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The Old Pop Music Is Over. Introducing a Playbook for Pop 2.0.

What pop means changes depending on what angle you’re looking from. It can be a descriptor of audience size, indicating something that’s popular, or it can be a genre tag, specifying a sound. But for much of the past three decades, these two definitions have effectively been one and the same.


You know the sort: Katy Perry’s confetti cheer, Justin Timberlake’s feather-light chirps, Lady Gaga’s exorbitant theater, Taylor Swift’s guileless guile. Music that strives for gloss, pep, ecstasy, spectacle. Often an expression of whiteness, too. A one-size-fits-all solution.


For a time, in the 1980s, this kind of pop music — think of Michael Jackson and Madonna — was effectively monoculture, which is why the two meanings of pop have been so tightly tethered and so difficult to disentangle.


But in the past couple of years, this framework has been almost completely dismantled, owing in large part to the widespread adoption of streaming. What were once regarded merely as pop subgenres — K-pop, Latin trap, melodic hip-hop and more — have become the center of the conversation.


This is not an arbitrary agglomeration of styles. This is Pop 2.0 — music that comes from several different scenes but works with its own distinct set of rules. It is the first time in decades that the playbook for pop success has been updated, and it has profoundly reshaped the sound of America.


Previously, when artists from hip-hop, country or hard rock were said to be going pop, that implied they were sacrificing something essential about themselves in exchange for something plastic and transitory. Pop was a softening. A compromise.


Now, thanks to the largely frictionless internet, and the evolution in how Billboard calculates its charts — accounting for streaming data in addition to sales and radio play — these styles top the charts in unfiltered fashion. Hip-hop almost completely dominates streaming. Latin trap and reggaeton thrive on YouTube.

K-pop, the dominant sound of young South Korea, has become a live-concert blockbuster and outrageously popular online worldwide.


All of that has made for Billboard charts that look vastly different than they did a decade ago and sets the template for how all of pop music will sound moving forward.


Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/335845/web/#2L-14007387L

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Australia wins AI ’Eurovision Song Contest’

Dutch broadcaster VPRO decided to organise an AI Song Contest after the country won the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. The aim was to research the creative abilities of AI and the impact it has on us, as well as the influence it could have on the music industry, according to the official Eurovision website.


Thirteen teams entered the contest, with Australia beating out Sweden, Belgium, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands to take home the title, giving fans a taste of Eurovision after 2020 contest was cancelled due to COVID-19.


The winning song, titled Beautiful the World, includes audio samples of koalas, kookaburras and Tasmanian devils, and was made by music-tech collective Uncanny Valley as a response to the Black Summer bushfires.

獲勝曲的題目為「Beautiful the World」,含有無尾熊、笑翠鳥與袋獾的聲音樣本,由音樂技術團體「恐怖谷」製作,回應黑暗夏日的叢林大火。

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Slow music: Chord change in Germany of 639-year organ piece

Hundreds of fans attended a special kind of musical happening on Sept. 5 at a church in Germany: a chord change in an organ piece that is supposed to last for an entirety of 639 years. The performance of the ORGAN2/ASLSP, or As Slow As Possible, composition began in September 2001 at the St. Burchardi Church in the eastern town of Halberstadt and is supposed to end in 2640 if all goes well.


The music piece by the American composer John Cage is played on a special organ inside the medieval church. The last sound has been the same one for the last six years and 11 months, and therefore the chord change on Saturday last week was a big event among fans of the John Cage Organ Project.


A chord change means that the sound of the organ pipes changes either because new sounds are added or existing sounds end. On Sept. 5, two new organ pipes were added. Organizers say the performance is “one of the slowest realizations of an organ musical piece.”


A compressor in the basement creates energy to blow air into the organ to create a continuous sound. When a chord change happens, it’s done manually. On Sept. 5, soprano singer Johanna Vargas and organist Julian Lembke changed the chord. The new sound reminded some listeners of the metallic buzz inside a big ship’s engine room.


The next chord change is planned for Feb. 5, 2022, the German news agency DPA reported. When the piece officially started on Sept. 5, 2001, it began without any sound. It was only on Feb. 5, 2003, the day of the first chord change, that the first organ pipe chords could actually be heard inside the church.


Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912 and died in New York in 1992. He’s known not only as a composer, but also as a music theorist, artist and philosopher.


The St. Burchardi church has a long, checkered history. It was built around 1050, and was used for more than 600 years as a Cistercian monastery. It was partially destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, later rebuilt, at some point secularized and over the centuries also served as a barn, a distillery and a pigsty, the John Cage Organ Project said on its website.


Chord changes usually draw several thousand visitors to Halberstadt, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of guests allowed into the church was limited this year.


Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/09/13/2003743299

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Paul McCartney's Tip to Michael Jackson Pays Off

It is one of the twice-told tales of the music business: Decades ago, Michael Jackson received some sound investment advice from Paul McCartney.


Back in the early 1980s, McCartney showed his friend a notebook full of songs he owned, by artists like Buddy Holly. The real money, McCartney suggested, was in music publishing, the side of the business that deals with the songwriting rights for big catalogs of songs. As McCartney himself has told it, Jackson perked up and said, "I'm gonna buy your songs."

He did. And it was the smartest deal Jackson ever made.



In 1985, Jackson bought the ATV catalog, which included 251 Beatles songs, along with a few thousand others, for $47.5 million. It proved to be Jackson's most valuable asset, helping to finance a lavish lifestyle even as Jackson's own musical career reached a low point in the years before his death in 2009.


Now those songs have helped provide a windfall for his estate. On Monday, Sony said it had agreed to pay $750 million for the Jackson estate's share of what is now Sony/ATV — a collection of more than 1 million songs, with hits by Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, chestnuts like "Moon River" and "Mona Lisa," and of course the Beatles songs.

Sony's buyout caps an extraordinary turnaround in Jackson's finances that began after his death. Jackson died more than $500 million in debt, having drawn on his share of Sony/ATV as a lifeline through a $270 million loan in 2006, years after his last hit but shortly after he was acquitted of child molestation in a trial that damaged his public image around the world.



The Jackson estate has long since paid off most of Jackson's personal debts. But the latest deal will allow it to clear its last obligation, a $250 million debt that was tied to Jackson's holdings in Sony/ATV.

The deal for the song catalog could now push those earnings above $1 billion, a big return for a financial move that began as a simple conversation between two music legends.



Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/295664/web/