|Plate Tectonics, Part 1: Big Shifts are Gathering Beneath the Surface of Digital Music 04/02/2013|
you have not been following the digital music news, there are major forces
churning beneath the surface that will likely lead to some significant changes
and announcements related to the emerging marketplace for recorded music.
gathered up several headlines of the past 15 months to get you up to speed. Many in the world music scene feel that the larger industry is out of
their control or does not apply to the Island of Esoterica.
But when we hosted a record label panel at the annual Performing Arts Center
gathering APAP, Cumbancha's Jacob Edgar and A2IM president Rich Bengloff got
into a heated discussion about whether or not "music
discovery" companies like Pandora are serving the world music market and
fanbase adequately. The debate shows just how much world music is part of the whole, and how world music might have a serious role to play, as the market changes.
By understanding the shifts taking place, we as a field can brainstorm
and advocate how the emerging marketplace can better serve the discovery and
economic viability of global sounds. Read up on this emerging news below and
stay tuned for “Plate Tectonics 2,” where we propose actions we can all take.
2012: Digital Sales Exceed Physical Sales for First Time. As the iPod turned
ten years old, digital sales reached 50.3% of the US sales of recorded music. More
2012: Pandora Lobbies for Lower Rates. The public starts hearing that Pandora
is lobbying for lower royalty rates for Internet radio. CEO Tim Westergren
points out to Congress that different types of services pay different amounts
based on when certain laws were enacted. While artists and labels complain that
streaming services pay fractions of cents that are hard to track, streaming
services want to lower rates. More here.
2012: Beats Acquires MOG. Beats Electronics buys MOG music subscription
service and plans to re-launch it under the name Daisy. This acquisition of a
streaming music service by an electronics manufacturer shows that Apple is not
the only one that can use a physical product to to get into the digital music
game. Beats headphones are cool and spreading with youth in a similar way that
iPods did earlier. More here.
2013: Recording Sales Worldwide Were Up in 2012 for the First Time Since 1999.
Sales were up a mere .3%, but that may mean that the music industry hit its
bottom in 2011. Download sales grew 12% in 2012. More here.
2013: Spotify Seeks Lower Rates. Even though it has 5 million paying
subscribers worldwide, Spotify says that they can barely make a profit and now
they too want to pay lower licensing rates.
2013: Rumors and Reports that Amazon, Google, Samsung, and iTunes Plan
Subscription Services. The first quarter of 2013 has seen numerous reports that
the giants of tech may take on Spotify in a more direct way. One op-ed says
this is "the greatest trick the Majors have ever pulled off" by
increasing competition when current players int he subscription market are
lobbying for lower licensing rates. Read more.
2013: Guess What? So is Twitter. Twitter is reported to be launching their own
standalone iPhone music app where users of Twitter Music will get music
recommendations from their Twitter network. Read more.
2013: Spotify Rumored to Move into Video Streaming Like Netflix. Is the price
of high licensing rates and lots of competition for music subscription scaring
Spotify into pivoting into another market? Read more.
Need a tech-savvy advocate to help support your release, tour, or other music or performance-related project on the shifting U.S./Canadian music market? Get in touch; we'd love to talk.
|Is SXSW Worth it for the World Music Professional Crowd? 03/27/2013|
by Dmitri Vietze, founder, rock paper scissors
After attending SXSW five times, and having mixed feelings
each year, I felt that SXSW 2013 reached a new level of usefulness. However,
this may not be true for everyone in the world music field.
My PR company rock paper scissors and my career overall is
in the process of diversifying. The company tagline has been "music of
global significance" and we have become known by many as the premier publicity firm for "world music" in its broadest definition. We are
in the process of re-branding and our new tagline is "deeply
Why go eclectic?
The concept of world music for marketing has proven to be
useful sometimes but not always. In addition, personally and as a team, we are
still huge enthusiasts for global music, roots music, cross-cultural musical
experiences, and hybrid music forms that combine seemingly disparate elements
from all of the above. We love telling the stories of the musicians, festivals,
and record labels involved in these forms. We are excited by the rapid
diversification of musical taste throughout the world. Borders are continuing
to break down both in terms of music industry infrastructure and in terms of
genres. The crossing of borders is not just happening in "world music"
but in all genres. Classically-trained musicians are expressing themselves
through indie-rock inflected song forms and combining non-classical instruments
with cellos and bassoons. Pop songs in other languages are finding audiences
like never before. Campfire stomp-and-clap folk tunes are merging with melodic radio
anthems. The Internet-enabled mosh pit of music discovery is allowing more and
more niches to rise. The Great Wall of Music Promotion is deteriorating little
by little as more pockets of fans and musicians develop their own tribes and
then grow them outside of the old way. These are exciting times and this is a
chance for us as a company to re-calibrate our musical taste in an eclectic soundscape.
We will not stop working with global musicians and
organizations. In fact, I am sure that will continue to be the bulk of what we
do for a long time. But by diversifying beyond that we get to take our
expertise in storytelling and apply it to the many music forms and bands that
are thriving, regardless of whether they fit into the genre formerly known as
"world music." In addition, you may have noticed but what little
"world music press" there ever was is shrinking, while our press list
is constantly growing. Clients sometimes come to us saying they want to hire us
because of our "world music press" list. The truth is, there are only
a small number of world music press outlets; and that is really not a new
thing. Most of who we always pitched have been mainstream news press or music press, not
world music press. We just happen to know which people at those outlets have
ears more open to global music forms. And we have developed a way to make a lot
of "foreign" sounding stuff compelling in our pitches. But the intent
behind this and our approach works just as well with other eclectic forms of music.
Many of the journalists we pitch every day cover a lot of types of music,
"world music" being just one of many ways they slices their coverage
Infiltration Means Fewer Silos
I also predict that as our roster diversifies, it will
actually HELP our "world music" clients as we continue to convert
non-"world music" fans in the media into more regular reviewers of
global music. And as more artists continue to "color outside the
lines" of rigid genres, our lifelong expertise in tweaking media target lists
and pitches gives us a leg up for them. After all, world music is not a genre.
It's hundreds of genres, so we have always been forced to explain the quirky,
the lesser-known... and to seek out additional outlets beyond our core media
friends as we customize a PR target list for each new client. That's what we
So I used SXSW 2013 to immerse myself in a wider swath of
genres than I have in the past. One of our interns took the NPR 100 SXSW picks
and turned it into a Spotify playlist for me. I listened to as much of it as I
could and when I heard something I liked, I put it on my calendar. In addition,
I connected with various friends who book shows at Joe's Pub (NYC), Lincoln
Center (NYC), Stern Grove (San Francisco), and Kennedy Center (Washington, DC),
who had done a ton of their own research, and tagged along with them. It was a
little bit weird because in the past I had tried to help the world music (OK, I
am going to stop with the quotation marks for now) field in identifying where
the world music hotspots were at SXSW, either through listing showcases here on
the DubMC blog or Facebook, organizing meals together to compare notes, or even
once with a group texting phone app. And this time it was a whole different
Music I Discovered at SXSW
I do think that SXSW 2012 had more of a critical mass of
world music showcases as well as more visibility of Latin music showcases.
Though I am not totally sure because of my change in SXSW mission. globalFEST,
WOMEX, ONErpm, and National Geographic all staged showcases again this year. I
also noticed Terakaft, Ozomatli, and other international acts played on the Day
Stages in the convention center, which was something new as far as I could
tell. The sound in the convention center stages was very good (especially
compared to the overkill high-volume-no-mix shitty sound of many of the clubs
during SXSW). globalFEST introduced one of the best global artists of my SXSW:
La Chiva Gantiva, a multilingual Brussels-based group fueled by Colombian
percussion rounded out with a fearless rock meets funk aesthetic. Red Baraat
and A Tribe Called Red were probably the hardest working global bands at SXSW
with multiple showcases each. If you have not seen pow wow-meets-electronica DJ crew A
Tribe Called Red yet, get on that program ASAP as they are one of the hottest
newer bands of the scene right now. Meanwhile, Red Baraat has only gotten more
and more on fire since the first time I saw them at Lotus Festival here in
Bloomington. And they were able to turn out crowd after crowd at their SXSW
showcases. A couple of performers I only caught a little bit, but were new
discoveries and I would like to see more of: Chic Gamine (Winnipeg's modern
answer to Zap Mama) and Charan Po Rantan (a stunningly dressed Japanese duo plus drummer doing Chanson, Gypsy music, and popular Japanese music from the '50s-'60s). And
get World Hood on your radar as they are at the center of a globally conscious
roots-meets-beats scene out of Sacramento that is heating up, up, up.
Some of the non worldy bands that I fell in love with are:
Mother Falcon; Boy; He's My Brother, She's My Sister; The Staves,
and Alt-J. Plus I got to see Chuck D (on the big Dorito's stage screen),
Vampire Weekend (in a conference ballroom, weird), The Specials (give it up,
guys) and George Clinton (buttoned up in a dark suit calling from stage that he
smelled some weed and he wanted some).
For Whom Does SXSW Work Best?
Through all of this, I actually found that I got a lot of
business done as well. Thanks to membership in the indie label trade group A2IM
and what turned out to be an effective meeting pitch that could not be resisted,
I had well over 40 sit-down business meetings. The big question is: is it worth
it if you are clearly in the center of the world music scene, is SXSW worth it?
I would say: if you want to rub off into non-world music places, to get up to
speed on the latest vibe and news as it relates to the new digital marketplace,
if you want to have fun and not feel that every band you see has to be a world
music band, if you are willing to put up with noise, crowds, lines,
inebriation, a lack of taxis (we rented bikes!), and it's as much fun as it is
work: yes! For those going for the performing arts center and world music
festival vibe, WOMEX and APAP will give you more value for your money. But if
you have indie rock and world music in your mix, SXSW is a requirement.
Interestingly, I just read 5 Reasons You Should Have Gone to Canadian Music
Week Instead of SXSW and it made me wonder if it was time for the world music posse to aim its
infiltration sights there instead, since we might be able to get more notice in
the mix there.
By the way, I went to SXSW Interactive in 2012 and found it
to be pretty useless from a music perspective. There were insurmountable lines
to get into panels (!), lots of panels with corporate talking heads towing the
line, a snotty geeks-rule-the-world vibe (I guess they do not remember when
athletes were kicking their asses in elementary school), and half the new
people I met said, "Oh I am just here because I could get my boring
corporate employee to pay for it and as a break from boring job." I am
glad I skipped it in 2013.
Overall, I would say that SXSW Music's outrageousness has
reached a whole new level. And it's actually worth it to be there just to see
almost everyone in the music field having fun together, to get a read on where
the non-pop music scene is, and to do some networking with people you already
know and maybe meet a few new people. Don't expect to further your career there
in any kind of quantifiable way though.
rock paper scissors is a publicity firm known for getting deeply eclectic music into the press, including a strong track record with several National Public Radio programs, PRI's The World, the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, and hundreds of other media outlets. We are now accepting client applications for June and July albums, tours, and festivals. Please contact us here to discuss a publicity campaign proposal for you.
|Swinging Against Violence: Magnolia March 03/13/2013|
Sandy Hook was a turning point for many. Tap dancer and musician Max Pollak, whose friend lost his daughter there, had to do something. He decided to take action by evoking the New Orleans tradition of the second-line procession, the jazz parade that both celebrates life and gives a chance to grieve.
The result was Magnolia March. Joined by musicians, dancers, and other performers who will be marching in Vienna, Barcelona, Helsinki, Tokyo, Athens, Toronto, Detroit, Boston, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Lafayette, Pollak will lead the procession in New York City, from Lincoln Center, with colleagues from Harry Connick's band, and some special surprise guests.
"Magnolia March is a memorial for lives taken by violence," explains Pollak. "We
will bring people together with traditional New Orleans music to let
everyone release their emotions in dance and song, to turn this memory
into action, making peace and a safe future for our kids one swinging
tune at a time."
|SXSW: Global music not to miss 03/07/2013|
SXSW is emerging as a great place to catch some great global artists. Here's a short list to consider as you're figuring out your schedule for next week's music component.
Brushy: Gritty, haunting underground Jamaican blues--all on one guitar string
The King of the one string guitar, Brushy is the quintessential
Jamaican artist: creative, ingenious, talented and entertaining. The
son of the late legendary Freddie McKay, Brushy can sound like a full band when he runs his fingers over his
one-string guitar. After touring Japan, England
and New York in the early nineties, Brushy's career remained dormant
until he resurfaced a few years ago thanks to a Jamaican TV show which
featured him repeatedly. This, along with a cameo appearance in the
recent cult reggae documentary RiseUp, is giving Brushy the comeback
of his life. His videos went viral worldwide, and he's returning to the spotlight with his first studio album and a tour that includes SXSW and the New Orleans Jazz Fest this spring.
March 12: "Shiner Sessions in the Do512 Lounge"
2208 S. Lamar, #C-1, Austin TX 78704
Emicida: Hard-hitting, fast-rising Brazilian MC with live band and DJ
pirate MP3s and mix-tape fame to big stage shows, hit videos, and video
game spots, Emicida kept his spitfire flow and unfaltering intensity.
Underground kudos led to hit singles, and eventually to choice
appearances at some of the Americas' biggest festivals (including a set
at Coachella). In 2012, Emicida was invited to perform at the two majors
music festivals of Brazil: Rock in Rio (playing with the reggae band
Cidade Negra) and SWU. Soon afterward, he won the Act of the Year award
from the MTV VMB Awards, officially sealing his spot at the top of the
a seasoned hip-hop performer and outspoken MC, Emicida embodies the
tough spirit of the gritty Sao Paolo scene. Learn more about Emicida's
music and story here.
Emicida will be debuting a new mix of live band of guitars and
additional vocals, to boost the sound of his usual DJ partner-in-crime, Nyack.
Latest video "Zica vai lá," featuring Brazilian soccer star, Neymar.
March 12, Whiskey Room, 12:05 AM
globalFEST:U.S. world music springboard presents hot beats and rare roots
America’s world music springboard, is returning to infiltrate the indie
music hub of SXSW for a showcase of nomad desert blues (Mali’s Terakaft), Southern Italian trance-inducing folk (Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino), beats from the Subcontinent via Brooklyn (brassy bhangra funk masters Red Baraat), Afro-Colombian funk by way of Brussels (La Chiva Gantiva), and bad-ass bass music from Ottawa’s indigenous underground (the unflinching audio/visual intensity of A Tribe Called Red).
March 15, Speakeasy, 8 PM
WOMEX: Get psyched for this autumn's annual global music meet up, WOMEX, with this fantastic mix of traditional, unconventional, and funky sounds, including:
- Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic (USA)
- Bareto (Peru)
- Líber Terán (Mexico)
- Red Baraat (USA)
- NY Gypsy All-Stars (Macedonia/Greece/Turkey USA)
More to come! RSVP to the facebook event to get updates.
March 14, Copa (217 Congress Ave)
|APAP: One last fond look 03/06/2013|
Veteran industry observer Evangeline Kim offers a thorough, thoughtful overview of this year's APAP conference, including the World Music Pre-Conference RPS organized. Of the "strong series of world music related panels with some of the brightest and most successful personalities in the music industry," Kim recommended the panel on Technology Tools.
Read her full report here.
|World Music Infiltration and Cutting Edge Curation 02/13/2013|
World Music Infiltration and Cutting Edge Curation from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.
On January 10-11, 2013, rock paper scissors' CEO Dmitri Vietze hosted the APAP World Music Preconference in New York City. The event included a panel titled "World Music Infiltration and Cutting Edge Curation, with panelists Shanta
Thake (Joe’s Pub & globalFEST), Mat Hall (Luaka Bop/Maine Road
Management), Tom Chauncey (Partisan Arts), Kerry Clarke (Calgary Folk
Festival), Cathy Edwards (International Festival of Arts & Ideas),
Guillaume Decouflet (Valeo Productions, manager of A Tribe Called Red),
moderated by Vietze. Video shot and edited by America's guerilla world
music videographer and video blogger Michal Shapiro of inter-muse.
|APAP World Music Panel: Technology Tools for Artists, Labels, and Concert Presenters 02/11/2013|
Talking Technology Tools for the Music Biz from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.
Moderated by Dmitri Vietze (rock paper scissors, deeply eclectic music PR)
Liv Buli (Next Big Sound)
Kendel Ratley (Kickstarter)
Jaclyn Ranere (The Orchard)
Tony van Veen (CD Baby)
John Hammond (Missing Piece Group)
Kristin Thomason (Pew Internet and Future of Music)
Video by: Michal Shapiro (inter-muse)
|The State of the World Music Recording Industry 02/06/2013|
State of the Recording Industry: What's Working, What's Not? from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.
On January 10-11, 2013, rock paper scissors' CEO Dmitri Vietze hosted the APAP World Music Preconference in New York City. The first panel was The State of the Recording Industry with panelists Rich Bengloff (A2IM), Paul Dryden (ATO Records), Jon Kertzer (Next Ambiance/Sub Pop! Records), and Jacob Edgar (Cumbancha Records), moderated by Vietze. Video shot and edited by America's guerilla world music videographer and video blogger Michal Shapiro of inter-muse.
|Unofficial Guide to World Music at APAP: Mobile Website for Easy Discovery 01/03/2013|
This year we at rock paper scissors partnered to create a smartphone website for the Unofficial Guide to World Music at APAP. The Guide includes over 200 concerts in 48 venues and the diversity is stunning.
If you don't already know, APAP is a major booking conference in NYC in January every year where venues like Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl, SummerStage and thousands of other performing arts centers, festivals, clubs, and community venues plan much of their booking for the following year. There are thousands of showcase performances alongisde the conference not only in world music, but also in jazz, classical, dance, theater, circus arts, and more.
To help those with an interest in booking or seeing world music, we created this Guide with the help of agents, managers, artists, and venues who add all their own submissions:
1. Mobile is Best. If possible, review the listings on an iPhone or Android so you can tag concerts you want to see and have them show up in "My Showcase List." No trees killed, no unwieldy spreadhseets. Results may vary on other devices.
2. Don't Lose Your Cookies. You must enable cookies in the settings for your mobile browser. And do NOT clear your browser cookies or you will lose your selections.
3. Put a Heart On It. To tag an event, click on the heart icon in the full listing. That adds the event to "My Showcase List."
4. Alternatives to Mobile/SmartPhones. If you do not have a compatible device, don't worry. You can also use the guide from a regular computer. We recommend Chrome, but Firefox or Safari work too. You can download a CSV spreadsheet from "Showcases by venue" or "Showcases by date" with the download icon in the upper left. You can print "My Showcase List" with the printer icon in the upper left.
5. Real Time Updates. We tried to get everyone to enter their showcase listings before this announcement but stuff changes and news travels slow. They can update, make corrections, make additions in real time now as well. So it is an every evolving schedule and you may want to check it the day of each concert to be sure. Better yet: contact your booking agent or venue friend to make sure you can get in. We cannot be responsible for wrong information in the Guide since we did not add it.
6. This is Unofficial. We didn't get permission from anyone to do this. We just did it. We hope that's OK. For the real deal, the awesome APAP conference's official showcase listings which is much more comprehensive with all genres and disciplines, go to:
We are big fans and supporters of the APAP organization and the conference. We strongly encourage serious performing arts professionals to learn more about the conference, join and attend.
HUGE THANKS to Rendezville and WhimMill for their contribution to the performing arts field with this mobile web app.
And if you are in NYC for APAP, please introduce yourself to me, Dmitri Vietze, or the rest of the rock paper scissors team: the amazing writer and manager Tristra Newyear Yeager, and our NPR and New York Times-scoring publicists Rachel DiGregorio and Ryan Dawes.