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The moment a newcomer has a HIT, everybody wants to crash the party, take a selfie and CASH IN – the songwriters, music producers, and chart topping artists. It’s an open game for the new player, and naively, they let everyone in, and shortly after, they’re squeezed out. Today, this takes the form of artist collaboration and features.

But collaborating is killing artist individuality.

Here is an example. The Kid LAROI is a breaking artist. His track Without You is a hard-to-come-by radio hit. I love the track. Then Miley Cyrus is added to the remix of LAROI’sWithout You”.

The track is just gathering steam. It’s pre-mature for a feature. I barely know The Kid LAROI. He’s a 17 year old that rose up the music ranks in Australia before moving to Los Angeles. I want more of LAROI, but now Miley Cyrus is singing the opening verse. I like Miley too, but maybe not Miley with LAROI. Now, LAROI and Miley are rooted in my mind. Brand association. It’s a marketing mess. The artist is losing individuality that was sacrificed on the alter of audience reach.

And now LAROI has paired up with Justin Bieber for a track titled Stay. This keeps Bieber on the top shelf while LAROI sits in the stockroom, never given a chance to make a first and lasting impression.

I understand the team wants to reach the largest audience possible, but artists’ need more time to develop a face, a brand, a statement before they start attaching themselves to brands and other artists. I hope Olivia Rodrigo is listening.

There are two ways to climb to the top. You can affiliate yourself with others and be a guest at the kings table, or you can dominate and be the king. Eminem came out as a king. He wasn’t releasing remixes with guest vocals by Britney Spears or Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys, instead he aligned himself with Dr. Dre. His name, his brand, his influences were important to him. He didn’t want that tossed for profit, and nobody cashed off of Eminem.

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Indie rapper Tom MacDonald clocked over 1 million YouTube views in less than 24 hours with his new single Don’t Look Down. The video is trending on YouTube and #1 on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts.

“This never stops feeling unbelievable to me. No gimmicks. No clickbait. No controversy. Not even a chorus! AND WE STILL DID THIS!!! I know there’s folks punching the air right now” says MacDonald.

MacDonald has no label, no big marketing and promo. It’s mostly all him driving the MacDonald machine. MacDonald keeps on reminding everybody that he has no music label. I’m not even sure if that’s a talking point today. More entertainers are building multi-million businesses without the help of a label. Sure, the label may promise global exposure. But who needs global exposure today? Sure, radio pays better than streaming, and labels still own radio, but radio wouldn’t play MacDonald anyway. Radio is today’s jukebox. It has the same classics on repeat. Not that a major could help MacDonald, but if they did strike deal, you wouldn’t know about it. The major would have an arrangement with a subsidiary label and they’d make money from a distance.

The buzz around MacDonald doesn’t come from marketing and promo. His notoriety comes from work ethic and superstar talent. He’s raising the bar for each song. He connects to an audience and gives them everything of himself which nobody nearly does today. He’s non-stop talking to fans, if he’s not creating a new video, he’s live streaming.

Politicians and internet influencers dominate the discussion while artists fell by the way side. Artists want to be neutral, but neutrality no longer exists. People just don’t buy songs, they buy values. This is Tom MacDonald’s ace in the pocket. He addresses cultural talking points – social issues, race, gender and the economy. He isn’t afraid of the big man because he wasn’t created by the algorithmic machine.

MacDonald claims he’s the new Slim Shady. And quite frankly, he is Em with more cojones.

You don’t get it still
I am the one
(Don’t look down)
You don’t have to admit it to yourself, you don’t have to admit
(Don’t look down)
You don’t have to tell the whole world that when you look at me, you have to look up to me
And I don’t look down
(Don’t look down)
Everybody, please keep on talking, I am a f#$king superstar

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Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will produce Halsey’s new album. The 26 year old has named her album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. I think Halsey isn’t writing an album for the radio. She never got full radio support anyway except for the mega hit ‘Without Me’. This album is for her and the fans.

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Ed Sheeran releases Bad Habits. It’s reminiscence of 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood. After one listen, fans won’t be disappointed. He’s one of the few artist that avoids hype and lets the songs do the speaking.

Winston Marshall from the folk rock band Mumford & Sons is leaving the band so he can speak freely about politics. He said that “as long as I am a member of the band, speaking my mind on the evils of political extremism could bring them trouble. My loyalty and love for them cannot permit that.”

Snapchat announced a deal with Universal Music Group that allows users on the platform to use clips songs from in their Snaps and on Spotlight. These deals aren’t exclusive — you can make a video and share on Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram alike.

Britney Spears is in the news cycle again with her 13-year conservatorship. The details are truly explosive and makes you wonder how this is legal in this country. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive,” said Britney. “I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated.”

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The four artist that have joined Spotify’s Fresh Program Wallice, Unusual Demont, Julia Wolf and EKKSTACY — all have released singles.

Part 1” by Julia Wolf, produced by Jackson Foote,
hey!” by Unusual Demont, produced by The Idiot (aka Kieran Watters),
f*ck everything!” by EKKSTACY (feat. The Drums), produced by Jonny Pierce of The Drums,
Nothing Scares Me” by Wallice, produced by marinelli & Ariel Rechtshaid.

The Spotify Fresh Finds Playlist was launched in 2016 and features up-and-coming artists which used data from music blogs and tastemakers.

Now the playlist has expanded into an “artist program” that will help independent artists by providing education and resources as well as opportunities for collaboration.

Artists selected by Spotify will have access to one-on-one mentorship with members of Spotify and a personalized Masterclass to learn how to best use Spotify for Artists tools (like Canvas and Marquee). There will be collaboration opportunities with songwriters and producers and the artists and producers/songwriters will release an original Spotify Singles track.

The four artists that debuted on the first Fresh Finds program are Wallice, Unusual Demont, Julia Wolfand EKKSTACY— they all just met up this morning in Times Square to see themselves on the FreshFinds billboard.

Spotify is also rolling out new Fresh Finds playlists in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Spain, India, and more.

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