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As the year draws to a close, the levers and pulleys of the Songkick database set in motion (in time-honoured tradition) to draw up the list that renders all other achievements worthless, inconsequential and basically counterproductive, as they say themselves.

Ah yes, bow down to the Hardest Working Bands of 2014!

The 1975

All hail The 1975. The Manchester quartet aren’t just the hardest working band of 2014. Their phenomenal efforts over the last 365 days have shot them to the top of the Songkick leaderboard, having played more shows and covered more ground within a calendar year than any other artist since 2010 (when we started crunching numbers).

The 249724km travelled by the band, venue to venue, would take them two-thirds of the way to the moon. Which is little surprise, given they averaged a gig every 1.8 days.

The guys had this to say: “Touring this past year has been a really humbling experience. Our album was pretty much the story of the last decade of our lives, to see so many people around the world connecting with it has been incredible. We are very proud of our fans, they really understand what we are doing and the shows are an extension of that feeling.”

So without further ado, cue the Cool Runnings applause as we unveil the breathtaking efforts of the Hardest Working Bands of the year!

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In a somewhat brilliant but not media-focused quote from his much-shared interview with Frank Rich, Chris Rock gets it right on an increasing problem:

I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative…. Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

It is scary, because the thing about comedians is that you’re the only ones who practice in front of a crowd. Prince doesn’t run a demo on the radio. But in stand-up, the demo gets out. There are a few guys good enough to write a perfect act and get onstage, but everybody else workshops it and workshops it, and it can get real messy. It can get downright offensive. Before everyone had a recording device… you’d say something that went too far, and you’d go, “Oh, I went too far,” and you would just brush it off. But if you think you don’t have room to make mistakes, it’s going to lead to safer, gooier stand-up. You can’t think the thoughts you want to think if you think you’re being watched.

From Billboard:

What’s the takeaway from Taylor Swift’s decision to take her songs off Spotify? What did you learn and what did the public learn?

The public probably learned there’s something called Spotify, and that it’s not Pandora. What it has highlighted for us is we need to do a better job explaining to artists how streaming benefits them. The point that’s been lost is that Spotify’s the fastest-growing revenue source the industry has. There are many artists to whom, through the labels, we’re paying out millions a year already. Those check sizes will just keep increasing. I’m certain that if we can get the billion-people-plus that are consuming music online and move them into a model like Spotify, the industry would be considerably bigger than it is today.

A billion seems like a utopian number.

I think people discount piracy. We’ve grown accustomed to it, so [we’re] not really sure what we can do about it. But there’s a billion people doing it. If they contribute to a legal service of any kind, that’s a huge win. I’m not saying that we’re going to be the only ones, but we’re by far the largest subscription service, we’re probably as large as all of the others combined, so do I care about taking market share from [other subscription services] or taking market share from the billion people that are currently not contributing but still consuming music? We are in a growing industry, not really an industry where we’re fighting for market share. I think people discount piracy.

From Lifehack:

British slang is a niche of its own, evolving and transforming and adapting from city to city and from year to year, just as the English language itself has done. While American slang has become nearly universal with the influx of TV shows, films, and other media filling the screens of a significant majority of the media-viewing global population, there is so much more available once you dig beneath the surface of British slang terms and can discover some real gems beneath the surface.

So, if you’re an aspiring Anglophile looking for some new lingo to help fuel your love for all things British, or you just fancy seeing what kind of words the British find themselves using their day-to-day, check out our thirty best British slang terms for you to start using and incorporating into your vocabulary immediately…

1. Mate
‘Mate’ – one of the commonly used terms of endearment and affection in British slang terms. Used when you are talking to a close friend, and is often easily substituted for the American ‘buddy’, ‘pal’, or ‘dude’.

For example, ‘Alright, mate?’

2. Bugger All
‘Bugger all’ – a British slang term used to be a more vulgar synonym for ‘nothing at all’.

For example, ‘I’ve had bugger all to do all day.’

3. Knackered
‘Knackered’ – a great word and phrase used by Britons to describe their tiredness and exhaustion, in any given situation. Often substituted in friendly circles for ‘exhausted’.

For example, ‘I am absolutely knackered after working all day.’

4. Gutted
‘Gutted’ – a British slang term that is one of the saddest on the lists in terms of pure contextual emotion. To be ‘gutted’ about a situation means to be devastated and saddened.

For example, ‘His girlfriend broke up with him. He’s absolutely gutted.’

5. Gobsmacked
‘Gobsmacked’ – a truly British expression meaning to be shocked and surprised beyond belief. The expression is believed by some to come literally from ‘gob’ (a British expression for mouth), and the look of shock that comes from someone hitting it.

For example. ‘I was gobsmacked when she told me she was pregnant with triplets.’

Continue reading the rest here.

From Boing Boing:

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The British Medical Journal has published a paper investigating the lack of up to date magazines in the waiting rooms of medical practices. It’s because the new ones walk out the door.

Results: 47 of the 82 magazines with a visible date on the front cover were aged less than 2 months. 28 of these 47 (60%) magazines and 10 of the 35 (29%) older magazines disappeared (P=0.002). After 31 days, 41 of the 87 (47%, 95% confidence interval 37% to 58%) magazines had disappeared. None of the 19 non-gossipy magazines (the Economist and Time magazine) had disappeared compared with 26 of the 27 (96%) gossipy magazines (P<0.001). All 15 of the most gossipy magazines and all 19 of the non-gossipy magazines had disappeared by 31 days. The study was terminated at this point.

Conclusions: General practice waiting rooms contain mainly old magazines. This phenomenon relates to the disappearance of the magazines rather than to the supply of old ones. Gossipy magazines were more likely to disappear than non-gossipy ones. On the grounds of cost we advise practices to supply old copies of non-gossipy magazines. A waiting room science curriculum is urgently needed.

From Guitar Player:

Whether it’s playing “Stairway to Heaven” until your fingers bleed or always finding yourself in the center of a group of people intent on singing “Wagon Wheel,” some things are common to all guitarists.

Including, as it turns out, their brain chemistry.

For starters, guitarists literally have the ability to synchronize their brains while playing. In a 2012 study in Berlin, researchers had 12 pairs of guitarists play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned. They discovered that the guitarists’ neural networks would synchronize not only during the piece, but even slightly before playing. So, basically, guitarists can read each others’ minds better than they can read music.

That synch happens in the areas of the brain that deal with music production and social cognition, so it makes a real difference in how tight a band sounds. When people talk about a band’s chemistry, this may well be what they’re seeing. It also explains why brothers are the core duo in so many famous rock bands.

But part of this ability to synchronize actually comes from one overarching truth about guitarists: they’re more intuitive than most.

From Business Insider:

At Business Insider’s IGNITION event last week, Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget detailed the future of the digital landscape, pointing out some important trends. For example, more than a quarter of all internet traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets — and two big internet properties are responsible for a huge amount of that traffic.

Based on data from a Sandvine report charted for us by BI Intelligence, Facebook and YouTube accounted for nearly 40% of all mobile web traffic in North America in September. Facebook accounted for 19% of that aggregate mobile traffic, YouTube was close behind with 18%, and the third largest share belonged to “general web traffic” through web browsers, at 11%. As BI Intelligence’s Mark Hoelzel points out, ads make up a big percentage of Facebook’s and YouTube’s mobile traffic, since autoplay video ads increase the mobile data demands on those social networks.

bii sai cotd mobile internet trafficBI Intelligence

 

From Wandering Sound:

You did things in a different way than a lot of country artists, gaining an online following before radio airplay.

At the time, it was the most direct route from myself to the people listening. I had seen the value of the internet working for so many other artists. I didn’t have a record deal at the time, and making a full-length album is an expensive thing to do. I didn’t have the money or the backing of a record label to make a full-length album. So I had recently met a guy named Zach Crowell — I had heard a demo of his and really wanted to write with him. I had been looking for somebody who did what he did, and he did it really, really well. We hit it off personally, and we went over to his house and brainstormed about songwriting, and the whole internet thing and how I might go about pursuing a career. That was the first thing that came up, the idea that we’d sit down and record songs on acoustic guitar and put them up on the internet for free. In other genres, that’s something that happens more often, especially in hip-hop. So we just followed that model and didn’t really put too much thought into it.

Do you think it’s beneficial to continue doing mixtapes?

Yeah. I do. I think it’s important to continue to put out music, personally, in less conventional ways. I mean, I’d still like to put out my second album the way a traditional second album would come out. But I’d also like to find creative ways to put out different versions of songs, or different batches of songs in other ways, similar to the way we put out the mixtape.

Why is that? Do you think this format specifically had an impact on the way your traditional album has performed with fans?

Yeah. It gave me a foundation, even though it was very small at first, that we were able to build on. It’s important early on, when you’re asking people to listen to your music, that it’s happening without you involved. [You want] people spreading the word and telling other people about your music — [to get them] so interested that they want to share this music with somebody else. If you hear it coming from me, of course that’s what I’m gonna say — that I want you to listen to my music. But when it’s a third party, who’s just come across this music in some form and wants to share it, that’s something completely different. That’s a lot more valuable.

Here’s a truly interesting tale about Eddie Van Halen that some folks were discussing on Reddit.com:

Here’s a story about the rare genius of Eddie Van Halen, as told by Hartley Peavey to a longtime Peavey dealer I worked for. They had been doing some manufacturer’s clinics with Eddie, and Hartley shared this nugget with him. I thought of this story today and decided to share.

Many people may not know of Eddie’s proclivities as an engineer and inventor. While some artists with signature gear are probably satisfied to just slap their names on any old design, Eddie is exacting in every detail. Hartley tried to call him out on the outrageous specifications he was demanding during the design of the 5150 cabinet [in the mid ’90s]. This is how it went down:

Eddie demanded that the 5150 be made of Baltic birch and Hartley was glad to oblige. Remember, we’re not talking about some dimwitted executive here. Hartley designed all the early Peavey amps himself so he knows about tone. When the development team delivered the test model to Eddie, he took it apart. Because that’s apparently what he did with everything. If it was a guitar they were building him, and he didn’t like the placement of something, he would rip it apart and rout out the body cavity himself, or whatever it took to get it the way he wanted it. In the same story we heard about how he has all kinds of inventions in his house ranging from musical stuff to vacuum cleaner innovations.

So he takes the test cabinet apart and says, “Hartley, I thought we agreed this cab was going to be made of Baltic birch? What’s with these little blocks of plywood down here?” Now, he’s talking about some block inside the joints of the sides that was just there to give more space to join them or glue them or whatever. Hartley says, “Well, we decided that would raise the price by [X] dollars and it wasn’t worth it because those little pieces aren’t going to change the tone at all.”

Eddie’s not having it. He says it will change the tone and they get into an argument about it.

“Alright Eddie, tell you what. I’m so convinced that not even you can tell the difference of the woods on those little blocks, let’s do a listening test. I’m going to build sixteen of these things, and in one of them I’ll use your Baltic birch on those little blocks. If you can play through them and tell me which one it is, then we’ll go with it.”

The cabinets are built and Eddie comes back down to the factory, plugs in and let’s just one blistering high sustain note rip and vibrate everything until it dies out. Then he unplugs and goes to the next one, all down the line like that until he gets to one and let’s the note rip… “That one.”

Of course he’s right, or there wouldn’t be a story.

 

This week Midia Research published their  latest report: “Music Consumer Segmentation: From Lagging Indicators To Leading Indicators”.  This report explores how music consumer segmentation needs a reboot for the streaming era.
Over the last half decade the music industry has come to understand importance of consumer segmentation in understanding music fans and buyers.   But the streaming-driven shift from ownership to access is forcing a rethink in segmentation. Paying for music has become a lifestyle choice and is not always defined by consumers’ personal values and opinions.
Music consumer behaviour is changing at a more rapid rate than it has done at any stage in the digital era so far, with dramatic impact on revenues and business models.  But consumers themselves are not changing so quickly.  The underlying defining characteristics of consumers’ behaviours and attitudes take much longer to evolve, often shaped more by life stage shifts such as leaving home or starting a family.  Technology is most often adopted because it taps latent demand that reflects the aspirations and needs of specific groups of consumers.  In doing so it accentuates their characteristics rather than creating them, that is a longer-term process.
The shift to the consumption era creates need for new insights to understand transitioning consumers in an era that old and new worlds cohabit.  Segmentation models need the same flexibility and sophistication to deliver the clarity of vision necessary to navigate the choppy waters of the transition era.  It is a transition phase for insight as much as it is for content consumption.
Here are a few of the key findings from the report:
  • Music Aficionados are the heartbeat of recorded music revenues, spending $17.57 every three months and listening 15 hours a week
  • Aficionados are only 17% of all consumers but represent 60% of all music subscribers
  • Forgotten Fans are the untapped opportunity, representing 30% of all consumers and with above average listening time but below average spending
  • Behavioural segmentation is a lagging indicator, showing how people act currently. Attitudinal segmentation is a leading indicator, exposing what is likely to happen
  • When Aficionados are defined by their attitudes rather than behaviour they become the single largest segment, representing 39% of all consumers
Distribution Of Key Music Consumer Segments Defined By Behaviour 
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