Will Google Glass revolutionize the music industry?

Will Google Glass revolutionize the music industry? 

According to early adopters of the wearable computer - such as French horn player Sarah Willis and hip-hop producer Young Guru - the odds are in the new technology's favor.

Live concerts streamed through Google Glass, saved playlists available on command and the possibility of remotely recording music are just a few of the ways the head-mounted computer slowly is making a mark on the industry.

Willis has been a Glass Explorer (someone invited by the company to test-drive Google Glass) since the first version came out in June 2013 and has served as the first Explorer in Germany. At the NEXTBerlin conference in May, she shared the atypical ways the product has benefited her career as a professional musician in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

"I thought it would be actually quite cool for someone in classical music to see what you could do with it," she said. Some of these endeavors have included recording videos of her performances, staging Google Hangouts with auto-horn players, streaming live concerts on the Internet and working to change the current "old-fashioned reputation" of classical music. There are limitations, however.

"The problem is, you can't really see very much," she admitted, adding that with instruments like the trombone and violin, the line of sight is clearer. In addition, the function that enables video calls with more than one participant, which has been used for long-distance teaching, is no longer available. "The new version of Glass has stopped doing them," she says. "I hope they come back. I would also like Glass to develop a PDF function, so that if I forget my music at home, I can call it up and play from Glass. Better than getting in trouble with the conductor!" Related

Google Glass, which retails for approximately $1,500, became available for sale in the United States in May and in the United Kingdom on June 23. In September, Samsung reportedly will release a Google Glass competitor. The Google Glass Explorer program launched approximately two years ago, with a wide range of individuals involved, including Young Guru, who has worked with Jay Z, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ludacris.

Young Guru even filmed a promotional video for the product last fall to showcase Google Glass' music abilities. In the clip, the producer uses the wearable computer to identify a song, locate the record and then spin it in the studio. Other capabilities of Google Glass that have been added since its initial inception that Young Guru has utilized include scanning saved playlists and listening to music in high fidelity. He also has helped announce new music commands that Google has introduced through his partnership with the company. Similar to the iPhone app Shazam, Google Glass now can be used to identify songs, just by asking.

The producer hopes Glass, as a music tool, will enable artists to record remotely, and believes that some day it will. Perhaps that will help justify the hefty price tag.

Metallica Plays Glasto: Makes Fox-Hunting Jab Video

Following probably the biggest controversy regarding any music festival headlining act we've see in a while, Metallica has finally played Glastonbury...

But it wasn't just any set, as the band made sure to spice up the whole thing with a healthy dose of humor.

Fox on the Run
Right before kicking off the 14-song set, the band presented an exclusive video, interrupting the regular "Ecstasy of Gold" intro with a short fox hunting movie.

A clever jab at all the protestors, "What Does the Fox Say?" "Fox on the Run," masked bears killing everyone, and then the grand finale...

Anyhow, check out the short-film below.

The Show!
The most important part, or at least the part that should be the critical one. The guys still have it, and they've proven it with a 90-minute set. As always, the crowd comments have varied, going from praising "Looks like Metallica had a great time as did the crowd - f--k the Glastonbury snobbery!" to complaining "Why did they only play 14 songs?" or more creative ones like "Jesus christ, Lars even f--ks up 'The Unforgiven.'"

Right before kicking off "Sad But True," frontman James Hetfield dedicated the tune to all the metal bands from the UK that dream of headlining Glasto, but never got the chance. The video of the full show is available online, check it out below.

There's Probably Never Been A Worse Time To Be A Musician

The music industry isn't quite dead — it's merely completely unrecognizable from what it once was.

The following chart from music industry analyst Mark Mulligan explains: Since 2000, overall global music revenues have declined just 3%, not exactly a cataclysm.

But actual recorded music now comprises only 36% of the industry's revenue stream:

So what has taken its place? Tours — revenue growth in which has grown 60% since 2000. Unfortunately for artists, industry heads have adjusted deal terms so that, since 2000, they've take an ever-increasing share of the live pie.

Artist income in general has been declining for five consecutive years, Mulligan says, in part because labels now sign acts to "360 deals" that give them control over everything they do.

...Even for these consumers live is, in terms of total time spent, just a small fraction of their music consumption. So labels are faced with paradox of making less money from artists yet those same artists still needing the recording in order to drive live and merch income. This is why we ended up with 360 deals.

And this shift is still not complete. "Expect every traditional element of the industry to be challenged to its core, expect dots to be joined and old models to be broken," Mulligan writes. "But be in no doubt that what we will end up with will be an industry set up for success in the digital era."

But he says nothing about what the era will look like for artists — probably because he doesn't have to.

Read his full commentary here »

VIDEO: History of Louis Boutique Amplifiers...

Check out a new video about the history of Louis Electric Amplifiers, a respected New Jersey-based boutique maker of hand-wired guitar amps.

Louis Electric has been building tube amplifiers since 1992.

Since the very beginning, Louis Rosano has been building signature sounds for musicians of all genres, including Keith Richards, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Wood, Hubert Sumlin, Warren Haynes, Jackson Browne, Danny Gatton, Robben Ford, James Burton and a whole lot more.

The company recently launched a new website, which features 13 amps from Rosano’s portfolio over the years, including standard and brand-new models.

For more information about the company, check out the video below and visit the official website and YouTube channel.

Ben Howard's 5 tips for Songwriters...

Ben Howard is one of those characters that's hard to dislike, regardless of how you feel about his music. Having started out in Falmouth's pub scene, he went from open mic nights to worldwide act by touring hard, keeping a level head, and utilizing a thoroughly unique approach to acoustic guitar.

Who better then to give you some solid advice on developing your playing, work ethic and musical career?

1. Don't worry about scenes
Ben hit the limelight shortly after Mumford and Sons, and many of the stars of the revivalist London folk scene of recent years, but says being based in the "sceneless" South West was a real benefit.

"We were on the outside looking in at that... But we were never part of it," he explains. "I've definitely been a little bit jealous at times, but it was quite nice because you could watch everyone in London doing their thing and we were miles away going, 'Right, let's put this record down.' "

2. Skill beats budget
The aforementioned album, Ben's top 5 debut, Every Kingdom, was released on a major label (Island), but recorded on a budget of next to nothing in a converted Devonshire barn.

"We were just amazed at the production levels you can get [from DIY recording]. That you can have those songs played on the radio," he recalls. "You don't have to spend loads of money… It's about what you put down. For me, recording was a lot about honing my guitar skills and honing my singing. You can have the best mic in the world, but if you put something horrible down then it's always going to sound shit."

3. Start with open mics
Getting gigs can seem an overwhelming task when you're starting out, especially if you're trying to gain experience in front of a neutral audience. Open mic nights formed the basis for Ben's success.

"I won £40 in an open mic competition when I was 17 and thought, 'This is amazing!'" he says of his live start. "We'd get residencies in the local pubs. It was just an excuse to have a free tab at the bar, and then at some point people started chucking me a few quid for it. There was no game plan to any of it."

4. Have guitar, will travel
Have you noticed that it's the hardest touring bands who have the most sustainable, dedicated fanbase? That's no coincidence. To build a good following you'll need to play a lot - taking progressively bigger steps away from home.

"[Starting to tour] was the big leap," agrees Ben. "We would set up our own little tours and say, 'Well, why don't we go to a few places with this?'" he explains. "[Then] I dropped out of uni and just smoked loads of rollies, drunk tea and pretended that I was 'a musician' and that I didn't have to work. We started doing loads of tiny shows and I'd drive around in a van with a PA in the back."

5. A little cynicism is good
Most creative types are stereo-typed as dreamers at heart. We're constantly told to think positive, but as Ben has found, a little cynicism can be very healthy - and it's especially important once you've 'made it'.

"I've always been taught to have a slightly cynical outlook on it all - not in a negative sense, but just in a 'real' way," says Ben. "I think as soon as you start believing you're doing something superior to other people, then you start losing the plot."

Martin Andres Lesson – L.H Stretch & R.H Speed Coordination

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Here's a tough couple of exercises from Martin Andres (of Pomegranate Tiger). 

If you are not aware of his music it is pretty challenging progressive metal which relies on excellent technique to be able to play the various riffs and solos.

The first exercise alone might just make you wince just watching it, (I’m definitely suggesting to give these a go).


Joe Satriani: 'I Was the Luckiest Guitar Teacher Ever'

Guitar god Joe Satriani recently touched on the matter of his guitar teaching days, admitting that he considers himself very lucky for the opportunity to work with a vast array of future axe masters.

Chatting with Rolling Stone, Joe was asked about what it was like to be teaching the likes of Steve Vai, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, Larry LaLonde of Primus and Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick.

"I always thought I was the luckiest guitar teacher ever," he replied. "I did have just a lot of great students. You'd have Larry come in, and he would say, 'Man, listen to these songs we're writing. How do you play over that? What kind of a solo can I do?' He was such an interesting student, as were Kirk and Alex."

"They had great technical facility, which made teaching them really great because you could show them something and six days later they had it down," the guitarist added.

Read More >

VIDEO: Crews Prepare Huge Hard Rock Guitar for Installation...

Courtesy of Sioux City (ABC9 News)

Work is underway on what's soon to be a Sioux City, Iowa USA landmark.

The Hard Rock Casino guitar has landed in town and crews are preparing it to be hoisted up onto the roof. The iconic symbol is being built in two separate sections on the ground and will be put together once on top of the building. LED lights will be used to help illuminate the guitar at night.

The process, crews say, is very dangerous... from the video..."What they are doing right now behind me is they are mounting hardware on so they can lift another part of the guitar and bolt it together. So we lift the whole base of the guitar at one time. And lift it right in the pole you see behind me. From there, we'll lift the neck of the guitar and that will be bolted on on the roof with all the guys on the roof," says Roger Cox, Owner of Midwest Casino Supply.

They hope to get the guitar up Wednesday morning.


Own A Custom Alfa Romeo Guitar for Only $6,800...

Harrison Custom Guitar Works in the UK is now building handmade Alfa Romeo guitars!

The Alfa guitar will cost $6,800 and only 11 will be built, representing each decade of Alfa's history. 

All 11 will be made to order and they'll take about eight months to complete. Hopefully they'll be building more than one at a time because at that rate they'd have to make a 12th for another decade of Alfa Romeo.

Some rather interesting construction techniques are going to be used to create the Alfa Guitar. The body will be made of poplar and maple, with a carbon fiber insert on the back, and aluminum inserts across the front. Those pieces of aluminum house three pickups, like a Fender Stratocaster, with a five way pickup selector on the top side of the body.

It's designed to look like the iconic triangular grille of an Alfa Romeo, and is appropriately finished in red. It's makers have added some other unique details as well, like the quadrifoglio inlay at the third fret, and the Alfa Romeo badge is actually the volume knob. Very clever.

It will be curious to know what it will sound like because carbon fiber and Aluminum are known for being light, but not for their tonal qualities, (though carbon fiber guitars are not unheard of).

Certainly an interesting creation, though it's appeal isn't exactly broad. Still, if you're an Alfa Romeo fan, and a guitarist, (and if you've got an extra $7k to spend), ...and if you've eight months to wait, then this is right up your alley.

Dave Davidson: Using Mi7(b5) Chords in Metal...

Courtesy of Guitar World.com

One of my prime objectives when writing music for my band Revocation is to try to push the envelope and come up with sounds, ideas, chord patterns, progressions and riffs that have been rarely explored within the thrash metal genre.

A good way to do this is to use seventh chords, which are rarely heard in metal. This month, I’d like to demonstrate a few cool ways one can use one particularly cool- and tense-sounding seventh chord in heavy, thrash-style riffs.

Of the different types of seventh chords—major-seven, dominant-seven, minor-seven and what have you—the one that appeals to me most is minor-seven-flat-five (m7b5), also known as half-diminished-seven.

Could Music Royalties Be The Next Big Investment Vehicle?

If you’re a 3 Doors Down fan and an accredited investor, then you might be intrigued by a new investment vehicle that lets you own royalties from the band’s popular songs.

Just last week, the band’s producer put up for auction his royalty rights to 11 tracks. Starting at $5,400 a share, you can own a portion of that portfolio and receive royalty revenue monthly for the next 35 years.

He’s among a growing number of songwriters and producers using a three-year-old technology platform called Royalty Exchange to sell intellectual property rights at auction and, in many cases, to use the cash to fund other projects. The 3 Doors Down producer plans to use his proceeds to build up his indie label and fund a new studio.

For investors weary of the stock market’s ups and downs and interested in diversification, royalty rights are an asset class not tied to the success of financial markets and one that provides monthly income. Before Royalty Exchange came along, though, they had no easy way of learning about those assets.

The Raleigh, North Carolina, start­up takes the platform a step forward this month with a new way to divvy up an asset into multiple units. An investor who previously spent $25,000 on the portfolio of one artist can now invest smaller amounts to buy shares of several portfolios, sharing in ownership with others. It’s an offering that Royalty Exchange CEO and co-founder Sean Peace believes will put royalty auctions on the radar of anyone who holds intellectual property or royalty rights around the nation, in addition to the music industry, which is still reeling from the move away from physical album sales.

Over time, he expects laws to change to allow non-accredited investors to participate and a secondary market for royalty shares to form. He’s positioning Royalty Exchange to be the platform everyone uses for transactions.

We think that will be a game-changer for the whole music industry,” he says.

One investment adviser is so bullish, he foresees clients investing up to 15 percent of their assets in intellectual property royalties within the next decade. “This is the next big thing, and you’re going to see it explode, with these guys leading the charge,” says Jonathan Hoenig, managing member of Chicago-based Capitalistpig Hedge Fund.

Serial software entrepreneur Peace conceived the business after learning from a friend about the music industry’s challenges. He learned: broker-dealers were the only way for people to find out about the sale of royalties; offerings typically included an entire body of an artist’s work and cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars (think Michael Jackson and the Beatles); and it was hard for buyers to know if they were getting a good deal.

Peace thought he could bring transparency, repeatability and accountability to the industry. Besides that, he could play up the “cool factor" and the viability of royalty rights as an alternative asset class.

After many conversations with lawyers, Peace found a way to offer royalties as an asset-backed security without operating as a broker. A year ago, he raised $2 million from Virginia’s Grotech Ventures, helping to triple staff and add salespeople in Los Angeles and Nashville.

Royalty Exchange has now sold more than $2 million in royalties on more than 2,000 songs, and revenue has doubled each month this year.

P.G. Rhythm Rules: Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Antics...

Courtesy of PremierGuitar.com

In recent columns we’ve been exploring unsung guitar heroes, so let’s switch things up a bit and investigate a modern master—the reigning king of rockabilly swing, Mr. Brian Setzer...

Born in 1959, Setzer was drawn to music at a young age after hearing the Beatles’ “She Loves You” on the jukebox while out with his parents. He would go on to raid his father’s record collection after hearing him sing the Carl Perkins song “Honey Don’t” (which Setzer assumed was a Beatles original). This discovery of rock ’n’ roll and rockabilly classics sealed Setzer’s fate, and soon he was set on emulating Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.

He formed the rockabilly revival group, The Tomcats, which became a mainstay of the Long Island music scene. While it was clear the group would remain a novelty act in their home country, the suggestion that they could hit it big in the U.K. was enough of a reason for the three young Tomcats to sell all their belongings and fly to London. The Toms had become strays, so a change in name to The Stray Cats seemed only fitting.

The group started out rough, even sleeping in Hyde Park, but after their first gig, every record label in town wanted a piece of the action. The Stray Cats were a hit, and their debut album peaked at No. 6 on the U.K. charts (this self-titled record never saw a U.S. release). Their third record, Built for Speed, resulted in their most commercial success. It reached No. 2 on the U.S. charts and songs like “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” are still considered classics.

Setzer would go on to lead a revival of big-band swing music. The Dirty Boogie was another big hit for him and this infectious album netted him two Grammys.

For this lesson, let’s check out two examples of what Setzer might play over a simple blues progression.

Ex. 1 opens up with a repeating palm-muted riff (which is brought to life with a little slapback echo) and some chord stabs outlining a G13. Over the IV chord in the fourth measure, notice the Em7b5 chord: This is a very common substitution because Em7b5/C can function as a C9. (In fact, whenever I play this min7b5 shape I always see it as a rootless dominant 9.)

This is answered by another C9 voicing that we embellish in a typical Setzer fashion with dips on the whammy bar. (It’s worth noting that if you really want to sound like Setzer, then a Bigsby is the only real answer. But we work with what we have, right?) After returning to the original riff, we shift to a basic Travis-picking phrase over the D7 chord before arpeggiating a C9 chord with a little wobble on the arm.

For the ending, we have a I-VI-II-V-I progression with some jazzy extensions, specifically G13-E7#9-A7-D7sus4-G. Why does this work so well? Each chord shares a common melody note—G. We end on a typical Setzer chord too, a great sounding G6/9.

Click here for Ex. 1

In Ex. 2 we’re upping the difficulty with a Travis picking idea. (For more info on this technique, check out Tom Monda’s superb column on the subject here). The secret is to get the alternating bass note movement committed to memory so you no longer need to think about it and can focus instead on the melodic syncopation.

Take this one super slowly and commit it to muscle memory, because playing this one up to speed will require your thoughts to be in other places ... like what chord is coming up next or even singing. (Don’t get me started on how Setzer pulls that off!) Also consider adding little bluesy bends to the Bb and F notes that are fretted with the fourth finger. It’s not easy, but it sounds great if you can manage it.

Once you’ve got the pattern down for the G7, it should take just a little adjustment to apply the picking scheme to the C9 chord and then again to the D9. It’s really just a case of first nailing the technique. Once you “get it,” you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can apply the pattern to any chord progression you come across.

The ending has the same basic idea as in the last example, but I’ve changed the chords for variety: This time we play G13-E7b13#9-Am9-D9-G. The idea is to create a descending melody (D-C-B-A-G) on top of the chords, which brings a sense of logic to harmony that could be considered a little jazzy.

Click here for Ex. 2

Lastly, there's even a backing track for you to practice all of this over, so get rocking!

The music industry is still screwed: Why Spotify, Amazon and iTunes can’t save it...

Pandora, Spotify and Beats aren't making a profit... If they never do, your favorite band will need a day job!

What if the future of streaming music is a bust?

by Andrew Leonard at www.salon.com 

On June 9, a musician named Michael St. James tapped into a deep vein of insecurity shared by all artists challenged by the ongoing digital transformation of society. He wrote an article posing the question: What if it just doesn’t work out? What if, ultimately, there isn’t enough money for artists to make a living? As it is, the streaming companies who’ve risen to prominence in recent years — Pandora, Spotify, Beats — aren’t making a profit. And what happens if they never make a profit?

The question’s timing was, in one sense, odd. There’s never been more hype about streaming than right now. More hours of music are being streamed than ever before, and more people are paying monthly subscriptions to streaming services than ever before. (Spotify alone claims 10 million paid subscribers.) New entrants to the business are rushing in. Three days after St James’ lament, Amazon added a streaming music component to its Amazon Prime package of goodies. On June 18, Google confirmed it is launching a new paid streaming service, and T-Mobile announced that it would allow unlimited music streaming in all of its data plans. And way back on May 28, Apple announced it was buying Beats by Dre, a deal that many observers assume was all about getting control of Beats Music, yet another streaming service.

For some industry veterans, streaming is the long-awaited solution to the woes of an industry that Napster and the Internet broke. For one thing, it’s so consumer friendly that music piracy has become a non-issue. Marc Geiger, a prominent agent and veteran of several music-related start-ups, told a digital music biz conference in February that in less than a decade there could be 500 million — or even a billion! — people signed up for streaming services worldwide, paying fees that averaged 12 bucks a month and steadily go up over time. (“The history of subscriptions says that they start cheap and they go up — always,” said Geiger, somewhat ominously. “Once they have the subscription needle in the arm, it’s very hard for it to come out.”

Total global revenue in such a scenario, said Geiger, would be $72 billion at the low end, downright dwarfing the high of $38 billion a year that the music industry made at its peak in 1999. That’s right — better times than ever are supposedly around the corner.

If Geiger’s correct, there would certainly be a lot more money to spread around the music industry, perhaps even enough to keep everyone — songwriters, artists, tech start-ups and labels — fat and happy. But there are some significant problems with Geiger’s thesis, not the least of which is it assumes that the average music consumer will be happy to pay double or triple what he or she was paying at the peak of the physical album era. That seems questionable.

Evangelism for the future also doesn’t speak very coherently to the current moment, a free-for-all of arm-twisting, litigation and desperation. Even more to the point, when the music industry was doing great, artists were still routinely getting screwed by the labels. More money doesn’t necessarily change that dynamic, if the distribution remains skewed.

In one of the great ironies of the digital revolution, the closer you look at the music business after all these years of disruption and contraction, the more obvious it appears that the companies currently in the best position are the record labels — the very same companies that first ignored and then furiously resisted the digital earthquake. Songwriters are making a fraction of what they used to make, artists have to land massive hits to see significant income, and the streaming companies themselves aren’t making a profit — but the labels earn serious cash from licensing their catalogs to Pandora and Spotify and Amazon and Beats. In fact, in many cases, the labels are part owners of the very companies they are licensing those catalogs to. Nice work if you can get it!

But that’s not necessarily good news for the little guy, the artist who is struggling to make ends meet. Even for those canny enough to have embraced YouTube and figure out how to sell their songs on iTunes while touring 365 days a year, some artists report that it’s gotten harder to make a living as streaming has started to boom. As revenue from paid downloads falls, streaming is not picking up the slack.

So Michael St. James asks a good question. And no one really knows the answer. A hundred or so years ago, technological advances made it possible to make a living from recording one’s creative output. Today, technology seems to be taking it away.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any hope at all. For some battle-scarred veterans of the last decade of upheaval, the answer turns out to be more technology, not less. Jack Conte, one-half of the band Pomplamoose, is the founder and CEO of the artist-focused crowd-funding start-up Patreon. He is convinced that given the right tools, people will directly support the artists they love. Music won’t go away, because we need it. We want it. We have to have it. So if streaming doesn’t solve the financial quandary so many artists find themselves in, we, the people, are going to have to do it ourselves, as patrons and communities.

“It’s a big conundrum,” says Brian Zisk, the founder of SF MusicTech Summit, an annual conference held in San Francisco that tracks the evolution of digital music. “We are never going back to the days when people can sell tens or millions of CDs. So then the question is: How does the compensation happen.”

The answer is a huge, insanely confusing mess. Even Kafka would throw up his hands at the labyrinth of rules governing how performers and writers get paid. Zisk ran though a few examples: When old-fashioned radio plays a song, the songwriters get a cut, but the performers get nothing. When Internet radio streams a song, the songwriters get a pittance, while performers get much more. Pandora, which doesn’t allow on-demand listening, pays royalties according to a different regime than Spotify, which does allow on-demand selection.

Just to be able to play any songs at all, the streaming services must make huge upfront payments to license the rights to the catalogs of music owned by the three major record labels — and there’s absolutely no requirement that any of that cash go back to songwriters and artists. It heads straight to the bottom line.

It’s an environment ripe for litigation and arm-twisting and paradox. Conglomerates like Sony have sub-labels and publishing company subsidiaries. So Sony, as a record label, on the one hand charges Pandora a huge amount for rights to its catalog; and then, as publisher, threatens to withdraw all its music from Pandora because it believes the royalty rates are too low.

Meanwhile, just following the convolutions of the years-in-the-making showdown between Pandora and the two organizations that represent the vast majority of songwriters and publishers, ASCAP and BMI, is worth a book of its own. Both sides have sued each other over the question of what should be a “fair market rate” for songwriter compensation for streamed songs. Pandora has won the majority of legal battles so far, but on June 6, the Justice Department announced that it was opening a review of the 75-year-old “consent decrees” that govern how songwriters get paid for the performance of their works. I talked to several industry insiders and none of them had a clue as to what the Justice Department would decide.

The songwriters have a fair reason to be angry at Pandora. Executives like founder Tim Westergren and former CEO Joe Kennedy have already cashed in on their IPO to the tunes of millions of dollars. In fact, Westergren may have made more money in 2013 by cashing in his stock options than Pandora paid to ASCAP in total for steaming royalties!

But at the same time, Pandora, as a business, isn’t making enough of a profit to pay songwriters much more than they are already getting. You can’t squeeze blood from a stone. There is much less money being made in the music business now than in 1999. Changing the laws to give higher royalty rates to songwriters will either drive the streaming companies into bankruptcy or force the record labels and performers to reduce their own cut.

Cue: More litigation!
The real winners, right now, are the labels. They are generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue just from licensing, with no need to pay for distribution or manufacturing. Spotify alone is reported to have paid $100 million to the three major labels to license their catalogs.

And guess what: 25 percent of Spotify is owned by the three major labels. That’s a great business — licensing your catalog to a company you own a big piece of. If Spotify goes public or gets sold off to some big cable company or Internet giant, the labels get another huge payday. And in many cases these upfront payments are tied to overall revenue — so as the streaming piece grows, the licensing revenue surges.

So much for disruption! The dinosaurs — Sony, Universal and Warner — are doing quite nicely, thank you.

Zisk told me that the best way to survive in such a climate is to work entirely outside of the label ecosystem. Artists need to control their own rights to their work, which enables them to take advantage of whatever new opportunities emerge. Everyone agrees that artists need to think of revenue from their recorded work as just one income stream out of many — including live performances, merchandising, commercial endorsements. But Zisk’s advice doesn’t apply all that well to the retired songwriter watching the royalties form his 1970s-era classic rock chestnut evaporating.

Perhaps even more disturbing: When I asked him to point me to an artist who, by controlling his own rights, exemplified his thesis, he told me to contact Jack Conte, of Pomplamoose. But when I talked to Conte, the answers got muddier.

On the surface, Pomplamoose look like a great example of a band that figured out how to thrive in the digital era. Conte and his partner Nataly Dawn embraced YouTube early. They figured out how to make viral, entertaining covers of popular hits, siphon off a hardcore of fans who would buy both their covers and original songs on YouTube, and even scored commercial gigs with bit outfits like Hyundai. So they were doing all right. Conte bought a house, and built two studios.

But Conte laughed outright in disbelief when I asked if Pomplamoose was able to get any money out of streaming. “Less than tens of dollars,” he said. “Our Spotify stream is irrelevant.”

Meanwhile iTunes sales are declining...

“We all see the writing on the wall,” he said. “The idea of someone buying an √† la carte song in 2020 — that is a totally unrealistic prospect.”

With the rise of streaming, he says, “the monetary value of a song has dropped to nothing.”

“The big problem,” says Conte, “is the tech industry is creating consumer-first companies. They’re not creating creator-first companies. The purpose of these companies is to make the product as cheap as possible. And that’s why creators are struggling so much to make a living.”

So what happens when you see the writing on the wall, and you are an artist within shouting distance of Silicon Valley? In Conte’s case, he decided to embrace the beast rather than litigate it. Twelve months ago, he founded a company dedicated to nurturing creators, called Patreon.

“Here’s the way I see it,” said Conte. “A hundred years ago, people figure out how to take art and put it on a physical thing. They figured out how to record light or music on a wax cylinder, and then we built huge industries on top of getting that physical media to consumers. With the Web, to get your art from creator to fan is an entirely free process, and essentially what’s going to happen is that we are going back to a time when the physical thing didn’t exist. In the past Michelangelo and Beethoven depended on patronage to make money. What’s weird is actually selling your art for money. Except for that hundred-year blip, patronage is how it’s always been and that it is how you are going to be. I honestly feel the crowd-funding revolution is the future of how artists are going to make money. People are going to step up to the plate.”

Conte eats his own dog food, as Silicon Valley entrepreneurs love to say. He isn’t taking a salary, but if you want, you can become a patron of Pomplamoose on Patreon. For example, you can agree to pledge a dollar to be paid to Pomplamoose every time they release a new video. Right now, Pomplamoose videos are making around $5,000 per release, and the band releases two or three a month.

In total, Conte says Patreon has distributed $2 million to 25,000 artists in one year. There’s no going back, only going forward.

In 1906, the bandleader John Philips Sousa produced a remarkable document decrying “The Menace of Mechanical Music.” Recorded music, he warned, would destroy the essential culture of music.

SWEEPING across the country with the speed of a transient fashion in slang or Panama hats, political war cries or popular novels, comes now the mechanical device to sing for us a song or play for us a piano, in substitute for human skill, intelligence, and soul… I foresee a marked deterioration in American music and musical taste, an interruption in the musical development of the country, and a host of other injuries to music in its artistic manifestations, by virtue – or rather by vice – of the multiplication of the various music-reproducing machines. When I add to this that I myself and every other popular composer are victims of a serious infringement on our clear moral rights in our own work, I but offer a second reason why the facts and conditions should be made clear to everyone, alike in the interest of musical art and of fair play.

It is tempting to file Sousa’s lament away with every other naysayer who has ever sounded the warning trumpet against the advancement of technology, right next to Plato’s warning that the invention of writing was a cultural disaster. Recorded music, after all, made it possible for generations of artists to cash in on their intellectual property without playing for pennies every night on the road or hawking T-shirts. But Sousa was also not all that wrong in some important aspects. It’s no accident that the peak of piano manufacturing was a hundred years ago. Back in the day, we may well have been more active creators of music than passive consumers.

And now we live through another enormous transition. It’s all happening again — it’s been happening for decades. And no matter what the Department of Justice decides on how songwriters get compensated, or how loudly we may scream at how artists are getting screwed, we are going to be just as successful in resisting the current era of upheaval as Sousa was in trying to stop the evil of machine-made music.

But $2 million in 12 months for Patreon artists is nothing to sneeze at. Clearly, as a society, we do want to support the creation of art and music. So are faced with a terrific, inspiring challenge: finding ways to use technology to build connection and community even as the old world disintegrates around us. Michael St. James is right to worry about what will happen around the corner, but probably wrong to fret about music itself. doomed. Because we’ll still need it to free our souls. And if people stop making it because they can’t make a living from their streaming royalties, then we’ll be forced to flock to places like Patreon, to keep music alive.

VIDEO: Tommy Emmanuel Guitar Lesson "5 Tips"

Before the first of his three-night, sold-out concert at "BB King's" in new York City, Emmanuel sat down with MusicRadar to give a quick impromptu guitar lessons...

Lesson One - Tuning:

Lesson Two - Song Selection:

Lesson Three - Arrangements:


Lesson Four - Timing:

Lesson Five - Tone:

VIDEO: Hilarious Marty Friedman Guitar Lesson...

I’ve often been associated with players that use specific picking techniques, such as sweep picking, economy picking, hybrid picking and so on. In truth, I have no idea what any of these terms mean. Sweep picking does not appeal to me at all.

To my ears, it sounds like, “bdLOOP, bdLoop, bdLOOP, bdLoop,” as notes go up and down, over and over again. It’s nothing more than a fancy technique that guitar players seem to learn so that they can play fast arpeggios up and down.

Full Shred with Marty Friedman Video:

To my ears, it’s very unmusical. In my music, you will hear some insane, fast arpeggio-based lines, but it’s never simply straight up and down through the arpeggios, the way sweep picking usually is performed. This video, I’d like to demonstrate some cool ways you can achieve the effect of fast arpeggio-based sounds while avoiding the predictability of standard sweep-picking licks.

VIDEO: Electro-Harmonix Unveils B9 Organ Machine Pedal...

Electro-Harmonix has introduced the B9 Organ Machine.

From the company:
With nine finely-tuned presets emulating the legendary organs of the Sixties and beyond, the B9 Organ Machine delivers definitive tonewheel and combo organ sounds.

The B9’s layout is straight forward and intuitive. A nine-position switch allows the player to select among different popular organ types. The Organ volume knob controls the overall volume of the Organ preset while Dry volume controls the volume of the untreated instrument level at the Organ Output jack. This enables a player to mix the sound of their original instrument with the organ to create lush layers, or mute it entirely.

A Mod control adjusts the modulation speed. The type of modulation provided is contingent on the preset and matched to it. A Click control was designed to simulate the harmonic percussion effect that is a sonic signature of many classic organs. For maximum authenticity, the click is added to the very first note or chord played and only retriggers when current notes have been released and their amplitude falls below a threshold.

With the B9 Organ Machine, EHX’s goal was to create an affordable, rugged and easy to use pedal that would put undeniable organ sound at a musician’s fingertips. Check out the demo to hear it for yourself.

The new B9 Organ Machine comes standard with an EHX 9.6-Volt/DC200mA AC adapter and carries a U.S. list price of $293.73.

The Mozart Project...

The Mozart Project is a book about the life and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Or is it an app? 

Stephen Fry calls it "a completely new kind of book"...you read it in iBooks but it acts more like an app than anything.

Over 200 pages of text by leading Mozart scholars is accompanied by; hours of music, videos, photo slideshows, all sorts of other goodies.

Curated and authored by some of the most respected experts, The Mozart Project gives new insight into the life of a musical genius, providing the ultimate experience both in terms of contributors and the carefully selected playlist of music and images that they have chosen to feature throughout the book.

Read More >

VIDEO: Finger-Friendly Guitar Device for Beginners...

Keyboard overlay aims to take the pain out of learning to play guitar...

Like many would-be six-string slingers, Don Bacon of Denver, Colorado, found getting started tougher than it looked. The discomfort experienced when pushing soft finger ends onto hard metal strings can certainly be off-putting, but there's also the issue of chunky digits accidentally muting nearby strings, or causing them to buzz, when trying to form chord patterns or sound individual strings. Bacon designed a soft-touch overlay called the Finger Friendly Guitar Company Keyboard – let's call it the FFK – to help make learning to play as painless and as easy as possible, with the added bonus of sounding good while you're doing it.

Bacon says that his keyboard overly, originally patented back in 2012, "was designed to eliminate the two primary reasons why 9 out of 10 who decide to learn to play the guitar surrender in frustration and disappointment: 1. 'it makes my fingers so sore' 2. 'I just can’t manage to properly form the chords'." Unlike learning systems like the Fretlight or Rocksmith, there's no complicated electronics or software to worry about, the FFK is all mechanical.

Currently a 3D-printed, ABS plastic prototype, the keyboard is strapped to a guitar neck and secured in place with Velcro. The FFK is reported compatible with any standard acoustic or electric 6-string guitar, but is not suitable for classical or 12-string instruments.

On the player side, each fret has been divided into six keys spread over two columns. One column represents high E, G and A strings, and the other set fire the B, D and low E strings. The buttons along the top of the FFK are also hinged so that players can use a thumb to sound the appropriate string. To the rear of each color-coded key is a spring-loaded hammer that pushes a string down when the player presses the fat-finger-friendly button.

The system covers the first 10 frets of the neck only. Its inventor feels that this is sufficient for most of the songs casual players will want to learn, and it also mean that keys activating strings don't become too small to use effectively. But that's not to say that a future version of the FFK won't extend beyond the 10th fret.

The aim of the game is to make learning to play a good deal easier and a lot less painful than just grabbing a guitar and launching into it. "It was important that 'my' players still have to play their guitars in a manner as closely as possible as required in the traditional way," Bacon told Gizmag. "I just wanted to lower the bar enough to let many more folks into the guitar playing party while still allowing them to feel/appreciate the guitar playing experience."

For the most part, it looks like chord shaping remains about the same as it would without the FFK cover. So moving from this system to playing strings directly shouldn't present too much of an issue (apart from the fact that you won't have developed any nice calluses on your tips), though players may need to modify precise finger placement for some chords. Knowing where you are as you move up and down the keyboard is made easier by the inclusion of fret markers on the thumb levers.

"Yes, the fingering to form a chord is a bit different using the keyboard, but they are significantly easier to form," said Bacon. "My research has indicated that anywhere from 70 - 90 percent of folks who decide to learn to play guitar end up quitting within the first year (most sooner). Re-learning how to form any given chord, should a student decide to try to 'graduate' to playing without the benefit of a keyboard, is easier than you might imagine. But my primary goal was not to create a path leading to 'traditional' guitar playing. It was to enable those who had tried/failed/been disappointed in their efforts to learn to play guitar."

Just like a computer keyboard, the FFK also caters for shortcuts. A learner could, for example, play the second string of the first fret and the first string of the second fret using just one finger, leaving your other three digits to get busy playing somewhere else. It's even said to be possible to press down all three strings in a key column with a single finger. I imagine some of my favored jazz chords may prove a challenge with this system (but they're not that comfortable anyway), and as for playing bar chords? That may take some thought.

Though the final production version may differ from the prototype in the gallery, the overlay will undoubtedly add some extra width to the playing area – something students with small hands may need to take into account. But at least you won't have to play 'til your fingers bleed (as Bryan Adams once put it) while learning to play using the FFK system.

"My message is: what you wanted to be able to do; tried to do; found too difficult to do; but still want to do – here is a way to be able to play after all," said Bacon. "If all you really wanted to be able to do was play nice, pleasant sounding songs or pieces on a guitar, the keyboard is the friend which will allow you to satisfy that want."

Bacon has developed a number of prototypes, and now feels that the time is right to get his system in the hands of learners. To this end, he's launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for the first production run. A pledge of US$75 will be enough to secure shipment of a FFK in January 2015, assuming the funding goal is met and there are no unforeseen hiccups. The campaign ends on August 9.

The FFK is introduced in the pitch video below.

VIDEO: Folk Arrangement of Iron Maiden's 'The Trooper'

Finnish band Steve N' Seagulls (see what they did there) have upped the stakes in the unconventional metal covers game, after posting a Finnish folk arrangement of Iron Maiden's 1983 classic "The Trooper."

The rendition features a unique arrangement incorporating; stand-up bass, banjo and mandolin. Check it out below.

In other Iron Maiden news, Lars Ulrich recently conceded to Maiden frontman's Bruce Dickinson's suggestion that his band was better than Metallica. Asked for his thoughts on Dickinson's comments, the Metallica drummer responded:

"I will never argue with that. I will always support Bruce Dickinson in whatever nonsense he says. That's part of the fun. So go Iron Maiden! It's fine."

Fan Sues Michael Jackson Estate!

An enraged Michael Jackson fan is suing the legendary singer's estate for allegedly tricking fans by releasing fake songs under his name. 

Michael Jackson Fan Sues Estate over Posthumous Album ‘Michael’, Claims Pop Icon Did Not Sing Lead Vocals...

As Fashion Times reports, the plaintiff, identified as Vera Sernova, has filed a class action suit in a Los Angeles court, claiming that three songs on the album, "Breaking News," "Monster" and "Keep Your Head Up," do not feature Michael's vocals, but rather a voice of an imitator.

Vera has also asked for the help of an audio expert, who backed her claims after a thorough analysis. Seeing that we have a class action suit at hand, if the accusations are proven to be truth in court, Jackson's estate will be ordered to pay everyone who had ever purchased the album, or any of the songs in question.

According to the same source, the Estate's attorney has claimed that Michael's vocals are featured throughout the album. Back in 2010, Jackson's children, Paris and Prince, have stated being "adamant" about Sony releasing fake music under their father's name.

Meanwhile, in 2010, prior to the release of the album-which included 10-12 never-before-heard songs from the late pop star - MJ's kids, Paris and Prince, have alleged that the songs Sony will be releasing are fake versions. They claimed that they were present while their father was recording many of the tracks and were "adamant" that the versions on the new album were performed by a sound-a-like, according to PerezHilton.

An insider reportedly claimed that five tracks in question were recorded at the home of producer Eddie Cascio in New Jersey, and Michael and his children stayed with him and his family for four months during recording in 2007.