song on the list is ‘Ain’t it fun’ by Dead Boys, it belongs to the post about subculture and it is a punk song. I chose it because in my opinion the song catches the spirit of the whole punk culture very well and it also one of my favourite punk songs, that’s why it’s on the mixtape.
Song number ten is ‘The End’ by The Doors, it fits in the category of ‘My favourite genre’ and its title also indicates that the end of the mixtape is near. It is a rather long song for which you have to take some time to listen to, just like a relaxin long walk at the end of the day, like the end of this mixtape.
The last song on the mixtape is ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ by Bob Dylan here in a cover version by Guns ‘N Roses. In the blog post about the ‘Six songs of me’ I wrote quite a bit about this song, but as far as this mixtape goes it just says ‘Here is the end, your journey through the life of rock music is over, you’r now in rock ‘n roll heaven, I hope you enjoyed the ride’.

Moral panic

Today’s blog post deals with moral panics in music.

Moral panic means that a certain group in society is critizised by the established authorities for allegedly jeopardising the moral standards and values of said group. A phenomenon that usually happens during a moral panic is the self-fulfilling prophecy. That means that an effect only occurs, because it was warned that said effect would occur, but if no one ever had warned that the effect would occur it hadn’t happened in the first place. Self-fulfilling prophecies only work because people who expect that an event will turn out in a specific way tend to act like the event already had turned out the way they expected it by what they make the event actually turn out in the way they expect.
A quite recent moral panic that happened in the media and music industry was caused by Miley Cyrus or rather the media blaming her to cause one.
Miley Cyrus used to be a disney singer, she became famous for her role in the tv-series Hannah Montana and many people know her as a children’s pop star, but for her latest album ‘Bangerz’ she changed her image. She is now using a much more mature and sexualised image and especially the video to her song ‘Wrecking Ball’ and her performance at the VMA’s in 2013 were heavily criticised in the media.
The media reported over months how wrong it was that a former children’s star was using sex as a way to sell her music and that many young girls who had known Miley as disney singer would now learn wrong moral values. Through the huge media coverage regarding her person Miley Cyrus’ popularity increased raptly making her performance at the VMA’s and her song ‘Wrecking Ball’ globally successful. Only through the media coverage her allegedly morally wrong behaviour was made famous so that this is a very god example of a self-fulfillung prophecy and a moral panic in the music industry.