The Hot 25: August 18, 2017

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The Hot 25 is the definitive playlist series running through dance music culture and hand­-delivering you the essential tracks of the week. Whether it’s the hottest or quickest trending tracks, brand new music from your favorite artists, or songs from the unknown that should be landing on your radar, Dancing Astronaut brings you 25 carefully selected records that reflect what’s happening in our world.

The past week’s top tracks come from Kaytranada, Jauz, LCD Soundsystem; innovative remixes from Kill the Zo, Flux Pavilion, and Madison Mars; and finally, some genre-blending originals from Ekali, Malaa, and ZHU.

Additionally, we’ve provided our top picks from within The DA Hot 25, highlighting two standout tracks.

The Heat of the Week: Gorillaz – Stobelite (ft. Peven Everett) [Kaytranada Remix]

The Gorillaz have been still riding high after their momentous return with their fifth studio album, Humanz, and the LP came with a number of high profile remixes including Baauer, ZHU, Bonobo, and more. To further flex on the album’s remix catalog, Kaytranada steps forth and applies his own twist on the groove-ridden R&B number, “Strobelite,” and the Soulection maestro does not disappoint.

The Breakout Select: Jauz – Alpha

Festival season may be approaching its final week’s of the year, but that won’t stop Jauz. The bass house trailblazer came forth today with a wub-pumping original, “Alpha,” that is sure to electrify crowds from the main stage through the end of this year and into next.

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Kygo’s 2013 remix of Henry Green’s ‘Electric Feel’ is now on Spotify

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Many moons ago in October 2013, as one may recall, Kygo added his signature tropical house Midas touch to Henry Green‘s sultry cover of “Electric Feel.” Despite the remix being posted to both YouTube and SoundCloud, Kygo never received official clearance by the record labels in order for the song to end up on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.

The time has finally arrived four years later where Kygo’s take on “Electric Feel” can be added to any playlist, delivering endless summer vibes for listeners who want to groove to an easy beat, gentle guitar riffs, and soothing vocals. Kygo’s latest addition to Spotify follows the premiere of his documentary, “Stole The Show,” which debuted a couple of weeks ago at NYC’s Metrograph. With the warm remix of Henry Green’s “Electric Feel” resurfacing from the earlier stages of his career, we are reminded once again why we fell in love with Kygo from the start.

H/T: EDMSauce

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Attention Gamers: Spotify is now available on Xbox One

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Gaming just leveled up.

Spotify has officially teamed up with Xbox to provide gamers an ideal music and gaming integration.

Now available across 34 international markets, Spotify is downloadable on Xbox One. Gamers can now save music, curate their very own playlists, and listen to their full catalog of music while playing.

Users will seamlessly be able to use Spotify Connect to change songs, pause or skip wirelessly all without interrupting game play.

Listen to Xbox’s very first playlist featuring Kygo, GRiZ, and more here.

Via: Mixmag

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The Hot 25: August 4, 2017

This post was originally published on this site

The Hot 25 is the definitive playlist series running through dance music culture and hand­-delivering you the essential tracks of the week. Whether it’s the hottest or quickest trending tracks, brand new music from your favorite artists, or songs from the unknown that should be landing on your radar, Dancing Astronaut brings you 25 carefully selected records that reflect what’s happening in our world.

The past week brought a batch of A-list collaborations from Skrillex & DJ Sliink, KSHMR & Snails, R3HAB & Felix Cartel; stand-out singles from Steve Angello, Rezz, and Bicep; and finally, some weekend-ready remixes from Spencer Brown, SAVI, and Tim Engelhardt.

Additionally, we’ve provided our top picks from within The DA Hot 25, highlighting two standout tracks.

The Heat of the Week: Steve Angello – Rejoice (feat. T.D. Jakes)

While his most recent activity has been limited outside of his back-to-back weekends at Coachella this year, dance music icon, Steve Angello, returns with two new tracks that are the start of a slew of releases. Out of the two, “Rejoice” stands out for the ex-Swedish House Mafia member’s ability to convey raw power in a seven minute piece that transcends the current trends of electronic dance music. Recruiting T.D. Jakes to provide a groundshaking speech atop of angelic voices and organ chords, Steve Angello once again shows the scene why he has been at the forefront of electronic music culture since the beginning.

The Breakout Select: Bicep – Glue

Underground wunderkinds, Bicep, slide into the tail-end of summer with a break-heavy new single “Glue.” A tad slower than what one might call a club track, the Irish pair balance spastic percussion with ethereal synths and heavenly wails to yield a product that is certainly at the top of our releases for the week.

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‘Steve Aoki Presents Kolony’ is a wild, rap-heavy ride

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Steve Aoki has been teasing his new album Kolony for months now and today, fans finally get to hear the full thing. The ten-track album released on Dim Mak/Ultra Records is Steve Aoki’s first entrance into rap.

“When I was in the studio working on this project or a song with someone that made it to the album, they brought their own crew, and I’d turn around and be like, ‘this squad is like a colony,’” explains Aoki of the album’s title. “We’re like a colony, because it just felt like the energy in the room was more vibrant. It was a lot of energy from people flowing from the studio, and I loved that think tank, that group collaboration, and spirit.”

Aoki has released a few of the tracks already, including “Lit” with Yellow Claw and Gucci Mane and “Without U” with DVBBS and 2 Chainz among others withan extensive number of collaborations with the likes of Bad Royale, Migos, and ILoveMakonnen.

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Tensions rise between Spotify and music publishers

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Spotify has had quite a tumultuous week. After being accused of committing fraud, the Swedish streaming giant is facing new pressure from the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA).

According to the New York Post, music publishers have banded together to demand money from the service for unpaid royalties. In the past, Spotify has claimed that they did not have the specific publisher data to know which songwriters to pay, but the NMPA asserts that is false. The NMPA’s Danielle Aguirre claims that the songwriters have not been paid “despite the musical work — with contact information — [being] clearly available in the records of the copyright office.” While Spotify settled a $43.4 million lawsuit from music publishers just last month, they are insistent that the streaming service has not paid their full dues.

The NMPA is also interested in an equity stake in Spotify, which, set to go public some time in the next year, could be worth up to $13 billion. With Spotify not looking to meet these requests, the NMPA may soon take legal action, which could strongly affect their plans to go public.

H/T: New York Post

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For its flaws, SoundCloud is still the best streaming service on Earth [Editorial]

For its flaws, SoundCloud is still the best streaming service on Earth [Editorial]

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Amid worrying reports that SoundCloud may well and truly be over the hill, it’s been easy for the music community to get carried away preparing obituaries for the stream titan that cite a lack of management expertise, flawed revenue model, and ill-treatment of fresh talent as root causes of an untimely demise.

However, to call SoundCloud ‘dead’ would be incorrect, especially in light of recent statements from the company and some of its more high profile supporters.

The fact is that, even in the most trying of times, SoundCloud has more visitors to its website per month than its main competitors, even while the number of registered users and time spent on the website per user has continued steadily dropping in favor of major competitors like Spotify and Apple Music.

It would be naïve to suggest that SoundCloud’s problems could miraculously vanish with a major cash injection that many anticipate is coming the website’s way.

For starters, the entirety of the company’s revenue model needs a stark restructure if any lasting improvement is to be observed.

A key contributing factor to SoundCloud’s current struggles is their despotic removal of mixes and singles due to ownership and copyright issues. Though there are surely two sides to this not insignificant issue, SoundCloud’s “three strikes” rule has adversely affected budding musicians and eminent producers alike—Martin Garrix’s music was taken down by the site at the beginning of the year.

By relaxing the rules surrounding the removal of mixes—at least those in which the mixer credits each track to the contributing artist—and bootleg remixes, SoundCloud just might be able to live up to their vision of being a “unique ecosystem where all forms of expression can live and thrive.” They could possibly even resurrect their faltering finances in the process.

Currently, the website’s independent artist base—which had been their main source of revenue until the introduction of their new subscription pricing option a few months ago—has been steadily shrinking while they continue to pay exorbitant rates to major music labels to keep them from abandoning a sinking ship. It’s just a matter of time before the such a system would implode as company strategy continues to turn its back on its core user base

The possibility of this scenario, however unlikely, should be taken as a serious concern. After all, enterprise owners have pulled the plug on more useful money pits before, which begs the question:  ‘What kind of post apocalyptic musical society could emerge once SoundCloud is gone?’

Well, for starters, such events would throw a serious wrench in the A&R efforts for some 20,000 independent labels that currently populate the website. This process of recruiting up and coming talent is essential for the all-round development of those musicians and, in turn, benefits major labels who bank on their indie counterparts to sift through a sea of prospective signees and filter out those with true talent.

Artists like Kygo, Seven Lions, Illenium, Martin Garrix and Mura Masa would not have become household names without the unprecedented, direct-to-consumer exposure that SoundCloud provides, to say nothing of their equivalents in the hip hop community. Other streaming sites simply lack the social and share-friendly elements that allow for artist discovery on the platform. If artists depended solely on, say, Spotify playlist placement as a possible break, indie development in the electronic music industry would seriously stagnate or even regress with time.

Let’s be honest, the discovery of new artists is the main reason the SoundCloud party hasn’t ended already.

Among an ever shortening list of edges the company holds over other services is its user interface which is more than half social media. No other website offers the combination of an instant feed, the ability to like and repost music to one’s own profile, or enables feedback on an artist’s work. On this front, the site’s only real competitor is YouTube—but mobile streaming videos can be cumbersome and data intensive, especially for mobile users.

Meanwhile, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora don’t even come close to reproducing anything near SoundCloud’s community-oriented interface. They are music streaming websites, and that’s all.

They offer no value addition to the streaming process whatsoever, apart from a smattering of user-specific playlistsmetric insights and simple notifications for followers when new music is released.

In fact, these websites are more suited to housing a user’s private collection and offering recommendations based on a taste profile, while SoundCloud basically shoves new music in users faces around the clock. While this distinction may not be of much importance to a casual listener, it makes a difference to tastemakers, label heads, and for music writers like myself. Perhaps I’m alone in feeling that I would much rather open a web page and have new music from various sources waiting patiently for my discerning ear, than scour social media for new music announcements, opening them one at a time across various tabs and servers.

Which brings us back to SoundCloud’s defining characteristic—a literally unfathomable degree of accessibility.

Though many readers of Dancing Astronaut live in the United States, many human beings who consume electronic music do not.  As of publication, SoundCloud can be freely accessed by citizens of 190 countries, boasting over 175 million monthly hits.

Spotify’s anemic outreach has brought the app to a measly 60 countries with an Alexa rank of 147 to SoundCloud’s 109. While Apple Music claims to be available in 120 countries, many of those regions only have access to certain features of the service. Countries like Qatar are only able to subscribe to iTunes Match—a service that depends on your ownership of the music, to begin with.

Both fall well short of SoundCloud’s global appeal inherently with their pay-to-play subscriber models that require monthly memberships and, often, the use of a native app.

As an Indian citizen, the biggest stumbling block to Spotify’s potential reign of supremacy is its lack of global support. Somehow, this region is dramatically neglected though India constitutes over 1/7th of the world’s population and is considered by many to be the next big destination for EDM. There is a reason that eminent producers like Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, and Tiesto visit India on a regular basis, and reserve high praise for the energetic, high-capacity crowds that turn up to their shows.

To be honest, it’s been completely baffling to see the lack of action taken by Spotify and other stream competitors to explore the vast, untapped potential the Indian market has to offer. The role I currently hold at Dancing Astronaut was predicated on opinions about music formed solely on SoundCloud. For years the site has been my bread and butter, as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth. I sure as hell am not ready to let it fade into irrelevance unless a fitting heir is poised to replace it.

SoundCloud will continue to hold an ace up its sleeve, to my mind, as long as it continues to dominate the international market and toast its competitors with website traffic. The weight of those metrics alone could empower the site to play hardball with major labels over subscription fees to gain a financial upper hand. If the labels disagree and SoundCloud does go bust, 175 million users from 190 countries could potentially be without access to music.

Labels, artists, and users would lose too much. It’s in our common interest to ensure SoundCloud remains up and running for the foreseeable future.

One can only hope that such a bleak future would never come to fruition, as the solution to this seemingly complex financial problem simply requires SoundCloud to become the website it was always supposed to be—a music sharing community for musicians, by musicians.

SoundCloud is so much more than just a music streaming website, it’s a blissful, nearly flawless aggregation of different levels of the musical supply chain with the power to modify trends and shape genres. With any luck—and quite a bit of work—it could even remain so for decades to come.

 

Kanvar Kohli is Dancing Astronaut’s International Editor. Based in India, he provides a fresh, cogent perspective on the electronic music industry from one of its biggest emerging markets.

“Fake” Spotify artist discusses the streaming giant’s fraud accusations

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Just last week, Spotify was accused of defrauding its stream numbers and underpaying artists by placing “fake artists” in highly-streamed playlists — effectively limiting the opportunities for other artists to make money and gain exposure.

The report, originally published by Vulture, claimed that the streaming service put said artists’ songs onto its premium curated playlists, ones like “Deep Sleep” or “Peaceful Piano” which in turn allowed the company to cut corners on writing checks to other artists.  These tracks reportedly hit over 500 million streams, which, by Spotify’s royalty rates, saved the streaming giant about $3 million.

In a quick turnaround, the streaming service denied the allegations, a spokesperson for the company stating,

“We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists. Categorically untrue, full stop. We pay royalties — sound and publishing — for all tracks on Spotify, and for everything we playlist. We do not own rights, we’re not a label, all our music is licensed from rightsholders and we pay them — we don’t pay ourselves.”

Following the denial of these specific allegations, concern has also arisen regarding how fairly the service is paying its artists via royalty rates.

Peter Sandberg, a 27-year-old composer in Sweden, who creates tracks for Spotify playlists under various pseudonyms (which he has not revealed) has recently come forward discussing his take on his work with the company. In an interview with The New York Times, Sandberg stated that using the term “fake” is not justifiable. He continued,

“I’m a composer trying to find a way to grow and spread my work,” he wrote via email. “And to be called fake is not something I appreciate.”

Sandberg is represented by Epidemic Sound, a Swedish company that makes background music for television shows, films, as well as YouTube and Facebook videos and has worked alongside pop stars like Kelly Clarkson in the past. The entity uses European venture capital firm Creandum as an investor — as does Spotify. Sandberg continued in the interview that his compensation was just fine.

Spotify’s global head of strategic initiatives, Jonathan Prince, says the streaming giant uses Epidemic’s library because of the demand of their mood-based playlists like “Peaceful Piano,” a playlist which has 2.9 million followers. “We’ve found a need for content,”  Sandberg said in a recent interview. “We work with people who are interested in producing it,” apparently Epidemic Sound is just one of those parties.

While it remains to be know how much lower the royalty rate is for these type of tracks, it seems to hold a different degree of an issue from artist to artist.

H/T: Stereogum

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Morgan Page talks the key to long term success in the ever-changing dance music industry [Interview]

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It’s 2008, and the Deadmau5 remix of “The Longest Road” has just been nominated for a Grammy. Legends like Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, and Above & Beyond are leading the European fervor for Trance, but the dance scene in the United States is still very much a niche interest. Ultra isn’t a three day festival yet, and the US music tastes are at a crossroads.

Britney Spears is being awarded “Best Dance Track” nominations, and rap, pop, and punk rock are all at a stand still with no clear vector to the forefront of the millennial generation’s ever multiplying interests. Meanwhile, a 27 year old from Vermont named Morgan Page is navigating a hit single that will be the beginning of a long, career—hard won through persistence, talent, and the impending explosion of electronic music in the US.

morgan page strut

 

If you ask Morgan Page when his career started, he would tell you that it was in the back room of the University of Vermont’s student run radio station, all the way back in ’96.

At 16, he’d discovered the channel thumbing through the jam bands, classic rock, and hip hop that cluttered the FM dial in his hometown, a suburb of Burlington, Vermont. Before long, Page was filling in as a host and DJ for students too hungover to make their shifts. After a stint managing a channel in Boston, Page scored a summer internship at a hot New York record label where his job duties included taking out executives’ garbage.

It wasn’t until Page released “The Longest Road” in 2008 that Page had his ‘breakthrough moment’ as an artist. After years of effort behind getting a club residency, he enlisted Deadmau5 to do a remix for his new single, hiring the superstar producer outright. This decision would earn Deadmau5’s first Grammy nomination, and produced the song that could be heard in every club and radio station nationwide.

“That was before [Deadmau5] had the mousehead and was at the earlier stages in his career arc. His stuff was just starting to blow up on Beatport, and Beatport was a real outlet and a real tastemaker then. I remember that remix being played when you went to any club in Miami. Every shop that you walked into, even the pizza store, was playing that song. But that was a different time where one song would really just plaster the continent.”

But the world in which Page first became a household name in the electronic community is so starkly different than the landscape of electronic music in the US now. Ultra has careened into a 3-day two weekend event, superstar DJs are filling arenas on the merit of their own productions, and the electronic music industry was valued at approximately $7.1 billion. It’s an evolution that hasn’t escaped Page’s scrutiny.

“My first reaction is what took so long? (For EDM to explode). There were three waves, and a lot of politics got in the way of that. There was this rave act that took all of these huge festivals that were happening and squashed them. No one could be a part of these for several years. That was like this false start for a lot of festivals, and I wasn’t DJing at that point, but I was starting to get into music then in the late 90s and early 2000s.

“It took several tries, and then major labels started putting in a lot of money and investment into Daft Punk,The Prodigy, Crystal Method, and all of these sort of electronica artists. It’s really humbling and great to see that it blew up. I think now it is all about maintaining that, and now it has matured and it is still doing great, but now we look into where does it evolve now? Does it just turn into hip hop? Where does it go next? That’s what it feels a little bit like now- that it is reverting to hip hop.”

Unlike other artists in the industry, Page has found a way to experiment with his sound as electronic has turned commercial without compromising the core of what makes him unique as a producer. He has not caved to the trends, pivoting to pop/rap collaborations that are sure fire radio hits. Instead, he’s has managed to stay not only relevant, but popular, despite a staunch disinterest in infusing hip hop into his music.

“As you have heard, my music has been been pretty diverse. ‘Other Girl‘ was a little more tropical focused, and “Fight My Way” is a little more my usual style of Progressive House. I think this is the time to really try different BPM’s, so that is the biggest difference you will see with future releases.
To me, it’s not so much about teaming up with 2 Chainz. I like to surprise people, and I’m talking to guys like Kaskade about teaming up for a song, but for me it’s more about changing the framework rather than just famous guest appearances. There won’t be any DJ Khaled on there, and making songs that have strong vocals that last is the backbone of songs that will stick around a little longer.”  

Another dynamic of the evolving music industry that has affected Page’s decision making not stylistically, but strategically, is the evolution of how to successfully release music to fans. Page has shifted his focus from album releases to singles, with the acknowledgement that singles can be missed when stand alone. Contrastingly, releasing a full album all at once puts the songs at risk for having one hit single on the album overshadow other great releases that may have made more of an impact if not released alongside other songs.

Despite changing his release strategy, Page has remained consistent in his approach to making his music. He discusses at length how he has managed to diversify his production process through collaborations as well as what goes into making a hit in the world of modern day dance music.

“My main criteria when I make music in the studio is goosebumps. How do you get that serotonin rush and the endorphins from making the music? And when that wears off  from hearing the song too many times, is it still a good song? That’s the challenge- still staying objective with a song after you have heard it a lot. A big thing about what I am doing now is teaming up with a lot of younger producers to have that extra ear in the studio. I would just be very stubborn and work by myself, but you can see like the remix with Deadmau5, the collaboration adds so much. It just pushes you because you can’t work in your own vacuum.

“I think the hardest part is that I think every song is going to be amazing and be a hit record. Sometimes that is not the case, and other times some songs have done better than I thought it would. When you release a song, you’re hoping that all of the variables line up because a hit record is a million things going right. The bar for a platinum record is so high now- it is 150 million streams, and that’s crazy. Success depends on things like the good placement on a playlist because not everyone has access to the music. That’s something that has been really nice with Armada. They are important and really come through in these situations in an oversaturated market through making you a priority when it needs to be and pulling back where it’s good to do that.”

Page was unique in that he remained on a smaller label for years before joining electronic giant Armada in November of 2016. Armada was not his first run in with big record labels, however.  Page and his team had a slight mishap with Atlantic when the label created electronic imprint Big Beat Records and tried to get him on board as the first artist to join.

“I was going to be the first artist with [the] new electronic label. A lot of people don’t know that, but creatively it just didn’t pan out with what we wanted to do. But it was funny, Craig Kallman, one of the heads of Atlantic, was all excited and we actually flew to this hotel and had a big meeting. This was before ‘In the Air,’ and they didn’t even know ‘The Longest Road,’ which was funny. It was just one of those things where you were like, that doesn’t add up- that’s a red flag. They liked “Call My Name.” It’s strange if they don’t know your body of work.”

morgan page live

 

As Morgan has navigated record labels, an evolving production and release process, and staying popular amidst changing fan desires and genre popularity, he attributes his success to a variety of factors. He also has definitive opinions on his place in the electronic community. He wraps up our conversation by talking about the challenges that many artists don’t publicly confront, along with how he has been able to not only survive, but thrive in the ever-changing journey of being an electronic producer in this day and age.

“It is very easy to get lost. I see a lot of guys do a 2-year thing where they blow up and then disappear. It’s a lot of work. I’ve never been an artist who has done that hockey stick exponential growth thing and been like the hot current artist of the moment. It has always been a slow burn, and I feel as if my strength is in my consistency. I think it’s good for people to have perspective because there are some artists who have never worked a day job before. I hope they don’t take this life for granted. The hard part isn’t blowing up. The hard part is sustaining it, and keeping that fire going.”

Photos courtesy of Morgan Page.

Spotify responds to stream padding and fraud allegations

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A headline this week made waves in the rapidly evolving streaming industry when Vulture claimed Spotify has been paying producers upfront for their services whilst placing fake artist alias’ on premium playlists to maximize profit for the streaming service and minimize artist payouts.

The article written by Adam K. Raymond included the following allegation: “This upfront payment saves the company from writing fat streaming checks that come with that plum playlist placement, but tricks listeners into thinking the artists actually exist and limits the opportunities for real music-makers to make money.”

A Spotify spokesperson has denied the allegations in an email to Billboard, saying:

“We do not and have never created ‘fake’ artists and put them on Spotify playlists. Categorically untrue, full stop. We pay royalties — sound and publishing — for all tracks on Spotify, and for everything we playlist. We do not own rights, we’re not a label, all our music is licensed from rightsholders and we pay them — we don’t pay ourselves.”

In response to Raymond categorizing Spotify individuals gaming the system, the spokesperson said the following, “As we grow there will always be people who try to game the system. We have a team in place to constantly monitor the service to flag any activity that could be seen as fraudulent or misleading to our users.”

Raymond has since revealed he cited an article from 2016 published on Music Business Worldwide for background on Spotify’s practice. According to his article, Spotify did not initially respond to his questions about the allegation.

H/T: Billboard

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