On The Road With The Teen Social-Media Sensations Of DigiTour

“This cross-country cash cow starring seven of America’s biggest Vine and YouTube stars may have all the trappings of a traditional rock tour — long bus rides, concert hall stages in front of screaming fans, staying up late — but it’s the clearest sign yet that the entertainment industry’s star-making apparatus is being turned upside down.”


“Perhaps for this reason, the DigiTour show itself seems mostly designed to enable the boys to mug for the crowd as much as possible and the crowd, in turn, to scream as much as possible. All told, it feels less like the kind of event you’d expect to nearly sell out a massive ballroom than it does a summer camp talent show, running through a sort of cartoon version of a typical day at a typical high school in a typical town: First, there’s homeroom (introductions), lunchtime (food fight), cheerleading practice (a goofy, strutty dance sequence set to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”). And then, of course, the denouement: prom, during which six girls and one boy are plucked from the audience and matched with a cast member for an onstage slow dance set to Wiz Khalifa’s summer funeral banger “See You Again.” Between these bits, the more musically oriented cast members sing, covering songs by nostalgia or Top 40 pop acts such as Journey and Drake. Four of the kids do a Fallon-style lip-synch battle, and Hayes and another cast member, Tez Mengestu, rap along sputteringly to Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone.” But by and large, the cast do not really perform so much as appear. Roughly once every show, a booming voice prods, “Now, let’s — take — some — SELFIEEEES,” in the way another announcer might implore a crowd to make some noise. The fans oblige.”

Via BuzzFeed

Visualizing the active years of popular artists

“This week the Echo Nest is extending the data returned for an artist to include the active years for an artist.  For thousands of artists you will be able to retrieve the starting and ending date for an artists career. This may include multiple ranges as groups split and get back together for that last reunion tour.  Over the weekend, I spent a few hours playing with the data and built a web-based visualization that shows you the active years for the top 1000 or so hottest artists.”


“The visualization shows the artists in order of their starting year. You can see the relatively short careers of artists like Robert Johnson and Sam Cooke, and the extremely long careers of artists like The Blind Boys of Alabama and Ennio Morricone.   The color of an artist’s range bar is proportional to the artist’s hotttnesss.  The hotter the artist, the redder the bar.  Thanks to 7Digital, you can listen to a sample of the artist by clicking on the artist. To create the visualization I used Mike Bostock’s awesome D3.js (Data Driven Documents) library.”

–> Via Music Machinery

Call Them Hippies, But the Grateful Dead were Tech Pioneers

“What sets the band’s “Fare Thee Well” gigs apart isn’t that these options are available, but that they exist in large part because of the Grateful Dead itself: The group and its associates pioneered rock concert broadcasts, making it a regular practice starting with a show at the Carousel Ballroom in 1968.

The Dead, long stereotyped as hippies stuck in the Summer of Love, surely seemed anachronistic by the time it disbanded in 1995 after the death of guitarist and songwriter Jerry Garcia. But the Grateful Dead remains one of the most innovative and tech-savvy bands in pop history. Long before it became necessary (or cool) to do so, the band embraced a DIY ethos in everything from manufacturing its own gear to publishing its own music to fostering a decentralized music distribution system. The Dead’s obsession with technology was almost inseparable from the band’s psychedelic ambition and artistic independence.”


More genuinely progressive than most prog rock, the Grateful Dead and its legion of fans embraced a spirit of innovation that could be called entrepreneurial if the pursuit of profit didn’t so often seem secondary. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the band’s constant experimentation with sound systems and musical equipment. The Dead and its extended family essentially created the sound of modern rock-and-roll concerts, rejecting the small amplifiers and tinny PA systems of the 60s—think of the Beatles at Candlestick Park—in favor of ground-shaking stereo and quadraphonic sound.


Only a few years ago, a crew of jam fans created GroupMe, a group texting app ideal for mass communications at shows and festivals, eventually selling it to Skype for millions. Probably, there will be Deadheads using it to find one another in Chicago and Santa Clara, if they haven’t already adapted to some newer tech. Heads continue to play with new configurations, lately including the Bluetooth-enabled Zoku. Billing itself as “the Secret Society App” to anonymously find “tribes off-the-grid in real life,”  Zoku works even when the Deadheads inevitably overload the local cell network, as they did during the shows in California. Others are in various stages of development. The secondary ticket market for the Dead shows has been the hugest of the summer, according to StubHub, but the fans also have the Deadhead-friendly face-value ticket site/app CashOrTrade at their disposal to level the playing field a bit.

Via Wired

A Manifesto for the Future of Music Technology Research

“Meaningful innovation happens when fields intersect – yet those who work in music technology are too often siloed in distinct fields within universities, industry, startups, journalism, hobbyist and fan subcultures. We don’t always know how to think together, and we often do not know what others can contribute. We don’t even know what we don’t know. When fields do come together, old hierarchies too often overshadow the spirit of collaboration and mutual learning. Institutional barriers challenge our ability to work together, from the way organizations are structured to reward-systems that encourage people to keep doing what they have always done.

Let’s Build Better Worlds

Music technologies make worlds. Let us make better worlds. Let music technology do good, serve public interest, foster belonging, justice, collaboration and sharing, enable greater access to positive musical experiences and personal connections, and create durable objects and practices.

We call for greater awareness of the cultural forces already in new music technologies, and the courage to challenge or change them when the collective good demands it.

Ask of any music technology: For whom will this make things better? How? Is it open or closed to creativity and innovation it has not yet anticipated?

Ask of any policy: Whose rights and opportunities are being promoted? Whose are being eroded? What idea of culture does it presume?

Ask of any practice: Who is invited to join in? Who is left out? Where will it find support?

Ask of any organization: How does it help people come together? Does it exploit them in doing so?

We must create more opportunities for people to engage one another through music. We must fight for people’s rights to create music and music technologies, and to enjoy music free of rent-seeking and unwarranted legal intimidation. We must stand up to abusive musical practices, from exploiting people’s dreams of making a living in music, to criminalizing whole classes of audiences and musicians, to subjecting people to hearing loss, to the use of music in coercion, warfare and torture.

We are Music Technologists. We work in science, art, engineering, humanities, activism, social science, policy and industry. We believe in music technology and we want to build better worlds. We invite you to join us.”

Via Music Tech Fest | A Manifesto for the Future of Music Technology Research

The Sync Project and Berklee College Of Music Partner To Explore The Science Behind “Music As Medicine”

“The Sync Project, a PureTech startup working towards scientifically measuring and harnessing music to improve health, has announced a collaborative partnership with Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). The partnership involves joint original research, course development and an internship program. 

‘Music can be a catalyst for new disruptive ideas to emerge, whether those ideas are applied to the creative music space or whether those ideas are exported into other fields, like health,” said Panos Panay, Founding Managing Director of Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. “The Sync Project’s rigorous focus on the leading science of the neurological and health impacts of music, makes them a perfect partner.’

‘The Sync Project’s mission is to bring together the scientists, technologists, clinicians and musicians of the world to help accelerate the discovery of the clinical applications of music,” said PureTech CEO and Sync Project Co-founder, Daphne Zohar. “With this collaboration, we hope to engage and inspire the next generation of musicians to help us advance the field of music as medicine.'”

Via — Hyperbot

The Death of the (Musical) Middle Class

“We have to get over the notion of the old musical middle class, where you could put out an album every two years, do a bunch of tour dates, sell some t-shirts, and make $75k a year. The new reality looks like driving for Lyft when you’re home, maybe taking a few freelance composing gigs for an ad agency, releasing and touring around your own music, and bartending at your buddy’s place on weekends. Is this less fun, perhaps, or more stressful, than the old way? Absolutely. But it’s also the new normal.


When people talk about the gig economy as a new concept, it’s because it’s a new concept for a very select group of people. Women, immigrants, and people of color have always been part of the gig economy, not because it was cool and freeing and driving for Lyft is a super fun way to make money while finishing their novels–it was because they had no other options. Being able to ‘follow your passion’ and make art for a living is a very class-based concept–most people are just working to pay the bills, and the idea that you have a right to write and perform music and make a living doing so is a foreign concept.

I absolutely believe in paying people for their work, but figuring out what they should be paid (or have a right to be paid) is tricky. But opposing Spotify, in the absence of a realistic solution, is just silly and privileged. I’d love to be a (middle class, educated) boomer riding life out on a cushy retirement package…but that’s not an option anymore. Rather than bemoaning the lost past, we need to focus on making the gig economy more sustainable for everyone.”

via This Week in Music Tech | The Death of the (Musical) Middle Class

This Band Just Finished a 28 Day Tour and Made How Much?!

“[T]his isn’t a sob story. We knew [the tour] would be an expensive endeavor, and we still chose to make the investment. We could have played a duo show instead of hiring six people to tour with us. That would have saved us over $50,000, but it was important at this stage in Pomplamoose’s career to put on a wild and crazy rock show. We wanted to be invited back to every venue, and we wanted our fans to bring their friends next time. The loss was an investment in future tours.


We, the creative class, are finding ways to make a living making music, drawing webcomics, writing articles, coding games, recording podcasts. Most people don’t know our names or faces. We are not on magazine covers at the grocery store. We are not rich, and we are not famous.

We are the mom and pop corner store version of ‘the dream.’ If Lady Gaga is McDonald’s, we’re Betty’s Diner. And we’re open 24/7.

We have not ‘made it.’ We’re making it.”

Via Digital Music News | This Band Just Finished a 28 Day Tour and Made How Much?!