• Amazon, the titan of twenty-first century commerce

  • Amazon’s rumoured music streaming service could hurt Apple, Spotify — and every musician you love

  • Challenge and opportunity for music in VR films

  • Algorave: the live coding movement that makes next-level electronic music

  • Cassettes will replace vinyl as the most popular physical product

  • International choir competitions increasingly popular – in Europe, anyway

  • Creative Youth Development strategy

  • Freemusic releases annual statistics on artistic freedom violations in 2016

  • Australian company directors’ requirement to take climate change into account

  • Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces

  • The lack of money put into the business of music is our biggest strength: Meesha Shafi

  • Good news stories? They must be made up

Amazon, the titan of twenty-first century commerce

In addition to being a retailer, it is now a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space. Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth, it generates meagre profits, choosing to price below-cost and expand widely instead. Through this strategy, the company has positioned itself at the center of e-commerce and now serves as essential infrastructure for a host of other businesses that depend upon it. Elements of the firm’s structure and conduct pose anticompetitive concerns—yet it has escaped any antitrust and anti-competitive scrutiny. The Yale Law Journal has a forensic look at Amazon and its practices – you can just read the abstract but there’s lots of great stuff to sample in depth as well. – Brendan Harkin, X-Media Lab

Amazon’s rumoured music streaming service could hurt Apple, Spotify — and every musician you love

How low can you go? As if $10 a month for unlimited access to massive catalogues of stream-able music didn’t leave little enough for artists. Now is reportedly stepping up its music-streaming game with a deal that could greatly reduce this price for millions of customers. Salon

Challenge and opportunity for music in VR films

Elias Constantopedos of the Crunch Network

Music needs to become an invisible puppet master doing the job film editors and directors used to do.

The use of music in film historically has been confined to on-screen music (a piano player in a bar) or off-screen music (a full 90-piece orchestra accompanying a love scene). But in VR films, the lines between on-screen and off-screen music have blurred. The on-screen gramophone in the virtual reality storyteller Kismet fills the room with an evocative gypsy violin melody, but when you progress, it enters the backing soundtrack in an orchestral arrangement. Because we are immersed in the world, it’s almost as if the music is “playing inside our head,” linking the scenes to each other with a familiar mnemonic.

How we use music in VR film now must be thought of a little differently, as we are no longer the passive observer but a participant, perhaps even the protagonist. This is a paradigm shift in the storytelling dynamic not experienced since the advent of video games. In VR, the user can make decisions that impact the story and choose where to look to the point they could miss crucial story elements. The challenge here is keeping the audience focused on what we want them to see, and music’s power to draw our attention or subtly influence our behavior can be used to this end. Find out much more here s

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Algorave: the live coding movement that makes next-level electronic music

Steph Kretowicz

Artists across the world are redefining what it means to create music with a laptop

In the back room of a bar in the South London suburb of New Cross, there’s a revolution happening. Or maybe it’s not so much a revolution as a de-volution, a rolling back to the backend of music production, where the possibilities of the encoded information inside computer software is open and endless. An artist with the simple stage name Joanne, is standing on a stage at the Amersham Arms, looking at her laptop and typing, immersed in dry ice and the creative process, as a projection plays behind her. Red, blue, green, yellow, purple text on a black background moves and changes; highlighted orange, and cut-and-pasted, in a flash, disappearing with the rhythm of a cursor. The music it conjures is bouncing out of several well-placed speakers. It ricochets from the corners of the dimmed room as a repetitive dull thud drops, then builds up through a crunching, incessant rhythm. Some of the audience squeals, the floor vibrating with a heavy beat that’s almost organic. This is the look and sound of live-coded electronic music, or the more recently (and craftily) coined music ‘genre’ now known as Algorave

Alex McLean is a 16-year veteran of this kind of live-coding performance, an event where producers – and quite possibly their audience – understand their instruments at the core, where the programming language of real-time audio synthesisers is pared down and revealed to all on a screen with a stark black or white background. “It’s kind of a Luddite’s approach, in a way, because it’s stripping back away from graphical user interfaces and just getting back at the underlying text of all the stuff that’s happening inside a computer, all it’s elements, and treating the computer like a language machine, or tool.”

Read much more in the article.

Cassettes will replace vinyl as the most popular physical product

In this article, Rich Nardo writes of three music tech trends to watch in 2017. This is one of them.

‘In 2017, I believe we’ll see cassettes overtake vinyl as the most popular physical product at merch tables for artists on tour. It’s way cheaper and faster to create and it still holds a particular sense of nostalgia for fans, harkening back to the ‘good old days’ of music.

‘Truth is, a large portion of those people that are buying vinyl aren’t listening to it anyway. They just want a keepsake from one of their favorite bands to display in their home, and to offer support to the artists they love. Cassettes are a cheaper, more convenient way to satisfy those desires for both the artist and the fan.’

Read much more s

International choir competitions increasingly popular – in Europe, anyway

Between 2012 and 2016 Interkultur, one of the world’s leading organisers of international choir competitions, increased its European festivals from two to five as the number of participating choirs increased from 103 to 140. “In the past, it was often just a tent with choirs performing,” explains Gent Lazri, Interkultur’s director of international choral networking. “But in the past several years everything has become much more professional. The organisers are no longer volunteers, and the competitions often take place in a major concert hall rather than a tent.” This week, the Berliner Philharmonie hosted the Grand Prix of Nations with 30 choirs from 15 countries. Some 150 choirs are expected at the European Choir Games in Riga this summer…

“Choir members’ motivation increases enormously when they compete,” says Mr Lazri. The competition is not the most important element; what matters most to choir singers is the excitement of preparing for the competition. According to a recent report by the European Choral Association, there are 625,000 choirs in the EU, comprising 22.5m singers. 4.4% of EU citizens thus sing in choirs…

Choirs are also motivated by the international score card. In the past several years competition organisers have developed a point system similar to the ATP system in tennis: each choir wins a certain number of points based on its performance in a competition, and points are valid for five years. Like the ATP’s rankings, the choir ranking allows choirs to measure their standing between games. Like tennis players, choirs can compete both in open competitions and closed ones, where participation is by invitation only. While closed competitions are considered by some to be more prestigious, open ones offer unknown ensembles the opportunity to make a name for themselves.

Creative Youth Development strategy

2017 will be an important year for the Creative Youth Development National Partnership as it expands its work:

The year ahead will include research to inform strategic recommendations for a National Blueprint for Creative Youth Development, which will be a strategic plan to advance the overall field of CYD.

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) will commence national research on its forthcoming CYD Toolkit, sharing research insights along the way as it moves toward publication next year.

Freemuse releases annual statistics on artistic freedom violations in 2016

Artists and audiences are under increased threat globally, according to a new report, Art under Threat, released by Freemuse. Iran tops the list of countries that systematically violated and failed to secure artistic freedom in 2016, followed by Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, China and Russia. These six countries combined account for 59% of the total serious violations on artistic freedom registered in 2016.

Art under Threat analyses the dominant threats to artistic freedom including how governments, such as China’s and Turkey’s, in addition to silencing artists within their own borders, attempt to censor and prosecute artists abroad. The Freemuse report describes how violent militants as well as peaceful civil society groups target artists and audiences by very different means, but with the same intent, to stifle artistic expression; how women, as well as LGBT artists, are discriminated against; and how even artist syndicates in some cases play the role of censor. Claims of defending “traditional values” or “the interest of the state” are, in many cases, driving arguments behind the violations.

“When populist and nationalist governments, as well as others in a position of power, forcefully try to secure a single dominant narrative, artists are at increased risk,” said Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov. “Artistic expressions do not and should not fit into one frame. A healthy society needs alternative creative voices.”
Freemuse in 2016 registered a total number of 1,028 cases of censorship and attacks on artistic freedom across 78 countries. This number more than doubled the number of cases registered in 2015, rising from 469. Freemuse documented 188 total serious violations – killings, attacks, abductions, imprisonments and threats – and a staggering 840 acts of censorship.

Broken down, Freemuse registered three killings, two abductions, 16 attacks, 84 imprisonments and detentions, 43 prosecutions, 40 persecutions and threats, and 840 acts of censorship in 2016. Music was the worst hit art form with 86 cases of serious violations, followed by theatre and visual arts. Film was the most censored art form representing 79% of all cases of censorship registered; the majority of those cases stemming from Ukraine and Kuwait blacklists banning hundreds of individual film titles.

The overall increase in registered cases can partially be explained by the fact that Freemuse and its collaborating partners have improved their documentation methods and partly that some governments published lists of censored art.

Despite these considerations, however, the fact remains that attacks on artists and their artistic freedom disturbingly increased in 2016 by a measure Freemuse hasn’t seen since it started tracking violations in 2012.

Australian company directors’ requirement to take climate change into account

Geoff Summerhayes, Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) Executive Board Member, has given a speech stating that climate-related risks are now firmly on the horizon for the Australian financial sector. For the first time, APRA has clearly stated that “some climate risks are distinctly ‘financial’ in nature. Many of these risks are foreseeable, material and actionable now”. Mr Summerhayes gave a clear indication that APRA would pay increased attention to the systemic impacts of climate change. The speech said the Centre for Policy Development’s (CPD) legal work on directors’ duties and climate change was one of three key developments in this area and mentioned CPD’s business roundtable, which Mr Summerhayes participated in. When we (CPD) set out on this work, a key goal was to encourage Australia’s top regulators to clarify their standing on climate risk and lead on this issue. We’ve worked closely with them to achieve this goal. We’re delighted to see APRA take this decisive step and to have made a direct, substantive contribution to this policy development and leadership. Read more about this ground-breaking speech here

Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces

Researchers behind ‘Anthropocene equation’ say impact of people’s intense activity on Earth far exceeds that of natural events spread across millennia

For the first time, researchers have developed a mathematical equation to describe the impact of human activity on the earth, finding people are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces.

The equation was developed in conjunction with Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, and was published in the journal The Anthropocene Review.

The authors of the paper wrote that for the past 4.5bn years astronomical and geophysical factors have been the dominating influences on the Earth system. The Earth system is defined by the researchers as the biosphere, including interactions and feedbacks with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and upper lithosphere.

But over the past six decades human forces “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth system,” the authors wrote, giving rise to a period known as the Anthropocene.

“Human activities now rival the great forces of nature in driving changes to the Earth system,” the paper said.

Steffen and his co-researcher, Owen Gaffney, from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, came up with an “Anthropocene Equation” to determine the impact of this period of intense human activity on the earth.

Explaining the equation in New Scientist, Gaffney said they developed it “by homing in on the rate of change of Earth’s life support system: the atmosphere, oceans, forests and wetlands, waterways and ice sheets and fabulous diversity of life”.

“For four billion years the rate of change of the Earth system has been a complex function of astronomical and geophysical forces plus internal dynamics: Earth’s orbit around the sun, gravitational interactions with other planets, the sun’s heat output, colliding continents, volcanoes and evolution, among others,” he wrote.

“In the equation, astronomical and geophysical forces tend to zero because of their slow nature or rarity, as do internal dynamics, for now. All these forces still exert pressure, but currently on orders of magnitude less than human impact.”

According to Steffen these forces have driven a rate of change of 0.01 degrees Celsius per century.

Greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans over the past 45 years, on the other hand, “have increased the rate of temperature rise to 1.7 degrees Celsius per century, dwarfing the natural background rate,” he said.

This represented a change to the climate that was 170 times faster than natural forces.

“We are not saying the astronomical forces of our solar system or geological processes have disappeared, but in terms of their impact in such a short period of time they are now negligible compared with our own influence,” Steffen said.

“Crystallising this evidence in the form of a simple equation gives the current situation a clarity that the wealth of data often dilutes.

Failure to reduce anthropological climate change could “trigger societal collapse”, their research concluded.

The lack of money put into the business of music is our biggest strength: Meesha Shafi

Meesha Shafi performs

“Turmoil, pain and insecurity — creative minds have always thrived under these conditions. Add to this the absence of money and you get Pakistani music.”

Where does the motivation come from? When the light at the end of the tunnel is so very distant? Turmoil, pain and insecurity — creative minds have always thrived under these conditions. Add to this the absence of money and you get Pakistani music. A phenomenon where the creator has nobody to answer to and nothing to lose.

The lack of money being put into the business of music is perhaps our biggest strength. It serves as a quality control filter and has become our saving grace. For musicians, it spells creative liberty. Unlike film and television, which do in fact have money being injected into production but at a price: creative compromise. There is the pressure of commercial success and ratings too. Fortunately or unfortunately (and I will go with the former on this one), we are not playing to the gallery. There are no ratings, royalties or profits and therefore, an air of no compromise.

Originally published in Dawn, ICON, where the complete article can be found.

Comment: There are reader comments after this article challenging its thesis and noting that the author is financially secure from non-musical sources, unlike most musicians.

Good news stories? They must be made up!

If your world is the news from the major media, you would think that everyone is at loggerheads with everyone else, the world is consumed by hatred and we are going to hell in a handbasket with no stop for lunch.

But actually.

For instance, some people are still talking with each other, constructively.

A couple of weeks ago, Ministers of Culture from countries of the Western Mediterranean – Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia met. During the visit, the Ministers of Tunisia and France signed a twinning agreement that will support cultural sector reforms in Tunisia, as well as a bilateral agreement to fund the co-production of Franco-Tunisian films. And more.

In Asia, cinema is also playing a part in international exchange with the recent launch of the 2017 Year of Japan-India friendly exchanges that included a new film collaboration. Meanwhile, a number of collaborative projects between organisations in Wales and India have been announced, which will travel to India as part of the UK-India 2017 cultural season; and in Africa, Angola and Algeria have renewed conversations around cultural cooperation and the importance of exchange to cultural identity.

In March in London, Visiting Arts will deliver an event on building partnerships and networks to support international artistic exchange; the Cultural Diplomacy Platform has issued a call for applications from young cultural leaders for the second edition of its Global Cultural Leadership Programme; and in May, Azerbaijan will host the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue.

Trump that. (Source: IFACCA)


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