Music

Did Bob Dylan Deserve the Nobel? Maybe, But He Wasn’t the First Musician

Hasan Zillur Rahim

The decision by the Swedish Academy to award Bob Dylan the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" was lauded by many and lamented by a few. But there was universal acknowledgment that the Academy had broken new ground by awarding the Nobel “for the first time” to a singer-songwriter since the French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme first won it in 1901.

The Singularity You Can Hear: Post-Internet Waves in Popular Music

Sandra Canosa

To say that the Internet changed the music industry would be an all too obvious understatement. From instant downloads and streaming technologies to self-made YouTube stars and the Twitterazi, there’s no aspect of the music biz today that’s been left untouched by the crawlers of the digital web. But in an age where we’re never more than a thumbswipe away from the expanse offerings of the Internet, where playing a new single on YouTube is more commonplace than listening to FM radio, it’s rare that we ever take a moment to stop and think about how the Internet has actually affected what music is, or even what it sounds like. 

The Jam Music Community’s Biggest Fans? Orthodox Jews

Aryeh Gelfand

Those going off the religious path, or “Derech”, find different ways to cope with the imminent loss of community and purpose leaving brings. Still others, unsatisfied with a life of insularity as they are, bring the spirit of Judaism with them as they journey forth and explore what this world has to offer. These two groups of seekers and adventurers have found a common resting place among the ever growing, vocal, and distinctive subculture known as the Jam music community.

 

A Long Way to the Top: Rethinking How AC/DC Changed Rock’n’Roll

Sandra Canosa

It’s a well-known conundrum in the rules and regulations of the rock’n’roll canon: If it is popular, it must not be good. While AC/DC has millions of fans the world over and can continue to sell out arena tours (even with a completely different and controversial lead singer), they have very few critical accolades to show for it. They’ve won only one Grammy – for a song released in 2010, no less – and even the likes of Billy Joel managed to beat them into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

Remembering the Grateful Dead

Aryeh Gelfand

Something about this experience was powerful enough to  convince countless members of the upper- and middle-class stratums of our society to drop out of traditional life paths and blindly follow the Grateful Dead, as they toured the country throughout the 1970s and ‘80s until Garcia’s untimely death on August 9, 1995. These young kids found something in the community of the band that they couldn't find elsewhere. They found a sense of community and belonging that didn't exist elsewhere. 

Piracy Gets Washed Down With Streaming – But Is It Good for the Music Industry?

Sandra Canosa

The end result of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology was not only that the floodgates of the Internet’s capacity for copyright evasion were flung wide open, but that, perhaps even more significantly, an entire generation of media consumers got to experience a long and sinful taste of high-dosage downloadability. With so much free material available through a simple search-and-click function, the limits of music ownership were defined only by the size of one’s hard drive and the speed of one’s dial-up.

The Factory Factor: Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground

Sandra Canosa

In the days before independent labels or DIY recording, it’s a miracle the Velvet Underground were allowed to step foot inside a studio at all. But they were – and for that, we mostly have Andy Warhol to thank. Shortly after they first started playing together, the Velvet Underground got a low-paying residency spot at a club whose patrons were less than enthusiastic about some of the group’s material. After one performance of “The Black Angel’s Death Song,” for example, they were told if they ever played it again they’d be fired on the spot. But for the group, that was part of the thrill. 

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.

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. 

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