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Articles: I Know You Got Soul: The Trouble With Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Chart

Articles: I Know You Got Soul: The Trouble With Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Chart | Music Industry | Scoop.it
A new methodology has rendered Billboard's R&B chart a shell of its former self, replete with dubious racial and cultural ...
Nick Meyerson's insight:

This is actually a topic very near and dear to my heart. I grew up listening to hip-hop and R&B, and even as a kid, took early notice of details such as Billboard chart positions, linear notes, and album production credits. This incredibly in-depth article talks about how the R&B chart has essentially become a shell of its former self - one glance at the top 10 R&B/hip-hop hits for 2013 looks nearly identical for the top 10 in pop. If, demographically speaking, the chart was originally made to cater to African-Americans, is it right for black-derived music to be dominated by white culture?

 

"The goal is not to racially profile record buyers, either. Instead, by tracking the R&B and hip-hop audience—those who seek out black radio stations and maintain a steady diet of beats, rhymes, and soul, regardless of their own ethnic makeup—you get a much better read of the pulse of actual fans of the music: those who live and breathe it, week in, week out. That used to be whatBillboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart did. It’s not what it does anymore."


The real shift in the chart's change was the shift into the digital age in the early 2000s. In 2005, digital iTunes sales began to be taken into account on the Hot 100, but not on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The millions this genre was making in digital sales was making no impact on chart positions. This all-encompassing digital consumption isn’t necessarily a problem when it comes to the Hot 100, which covers all genres and where, in theory, all songs compete on equal footing. But since its reinvention in 1965, the whole point of Billboard’s R&B chart has been to highlight sales and airplay targeted at core black music fans. That’s what distinguished the R&B chart from the Hot 100. How do you do that, if you can’t isolate sales and streams generated by these consumers?


This article was full of history and statistics that gave me something to think about, both musically, business-wise, and thinking from an audience demographic perspective. I understand that you cannot monitor and micromanage digital audiences, but I feel like Billboard could come up with a way to better revitalize a chart that was so prominent just a decade ago.

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Girl Talk Q&A: On Sampling, Disney & His First Ever Music Video

Girl Talk Q&A: On Sampling, Disney & His First Ever Music Video | Music Industry | Scoop.it
Gregg Michael Gillis, known as Girl Talk, has come out with his first ever music video, a collaboration with rappers Freeway and Waka Flocka Flame.
Nick Meyerson's insight:

In my opinion, Girl Talk (Gregg Michael Gillis) is one of the most fascinating case studies in the music business today. His career is based around the sampling and compiling of other artists' work - his last album took 373 samples and 2.5 years to create - though he has never asked for permission or paid any royalties. Furthermore, he releases the work for free and nobody used in the sample seems to complain; it is almost a privilege to be sampled by DJ Girl Talk.

Because no revenue can be made off of the free releases of his albums, Gillis makes all of his money off of touring and live shows. This interview with Billboard sees the DJ fresh off of his first music video for "Tolerated," where he actually paid to license the two samples used in the song. While the track sonically is a departure from the hectic mash-ups of his past work, Gillis states in the interview that his process is the same because he is "still doing samples."

As the interview goes on, Gillis talks about his avoidance of popular music streaming sites, such as SoundCloud and Beatport. He claims it was not intentional, but he does feel like this generation has a tendency to get caught up in quantity over quantity.

"When I put something out, I like it to be special. But I am constantly touring and I put out new material in live shows. People show up to hear the new material."

Finally, he addresses the work he has done with Microsoft and Disney -- two companies who were popularly against Gillis' "fair use" of his unpaid samples. Because he has made the artistic decision to be as accessible as possible, Gillis does not feel as if he has compromised his work or his artistic mantra.

"You have to find the happy medium between getting your message out and be part of a larger system, rather than spend your time just preaching to the choir."

I really enjoyed this interview, because it shows the evolution of a very innovative artist in the industry today. I believe what Gillis does is just as important and just as much of an art form as a conventional musician. It takes patience, musical theory, and a wide variety of music tastes to be able to put together a whole album of mash-ups. Finally, I like that he is not limiting his credentials and reaching out to work with higher up corporations like Disney and Microsoft Good work is universal and deserves to be shared.

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Mariah Carey's Journey to a New Album: The Billboard Cover Story

Mariah Carey's Journey to a New Album: The Billboard Cover Story | Music Industry | Scoop.it
Mariah Carey is having a Case of the Mondays.
Nick Meyerson's insight:

Mariah Carey is an international superstar who has sold over 200 million records -- and yet, she cannot seem to get this era together. After her last project (2009's "Memoirs") had lackluster sales, her and her team have been looking to regain her surge of popularity that she had the past two decades. Her best bet to get her shine back was to piggyback off of American Idol, where her 2nd single "#Beautiful" with Miguel managed to reach #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Apparently, an injury on set of the music video stunted the album's process and made her push it back. 2 lackluster singles later, and her team is truly trying everything to redeem this album's life before it has even began.

 

Apparently, Carey was originally planning to do the "Beyonce strategy" and release all of her album digitally and unannounced. This article claims they decided against this idea, but I believe it is because of the negative reactions the public had to it when it was realized. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that an industry veteran like Carey is looking at what everyone else is doing to try and stay relevant. I have heard her music from this era, and honestly, it is not very good. Back in the 90's, Carey was THE trendsetter; now she is simply following trends. I understand that it can be hard to keep up in an ever-changing landscape, but you would think that she would have more innovative minds behind her than ones who simply wanted to copy what Beyonce did last December.

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7 Reasons Why No One’s Coming To Your Shows - Digital Music News

7 Reasons Why No One’s Coming To Your Shows - Digital Music News | Music Industry | Scoop.it
1) You suck Maybe you’re just not that good.  Sorry.  Most bands aren’t.  Most bands are starry eyed and spend more time bitching about the...
Nick Meyerson's insight:

As per usual on Digital Music News, this article was an enjoyable read because of its sheer honesty: perhaps the number one reason people are not coming to shows is because, frankly, the show may not be very good in the first place.

 

Aside from the cynical first reason, there were some legitimate points brought up in the other 6. For example, number two states that an overabundance of shows may actually end up hurting musicians in the end. If you play out all the time, your audience will make you less of a priority because they will feel like there will be other chances to see you play. I know I have seen this play out in front of my eyes with a lot of my friends; I too am guilty of postponing my attendance at their gigs.

 

My other favorite point, number three, interconnects with the previous point rather fluidly: musicians need to turn every one of their shows into an event. Transforming an event can add significance to your show; give the show a name or maybe even pair up with a local nonprofit in order to raise money or awareness. This way, individuals feel like they are doing something worthwhile, in addition to seeing you play and hearing live music. Events also give artists an opportunity to show off their innovative side and make something completely different than what is going on that same evening. Make your event something the public will not want to miss!

 

I will definitely keep the points in this article in mind as I plan for my own shows. I believe less is more, and you really have to be selective about when and how you promote each show you are performing at. It is possible to burn out your audience, and you may only get one shot at their attendance -- make it count!

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