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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
1/ The music industry is pumping out more singles, guest appearances, collaborations, mixtapes, albums, re-issues and videos—more *content*—than ever, with implications for labels, artists and fans.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
2/ Nearly 150,000 new albums sold at least one physical or digital copy last year, according to Nielsen. The number of new hip-hop tracks uploaded to SoundCloud in January 2018 was a whopping 30% higher than in January 2017.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @Mark_Mulligan
3/ “One streaming service told me it ingests hundreds of thousands of new tracks every single month. Some months close to half a million,” says music-industry analyst .
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
4/ There has been “an explosion in the amount of music coming through the system,” says Steve Berman, vice-chairman, Interscope Geffen A&M.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
5/ Remember back in the '90s when Prince was pressured by Warner Bros. to release fewer albums? The mantra in the music biz used to be “less is more.” Now, in the streaming era, it’s “more is more.”
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
6/ Major labels are replacing their one-size-fits-all, full-length album-focused model with a more flexible approach that accommodates singles artists, album artists, those who are both. This use of singles/collabs to develop artists is, in turn, helping fuel the music glut.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
7/ Other factors: In pop & rock, four & five-piece bands are increasingly uneconomical. So more artists are probably working solo—which could mean more music released in the market. In previous eras, that same solo artist might have just been a member of a bigger (better?) band.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
8/ Some artists (Curren$y, Gucci Mane, Migos) deliberately drop tons of music at once or over time to get buzz. Stars seeking fans in multiple genres will make diff versions of songs to target diff demos. Other artists (Ryan Adams, King Gizzard, BROCKHAMPTON) are just prolific.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
9/ Then there's music-streaming services and media outlets, which crave exclusive/new content from artists. Sometimes labels will want to monetize an artist’s sudden jump in fame (say, from a hit single) by putting out more one-off products/loosies.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
10/ A long-time recorded-music business tactic has acquired new relevance/urgency in the streaming era: Re-issuing as much music catering to older boomer music fans as possible while there's still *ahem* time left to do so.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
11/ Perhaps the biggest factor: Artists want (or are encouraged) to stay in the news to build and maintain a brand—a brand that is monetized via streaming, concerts and sponsorship deals. Major pop artists can’t just go away for three years anymore.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
12/ “There’s a real feeling that you need to keep some awareness around artists,” says Simon Wheeler, director of digital, Beggars Group (Matador, XL Recordings, 4AD, Rough Trade, Young Turks). People think “you need to feed the machine," he says. "The pressure is on the artist."
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
13/ This bounty—combined with dramatically expanded/cheap access to limitless music—is a boon. But today’s noisy pop-music machine (dominated by megastars and re-issues and increasingly globalized) can make life harder for artists/labels/fans trying to cut through the noise.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @woodenwand
14/ “The access to music that we have now is something I would have wished for as a kid,” says 39-year-old writer and musician James Jackson Toth, who performs as Wooden Wand. But “it becomes a Tower of Babel,” he says. “It’s just too much stuff.”
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
15/ “A lot of us are spending a lot of time sorting through [media] instead of enjoying it,” Mr. Toth adds. “Sitting down and listening to records shouldn’t feel like eating asparagus."
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
16/ Whether this glut is one of "good" or "bad" music is up for debate/a matter for critics. As in TV, it’s now economical for artists/labels to cater to niche tastes/make adventurous/less-commercial albums; with costs down, revenue per LP need not be as high to lock in profits.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
17/ Today, instead of being bottle-necked/rejected by the commercially-minded major-label system, more music—and by extension, potentially more fun/high-quality/important music—is being released by majors, indies and independent artists.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
18/ Yes, there’s a lot of bad music, economist Joel Waldfogel says. But compared to the past, there’s a bigger amount of “good” music that used to be rejected by majors getting out (what he calls “ex ante losers”). Thing is, people need to find it. Paper:
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
19/ Some music (especially in hip-hop) may increasingly feel unfinished/mediocre. But one advantage is fans are kinda hearing artists’ work in progress. In the case of SoundCloud rappers, say, we may sometimes be hearing artists earlier in their development than before.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
20/ In this “culture of tons and tons of things coming out,” musician and producer Jack Antonoff says, we “hear the process a little bit more.”
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
21/ Of course, some of the stuff out there esp. from hip-hop artists big and small is just them throwing stuff at walls to see what sticks or taking advantage of the streaming system to rack up streams/royalties/chart positions.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
22/ Raquel Torres, 18, a fan of Kanye, Drake, Shakira, Kodak Black, Tash Sultana: “Sometimes I … find that new songs can sound repetitive or can be very similar to another song that has already come out." That’s “why I don’t always like the new/top music that comes out.”
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
23/ The danger is that all this music--whether so-so or great--affects music-fan behavior, pushing even more toward passive listening via streaming playlists (often dominated by major labels) or megastars (ditto). That could hurt young/emerging/smaller/lesser-known/niche acts.
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
24/ Who knows, maybe this is sort of a return to the past--to how we listened & the huge stars we paid attention to before the dawn of recorded music, when there wasn't a limited amount of physical music, but an unlimited amount of music in the air heard through live performance?
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Neil Shah 27 Mar 18
Replying to @NeilShahWSJ
25/ Some music-business players like XL Recordings are going down a different road: The respected label has earned its reputation by exercising a minimalist discipline. It signs few acts & releases relatively little music. "More isn't always more," says Beggars Group's Wheeler.
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