REPOST: US music sales keep climbing thanks to streaming

While sales from conventional formats, such as CDs and digital downloads, have been steadily decreasing, the music industry as a whole remains financially sound. The rise of streaming services is making this possible. Read more on ENGADGET:

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Last year, streaming generated more money in the US for the music business than all other forms of distribution for the first time ever, and that trend is continuing in spades. In the first half of 2017, the industry raked in just under $4 billion, up 17 percent over the same period last year, with 62 percent of that coming from streaming. If the trend continues, the industry should easily surpass the $7.7 billion it earned in 2016, which was already the best year for music since 2009.

These stats are from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), an organization that has had a notoriously combative relationship with internet companies. Despite its objections (and continued demands for more money from YouTube and others), streaming generated $2.5 billion thanks to 30 million paid subscribers in the US.

Physical sales of music, surprisingly, are relatively flat, down just one percent. That’s thanks in part to vinyl sales that went up by three percent, and a drop in old-school CD sales of just three percent, because you still haven’t convinced your Mom to use Deezer yet.

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How much did the world’s most ambitious music videos cost?

Music has been a big part of our everyday life and in fact, we can no longer imagine a world without it. However, not everyone knows that before we get to enjoy the latest single from our favorite singer, artists, and producers have to put a lot of work, time, and financial resources into every creation just to complete one masterpiece. Here are the singles that went above and beyond to earn them the title as the world’s most expensive music videos of all time.

1. “Scream” (Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson)

The production cost of this legendary music video by the Jackson siblings reached a nearly $11 million, adjusted for current prices. The straight out of science fiction single is from Michael’s album, HISTORY: Past, Present and Future, Book I – and its elaborate and black and white sci-fi themed set has fascinated fans and audience from around the world. The plot of the video expressed the Jackson siblings’ reaction towards how the media have been portraying them during that time.

2. “Black or White” (Michael Jackson)

The King of Pop’s interesting and controversial 11-minute video also topped the charts for the most expensive music video of all time for its $6.9 million production cost. The single was from Jackson’s album, Dangerous, and it was introduced to the public on all music channels at the same time, in 27 countries with an estimated viewers 500 million.

3. “Express Yourself” (Madonna)

Several of Madonna’s singles have actually made it as top placers for the most expensive music videos in the world (Die Another Day for $7.9 million, Bedtime Story costing’s $7.7 million). The producers of Madonna’s sci-fi inspired single “Express Yourself” have reportedly spent $9.4 million (adjusted for inflation) and it was actually the most expensive music video ever made back in 1989. The music clip showing the singer in a masculine yet sexually charged fashion was directed by David Fincher and the plot was based on the German film, Metropolis.

While music videos have been proven to influence a song’s (or album’s) music sales, their production cost will not necessarily dictate their actual commercial performance. How the music translates to listeners’ taste will eventually decide if it will become a hit or not. Lavish and highly creative videos, however, may add prestige to the artists and production teams behind them.

Record-breaking concert events of the past century

Every century gives birth to legends and the music industry has its own share of epic personalities and legendary artists that have changed the world and have inspired millions of people to dance and celebrate life through the art form (and business) that they know best. In the past century, we were given the gift of extremely talented musicians and their grand performances that have rocked the world one song at a time, attracting not only hundreds of thousands but millions of people to come together in one epic event. Let’s take a look at the biggest concert events of all time and relive their greatness.


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Paz Sin Fronteras II in Havana

Held in the Cuban capital of Havana in 2009, Paz Sin Fronteras II, translated as “Peace Without Borders II” was the second of several rounds of concerts organized to promote peace and unity in the entire Latin American region.  It was headlined by Colombian artist, Juanes and it featured several pop music figures from all over Latin America. Currently, it holds the record as the biggest concert event of all time in the region, gathering over 1.5 million concert goers.


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Paris La Defense in Paris

The event was held in the French capital in 1990 and it was a celebration of the country’s Bastille Day. Both the French Ministry of Culture and the city’s group of local business leaders organized and funded the concert, commissioning superstar Jean-Michael Jarre, a French electronic genre musician known for his record-breaking million-attendee performances. As expected, around 2.5 million made it to the biggest concert in Paris, holding one of the top ranks in the Guinness Book of Records.


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Oxygene in Moscow

It was in 1997 when the greatest concert event of all time was held in the Russian capital. Organized in honor of the city’s 850th anniversary, Oxygene highlighted superstar Jean-Michael Jarre. In this event, Jarre attracted an impressive crowd of 3.5 million people, grabbing the world record for the biggest number of participants in a live concert.

REPOST: Music: It’s good for the soul and patients who are healing

Music does not only evoke emotional responses to relax or stimulate the mind and soul, but also helps people heal and boost their overall well-being. While technically not a pill, surgical procedure, or any other form of medical treatment, music is believed to have its own unique healing powers. More on this from

You’ve heard the old saying music is good for the soul.

Now one local hospital is using it to help their patients heal.

In January, Methodist Germantown Hospital began a music therapy program where local musicians play in the hallways, the lobby and even in the patients’ rooms.

Studies suggests music therapy not only helps patients, but their family members and even hospital staff as well.

Patients said the music definitely makes them feel better.

“I loved it . I`m a firm believer in music. I played the piano and organ for many years of my life and I believe it`s a holistic approach to healing because music touches your soul. Some places medicine can`t go music can go,” said Kathy Tuberville.

“It helps to calms them down and reduces levels of stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Joseph Sturdivant. “It may even help decrease the levels of the stress hormone cordezal which can help improve healing and wound care.”

The music therapy program was made possible by a $12,000 grant from the Methodist Women’s Auxiliary.

The hospital is looking for additional funds to continue the program.

Playlists: The role of music in boosting work productivity

Music is a product of man’s limitless creativity, but does music itself help one be more inventive and productive?

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When it comes to accomplishing tasks, whether at home or at work, we do things differently. We have our own mechanisms to cope with various responsibilities and fulfill objectives. Some of us work more efficiently without needing for additional hand; others produce the best results through collaboration. But whatever the case, almost all of us have a universal productivity booster: music. A workplace without music is nearly unimaginable.

Whether it’s instrumental, hip hop, or contemporary R&B, the genre we are most comfortable listening to can inspire us to deliver quality output. The science behind this process is still unclear, but it does do wonders most of the time. In a study conducted in 1972, for example, researchers discovered that factory employees did their best work when they were allowed to listen to happy or upbeat music. Of course, how we use music as a productivity tool will largely depend on our preferences.

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Some of the top entrepreneurs in the world have somehow used music as catalyst for big ideas. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is particularly fond of Lady Gaga and Daft Punk; Steve Jobs once expressed passion for classic rock and folk music and how they inspired him to keep motivated in his endeavors; The Virgin Group founder Richard Branson enjoys a playlist comprised of Peter Gabriel and Mike Oldfield’s songs, all of which make him happy at work.

Music may be used in a variety of ways work-wise. Sometimes, its main role is purely to fill up boring silence or drown out distracting background noise; at other times, it helps people keep their creative juices flowing. And still in other occasions, music itself is the source of a specific output (for example, a writer might get the best words for his piece from a song’s lyrics). Music has a unique energy that helps us stay focused, enthused, and driven.

REPOST: Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused ‘HomePod’

Just as the same way his company revolutionized portable music, Apple chief executive Tim Cook plans on reinventing home music. Their latest offering, the HomePod, is a Siri-powered music system that is like a hybrid of Google Home and the Mac Pro. More about this story on NPR:

Apple executive Phil Schiller introduces the HomePod speaker at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP


And then there were three.

Apple has finally unveiled its answer to Amazon’s and Google’s smart speakers slash digital assistants — and it’s called HomePod.

This has been one major area in consumer electronics lacking Apple’s footprint. Amazon has heavily dominated the field with its home speaker called Echo, which uses the digital assistant Alexa. Google Home followed in October and Microsoft’s assistant, Cortana, is also finding a home in home speakers.

Both Amazon Echo and Google Home respond to voice commands to play songs, look up stuff online, check the weather, set a reminder or control Internet-connected home appliances.

Siri can do those things, too, but Apple’s pitch for Siri-powered HomePod is instead focused heavily on music — the company appears to bank on consumers paying for smart speakers that deliver high-quality audio sound as a sort of gateway into the world of smart home assistants.

“Just like we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the Worldwide Developers Conference, where HomePod was unveiled, becoming Apple’s first new device since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015.


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A look into the music streaming business model

The advent of the Internet produced plenty of digital wonders, but it also put many businesses at major risk—including the music industry. Gone are the days when enjoying music can only be done by purchasing a CD (physical or downloaded) of your favorite artist or listening to the radio whenever top hits are randomly played. Illegal downloads through file-sharing sites dramatically reduced sales and many record labels, artists, and songwriters lost huge potential income. But then, Spotify and Apple Music (and a few other similar services) came into the picture and ‘saved’ the industry by creating a new business model that may actually address issues on piracy as well as help the business return to its glorious form.

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Music streaming is a relatively new form of accessing music services, which was previously dominated by radio playlists and album purchases. In this type of service, customers use the Internet to play songs based on their personal preference without the need to download the entire material. It is effectively music-on-demand, and can be played using computers or mobile devices. Of such type of business, Swedish company Spotify, seemed to have successfully built a strong following around it.

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The Spotify revenue model is based on advertising (free music streaming limited to 20 hours per month supported by advertisements) as well as paid monthly subscriptions (unlimited streaming to PC without ads or unlimited streaming to PC and mobile without ads with additional off-line listening on mobile phone). The company has signed deals with various music giants, including the Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment to fill up its library and attract more customers. Music owners earn based on their market share from total streams.

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While many customers are still considered passive listeners and mainly access Spotify under its ads-supported service, sales of paid subscriptions are growing and may soon outpace the declining purchases of music, whether downloaded or on a CD. Physical sales went downhill to 14 percent while downloads also plummeted by a double-digit percentage. Streaming offers a reliable future because the cost of a year-long subscription—around $120—is much higher than what an average consumer would spend on CDs.

REPOST: The science of songs: how does music affect your body chemistry?

Music won’t be a multi-billion dollar business if it does not affect people to an overwhelming degree. In this article on The Guardian, composer and science lecturer John Powell explains how exactly music influences one’s behaviors in a scientific sense. Read on:


Research has revealed that music holds the keys to your body’s pharmacy. Photograph: Simon Frazer/SPL/Getty Images

Like many music lovers I’ve always had a fascination with the emotional power. How can a combination of sounds make all the hairs on your arms stand on end, or make you cry? I’ve always enjoyed reading newspaper and magazine articles about the psychological effects of music, but apart from the general conclusion that “music is magical”, they rarely provide any scientific answers.

But there are answers as to why music has such power over us. Since the middle of the 20th century, music psychologists have been carrying out a wide range of fascinating research into how our brains and bodies respond to music – but most of this has been relayed to us in formal scientific language, so I thought it would be a good idea to gather together the most interesting facts and theories from this large body of work and present them in plain language for the general reader.

I spent four years gathering information for my book, Why We Love Music, reading textbooks and papers packed full with phrases like “spectral structure and harmonic syntax” and “amplitudes of transglottal airflow”. Translated into conversational English, the science – I think – is of interest to everyone who loves music (and even those few of us who don’t). For example, experiments have demonstrated that music is extremely effective at curing insomnia; that shoppers spend more money in stores playing classical music; and that communal singing helps humans to bond with each other by releasing oxytocin into our system – the same chemical we experience during sex or breast-feeding.

My main problem in preparing the book was deciding which subjects to leave out. There are lots of interesting snippets I wish I could have included but they simply didn’t fit into any of the chapters, like how rock singers only appear to be singing louder when they reach the climax of their songs. What they are actually doing is putting more emotional stress into their voices, which we pay more attention to and so they sound louder than they are.

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Little giants: Most successful indie record labels

One of the things that Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Drake have in common is that they have all achieved mainstream success in the field of music. With the help of their record labels, they were able to reach new heights in terms of album sales and concert revenues. It is no exaggeration to say that one of the reasons for their success can be mainly attributed to their organizations. That doesn’t mean, however, that artists who are signed with indie labels cannot be just as successful. As a matter of fact, the rise of digital platforms has made it even more possible for them to reach unprecedented fame.

Трип (pronounced ‘trip’) is one such record label. Founded by Nina Kraviz, it is where technophiles come to flock together to get their fill of fast-paced beats and complicated sets of whistles. Bjarki, a music prodigy from Iceland, as well as Aphex Twin are also associated with трип.

Another big hitter in the indie scene is DDS. In 2015, they were able to capitalize on the success of Stephen O’Malley, Shinichi Atobe, and Micachu’s LPs. The following year, they were able to soar with the release of Demdike Stare’s music. They are not afraid to take chances and they definitely sound good while doing it.


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As for Swing Ting, they can be located smack dab in the center of the United Kingdom’s party center, Manchester. At the forefront is Samrai and Platt who was able to create an entirely different being in the form of solid gold 12 inches and EPs. They mashed together R&B, jungle, and grime and was able to give birth to a beast.

As far hip-hop success is concerned, Macklemore earns all the marbles. Together with Ryan Lewis, the indie label has produced some of pop music’s most popular songs. Two of their singles, ‘Can’t Hold Us’ and ‘Thrift Shop’ reached the top of various charts, including the Billboard 100. On Youtube, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis has over 4 million subscribers and total video views of more than 2 billion. In addition, they have four Grammy awards to their name.

But the most successful of all, perhaps, is none other than XL Recordings, the indie music company behind such modern icons as Vampire Weekend, Radiohead, and of course, Adele. The label rarely produces more than six albums a year, but each release is almost always a major success.


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With music streaming, digital download, and online marketing easier than ever, independent music productions can soon be as established as their traditional and ‘bigger’ counterparts. For musicians, such set up is extremely advantageous, as they are given both higher creative freedom and better chances at earning lucratively.   There is still a long way before indie records can eventually dominate the industry, but the future seems optimistic as a whole. In some situations, indie companies are even part of investors’ portfolio. However, just like conventional music productions, indie artists are not spared from music piracy, which costs the US economy around 12.5 billion dollars in damage annually. Nonetheless, independent musicians should never get discouraged with such issues and continue producing quality music.

REPOST: Modern v vintage audio equipment (

There is a reason why many audio fans and sound equipment collectors prefer vintage models over their highly sophisticated modern counterparts. This article on has some good explanation to it:

The Kenwood KR-6170 “Jumbo Jet” stereo receiver is considered a classic.

Why do so many audio fans seem to prefer a vintage receiver over new receivers with modern technology?

Are there actual reasons that older equipment can sound different or better?

When it comes to receivers and amplifiers, older can be better. The amplifier sections in new receivers often don’t have the power and electrical current capability of vintage models, especially going from a stereo receiver to a surround sound receiver as you did.

The manufacturers saved money by cutting quality in surround receivers’ amplifier sections, then used the savings to add new features such as extra channels for more speakers, Bluetooth, etc.

The power ratings in new gear are often inflated, as well.

In real-world use, an older amp may actually deliver more power to the speakers, despite newer models having higher advertised power rating.

In addition, many receivers digitally process everything, including the volume control. Some feel that this digital processing degrades the sound.

There is also the possibility that older amps’ power is not as “clean” as the newer models and has more distortion, but the mild distortion lends a pleasant quality to the music.

That is the reason lots of people prefer tube amplifiers or vintage speakers. Though the old equipment may not reproduce the music as accurately as modern gear, the listener may simply prefer the sound from the vintage equipment.

In general, though, if you choose carefully you can get better sound with modern equipment than with vintage.

You just have to be careful about what you buy and how you match components together. There is good stuff and bad stuff littering every price point.

You can get much more speaker for your dollar than you could years ago.

Most modern turntables will sound better too, but much of that is by virtue of their newness. Old turntables can have worn platter and tonearm bearings, which seriously degrade the sound.

However, it is in the realm of amplifiers and receivers that quality has taken the biggest hit.

For stereo, if your budget is under $750 a vintage amplifier or receiver could very well be the best choice if you have access to a clean example that works perfectly. The problem for the average consumer is knowing what brands are best and what to look for so you get a reliable unit.

The “golden age” for vintage audio was probably the 1980s and some great, affordable audiophile brands are Adcom, B&K, Harman/Kardon, NAD and Rotel.