Home Think Tank

We lived down a long gravel driveway, and you’re driving through these woods and then you cross a bridge over a creek. And then you keep going up this hill, and on either side of you it just starts filling in with junk cars, newer cars, boats, motorcycles, a shop. It’s all around you. And then you get to the top of the hill and that’s where, um… we grew up in a little trailer, but it was really nice.

My mom was really good at making our home — no matter what our situation was — always felt like a home, always felt really nice. And I played with our animals. We had a lot of different kinds of animals. I grew up on a farm in a sense, but it was always a junkyard. So it was a really interesting way to grow up, because I would be playing on all of these stacked-up cars, which is super-dangerous, but then I’d also go run around the woods with my dog, and go play in the creek. … The way I think of it is, you’re surrounded by the junkyard. Think of it like a hurricane, and you’re in the eye of it. The little patch of grass that has the animals and the little trailer and then the rest was, to me, was like a labyrinth. It was an amusement park.

Via

The growing importance of streaming playlists on Spotify is highlighted in a fascinating new feature on Buzzfeed, which also reveals/reiterates some killer stats about the format, including:

  • Half of Spotify’s 100 million-plus global users are listening to its human-curated playlists – not counting the algorithm-driven Discover Weekly;
  • Spotify currently employs a 50-person human curation team which has created over 4,500 playlists, more than 30 of which have over 1 million followers;
  • Spotify’s playlists cumulatively generate more than a billion plays per week;
  • According to estimates 1 in every 5 plays on all streaming services today happens inside a playlist – a number that’s growing.

The Music Business Worldwide site estimates that Spotify’s first-party playlists alone are generating around $1m in payouts to the music business every single day.

Earlier this year, Spotify revealed its ten most popular playlists, which you can see below.

  1. Today’s Top Hits
  2. Rap Caviar
  3. Baila Reggaeton
  4. Hot Country
  5. TGIF
  6. Get Turnt
  7. Hot Hits UK
  8. Exitos de Hoy
  9. ElectroNow
  10. Teen Party

Via

On January 1, 1943, American folk singer Woody Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) produced a list of 33 “New Years Rulin’s”.

Transcript

1. Work more and better
2. Work by a schedule
3. Wash teeth if any
4. Shave
5. Take bath
6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes — look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed cloths often
13. Read lots good books
14. Listen to radio a lot
15. Learn people better
16. Keep rancho clean
17. Dont get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have company but dont waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance better
27. Help win war — beat fascism
28. Love mama
29. Love papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love everybody
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight

The Music Business Association (Music Biz) and data partner LOOP (Lots of Online People) published their “Music & Millennials” report, the first in-depth report from the member-exclusive Music Biz Consumer Insights portal, with 3,014 U.S. respondents, the report breaks down a variety of music consumption patterns by age, providing unique insight into the habits of the millennial generation.

The report shows that 15-to-19 year olds have embraced on-demand streaming as their format of choice, accounting for 51% of their total listening time on a typical day (more than double the overall average of 24%, which includes all age groups). This comes at the expense of more traditional formats, most notably AM/FM radio. While broadcast radio still accounts for the highest listening share among the general population at 35%, 15-to-19 year olds reported that they spend only 12% of their time with the format despite a weekly reach of 65% (on par with the overall average of 78%). This indicates that even though millennials are being exposed to radio, they are not engaging with it, and on-demand streaming is making up the difference.

This is further reflected in millennials’ device usage. AM/FM radio receivers again topped the overall tally, accounting for 33% of the general population’s listening time. However, 15-to-19 year olds bucked the trend once more, saying the device only accounts for 11% of their time. Instead, they rely heavily on connected devices like smartphones, which accounted for 41% of their listening time, more than double the overall average of 18%. This also explains why 15-to-19 year olds are far more likely than the general population to upgrade to a premium streaming account because they want to access the service on their mobile phone. According to the report, 40% of this group cited mobile access as a major factor in the decision to upgrade, compared to only 29% of the general population.

In addition, the report shows that, for the first time, YouTube has overtaken broadcast radio for music discovery among the general population. When asked how they typically discover new music, 34% of all respondents cited YouTube, while only 32% cited AM/FM radio. This was even more prevalent among 15-to-19 year olds, 56% of whom cited YouTube and 23% of whom cited AM/FM radio. However, recommendations from friends remain the #1 source for music discovery, cited by 46% of the general population. Among 15-to-19 year olds, it is neck and neck with YouTube at 56%.

The study also found that some people who have a premium account with a streaming service do not actually pay for that subscription, with 18% of the general population saying their premium access came through a free trial, a bundle with another product/service, or that they use someone else’s account. Among 15-to-19 year olds, 24% said they do not pay for their premium subscriptions, with 11% saying it came with a purchase and 10% saying they use someone else’s account.

“We are thrilled to offer our members this uniquely insightful report, which provides a roadmap for the future of the music business through the eyes of the millennial generation,” said James Donio, President of Music Biz. “The quicker the music business can adapt to new trends, the more successful it will be. By examining how young music consumers access the songs they love, we can begin to understand the market trends of the future and get a head start on optimizing the system for the new generation.”

“This study confirms that younger millennials are moving away from traditional means of music consumption and embracing more interactive music services and devices,” said David Lewis, Co-Founder of LOOP. “We look forward to tracking how those preferences evolve in the coming months and years as they grow and take on new responsibilities in their daily lives.”

Via

President Obama’s remarks on the police-involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile:

“Good evening everybody. I know that we’ve been on a long flight, but given the extraordinary interest in the shootings that took place in Louisiana and Minnesota, I thought it would be important for me to address all of you directly.

And I want to begin by expressing my condolences for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

As I said in the statement that I posted on Facebook, we have seen tragedies like this too many times.

The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and the governor of Minnesota has called for an investigation there as well. As is my practice, given my institutional role, I can’t comment on the specific facts of these cases; and I have confidence in the Department of Justice.
But what I can say is that all of us as Americans should be troubled by the shootings.

These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system. And I just want to give people a few statistics to try to put in context why emotions are so raw around these issues.

According to various studies, not just one, but a wide range of studies that have been carried out over a number of years, African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over.

After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched.

Last year African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites.

African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites; African Americans defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost ten percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime.

So that if you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population.

These are facts. And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin they are not being treated the same. And that hurts. And that should trouble all of us. This is not just a black issue. It’s not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we should all care about; all fair minded people should be concerned.

Now let me just say that we have extraordinary appreciation and respect for the vast majority of police officers who put their line on the lives every day. They have a dangerous job. It is a tough job. And as I’ve said before, they have a right to go home to their families, just like anybody else on the job.

And there are gonna be circumstances where they’re gonna have to make split second decisions. We understand that.

But when we see data that indicates disparities in how African Americans and Latinos may be treated in various jurisdictions around the country, then it’s incumbent on all of us to say we are better than this. We are better than this.

And to not have it to degenerate into the usual political scrum, we should be able to step back, reflect and ask ourselves what can we do better so that everybody feels as if they’re equal under the law.

Now the good news is that there are practices that we can institute that will make a difference. Last year, we put together a task force that was comprised of civil rights activists and community leaders; but also law enforcement officials. Police captains, sheriffs. And they sat around the table and they looked at the data and looked at best practices. And they came up with specific recommendations and steps that could ensure that the trust between trust between communities and police departments were rebuilt and incidents like this would be less likely to occur.

And there’s some jurisdictions out there that have adopted these recommendations. But there are a whole bunch that have not.

And if anything good comes out of these tragedies, my hope is that communities around the country take a look and say, how can we implement these recommendations?

And that the overwhelming majority of police officers, who are doing a great job every single day and are doing their job without regard to race, that they encourage their leadership and organizations that represent them to get behind these recommendations. Because ultimately, if you can rebuild trust between communities and the police departments that serve them, that helps us solve crime problems.

That will make life easier for police officers. They will have more cooperation. They will be safer. They will be more likely to come home.

So it would be good for crime fighting and it will avert tragedy. And I’m encouraged by the fact that the majority of leadership in police departments around the country recognize this, but change has been too slow, and we have to have a greater sense of urgency about this.

I’m also encouraged, by the way, that we have bipartisan support for criminal justice reform working its way through Congress. It has stalled, and lost some momentum over the past couple of months, in part, because Congress is having difficulty, generally, moving legislation forward and we’re in a political season.

But there are people of goodwill on the Republican side and the Democratic side who I’ve seen want to get something done here. That too, would help provide greater assurance across the country that those in power, those in authority are taking these issues seriously.

So, this should be a spur to action to get that done, to get that across the finish line. Because I know there are a lot of people who want to get it done.

So let me just make a couple of final comments. I mentioned in my Facebook statement that I hope we don’t fall into typical patterns that occur after these kinds of incidents occur; where right away there’s a lot of political rhetoric, and it starts dividing people instead of bringing folks together.

To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement. There are times when these incidents occur and you see protests and you see vigils, and I get letters, well meaning letters sometimes from law enforcement saying, how come we’re under attack? How come not as much emphasis is made when police officers are shot?

So to all of law enforcement, I want to be very clear: we know you have a tough job. We mourn those in uniform who are protecting us who lose their lives. On a regular basis, I have joined with families in front of Capitol Hill to commemorate the incredible heroism that they’ve displayed. I’ve hugged family members who’ve lost loved ones doing the right thing. I know how much it hurts.

On a regular basis, we bring in those who’ve done heroic work in law enforcement and have survived. Sometimes they’ve been injured, sometimes they’ve risked their lives in remarkable ways. And we applaud them and appreciate them. Because they’re doing a really tough job really well.

There is no contradiction between us supporting law enforcement, making sure they have the equipment they need, making sure they’re collective bargaining rights are recognized, making sure they’re adequately staffed, making sure that they are respected, making sure that their families are supported. And also saying that there are problems across our criminal justice system. There are biases, some conscious and unconscious that have to be rooted out. That’s not an attack on law enforcement. That is reflective of the values that the vast majority of law enforcement bring to the job.

But I repeat, if communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement officers who are doing a great job, and are doing the right thing, it makes their lives harder. So, when people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean ‘blue lives’ don’t matter, it just means all lives matter. But right now, the big concern is the fact that data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.

This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives, this is recognizing that there is a particular burden being placed on a group of our fellow citizens. And we should care about that. We can’t dismiss it. We can’t dismiss it.

So let me just end by saying I actually, genuinely, truly believe that the vast majority of the American people see this as a problem that we should all care about. And I would just ask those who question the sincerity or legitimacy of protests and vigils and expressions of outrage who somehow label those expressions of outrage as quote unquote political correctness, I just ask folks to step back and think: what if this happened to someone in your family? How would you feel?

To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness, it’s just being American and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals.

And it’s to recognize the reality that we’ve got some tough history and we haven’t gotten through all of that history yet. And we don’t expect that in my lifetime maybe not in my children’s lifetimes that all the vestiges of that past will have been cured, will have been solved.

But we can do better. People of goodwill can do better. And doing better involves not just addressing potential bias in the criminal justice system, it’s recognizing that too often we’re asking police to man the barricades in communities that have been forgotten by all of us for way too long. In terms of substandard schools, inadequate jobs and a lack of opportunity.

We’ve gotta tackle those things. We can do better. And I believe we will do better.

Thanks very much, everybody.”

Online outrage this week is directed at the response “All Lives Matter” to the statement “Black Lives Matter” because many white people have expressed confusion about why it’s controversial to broaden the #BlackLivesMatter movement to include people of all races. After all, we’re all human, right? We should all live together in peace and harmony, yeah?

While that thought is strictly true, “All Lives Matter” doesn’t really solve the problem. And more than a few people – Hilary Clinton and Ian Astbury of The Cult, have apologized for using that statement recently after the social media world blew up.

The best explanation we’ve seen so far comes from Reddit. In an “Explain Like I’m 5” thread, user GeekAesthete explained clearly, why changing #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter only makes the problem worse.

GeekAesthete explains:

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work that way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

Salon talks to Toto’s Steve Lukather about rock longevity, the future and what it means to be “the ‘Africa’ band”

It’s funny that you say that so much of Toto’s audience is younger, as that’s the sense I get, too.

I’m really surprised. Let me give you an example: 2012 was our 35th anniversary from when we started the first album, and we had sold 35 million records worldwide. Fairly impressive for a bunch of people that think we had, like, three songs that were worth a shit—when in fact we had a lot more hit singles than people think. What happened was, between that moment and last year when we played Barclays Center in New York, Sony came out to us and handed us a plaque for 40 million sales. We’re like, “Okay, what happened in the last couple years?” [Laughs.]

I think what’s happening is these kids hear the song and they go, “Well, what else have these guys got?” And they find out we’ve got 14 other albums and they buy ’em, and all of a sudden we’ve got this new interest. We’re almost like an underground thing. People like to be into shit that’s under the radar, and then they find out that they actually like some of the other stuff that we do. They come see us live, and we’re really fucking good live, and we’re creating a new audience for ourselves in a very organic way. Which is very exciting and very surprising, I have to be honest, I look up in the sky and go, “Thank you God! Thank you!”

We are like the tortoise and the hare. We’ve taken so much shit from day one from the press and the rock critics and all that stuff. They tried to kill us, and we can’t be killed. After a nuclear disaster there will be very little life on earth and us. [Laughs.] Because we’ve withstood every disaster. Two brothers dying in the band. Death, drugs, divorce, being ripped off by business people and bad management, getting screwed over by the ex-record company, which now all those people are gone. We just stayed the course. People lapped us, passed us, laughed at us, and now all of a sudden we get this respect, like, “Wow, you guys really hung in there. You guys are good.”

One of the guys writing my book with me is this guy Paul Rees, he used to be the editor of Q Magazine in the U.K. And he said, “We were not allowed to write about you.” The fucking editor said, “We can’t write about you.” It’s like that whole Jann Wenner attitude, they deny the fact that my band has played on over 5,000 records, 220 nominated records, some of the biggest records in history, and we’ve sold 40 million records on our own, yet we don’t exist. They’re gonna eventually have to deal with us face to face, because we’re not gonna die.

Why was it that they wouldn’t cover you?

I’ll never know! There’s nobody like us in rock history. I’m not saying we’re the greatest band in the world—that would be ridiculous. I’m standing next to a guy who used to be in the greatest band in the world, the Beatles, so I know what greatness really is. But we have contributed a lot. We were the fucking house band for “Thriller,” but nobody ever mentions our name. Stuff like that.

I mean, I’m cool enough for Miles Davis to call me on the phone and go, “You want to join my band?” So if Miles Davis thinks that we’re cool, I don’t really give a shit what some smarmy rock critic says. And we’re so over it—I think they’re on to picking on Nickelback now, which is maybe a more worthy subject.

We can play. We played on a lot of different records in a lot of different styles. Played on a lot of hit records—either wrote, played, produced, arranged. We’re always there, but nobody wants to admit that we exist, as far as mainstream media. Which doesn’t bother me, because all of a sudden we’ve become this underground band. You can’t be out of style if you were never in style, so we just sort of existed, bubbling under. People like our stuff, some people hate it, but that’s like anything, right? Some people love donuts, some people are allergic to ’em. It’s all the same shit.

There’s a lot of options out there, but we’re classic rock that hasn’t been overridden like a horse Some of these bands are like, “Okay, I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it.” They play the same 12 songs every time, which is great for memories every once in awhile, but we’re not that band. Some people think, “Oh it’s that ‘Africa’ band, I hate that fucking song,” and for some reason they think that’s all we do.

Which really, that’s the most oddball song we’ve ever written in our career, and it turns out to be our biggest song. I was the guy saying, “This is a great fun track, but what the fuck is this song about, David [Paich, Toto keyboardist/vocalist]?” I said, “If this song is a hit I will run naked down Hollywood Boulevard.” Well, being 58 years old, I don’t think anyone wants to see me run around naked anyway, certainly not in the light of day.

The other thing people don’t realize is we have a great sense of humor about this shit. I’m sitting there watching “South Park,” I’m a “South Park” character. I’m watching “American Dad” and the alien’s getting fucked in the ass by Stan listening to one of my songs. What the fuck? [Laughs.] “Family Guy” did a whole episode on “Africa,” which is hysterical, and I’m just sitting here watching this on TV and it comes up. A “Jeopardy” question. And so you realize, we’re part of pop culture. I love the Jimmy Fallon-Justin Timberlake summer camp thing, that was fucking hilarious.

How cool is it to be part of pop culture? People laugh, and nobody laughs harder than we do. But at the end of the day we plug in and fucking play and blow minds. That’s what we do.

Via

Crowds on Demand, he [founder Adam Swart] says, serves several clients a week, sometimes a day — most in L.A., San Francisco, and New York but an increasing number in smaller cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Minneapolis. When people inquire about a potential event, Adam guides them through the possibilities and the approximate costs: $600 for fake paparazzi at a birthday dinner; $3,000 for a flash mob dancing, chanting, and handing out fliers as a PR stunt; $10,000 for a weeklong political demonstration; $25,000 to $50,000 for a prolonged campaign of protests. According to Adam, protests have become the company’s growth sector, and just as with advertising, repeat impressions are key. “When the targets of our actions see that we’re going to be back, day after day, they get really scared,” he says. “We’re in it for the long haul, and the problem’s not going to go away on its own.”

A crowd means something matters, that it has value. Bands know they get more buzz from selling out a smaller venue than from having a cavernous space half-full, even if the bigger venue means more people are able to attend. The crowd out on the street who couldn’t get in is an advertisement of the band’s rising fortunes. You know how it goes. You’re on a road trip. You find two Japanese restaurants side by side. One has a dozen customers, and the other is desolate. Which place has better food? No need to check Yelp — just follow the crowd. Accurate or not, its presence tells a story of its own.

Via

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs