The Sinister History of the Belle and Sebastian Email List

But that doesn’t come close to describing the breadth of material that has accumulated in The Belle and Sebastian Email Mailing List over the past 20 years, resulting in what resembles a rough draft of a massive novel in which the characters are all startlingly alive, even if the plot remains discursive. The notion of a fan email list also doesn’t capture just how frequently, eloquently, and hilariously the emails depart from the topic of Belle and Sebastian completely, the band becoming the thinnest of tissues, more of an inspirational sensibility, connecting an altogether different kind of internet community.

A typical email would begin by discussing how “all this talk of Czech weather and soft-core pornography has inspired me to speak up and introduce myself”; or how someone has “a bellyful of wine and passiflora” and “still can’t sleep”; or how another gets “mocked for having Nietzsche under my bed not a book the actual german philosopher.” Actual friendships formed through the list; one former list member, Joe Brooker, told me that he “came to meet people who made music, and thus … ended up making records and playing live as a direct result of all this.” And after a while everyone clearly knew everyone else, to the point where one man told the list that he was “ponder[ing] the idea of a Sinister retirement village, an everlasting bowlie weekender/perpetuality-er.”


Via The New Republic. More–>

Poor Lonely Computer: Prince’s Misunderstood Relationship With The Internet

There are probably two main reasons for the cellphone ban at Paisley Park. First is an attempt to preserve the purity of the live music experience, to encourage people to watch and absorb the show rather than their screens. Apart from a woman who used her phone flashlight to look for something she’d dropped, earning a stern word from an alert member of staff, everyone seemed to respect the rules. At one point, while he scrolled through his iPad, deciding what to play next, Prince playfully asked why everyone was looking at him. Later, I could only find a single, blurry image from the show on social media.

The other reason is Prince’s fierce commitment to protection of copyright. He does not take kindly to unauthorized recordings and images. There is surprisingly little to be found in places like YouTube. What does exist is usually unauthorized and only survives for as long as it takes to issue a takedown notice. Which Prince, or whoever he’s paying to handle this task, does with great regularity. There is plenty of Prince material on non-U.S. video sites, which are harder to deal with under American law.


Via NPR. More –>

Engagement is Relational, not Transactional

This has less to do with the music side, but with the relational labor side as it applies to journalism.

There’s a new pioneering “tribe” in today’s news organizations: those working on engagement. To be specific, I’m not focusing on those working in audience engagement but more on journalists who are engaging with and empowering the public to support communities to thrive. Less transaction, more relation; less on audience, more on community. One of the notions in defining community engagement is a role to purposefully put the public at the center of what we do, bring together the people who accurately represent all of the voices and then to authentically listen, facilitate and connect those conversations as a reflection of the whole story. I’m keenly interested in journalism in service to civic engagement that is thick, impactful and at scale, referencing Ethan Zuckerman’s Beyond “The Crisis in Civics.”


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Benji Rogers and Imogen Heap: building the music blockchain

“Of all the places you might attend an event on “Fair-Trade Music, Virtual Reality and The Blockchain”, the headquarters of British music-industry body BPI is one of the more surprising.

Aren’t its most powerful members – the three major labels – exactly the kind of companies who have most to lose from an all-new, uber-transparent system of tracking music rights and paying for usage?

Maybe. Which is certainly one reason for being curious about how such a system would work. But the early evangelists for such a system – notably PledgeMusic founder Benji Rogers, argue that the blockchain would enhance the businesses of the BPI’s members, rather than destroy them.

That’s why the BPI invited Rogers in on a windy Monday evening for the first in a planned series of “thought-leadership events” tackling big topics and new technologies.

He was joined by musician Imogen Heap, who’s also been digging into blockchain technology in recent months from an artist’s perspective. For an hour and a half, they explained what they’ve been doing, what they’d like to do next, and fielded questions from the audience about the potential challenges.”

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How the phonograph changed music forever

Artists fight over digital music too. Many say it impoverishes them, as the relatively fat royalties of radio and CD give way to laughably tiny micropayments from streaming companies, where a band might get mere thousandths of a penny from their label when a fan streams its song. Other artists disagree, arguing that giving away your music for free online makes it easier to build a global fan base avid for actually giving you money.

A confusing time, to be sure. But it’s certainly no more confusing than the upheaval that greeted a much older music technology: the phonograph. Back in the 19th century, it caused fights and joy too—as it forever transformed the face of music.

It’s almost hard to reconstruct how different music was before the phonograph. Back in the mid-1800s, if you wanted to hear a song, you had only one option: live. You listened while someone played it, or else you played it yourself.

That changed in 1877 when Thomas Edison unveiled his phonograph. It wasn’t the first such device to record and play back audio, but it was the first generally reliable one: scratchy and nearly inaudible by modern standards, but it worked. Edison envisioned a welter of uses, including for business, “to make Dolls speak sing cry” or to record “the last words of dying persons.” But in 1878 he made a prediction: “The phonograph will undoubtedly be liberally devoted to music.”

Source: Smithsonian

Spotify launches Fan Insights analytics for artists

“The new dashboard solves one of Spotify’s headaches this year: the fact that its previous partner for providing analytics to artists – Next Big Sound – was bought by another streaming service, Pandora, earlier in 2015. Fan Insights has been developed in-house as a replacement.

Ahead of the launch, Music Ally got a demo of the new dashboard from Spotify’s head of artist services Mark Williamson and VP of product Charlie Hellman, who said that its emphasis is on “actionable” information rather than a deluge of data.


‘In our early days of going out and speaking with artists and managers, we went out with reams of data: ‘here you go, let’s see what sticks’,” said Williamson. ‘But this is not about how we can throw as much data at you as possible and get you guys to process it. We’ve listened to the whole ‘too much data’ theme you’ve been hearing about on panels, and tried to focus on stuff that’s useful.'”

More detailed explanation here:


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