The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — March 14, 2016

A lot of new releases on the Hit List this week! Many of these albums dropped just in the last week, and showcase just how hard these artists have been working. The list this week is a healthy mix of newcomers and veterans alike, and with strong representations from Canada, the U.S., U.K., and Australia among others, the community of artists and material just continues to grow exponentially. The collective artwork on this week’s list is also some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen lately, so props to the great graphic artists whose work is represented here. As always, albums are in no particular order, enjoy!

1. The Parts We SaveHeel – 2016

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2. Blue Room Revival – MooseKick – 2014

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3. Alterhood – Alterhood – 2016

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4. Us Kids – SingleChelsea Shag – 2016

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5. Muster PointJeeps – 2016

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6. Softspoken Woman – SingleUtena – 2016

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7. BlackSuan – 2016

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8. Departure from VenusROMP – 2016

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9. Mystic WomanPins & Needles – 2015

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10. RE:saudade – .gif – 2015

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11. EDGESJocelyn & Chris Arndt – 2016

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12. Live SessionIcarus Dive – 2016

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13. Fall In Love And Fall ApartThe Drive Home – 2015

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14. Day OneFrom Ashes to New – 2016

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15. Europe – Single – Mulligrub – 2016

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16. Gaining PerspectiveGlory Days – 2016

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17. Psychosoul EPShadow Culture – 2016

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18. Nothing RemainsStill Phantoms – 2016

a1720332473_16-1 19. Show Me How to LiveWOES – 2016

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20. The Lippies EP – The Lippies – 2016

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The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — March 7, 2016

I love the new list today because it crosses a variety of genres. There’s a ton of synthe and electronic material on here today, and I’m loving all of it. Some of these tracks have a lofty, ethereal feel while other songs have that down and dirty alternative-punk sneer I dig so much. Spanning a plethora of geographies, the Hit List this week especially underscores the fact that area and Facebook-like count don’t matter; the only thing that matters is a sick riff and a great beat. ;D As always, albums are in no particular order, so hit these people up for a great set of music to start your week off!

1. Hit the AirBasic Land – 2016

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2. In Requiem EPIn Requiem – 2016

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3. Good DaysSkyline – 2016

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4. Five KitesFive Kites – 2016

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5. VectorsYeah Sure Whatever – 2016

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6. Muster PointJeeps – 2016

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7. Black – Suan – 2016

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8. Press ReleaseThe King’s Aces – 2016

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9. StonesCherry Water – 2016

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10. Alterhood – Alterhood – 2016

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11. Hound the World – SingleMobley – 2016

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12. DeVoll EP – DeVoll – 2015

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13. Mild Blood EPMild Blood – 2016

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14. SweetMeat – The BlackLava – 2016

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15. Abandoned HomesThe Aesthetic – 2016

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16. RE:saudade – .gif – 2015

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17. StargazeHiki – 2016

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18. The World Never Dropped (EP)Ocean Jet – 2016

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19. It’s Too Bright InsideLush Vibes – 2016

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20. Jakarta EPNovember Kings – 2016

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The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — February 29, 2016

It’s a leap year, so here’s a great Hit List today to rock out to! There are a bunch of awesome tunes this week to celebrate this super sunny day in Atlanta (for those of you still dealing with snow, you have my sympathies lol), so take a listen through the whole Hit List. We’ve got artists here from a ton of countries, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Mexico, Japan, and the Philippines. I’m really digging a lot on the crunchy guitar riffs that the list is heavy with this week, so if you’re looking for something with a little edge, some of these artists might have exactly what you’re craving. As always, albums are in no particular order, so hit ’em all up!

1. Good DaysSkyline – 2016

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2. AlchemyAlchemy – 2013

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3. Hit the AirBasic Land – 2016

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4. Breaking FreeA Truth Divides – 2016

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5. Five KitesFive Kites – 2016

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6. The Monday SpecialsThe Monday Specials – 2016

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7. InburnInburn – 2016

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8. Ropes EndRopes End – 2016

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9. FRIENDZAn Oddity – 2016

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10. Debut Album – Revote – 2016

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11. The Whisper GameThe Whisper Game – 2016

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12. I Talk to StrangersI Talk to Strangers – 2016

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13. Talk with TransparencyThe Radiographers – 2016

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14. VectorsYeah Sure Whatever – 2016

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15. StonesCherry Water – 2016

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16. Breathe – Iridesce – 2016

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17. AngelHeroes – 2016

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18. The Last Year EPThe Last Year – 2013

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19. Motion – EPToyosea – 2016

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20. The UndergroundCity Limits – 2016

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Why Ignoring the Independents Means Thunderstorms for SoundCloud

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TechCrunch published a post recently, the premise of which was SoundCloud’s recent tapdance with major labels. The post discussed SoundCloud’s $35M in debt funding, and newly signed deal with Universal Music Group. The fact that the aforementioned funding was actually finalized last May notwithstanding, the piece concluded that the upshot of the whole situation is that SC would end up being worth more than rival Spotify. Here’s why that’s not exactly the case.

The Background: Courting the Mainstream Players

While the TC piece makes some astute points, its most important argument—that SoundCloud has the opportunity to become the YouTube of audio—doesn’t exactly stand on its own. SoundCloud has a major issue in that it’s caught in between two completely different paradigms—that of the independent and that of the major label—and doesn’t seem to know how to resolve those differences. Up until now, the ill-fated balancing act it’s been trying has been somewhat workable, but going forward it will be tenuous at best. As such, the real story here is how SoundCloud is evolving, and not in a way that is wonderful for the independent artists who have historically been its core constituency.

As SoundCloud moves further into the major label fold, it simultaneously does two things:

1) It resolves (at least for the moment) the issues which the music service is having with some of the labels over licensing and royalties. The new deal with Universal clearly comes with it an agreement that the label will drop any pending legal action against the service, as music will now be licensed directly to SC. (It does, however, do nothing for the mass of pending litigation  between Sony and SoundCloud, as the former is that last major label holdout to strike a deal with the service).

2) It effectively continues the alienation of the independents upon which the service has historically built its core and more loyal following.

Leaving the Core Content Base

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with serving the mainstream. However, most every one of the major music companies already does that, leading to an already crowded crawlspace of competitors vying for mainstream supremacy. While the major music companies set their collective focus on mainstream material, the independent demographic is left languishing in the wind time after time. Initially, SoundCloud was an exception in this respect, cutting its teeth in the independent arena long before it signed deals with any of the major labels (starting with Warner Music Group last year). Since then, however, SC has been moving further and further away from the paradigm from whence it rose and closer towards the crowded party at the mainstream table.     

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The music pipeline

While SC battled other services for mainstream consumers, it had for a while been the favorite among independents and underground artists looking to cultivate their fanbases from the ground up. Even Alex Moazed in his guest TC piece acknowledged that this is what makes SC win: the fact that this is where the content stream starts for a lot of new artists (a rapidly growing demographic) and where they begin to build their initial fanbases and cultivate their followings. That SoundCloud is not only moving away from that, but seemingly shunning it in the long run, is a palpable kick in the face for a lot of independents.    

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Growth of independent music between 2003-2012; image courtesy of Techdirt

What Moazed doesn’t address in his piece is exactly what I discussed last spring: why independent artists should essentially kiss SoundCloud goodbye, why their subsequent deal with the NMPA was irrelevant for independents, and ultimately why the precarious high-wire balancing act was leading them down a difficult path. Independent artists, unlike major label performers, are not locked into any required loyalty as a result of record label contracts. They can come and go as they please on any variety of services, and thus are free to explore any new ( and better) opportunities that might arise.

SoundCloud’s error in judgement here is assuming that the independent demographic (arguably its only real unique demographic of content producers) will stick around when the winds change, and the focus of the platform shifts to mainstream desires. Already there were grumblings in the independent underground when SC premiered its new layout early last year. The simple reality is that SoundCloud fundamentally cannot serve two masters (the independents and the major labels) because each is moving in an opposite direction, with desires and mentalities divergent of one another. Now, with the Universal deal, I see only one way SC can continue to struggle towards profitability, and that is in the major label direction.

That, however, presents another can of worms.

Money and Equity

As some have already pointed out (or could simply guess), the Universal deal could not have been cheap by any means, particularly as it meant Universal dropping its legal action against the music service. Furthermore, as Warner gained around a 5% stake of the company when it licensed its own catalogue, one can calculate that Universal settled for nothing less than a similar deal (likely pushing for more equity in order to drop the legal suit).

That’s a huge premium to pay for Universal’s recording and publishing catalogues, and doesn’t yet take into account all the royalties SC will now have to cough up on the backend. The real hard hitting numbers come when one imagines what Sony, the last major holdout, will demand for its material. Seeing as it currently has legal qualms with SoundCloud, it’s conceivable that Sony could demand even more cash upfront and equity in order for access to its musical coffers. At a minimum, one could calculate the collective equity of the major labels to total somewhere around 15%—at a minimum.

Though not listed specifically, the chart below gives one a good idea of where SoundCloud will inevitably fit within the royalty paradigm, and just how much friction it will cause between both the service and artists, and the service and the labels. Two different (divergent) interests make for a massive headache in the long term for SoundCloud.

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Royalty rates, minimum wage, and reality; image courtesy of informationisbeautiful.net

This may seem like a paltry price of doing business until one considers the fact that the relationship dynamic is not an equal one: the major labels hold the keys to the material which SoundCloud wants (and desperately needs, in order to win the mainstream game), but are not equally in need of SoundCloud itself. They similarly license the same material to a variety of competing music services, and essentially can dole it out to the highest bidder, through contracts which then become renegotiable every few years. Thus, SoundCloud (and others) are beholden to the major labels for their lifeblood, but the opposite is not true. SoundCloud has entered into a paradigm that’s nearly impossible to backtrack from. They’re tying their own concrete shoes.

Operating in the Red

All of this firmly underscores the uncomfortable news recently that SoundCloud took a $44M hit in 2014, making their raise of the above-mentioned $35M almost irrelevant. That the raise of the $35M in debt financing will essentially have to go to cover SC’s 2014 losses must be a bitter pill for investors to swallow, particularly as much of their customer base uses the service for free. The simple truth, as it appears to be, is that SoundCloud is hemorrhaging money with no clear path to take to fix things, either quickly, or in the long term. That being the case, it’s fairly probable that SoundCloud will need to start raising another round of money somewhat soon, even if it’s just to weather its current storm.

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SoundCloud losses (in Euros); image courtesy of Music Business Worldwide

And then there’s this, the Reddit thread that must be the most painful thing for SC right now. Titled “SoundCloud could close after $44m losses,” the thread spent a few nights recently blowing up, and had an upvote-percentage of 96%. What does this mean in reality? It means a lot of people were reading this conversation, and the commenters are not wrong. In fact, many of them are quite astute and know exactly what’s going to happen:

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These comments highlight the discussion going on regarding SoundCloud not only among its general consumers, but among the artists who create the content on which the service was built. It’s important to remember that before SC had any major label deals in place, it was doing quite well because of the huge influx of independent material coming in from independent artists and DJ’s. In moving further and further away from this core demographic, SoundCloud is quite aggressively biting the hand that feeds it. SoundCloud’s response to the Reddit thread was equally underwhelming and unpersuasive.

The loyalty of such independent artists is a complex thing; on the one hand, they aren’t tied to any one particular party, and thus their loyalty to any one service may be thought of as ephemeral. On the other hand, however, their loyalty has the potential to be ferocious and dogged if and when they find a service which works for them, in their favor. SoundCloud used to be that service, but it isn’t any longer. They’ve traded the long term loyalty of these smaller—but much more numerous—independent artists for the short term benefit of being able to peddle major label mainstream material. The same exact mainstream material which all their major competitors are already selling. They’ve traded the long term benefit of being unique for the short term “benefit” of being just like everyone else.

Short Term Gain, Long Term Loss

The big kicker though, is that SoundCloud didn’t start as Spotify of Apple Music did, with deals with the major labels. It doesn’t come from that part of town. It comes from the less expensive, more experimental street of independent artists, covers, and remixes. It blew up among independents long before mainstream listeners got wind of it, and now it’s moving away from those early adopters towards a more corporate clientele.

As far as I can see it, this is incredibly ironic: the independent music universe is just now starting to mature and expand rapidly, while the major label world is getting cramped and hideously expensive. Over the last decade, independent music has grown immensely while major label-signed content has actually decreased. Put simply, the number of expensive, mainstream artists which big music companies are fighting over is shrinking while the number of free and/or inexpensive independent artists is actually growing at an almost exponential rate. Insofar as the independent universe might not be as lucrative as the mainstream arena in the short term, it nonetheless is where the most growth is happening.

So where does all of this leave SoundCloud? In the short term, the Universal deal is a great breakthrough, and certainly will help them more aptly compete with Spotify and Apple. However, it’s clearly been overshadowed over the last few weeks by their financial woes and discussions of possible paths forward.

In the long term, though, they will end up dismissing the demographic and core base that made them special to begin with. Someone else will pick up that gauntlet and run with it, and that’s where the growing independent base will go.  

The Undeniable Hypocrisy of the Apple-Swift Saga

Image courtesy of Mirror

Image courtesy of Mirror

The Background

With Taylor Swift’s cleanup at the Grammys this year and attention over her misleading “victory” over Apple—and her subsequent partnership with the company—having waned (if not faded) over the last half year, it seems to be the appropriate time now to dissect what the fuck really happened back in July of last summer. Prior to the past few months when things seemed to have boiled down to a low simmer (focused mostly on SoundCloud and Spotify), the music news arena was blowing up over Taylor Swift’s push-back against Apple. Her open letter criticizing Apple, and subsequent statement that she would be boycotting the new music service—as she had done with Spotify—made it easy for the media to paint her as a martyr for “artists’ rights.” But that’s not the whole story. Not nearly.

When Apple announced early in June of 2015 that its new music service, aptly titled Apple Music, would not be compensating artists with royalties during the first three months of a user’s free trial period, there was significant push-back before Swift even got her letter out the door. The announcement was panned by the general music community, as well as by both artists within the mainstream paradigm, and the broad base of independents. When Apple retracted the statement and replaced it with a “fine, we’ll pay artists for the three-month trial period,” artists felt that they had won a major victory against the tech giant. Many even felt that Swift spoke up for them and that they benefited from her desire to help the general music community. Here’s why that’s wrong.

A Misleading “Victory”

Numerous sources reported on Apple’s recanting and Swift’s “victory,” from TechCrunch to Forbes to Mashable. But it wasn’t that at all. The retraction by Apple was telling of a much larger trend at play (and frankly, a much larger problem for independent artists which they should be focusing on). Swift made the same stink that she did when she “broke up” with Spotify, drawing on arguments like “artists shouldn’t give anything away for free” and her favorite “art needs to be rare to be valuable.” Soon after, Apple caved and said artists would be paid, and everything ended happily ever after.

Not.

While I wholeheartedly agree with Swift that artists shouldn’t have to give away their music for free if they don’t want to (as opposed to Swift’s catch-all “no free music ever/free music devalues your art” blah blah blah), I don’t think her motives are as angelic and altruistic as they might initially appear. People should be asking why exactly Swift made such a big fuss over this. Why? Because it really cuts into her bottom line. A bottom line that many of the independents she somewhat claims to “speak for” don’t have. Their economics are a very different reality from hers. Swift lives in a completely different universe, and no, as Matt Atkins wrote in a great Medium post , she is not an “independent artist.” Her signing to Big Machine Records makes her seem more independent than she really is; make sure you remember that she owns a huge stake in Big Machine, and that it’s distributed by Universal Music Group. So no, Swift doesn’t see it from the same perspective as that of an indie band in the garage in Ohio just trying to scrape by.

If an Independent Tried to Strong-arm Apple…

This doesn’t make Swift a bad person; it simply makes her human in looking out for her own best interests. At the time, that aligned with the best interests of the general music community. But people should not confuse happenstance with correlation.

Swift was able to strong-arm Apple into changing its position on paying royalties for the free trial period, and I commend her for that. But I can pretty much offer a dead guarantee that if it had been an independent artist who took to Twitter to complain (and many did, mind you) or write to Apple, nothing would happen. I’m not even sure they would receive a response email addressing their grievances. The fact that their position changed as a result of Swift’s vocal stance was a sheer coincidental benefit for the independent music community.

Artists who are not on Swift’s level (that is to say, most artists in the world) should be asking what could and would happen if and when their best interests don’t line up with hers. (Never mind the fact that Apple completely screwed up an independent artist’s entire catalogue upon Apple Music’s release). The moniker of Swift as “the Apple-Slayer” was nice and poetic, but all the more misleading. It painted Swift as the David to Apple’s Goliath, but that’s on a whole incorrect. Swift is just as much a Goliath as Apple is, and that’s precisely the reason that Apple caved to her in the first place. Had she been the David-level artist she parades around as (and which most independents actually are), she most likely would have been roundly ignored, as most independents usually are. When Apple caved, it was a good week for all artists. But what happens when Swift decides that what’s best for her is to choke the radio market and keep out other artists who might be stepping on her musical toes? I can’t imagine that she wants to give up any of her power.

It’s All About the Power

And that’s exactly what it’s about: the power. Swift has the power to turn heads and make things happen the way she wants. But that could be very bad for other up-and-coming artists. Swift, ironically, has become yet another gatekeeper, akin to the ones she so readily criticizes. She’s signed to an “independent” label which is distributed by one of the Big Three labels (Universal), and she has the clout to mobilize legions of fans (when she’s not suing them, I suppose).

But what about her whole “anti-free” mentality? That’s directly at odds with a lot of the thinking within the independent music community, where artists increasingly see their music as a means of marketing, rather than an end commodity for sale. What happens when push comes to shove and she’s on the other side of the fence from the much broader—but much more unknown—independent music community? She will still have the power to push her agenda, and they will simply be more obstacles in her way.

The reality is that no artist, of any caliber or genre, should have the power to dictate changes like that. At the time, it worked out for the better, but next time will be another story.

Subsequent Partnership

All of this made the announcement of Swift’s subsequent partnership with Apple more confusing, and in some ways, harder to swallow. After all the stones that were thrown, and all the press that was garnered (a calculated effort, I’m sure), the end result was somewhat anticlimactic. We were all ready for a super showdown of a major mainstream artist (yes, that’s what she is, live with reality) bucking the system and sending a message for musicians everywhere. What we got was…well…predictable.

As soon as Apple caved, so did Swift. She caved to using the service when it turned out that her open letter would get her exactly what she wanted. That sounds logical, except for the fact that she pretty much abandoned the “Apple-Slayer” independent gauntlet when she stopped focusing on how the new service would be for non-mainstream artists, and just said “ok.” In so few words, it seems that Swift was content to “take the money and run,” so to speak. Her victory really wasn’t a victory for anyone who wasn’t seeing massive streaming or airplay already anyway, so let’s not treat it as one.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Perhaps the most glaring result of Swift’s flirtatious battle with Apple, though, was the fallout over her own contracts. In the wake of her open letter, other types of creatives called her on her own hypocrisy, though this time, they weren’t musical artists: they were photographers. In an open letter of his own, professional photographer Jason Sheldon shined a light on Swift’s own hypocrisy in her company’s contracts with photographers at her shows. According to the Washington Post:

Swift’s management company, Firefly Entertainment, demands that photographers who shoot Swift’s concerts to do so on a “one-time-use” only basis and relinquish any rights to republish or sell their photos. Additionally, the contract states that Firefly has the “perpetual, worldwide right to use” the very same photographs in just about any way it sees fit, without compensating the photographer for their usage.

Wow, let’s just take a moment to let that sink in. Swift—the great “Apple-Slayer” and champion for artists’ rights and fair compensation—didn’t (doesn’t?) even feel that those same dynamics should apply when she’s the one who has to pay royalties. That’s pretty staggering.

As she wrote in her own Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.” Considering just how much Swift seems to think that “valuable art should not be free,” it’s fairly amazing that she doesn’t go out of her way to create the best working opportunities for other creatives. In fact, the only thing it does is make her an undeniable hypocrite. If she wants to sit on top of the mainstream and act in a holier-than-thou way, that’s fine, but she should at least be honest about it. She shouldn’t be parading around as some “champion for the independent artist” when clearly her actions say otherwise. It essentially negates everything she’s done to “bring attention to artists’ rights.”

Perhaps the most upsetting thing of all is that many were lulled into thinking that Swift is something that she’s not, including other artists, and independents in particular. This was akin to telling someone that they now had a spokesperson they could trust and count on to speak up louder than they could for their general rights, only to find out that person wasn’t nearly as altruistic as they initially appeared. Most frustratingly, though, it has the power to negate arguments made by others who really are looking to campaign for artists’ rights. Swift’s hypocrisy has the power to undermine other voices (ones who might not be as loud as hers), and to take the focus off the matters that need to be addressed.

(Legal) Iceberg Ahead

Even as the fallout from the Apple-Swift roiling seems to have unfolded months ago, so too was there something else on the horizon for Apple which spelled a different kind of trouble: monopoly. As the FTC subsequently sent out subpoenas to competing music services following its initial probe of Apple Music, attention began to focus again on the tech giant in a way that is less than flattering. The “war” which Spotify started last July with Apple seemed to spread to other areas of the collective music business conscience. Apple Music may not have been “doomed” as Tidal was (or seemed to be) upon its initial release, but it does have new things to take care of that other services don’t need to account for.

Perhaps the irony of the whole situation is that Apple’s legal issues regarding Apple Music really only surfaced after the service was announced and released. Inasmuch as Apple would like to pretend that it has enough money to push its way through to any opinion and finding that would benefit it, it still must contend with U.S. legal code, not to mention its own Terms of Service. Power and money notwithstanding, the outcome of the said legal issues won’t resolve super quickly.

In the End

In the end, the whole Apple-Swift saga that encompassed the end of last summer really wasn’t what people reported it to be. It won’t (and hasn’t) really resulted in a super-massive victory for independents beyond some news attention, and it actually served to highlight some dirty little secrets in Swift’s own business affairs. I don’t know if the saga is concluding or just in a lull itself, but I don’t think this “picture-royalty” thing is going to go away anytime soon. Now that the dam has broken, I bet we’re going to see many more creatives (photographers for sure) speaking up over the next year or so about their business experiences with Swift, and I don’t think they will all be positive.

As for Apple, it continues to chug ahead after the release of Apple Music, albeit in the shadow of the new FTC probes. Though the service boasts a few interesting features, few of them can really be described as “new” or “earthshaking.” While ex-BBC host and DJ  Zane Lowe likely made U.K. listeners happy on the new Beats 1 radio program, for us in the States he was a somewhat irrelevant “exclusive” for Apple to tout (simply because most Americans didn’t know who he was). If Apple really wants to set itself apart in the long term (10+ years), it’s really going to need to do better than a few exclusive names. I suppose we’ll see, but for the time being, the Apple-Swift saga has left a sour taste in my mouth that won’t be going away any time soon.

The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — February 22, 2016

I’m really kind of amazed at the number of Canadian artists on the list this week. There’s been a large influx of Canadian material coming out recently, and I’m super excited to see that it ranges in influence and sound. This week’s list if heavy on grunge and alternative-rock to reflect the rainy weather we’ve been getting here in Atlanta, but I I’m not complaining at all. ;D As always, albums are in no particular order, so hit every one of these people up!

1. Hardly Loaded EPPhantomHead – 2016

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2. Calling for the CrazyThe Ballistics – 2016

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3. ShadowboxVivienne the Witch – 2016

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4. BlanksRock Eupora – 2016

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5. ConsequencesDream State – 2015

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6. FRIENDZAn Oddity – 2016

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7. I Talk to StrangersI Talk to Strangers – 2016

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8. Green – SingleFrown – 2016

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9. AntsAnts – 2016

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10. Ropes EndRopes End – 2016

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11. Get FünkeDr. Beardface and the Spaceman – 2015

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12. Bareknuckle Love – Freya Wilcox & The Howl – 2015

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13. CairosCairos – 2014

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14. Trapped Inside EPFaith in Casinos – 2016

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15. Red CallingRed Calling – 2015

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16. Crawl EPThe Science of Letting On – 2016

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17. The Whisper GameThe Whisper Game – 2016

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18. Inburn – Inburn – 2016

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19. Sand in the SunThe Soles – 2016

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20. FlourishHanover – 2016

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The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — February 15, 2016

I’ll call the list this week a revisiting, because I’m just killin it to a bunch of artists who have made an appearance here before. I love listening to new music, and sometimes these albums stay fresh for a while, and you can just find yourself listening to them over the course of a month. Featuring artists from around the U.S., Europe, Asia, and more, I’m excited that the geography of the Hit List keeps expanding. Some of these artists I’ve seen play shows over the last few weeks and they rocked it ;D. As always, albums are in no particular order, so give them all a listen, and hit these great creators up for some more!

1. Yellow & Bliss – SingleHeel – 2016

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2. Blue Room RevivalMooseKick – 2014

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3. BlanksRock Eupora – 2016

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4. Double A-SideThe Mis-Made – 2016

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5. MillipedesThe Head – 2015

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6. March in the Dark: Chapter TwoAnyone’s Guess – 2015

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7. Do You Feel Electric? EPMiss – 2015

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8. The Black Album (EP)AggronumpH – 2015

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9. ColourblindVideoman – 2015

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10. Half MeasuresCross – 2015

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11. StagesKopacetic – 2016

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12. OMermaidens – 2014

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13. Bear Essentials EPOne Trick Grizzly – 2015

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14. Welcome to VanillavilleRedbloom – 2015

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15. E.P.Neverhood – 2015

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16. Cosmophonie EPCosmophone – 2016

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17. MUTTMUTT – 2015

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18. Art CapitalArt Capital – 2015

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19. Torn UpSuch Great Heights – 2015

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20. Forgotten BattlesA Thousand Shades of Cold – 2015

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The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — February 8, 2016

I’m super excited for the new list this week because it’s such a great mix of material from newbies and Hit List veterans, underscoring just how massive the growing independent world is. I actually had a chance to go see 3 of these bands play on the same bill two nights ago (check my Twitter feed to see which ones!), and they just killed it on stage. It’s so easy to get sucked into the music that these artists create that sometimes it’s easy to forget just how much stage presence and presentation really add to the overall effect of an artist’s brand. It’s a wide, wide world of expansive music and showmanship, and the artists on this week’s like really highlight that fact! As always, albums are in no particular order, so have a sick Monday trying them all out. ;D It’s gonna be a good week!

1. AlchemyAlchemy – 2013

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2. Yellow & Bliss SingleHeel – 2016

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3. Imminent for Your InterestsPeople Like Us. – 2015

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4. Blue Room RevivalMooseKick – 2014

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5. The Steppin Stones – The Steppin Stones – 2015

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6. Hardly Loaded EPPhantomHead – 2016

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7.Otra Vez I – Sidewatcher – 2016

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8. ShadowboxVivienne the Witch – 2016

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9. ConsequencesDream State – 2015

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10. Welcome to the Whist Coast (EP)Whist – 2015

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11. Gone to PerditionHype Lights – 2016

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12. Trapped Inside EPFaith in Casinos – 2016

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13. Hear You Out EPDifferent Pulse – 2015

a3501976675_1614. Get Weird!The Newports – 2016

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15. Asleep/Repeat/Awake EPMoira – 2015

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16. Origin – Rille Ataka – 2016

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17. The Best Is Yet to ComeFader Hill – 2016

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18. Get FünkeDr. Beardface and the Spaceman – 2015

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19. Growing Pains EPGoing Nowhere – 2016

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20. Marvelous FunkshunMarvelous Funkshun – 2013

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The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — February 1, 2016

One of the things I’m most excited about with this week’s list is the release of new material from some artists whom I love and have been following for a while. It’s always great when you see an artist you love take the time to hunker down and write some new material that really shows an element of growth and evolution in their sound. In addition to triumphant returns for those artists, there are some people new to the Hit List who I’m super stoked to share! These albums really underscore what a wide world of music exists out there beyond the mainstream, and I love that it’s a never-ending journey of exploration. As always, albums are in no particular order, so you don’t wanna miss a moment of any of them!

1. Tied DownForever Still – 2016

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2. The ReIntroductionAlmost Kings – 2016

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3. Refuse to Shine – SingleMr.Mountain – 2016

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4. The Steppin StonesThe Steppin Stones – 2015

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5. AlchemyAlchemy – 2013

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6. Please Welcome Imperial Jade – Imperial Jade – 2016

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7. Imminent for Your InterestsPeople Like Us. – 2015

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8. Hardly Loaded EPPhantomHead – 2016

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9. Baltimore – SingleOriginal Mindset – 2015

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10. She-Devils EPShe-Devils – 2016

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11. Otra Vez I – Sidewatcher – 2016

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12. Calling for the CrazyThe Ballistics – 2016

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14. ShadowboxVivienne the Witch – 2016

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15. Demo – OceanWaves – 2015

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16. Swan Valley HeightsSwan Valley Heights – 2016

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17. Tectonic Plates EP – Audioclub – 2015

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18. Intacepta – Bandita – 2015

a4094721135_16 19. The Black Crayon EPStrut Vamoose – 2016

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20. Heart Like a HomeBetter Half – 2016

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The Hit List: 20 Demos, Albums and EP’s You Need to Hear Right Now — January 25, 2016

I’ll call this week a “stuck-in-your-head” week, because most everything on this list just sticks with you from the moment you hit “play.” The list this week is a little all over the place, but in the best way; people are back from the holidays, and some great music for 2016 is starting to roll in. For the artists who are making their second, third, and subsequent appearance on the Hit List, there’s a reason why; you’re really going to want to check those people out.  As always, albums are in no particular order, so hit it all up. ;D That’s it, happy Monday, now go forth and listen to some great tunes!

1. White Lotus – SingleIt’s Butter – 2015

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2. Please Welcome Imperial JadeImperial Jade – 2016

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3. BurlesqueSouthern Storm – 2016

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4. No More Blue (EP)New Days – 2016

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5. She-Devils EPShe-Devils – 2016

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6. Refraction – Moonfall – 2015

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7. Stages – Kopacetic – 2016

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8. Bear Essentials EPOne Trick Grizzly – 2015

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9. Cosmophonie EP – Cosmophone – 2016

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10. Between the RosesSway – 2016

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11. Lost E – SingleMy Cruel Goro – 2016

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12. OceanaThe Trade Rumors – 2016

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13. Neat Neat – Neat Neat – 2016

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14. Gone To PerditionHype Lights – 2016

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15. The MirrorsThe Mirrors – 2016

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16. The Journey (EP)Rusty Joe – 2016

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17. Colorworld EPColorworld – 2015

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18. For When You’re Falling BackwardsRome Hero Foxes – 2016

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19. Nothing GoodBremer and the No Goods – 2016

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20. WiltSOAR – 2016

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