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It feels like we’ve seen years’ worth of change and evolution in the course of a handful of months.
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Freddie Gibbs in Copehagen, Nov. 2, 2019.
(PYMCA/Getty Images)
Monday - December 21, 2020 Mon - 12/21/20
rantnrave:// Final votes and a presidential signature are still needed, but Republicans and Democrats finally agreed Sunday on a $900 billion pandemic stimulus package after a bruising, monthslong fight. And, amazingly, the SAVE OUR STAGES bill is still in it, with $15 billion earmarked for grants to live music venues, movie theaters and other cultural institutions. Or maybe not so amazingly. The bill's resilience is testament to the work of a tenacious live music lobby, led by the NATIONAL INDEPENDENT VENUE ASSOCIATION, which successfully made the case that a nearly yearlong shutdown—with no end quite in sight—has been disastrous not only for independent clubs and theaters, but for the wider economies of the communities in which they operate. Senators were told last week, for example, that every dollar spent on live music leads to $12 in spending at nearby businesses. This may not be the time for any kind of celebration, but one can hear some well-earned sighs of relief across the business this morning... BARACK OBAMA and/or SASHA OBAMA likes 2020 tracks by MEGAN THEE STALLION, SPILLAGE VILLAGE, LIL BABY, WAXAHATCHEE, PHOEBE BRIDGERS and (we're going to go out on a limb and assume Barack only on these) a handful of dad-rockers. It's a shame the Obamas weren't among the 230-plus critics who voted in UPROXX's 2020 critics poll, which could use a few more voices... Pick your own headline: "BMG Review of Historic Catalog Finds Black Artists Paid Lower Royalty Rates at Four Labels." "BMG Finds Little Evidence of Racial Discrimination In its Review of 33 Acquired Catalogs." These two stories were based on the same results of an internal review BMG has been promising since Blackout Tuesday half a year ago, when companies throughout the music business pledged to take concrete steps to confront racial inequities. The German company, which built its catalog largely on acquisitions, took the unique step of saying it would review artist catalogs at every label it's ever bought, "mindful of the music industry’s record of shameful treatment of Black artists," and make a plan to address any inequities within 30 days. It missed its own deadline, but reported last week that of the 33 labels it's acquired that are no longer active, 15 had both Black and non-Black artists, and of those 15, four showed a "statistically significant negative correlation between being Black and receiving lower recorded royalty rates." "We will act on this knowledge," CEO HARTWIG MASUCH said. As a bonus, the company has discovered that it's the owner of lots of legacy contracts that treat non-Black artists poorly, too. (You are shocked, shocked to read this.) The company said while the contracts are "fully legally enforceable," it plans to update them in favor of the artists. Attention all other labels: BMG invites you to do the same... Subscribe to this country music newsletter by two of my favorite writers, NATALIE WEINER and MARISSA R. MOSS (and consider nominating them for Duo of the Year at the next CMA or ACM Awards)... Good idea for a full-album livestream concert: Play a fan favorite album all the way through on one guitar, then switch guitars and play the entire album again. And then solicit fan questions and actually sit there answering them until either the studio where you're doing this kicks you out or your dog starts getting restless, or possibly both. That was my Saturday afternoon. My Saturday night was watching a ticketed, encore showing of YO LA TENGO's fantastic livestreamed Hanukkah show, and it was one of those days where life seemed almost normal in a totally not normal kind of way. There are two vaccines now. Live-music relief dollars are on the way. I look forward to the day when we look back on all this and remember how strange and dark and empty it was but how music was there for us, like it always is, and how artists (and, crucially, armies of people and companies by their side) figured out a thousand different versions of what to do and how to do it...RIP ISRAEL BERRIEL, PELLE ALSING, JEFF CLAYTON, EWAN MACLEOD and MIKE "MCBEARDO" MCPADDEN.
- Matty Karas (@troubledoll), curator
live music is better
Record Labels Reap Billion-Dollar Bonanza From Tunes on Social Media
by Lucas Shaw
Warner Music signs accord with TikTok, the newest in a series of pacts with social platforms.
The New York Times
This Man Is Betting $1.7 Billion on the Rights to Your Favorite Songs
by Ben Sisario
Merck Mercuriadis thinks songwriters deserve more credit - starting with blockbuster paydays for their catalogs. But not all artists want to sell out.
The Year Live Music Stopped
by Marc Hogan
Most musicians’ primary source of income is gone, venues everywhere are struggling, and the government hasn’t come through on an aid package. It’s hard not to lose hope, but in talking with professionals across the industry and looking to regions around the world, we gain perspective on how to rebuild live music from the ground up.
Inside the Star-Studded Beat Battle Taking Over Clubhouse
by Eric Skelton
At Clubhouse beat battles, anything can happen. Drake might even show up. Boi-1da, Cardo, and Simon Gebrelul take Complex inside the hit competition series.
The Guardian
Fiona Apple: 'I finally believed myself. It felt great'
by Laura Snapes
Over two interviews and more text messages, our artist of the year unpacks her album "Fetch the Bolt Cutters" -- and explains how she finally found compassion for herself after trauma and bullying.
The Atlantic
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and the Liberating Power of Music
by Hannah Giorgis
Netflix’s new adaptation of August Wilson’s play understands the singular magic of the blues.
BMG Review of Historic Catalog Finds Black Artists Paid Lower Royalty Rates at Four Labels
by Ed Christman
"It is time for the music industry to address its past," says BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch.
The 2020 Uproxx Music Critics Poll
2020 was certainly a year that most people will be glad to put behind them, but that doesn't mean we can't take one more opportunity to celebrate the wonderful music that soundtracked it.
The Irish Times
Fairytale of New York: The surprising story behind The Pogues’ Christmas anthem
by Dorian Lynskey
Thirty-three years on, it’s perhaps the greatest Christmas song ever. Here’s how it was made.
The Washington Post
Sorry, Wham! haters: The only thing wrong with ‘Last Christmas’ is how you’ve been listening to it
by Michael Andor Brodeur
It's the only Christmas song that I actively seek out and listen to each year — over and over and over again — out of sheer, genuine, festive volition.
bumper stickers should be issued
The Ringer
The End Has No End. But We Have Phoebe Bridgers
by Rob Harvilla
On the isolation, unrest, and confusion of 2020 and the song that captures it best.
30 Years Ago, Milli Vanilli Returned Their Best New Artist Grammy; Should They Get the Award Back Now?
by Roy Trakin
Thirty years later, the fascination with Milli Vanilli continues.
Austin-based Graham Williams Talks Closing Margin Walker Presents: 'There's Only So Far You Can Go'
by Ryan Borba
"It sucks, it’s unfortunate, but it’s sort of been heading in this direction for a lot of folks and there's only so far you can go."
The New York Times
Christmas Without Music? Churches Are Finding a Way
by Sarah Bahr
At churches like St. James in Louisville, Ky., services this Christmas will not have in-person choirs or orchestras. But music directors are finding ways to persevere.
Bearded Gentlemen Music
'Fangirls': In Praise of Being a Fan
by Adam P. Newton
'Fangirls' by Hannah Ewens examines several fandoms, giving an insider’s look into the experience of being a fan from a woman’s perspective.
As a young Pakistani girl, Taylor Swift’s music helped me grow
by Anmol Irfan
Feeling external pressure to behave a certain way when she was growing up in Pakistan, Anmol Irfan reflects on how listening to Taylor Swift affected her journey into adulthood.
CBS Sunday Morning
Paul McCartney on creating his new solo album "McCartney III"
by Seth Doane
While he was in pandemic lockdown, Sir Paul McCartney was writing new music for his latest solo album, "McCartney III," on which the 78-year-old not only served as songwriter and producer but also played nearly every instrument. The former Beatle talks about his "rockdown" and his songwriting relationship with John Lennon, who was killed 40 years ago this month.
The New Yorker
A Treasure Trove of Jazz and Soul Concert Videos on Quincy Jones’s Streaming Site
by Richard Brody
Incredible live-performance footage is newly available on Qwest TV, amplifying the music with a cinematic dimension.
NPR Music
'I Want Us To Dream A Little Bigger': Noname And Mariame Kaba On Art And Abolition
by Sidney Madden, Sam Leeds and Rodney Carmichael
What role can hip-hop play in reforming - or entirely dismantling - mass incarceration? Rapper Noname and activist Mariame Kaba joined Louder Than A Riot to discuss making revolution irresistible.
The Song Sommelier
Happy Holidays USA or Merry Christmas UK? Who does Christmas songs best?
by Keith Jopling
Every year without fail, I make December an all Christmas songs affair. Never before December 1st of course, and never after the 26th, but for every minute in between, it is Christmas music in my house (and my car and on my headphones).
"Look at Me"
Freddie Gibbs & the Alchemist
“REDEF is dedicated to my mother, who nurtured and encouraged my interest in everything and slightly regrets the day she taught me to always ask ‘why?’”


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