June 15, 2016 12:24 pm

If there’s a recurring theme for America in 2016, it’s that oligarchs are having great success at being seen as a champion of the people. They never are, but hey, keep on lauding them for their savvy marketing in conversation because you read too much Chuck Klosterman and want to be known as the ‘nuanced thinker’ in your shitbox group of friends.

Oligarchs have been trying to be fun and relatable pals who enjoy grabbing brewskis at BDubs with us kids for a while. Essentially, that’s the point of pandering advertising: to make it seem as though Company X knows what Person Y is going through, which is why they’d be flat out dumb if they didn’t buy Product Z. Done well and in moderation, it’s a fine and necessary evil that pays for a lot of stuff we all adore. But now that these multi-million/billion dollar companies have caught wind to the vomit-inducing ‘Brand Culture’ sweeping the nation, while living within our most prized possessions in app and website form, they’ve gone further and further into the fiery fissure of contrived relatability to an embarrassing extent.

This is what makes the brunt of music-based arguments that have fans so petulant now. We’re all at the whim of a few megalomaniacs who control an industry that’s become more about the middle-man than the artist and listener. As shown through the multiple instances over the past year, fans weren’t even able to listen to their favorite artist’s newest material without their allegiance to the correct middle-man in the form of a streaming service.

Tidal and Apple Music are both attempting to convey the image as the ‘artist friendly’ streaming provider. This angle is super ironic for Apple, considering that they’re one of the main reasons why album sales are where they are now, but it’s working for them regardless. Each had multiple albums released exclusively on their platform by A-List talent at this point, and each album has been as relevant and conversation-monopolizing as intended. All this, though, and Spotify still towers over their subscriber tally combined without a single exclusive release of their own.

Although Apple seems to be gaining ground, Spotify is currently sitting atop the streaming throne completely unbothered despite being completely untethered to any artist whatsoever. While being the most senior service of the three by a considerable margin helps with this count, it can’t go unnoticed that Spotify is completely bypassing musicians as a selling point to their music service.

Spotify has elected to focus on user experience, along with the sheer concept of music quantity being at the user’s disposal. It’s made the user completely forget that although they are now paying for their music, a concept that was thought to be doomed just a few years ago, they are still fucking over the artists they are listening to.

A great argument can be made that listeners do not deserve to have a platform so beneficial to them. Whether it’s illegally recording bands for the sake of bootlegging or risking the death of their computer for a free illegal download of the new Metallica album, fans have a lengthy history not caring if their favorite artist goes poor. By enabling this behavior, Spotify comes off as the less affable, capitalist hungry brother of Napster with a better legal team and the foresight to keep the record labels happy. After all, they’re an oligarch in the making now.

For a brief moment in time, I was sure Spotify would be the one to bring an end to the last standing major record label. That although they were still giving an insane amount of the royalty percentages to them, those half-penny checks would eventually prove to be too paltry for survival, thus closing up shop on unfair royalty payouts, leading Spotify to create a fairer split percentage with the artists themselves. Maybe Spotify would even open a record label in order to facilitate this. But as the history of any business sector would show you, the oligarchs do not crumble, they simply converge.

Just a few days ago, leaders from the three major labels met with a score of the more modern music hosting platforms to discuss streamlining royalty identification. What it seems like, from reading this report, is that basically anyone who’s even thought about starting a business in the music industry was invited to this thing. CD Baby? Tunecore? These names mean nothing to me…yet. But I think that’s the point- getting independent labels under the belt of the bug guys will probably prove to be incredibly beneficial in the long run. 

But one small note about the article: there seems to have been no artists there, except for a cellist by the name of Zoe Keating, who I’m sure plays the cello wonderfully. I’m not sure if there were any artists present to be able to establish their own desires for how their music gets distributed and at who’s and what cost, but it just goes to show how little any particular artist fits into the equation.

And no fans were there either. Not even a token one for good luck. Because despite an oligarch’s vociferous huffing and puffing about how much they love the people, they probably couldn’t give less of a shit about you.


#FCKtheMJR – Empowering Independent Musicians
June 10, 2015 2:01 pm

Before you even start reading, watch this:

No major artist will get discovered, immediately get signed to a major label, and have their name plastered all over on the Billboard charts. Many of them hustle for years, even decades trying to get their voices heard. Here at Atypical Beasts, we’re all about supporting independent musicians, helping them grow out of their cocoons and getting their music reached to as many people as possible. There’s still a vast majority of people out there who only listen to mainstream music and don’t even make the effort to discover fresh new tunes. BecomeMajor is a campaign that helps these talented, independent musicians to go beyond their limits and “EMPOWER” them by getting their music heard.

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As John Waltmann (Client Opportunities Manager) sums it up, their inspiration came from a series of events that happened here and there. “First and foremost, the music industry is in a time of change. Major record labels are struggling to make a profit with the price of music getting increasingly lower and lower, to the point of being free” he explains. “In addition, we also wanted to voice that the truth is, getting signed to a major record label will not always represent success. Once you’re signed to a major [label] your music becomes a product, and depending on the label’s plan, you might lose creative power over it and are now at the disposal of creative teams backing your music and creating opportunities for you.”

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BecomeMajor decided that they would kick-off their campaign at this year’s SXSW conference since it was a great place to get themselves recognized by music industry professionals and like-minded people. With the help of their street team, they got posters and stickers saying “#FCKtheMJRS” and “Major Record Label Free Zone” placed strategically around SXSW venues, which clearly engaged fellow music enthusiasts in joining the movement.

As of now, they’ve distributed over 40,000 artists and have worked with about 4,000 independent labels so far.

So how DOES BecomeMajor actually help these artists? “We help artists in a number of ways. First of all we help them get their music to outlets worldwide like iTunes, Pandora, Amazon and emerging platforms like Tidal and Deezer. In addition, we’ve also introduced services that allow for musicians to make more money from their music and collect more of their royalties, such as Publishing Administration, YouTube monetization, Neighboring Rights and music licensing. We aim to be a one-stop shop for the music industry.”





They’ve had great success in working with Deadmau5 (that electronic DJ with his trademark mouse helmet which I’m pretty sure we’re all familiar with). “It was great to see his success from the sidelines and how his popularity grew in the scene.” They’ve also been working with Canadian Producer Overwerk. “He has been riding the indie wave for sometime now and has been doing great things with just a small team. He’s gotten several offers from major labels and have turned them down.  So we are really proud of his success and to be able to help and support him every step of the way.”

If you’re an independent musician struggling to break through the plateau, maybe applying to be on BecomeMajor’s roster will help you!  They’re constantly looking for hard working and active artists who aren’t afraid of taking risks and stepping out of their comfort zone. “We want to hear from them – we want to know what they are doing to get to the next level. What are their challenges? We want to be able to offer our services to them and fill in the blanks to any services and needs they may have.”

In the near future, you’ll see them hosting some local music events with local talented artists in the Tampa/St. Pete area. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube to get their latest updates. There’s a great chance you might find your next favorite band that you’ll be jamming to all summer!

niggas in street fckmajrs

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May 18, 2015 9:42 am

“Streaming is the future of music”. This statement has been on the tongue of many in the music industry for a few years now, and it is becoming more prevalent with every passing day. This is the reason why companies like Spotify have come into the success that it sees now. Spotify is a music streaming service with a premium subscription for those who want to take their experience offline and ad-free. It is available in 58 global markets and has over 30 million songs. Every day, over 20,000 songs are added to that list, allowing users from around the world to have an endless selection filling their ears. Over 60 million people use Spotify and 20% of them, roughly 15 million, pay the subscription amount. Seems like an unstoppable juggernaut right? Not to the ears of American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur, Jay Z.

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Earlier this year Jay Z bought Aspiro, a Swedish/Norwegian public media company. He transformed the company into TIDAL, also known as TIDALHiFi, a subscription based music streaming service. Its goal is to surpass Spotify and all other companies to become the world leading music streaming service by offering higher definition sound quality, higher royalties to the artists, exclusive content, and in-depth playlists created by the artists themselves. The issue that many people have with using this amazing product is that it costs $19.99 a month. Below, we break down the list of features which could make this company either rise to glory or fall to ashes.

Sound Quality
TIDAL’s ground-breaking sound is the first thing that separates it from the competition. The program uses lossless data compression which allows the data to be perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data unlike the music that Spotify uses, only allowing reconstruction to a certain level. This is not to say Spotify’s program doesn’t play good music, it just does not hold the quality that TIDAL holds. However, unless a listener has a sharp ear for hearing differences between every instrument and beat used, it is not a recognizable or substantial difference. To those whose ears have picked up the difference, is it worth the price?

Higher Payout to Artists
There are no set numbers available to the public to display the amount that artists get paid for their songs on Spotify or TIDAL. The particulars are determined by the company, the artists, and their record labels. TIDAL has just two subscription tiers, and neither is free. The first, $9.99-per-month, grants access to standard definition audio quality already offered by sites like Spotify. The second, $19.99-per-month, pays for the audio quality given by the high definition lossless data compression. TIDAL claims that these prices are in place so that they can offer higher royalty rates to the artists, meaning, they can only pay their artists if people pay for the subscription. Will the inability to listen for free hinder your eagerness to join?

Exclusive Content
Three days ago, Jay Z performed his concert B-Sides and streamed it live exclusively for TIDAL subscribers. The demand was so great that he scheduled another show for both May 16th, and 17th. The site also includes videos that give a firsthand look at the training process for celebs like fighter Miguel Cotto, as well as the game-day prep for baseball player Robinson Cano. While this may persuade many to open their wallets for access, you can’t help but wonder how long it will take for the content to be leaked to free streaming sites.


Unfortunately for artists these days, very few things are exclusive for long. Take for example, Wu-Tang Clan’s $5 million LP, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The album went on auction this year with one single copy and has a 88 year copyright before being sold commercially. It is very likely that the public will be able to hear it before the eighth decade, knowing how die-hard Wu-Tang Clan fans are. If such rare and expensive music doesn’t reach its goal for exclusivity, how would TIDAL convince itself to stay immune to the same hacks?

Aside from the higher definition audio and the exclusive content, what really separates TIDAL from its competition is the quality of its playlists. A user can find a range from vastly broad to oddly specific groupings. For example there is something called Freak Scene: American Underground 1980-89 which creates a timeline between American punk and early indie rock, and another that is made up of albums with painter H.R. Giger artwork as their cover art. They also have playlists curated by mainstream artists such as The Dream. This allows people to connect with a musical history that they have never experienced before as well as enjoy the stuff that we all know and love.

The future of TIDAL’s success will come in time and in numbers. Right now, it’s success is dependent on your choice. Given enhanced sound, better financial support to artists, exclusive content, and unique playlists, will you offer up the monthly stipend for TIDAL? There are people who are raving for it, and people who are raging against it. What will you decide?