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TROYE SIVANAUSTRALIA’S EMERGING PRINCE OF POP
August 2, 2016 4:34 pm

“I’m addicted to working. For me to be up all night writing songs and waking up early and posting teasers—it’s addictive to me. It’s just my natural state to be creative, even on my off days.” –Troye Sivan

The hard working Australian musician/Youtuber/actor Troye Sivan sounds like he could be an ATYPICAL SOUNDS staff member, but unfortunately he’s probably a little busy between touring, writing music and being the 3rd most subscribed to Youtuber in Australia.

Sivan says that it’s “not his job,” to disprove the stigma Youtubers might get, but when he makes such good music, why should he have to?

I care about my music, what people think of me. I just want people to hear my music with an open mind. If you don’t enjoy it, that’s cool. But don’t not listen because of that label. It’s going to take a few years before people take it seriously, but it’ll happen. –Troye Sivan

Sivan is on his way to becoming a bonafide pop star, 4,260,226 subscribers can’t be wrong. His debut Blue Neighborhood is airy, yet aching. His songwriting is innocent, smooth and brutally honest. Blue Neighborhood is such a perfect title, it’s filled with good vibes and yet there’s an underlying tinge of pain reminiscent of a midnight drive.

Not many artists can live up to the hype of 4 million people, but Troye Sivan does.

TEN SECOND SONGS: 20 DIFFERENT STYLES IN 1 DIZZYING BURST
July 6, 2016 11:44 am

Cover songs can be both a wonderful and cringe-worthy affair. They allow contemporary artists to dust off forgotten gems and repackage them for a new generation. Occasionally, a cover will manage to even improve on the original, though often they fall short. The Carpenters or Sonic Youth; Otis Redding or The Rolling Stones or Devo; The Postal Service or The Shins? Al Green or Talking Heads?—this go-to conversation fodder can quickly escalate into heated debates.  Youtuber Anthony Vincent gives covers to you 20 different ways in one dizzying burst.

Ten Second Songs doesn’t particularly befit a YouTube channel dedicated to the Jim Carey of pop music impersonators—for whatever reason, the title automatically reminded me of this classic AskReddit thread instead. Nonetheless, Anthony Vincent’s goofball concoctions are a total gas. If you you’re in need of a quick and hardy laugh, he’s got you covered.

Vincent’s main attraction is the 20 Style Cover Series, in which he sings through a selected track—often voted for anonymously by his loyal subscribers—and redubs the song in the style of a random interchanging array of musical guises, from Frank Sinatra to Nirvana and RunDMC to Daddy Yankee. Sure, it’s a touch on the gimmicky side, but that’s totally the point–the pure belly-laugh value is undeniable as Vincent mashes up some often hysterical combinations. Make sure to check out his HUGE variety of covers here. This is one of our favorites, enjoy!

FREE MUSIC IS AWESOME, SHORTCHANGING ARTISTS IS STILL INCREDIBLY LAME
June 24, 2016 2:24 pm

For many of us that have grown up with the internet, it’s hard to imagine a world where music and film and games and literature aren’t readily available–for free–somewhere on the internet.

The internet has enabled us to access to whatever music we want, whenever we want, wherever we want–but, contrary to popular belief, this unlimited accessibility doesn’t come without a cost.

Instead, we’re shortchanging the artists, and that’s incredibly lame.

A rockstar-studded force of industry top-brass has assembled in an effort to urge Congress to reform the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to provide new standards of transparency in calculating royalties. Their primary culprit?  YouTube.

The petition, which has amassed 186 signatures and counting, is comprised of top-performing artists from across a wide span of contemporary genres, such as heavyweights like Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Jack White, and U2. The DMCA is a comprehensive set of policies designed to revamp our copyright protections for the digital age–or in theory at least. The petition asserts:

The law was written and passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date… compared to the era in which we live.  It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history their pocket via smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish.

youtubeYouTube in particular shields itself through the ‘safe harbor’ provision–which prevents the company from being punished for copyright infringement so long as they respond to takedown notices. However, DMCA lacks the teeth to allow individual artists–or even large groups of artists in the case of Universal Music Group–to fight larger stakeholders such as Apple or YouTube’s parent company, Google.

In the end, the DMCA appears to be most effective at punishing individual content publishers for posting videos of the their cats dancing to Beyonce’s newest single without first obtaining a license. Big time criminals.

YouTube meanwhile brings in revenue streams from all of its videos–and because it’s impossible to submit takedown notices for every unlicensed video–the artists end up with nothing in their pockets, while YouTube continues to bring in large profits, without being held to a higher standard of transparency.

On The other hand, Do we really need to vilify every tech firm that offers a music sharing service simply because they figured out the rules of the game faster than the rest of the music industry could catch up?

YouTube needs to change it’s model–but it’s a complex issue. Even if there was a more transparent model, one that allocated youtube-petitionroyalties based on a clearly known quantity of videos being watched or music being streamed at any given time, the process of dispersing royalties would still have to go through several layers–including major record label companies–before trickling back down to the artists.

Some have argued that if these streaming services can get it right, the music industry might be able to to convince our generation that its time to pay up.

On top of there being a strict standard of transparency, artists also need to arm themselves with more information regarding the royalties–a process that many artists are oblivious to so they can better judge their own recording contracts.

We’re really spoiled. Back in the day in order to listen to a new album, you didn’t get to just click a button and instantly listen to the new song. You had to get up, put clothes on, and go to the nearest record store, hand over money, buy a giant plastic disk in a cardboard sleeve, take it all the way back home, and place that giant wobbly disc on a spinning rubber wheel, dangle a fragile metal pin over it just so, as to cause the pin to scratch the plastic disc at 78 rotations per minute, so the new song you desired to hear 4 hours earlier would play. Heavens forbid that fragile metal pin snapped, or your power went out, or someone walked across the room during a good part of a song.

So at the very least, we can do our part to appreciate the convenience technology has provided us–that doesn’t mean never stream free music again, or never burn your friends a playlist of your favorite songs–that’s a ridiculous standard to try and achieve. It just means being aware of the obstacles facing new artists. It also means supporting new artists by, when you can afford it, purchasing some music (YASSOU ; TOW3RS ; IDGY) and giving yourself a giant pat on the back.

At ATYPICALSOUNDS, we’re dedicated to emerging artists–but more than ever, it’s really tough to make a living playing music. Too many stakeholders are taking too big of a cut–and unless we can established new standards of transparency, the grave reality is that artists might no longer be able to call their passion, their profession.

Let’s not let it get to that point.

BEME APP TAKES FRESH APPROACH TO SHARING ONLINE
May 25, 2016 1:01 pm

Most people use at least one form of social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or some other platform. Many of us are active on multiple networks. Simply put, the internet has changed the way we interact with others. A byproduct of this interconnectivity is the attention to our online presence. With editing and selection, social media users can create an online identity that may, or may not, accurately represent who we are. 

Bemebemeconcept, a video-sharing application launched as a beta version in July of 2015, is re-envisioning the nature of social media. When sharing on Beme there is no way to edit what you are posting. You don’t even have to look at your phone. 

Created by vlogging icon Casey Neistat and former Tumblr VP of Engineering Matt Hackett, Beme is an attempt to bring authenticity back into social media. In the words of Neistat, “[Beme] is a platform to share your perspectives, to share your world with video, and to see other people’s perspectives via video that you can trust, that’s real.”

Here’s how it works: Beme uses the proximity sensor on your phone’s camera to begin recording videos up to 8 seconds long. By covering your phone’s sensor, Beme records what you are actually seeing and then automatically posts it online.  There are no filters, no hashtags and no way to preview clips. To take a selfie, flip the phone around and repeat the process.

You can also record by tapping and holding a camera icon within the app, but the video recording screen remains black until the clip is posted. This helps to counteract issues when recording with devices without a proximity sensor, or if covering the sensor makes it difficult to capture what you want to record, while maintaining Beme’s unfiltered nature.

Beme users can fill up their personal Beme profiles with clips for people to view and share reactions to other people’s videos. The result is a unique, unaltered insight into the way that people experience the world. When other users view your Beme videos the app even notifies you that, “1 person has spent [insert seconds] as you.” 

Beme has a lot of the same flavor as Casey Neistat’s daily Vlog. The videos of his life make a point to maintain an honest relationship with his audience. Although edited in Final Cut Pro X, all of Neistat’s YouTube videos have a raw and unscripted feel, the same sensation you get when using Beme. 

The app’s interface is intuitive, but may be challenging if using Beme is your first foray into social media. Other than a short introductory video and walkthrough after launching the application, Beme doesn’t give you much direction for navigating the app or posting your videos. That said, figuring out Beme’s nuances can be accomplished by tinkering with the app for a few minutes.

After encountering some issues following the initial launch, the Beme team went back to the drawing board and produced a product that is a fresh and innovative approach to social media. Now out of the beta-version, Beme is on full-release for iOS and Android platforms, and can be downloaded in the App Store and Google Play.

Enjoyable Casey Neistat vlog: breaking up is hard to do 

KNTRLR: LET’S GET DYSTOPIAN
January 15, 2016 11:23 am

KNTRLR – pronounce it how you will – clearly knows how to make something fresh. Their new music video for “Double Helix demonstrates that several times over.

Charles Davis and Michael Henry have created unique blends of electronic and rock. The closest thing to their sound might be something like Grimes, especially considering both acts create crazy interesting new sounds, and then use them in awesome ways. As a song, “Double Helix” subverts expectations with big shifts in tone and energy. The video then takes it a step further, and bucks the standard tropes of electro-pop music videos.

The video shows a dystopian corporate society populated entirely by clones of the two band members. An “Alpha” version of the duo controls the drones from a secret room, fucking with everyone’s day for their own greedy pleasure. Eventually the drones rebel and storm the control room, with a Thing-style walking hand in tow.

The quasi-political message is a refreshing juxtaposition with the song’s loving lyrics: “I’m chained to you, and I’ll do anything to stay chained to you, though I’m bound to fail to.” Some pretty slick special effects reinforce the sci-fi setting, and the video’s sense of humor keeps it from being anything close to heavy handed.

MANSIONS ON THE MOON GET SHIT DONE
December 30, 2015 5:27 pm

In the music biz connections are your lifeline. No, that doesn’t mean you can’t establish yourself purely on the merits of your own raw talent or dedication to perfecting your craft. It’s just, competition is fierce. In a world saturated to the bursting point with MIDI laptop DJs and YouTube divas, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Mansions on the Moon are your textbook example of how to get it done. Back in 2011 they jumped on the festival-centric EDM hype train and rode it for the victory lap. Although they attracted an avid fan-base with their brand of hook-friendly synth pop, again, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Mansions are the collaboration between Pnuma Trio members Ben Hazlegrove on keys and Lane Shaw on drums, along with guitarist and singer-songwriter Ted Wendler. Pnuma Trio achieved a considerable following sharing stages with live music heavyweights such as String Cheese Incident, Disco Biscuits, and Michael Franti, eventually culminating with the release of 2007’s Character via Columbia. Upon forming Mansions in 2011, high-profile acts were eager to help the startup find their footing.  Again, it doesn’t hurt to know someone.

Their first release, Paradise Falls, was ‘presented’ by DJ Benzi and Diplo. The album is packed with collaborations from other notable names such as Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang and Big Gigantic.  In 2012 the group followed up with another EP, Lightyears, this time teaming up with N*E*R*D.  Believe it or not, being produced by Pharrell Williams can dramatically boost your grade on the Hype-o-Meter.  Did I mention it doesn’t hurt to know someone?

In 2014 Mansions self-produced their Full Moon EP to commemorate their move to LA.  Most recently it seems Mansions has been someone dormant–while their Facebook page is rife with news of other EDM peers, very little recent actively can be accounted for other than a timely vinyl pressing of a few of their singles just in time for the holidays.

HOW ADELE SHATTERED MODERN MUSIC INDUSTRY RECORDS
December 4, 2015 3:12 pm

ICYMI: Adele’s newest album 25 dropped two weeks ago. Blowing away projections across the music industry, the album sold an unprecedented record-breaking 3.38 million copies in its first week.

To put things simply: These kinds of numbers are unheard of in the modern day recorded music industry.

To go into a bit more detail: Adele’s 25 sold the highest number of albums in its first week since Nielsen Soundscan began tracking point-of-sale information in 1991. The previous number one slot in 1st week album sales was held by *NYSYNC’s album No Strings Attached in 2000. Adele’s 25 shattered *NSYNC’s record by nearly a million copies. Adele’s 25 sold more albums in one week than any other album has over the past 24 years, and potentially even longer.

So what is it? How was Adele able to sell a record breaking number of albums in 2015?

Theories floating: Industry executives around the world have been arguing back and forth about how she did it. Notorious music industry contrarian extraordinaire Bob Lefsetz offered up his theory that her success is due at its core to the quality of the music. Many agree and I’ve heard the “she’s in a league of her own” argument thrown around. Others have referenced her digital marketing and social media campaigns which relied on a mysteriously brooding aesthetic to get people talking about Adele everywhere you looked for weeks leading up to the release. Some go so far as to say point blank it’s because she kept her music off streaming and video-sharing services like Spotify and YouTube.

All of these theories are valid and probably contributed in some way or another to her success. But none of these theories asses the key part of my question above: how was she able to do this all specifically in the year 2015? There have been other albums as great as 25. There have been as good if not better marketed albums than 25. Other artists have kept their music off of streaming and haven’t seen these kinds of results (remember last year’s Taylor Swift vs. Spotify drama)…

waespi_SNL1_06

Here’s my theory: It’s not just that Adele was able to sell this many albums in 2015. It’s that only Adele could sell this many albums in 2015.

Here’s why: In 2015, streaming has become a major player and is helping to defeat illegal downloading as a preferred method of digital music consumption (as reported by digital music news). Streaming is more convenient than piracy, as you can do it immediately from your mobile device without taking up storage space. Plus it is free with services like YouTube and Spotify’s “freemium” tier.

Whether streaming is a good or bad thing for artists in terms of both short-term and long-term revenue is up for debate, with good reason. However, it is hard to argue with the fact that as streaming becomes more and more popular, illegal downloading will eventually become obsolete.

1035x1407-R1248_coverSo when it was announced that Adele’s 25 was not going to be on streaming and video-sharing sites, one would think digital music fans would flock to illegal downloading sites. Instead, nearly 1 million fans went to the iTunes store on release day to buy the album. It’s a lot easier to justify spending $9.99 on an album that you really want when the majority of your music consumption is free!

Adele’s fans and music fans alike were willing to spend the money on her album because streaming has made most music accessible for little to no cost. 25 became a one-time splurge, a small purchase you had to make if you wanted to hear the album because it was going to be a pain in the ass to do it the hard (and illegal) way of piracy.

Sure, there are plenty more reasons that Adele’s 25 was able to sell as much as it did: the songwriting, the power of her voice, the quality of the music, the social media impact, the targeted advertising driving to physical retail, the late night performances, the Radio City Music Hall etc. But by many standards, 21 released in 2011 had a much stronger commercial appeal than 25 with mega-hits like “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You,” “Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Rumour Has It.”

The difference between 2011 and 2015: streaming. 

Adele withholding her album from streaming did not cause people to download it illegally. Instead, they bought it. They kicked it old school. They got in their cars and drove to the nearest Target or Indie record store. Or they went on their phones and pressed the “buy” button on iTunes. They spent the $9.99 because they thought it was worth it. They thought she was worth it.

In conclusion: Adele’s album didn’t sell as much as it did despite the fact that it’s 2015, she did so because it’s 2015.

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers Soothe The Crowd
September 10, 2015 9:51 pm

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers first caught my attention when their video covering Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” went viral 3 years ago. Who decided to record their impromptu jam sesh while driving?! Since then, I’ve been keeping up with their now famous “Van Sessions” which you can find on their YouTube channel. Aside from the unusual setting they decided to hold a jam session in, her impeccable tone and perfect harmonizing with the band members captured my heart, an easy task when you have their raw talent and acoustic sounds.

Nicki Bluhm

Surprisingly this was the first time I’d been to the Bowery Ballroom, despite the number of concerts I’ve been to all throughout the city. She seemed to attract a wide range of fans, mostly who were much older than me and didn’t seem like natives to the LES. The show was pretty calm with no one needing to desperately shove their way to the front row thankfully. She came out with a beautiful flowy white outfit that made her look like a cherub, especially with the iridescent lights shining from behind her. She hit every note perfectly, putting us all in a dreamy state with her soothing voice. Surrounding fans were getting into the groove, all eyes locked on Nicki. You could tell that the crowd appreciated her music deeply. They brought out the opening band, Andrew Combs towards the end of the show to join them during “Ooh Las Vegas” which made it quite the memorable evening, leaving me wanting to take a road trip to Las Vegas.

nicki bee

MISSING: Have You Seen This Band?
September 8, 2015 10:00 am

Have you seen this band? Wilderness are a 5-piece alternative rock band, last seen making awesome music in Brisbane, Australia.

It is rare for an indie band to make such an impression with just two songs, but these guys have managed it. Child of Day and Shreds are still available online, but sadly all their social media profiles seem to have been deleted.

If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Wilderness, and whether we’re ever going to hear more great tracks from them, please get in touch. We are all very worried. 

Yours sincerely,
Atypical Sounds

Wilderness

Artist of the Month: Lena Fayre
September 4, 2015 2:02 pm

Lena Fayre isn’t some ordinary teenager out there. This 19 year old singer-songwriter from LA has already established herself as a talented pop musician among the indie music scene, West coast to East coast. She’s already caught Rolling Stone’s attention who described her music as “an angst-filled afternoon spent lip-syncing into a hairbrush.” People have been raving over her ‘darkwave’ Lorde-esque voice, which explain her millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify.

lenafayer

Her latest EP ‘Is There Only One?’ captures her emotional journey through her romantic loss. It’s a full compilation of songs showing “sadness, regret, bitterness and, finally, a shaky truce.” According to Lena, Instagram had played a big role in her past relationship, hence the cover art is basically a photo of her on Instagram showing a photo of her ex’s current girlfriend, who apparently gave an ‘ok’ to be on the cover. Talk about awkwardness! At least she was able to get inspiration and deliver some great tunes to the world, right? “I don’t want to lessen the meaning that this music has for me by like putting a pretty picture on my face on the EP.” Looks like she wants to lay everything out in the open by keeping things real. You go girl!

She describes her sound as “deconstructed pop”, pulling elements from a variety of pop singers who inspired her throughout childhood. In an interview with Austin Underground, she says “Pop has certain elements and I like to use those elements but in a different way and not feel that I have to fit in a certain genre, but I can use a pop aesthetic and pop sounds and kind of use it to my advantage in whatever way I want. Deconstructed pop just means I have a minimalist sound, but I can [still] use those elements.”
As someone who grew up in the same generation as her, I can relate to her pop music influences from the 90’s and early 00’s including Gwen Stefani, The Veronicas, and Evanescence. “Vocally, I got a lot of my style from Evanescence. The lead singer Amy Lee – I listened to her a lot growing up, and that genre of music so, kind of how she uses her voice as an instrument. I had never realized that that was a thing, that you can manipulate your voice and train it to do whatever you want. So [I] kind of listening to her at an early age [and] set the tone for how I’d use my voice now.” 

There is no mystery as to why Lena Fayre is our Artist Of The Month.  Now we get bragging rights that we were rocking with her before she was hugely famous.  Hey Lena, we see you.