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By the late 1970s, Casablanca Records had reached an era of unrivaled gluttony. Says (label co-founder) Larry Harris: “There was blow everywhere. It was like some sort of condiment that had to be brushed away by the waitstaff before the next party was seated. Cocaine dusted everything. It was on fingertips, tabletops, upper lips, and the floor.”Indeed, such rampant substance abuse seemed to fuel the label’s overall aesthetic and ethos. Harris claims George Clinton and his “assistant” Archie Ivy would frequent the Casablanca offices, meeting with executives and rambling “for hours about how they were going to develop Parliament’s stage show into an otherworldly display of pageantry and pomp and how they needed half a zillion dollars to do it.” On one occasion, Clinton showed up with “some uncut and very potent coke, declaring that anyone who tried it would speak Spanish, as the stuff ‘hadn’t cleared customs yet.’” The P-Funk frontman, insists Harris, “would ramble on, giving voice to every thought that came into his head, stream-of-consciousness style, like William Faulkner gone jive.”

Via “From Cocaine Disco to Electronic Dance: the Loaded Legacy of Casablanca Records

I have to say—I got a feeling I am going to win in the long run, but I want to be part of the zeitgeist, too. I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself. I don’t really have an ego. I’m not that bothered. I just want the whole thing to be good. And I’m not saying one bad thing about the guys who were with me in the bands, because they’re all amazing and creative, and they’re doing incredible things now. But I come from a generation where that was the only way to get things done. So I have to play stupid and just do everything with five times the amount of energy, and then it will come through.

When people don’t credit me for the stuff I’ve done, it’s for several reasons. I’m going to get very methodical now! [laughs] One! I learned what a lot of women have to do is make the guys in the room think it was their idea, and then you back them up. Two! I spend 80% of the writing process of my albums on my own. I write the melodies. I’m by the computer. I edit a lot. That for me is very solitary. I don’t want to be photographed when I’m doing that. I don’t invite people around. The 20% of the album process when I bring in the string orchestras, the extras, that’s documented more. That’s the side people see. When I met M.I.A., she was moaning about this, and I told her, “Just photograph yourself in front of the mixing desk in the studio, and people will go, ‘Oh, OK! A woman with a tool, like a man with a guitar.’” Not that I’ve done that much myself, but sometimes you’re better at giving people advice than doing it yourself. I remember seeing a photo of Missy Elliott at the mixing desk in the studio and being like, a-ha!

It’s a lot of what people see. During a show, because there are people onstage doing the other bits, I’m just a singer. For example, I asked Matmos to play all the beats for the Vespertine tour, so maybe that’s kind of understandable that people think they made them. So maybe it’s not all sexist evil. [laughs] But it’s an ongoing battle. I hope it doesn’t come across as too defensive, but it is the truth. I definitely can feel the third or fourth feminist wave in the air, so maybe this is a good time to open that Pandora’s box a little bit and air it out.

Via Pitchfork, an absolute must-read interview with Jessica Hopper

From Rolling Stone:

That question will be answered this season as the International Skating Union allows athletes in all disciplines to perform to music with lyrics for the first time. Skating insiders say that the lyrical free-for-all is an attempt to boost television ratings and lure younger viewers. Last year’s Winter Olympic qualifying competition, the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, saw a 20-percent decline in viewership from the previous Olympic year. And according to the United States Figure Skating Association, 52 percent of American figure skating fans are now over the age of 45. This is a far cry from the early Nineties, the good old days of none other than Tonya Harding.

The (lyrics) rule might not seem revolutionary, but it is, in fact, a radical policy shift. Ice dancers have been permitted to use vocal music since the 1997-98 season, when the ISU mandated that all teams perform a jive for the tightly restricted original dance portion of the competition. Because of an unforeseen – though perhaps not unforeseeable – dearth of instrumental jive music, the ISU was forced to concede to lyrics. However, ice dancing is dramatically different than freestyle skating, the kind most familiar to the majority of viewers that features jumping, spinning and, in the case of pairs, overhead lifts. The two disciplines are so different they do not even use the same type of skate blade. Up until now, freestyle skaters would be penalized for the use of lyrics in competition, and if they didn’t like it, their only option was retiring from Olympic-eligible competition.

“A lot of people are kind of depressed. I’m happy some of the time, and some of the time I’m not.”
– Elliott Smith in 1998, as told to Barney Hoskyns

We came across a really lost special tape for this episode of Blank on Blank: Elliott Smith interviewed in 1998 by Barney Hoskyns. It’s a little eerie hearing him now more than 10 years after his death, but it’s also kind of soothing to hear his signature comfort and discomfort bubbling beneath the surface. It’s kind of like his timeless collection of music. Smith died under mysterious circumstances in 2003 at the age of 34.

In this animated film Elliott Smith talks about feeling like a freak in high school, how he initially didn’t feel confident singing in the style that became his signature voice, what he said when people compared him to Paul Simon, writing about people with addictions, the internal chaos that people face, and how his music isn’t happy or sad. “I couldn’t say what it is”

RIP, Elliott.

From Billboard:

The cost of fuel has been dropping since June of 2014, and by Jan. 12 had reached a five-year low — which is great news for the touring industry. Based on U.S. Dept. of Energy averages, diesel fuel was running around $3.91 per gallon a year ago, and is currently about $3.13 on a national average. At that rate, an arena tour with 10 trucks and four buses averaging five miles per gallon is saving as much as $22,000 over 30 tour dates and 10,000 miles. Extrapolate that into the summer months, when more than 1,000 buses and 10 times that many touring trucks are on the road, and the industry will save more than $15 million per month from a year ago at current price levels, were they to hold.

Right now, Fielding Logan, a manager at Q Prime South who watches over the touring concerns for such clients as the Black Keys and Eric Church, says he’s seeing the impact of fuel prices on Church’s current arena tour. For the September-December time period, Church’s tour, “saw a savings of about 25 percent in budgeted fuel costs versus actual fuel costs, [resulting in] about $30,000 [saved] over 33 tour dates,” Logan says. “I expect savings would have been better but, while fuel costs went down from our budget, our number of trucks went up.”

From Billboard:

Global digital revenues will explode in the next five years, according to a new market research report. But where will new digital consumers come from and how much will they pay?

Technavio, a market research company that covers sectors ranging from healthcare to aerospace, believes global annual digital revenues will nearly double to $16.02 billion in 2019 from $8.10 last year — a cumulative annual growth rate of 14.61 percent. That alone is a bold prediction considering global digital revenues have been far less spectacular in the previous five years. From 2008 to 2013, global digital revenues grew 48 percent, according to the IFPI.

In any case, TechNavio expects a huge influx of digital music users to drive this revenue gain. The company forecasts the number of digital music consumers — it employs the broad term “users” — will increase 126 percent to 2.55 billion, from 1.42 billion. These users could be anything from paying downloaders to subscribers to services such as Spotify and Deezer.

From MusicBusinessWorldwide:

Forty-seven of the 50 most-played tracks on both BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 last year were major label releases.

Just three – or 6% – of each of the publicly-funded UK networks’ most-rotated songs in 2014 were independent, according to data from international airplay authority Radiomonitor, analysed by MBW.

That’s less than a third of the share that independent releases claimed on Radio 1’s closest publicly-funded equivalent in France and just 1/6th of the share independents took on Australian youth station Triple-J (see below for more international radio analysis).

BBC 6Music, however, was much more supportive of the indies: over half the station’s Top 50 (54%) most-spun tracks in 2014 were non-major label songs.

The percentage of independent releases on Radio 1 increased in its Top 100 most-played tracks of 2014, but not by much – up to 10%.

Radio 2’s Top 100 most-played list of 2014 brought slightly better news for the independents: 15 tracks within it were not sourced from the majors.






Patti Smith talks with renowned director-come-musician David Lynch at the Fondation Cartier in Paris for BC Newsnight’s ‘Encounters’ series.

A highlight came when the pair discussed Russian activists Pussy Riot, who were jailed for almost two years for what they described as a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin.

“This kind of oppression and misunderstanding goes back to biblical times, taking young girls who have families and have hopes and dreams and putting them in prison for issuing a teenage prayer,” said Smith. “One of the things they were saying to me was ‘Everyone wants us to speak to them but what are we supposed to say?’ I said ‘You should say that we are all you because of our belief system or trying to say something new, or against the church or corporations. We are all potentially in danger. Speak to the younger generation to think for themselves.’ These girls did something absolutely original, they are in my prayers.”

From eMarketer:

Consumers are dancing to the beat of Pandora. In an RBC Capital Markets study conducted in November 2014, 51% of US internet users reported listening to music via Pandora—nearly double those who did so in December 2013. This put the music streaming platform in the top spot as it surpassed more traditional FM/AM radio as well as CDs.



Usage of almost all other platforms flatlined or declined between December 2013 and November 2014. CDs saw the biggest drop in respondents, falling nearly 20 percentage points from 36% to 17%. Traditional FM/AM radio also had grim results as it dropped from 44% to 36% of respondents. Meanwhile, the iTunes music library and iTunes Radio, YouTube and satellite radio stayed put.

Results indicated one possible threat to Pandora: Spotify, which 14% of respondents said they used to listen to music—still small, but up from 6%. While this was around just one-quarter of Pandora’s audience, RBC pointed to some signs that Spotify could affect Pandora usage. For example, among the 18% of Pandora users who listened to Spotify as well, 65% preferred the latter.

Nearly 80% of respondents who used both Spotify and Pandora said they were replacing time on Pandora with Spotify, and further results did find that average weekly time spent listening to Pandora had fallen. For example, US internet users were most likely to listen to Pandora for less than 1 hour a week, cited by 47% of respondents in November 2014, vs. 39% in December 2013. All higher frequencies fell or remained the same.

Still, eMarketer estimates that US adults spent more time daily with Pandora than all other digital radio in 2014, at 25 minutes vs. 14 minutes.

– See more at: http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Spotify-Really-Threat-Pandora/1011790/1#sthash.snqBevAz.dpuf