SoundCloud More Affordable for Creators, As Service Attempts Balancing Acts [Analysis]

We hear some pretty clear messages from CDM readers about SoundCloud. One, almost all of you seem to have some criticisms of it. Two, almost all of you appear to use it, complaints or none. Even as other services remain valuable, SoundCloud is practically its own category. (In fact, the level of detail about those complaints suggests to me that they come from ongoing, intensive usage.) Ubiquity is an understatement. “Do you have a SoundCloud?” is a question I hear about as much as I once heard “do you have a MySpace?” a few years ago. People ask it in …

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How Music Label Vlek Makes Ephemeral Sound Physical, While Giving Away Their Catalog [Gallery, Interview]

When music moved from live venues to radios and recordings, artists had to find a way to respond. Now, labels struggle to be heard in the era of Spotify and streaming, always-on, always-overabundant media. We could talk grander themes, but the possibilities of this conflict are most vivid in a microcosm. Call it post-digital or what you will, but being digital now means something different. For Belgian label, Vlek, that reality takes a number of forms, suggestive of the direction for independent electronic music. And so, in Ssaliva’s release for Vlek, executed by Dimitri Runkkari (part of Brussels’ design studio …

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The record lives. Drip.fm co-founders Sam and Miguel merge subscription ease and affordability with high-quality downloads you keep, and even closer connections to artists and labels. Think "fan club," not "utility company." Here, Sam tells CDM how it came about. Photo: Will Calcutt.

Saving Downloads, Fans? Sam Valenti IV Talks Ghostly’s Drip.FM As Label Roster Grows

PK: In the digital age, subscription services or “all-you-can-eat” music gives passionate listeners nothing if not flexibility and a wealth of music. But they can also distance music lovers from labels they care about – and the reliance on streaming threatens to sever the special relationship you have with albums that are really special. Drip.fm is different. Founded by Ghostly International, it has the affordable monthly subscription rate – but with actual high-quality downloads you keep. First launched with some of Ghostly’s boutique-quality electronic music, it has since expanded to some big names. Today could be a watershed moment for …

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Carrying her musical life on her back - in more ways than one. Zoe Keating, by Nadya Lev for Coilhouse. Photo courtesy the artist.

Zoe Keating, Cellist Who Exposed Her Musical Finances, Talks Music Making, Distribution [Interview]

She shocked the music business by revealing she wasn’t making money on Spotify – then shocked them again by revealing she was making money on our own. Now, CDM’s Matt Earp talks to cellist Zoe Keating about surviving as a creative musician, and keeping the music coming. Hint: “exposure” is not necessarily the key to survival. -Ed. Zoe Keating is an avant-garde cellist, a Canadian transplant to San Francisco who now lives on its far outskirts. Her sound slips back and forth between the classical and electronic worlds, conjuring sylvan images and dusty warehouses with equal clarity. Two self-released full-lengths, …

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Selling and Promoting Music: When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It?

I believe it’s possible to be a responsible business, and to be a responsible consumer. When you’re the business lecturing your consumers on what they should be doing, well, that can produce an awkward situation. Let’s leave it at saying that a certain blog post stating obvious things has resulted in what can best be described as a kerfuffle, and, since you’ve heard it all before, it’s probably not worth repeating. Better than lecturing music lovers, then, is finding out better ways to reach them. I know plenty of artists and even people whose day job is running a label …

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On Record Store Day, Music in Physical Places – In a Forest, Even?

If you’re heading out into the wilderness to find a record store, why not actually head out into the wilderness – the one with trees – and find music there? Today, a you’ve no doubt heard, is Record Store Day. The official site is a useful resource, today and around the year. Today brings a number of special physical releases, favoring vinyl but also including CDs. A mobile app download will help you locate record stores in your city, both in the US and other countries around the world. All of this does raise some deeper issues. Record stores can …

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Useful Music Tools, Built with Max 6, Released on the Mac App Store: Downloads, Developer Info

Make it with Max, sell it here. Photo: CDM. (and yes, this is now the desktop, not the mobile, App Store!) If you’re a Mac user, we’ve got some cheap and free tools for you. And if you’re a Max patcher, you may be surprised with how they were built: they were all exported from Max 6. This week, we welcome a guest writer developer Dan Nigrin. Amidst some new controversy about Apple and app distribution, here Dan looks at how Apple’s marketplace can indeed be useful to developers using Max 6, the popular graphical patching tool. (Incidentally, the libpd …

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A Massive Bundle of Game Music, the Magical Machinarium Score, and the Quiet Indie Music Revolution

As musical old-timers repeatedly sing the sad song of the supposed demise of the full-length album, a funny thing has happened. Lovers of games have taken up a growing passion for game music, and in particular the indie score for indie games. Independent game publishing and independent music composition – from truly unsigned, unknown artists – go hand in hand. Indeed, the download and purchase charts on Bandcamp are often dominated by game scores. Fueled by word-of-mouth, these go viral in enthusiast communities largely ignored by either music or game reportage. Far from the big-budget blockbuster war game, these scores …

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Gibson Buys Stanton, Gets Speaker and DJ Business, Calls Itself “Lifestyle Brand”

Ce n’est pas un phonographe. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Roadside Guitars. Gibson Guitar has announced in a press release they’re acquiring the Stanton Group, which includes, aside from the well-known Stanton DJ brand, KRK monitoring products and Cerwin-Vega loudspeakers. It’d be easy to see this as a guitar company buying a DJ company, but it’s more than that. KRK and Cerwin-Vega are speaker/monitoring brands. Stanton and Cerwin-Vega each have footholds in the larger consumer arena, not just the pro world, a detail Gibson is quick to emphasize. And Gibson themselves have quietly, steadily grown beyond just guitars. The new “Gibson Pro Audio” …

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Good Listening, Good Taste: Selection of Ghostly Sonic Output, Inspiration for Getting Things Made

More than just a label, Ghostly is establishing itself as a hub of design, as in the new poster series by Swiss artist Sonnenzimmer, available from their online store. With artists likewise drawing heavily from visual inspiration, the connection between sight, sound, and taste is an evocative one. Photo courtesy Ghostly International. You can expect to see ongoing appearances by Ghostly International, the 12-year-old label with roots in Detroit that has since established firm outposts in California and New York, in these pages. (Pixels?) The reason is simple: Ghostly is a grand experiment in how to retain relevance as a …

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