Music

‘Blackstar’ Sales Soar as David Bowie's Musical Legacy Endures

Piya Sinha-Roy, Guy Faulconbridge and Marie-Louise Gumuchian

Sales of David Bowie's last album -- released two days before his death from cancer -- soared on Monday along with downloads of his greatest hits, testimony to the powerful appeal of a pioneer in pop culture and the music business. Streaming giant Spotify said streams of Bowie's music were up 2,700 percent on Monday, while the Official Charts Company in the UK said Bowie's "Blackstar" album was headed to the top spot on the charts with sales of 43,000 since its Friday release.

Long Live the King: Elvis Presley and the Spirit of Tribute

Sandra Canosa

“The issue isn’t that the younger demographic doesn’t like Elvis,” Rosemarie O’Brien, General Manager for the Collingwood Elvis Festival, told me. But the challenge of attracting newcomers still weighs on organizers’ minds. “I just don’t think [younger people] have ever been educated on what Elvis did for music history and how it impacts and influences what they get to listen to now.” The animated zeal of tribute festivals, however, has the potential to engage neophytes in a way that static museum displays or textbooks cannot. 

Using Illusions - The Rise and Fall of Guns N’ Roses on MTV

Sandra Canosa

Axl’s high-pitched caterwauls and Slash’s furious guitar licks may contain all the classic trappings of hair metal, but it was the way GnR crafted their image through MTV music videos that launched the group out of the niche-market bins and into the mainstream. But in the end, MTV also proved to be the band’s downfall. With no limits to their financial resources or artistic egos, Guns N’ Roses were free to push the medium to its extremes: sometimes the risks paid off, demonstrating both what the band and the music video form itself was capable of. Other times, the very limitations of MTV became all too clear.

Adele's '21' Deemed Billboard's Greatest Album of All Time

Jill Serjeant

Adele's Grammy-winning 2011 release "21" was deemed by Billboard magazine the greatest album of all time based on chart position and the soundtrack of the 1965 Julie Andrews movie "The Sound of Music" came in second. The British singer racked up the most weeks - 24 - for an album by a woman atop the Billboard 200 album charts and saw 78 weeks in the top 10.

Patreon: Portrait of the Artist in a Digital Economy

Sandra Canosa

It goes without saying that the Internet and digital software have radically changed the ways we consume, create, and interact with art, not least of all music. It’s no wonder then that Patreon was co-founded by a financially-frustrated musician: Jack Conte, one-half of the duo Pomplamoose, themselves early pioneers in the viral-video potential of YouTube. But ad-based revenue, Conte explains, wasn’t earning the band nearly enough money to cover the costs of their production, let alone basic living expenses. 

Everlasting KISS: The Branding of the World’s Most Commercial Band

Sandra Canosa

More than 40 years after their initial formation in New York City in 1973, the band KISS is still living – and selling – large. Since their misleadingly-named “KISS Farewell Tour” in 2001, the group has toured consistently nearly every year, performing over 450 concerts in stadiums and amphitheatres across North and South America, Europe, and Japan; their merchandise sales alone within the same 15-year span topple $500 million.

Jazz Legend Ornette Coleman Dies at 85

Bill Trott

Coleman's motto for his music, often uttered before starting his performances, was "I'd like to go out in space tonight." He would then launch into music that broke the limits of conventional bars, keys, chord changes and harmony. Coleman so divided jazz musicians, critics and fans that in his early years some musicians at jam sessions would leave the stage during his solos.

Remembering the New York Dolls: Rock’n’Roll Goes to Camp

Sandra Canosa

But the Dolls were also tougher, sloppier, and more aggressive than any of those ‘60s rock bands had dared to be, a rambunctious brawl of electric sound that strongly foreshadowed the punk revolution of the later 1970s. Songs like “Looking for a Kiss” and “Trash” dealt with subjects like heroin and drug addiction with an almost perverse nonchalance; watching them perform live, as Nick Kent described it, was “almost as if Donny Osmond ditched his brothers, started taking downers and grew fangs, picked up with a bunch of heavy-duty characters down off 42nd Street and started writing songs on topics like premature ejaculation.”

How the War Over Streaming Services Changed the Music Industry

Angelo Franco

When Taylor Swift’s 1989 album became the only record of the year to reach platinum level, that was the second biggest news in music of 2014.  The most important news of the year in the industry came when Swift pulled her entire catalogue from the popular streaming service Spotify one week after the release of her album.  The move, more so than spark a heated though admittedly civil battle between Swift and Spotify, has opened the gates to a debate about the future of the music industry. 

The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Paradox: Bruce Springsteen and Sincerity

Sandra Canosa

But Springsteen is of course no schoolchild, and no stranger to the tradition of the protest song. He openly idolizes Guthrie, and in the early days of his career was often billed as “The New Bob Dylan.” His rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” contains all the original verses, and it’s slow, grisly, and obviously pained. He knows it’s no patriotic celebration song. So what kind of promises are we talking about here? Surely it’s not the promise of a long and well-populated line for the government dole.

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