Music News Review – 20/01/12

What Artists and Creators think about SOPA…

The topic on everyone’s lips this week – the on-going online piracy saga with SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). Many internet sites, including Wikipedia, Mozilla and WordPress, showed their protest against this by having a blackout on Wednesday which stopped users being able to see the contents on their website.

The anti-SOPA protest counts actors, authors and musicians among its supporters, and even US President Obama has said that he would not support SOPA. According to Hypebot, the following points were made in an open letter addressed to Washington posted on 17th January, from the point of view of a collective of artists and creators which includes Trent Reznor, MGMT and OK Go among the list of names:

  • They mention their gratitude for the measures put into place by policymakers, to help protect their works from copyright infringement
  • They highlight the importance of social media in reaching and communicating with their fans, and the “benefits of a free and open Internet”
  • They voice their worry that artists and creators will be censored and legitimate services and websites blocked under PIPA and SOPA’s new powers, even though they themselves are legitimate users

It seems as though the takedown of sites has already begun, with sites Megaupload and Megavideo being closed down on Thursday. According to Tech Digest, the US government’s reasoning for this was that they considered the webmasters of the sites to be involved in a “Mega Conspiracy, a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale.” The Telegraph reported that the operators of Megaupload were accused of ignoring requests to remove pirated material from music and film firms, and charged with criminal copyright infringement. According to the BBC, the site has been accused of costing copyright holders over $500m in lost revenue, in an accusation by federal prosecutors.

In response, internet hacking collective Anonymous launched a DDos (distributed denial-of-service) attack on a list high profile websites, including the websites of the US Department of Justice, the FBI, Universal Music and the Motion Picture Association of America. According to Tech Digest, it is thought that each organisation linked to the targeted sites have supported the anti-piracy bills in the past. Anonymous later tweeted:

They have also since uploaded a map showing the current number of network attacks by geographic region.


Listen with your friends on Facebook, and Ticketmaster’s New Facebook App

On top of the feature which allows you to tag the seats you’ve purchased at events on Facebook, event giants Ticketmaster have come up with a clever new application – its ability to recommend concerts you’d enjoy. According to Tech Crunch, the Open Graph app feeds off the activity from your Facebook profile’s music application, generated from services such as Rdio and Spotify. This allows the application to make suggestions of artists playing concerts nearby, regardless of whether or not you’ve “liked” them. As well as this, it shows you a feed of events that your friends are attending. Genius!

Facebook have also launched feature “Listen With Friends”, which does exactly what it says on the tin. According to a blog posted on Facebook, this feature will “let you discover and share new music with your buddies without leaving Facebook.” A music icon will appear next to the name of your friends on Facebook Chat, who are using a Facebook music streaming application to listen to music. By hovering over their name and clicking on the button “Listen With Friends” that appears, you will be able to stream music in real-time with them, with the idea that you can enjoy the song and specific musical moments (like that cheeky little synth hook!) at the same time.

However, this will only work through the Spotify and Rdio apps, and you will have to use the same music application as your friends for the service to work. Read the article from Huffington Post here for more on this feature.


State of Online Music in 2011

Next Big Sound have released statistics to present the state of online music last year, using measures from daily music consumptions and purchase decisions worldwide. This extremely in-depth report is a great insight into how the online music industry is developing, including overall consumption figures and which artists are making the top of the bill on the major social media websites. Graphs in the report also show which days in the week are popular on these websites, enabling you to judge which days would be best to post content in order to gain the most engagement.

According to the report, Soundcloud had a 231% growth in song plays last year, with the top 3 artists respectively as Foo Fighters, unsigned artist DJ Bl3nd and the Beastie Boys. Twitter saw a 104% increase in followers, showing Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Rihanna to have the most followers.

You can check out the full report here.


Festival line-ups and the introduction of RFID wristbands

Artist names are beginning to emerge and line-ups are already starting to take shape for festivals this year. Coachella, which sold out in two hours, have confirmed Radiohead, Pulp, At The Drive-In and Gold Panda among its stellar cast, and The Prodigy, Metallica and a recently reunited Black Sabbath are headlining Download at Donington Park. The Cure will also be busy gigging this summer, having confirmed headline slots at Swedish festival Hultsfred as well as Southside and Hurricane in Germany.

Electronic festival Big Chill has been cancelled this year, due to a clash in dates with the Olympic Games. In an announcement on the festival’s official website, festival boss Melvin Benn felt that it would be a risk to go ahead with the festival, a contributing factor also being artist availability and confirmations received for this year. There is talk of a smaller indoor event for this year, but for the outdoor event Big Chill fans will have to wait until 2013.

According to Spacelab, there is speculation that Glastonbury’s festival organiser Michael Eavis “might be tempted” to jump on the bandwagon and using RFID (Radio Frequency ID) wristbands in the next instalment of the festival in 2013. Already used at Coachella, Electric Zoo and Lollapalooza, the microchip-fitted wristbands will help festival organisers by being able to track the location of festival-goers, thus helping them think of strategies to better traffic flow, as well as reducing crime and theft as the wristband will provide evidence of people’s whereabouts. According to ID&C, other features of the new wristband are said to be to put a stop to ticket fraud and a cut in queuing times, which are both positive developments – they can also be used for social media integration and also to make purchases at the live events.

However, Eavis has voiced his concerns to BBC Newsbeat about the festival becoming “too commercial” with the implications of the embedded chip, and there is also the inevitable (and huge) issue of protecting the festival-goers’ privacy.  What do you think of the new wristband technology? Let us know your thoughts.


Paul McCartney promotes his new album on live stream

What better way to share a press conference and Q&A with fans worldwide than using a live stream? On Thursday, Paul McCartney spoke about his new album “Kisses On The Bottom via a 30 minute stream on his official website. Fans were also invited to e-mail questions for McCartney for the press conference.

According to NME, McCartney’s new album, featuring Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton as guest musicians, consists of two new songs, “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts”, along with tracks that he grew up listening to during his childhood.


This post was written by Zimbalam blogger, Hinako Omori


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