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The Neurology Behind Nostalgia and the Price the Music Industry Pays for It

Nostalgia and Music

With Pulp, Take That and countless others primed to make their return in 2023, the current state of the industry has to be put into perspective. The return of these iconic acts almost seems as superficial as putting Live, Laugh, Love signs up in a dilapidated building due for demolition. For full disclosure, that is more of a comment on the habits of the music-consuming population than the artists themselves.

Whether it’s a new music documentary on the Beatles or the Sex Pistols that sends everyone flocking to social media to give their unanimous opinion or the return of a band from decades past, nostalgia seems to be everywhere in the wake of 2020.

I’m certainly not immune to the allure of it; The Holy Bible by the Manics, Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine and Souvlaki by Slowdive will forever be turning on my record player. But I can’t shake the feeling that this fixation on nostalgia is turning into complete asphyxiation of the music industry.

The Neurology of Nostalgia

Usually, the word nostalgia has nothing but positive synonymous ties; it is a pure form of reminiscent entertainment that floats people back to times that didn’t seem quite so insidiously futile. But there is so much more to it. Nostalgia can be triggered by positive metaphorical postcards from our past, but people feeling down, dejected, or depressed are far more likely to indulge in it.

Some of the most common nostalgia triggers include boredom, uncertainty, loneliness, and sadness. Given that we just endured a global pandemic that gave most of us a full-house on the aforementioned, it is easy to see why so many people have their heads in the nostalgic sand. Maladaptive fixations on the past are indicators of fear of change and dissatisfaction with the present. If you need further proof, consider the Greek translation; nostalgia roughly translates into “the pain from an old wound”.

But that isn’t to say that imbibing in nostalgia isn’t an efficacious way to pull yourself out of a pit of depression. Every time we listen to one of our favourite old records that bitter-sweetly remind us of better days, we activate our brain’s reward system, dopamine releases, and our stress levels reduce. Nostalgia can ultimately be considered a reward in a neurological sense; furthermore, neuroimaging proves that nostalgia plays a vital role in psychological resilience. So don’t swear off your favourite records yet.

None of that is problematic in itself. What is problematic is how our proclivity towards nostalgia gets manipulated. It happens in Hollywood, the gaming industry, the food industry, and quite evidently, it is happening in our music industry.

TV and film studios can continue to create remakes until their heart and greed are content, but where will it end with the music industry once all the indie, rock and pop legends have played until they are just dust and bones? Will cover bands be all that is left? Will the industry be little more than narcissistic teenagers who demand attention for simply existing lip-syncing to songs they didn’t write? That’s the future we’re writing for ourselves.

The Exploitation of Nostalgia in the Music Industry

Corporations, politicians, and marketing execs count on the population to have so little self-awareness that it is impossible to see the nostalgic tricks up their sleeves. Much like when a magician reveals their tricks, the magic is lost. Let it be their loss, not ours.

If the catalysts behind late-stage capitalism can evoke nostalgia, they can evoke strong emotion; do you think it is beyond them to manipulate you and obliterate any chance of an independent punk/socialist uprising happening? Peaceful protests have already been outlawed in the UK, we’re inching our way into an increasingly totalitarian state. Even if new artists of this generation do speak up, they’re lucky if they can get a couple of thousands of streams on Spotify.

Mainstream music has always been a gamble for the major record labels; who can blame them for wanting to take safe bets on artists who have been proven money-spinners in the past? It takes infinitely less effort and resources to coax an old artist out of hiding than it does to make a breakthrough artist a household name. The Harvard Business Review acknowledged that overall, nostalgia helps to drive sales of particular products, but ultimately, it ruins economies through the blindsided focus on the past. Ultimately, nostalgia undermines creativity, progress, and innovation. That goes a fair way in explaining the inability of artists to get to the same heights as they did.

How can your average up-and-coming artist in 2022 compete with artists who pull listeners away from their contemporary well-justified ennui? Realistically, they can’t. It is practically the equivalent of trying to catch someone’s eye when that someone is still cry-wanking over their ex’s Instagram page.

The other day, a music journalist posted a review of Peter Hook and the Light at the O2 Apollo in Manchester. UNIRONICALLY, they wrote, “soak in the emotion and surrender to the ghosts of Manchester past”. Never before has the Manchester music scene felt more like a ghost tour; they must have missed the memo on life being for the living.

Of course, the greats of any given generation should be memorialised and celebrated, but at what cost? How many times have you seen someone claiming that the world started ending when Bowie died? Some may view it as innocent hyperbole, but my overanalytical mind refuses to ignore the worrying hysteria that amasses when an artist passes away. Our sycophantically macabre society has moved from treating members of the 27 club as the harrowed gods of our era and started to register every death as an audacious act that personally strips something away from us. Perhaps for those who can’t separate music and nostalgia, it is.

Do whatever you want to get your kicks in this era, but maybe don’t become a marionette puppet too afraid to look forward. New artists in 2022 are just as talented as they were back in what you consider the golden era. The biggest difference between now and the 60s – 90s is our reluctance to be in the music present.

Amelia Vandergast

The Crypto Crash Burst the Music NFT Bubble. Here’s What All Artists Can Learn from the Rise & Fall

Music NFTs

Web3 and music NFTs were primed to be one of the biggest trends in the music industry in 2022. Some of us dared to dream of a digital world where artists could operate free from the money-grabbing middlemen, exploitative platforms, and generally just the crushing weight of capitalism. That vision was shattered by a crash that showed us the true volatility of the market. The optimism was sweet while it lasted, but reality quickly soured it, and the tears of all the investors now at a loss salted it.

The foundations were laid for a more egalitarian music industry when sites such as Royal.io, SongVest and Royal Exchange launched. However, NFT holders keen to invest in their favourite artists weren’t immune from the cryptocurrency cash. In January 2022, NFT sales peaked at $12.6 billion before plummeting to just over $1 billion in June. For context, some of the big ticket NTFs, such as GIFs from the Bored Ape Yacht Club, dropped in value by 60% between May 2022 and June 2022.

The music NFT market was never perfect. The ecological impact from the NFT carbon footprints was enough to raise alarm bells. The volatility of the markets meant that people could only invest what they were prepared to lose. Many music fans were priced out by the tokens, and their utility certainly didn’t match their value.

So, no great loss, right? Not quite. There were several notable innovations and moves in the music industry that happened alongside the frivolous acquisitions of ridiculously expensive NFTS. The Whitney Houston NFT containing an unreleased demo which was recorded when she was 17 selling for $999,999 was never going to equate to adequate income for independent artists. But there are lessons to be learnt from the digital trends that echoed around NFTs.

A Retrospectively Realistic Review of Music NFTs for Independent Artist

Throughout the hype over music NFTs, it became evident that they were for the few, not the many. The few people with excessive money to burn and the few artists with the ability to make their fans fetishize everything they touch.

During the economic crisis that is shifting the comfortable into discomfort and evaporating the notion of disposable income, it’s a stretch to ask music fans to purchase a t-shirt, CD, or £5 gig ticket. Let alone make high-risk investments in their music careers via NFT.

At this stage in the game, it should go without saying, taking music NFTs off the table while promoting independent music and building your brand is a sensible move but don’t forget what initially triggered the love, fascination and novelty of music NFTs.

The true beauty of NFTs included their ability to act as collectable keys to digital archives curated by artists, they gave the thrill of exclusive content, and they became an incredible way of beating the ticket touts by acting as gig tickets.

The Legacy That NFTs Should Leave Behind

Before we get into it, for clarity, we’d like to emphasise that in the context of music, NFTs aren’t just a piece of digital art that can easily be copied and shared. The irreplicable digital asset, which exists on a blockchain, is ideal for storing and sharing music, videos, and artwork with NFT holders.

In one (not so simple) transaction for the average Web2 user, fans could own exclusive bonus tracks or entire discographies, collect keys to music communities, earn royalties from the music they invest in and receive perpetual perks courtesy of the gratified artist.  Even if you abstract crypto, NFTs and Web3 possibilities from the equation, the short stint of success of the music NFT market highlighted a few things for every independent artist to take away.

Scarcity Sells, Create It

Even though many like to believe that humans are the most advanced species on earth, when it comes to possessions, we’re no better than magpies looking for the shiniest objects to take back to our nests. The case for species superiority weakens even more when our obsession with hierarchies is called into question.

Just anthropomorphise a silverback mountain gorilla trying to gain dominance in the jungle based on what they own in the ether on their metaphorical iPhone to get the picture; that is where we are in 2022; chasing scarcity, out of want, instead of need. Because when you chase scarce necessity, that is desperation, but when you financially scurry after a marked-up luxury, that is a privilege that you can flash to the rest of society to prove you are worthy of following.

Like numbered limited edition vinyl records or rare first pressings, NFTs were briefly great at triggering a sense of scarcity amongst digital consumers. It isn’t the non-sentient NFTs’ fault that they beckoned people into status/dick swinging contests of people proving they have ludicrous money to burn. Independent artists can curse the sociologically warped marketplace, or they can learn the value of exclusive products and content.

For example, incentivise physical sales of your music by including bonus material that isn’t online on limited-edition releases or send exclusive previews to members of a mailing list. Maybe don’t go as far as Fyre Festival on creating FOMO, but don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage.

Music Will Always Be More Than Just a Transaction

A massive part of the appeal of music NFTs were the special privileges that came through NFT ownership, which could be everything from exclusive content to custom content to royalties to naming rights on songs. Around NFTs, artists got more inventive than ever before with how they could thank fans for their loyalty and increase engagement and excitement. There is little room to wonder why so many got caught up in the ill investment frenzy. Honestly, artists should be funding their NFT investors’ therapy at this point.

We’re not saying that all independent artists should be out of pocket to offer freebies to their fans. We are saying that for any remote shot of success in the contemporary industry, you will have to stop treating music as a commodity you throw out in the world and realise the power of building connections. Artist & fan connection was the key driver behind the multi-million-pound music NFT market. And time after time, we see the artists that truly care about their fans thrive with cult like followings. You don’t need to be the next Jim Jones, just don’t think you’re above thanking the people you rely on for success.

If Snoop Dogg has his way, the Web3 world will be back with an appealing vengeance. Until then, bring the perks of NFTs to your fans, without asking them to stump up insane cash for the privilege of recognising their loyalty.

Amelia Vandergast

Live Music’s Glass Ceiling: Up and Coming, But Going Where?

There is always more than one angle on any given scene. But there is an elephant in the live music industry taking up the unattended room and gorging on the irony of our desire to save iconic indie venues while being ambivalent about the reason they exist in the first place. And no, that isn’t to keep the doors open on your sentimentalised fragments of youth.

The future of music is disintegrating around the fixation of legacy acts that hold the monopoly of the live music industry while only creaking out of their coffins to effectively catfish us at £50+ a pop on their anniversary (read: crucifixion) tours. At some point, recollection became more compelling than discovery, causing more artists to concuss themselves on the glass ceiling invisibly constructed around indifference of newness.

What does the average music fan care if the current hierarchy of gods and nobodies creates classist unsustainability for your average independent artist? Not a lot. They have no vested interest in the future of artists they’ve never heard of. Ignorance is bliss.

Sycophant-Watch (@SycophantWatch) / Twitter

Until revered by dictating tastemakers, they have paid their way into the industry or just got INCREDIBLY lucky; independent artists are up, coming, and going nowhere. That isn’t an insinuation that the music industry has ever been an egalitarian dream; far from it. For some perspective, imagine the current state of the music industry if we ignored the bands on the rosters of Rough Trade, Factory Records and Mute Records because we were too preoccupied with what happened five decades before. That’s precisely where we’re at in 2022.

While the majority raved at how impressive it was for McCartney to headline Glastonbury at 80, in context, it’s a symptom of a far more insidious disorder in the live music industry.

Pin on Music and Society

Independent artists are lucky if they break even on tour, let alone break into the industry. Where does this past-decade-sonic-memento fascination end? Do we only let new blood seep into the industry if it sates the affluent artists that need a cheap/free opening support band? Sure, the stamina of an octogenarian icon is impressive. As impressive as the new music that constantly comes our way? Absolutely not.

For what it is worth, I understand the lack of enthusiasm for discovering and supporting independent music. I’m as prone to lapses of jaded disillusion as the next person. Consumer confidence hasn’t been in pits deep as this since the 70s. It plunged with the cognitive bandwidth that gave us the luxury of being able to care about such frivolous things.

Buying tickets to tours just announced doesn’t seem as appealing with the constant reminders that inflation keeps rising at the same rate as the water we have to keep our heads above in this hyper-warped time. Lest we drown in the entropy force-fed by entities that prefer us cowed into fear, division, and isolation. As if a collective of awkwardly amalgamated bodies at gigs that have forgotten to be in a crowd wasn’t enough to make music fans give See Tickets a wide birth.

In the run-up to Glastonbury, the BBC speculated how overwhelmed attendees would be. That same funk and social awkwardness have been floating around every venue since July 2021. If you haven’t noticed it, that’s probably because you’ve started treating gigs like kebabs. In the cold light of sobriety, you’d give it a miss; with your favourite anxiety-quashing poison, you’re numb to the questionable sensory appearance, and that legacy acts give their apathy to their roadies as the heaviest thing to carry.

Something has got to give before the reality of live music plunges deeper into a Black Mirror plot and we are left with an ageing population of icons that we will glue ourselves to before they appear on our screens as holograms on tour and rave about the experience.

But who am I to imply that supporting independent artists should take precedent when every passing day the media etches into our psyches a scarcity complex and teases us further into nihilism? Someone painfully aware of the cognitive dissonance choking the live music industry and desperate for the resurgence of the punk ethos.

How many times have you heard some iteration of “if you are in it for the money, you are in the wrong industry?” as though we should let live music be another death knell of capitalism and its greedy for independent artists to not be out of pocket for all that they contribute to society?

After all the insistence on the value of music and creativity that echoed in lament while it was on pause for 18 months, independent artists gritted their teeth through the cumulative blows and prepared to play their role in society once again. Only to find that getting enough advance tickets sold to leave the promoter inclined to carry on with the event is near impossible.

Independent music has triumphed over the oligarchy before. Just as it did after the economic crisis in 1974 when punk and electronica burst the pop bubble that would have been impenetrable if it weren’t for the likes of Tony Wilson and Geoff Travis. Technically, the industry is more accessible than ever before through the power of social media and software enabling artists to create masterpieces in their bedrooms on a shoestring. But what use is the power of technology if we passively accept its manipulation?

And for anyone thinking that the threat of the world ending is enough justification to mentally nope out of giving a fuck about culture, every generation before us has believed that they will see end times. Fear is a fundamental part of the human experience; the end is always nigh when prophecies of doom are so attractive to our ego-driven minds that believe we will see reality crumble around us.

Turn off the news. Support scenes that allow artists with autonomous voices to thrive. Smash the illusion that enough fame makes a person celestial, and maybe apply some self-awareness to the sycophantic fetishization of a few key figures.

Amelia Vandergast

Confederation Music Sessions

“Confederation Music Sessions” is a new series of live video perfomances of high cinematic and sound quality produced by RSI (SSR Swiss Broadcasting Company) conceived primarily for YouTube and with the aim of showing and promoting the rich and kicking national music scene around the world.

Each live session is linked on YouTube to an interview with the musicians. Filmed & recorded in December 2021 at the Studio 2, RSI, Lugano, Switzerland.

A&R Factory are proud to be partnering with RSI (SSR Swiss Broadcasting Company) and promoting this first season, starring:

PABLO INFERNAL

Zero compromise, great attitude, technique, sense of humour and a lot of laughs. Pablo Infernal is a Swiss quartet with a passion for 70s rock and progressive music. Their album “Mount Angeles” (2021 Taxi Gauche Records) is pure musical energy influenced by grunge, The Beatles and BritPop. Powerful, high-voltage rock’n’roll with style to spare.

Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL3a1GoFbjc&t=87s

IG: https://www.instagram.com/pabloinfernal/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pabloinfernal

WEBSITE: https://pabloinfernal.rocks

BOODAMAN

Corsican-born musician Stéphane Caviglioli is a Swiss master of modular synthesisers. “Subsequent” (2021 Threeknobs Records/Irascible), the latest album by his alter-ego Boodaman, is a magnificent example of electronic and analogue musical architecture made without computers and softwares; instrumental and timeless songs that contain the urgency and fears, but also the beauty and calm of this era.

Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6-JbjQlTfg&t=8s

NADJA ZELA

 Nadja Zela is the author of one of the rarest requiems in rock history. Triggered by the death of her husband and popular swiss cartoonist Christophe Badoux, “Greetings to Andromeda. Requiem” (2020 Patient Records) is a magnificent double album, the result of research and rebirth, a work of unparalleled artistic and musical depth; it is a journey through a forest populated by creatures, spirits and animals, to rediscover the essence, curiosity and enthusiasm of childhood.

Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSD7ukr447g

IG: https://www.instagram.com/nadjazela/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/nadja.zela

WEBSITE: https://www.nadjazela.com

CYRIL CYRIL

“Yalla Mickey Mouse” (2020 Bongo Joe Records) is the second album by Cyril Cyril, the Swiss musical duo consisting of Cyril Yeterian (Mama Rosin, Duck Duck Grey Duck) and drummer and percussionist Cyril Bondi. It is a fantastic meeting of West and Middle-East, the result of a militant partnership that speaks of the hypocrisies and beauties of our world and the civilisation that inhabits it; an ethnic and hypnotic journey where seriousness and lightness are skilfully mixed.

Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQwGFN0PTKk

IG: https://www.instagram.com/cyrilcyrilband/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/cyrilcyrilband

WEBSITE: https://cyrilcyrilband.bandcamp.com

ANIMOR

Animor is the founding project of Swiss singer-songwriter Romina Kalsi and Scandinavian pianist Tobias Granbacka. A sweet and extraordinary voice, poised between the earthly and the dream world. Melancholic, velvety yet vigorous, Romina’s voice is worth more than half of whatever song she chooses to sing. Refined acoustic pop and great melodies.

Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z92AX02fcuM&t=9s

IG: https://www.instagram.com/animor_official/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/animormusic

WEBSITE: https://www.animormusic.com

Credits:

CONFEDERATION MUSIC SESSIONS

Directed by: Nick Rusconi,  Camera: Nick Rusconi, Riccardo DeGiacomi, Elia Gianini, Photography: Riccardo DeGiacomi, Live tracking: Luca Pelli, Mixing, sound engineering Davide Pagano, Mastering Raimondo Maira, Production Marco Kohler, Joanne Holder

 

Deezer First to Launch In-App ‘Lyrics Translation’

Deezer In-App Translation

Since it integrated time-synced lyrics on its platform in 2014, Deezer has helped music fans connect to the music and lyrics they love. Today, the global streaming platform is taking its lyrics feature to a whole new level by powering in-app translation of lyrics.

Users no longer have to compromise the meaning of a song or its lyrics when streaming music in its original language. With just a simple click, music fans can now view real-time lyric translations of the most popular English songs* in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Additional and new lyric translations will continue to be added over time, including translations of songs from other languages into English. In the meantime, users whose phone settings are in English can use the function to improve their language skills or learn a new language through music.

“Music fans have always been able to immerse themselves in the thoughts and feelings of the artist with our widely popular lyrics function. But with our new ‘Lyrics Translation’ feature, they can now discover the artist’s true meaning behind their favorite tunes, and even sharpen their language skills, or totally learn a new language in the process” Alexandra Leloup, VP Product – Core Products at Deezer.

To activate the new ‘Lyrics Translation’ feature on Deezer, follow these steps:

  1. Access the ‘Lyrics’ via the microphone icon

  2. Select ‘with translation’

  3. To disable this feature, select the ‘without translation’ button

If you’re curious about how the feature works, test it out with the top 5 songs streamed with lyrics on Deezer.

UK Top 5 Songs Most Streamed Songs (past week):

  1. Starlight by Dave

  2. Baby by Aitch

  3. Where Are You Now by Lost Frequencies

  4. Heat Waves by Glass Animals

  5. Cold Heart by Elton John

Alternatively, explore the ‘Lyrics Translation’ feature on Deezer by streaming ‘Hit Tracks, Hot Lyrics.’ The playlist is a collection of today’s hits, which you can sing along to by viewing lyrics, or sharpen your rusty French or Spanish language skills by  using the new in-app translation feature.

The ‘Lyrics Translation’ feature is available on iOS, Android, on the web and on the Deezer desktop application. For more information, visit www.deezer.com.

*Only  10,000 of the most popular songs streamed on the platform display the ‘Lyrics Translation’ function. Currently, the function only translates songs from English to French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.

Deezer & Firestone Have Partnered to Support Emerging UK Talent in the Road to the Main Stage Festival Competition

Road to the Main Stage

To make it a little easier for emerging UK talent to hit the main stage, Deezer & Firestone have partnered on their new competition, Road to the Main Stage. The competition will see unestablished artists competing for a place on the main stage at All Points East Festival in August. This opportunity will give artists the unique chance to showcase their sound to millions of music fans.

2021 was the first year that saw a successful collaboration between Deezer and Firestone. They have joined forces once again to create an even stronger springboard dedicated to platforming new talent.

Not only is Firestone an iconic name in the automotive industry. They have also been championing new artists via their radio show, The Voice of Firestone, since 1928. With Deezer & the marketing agency WAVE, Firestone is looking to showcase new talent across the UK, France and Germany. Competition winners will be announced in each country, and there is a number of other perks tied to the grand prize.

Good Luck!

Conditions & Details for Entry:

  • Applications are being accepted until the end of April.
  • All applicants must be made directly on the Road to The Main Stage platform.
  • New and unsigned artists must submit their best track or EP, band photos and a written introduction to the band.
  • Pre-selection & public vote will take place from May to June 2022 before the list of applicants is shortlisted.
  • The winner, who has the chance to perform on the Firestone stage at All Points East in London, will be announced in July 2022.
  • Additionally, winners will receive a recording session at Deezer’s state of the art studio and feature on a dedicated artist profile on Deezer’s platform

Andy Hobson Brought His Meditative Equanimity to His Indie Art Pop Single, Waterfalls

In his own words, Andy Hobson’s latest single, Waterfalls, is Coldplay meets Radiohead, but less stadium and more kitchen. Just as he captured the sheer expansive beauty of nature as it crumbles around us before pulling it against the intricacies and destructiveness of human tendencies, he succinctly articulated his meditatively uplifting sound, which carries artful gravitas in the ever-ascending melodies. 

The choral vocals bring an almost otherworldly texture to the release which makes you wonder what Where Is My Mind would have sounded like if Pixies had a spiritual awakening before producing it. 

The UK-based singer-songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and wildly successful meditation teacher’s name as a solo artist may be new to the airwaves. Yet, before making his solo debut, he drummed in a Parlophone-signed band that supported the Killers when they released their iconic hit, Mr Brightside. 

When that chapter of his music career ended, he turned his talents toward production and songwriting, resulting in a collection of songs penned and demoed in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Our new favourite raconteur of compassionately-creative meditative bliss is currently collating his songs into his expectedly unmissable debut LP. We can’t wait to hear the curation. 

Check out the music video by heading over to YouTube.
Follow Andy Hobson on Instagram
Listen on Spotify
Visit the Website

Review by Amelia Vandergast

How Musicians are Fundraising for Ukraine, and Proving That Music is Humanism.

HUMANE EP by VICE SQUAD

Tragedy has a habit of letting everything pleasurable and meaningful fall into a pit of futility. When that is conflated with the virtue signalling/shaming spat at influencers and artists for carrying on with their projects, it is no surprise that there are many questioning the appropriateness of how we are conducting our lives online and offline.

It was only a couple of years ago when we were furious that the UK government tried to tell ballerinas to retrain in IT; when the Sunday Times published a poll that dubbed artists as non-essential. Then, we fiercely defended the importance of art, music, and every other form of media that gives us a brief reprieve from the misery of a late-stage capitalist world.

Sure, a few dystopic years have slipped by since, and the return of live music wasn’t quite as triumphant due to the cultural shifts that happened when we realigned our lives in the absence of the live music scenes. Just as artists were starting to pick up momentum, the value of music has once again in question, and I get it, I do. But if every time senseless tragedy struck and artists downed tools, the airwaves would be eternaly radio silent.

As for those thinking that it’s disrespectful to carry on with music in a time like this, you’re hardly bringing a clown to a funeral by keeping the cogs in the meaning-making machines that you are turning. Ever since the renaissance, music has been regarded as a humanism; that sentiment resonates just as strongly today. A few things have changed since, including artists’ ability to use their expansive platforms to do more than sell their new releases. Here are just a few ways artists and industry figures are stepping up in solidarity with Ukraine.

Paul McCartney on Twitter: "Remembering playing for our friends in Ukraine in Independence Square in 2008 and thinking of them in these difficult times. We send our love and support. 🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine

–           On Bandcamp Friday (March 4th), artists from across the globe donated their profits from sales to Ukraine, and many more are continuing to donate their income via digital sales to Ukrainian charities for a limited time, including indie post-punk’s most enamouring baroque debonair, James Cook and the UK grunge earworm-makers, The Dying Lights.

–           At 72 years old, Alan Erasmus (Factory Records) headed to Lviv to provide humanitarian support. He has also started a fundraiser for the Legacy of War Foundation, which is raising money to support the future of children in Ukraine. The Guitarist from the Polish death metal band, Decapitated and Machine Head crossed the border to provide humanitarian aid.

–           The revered UK punk outfit, Vice Squad, has already raised over £2,410 for Ukrainian animal rescue efforts, and their fundraiser will be running until the end of the month. To be a part of it, purchase their new EP, Humane.

–           The Russian punk powerhouse, Pussy Riot, has raised over $6.7 million by selling an NFT of the Ukrainian flag, and all the proceeds will make their way to the Ukrainian armed forces.

–           The death metal band Behemoth, the Irish thrash metal outfit Gama Bomb, and the Shoegaze legends Slowdive are all releasing exclusive merch and donating the proceeds to charity.

–           There have been countless live and livestreamed gigs from across the globe, probably most notably, the event at the Roundhouse in London, which saw Franz Ferdinand, Bob Geldof, and Chrissie Hynde perform. All of the proceeds went to the DEC.

On March 7th, the Disasters Committee (DEC) raised over £100m in four days. That may be a drop in the ocean considering how many people’s lives are now rubble, but the solidarity and benevolent entrepreneurship has restored my faith in humanity more than one punitive man with a stockpile of nukes could ever dent it.

A&R Factory has also donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee, and we will continue to champion artists using the power of their influence in this surreally existential time.

Amelia Vandergast

 

The viral Australian singer-songwriter Jacob Lee has launched his community-driven NFT, The Familee Key

Jacob Lee

The independent singer-songwriter Jacob Lee’s career has been nothing but exemplary. A few hallmarks of his resounding success include garnering 255 million streams on YouTube and 195 million on Spotify with his three EPs, six studio albums and 140 music videos.

Though his viral success undoubtedly rests on his songwriting finesse and soundscapes that haunt you while simultaneously consoling you, his fans played a major role in allowing him to achieve such a coveted status on the airwaves. Now, he’s looking to give back to his fanbase through NFT projects and giving his fans creative licence on his up and coming album. After four successful NFT drops (Conscience Cards, Lowly’s Personal Parchments, Jacob Lee’s Music Archive, Lowly’s Library of Lyricism), he’s set to launch his most exciting NFT drop to date.

The Familee Key NFT is a community-driven NFT which is set to launch on January 21st, 2022. It offers exclusive access to Jacob Lee’s creative ecosystem. All holders of the Familee Key NFT will receive early access to all upcoming music, free entry to shows, pre-sale access to upcoming NFTs and a myriad of additional perks. This NFT will act as Jacob Lee’s official artist token – it is 100% free and accessible on the WAX Blockchain with YoshiDrops.com.

Another date for Jacob Lee’s fans’ diaries is January 24th, 2022. It will see the launch of the Demons Digital Vinyl & Music Video NFT. His single, Demons, has become a playlist staple for over 50 million people globally. The artfully emotional single which opens his 2019 album, Philosophy, brings nuance to the conversation around trauma, abuse and healing. Lyrical vindication for the psychologically scorned (and isn’t that us all?) doesn’t get much sweeter. The Vinyl and music video will be available for all Familee Key NFT holders.

Check out Jacob Lee’s Web 3 store here, or head over to his official merch store.

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Amelia Vandergast

How to Define Indie Music?

There are no short answers when it comes to the definition of indie music. While some use indie to describe where artists of all genres are at in the industry, it has also become synonymous with an edgy guitar-based pop sound over the years.

Today, indie is an extension of the music that the indie pioneers created when they started to break away from the big four record labels (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony). To definitively understand the definition of indie music, we have to get to grips with how it came around and became a descriptor for a particular off-kilter sonic style

A Micro History of Indie

The indie uprising started in the 1970s – although the roots of independent music go back to the soul, blues and Motown independent labels in the 50s. In the 70s, distinctions arose between artists on major record labels and artists independent of them.

The new wave, post-punk and alternative music releases in the late 70s started to fall under the indie category while picking up traction amongst music fans eager to hear music that was far more visceral, real and experimental. This new aural hunger led to Tony Wilson creating a roster at Factory Records, Daniel Miller establishing Mute and Chris Parry following suit with his label, Fiction, in 1978.

The Manchester-based outfit, The Smiths, were a pivotal part of UK Indie history; once they were on the Rough Trade roster in the mid-80s, they created a cultural movement with their politically aware, socially conscious and poetically morose lyrics. The Smiths inspired countless acts keen to emanate the jangle-pop guitars and the hooky despite the melancholy energy. Just a few of the indie acts that are under the influence of the Smiths are Blur, Pulp, The XX, Frightened Rabbit and The Killers.

Indie started to manifest in the industry in plenty of other ways from the 80s onwards, from indie dance to indie folk to indie hip hop, swathes of artists started to adopt the DIY ethos after watching the success of indie pioneers, such as Joy Division and Depeche Mode. Although indie artists are experimental as a default, the genre amassed characteristics over the years, such as bands having a cultural identity, almost existentialist mentality and being heavier than pop but lighter than rock.

The indie acts springing up under Sub Pop in Seattle in the 80s were far noisier and more discordant than UK indie acts. The independent label, Sub Pop, signed Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Sonic Youth and gave way to the grunge era that defined the 90s in America.

Technically, when independent artists, such as REM and Nirvana, signed multi-million-dollar record deals with major labels, they should have lost their indie status. Instead, their indie status remained for the culture that all of the indie bands since the 70s collectively created.

Today, indie music isn’t *quite* as popular as it was when it peaked in the 90s, but there are still thriving independent grassroots music scenes all across the UK and across the globe. In 2021, independent artists can take advantage of countless indie music blogs, indie playlists, indie radio stations and indie magazines to grow their fanbases away from major labels.