the 10 things that were rejected by david bowie

the 10 things that were rejected by david bowie

As a musician on board, david bowie very selective in choosing a co-worker, duet, and everything. Reported by The Guardian, following the 10 things that were rejected by david bowie 1. Dave More »

Conflicts world music industry with Youtube is complicated

Conflicts world music industry with Youtube is complicated

YouTube and the music industry? It’s complicated. YouTube is the biggest music-streaming service in the world by some distance, but it’s also the biggest villain in the eyes of many within the More »

Led Zeppelin copyright infringement

Led Zeppelin copyright infringement

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones are having trouble taking their ‘Stairway to Heaven’ lawsuit seriously, and that includes showing up.  “Defendants and their counsel, as well as Mr. Jones, More »

Tips for winning the audition for the voice

Tips for winning the audition for the voice

Yes, former contestants and winners have gone onto (or continued their) successful music careers, but if you’re doing this to be a star, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Hell, if More »

Problems between the world of music with youtube, complaints continued to come from the music industry world-renowned labels

Problems between the world of music with youtube, complaints continued to come from the music industry world-renowned labels

In the old days, the music business used to complain that YouTube took their music and didn’t pay them. Now the complaint has changed: Now the music guys say YouTube doesn’t pay More »


the 10 things that were rejected by david bowie

Rock legend David Bowie performs on stage at the Forum in Copenhagen late 07 October 2003. == DENMARK OUT == AFP PHOTO NILS MEILVANG/SCANPIX NORDFOTO (Photo credit should read NILS MEILVANG/AFP/Getty Images)

As a musician on board, david bowie very selective in choosing a co-worker, duet, and everything. Reported by The Guardian, following the 10 things that were rejected by david bowie

1. Dave Grohl
News broke this week that David Bowie refused the offer to work with Dave Grohl, making him one of the few musicians ever not to have collaborated with the Foo Fighters’ leader. To be fair, nothing has emerged featuring Grohl performing with Father Abraham and the Smurfs, either, though we’ve heard rumours there’s a bootleg on the internet of the Foos performing The Smurf Song with Father Abraham at the Amsterdam Paradiso, but without any actual smurfs on stage. Grohl approached Bowie two years ago, asking him to sing on a piece of music for a film. Bowie’s response: “David, I watched the movie and I got to be honest, it’s not my thing … I’m not made for these times. So thanks, but I think I’m gonna sit this one out.” Grohl replied, and received a response from Bowie: “Alright, well that’s settled, then. Now f**k off.” Perhaps Bowie was worried that him plus a hard rock guitarist might have resulted in Tin Machine 3.

(Since publication of this article, many of you have alerted me to the fact that Grohl and Bowie did in fact work together on Heathen and at Bowie’s 50th birthday concert. I am going to listen to The Smurf Song on repeat all weekend as penance. Apologies.)

2. Coldplay
You want your hero to appear on one of your songs. The natural thing to do is to send them a recording and then wait. Your preferred response would be an email a couple of hours later with a vocal already recorded and attached. Failing that, you’d settle for a note saying: “Schedule’s busy, but let’s try to find some studio time.” You could probably understand silence – after all, heroes are busy people. What you might want least of all would be for said hero to respond: “It’s not a very good song, is it?” Which of those do you think happened when Coldplay approached Bowie?

3. Scottish independence
The Brit awards are famed as a platform for hard-hitting political campaigns. Remember that time in 2004 when Liberty X used winning best British single to call for a thorough investigation of HMRC’s complicity in allowing major corporations to minimise their tax burden? But Bowie’s words at the 2014 ceremony still came as a shock. First, there was the fact that he wasn’t speaking them, delegating that task to Kate Moss – you don’t think Bowie would have contemplated turning up to anything so vulgar as the Brits, do you? Then there was the content of them. Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, consider yourself rejected. “Scotland, stay with us,” intoned Moss. And, lo, Scotland did indeed vote to stay part of the UK.

4. A knighthood
Bowie had already turned down a CBE in 2000 – “I seriously don’t know what it’s for,” he said – but Buckingham Palace doesn’t give up easily, what with the Queen being a huge fan of Bowie’s early-70s albums (she went off him a bit with Station to Station, but loves Low and “Heroes”). And so, in 2003, Bowie was offered a knighthood for having made “a major contribution to British life”. Again, he said no: “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. It’s not what I spent my life working for.” Imagine how Chris Martin would have felt if that was how Bowie had rejected the Coldplay song.

5. A Danny Boyle musical
Like all good and sensible musicians, Bowie was prone to saying no to requests to use his music. You have to, if you don’t want to see Life on Mars being used on confectionary ads, or The Jean Genie advertising Gap, or Always Crashing in the Same Car soundtracking Top Gear. But what if someone who is respected in their own field comes to you, saying they want to make a movie about you? Maybe a hugely well-regarded film-maker like Danny Boyle, who has a script by the equally well-regarded Frank Cottrell Boyce. You still say no. Boyle said Bowie’s rejection left him “in grief”.

6. Doctor Who
Peter Capaldi said last autumn that he wanted David Bowie to be a guest star in Doctor Who. He had no chance. Doctor Who composer Murray Gold told Den of Geek in 2013 of his encounter with Bowie at an ice cream stall: “I said, ‘I write music for Doctor Who,’ and he said, ‘I’m not doing it.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ and he said, ‘They want me to do it.’ I don’t know what it means, to this day, but that’s what he said. I don’t know in what capacity, as an actor or as a musician.”

7. Flight of the Conchords
The New Zealand comedy-music duo were longtime Bowie fans, having written the song Bowie in Space years ago, and when they began their own series for US TV, they wrote an episode in which they were to be visited in a dream by Bowie. And who better to play Bowie than Bowie? Through intermediaries, they approached him. As the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement wrote in the Spinoff: “The someone we knew talked to the someone they knew’s friend of someone who represented him and possibly approached him about it. And he (or quite possibly merely a representative) said that he’d just done Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s Extras and didn’t want to do another thing acting as a version of him. He’d rather just continue being the actual him. Fair enough, so would we. We wouldn’t be meeting our hero. Through the disappointment I was extremely relieved. As exciting as it is to meet your hero, the relief of not having to meet them is another, quite different and pleasant feeling.”

8. Red Hot Chili Peppers
The world’s premiere funk-metal band with socks on their penises revealed earlier this year that they had repeatedly asked David Bowie to produce them. “In the beginning we would call him, and he would say no, respectfully,” singer Anthony Kiedis said. “Then, later, we would write long emails explaining everything, and why it was time for us to really get our ships on and he always respectfully declined.” He said no “two or three times” Kiedis said, though Brian Eno has turned down the group eight times. Fellas, take a hint.

9. A Bond film
Bowie was a man with a firm appreciation of his own talents, and while he doubtless would have been able to bring suitable villainy to the role of Max Zorin in A View to a Kill – a role eventually taken by Christopher Walken – it was the downsides that turned him off. Not the prospect of acting opposite Roger Moore, who was 57 and distinctly unactionlike by the time the film was released, but the idea of whether it was the best use of his time. “I didn’t want to spend five months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs,” he said.

10. Puss in Boots
Bowie, famously, learned a great deal from Lindsay Kemp – the dancer, mime artist and choreographer. He studied with Kemp in the 1960s “I taught him to express and communicate through his body,” says Kemp. “I taught him to dance. I taught him the importance of the look – makeup, costume, general stagecraft, performance technique. I gave him books to read and pictures to look at. We talked about kabuki, avant gardists, the world of the music hall, which we were both attracted to.” They worked together on many projects, but some didn’t come together. As Kemp told the Guardian earlier this year: “One Christmas, I asked him to play Puss in Boots in Musselburgh. His agent came back and said that £10 a week wasn’t really enough – could I get it up to £15? Management said no, we couldn’t. What Musselburgh missed!”

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Conflicts world music industry with Youtube is complicated


YouTube and the music industry? It’s complicated. YouTube is the biggest music-streaming service in the world by some distance, but it’s also the biggest villain in the eyes of many within the music industry.

This week, British industry body the BPI has attacked YouTube again over the “value gap” (sometimes “value grab” in the US) between the number of songs being streamed on its service, and the money that those streams are being generated for rightsholders and musicians.

There are several key questions that need answering to understand this battle. Why is the music industry so cross with YouTube? Why does YouTube think those arguments are wrong? And what happens next in this latest clash between the worlds of tech and entertainment?

Why is the music industry so cross with YouTube?

The industry’s current war of words with YouTube boils down to that “value gap” – the sharply-growing number of music-video streams on the service not being matched by similar growth in royalties for labels and publishers.

The BPI is citing stats from 2015 to support this: the number of advertising-supported online music video streams (ie YouTube) last year rose by 88%, yet the royalties paid to rightsholders grew by just 0.4% to £24.4m – less than the £25.1m of revenues from sales of vinyl. US body the RIAA recently made the same points based on its figures for 2015.

The industry is cross that YouTube isn’t paying out more in royalties, but also because it believes that Google’s service is hiding behind “safe harbour” legislation to do it. Those are the laws governing online services hosting user-generated content, which spare them from liability for copyrighted content uploaded by those users, as long as they remove it when notified by the rightsholders.

The relevant legislation – the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the US and the European Union’s copyright directive are the two currently being discussed most – was enacted in 1998 and 2001 respectively.

The music industry is arguing that those laws are outdated: they were designed for the web hosting providers and email services at the time, not the YouTube of 2016 with its billion viewers and huge music catalogue.

This battle isn’t about YouTube being unlicensed: it has struck deals with labels, publishers and collecting societies to share revenues from advertising around their music, paying out more than $3bn so far to the industry.

The anger comes from the perception that because safe harbour protects YouTube from requiring those licences before it makes their music available, it can negotiate from a position of strength in comparison to, say, Spotify – which isn’t protected by safe harbour, so has to negotiate licences before it can put music up.

This leads in to the next thing that’s fuelling the fire: some in the music industry think YouTube’s massive catalogue of free music is making it harder for Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services to persuade music fans to pay for their premium subscriptions.

An estimated 68 million people worldwide were paying for streaming subscriptions at the end of 2015, according to industry body the IFPI. That helped label revenues grow slightly – a big deal after more than a decade of decline – but the argument is that they would be growing faster if YouTube was paying its fair share.

What is YouTube’s defence against those claims?

YouTube’s response to these arguments has evolved over time. They start with that $3bn that it has paid out to the music industry, including the claim that around half of those revenues came from fan uploads rather than official music videos.

That’s due to YouTube’s Content ID technology, which the company says it has spent more than $60m developing. It’s the system by which rightsholders upload reference copies of their music to YouTube, which then compares every new upload against its database to check if it uses copyrighted music.

If it does, the rightsholders can set automatic actions: remove the video; track it but leave it online, or “claim” it so that YouTube can sell advertising around it, and share the revenues with the righsholder – this is where the 50% of that $3bn comes from.

One criticism of YouTube’s safe-harbour protection is that in theory, labels would have to send a takedown notice every single time a video is uploaded using their music without permission – when that becomes millions or even tens of millions of notices, it could be a costly, time-consuming game of whack-a-mole.

YouTube says that in practice, Content ID is automating this process for 99.5% of the videos where a takedown might need to be sent: rather than hiding behind safe harbour, it has spent that $60m developing a way to automate the process and make more money for musicians and the music industry – not least because it helps them earn from user-uploads (mash-ups, wedding dances, Harlem Shake buffoonery, whatever) that they couldn’t in the past.

Recently, YouTube has offered an additional defence to criticism from the music industry, claiming that 80% of music listeners haven’t been buyers – they’ve listened for free through the radio or television, but they haven’t bought albums or downloads.

YouTube’s argument is that these people won’t pay for a streaming subscription, so rather than hampering Spotify and co, its free service is at least making the music industry some money from those people, through ads.

Finally, YouTube is pointing to some of the musicians who have built careers on its service, such as violinist Lindsey Stirling, with her 8 million subscribers and estimated annual earnings of $6m from selling music and touring, as well as YouTube. Those non-YouTube revenues are part of its defence too: the fact that musicians get detailed analytics on where their viewers are, and can add links to iTunes, ticketing websites and their own online stores to videos helps them boost their income.

What happens next?

In the US and Europe, existing safe-harbour legislation is currently being reviewed, which is the main reason these arguments have blown up again in 2016. Both sides are lobbying hard for the laws to come down on their side.

Music rightsholders sense that their arguments may be falling on friendly ears – certainly in Europe – while YouTube’s louder public defence of its status suggests it sees the way that wind is blowing too.

The reality of the matter is that even amid these arguments, YouTube will continue to be a hugely important partner for the music industry: from helping new artists find an audience to being a key plank in the marketing campaigns for the biggest albums from Adele to Radiohead.

You can expect to see YouTube continuing to make efforts to launch artist-friendly features, some higher-profile than others. Its “cards” feature, for example, makes it easier for musicians to direct fans off to buy music, merchandise and tickets.

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Led Zeppelin copyright infringement

Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones are having trouble taking their ‘Stairway to Heaven’ lawsuit seriously, and that includes showing up.  “Defendants and their counsel, as well as Mr. Jones, have refused to confirm that they will appear despite having been subpoenaed and noticed,” attorney Francis Malofiy complained to US District Court judge Gary Klausner.

Malofiy, who represents the estate of 60s band Spirit, has been arguing that Led Zeppelin blatantly ripped off his client to create one of the biggest songs in modern music history.  But that case is now widely regarded as a joke within the industry, especially after earlier examples of the exact same melody started surfacing.  That includes a classical piece written in the early 1600s that sounds nearly identical to the progression used in ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ a discovery that puts the contested melody in the public domain.

In that light, it’s easy to understand why Led Zeppelin isn’t playing along with one of the most frivolous cases in music industry history.  Zeppelin’s attorneys have yet to respond to Digital Music News on the matter, though it’s entirely possible that this case gets tossed based on that critical discovery.

“Defendants are acting as if this is a concert…”

The case was previously moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, where it would be easier to coordinate schedules for the band members.  But Malofiy says it’s becoming nearly impossible to coordinate the schedules of the three surviving Zeppelin members. “Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, with the aid of defense counsel, want to dictate the court’s schedule, completely disregarding the difficulties in presenting multiple fact and expert witnesses in a narrow band of time of approximately six hours,” the filing continues.  “The lack of common courtesy from defense counsel is, frankly, astonishing. Defendants are acting as if this is a concert where their celebrity status allows them to decide when they will appear.”

Whether Page and Plant will voluntarily offer their time in a reasonable manner remains to be seen, with Molofiy pushing for a court order to compel their attendance.

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Tips for winning the audition for the voice


Yes, former contestants and winners have gone onto (or continued their) successful music careers, but if you’re doing this to be a star, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Hell, if you’re in music for fame and fortune, you might as well give up now. Music ain’t about that. And people see through false motivations and can sniff out inauthenticity a mile (or iPhone screen) away.

That being said, yes, The Voice has given many musicians’ careers bumps. You still have to be the one to drive your career. And you cannot (and should not ever) rely on others to run your entire career for you. Even if you win the whole damn show, you better surround yourself with people who believe in you, the artist, and want to stick with you for better or worse. Because, yes, right after you place well on the show there will be trophy chasers pounding down your door. You don’t want them. You want a manager that says “I’m not working with you because you were on The Voice, I’m working with you despite it.”

And you definitely can’t expect the labels to help you out.

“In that time, we do so much great shit for these singers, and then they go to a record label that I won’t mention. But they go to a record label that f**ks it up. Record labels are — our business is the worst right now. No one knows what they’re doing.” – Adam Levine

So, with all that said and you still want to audition for the TV SHOW, (yes, it’s a TV show, not meant to make musicians famous, but meant to increase ad buys during said TV SHOW) then here is what you need to do to win your audition.

These points are taken from many conversations I’ve had with former contestants who were bound to secrecy by the show for fear of a $100,000 fine. No joke. So, obviously, I’m not mentioning names here.

Pick The Right Songs

For the open call auditions, they want you to prepare two songs a cappella. No tracks or instruments are allowed. Open calls move quickly because they’re just trying to weed out all of the crap “talent.” For the callbacks/private auditions you can have accompanists (or accompany yourself) and they want you to prepare three songs – at least one song without your instrument (you can sing to a track).

Pick songs that have been popular in the past 5 years. The reason for this is at the callback audition they require it. So you might as well prepare these in advance and hope you get a callback.

And make sure that at least two of your songs are up beat. If you’re going to the open call, make them both up beat. At the callback/private audition, you can have two up beat and one chill tune. But it’s best to keep them all upbeat. However, if you can sing “Hello” like Adele, then go for it.

The casting directors (judges/producers) are looking for authenticity. They’re looking for artists. Not musical theater performers. They are looking for, yes, strong voices, but this doesn’t mean you need to be a belter or have vocal acrobatics. Just show what you do best. Some of the top 10s of previous seasons didn’t sing like Christina Aguilera or Brian McKnight. They sang like themselves. If you sound like Ray Lamontagne, Lorde, Halsey or Norah Jones, great! Pick songs that work in your vocal style and range.

One of the contestants I spoke to said he made the mistake of choosing “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga for the prerecorded track to sing to. He used the karaoke version (which sounds just like the original). He bounced around singing Lady Gaga after he just finished a Coldplay song on acoustic guitar. The judges loved his Coldplay song, but the Lady Gaga threw them and they stopped him and said, we love you, but we’re going to pass because you’re too inconsistent.

You have to have an established understanding of who you are as an artist. Not just a good singer. Home in on your style and your sound. Then show it off.

Dress The Part

It should go without saying, but you should dress like an artist. If you aren’t a working musician, this may seem awkward for you. If you work a 9-5 corporate job with a dress code and hang out with only your non-musical, non-artists friends, this will feel extra uncomfortable. Don’t go in there looking like a soulless corporate hack. They will judge you based on your look long before you open your mouth. Go in dressed like an artist. One that fits your personality. Your sound. Your style. If you don’t have an outfit in your wardrobe now, go shopping. Look up your favorite artists and study their wardrobe. You can use that as inspiration, but of course, make it your own.

Ladies, don’t show up in your tight, short clubbing dress. It’s unoriginal and this isn’t a beauty contest. Dudes, don’t show up in cargo shorts and Birkenstocks. Unoriginal.

Remember, they are looking for artists. Be an artist!

Own The Room

The show isn’t just casting good singers, they are casting good personalities. They are casting characters for their TV SHOW. Ok, I’m done hitting you over the head with that.

When you walk into the room, you want to OWN the room. You’ll have a bit more time at callbacks to shoot the shit with the casting directors/judges and you definitely should. And you want to initiate conversation. Don’t go in polite. Don’t go in like an arrogant asshole either. Go in confident and say something to them right away. It should feel and seem off the cuff. It should fit your personality and showcase what makes you special (aside from your voice of course). If you’re boisterous, be boisterous from the moment you walk in. Crack jokes, talk about what you just experienced in the hall. Be different. Be unique. If you have a dry sense of humor, tell a joke, quietly in the mic that works with your personality and the situation. Make them laugh. If you’re goofy be a goddam goofball. If you’re a tortured artist, then, you get the point. Don’t say the same boring thing everyone else is going to say “uh, thank you for your time.” Bleh!

You want to bring in good vibes with you. Relaxed vibes. You may have those butterflies raging battles on 3 fronts in your belly, but you want to project an air of confidence. It’s almost just as much how you carry yourself as it is how you sound. Of course confidence can’t replace a crappy voice, but it will help.

At callbacks/private auditions there will be mics, stands, keyboard, monitors, cords for you to plug your guitar in. Your gear should work. Triple check it the day of. Replace you batteries in your guitar. Change your strings. Make sure the pre recorded song you have (for callbacks or the private audition) is pulled up on your (charged) iPhone and that your phone is in airplane mode or Do Not Disturb so you don’t get a phone call that interrupts your performance. Don’t Snap the 4 hour waiting process only to drain your phone to its death – unable to play the track you’re supposed to sing to. Maybe bring a battery pack with you just in case.

Know Your Story

If you make it past the open call and past the callbacks, you will be sent to “casting” directly following your callback vocal audition. This is where they will bring you to a room with a camera and a casting director and they will ask you questions about your life. This is for them to find the most interesting people with the most interesting stories. You know all those backstory montage intros before many of the contestants’ blind auditions? These come from the casting session. Make sure you have at least one really interesting thing about your life: Tragedy, things you’ve overcome, interesting family history, current job or volunteer organization. Something that sets you apart. What is your “story.” Because they want to know. And if you don’t have one it will be that much more difficult for them to justify bringing you on the show.

Are you a working musician? What’s the most interesting show you’ve had. Best? Worst? Why are you a musician? What kinds of shows do you play? How long have you been performing?

Is your great uncle John Coltrane? Is your husband Andy Grammer (shoutout to Aijia!). Is your daughter autistic? Do you work 3 jobs to support your family? Are you a teacher? A camp counselor? These are all interesting things to talk about. Come up with the most interesting thing about your life before you get to the casting room and you’ll have a much easier time talking about it and winning over the producers when they watch the tape.

The Private Audition

Most of the working musicians I know have been invited to a private audition (as have I). I believe it happens in every city they hold an open call. The way the producers find musicians to invite to the private auditions is mostly through YouTube. And they aren’t just looking for YouTube stars with millions of plays or subscribers. They’re just looking for good talent. It should go without saying, but if you’re a working musician you need some great videos of you performing on your YouTube channel. It’s also helpful to have a BandCamp profile (easiest way to search for artists in designated locations) and of course a Facebook Page.

How To Rehearse

Now that you have the logistics of your audition worked out, you still need to prep! You should rehearse your songs until you can sing them in your sleep. You should film yourself performing them and critique your video. Setup two cameras (phones), one close on your face and one pulled out to see your entire body. If you’re not a veteran performer, it will take a bit of work to look and feel natural performing. So you’ll need to work extra hard at this.

Don’t fake the performance, though. The judges will be able to tell. Feel the music. Be the music. Get to the core meaning of the song. You should ooze personality when you’re performing. Whatever your personality is.

What’s the old joke? How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice practice practice! Same is true for Team Adam!

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Problems between the world of music with youtube, complaints continued to come from the music industry world-renowned labels


In the old days, the music business used to complain that YouTube took their music and didn’t pay them. Now the complaint has changed: Now the music guys say YouTube doesn’t pay them enough.

The music labels have been grousing about YouTube for a while now, but they have recently turned up the volume.

Last month, the RIAA, the labels’ American trade group, lobbed a volley at Google’s video service, arguing that YouTube doesn’t pay a fair price for all the music it gives its users for free. The IFPI, the label’s global trade group, should have a report out shortly which repeats the same charge. (UPDATE: Here’s the IFPI report.)

The complaints come as the big three music labels — Universal Music Group, Sony and Warner Music Group — are set to renegotiate contracts with YouTube.

It would seem like the best way to get more money from YouTube would be to get a better deal this time around. But the labels say their bargaining power is reduced by the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives broad protection to YouTube and other services that rely on content that users upload.

I asked RIAA head Cary Sherman to explain his industry’s beef with both the DMCA and with YouTube. Here’s an edited excerpt of our conversation. There’s also a response of sorts from YouTube at the end.

Peter Kafka: I don’t understand why the industry is complaining about YouTube and its use of the DMCA again. Viacom spent years on this in court, and got soundly defeated. Hasn’t everyone learned to accept this by now?

Cary Sherman: We accept the inevitability of death. It doesn’t mean we have to like it. There is now under way a study of whether the DMCA is actually effective and fulfilling its intended purpose, being conducted by the Copyright Office, and it has given us an opportunity for the community to collect our thoughts about just how dysfunctional the DMCA actually is. And to actually tell the government about it.

A lot of people would argue that the DMCA allowed Silicon Valley to build really big, really amazing and wonderful things. And that on the whole it’s a net plus for the U.S. and the world.

That assumes that only with the DMCA, as it was written in 1998, would that have been possible. We feel like the 1998 Internet is not the Internet of 2016. It’s a dramatically different Internet, and it’s time to take a fresh look at whether the balance that was struck in 1998 is effective in 2016.

And the answer is clearly “no.”

Just look at Silicon Valley. They’ve done an extraordinary job, and their market cap is worth gazillions of dollars. Look at the creative industries — not just the music industry, but all of them. All of them have suffered. We’re half the size we were. And we’re flat, and we haven’t been growing. And that’s true of all of the creative industries.

For the music industry, 70 percent of revenues now come from digital. We’ve licensed every different kind of model, but the revenues just aren’t coming in.

One of the problems is piracy, which continues to be a problem. The other is under-monetization, and that’s because of things like the DMCA, where some companies get the benefit of being able to distribute our content, without taking fair market value kind of licenses.

When you compare what we get when we get to freely negotiate, with a company like Spotify, vs. what we get when we are under the burden of an expansively interpreted “safe harbor,” when you’re negotiating with somebody like YouTube, you can see that you’re not getting the value across the platforms that you should.

What’s the single biggest change in the DMCA that you’d like to see?

Notice and stay down, instead of notice and take down. There are 100 copies of a song. We can’t just say to YouTube “we didn’t license this Pharrell song, take it down.” They will not just take down all 100 copies. They’ll take down only the one file that we’ve identified. We have to find every one of them, and notice them, and then they’re taken down, and then immediately put right back up. You can never get all the songs off the system.

If we had a system where once a song was taken down, you had a filtering system that prevented it from going back up, we wouldn’t have to be sending hundreds of millions of notices on the same content over and over again.

Maybe then we’d begin to make a difference with all the pirated copies on all of the websites. But as long as there isn’t a stay down, we can’t deal with that. It’s just not possible.

The labels do have deals with YouTube. If they don’t like those deals, why not negotiate better ones or walk away? All of them expire this year.

The way the negotiation goes is something like this: “Look. This is all we can afford to pay you,” YouTube says. “We hope that you’ll find that reasonable. But that’s the best we can do. And if you don’t want to give us a license, okay. You know that your music is still going to be up on the service anyway. So send us notices, and we’ll take ’em down as fast we can, and we know they’ll keep coming back up. We’ll do what we can. It’s your decision as to whether you want to take our deal, or whether you just want to keep sending us takedown notices.”

That’s not a real negotiation. That’s like saying, “That’s a real nice song you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”

So you’re saying the labels aren’t really free to walk away from YouTube — that their music stays up there whether they want it to or not.

We have experience with this. Because Warner Music, a few years ago, decided that they didn’t want their music on YouTube, because it was hurting all the rest of their deals. So they didn’t do a license with YouTube. A year later, they threw in the towel. What was that year like? They spent a fortune trying to take down their music. They could never even keep up with all the counter-notifications that were constantly being filed, so the music was going right back up anyway. And they were earning no revenues at all. So finally they threw in the towel, and accepted the licenses.

That’s what it’s like to negotiate, when somebody can claim the benefit of an expansive safe harbor. They’re taking the benefit of a safe harbor that was intended for people who were passive, neutral intermediaries. People like Verizon, where the content is just passing through their system. They’re not making money off of distributing content. YouTube does.

Katy Perry, among other people, is lobbying on behalf of the music business. It seems like getting rich musicians to press your case won’t help you change the laws. Do you think there’s a practical chance that will happen?

Two different questions. First: Katy Perry. The petition she filed makes clear that she’s worried about the next generation of songwriters and artists that are coming up. She isn’t complaining that she isn’t making enough money.

She made that money in the era that you’re complaining about. She made that money as a YouTube star.

Yeah. Well, the reality is that the industry is more stratified than ever. There are some people who have done really well. But it’s harder and harder for more musicians to make a living. Because the revenue that they’re getting from streaming isn’t keeping pace with the revenue that they used to be able to earn. We’re trying to get to a point where the streaming ecosystem works for everybody.

In terms of whether Congress will do something about it? We don’t know. It’s hard to get anything through Congress. But Congress has been taking a look at the copyright law for 3 years now. We want them to understand that one of the most important things affecting the value and ability of copyright to survive, is to take a fresh look at the DMCA.

It’s complicated, right? The labels used to be investors in YouTube, right before it sold to Google. Two of the labels are partners with YouTube in Vevo. It doesn’t look like they’re in real opposition. It looks like they’re partners who don’t like terms of a deal they did.

I think the record companies would like to be partners with YouTube. But it’s a little hard to call it a partnership when it’s so one-sided in terms of the negotiating leverage.

Some of the loudest voices against YouTube used to be the video companies – movie studios, TV companies. Viacom was the one who sued them. They’re not vocal in the way that the music labels are now. Why aren’t they joining you?

Maybe it’s because YouTube is not the place where you go for your pirated movies. But it certainly is the place you go for your pirated… I shouldn’t call it pirated. It’s “user-uploaded.” They’re putting up an entire album, and a picture of the artist, and therefore YouTube has become the largest on-demand music service in the world.

I offered YouTube executives the chance to rebut Sherman’s argument via a separate Q&A, but they declined. The company did point me to the response they offered when the RIAA criticized them last month:

“To date, Google has paid out over $3 billion to the music industry – and that number is growing year on year. This revenue is generated despite the fact that YouTube goes way beyond music to include popular categories such as news, gaming, how-to, sports and entertainment. And with the recent launch of the YouTube Music app, we recently launched a new, dedicated music experience with the goal to deliver even more revenue to both artists and the music industry more broadly. Past comparisons to other audio-only, subscription music services are apples to oranges.”

YouTube and Google have also responded in more depth, via the comments they’ve filed to US Copyright Office as part of the study Sherman mentioned. Here’s a passage that deals with many of the RIAA’s complaints:

Some in the recording industry have suggested that the safe harbors somehow diminish the value of sound recordings, pointing to YouTube and blaming the DMCA for creating a so-called “value grab.” This claim is not supported by the facts. As an initial matter, it is important to understand that YouTube has had license agreements in place with both major and independent record labels for many years; it is simply incorrect to say that YouTube relies on the DMCA instead of licensing works. Those pressing the “value grab” argument also assert that the royalty rates in these licenses are too low, allegedly because the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown process makes it too difficult for record labels to withdraw their works from YouTube in the face of users re-uploading those works. This claim, however, ignores Content ID, which has been in existence since 2008 and which record labels (and many other copyright owners) use every day to monetize their works on YouTube. Thanks to Content ID, record labels do not have to rely solely on the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown process on YouTube—they can remove any or all user-uploads of their works from the platform on an automated and ongoing basis. Indeed, since January 2014, over 98% of all YouTube copyright removal claims have come through Content ID. Although business partners can be expected to disagree from time to time about the price of a license, any claim that the DMCA safe harbors are responsible for a “value gap” for music on YouTube is simply false.

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Michael Jackson received some sound investment advice from Paul McCartney


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

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

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 a 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. By then, Jackson — who once tried to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man, and sometimes racked up bills of $250,000 shopping for antiques — was living well beyond his means.

After Jackson died, on the eve of a series of concerts in London that he had hoped would be a comeback, sales of Jackson’s music spiked around the world. His estate, led by his longtime lawyer John Branca and the music executive John McClain, made a series of lucrative deals that stabilized the Jackson finances.

Sony Pictures paid $60 million for the rights to “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” drawn from rehearsal video from the London concerts. Other deals were lined up for Jackson’s recording rights with Sony Music, for two theatrical shows by Cirque du Soleil and in areas like merchandising and video games.

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.

According to its most recent public accounting, the estate generated $600 million in gross earnings through the end of 2013. With its earnings since then, the estate is estimated to have earned more than $800 million. But 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.

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The Ryman: Concert Review About 12 years since Dolly Parton headlined a concert in Nashville


It had been 12 years since Dolly Parton headlined a concert in Nashville when she took the storied Ryman Auditorium stage on Friday, July 31 for the first of two back-to-back benefit shows. Both nights had a purpose: the first, to raise money for the Dustin Wells Foundation and the second for the Opry Trust Fund, but the long Dolly drought was another reason tickets sold out within a few minutes of going on sale. It also didn’t hurt that Parton had announced the billing as a pair of acoustic shows, the folksy nature of the occasion captured in the title “Dolly Parton: Pure & Simple.”

Indeed, on the face of it, the live presentation was fairly sparse by Parton’s standards. Her three accompanists stood on modest, black risers. There was nothing particularly splashy about the backdrop (colored lights illuminating gauzy white curtains) and nary a costume change to be had — just a single dress sequined in pearlescent cotton-candy hues.

Parton made her entrance singing and teasing the crowd. The folks in the Ryman pews probably presumed she was about to launch into some big production number, but instead, she nudged, “You are my production number.”

Parton started out strumming a sparkly acoustic guitar, then switched to other old-timey instruments, like banjo, dulcimer and autoharp, all of which were coated with her trademark glittery finish. Before the night was over, though, she’d also blown harmonica and wooden flute, hopped on piano and strapped on an electric guitar, her lead guitarist joining her in the instrument swap and triggering programmed patterns on a drum machine that Parton playfully claimed to have picked up at pawn shop just that week “for 49 dollars and 12 cents.”

It wasn’t so much the plugging in that transported the night a fair bit beyond notions of purity and simplicity, but the way she managed to condense one of the most irresistible and complex arcs of self-realization in country music history into a beguiling 90 minutes.

Right out of the gate, she sang “Backwoods Barbie,” a self-aware country shuffle about embodying both authenticity and artificiality: “I’m just a backwoods Barbie/Too much makeup, too much hair/Don’t be fooled by thinkin’ that the goods are not all there.”

She told stories to introduce familiar, sentimental classics, speaking of her rural mountain upbringing as one of 12 kids in her zippy, confiding chirp. “No we weren’t Catholic,” she quipped, “just a bunch of horny Baptists and holy rollers.”

Parton set up “Coat of Many Colors” with vignettes about her mother’s resourcefulness, “Smoky Mountain Memories” with the tale of how her dad only made it three weeks in an auto factory in Detroit before he hurried back to his family and Tennessee roots and “Apple Jack” with a description of her rugged, banjo-picking early musical mentor.

Parton also reminisced about being inducted into Grand Ole Opry on that very Ryman stage in 1969 and having to elbow Tanya Tucker and Loretta Lynn for mirror space in the solitary women’s dressing room. Several songs that Parton sang showcased the down-home side of her music, including the desperate other-woman standoff “Jolene,” the heart-dragging country-blues ballad “The Grass Is Blue,” the railroad ode “Blue Smoke” and the mournful mountain tune “Little Sparrow” (the latter three among the only selections of the night that had been in her repertoire fewer than three decades).

Eventually, Parton worked her way up to her late ‘70s/early ‘80s pop crossover boom — that era when she figured out how to make fans of the masses by harnessing her glossier ambitions and instincts — with lighthearted renditions of “Baby I’m Burnin,” “Two Doors Down,” “Islands In the Stream” and “9 to 5.” She brought the crowd to their feet, shimmying, swaying and clapping along, then finished with “I Will Always Love You.”

Even if one-liners like, “You would not believe how much it costs to make a person look this cheap” were already well-worn — a fact that Parton herself pointed out — they still killed, thanks to her by-now burnished gift for comedic timing and self-deprecating storytelling. Her expressive voice still swooped with ease to the clarion-clear and trilled notes in the rafters. What’s more, she continuously kicked down the fourth wall between performer and audience.

Darting to the back of the stage in her high-heeled pumps to take a sip of water, she apologized, “I took a Claritin earlier and it kinda dried me out.” Setting up an especially hushed song, she reassured the crowd that it would be perfectly fine to proceed with coughing or throat clearing, if anybody had the urge. And to demonstrate, late in the show, that she had an additional microphone clipped to her plunging neckline, she lowered her head and called “Hello,” producing a cavernous echo in the room, and winning lusty laughs. “The Grand Canyon has nothing on me,” she said. Of course, neither do most entertainers, no matter how you frame them.

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Slipknot announced plans for a U.S. tour this summer

On Feb. 16, Slipknot announced plans for a U.S. tour this summer with Marilyn Manson and Of Mice & Men. On Monday (Feb. 29), the majority of the tour’s itinerary was revealed. The trek will begin June 9 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and wrap in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 5.
A pre-sale for Slipknot fan club members will begin March 1 at noon local time. Following Citibank pre-sales on March 2 and local Live Nation and radio pre-sales on March 3, tickets will be available to the general public on March 4 at 10 a.m. local time.
Slipknot is still touring in support of its 2014 album, .5: The Gray Chapter. So far, it has produced five songs that have reached Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs Chart: “Killpop,” “The Devil In I, “Custer,” “The Negative Oneand most recent entry “Goodbye.”
But the tour isn’t the only bit of Slipknot-related news coming out Monday: It has also been revealed that frontman Corey Taylor will be hosting his own Beats 1 radio show for Apple Music. It’s called A Series of Bleeps With Corey Taylor and will premiere March 2 at 10 p.m. ET, with an encore the following day at noon.


Manson is touring in support of last year’s album The Pale Emperor.

Of Mice & Men, a metalcore band with Rise Records, has three albums to its name (all with Rise), most recently 2014’s Restoring Force.
Here is Slipknot’s complete North American touring schedule, as of Feb. 29. A statement from Slipknot promises an additional show in Virginia Beach, Va., will be announced in “the coming weeks.
June 9: Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre
June 11: Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheatre
June 13: Concord, CA @ Concord Pavilion
June 14: Inglewood, CA @ The Forum
June 15: Chula Vista, CA @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre
June 17: Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
June 18: Phoenix, AZ @ Ak-Chin Pavilion
June 19: Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater
June 21: Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
June 24: Austin, TX @ Austin 360 Amphitheater
June 25: Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion
June 26: The Woodlands, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
June 28: Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
June 29: Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s Amphitheatre
July 1: West Palm Beach, FL @ Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre
July 2: Tampa, FL @ MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
July 6: Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
July 8: Hartford, CT @ Xfinity Theatre
July 9: Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
July 10: Hershey, PA @ GIANT Center
July 12: Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music Center
July 13: Noblesville, IN @ Klipsch Music Center
July 15: Oshkosh, WI @ Rock USA *
July 16: Cadott, WI @ Rock Fest *
July 17: Bridgeview, IL @ Chicago Open Air *
July 19: Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
July 20: Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
July 21: Québec, QC @ Videotron Centre
July 23: Syracuse, NY @ Lakeview Amphitheater
July 24: Saratoga Springs, NY @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center
July 26: Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live
July 27: Camden, NJ @ BB&T Pavilion
July 29: Clarkston, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 30: Burgettstown, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion
Aug. 2: Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music Pavilion
Aug. 4: Maryland Heights, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Aug. 5: Des Moines, IA @ Wells Fargo Arena

Nominations Grammys 2016


Grammy 2016 is coming soon, reported by SPIN following are 10 of the biggest categories to determine who should be the will, who will win, and that is not fair left over from running at all


Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Taylor Swift, 1989
The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
This one should be obvious. Not just from the fans’ perspective, but because even the most out-of-touch Grammy voters would’ve had to have been in a coma to not realize To Pimp a Butterfly was the most important album of last year. I’m not saying they’re racist if Taylor Swift wins the same award she earned back when she was 20, but it would signal they’re still not paying attention even when a brick of capital-A art is thrown through their windows.

Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Please don’t let the long-spoiled Taylor Swift or not-quite-good-enough Alabama Shakes take this. Predicting Album of the Year isn’t easy when all of the artists nominated are under the age of 40, but Sound & Color is probably tempting for voters already past middle age; Alabama Shakes’ broader, generation-spanning appeal is most likely the biggest threat to Kendrick. K-Dot, meanwhile, has the potential to do what only OutKast and Lauryn Hill managed with a rap album previously, but the odds are clear when only OutKast and Lauryn Hill have done it before — and both with a lot more singing than Butterfly has. Then again, Daft Punk and Arcade Fire have now won this thing, so here’s hoping…

Who Was Snubbed: Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
If you guessed in 1999 that Carrie Brownstein would eventually stand a better chance at landing an Emmy before even a nomination at the Grammys, well, you were right. — DAN WEISS


Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”
Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Who Should Win: Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
Down to the wire between “Girl Crush” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.” The latter obviously has historical import on its side, but this is (ostensibly) a songwriting award, and, on those grounds, the electrically charged nuance of the former’s lustful heartbreak gets the edge for us over the broader strokes of “Alright.”

Who Will Win: Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
The Grammys will undoubtedly claim Ed Sheeran as their own soon enough; young singer/songwriters who play guitar and quote Marvin Gaye while also going multi-platinum don’t grow on trees anymore. He’ll have to eclipse a pretty impressive field here — not just Kendrick and LBT, but the chart-conquering schmaltz of Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again,” and the popular-kids-table front-running of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” — but we’re betting Sheeran gets his first taste of Grammys love here.

Who Was Snubbed: The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”
Oddly, one artist Sheeran won’t have to eclipse is the Weeknd, nominated for Record of the Year but not Song. Voters evidently concluded the production of Tesfaye’s chart-topping hits to be the true beauty behind his madness, but if there is a pop song that conveyed more in 13 monosyllabic words than the “Can’t Feel My Face” chorus, it ain’t nominated in this category. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER


D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Really Love”
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”

Who Should Win: The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”
Tossing aside his longtime gloomy aesthetic, the Weeknd instead aims for the fences with his MJ-inspired “ooh!“-ing and a shimmering Max Martin melody on “Can’t Feel My Face.” It’s not only Abel Tesfaye’s strongest song to date, it’s one of the finest pop tracks of the decade, still thrilling in ways “Uptown Funk” simply isn’t.

Who Will Win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
After rejuvenating a previously stale song at the Super Bowl last week, Bruno Mars looks pretty poised to take home the trophy for his Mark Ronson collaboration, which brought the funk back to Top 40. Though both men would readily admit the song’s myriad influences are rooted in the past, there’s something irrefutably fresh and necessary about Mars’ vocals that makes “Uptown Funk” a timeless, surefire win.

Who Was Snubbed: Jack Ü feat. Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”
Nobody was repping for a Justin Bieber comeback in the first three months of 2015, until Diplo and Skrillex unleashed “Where Are Ü Now,” a tin-whistle shrieking team-up with the pint-sized brat that turned public goodwill entirely in his favor. Many soundalikes followed, but none worked quite as well as the neatly synthesized fluctuations of the original. — BRENNAN CARLEY


Courtney Barnett
James Bay
Sam Hunt
Tori Kelly
Meghan Trainor

Who Should Win: Courtney Barnett
The unexpected recognition for Courtney Barnett, our Favorite Songwriter of 2015, is certainly heartening, though it remains strange she was shut out in all of the other categories. Nonetheless, few voices in rock, new or old, were as singular as Courtney’s last year, and the best argument for her not winning here — besides the fact that country crossover star Sam Hunt had an awesome breakout season himself — is that there’s virtually zero chance of her succumbing to the Best New Artist curse.

Who Will Win: Meghan Trainor
Barnett and Hunt would both certainly be worthy winners; unfortunately, they’re both likely sitting ducks lying in the M-Train’s path: Trainor’s Top 40-slaying one-year-wonderness couldn’t scream Best New Artist any louder if she had titled her album that. (Don’t rule out Tori Kelly, though — innocuous, but there has to be a reason she’s made it this far.)

Who Was Snubbed: Fetty Wap
Even Meghan Trainor would probably agree that the lack of acknowledgement for Fetty Wap’s Kristaps Porzingis-like rookie season threatens to render this entire category moot. — A.U.


Kelly Clarkson, Piece By Piece
Florence & the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Mark Ronson, Uptown Special
Taylor Swift, 1989
James Taylor, Before This World

Who Should Win: Taylor Swift, 1989
No pop album inspired as much discourse the past year as Taylor Swift’s 1989 — the “no its Becky” memes, the New York City ambassadorship, the music video that brought “#squad” to its cultural saturation point, and so much more. But aside from all that, no other record in this category so drastically changed the conversation surrounding its creator; Taylor building on the pop dalliances begun with 2012’s Red and dancing into her next chapter with all-’80s synths, glossy production, and not a single backwards glance.

Who Will Win: Taylor Swift, 1989
If you’re going to combine hype, star power, and hard numbers, Taylor Swift outshines every last one of her fellow nominees. Swift’s 1989 sold more than a million copies upon its first week of release — substantially more than the albums she’s competing with in this category. Also helps that 1989 is a behemoth of a pop record, teeming with instant Top 40 classics and sincere, self-actualizing themes. It had a genuine point of view that critics (rightly) melted all over and placed on their end-of-2014 lists. She’s the one to beat here.

Who Was Snubbed: Carly Rae Jepsen, E•MO•TION
Carly Rae Jepsen’s E•MO•TION may not have sold millions of records (it debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 and and barely sold 16,000 copies in its first week) or received much radio rotation, but it was one of the most critically adored pop albums of last year, making SPIN’s best-of 2015 list, and finishing third in last year’s annual Pazz & Jop poll. There’s not a snoozer on the entire album, which came helmed by soundboard brainiacs like Ariel Rechtshaid, Dev Hynes, and Peter Svensson. But critical opinion and solid songcraft doesn’t always translate to a trophy. — RACHEL BRODSKY


Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
Björk, Vulnicura
My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall
Tame Impala, Currents
Wilco, Star Wars

Who Should Win: Tame Impala, Currents
Good thing it’s called “Alternative Music” and not “Alternative Rock” — Currents was the album in which Tame Impala stopped being Australia’s best psych-rock band and became the world’s best synth-soul purveyors. Give it all the Grammys.

Who Will Win: Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
A fairly strong crop of nominees, so it wouldn’t be impossible to make the case for any of the five albums recognized here — all strong efforts by established artists —  taking home the prize. Sadly, despite their Currents almost certainly being the finest of the five LPs, Tame Impala probably has the weakest mainstream name recognition of the bunch. Sound & Color being the only set also nominated for Album of the Year doesn’t necessarily make Alabama Shakes a shoo-in for this, but it probably makes them the front-runners — especially considering it sold more in its first week than some of the other nominees likely did in their entire run.

Who Was Snubbed: Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
It seems like a veteran, venerated, all-but-unassailable legacy act like Sleater-Kinney would be stringing necklaces of these statues by now, but they continue to be ignored by the Grammys altogether. Doubtful they really care, but hopefully it ends up as a subplot on this Portlandia season anyway. — A.U.


J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive
Dr. Dre, Compton
Drake, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint

Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Sure, both The Pinkprint and 2014 Forest Hills Drive deserved more respect, and Compton deserved less. And until they give out an award for Best Rap Meme, I’m not gonna tell #Drakehive to give up on their dreams. But Kendrick deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom; nabbing this award is merely a souvenir on the way.

Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Hopefully Kendrick’ll Instagram himself texting Macklemore “No hard feelings.”

Who Was Snubbed: Who Wasn’t?
Vince Staples is too cool to ever get a Grammy nom. Heems possibly has a shot someday if his sitcom takes off. Future would maybe get a nod if the Recording Academy wasn’t so sure he’d find a way to wear the trophy during sex. — D.W.


Caribou, Our Love
The Chemical Brothers, Born in the Echoes
Disclosure, Caracal
Jamie xx, In Colour
Jack Ü, Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

Who Will Win: Jamie xx, In Colour
The Grammys have been historically lambasted as tone-deaf to dance and electronic music, among relative new ravers and those who have been clubbing since before EDM became synonymous with Calvin Harris and Zedd. But between crowning sterling long-players from Daft Punk and Aphex Twin in 2014 and 2015, respectively, the committee has been on a pyrotechnic-hot streak and this year’s nominees have been touted as some of the Recording Academy’s more timely. Jamie xx’s In Colour will probably come out on top, since it politely breakdances the increasingly drawn line between technocrats and the average beats’n’bass fan, especially as competitors Disclosure have gone more populist and Jack Ü is still tied — for better or worse, in this case — to Justin Bieber.

Who Should Win: Caribou, Our Love
Caribou’s Dan Snaith may not have shimmied onto as many worldwide charts as the category’s other contenders (perhaps he could have made more of a recognizable name for himself had he been featured on The Bachelorette) but a well-earned win for his enlightened 2014 LP is worth the risk of another Arcade Fire moment. There are many parallels between Our Love and Jamie xx’s downtempo romp — both of which smelt 40 or so years of electronic music history into aural gold — but Caribou’s exquisite full-length could benefit from a stab at that coveted post-Grammy sales boost.

Who Got Snubbed: Floating Points, Elaenia
It might be too much to expect the committee that nominated Al Walser for Best Dance Recording to notice an album like Elaenia, which doesn’t bangarang as much as it floats along with help from both a real and synthesized orchestra. It’s a seamless modern-day integration of classical and electronic music on par with (if not better than) Jeff Mills’ Blue Potential, and since the Grammys have already come a remarkably long way towards recognizing the simultaneous merging and dissolution of genres, it would’ve made sense for them to recognize an artist elegantly nudging the parameters of the dance floor. — HARLEY BROWN


Sam Hunt, Montevallo
Little Big Town, Pain Killer
Ashley Monroe, The Blade
Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material
Chris Stapleton, Traveller

Who Should Win: Sam Hunt, Montevallo
When Kacey Musgraves beat out Taylor Swift for her Same Trailer, Different Park Grammy in 2014, shockwaves rippled from the arena to the airwaves. Her inclusive major-label debut widened the margins of country songwriting and voters responded by embracing the change. Sam Hunt’s Montevallo could signal a similar lane-shift, eschewing both the homespun twang of the classics and also the PBR can-crumpling silliness of bro-country in favor of hip-hop leaning brilliance. Hunt’s voice might not be the best or brightest but damn if his album isn’t the most intriguing thing to come out of Nashville in a minute.

Who Will Win: Chris Stapleton, Traveller
The Kentucky-born “Whiskey and You” howler’s 2015 album is good — very good, in fact — but it doesn’t really help advance the genre. That won’t matter to Grammy voters, though, who likely noticed Stapleton’s lengthy pre-fame career as a Nashville songwriter, saw his big wins at last fall’s Country Music Awards, and ticked his name off on their ballots. A deserving win, to be sure, and one that won’t ruffle many feathers — just how the country establishment likes it.

Who Was Snubbed: Kelsea Ballerini, The First Time
With snappy singles like “Dibs” and “Love Me Like You Mean It” that skew early-Swiftian — far rootsier territory than Taylor herself has visited in quite some time — Kelsea Ballerini’s The First Time is more of a mixed bag than this year’s nominees, but ignoring her entirely feels short-sighted. That said, since she’s only 22, the young singer’s still got plenty of time to leave her bootprint. — B.C.


The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)”
Common & John Legend, “Glory”
Ellie Goulding, “Love Me Like You Do”
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”
Lady Gaga, “Til It Happens to You”

Who Should Win: Lady Gaga, “Til It Happens to You”
Lady Gaga and Diane Warren’s “Til It Happens to You” is a beautiful, personal song, and its important message about sexual assault is in some ways the polar opposite to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, which is filled with songs steeped in sex but light on consequences.

Who Will Win: The Weeknd, “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)”
This is a tough one, because there’s a winning narrative for pretty much every song nominated. “Glory” and “Til It Happens to You” both have gotten love from the Academy Awards, but, due to the difference in eligibility periods, from two different Oscar ceremonies. (The former won last year’s trophy for Best Original Song and the latter’s a current nominee.) “See You Again” would be forgettable were it not for the death of Furious 7 star Paul Walker, so there’s your angle right there. In the end, though, chances are the narrative that’ll win out is the least interesting one — the Weeknd is, after all, the only nominee who has yet to hit his ceiling. And, hey, the kids like Fifty Shades of Grey, right?

Who Was Snubbed: Beanz and Justin Bostwick, “Drip Drop”
This highlight from Empire season 1 — one of the most strangely progressive and wonderfully off-the-rails shows to air on national television in recent memory — never would’ve had a chance in hell at winning, but c’mon, it’s just too absurd and pleasurable to be ignored completely. The Grammys could’ve thrown some shine in TV’s direction — even if they didn’t intend on handing over the actual award in the end. — JAMES GREBEY

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Rolling Stone is coming to your earphones and stereos


 Although he is no longer young, but Rolling stone still has a place in the hearts of fans, whether it‘s on the boat of his first youth to youth now can still enjoy his music. Now to pamper fans, rolling stone music comes via podcast

 Rolling Stone is coming to your earphones and stereos, with the launch of Rolling Stone Music Now, our first-ever podcast. The new show, hosted by Executive Editor Nathan Brackett, will feature  interviews with marquee artists, a look inside the week’s hottest music news, a sampling of what’s playing in the Rolling Stone office and much more. Brackett will be joined by a rotating panel of Rolling Stone’s writers and editors, covering the biggest stories in music and interviewing top artists. The official trailer is available now on iTunes, where you can subscribe, and the first episode will debut on Monday, February 1st.

“We’re excited to give fans a seat at the table with some of the finest music journalists on the planet – not to mention some of our favorite artists,” said Gus Wenner, Head of Digital of Wenner Media.

Regular panelists will include the following Rolling Stone editors and contributors: Brian Hiatt, Rob Sheffield, David Fricke, Brittany Spanos, Simon Vozick-Levinson, Andy Greene, Josh Eells, Jason Newman, Patrick Doyle and Kory Grow.