This Week’s Top Music News Links!

Hmm…a lot of headlines about “saving the music industry” lately. That’s pretty telling. Oh well, moving on…

Moogfest celebrates its 10th year. (The Guardian)

Record Store Day is here! The weirdest releases this year. (Flavorwire)

Samsung’s “free and ad-free” music service will soon be neither of those things. (The Next Web)

New Prince album! New Prince album! (Rolling Stone)

STOP EVERYTHING: Beyonce and Jay Z are (probably) touring together. (Billboard)

Jared Leto’s new music documentary calls for greater transparency from labels. In related news, not everything Jared Leto says is insane. (Noise11)

Can streaming really save the music industry? (Forbes)

How the new Wu-Tang album is challenging how the music industry operates. (The Guardian)

In this world, there are certain people you can mess with and certain people you can’t mess with. And then there are people who, should you choose to mess with them, you will spend the rest of your days cowering in fear and shame under a table, eating your own hair, hugging your knees, rocking back and forth, and mumbling inaudibly about what you’ve done wrong. The last type of person is basically only Bette Midler. So if you’ve been unable to find anyone who works at Pandora lately, check under the desks.

(But seriously – how many times can these “plays-to-pays” ratios be shocking before we just realize that the model being used by Pandora and companies like them goes beyond not working for artists, and borders on exploiting them?)

Tax Day Playlist: Baby, I Got Your Money

Tomorrow is the most loathed day of the year in the US: April 15th, aka, Tax Day, aka, ugghhhhh. Listen, there’s nothing I can say here to take the edge off the fact that a lot of you are about to owe the government an uncomfortable amount of money. As a freelancer, I salute you. To those of you actually getting money back, drinks are on you.

Either way, if you haven’t done your taxes by this point, you’ve got a long night and a longer wait at the post office tomorrow. So here’s a money-themed playlist good enough to make you forget how much taxes and pollen are ruining your April.

“Got Your Money” by ODB

“Money Make Her Smile” by Bruno Mars

“Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money

“Money Honey” by Lady Gaga

“No Money” by Kings Of Leon

“Money Trees” by Kendrick Lamar

“Love Money Party” by Miley Cyrus

“Money” by Pink Floyd

“Money Maker” by Ludacris

“Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits

“Not Just Money” by Frank Ocean

“Throw This Money On You” by R. Kelly

End Of The World Playlist

Between Fukushima, a possible mega El Nino, and Yellowstone’s impending eruption, I’m increasingly convinced that the end of the world is not only coming, it’s basically already taking directions from Siri on how to get to us. So whatever – I’m done fighting it. In fact, I think it’s time to start planning our End Of The World parties now.

Food: glazed donuts dipped in ranch dressing (time to not GAF, babies.)

Attire: Prom dresses or nothing at all.

Booze: Whatever you got to sedate the panic.

Music: All of the following.

*Obviously, “1999” by Prince should be on here but he’s got his songs on super YouTube lockdown. Respect. Annoying, but respect.

It’s early in California and Peter DiStefano is about to jump on a plane to Argentina to perform at Lollapalooza, continuing his tradition of performing at every one since the festival’s inception. It’s not a terribly surprising record – DiStefano is an internationally known guitarist, songwriter, producer and composer. In 1993, as a guitarist he joined Jane’s Addiction vocalist (and Lollapalooza co-founder) Perry Farrell drummer Stephen Perkins, and bassist Martyn LeNoble to form the alternative-rock band, Porno for Pyros.

His life, as he will generously tell you, only got more interesting from there: In 1997, Perry and Stephen became involved with a Jane’s Addiction reunion tour, putting Porno for Pyros on hold. Meanwhile, Pete conquered drug and alcohol addictions and beat life threatening cancer. During these challenging personal times, he continued to play guitar and produce music with Rambient, Hellride, Venice Underground, and toured with Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy.

In the years since, DiStefano has continued touring with numerous bands, including his own Lance Herbstrong, as well as starting a music studio in Santa Monica, CA, composing film scores, and producing other artists.

In other words, he’s a busy guy. And now he’s bringing his music – and industry experience – to Muzooka.

How did you come to be hooked up with Muzooka?

I was introduced to it by a friend who said “You have to meet these guys”, so we met up in Hollywood and got a vibe for each other. It seemed to me that unlike the racket that is SoundCloud, Muzooka reminded me of something like Bandcamp but with a whole social thing. So I felt like it’s a cool place to do my sonic art. I’m really trying to push the boundaries with creative music, and Muzooka seems like the best place to do that.

Why is that?

Because everyone else – iTunes, etc. – doesn’t care about the artist and Muzooka does.

You’ve been in the industry for so long, and have worked on a lot of different sides of it – give us a brief layout of what you have in the works right now.

Just finished doing a song for [upcoming film] The Equalizer. My band Lance Herbstrong is getting really big, so that’s really exciting. And my solo album will be out this summer. I’m producing a lot of artists these days – which is another reason I was so drawn to Muzooka. I want to get all the artists I’m producing on there.

What are things that have changed in the industry over the course of your career?

When I started out, you had to either know someone who owned a recording studio and had people who knew how to run the tape machine and big boards and everything – you had to have a lot of money to even get it. And it was a close, tight thing. And now it’s wide open. It’s better to be a musician now than it was then.

Why do you think that is?

You’ve got a better chance at being heard and sharing your music. In those days, it was about impressing a record label and getting signed. Now, you can keep trying over and over. Back then, you had one chance. And you couldn’t do anything yourself. You had to have a cassette, you had to mail it to people. It was so much harder to get your music in front of anyone.

But on the other side, as easy as it is to share your music online, it’s even harder to actually get heard because there’s just such an overwhelming amount of content being pushed through the same channels. Is that what keeps record labels viable? Just having that added weight to promote music?

The actual record business of selling plastic…you’re shooting for Target and Wal-Mart. That’s to get a spot on the shelf, and traditional radio airplay, and to get on shows. Like Warner Brothers might own channel 5 and if The Voice is on channel 5, then Warner Brothers might put their artists on there. Or American Idol is on ABC, and ABC is owned by Disney, and Disney owns certain record labels, so those artists might get on there. It’s stuff like that.

But that’s obviously not the path that all (or even most) artists are taking.

No, definitely not. And the record deal isn’t enough anymore. Labels get these people on a bus, opening up for someone else. They need merchandise, and shows, and way more than an actual record. They call them “360 deals” now because everyone is downloading their music now. No one is selling plastic. So the labels are doing a lot more.

Do you think the internet has distracted artists from the importance of actually getting out and playing as many shows as possible?

Now there’s radio, internet, TV, movies, video games – it’s just getting it out there. But the traditional practice of getting up in front of a crowd is everything. If they hear something amazing, they’ll think “That’s what I saw.” Mike Watts says “records are just a flier for the gig.” What’s real, what’s alive, is your gig. The record is so people can listen to music when you’re not around.  

15 Best Songs From “How I Met Your Mother”

Of all the things that How I Met Your Motherdoes (did? *tear*) so well, selecting the perfect song for the moment is certainly near the top of the list. Paring down the impressively long list of songs from the course of the 9 seasons to just 15 of the best is a challenging – and admittedly subjective – task. Here are my picks. We would love to hear yours. (But if you say Chumbawumba, you’re blacklisted. I think we can all agree that’s fair.)

Try A Little Tenderness – Otis Redding

Inside of Love – Nada Surf

Souvenir – Billy Joel

If You See Her, Say Hello – Bob Dylan

Cherry Pie – Warrant

Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear

Beach Comber – Real Estate

Spit On A Stranger – Pavement

Forever – The Explorers Club

Soul Meets Body – Death Cab For Cutie

Off The Record – My Morning Jacket

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers

Love Song – Haunt

Better – Regina Spektor

Thirteen – Big Star

"Please God Just Get Me Through The Rest Of This Week" Motivational Playlist

If you’re one of those people who wakes up smiling with the sun in the morning, immediately feels blissful and ready to take on the world, and happily gets dressed with the assistance of chipper cartoon birds, you can click away now. I can’t with you. Because for any reasonable human, this is what morning should look like: begrudgingly dragging yourself into consciousness, having to completely re-learn how to perform your job / do basic self-maintenance like showering and picking out shoes, and more or less having to painstakingly chip away at the cement encasement around your will to live before anything resembling adult functioning can take place. Accomplishing this requires a near overdose of coffee, and at least one of the following songs for a perfectly timed, midday, mini dance party. If a 3-minute dance-off-the-sleepies interlude doesn’t get your mind right, then just sit back down and ponder whether or not you’re dead inside until happy hour gets here.

Evil – Interpol

I’m not gonna front like my intense love for this song doesn’t have a lot to do with its use in the first season of Grey’s Anatomy. Save the judgment, haters; there’s a good lesson here: if circumstances are getting out of hand and the situation looks beyond your limited control (like if your new roommate throws a huge party without asking you), your best option is to say “screw it”, grab the bottle of tequila and go dance on a table. Or something.

Roar – Katy Perry

I keep wanting to not like Katy Perry, but I keep getting happy feelings when I hear her songs. I think I’m giving up the fight.

Tightrope – Janelle Monaé

I live in Atlanta, so you should all be impressed with me that I don’t spend every minute of every day stalking Janelle Monaé. Also, MONAÉ > BEYONCÉ. Yeah, I said it.

Ride a White Horse – Goldfrapp

“Dancing like you’re high on coke” is the new “dancing while actually high on coke”. #grownuplife

Hotel Yorba – White Stripes

This song inspires less of a dance party and more of a “scream all the words at the top of your lungs until your throat dies” party, which is still makes for a really cathartic, energizing work break. And in case you’re keeping tabs, Jack White is still not my boyfriend. I’m working on it.

Maneater – Hall & Oates

Presented without explanation. If anyone ever asks you to give a reason for turning on Hall & Oates, slap that trick in the mouth.

Wannabe – Spice Girls

Don’t play. You love this so much. I’m literally talking to every single one of you.

Bombs Over Baghdad – OutKast

Most days, I strongly feel like if suddenly this was the only song I could ever listen to again, I would be more than fulfilled. These guys are human Prozac. (And no, I’m not intentionally putting multiple Atlanta artists on this list. I can’t help it if we’re just a lot funkier than the rest of the world.)

Last Nite – The Strokes

Remember when it was 2001 and Julian Casablancas entered our lives and we lost our shit? I was 14 and this song helped get my tender mind primed for angst-ridden years to come. Now, at 26, I just wanna bop around endlessly to this song, because ain’t nobody got time for angst anymore, but there’s always time for a dance break.

Get Busy – Sean Paul

Fuck it. FUCK IT. It’s been long enough that we can enjoy this again. If you turn this on at the peak of caffeine o’clock, not only will you immediately be overcome with a truly uncontrollable urge to shake your everything, you’ll spend the next three and a half minutes laughing about those weird days when Sean Paul somehow lead to a generation of 14-year-old white boys thinking they knew some shit about dancehall. Also, I suffer a significant amount of regret that I will never be able to dance like the girls in this video.

Also any James Brown or Prince, but that goes without saying.

The 12 Most Common Themes In Songs

It always feels like every song is about the same few things, just re-worded and re-packaged to be marketable to people with different musical tastes. As it turns out, that notion isn’t just the product of the cynical musical mind – there really are certain topics that are frequently repeated in pop music. And now (because we clearly needed to know), a new study from the University of North Carolina has examined the last 50 years of music in order to tell us exactly what those topics are.

  1. Loss
  2. Desire
  3. Aspiration
  4. Nostalgia
  5. Pain
  6. Breakup
  7. Rebellion
  8. Inspiration
  9. Jadedness
  10. Escapism
  11. Desperation
  12. Confusion

Do you think these are likely to continue to be relevant trends in creative expression in the next 50 years, or will we be singing about different things?

Considering you are currently reading this courtesy of some kind of internet connection, I’m going to assume that you, Person Of The Internet, have seen that viral video where strangers models were asked to kiss for the first time to promote love a line of clothing. (ICYMI or if you can’t get enough of seeing pretty people suck face, video is above.)

What you might not know is that the real celebrity to come out of this story is the artist behind the song in the video. Her name is Soko and she sings beautiful, dreamy songs. The song featured in this video, “We Might Be Dead Tomorrow” has suddenly catapulted in plays and downloads – it was originally released almost 2 years ago (to minimal attention) but after the kiss video went viral, the song jumped to no. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and sold over 10,000 downloads just last week. 

In other words, it caught a case of the Harlem Shakes.

BTW, because it’s actually so much sweeter than the viral ad that made the song famous, here’s the original video for Soko’s “Tomorrow”:

It’s interesting how this keeps happening. It used to be that artists dreamed of being discovered by someone from a big record label, or a major producer, when fantasizing about their “big break”. Now, that path to success feels like an easy grab compared with the real music industry Golden Ticket: having your track picked for a video that goes viral. 

What other examples can you think of where songs/artists became a big deal following their attachment to a widely circulated video?

Best of the week! Music news round-up

Lady Gaga speaks at SXSW: Criticizes corporate interference, defends Doritos relationship (The Guardian)

Want to hear Johnny Cash’s isolated vocals from “Ring of Fire”? Yes, you do. (Consequence of Sound)

Beyoncé changed the game: More major artists looking for creative ways to drop new music (Hypebot)

Apparently some people are just now realizing that house shows are the best (Huffington Post)

Jimmy Kimmel Live asks SXSW-goers about fake bands and it’s as laughable as you would imagine. (Rolling Stone)

The James Brown biopic looks kind of amazing. (Stereogum)