Summer 2014

Trending Forecast

Trending Forecast

Alt-country – mid-noughties revival – Scandinavian music – summer music trends – Emerging artists – Apple & Beats – rock returns – post-celebrity culture

Until last year there was still a sense that we hadn’t quite escaped the long shadow of the 20th Century. Now, mid-second decade and with the noughties slipping over the horizon, it feels like there has been some kind of cultural reckoning – the identity crisis is over and the 21st century has really begun. ”Privacy” – about the unsettling encroachment of the internet & this year’s most hyped play – would be meaningless to someone from the 1990′s. Hong Kong company Deep Knowledge Ventures has appointed an algorithm to its board of directors. We have the first glimpses of a post-Apple future (see notes from the music industry, below). Things are moving on. Perhaps nothing cements this more than in music: the beginning of the century is now considered sufficiently retro to engender a mid-noughties revival – expect to see a lot of early-millennial bands this summer on the come-back trail (see Paul Lester, below).

Festival Season – that 20th century lovechild – has also grown up. Once about the band, it’s hard to escape the feeling that it’s now about the brand. The big players – Coachella, Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, Lollapalooza – have become the draw rather than the bands that are headlining them. Festival Season is increasingly influencing fashion: according to the LA Times,  ”Coachella is the biggest gift to the fashion industry”, and brands from Lacoste to Jimmy Choo have hosted events around it. Outside of the Coachella-Glastonbury axis things are somewhat different: our contributors from South America to Australia carry the message that larger festivals are struggling and it is the niche or boutique events that are thriving.

Max Jury

Max Jury

We are entering a post-celebrity-obsessed, post X-Factor world with competing strands. On the one hand, attention spans are ever-shortening. Spotify data tells us that a quarter of songs are skipped after just five seconds – unheard-of in the pre-digital world where one would have to be sufficiently dissatisfied with their listening material to walk across to their stereo and press buttons or even lift a record arm. On the other, there is a craving for authenticity, for substance – and this may go some way to explaining the rebirth of country music – always a big part of the American musical landscape but elsewhere considered a sub-genre of comedy.

Without country there would be no Royal Blood & Drenge – the energized new generation of bands emerging from the slipstream of the Black Keys which in turn referenced the White Stripes. Also owing a debt to country is the less-rock, more 60′s Max Jury, and Australia’s Sink Ships. All of these acts could be termed Alt-County, but pure country is also in fine health – still the number one radio format in the US and increasingly penetrating mainstream TV, commercials & fashion.

3. elliphant

Now that dusk-drenched Scandavian drama & design have been picked up and reworked around the world, a new wave of bolder, less obtuse artists like Frida Sundemo, Tove Lo & Elliphant are crossing Nordic shores whilst the old guard – Likke Li & Robyn – are re-inventing themselves in exciting new ways (see our Scandinavian Music Special Report). Artists to watch include Denmark’s Broken Twin and Sweden’s  Seinabo Sey. Australia – always a strong contributor to the UK music scene – is also enjoying a global awakening. It’s easy to point to Gotye a few years back, but Gotye (and by osmosis, New Zealand’s Lorde) was just a product of an already-buoyant antipodean music scene that has given us Pnau, Empire of the Sun and now Courtney Barnett, Vance Joy, Gang Of Youths & DZ Deathrays.

And so there you have it: the future is upon us; we are a fragmented culture with a short attention-span, craving authenticity, post-noir, post-post-retro. But it’s summer, so we can ignore all that and listen to good old disco in the shape of Chromeo, Calvin Harris, Client Liaison & Pharrel. Confused? Yes, of course – which is why you need the expert hand of Paul Lester to guide you through it…

Pete Martin

 

4. Southern

Emerging Trends & Acts Mid 2014

A re-energized new wave of rock bands include Royal Blood, Drenge & The Marmozets starts to elbow out dance music – which is still tuned in to deep house around the world as the backlash to EDM continues. Scandinavian music is in fine form: expect more imports from Eliphant, Tove Lo & Lykki Li. Country continues to infiltrate rock, from Southern  to the 60’s-drenched Max Jury. Blog-indie remains strong: new contenders include Aquilo & Wet.

 

 

Paul Lester’s Tips for Summer

Paul Lester is the pundit’s pundit: music feature writer for the Sunday Times, writer of the Guardian’s New Band of the Day feature, and the Aurotone Network’s secret weapon

“Revivals are getting more current. It used to be the dim and distant past that got revived but now that the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s have been thoroughly rinsed we’re having to retread more recent ground. And so it’s deja vu all over again this summer as the mid-noughties revival continues apace. Lily Allen’s third album Sheezus will be expected to outstrip 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s You, while a Glastonbury slot will further cement her status as pop’s cheekiest songwriter.

The Horrors

The Horrors

Still on a mid-noughties tip, Interpol return as a trio, with a new album, their fifth. The Horrors are on the comeback trail with a new album, Luminous, and after the krautrock, shoegaze and psychedelic dream-pop experiments of 2009’s Primary Colours and 2011’s Skying, this one is promised “to combine goth-punk sensibilities with a dance framework”.

There will be quite a few indie bands “going dance” this summer. The Kooks follow up their single Down with an album in September, and presumably in a bid to shake off their reputation as purveyors of lumpen, landfill indie it will see them further stray away from guitar-based rock towards the R&B/garage-influenced rhythms of Down.

More “K” bands from the Class of 2006 staging a return this summer (with a dance-rock direction) include Klaxons and Kasabian. The former will be releasing their third album, Love Frequency and are in confident mood: “It’s the best piece of music I’ve ever heard,” they have declared. Kasabian will be headlining Glastonbury and showcasing material from their fifth album, 48:13. If the single Eez-Eh is any measure – it was described by Radio 1 as “like Madness with a donk on it” – it will be a further departure from their beginnings as the Midlands’ answer to Oasis.

While rock bands go dance, the summer should also see rock bands, well, staying rock. It’s a good time for the post-White Stripes/Black Keys duo, with Royal Blood, Drenge and Southern using that most economically viable of lineups to make a noise. Look out also for Marmozets and Kagoule, who are giving the old guitar/bass/drums format a good name.

He might not be very metallic but someone looking to branch out musically will be Ed Sheeran, who has collaborated on x, his follow-up to the phenomenally successful +, with the exceedingly work-shy Pharrell Williams as well as Rick Rubin and rapper Benny Blanco.

Another artist attempting to capitalise on a triumphant debut is Lana Del Rey, whose new LP Ultraviolence finds Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach at the helm. Sweden’s Lykke Li takes fewer  chances with her choice of producer for her new album, despite calling it I Never Learn – it features at the controls one Greg Kurstin, hitmaker for Katy Perry, Kylie Minigue and Lily Allen. Another returning Swedish star is Robyn, who has in a Scandinavian summit teamed up with Norwegian electronic duo Royksopp for a mini-album called Do It Again that will surely be a smash around Europe.

Calvin Harris’ track Summer will be everywhere, and the much-touted and massively long-awaited returns of The Avalanches and Azealia Banks won’t actually materialise so who are they kidding? And the talk of the season – and carrying on through autumn and winter as well – will be the first live performances for 35 years by Kate Bush. Final prediction: there will be riots outside the Hammersmith Apollo as legions of fiftysomethings attempt to wrestle rare Bush tickets from the cold, dead hands of touts.”
Paul Lester

Jetta

Jetta

Ones to Watch for 2014

Wet: a blogger’s (wet) dream, they sound like a cross between Haim and Chvrches.

Aquilo: the serene sound of the summer, from Silverdale in the Lake District.

Rhodes: Hertfordshire boy peddling moody but magnificent balladry.

Lizzo:  this year’s breakout rap female, beloved of indie kids – the Minneapolis marvel is currently working with Bastille.

Jetta: with new single Crescendo produced by Pharrell, expect big things from this Liverpool lass with sass and class.

Global Survey

Global Survey

Special Report : Music in Scandinavia

Contributors:

Karl Batterbee is founder of the Scandipop website & Aurotone’s ears in Scandinavia

Kenneth Bager is one of Denmark’s most famous recording artists and founder of the label Music for Dreams

Pär Berglund is founder of Swedish blogs Meadow Music  & marketing blog  Copenhagen journalist

Peter Krogholm founded the All Scandinavian website 

Sweden has become notorious for producing female pop stars that know precisely how to create incredible electropop. The domestic airwaves and the global blogosphere are heavily peppered with prime examples of this sound, but in 2014 there are two young women in particular who have risen to the top as serious contenders to Robyn’s crown (and more on her later). First up is Frida Sundemo  who has just released her second EP ‘Lit Up By Neon’.

The collection is made up of elegant, melancholic synth ballads (and one banger) that all reach stunner status. And more so than any other singer doing what she’s doing, it’s Frida Sundemo who is tipped for major things outside of the Nordic region. This will surely be helped along by the fact that Frida has just landed an acting job in the upcoming film adaptation of John Niven’s music industry novel ‘Kill Your Friends’. One girl who has already made the transition from Swedish charts to UK and US charts however, is Tove Lo.

2. Frida Sundemo‘Stay High’ has been a big hit for the Swede over the past few months in Britain, reaching the top 10 and staying there for weeks. The song is a remix of her original track ‘Habits’, and it’s that song along with the rest of the solid pop offerings on her ‘Truth Serum’ EP that have her earmarked for huge success around the globe in 2014. Clever lyrics and big melodies over drugbeat productions are her trademark sound.

On the comeback trail is whom many regard as the original and the best of the genre – Robyn. She has a new EP out with long-time collaborators, Norway’s Röyksopp. It’s called ‘Do It Again’, and the title track has already made its way onto the BBC Radio 1 playlist, with another track ‘Monument’ currently playing on Volvo’s latest ad campaign in Sweden. As expected, it’s tortured and euphoric electropop that’s the sound they’re going for, and it’s as epic as their past collaborations famously turned out to be. Elsewhere, Robyn has also duetted with another Swedish legend Neneh Cherry on her new album.

Royksopp and Robyn

Royksopp and Robyn

The song is called ‘Out Of The Black’ , although it’s the remix by Norway’s Bouvet that steals the show – turning in a retro synth floor filler that is reminiscent of when Pet Shop Boys wrote for Girls Aloud. Robyn’s a busy girl at the moment – she’s also just launched the first artist on her own Konichiwa Records. Zhala and her new single ‘Prophet’ is an indie flavoured rave up that is more underground than Robyn’s usual output. But it’s commercial enough to have been taken on by Swedish radio and music blogs, and the song was recently given a prime performance slot at the Swedish Grammy award ceremony.

Summer 2014 seems to be the season of the comeback for Sweden’s most fashionable and well-loved ladies. Lykke Li has just returned with new album ‘I Never Learn’ – an album of crushing love songs about the pain of heartbreak. There is even less joy on here than on her previous effort ‘Wounded Rhymes’, but just as much fragile beauty. And the album has already been lauded with much critical acclaim.

Rebecca & Fiona

Rebecca & Fiona

Also back are Rebecca & Fiona  with their second album ‘Beauty Is Pain’. The LP sees the girls (who have just been on an extensive tour of the US) turn in another set of booming house music and synthpop, that’s been granted an unlikely marriage to their distant and nonchalant syrupy vocals. Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit release their much anticipated third album ‘Stay Gold’ in June. The lead single has already arrived though, in the form of ‘My Silver Lining’  – a familiar dose of their usual folk rootsy sound, but with an extra layer of strings and orchestration to make the whole thing more romantic and Americana. Second single ‘Cedar Lane’ finds the girls building that blue eyed soul sound into a thundering crescendo as the song progresses, with the last minute or so touching upon epic.

5. SABINA

Mirroring those three big comebacks are three startling debuts, all via young Swedish girls who are adding extra heart to their downbeat and reflective takes on the icy Nordic torch song. Sabina Ddumba adopts her gospel background on her first single ‘Scarred For Life’, a strangely uplifting example of what’s otherwise typically Scandinavian heartache. Naomi Pilgrim has featured heavily on blogs with her debut ‘No Gun’, but new single ‘House of Dreams’ manages to exceed even those initial charms. The song is anchored by a chorus that resembles what can only be described as a depressed nursery rhyme. Seinabo Sey’s debut single ‘Younger’ has seen the 23 year old Stockholm girl chart highly in both her native Sweden and neighbouring Norway, with many other countries predicted to follow. The soul ballad finds her surprisingly mature vocal paired with lingering organ notes, and the result is an almost ecclesiastic sounding effort that’s more hymn than pop song. New single ‘Hard Time’  picks up where that left off, and cements Seinabo’s burgeoning reputation as Sweden’s new soul siren.

Every year in Sweden sees its domestic dance artists compete to have the season’s big summer hit – the song that soundtracks the long days of the Swedish summer months, and all of its Valborg and Midsommar themed parties. 2011 was undoubtedly the year of Eric Amarillo’s ‘Om Sanningen Ska Fram’ (that year’s biggest hit), and this year he’s launched his latest pitch – ‘Fulldans’. Translated as “drunk dance” it’s a hugely silly and shamelessly transparent ploy to appeal to drunk teenagers enjoying the summer’s well lit evenings and outdoor parties. It’s as catchy as it needs to be, and has already had the support of Sweden’s biggest radio station P3. Also in the running to have a big smash in the coming months are three young pop guys, who have each individually put out their own latin flavoured, Europop themed, summer singles. There’s Darin and his reggae tinged ‘Mamma Mia’  (currently soundtracking Sony Xperia’s latest ad campaign), Oscar Zia’s Balearic infused ‘Ballare Con Me’, and John Soul’s ‘Ella Baila’  – which is a pop, rap, and house hybrid that’s performed in English, Swedish, and Spanish. Also getting in on the latino pop tip, is Norway’s Adelen – a 17 year old girl who has just released the Euro EDM influenced ‘Always On My Mind’ , and has a song on the official FIFA World Cup album called ‘Ole’. She’s just been to Brazil to film the video, under the wings of Simon Fuller’s management company.

Boyband pop is currently enjoying something of a renaissance in the UK, and in Scandinavia it’s been turned on its head somewhat by the arrival of Sweden’s The Fooo. The boys, who range from 15 to 16 years of age, have built up a name for themselves by accompanying their songs with YouTube videos of them performing flashmob style streetdance routines around different Swedish towns. Their music lends itself well to the awe inspiringly choreographed performances that the band give. Well produced pop music that veers from start-and-stop hip-hop to guitar based songs like what One Direction made on their first album, and all via a cover of the Bomfunk MCs’ ‘Freestyler’. Their quickly earned popularity has resulted in them becoming the nation’s biggest pop act currently, with even police escorts required for every performance – something that’s normally unheard of in Sweden’s usual culture of not being that bothered with the concept of celebrity. Neighbouring Finland has since launched the soundalike boyband Kliff, who have found big success with their debut single, the r&b edged pop of ‘Mun Jopo’. Elsewhere on the boyband front you have Norway’s The Main Level (impossibly catchy chorus on their debut single ‘Blackout’), Finland’s Satin Circus (an older version of The Vamps/5 Seconds of Summer, but with equally as teen appealing guitar pop), and Sweden’s three brothers JTR, who have this year found fame on Australia’s version of The X Factor, and just released their debut album over there.

Swedish rap artist Elliphant has set a trend in the region – with two more similar sounding ladies currently receiving heavy airplay (alongside the original herself) at the moment. Gnucci channels the sound of M.I.A on her new EP ‘Psychohappy’, which showcases eccentric raps layered over tribal beats and squelching synths. TARA impresses with her debut single ‘Manners’, which is a more pop orientated version of what Gnucci is doing, with the emphasis being more on a big sing-a-long (or rather, shout-a-long) chorus. And then Elliphant continues to command the genre with her latest track ‘Revolusion’. She growls over the top of an industrial rave-up, adding blaring sirens into the mix, and producing a song that puts those imitators in their places.

Electric Lady Lab

Electric Lady Lab

Roxette would appear to be back in fashion once again, with Danish synth duo Electric Lady Lab sampling ‘Listen To Your Heart’ on their new single, the atmospheric ‘Hurts’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO6vH6h0BR0. And over in Norway, Tommy Fredvang’s new single actually sounds like it could have been one of Roxette’s bigger hits in the 90s – the cheeky rock flirtation that is ‘Kom Igjen’. Denmark’s current line-up of pop boys are looking stateside for their influences however. Basim will represent Denmark at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Cliché Love Song’ , a Bruno Mars soundalike that is predicted to give the Danes their second win in as many years. Meanwhile Christopher is channelling Justin Timberlake to enormous success on his new album ‘Told You So’ . His advantage seems to be that he’s sounding like Justin Timberlake when he was still producing radio hits, as opposed to the Justin Timberlake of today, with many Danish critics noting that ‘Told You So’ is the album that the world would have wanted Justin Timberlake to return with.

Finally, Swedish pop music that’s unknown in the UK seems to be a current trend in British television adverts. This summer, British audiences can hear the frantic dubstep stylings of Stockholm Syndrome’s ‘Pretty Girl’ in L’Oreal’s newest advertising campaign (starring Cheryl Cole), the Icona Pop-esque ‘We Are Young’ by Le Kid being used in Fanta’s latest ad, and the retro motown pop of Miss Li’s ‘Can’t Get You Off My Mind’ selling Durex condoms. British ad agencies are clearly rifling through Sweden’s recent, lesser-known archives for inspiration.                                                                                                                                                                                          Karl Batterbee

The view from Copenhagen

“There’s no way around Marie Key, Danish pop’s leading woman right now, and , who’s taken both domestic and international critics and audiences by storm in the past year. More recently Broken Twin have really made an impact with her debut album, not least outside Denmark, and retrorockers Go Go Berlin – one truly great live act – are about to launch in the US with an all star team behind them, so that could turn out one of those rare global success stories for a Danish act.

There’s a post-punk/new wave thing happening all over Scandinavia right now -be sure to check out Denmark’s Shiny Darkly and RA from Sweden.

The Minds Of 99 (playing a new version of 80s Danish post-punk) are receiving a lot of praise right now. For more international appeal, I think we’re going to hear a lot about Kill J (just saw her in front of a string quartet and she is an amazing vocalist) and Blaue Blume (an indierock cousin to When Saints Go Machine), and hopefully hip hop fans will discover Negash Ali, who’s released his best work yet with his African Dream EP. Also brand new personal discovery from Finland, Jaako Eino Kalevi, who’s signed to Weird World/Domino as the first Nordic act, could face a big break in the immediate future.”

Peter Krogholm

The Swedish Music Industry

It may come as a surprise to many who associate Scandinavian music exports with women, but Par tells us that in “Sweden the industry is still heavily dominated by men on all levels, and the debate about this inequality has been heating up more and more. What started with a discussion in the media about the male domination among the business and organisation leaders continued with a debate about the role of the live venues in the choice of artists and has now also come down to the most important question of them all: why are there so few female recording artists in proportion?”

Another current issue is about the validity of old record deals in the digital era. In the beginning of May a number of artists filed lawsuits against record labels, stating that the labels have violated the intellectual properties of the artists. The royalties from the back catalogues is a substantial part of the major labels’ earnings – which makes this a hot topic in the Swedish music business if the court rules in favour of the artists.

Pär Berglund

Asia

1. momoiro-clover-z-

Ian in Tokyo tells us that 2014 has seen a couple of big Japanese music industry stories emerge. “Firstly, Spotify’s long-delayed Japanese launch is rumored to be finally happening over the summer – hopefully forcing much-needed change upon a long-stagnant industry.”

The second relates to the revival by Japan’s police of archaic laws that make late-night dancing illegal under provisions initially designed to regulate the sex industry. “Used by the police seemingly to bypass the need to obtain search warrants for drug raids, the use of these laws was widely ridiculed both inside the country and internationally, and there are signs this curious hangover from a previous age may be coming to an end – hopefully providing a boost to Japan’s legendary club culture.”

2. dempagumi-
This year’s big Japanese global story is Babymetal, “the teenage idol group whose metal-influenced take on bubblegum pop went viral in the spring and who were immediately confirmed for the UK’s Sonisphere rock festival. Elsewhere, TV-orientated ‘idol music’ remains the biggest business in music, although there are strong signs that genre leaders AKB48  have peaked in the public consciousness and their influence is waning, with the idol base diversifying in favour of quirkier acts like Momoiro Clover Z and Dempagumi Inc.”

Music in China has long been dominated by the scenes in Shanghai & Beijing, but this is starting to change.

Pete Jackson, editor of Shanghai 247, tells us that “there are huge cities that are virtually unknown outside China which are just beginning to develop music scenes of their own. We’re seeing more and more acts come out of second-tier cities, and we’re seeing local and international acts touring places that nobody would have really thought about a few years ago – cities like Wuhan, Dalian, Tianjin, Chengdu and Guangzhou. This points to a slow but growing desire on the part of audiences around the country to experience music outside the karaoke and reality TV sphere.”

2. car sick cars

He notes that “the first generation of independent rock bands are still innovating, testing the boundaries of censors and breaking new ground for others to follow.”

In Shanghai, club culture continues to dominate. In particular, “the new SVBLKVLT label – an offshoot of the famed Sub-Culture nights at local club The Shelter – is making large strides, putting out great material and raising the standards for club nights that showcase original talent.”

“These guys are playing an important role in turning China into a hub for a pan-Asian bass scene that has come to incorporate cities as distant as Tokyo, Manila, and Singapore. We’re hoping that this label might do for electronic musicians in Shanghai what the Maybe Mars  label does for bands in Beijing – to help independent artists develop beyond the DIY stage. The results so far have been fantastic.”

Pete tips big albums from the main players in the underground rock scene such as P.K. 14, Carsick Cars  (both Beijing bands on the Maybe Mars record label) and Top Floor Circus in Shanghai, which “continue to raise the bar in terms of production, musicianship and lyricism.”

3. dragon

Korea’s G-Dragon

To Korea, and Shawn in Seoul notes that Korea’s rock and indie music scenes are continuing to make global inroads. “March saw Korea making its largest ever showing at SXSW with 15 acts performing and only two of them falling under the K-pop umbrella. And early May saw six Korean indie groups making their way to the UK for Liverpool Sound City, including Dead Buttons & Asian Chairshot.” The former are a duo “whose punchy mix of anthemic bluesy garage rock and punk is turning them into one of the more buzzed-about upcomers in Seoul’s underground rock scene”, while the latter are a “psych-tinged grungy alt-rock trio who are currently showcasing material from their Horizon album which dropped on May 28th and was produced by Smashing Pumkins guitarist Jeff Schroeder.”

However, the most impressive overseas tour for a Korean indie band belongs to Jambinai. “Definitely one the country’s more unique sounding groups, Jambinai’s music merges Korean traditional music with post-rock, metal, and folk.  The award-winning act – their fantastic 2012 Différance debut won “Best Crossover Album” at the 2013 Korean Music Awards – will play 25 shows in 14 countries between May 28 and July 27.  Included in their itinerary are appearances at high-profile fests such as Glastonbury, Roskilde, and Serbia’s Exit Festival.

 

Australia & New Zealand

 

South to Australia, and Dayna in Sydney tells us that “Australian music has become a bigger export internationally and is still growing stronger with a lot of other countries tuning in to what’s happening and breaking here. Dance music is becoming increasingly mainstream too – you only need to look how many DJ/producers are getting added to radio playlists now compared to a few years ago to see that it’s truly broken wide open. Australia has always had an active dance music culture though – raves and warehouse parties have been going on from the early 90’s, before moving into clubs in around 1997/1998 and festivals have been running with electronic content since the mid 1990’s also (Big Day Out being key to this) – so it makes sense that our music, culture and artists would be pushing through internationally.”

Miks in Sydney echoes this: “It would seem the Australian Invasion is here to stay. With plenty of our artists doing well overseas (Courtney Barnett, Vance Joy, Gang Of Youths, DZ Deathrays to name a few), Australia is starting to cement itself as a go to location for all sorts of new music, and not just electronic.”

In terms of emerging trends for the rest of the year, Dayna notes that “EDM in its current format is receiving a lot of backlash – whilst not suggesting that it will collapse under its own weight (it has substantial legs still), other forms of electronic music are continuing to claw their way to the top so as to balance out the commerciality of EDM. Acts such as Flume, Chet Faker, Ta-Ku, Client Liaison below), Nicole Millar, Basenji, Chiefs to name a few.”

Miks adds that “the cultural cringe that has plagued the Australian music landscape appears to be slowly dissipating. With singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and rapper Seth Sentry (both of whom perform in a distinct Australian accent) performing on late night American talk shows in the last few months, there appears to be a move towards finally championing Australian artists who perform in their ‘natural voice’ on an international level.”

The state of the live music scene has also been a hot topic over recent months, and the big news has been the state of music festivals in Australia. Miks reports that “with Vans Warped now rumoured to be scrapped after only one year, people appear to be moving towards more specific, boutique festival experiences.”

New Zealand’s Lordes was one of the biggest music stories around the world last year, and many of you would have seen it here at least a year before it broke thanks to Greta in Auckland.

Greta tells us that the buzz around her has continued following her number 1 in the US and elsewhere. Other recipients of NZ hype include the latest albums from CHVRCHES  and King Krule, and recent highlights have included Kirin J Callinan’s  live shows.

Throughout 2014 Greta notes that people in NZ will be talking about “Neutral Milk Hotel, Foals and the huge number of pop acts heading this way – including Rihanna, Justin Beiber, One Direction, Taylor Swift and Beyonce.”

And, with a distinctly New Zealand flavour, Greta notes that “The Neo Kalashnikovs video Gorgeous Baby starring Helen Flanagan has gone viral.”

Mexico

We visit Mexico for the first time, and Héctor in Mexico City tells us that the Mexican indie rock scene is in great shape.

“If you go back 25 or 30 years it was really difficult for new bands to be noticed and to have places to play. As time passed Mexico began to be taken into account as a place where an international band should stop by during their world tour. This growth in the offer of bands has consequently brought new venues and new upstarts as well as established bands.

Now, many South American bands decide to come to Mexico, even to live here, because Mexico represent the next step for their careers. Here they can find a lot of opportunities to play live. I think this will continue to grow and that’s perfect because it will create lots of opportunities for new music to be shared and listened to.”

Héctor points to some examples from different Mexican scenes. Firstly,  La Banda Bastón: “a Mexican hip-hop band that is gaining a lot of recognition in Mexico and Latin America with their latest album.”

Next up: The Plastics Revolution : “a relatively new band in the Mexican rock scene that has already taken part in some of the most important festivals in Mexico like Vive Latino and Corona Capital.”

Little Jesus is one of the most promising underground rock pop band in Mexico. “Only a year old, and they already played in Costa Rica, Colombia and in Ceremonia Festival in Mexico with bands like Animal Collective.”

Also worth checking out are Big Big Love : “Another promising Mexican project, known for their incredible and explosive live shows, and who are being compared to bands like Foals and My Morning Jacket”; Mexican Institute of Sound (above) “mixing traditional Mexican folk styles with electronica, hip-hop and even Bollywood”; Quiero Club “A Mexican pop-rock band with a long history in the independent scene”; and Dapuntobeat “an independent electronic band well-known in the Mexican and Latin indie scene.”

Africa

Ayomide in Nigeria notes a definite commercializing of the music industry. As Nigeria becomes the telecoms heavyweight of Africa, the country’s key artists are scooping up lucrative endorsement deals with companies like Glo & MTN.

Artists set to dominated conversations in 2014 include Wizkid: “Wizzy (as he is fondly called) has released a number of tracks in 2013 that has kept the anticipation level of his album at fever pitch. It is definite that Wizkid will be highly talked about during the end of the year and beyond.”

Also high on the radar is Ice Prince Zamani: “The sheer size of Ice Prince’s status in Nigeria’s pop field will ensure that he will be talked about when his LP drops. His singles ‘Aboki’, ‘More’ and ‘V.I.P’ have dominated pop charts since the beginning of the year. He has also made incursions into the international market by working with French Montana, Wale and UK Grime artist Chipmunk.”

4. Olamide1

Olamide was arguably the hottest Nigerian rapper of 2013. “Olamide, who raps mostly in Yoruba, has risen from a little-known rapper in the Southwest region of Nigerian to one of the biggest rap stars in the country. The demand for his music has been so immense that he is working on a new album that will be dropped before the end of the year. His smash hit ‘Durosoke’ has been huge on the streets and his collaboration with Igbo rapper Phyno on ‘Ghost Mode’ has helped him crossover to the Eastern part of the country.”

Ayomide tells us that “right now in Nigeria we are witnessing a gradual shift from the fast tempo pop song with easy rhyme structures and catchy hooks to slower conceptual pop songs. Acts like Burna Boy and Black Magic are getting mainstream attention for their afro-fusion style of singing. Burna Boy has just released his debut album L.I.F.E that has been a success story so far. The success of Burna Boy and other similar artistes shows that the consumers are beginning to demand for songs that are different from the fast paced syrupy pop songs that have ruled Nigerian airwaves for the last few years.”

He notes that “we’ve also witnessed the release of conceptual albums from artists such as Banky W, Waje, Omawumi and Burna Boy. This trend is in contrast to the manner in which albums were constructed before. Artists would normally lump a bunch of songs together with no concept or theme tying them together. Now artists are taking creative chances and releasing conceptual albums. Albums that have been released this year and have been conceptually loose have not fared well in the market place except for Iyanya’s Iyanya Vs. Desire sophomore album, which rode off the success of his monster singles.”

Europe

Ben in Barcelona notes that “Spain may be better known for its straight-up house & techno than bassy electronics, but in the country’s bigger cities the random mutations of UK bass have been warmly welcomed. Headbirds – aka young Catalan producer Dani Guijarro – could be seen as the Spanish response to this phenomenon, his music combining the influences of UK funky, dubstep and bass with an innate understanding of how to move a crowd, much like Disclosure before him.”

3. headbirds

Guijarro’s debut release Dead Kingdom “drew attention from the likes of XLR8R and he’s now signed to El Segell, the record label of the Primavera Sound festival, who recently took him on tour around Spain as part of their Touring Party.”

Across in Portugal, and Alex from Lisbon indie band Youthless tells us that “the big trend is solo projects, experimental side projects by established artists and an interesting mix between dance and experimental rock music.” He notes that “Octa Push reached # 1 in the national charts; PAUS put out their second LP after touring the US & Mexico; Frankie Chavez has been conquering Italy, and Pernas de Alicate is a ground breaking new project formed by a drummer and a visual artist, and featurs some of the best musicians in Portugal. New albums are due from Brass Wire Orchestra and Keep Razors Sharp as well. There’s lots of good stuff happening over here.”

Russia, like elsewhere in Europe, has felt the wave of deep house. Maxim in Moscow reports that “the major trends in Russia have been retro, italo-house, mash-ups and the commercialization of deep house. This has especially been felt in Moscow, where deep house is heard in all the trendy bars, clubs & restaurants.”

Maxim notes that this is coupled with the dropping off of the popularity of US pop like Beyonce & Lady Gaga.

 

The Aurotone Network

The Aurotone Network is a global partnership of opinion-formers and journalists drawn from the fields of music and youth culture. It is a direct conduit from people with influence and taste in over 30 countries to decision-makers in feature films, television and advertising. For individual insights from around the world hover over the cities below:

For individual insights from around the world hover over the cities below.
Phil Retrospector – Dublin

“Current top 3 tracks: 1. Moby & Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night, 2. Flying White Dots – Barracuda, 3. Fissunix – Happy to love It”

Michael – London

“UK pop seems to be in ever safer hands thanks to the likes of super-producer turned singer MNEK, whose chopped and screwed new single Every Little Word is like a 90s jam faxed into the future and then fired back by lasers.”

Mark – Seoul

“G-Dragon is the biggest K-pop artist and the closest thing the genre has to an envelope pusher”

Ben - Barcelona

“Spain may be better known for its straight-up house and techno than bassy electronics but in the country’s bigger cities the random mutations of UK bass have been warmly welcomed. Headbirds – aka young Catalan producer Dani Guijarro – could be seen as the Spanish response to this phenomenon, his music combining the influences of UK funky, dubstep and bass with an innate understanding of how to move a crowd.”

Ivan - Paris.

“3 French favourites of mine this year have been Yelle, Phoenix & Salm”.

Alex- Lisbon

“Bands to watch include Riding Panico, Octa Push, Pernas de Alicate, Capitao Fauso & Anarchicks”

Karl – Stockholm

“Summer 2014 seems to be the season of the comeback for Sweden’s most fashionable and well-loved ladies: Lykke Li, Rebecca & Fiona and First Aid Kit.”

Tom – Berlin

“90′s Eurodance, techno & electro will become much bigger, and live music is increasing”

Rainer –   Munich

3 of my favourites from last year:

Nicole Moudaber : Break It Benson : The Adventure Oliver Klein : Slowphatty

Matteo - Milan

“Deep House has been the sound of the year for me. Italian radio & TV have finally realized that Deep House is not only suitable in the clubs but sounds fresh on the airwaves too”

Maxim – Moscow

“The major trends in Russia have been retro, Italo-house, mash-ups and the commercialization of deep house. This has especially been felt in Moscow, where deep house is heard in all the trendy bars, clubs & restaurants”

Cemal - Istanbul
Kenneth – Copenhagen

“Big successes in Denmark at the moment include MØ, Quadron & Rasmus Hedegaard.”

Mike – Dubai

“The huge expat community in the UAE account for a lot of the indie & dance music over here – the locals are mainly into local artists or the big mainsteam US names.”

Ian – Tokyo

“Japan has long looked to South Korea for influence, and there are signs that the pop industry trying to ‘do a K-Pop’ with the
emergence of Avex’s new girl group Faky”

Pete - Shanghai

The new SVBLKVLT label is playing an important role in turning China into a hub for a pan-Asian bass scene that has come to incorporate cities as distant as Tokyo, Manila, and Singapore

Greta – Auckland

“In 2014 people in NZ will be talking about Neutral Milk Hotel, Foals and the huge number of international pop acts heading this way – including Rihanna, One Direction & Beyonce. Acts with a distinctly New Zealand flavour include The Neo Kalashnikovs”

Bobin- Mumbai

“I have my eyes and ears on Ganesh Talkies from Calcutta. They bring their unabashed love for Bollywood into their music, resulting in this kitschy, funky sound that’s pretty unique”

Dayna – Sydney

“Client Liaison, Tinashe and Elliphant – they’re gonna be in the next wave of household-name performers in Australia.”

Kees – Cape Towna

“Following Die Antwoord’s break from Interscope, the release of their second album is probably going to be South Africa’s biggest music export in 2012″

Edo – Sao Paulo

“Dance scene in Brazil is still thriving but has gone very commercial”

JP & Diego – Sao Jose dos Campos

“Tipo Uísque is “an indie rock sextet we like a lot. Hip hop artist Emicida is still making good songs, & also of note are promising shoegaze band Team.Radio – listen to ‘stormy melodies’”.

Juan – Buenos Aires

“In the recent festival season, the skate-rock band Massacre placed itself on the central spot of the national Punk scene, while Mardelpop and La Nueva Ola gathered some of the best indie bands at their musical peak”

Sean – Montreal

“Canadian stories include Arcade Fire finishing work on their new album, a huge new synthpop album by Young Galaxy; and I expect the Canadian pianist Gonzalez to start getting tapped for more US pop- music projects.”

Mary – Washington DC

“The 1975 have totally blown up here, they’ve got the right aesthetic and sound to appeal to kids. I’ve been really surprised by the meteoric rise of Capital Cities, who weren’t even a blip on my radar last year.”

Joe – New York

“I feel the re-emergence of a faintly epic, 80′s/90′s guitar sound creeping back in… a band may emerge from nowhere who suddenly connect with the general public and we’ll have a genuine guitar “revival” on our hands.”

Aidan – Seattle

“It’s been a tough year for rock bands in the US as EDM is still cleaning up.”

Alex – LA
“Over the past few years the centre of gravity has continued to shift away from New York, and LA is now the undisputed centre of the US music industry.”
“Psychedelia is going to be big this summer with the return of MGMT”
Jon – Reykjavik

“Check out Vol 2 of “This is Icelandic Indie Music” for a different take on what’s happening in Iceland.”

Joe – Manchester

“The sonic influence of Jai Paul, who finally has his new album coming out soon on XL, is not to be underestimated.”

Katrina – Manila

“One of the most outstanding things about Filipinos is that pop music is such a part of the culture.”"

Denise – Jamaica

“Jamaica has seen the re-emergence of ‘the bands’. Belting out the popular Roots-Rock reggae, dub and Rootstronic, new bands are where it’s at to experience the future of our culture.”

Hector – Mexico City

“Mexico is now the launch pad for South American Bands to develop the next step in their careers. Mexican artists of note include La Banda Bastón, Big Big Love & Dapuntobeat.”

Ayomide – Lagos

“Right now in Nigeria we are witnessing a gradual shift from the fast tempo pop song with easy rhyme structures and catchy hooks to slower conceptual pop songs. Big artists over the next year will include Wizkid, Ice Prince Zamani & Burna Boy.”

Scene Spotlight

Scene Spotlight

The Guardian & Pop Justice’s Michael Cragg gives his take on the musical landscape

Mainstream

Having been signed almost five years ago and after reportedly completing and submitting five studio albums, LA’s scuzz-pop practioner Sky Ferreira finally got round to releasing her debut album, the bruised yet brave Night Time, My Time. Out in America last October, the album was finally released to rapturous reviews in the UK in March. While Sky’s trajectory has been hampered by everything from label indecision to arrests (she and her boyfriend, Zachary Cole Smith from Diiv, were arrested last September for drugs offences), one singer whose vertiginous ascent looks set to continue in 2014 is Lana Del Rey, who plonked her Black Keys-produced new single West Coast online last month. The album, Ultraviolence, is rumoured to be out in July.

While Lorde seems to have filled the alt-pop slot while Lana was having a well-earned break, her producer Joel Little has another hit on his hands in the shape of brother-sister duo, Broods. Released earlier this year, their self-titled debut EP is a haunting collection of electro-tinged pop, heralded by the delicate thrum of the lovely Bridges. Also making quite an impact with their debut releases are previous songwriters-for-hire turned proper pop stars Tove Lo and Kiesza; with the former reaching the UK top 10 with a remix of the caustic Habits, while the latter has scored a massive number 1 with her 90s deep house-indebted, Hideaway. Also mining music’s past is the ludicrously monikered Shift K3Y, aka Lewis Jankel, who stepped out of his remixing job for his first proper single, Touch, a brilliant ode to early naughties UK R&B, specifically the work of Southampton lothario, Craig David.

In fact, UK pop seems to be in ever safer hands thanks to the likes of super-producer turned singer MNEK, whose chopped and screwed new single Every Little Word is like a 90s jam faxed into the future and then fired back by lasers. Or something. Elsewhere, enigmatic producer Duke Dumont followed up his UK number 1 Need U (100%) with another chart-topper in the shape of the Whitney Houston interpolating, I Got U, while classical/dance music hybrid Clean Bandit scored a massive chart-slayer in the shape of the ludicrously catchy, Rather Be. Meanwhile the spirit of 80s Madonna and Kylie – who recently released her twelfth studio album, Kiss Me Once – lives on in Northampton’s Ronika who will finally release her debut album Selectadisc in June, while girlband Juce shove vintage American trios such as TLC and Jade through a very British musical filter to create attitude-heavy blog-friendly pop.

The first quarter of 2014 also saw the return of Lily Allen after four years of early retirement. In typical Allen fashion the music took a slight back seat to controversy, but she was back in the top 10 with her cover of Somewhere Only We Know, the controversial Hard Out Here and the Shellback-produced Air Balloon. Despite her slagging off the music industry and her record label in almost every interview, it’s still nice to have her back, if only for coining the word Sheezus.

Hip-Hop and R&B

After seven years stuck in record label limbo vocal powerhouse JoJo finally extricated herself from her deal in January and has already signed a new one with Warners. With a new album due later in the year, she released a free-to-download Valentine’s EP, #LoveJo, back in February. A lady who knows quite a lot about label arguments is Kelis, who followed up 2010′s dance-inspired Fleshtone with Food, the first album for UK independent Ninja Tune, and the first to see her work with TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek. Immersed in vintage R&B and organ-heavy soul, it’s change of pace was almost universally acclaimed and accompanied at April’s SXSW by a Kelis-fronted food truck.

British R&B and hip-hop has three new stars in the shape of London-based rapper Context, Game Of Thrones actor Raleigh Ritchie and former guest vocalist for hire, Ms D. Following up his Mike Skinner-approved single Small Town Lad Sentiments, Context released his new EP, Stealing My Older Brother’s Tapes, earlier this year, while Raleigh Ritchie – who plays Grey Worm in Game Of Thrones under his real name, Jacob Anderson – follows up his EP, Black and Blue with a collaborative effort alongside future R&B experimentalists, The Internet. Ms D, meanwhile, finally steps out of her supporting role for the likes of Wiley and Chipmunk on her new single, the Emeli Sandé-esque, My Pen.

Blog R&B meanwhile, heralds the forthcoming return of How To Dress Well, aka Tom Krell, whose third album, “What Is This Heart?”, is released in June and features twelve songs of broken-hearted mournful R&B that makes Drake sound like Aqua. Montreal producer Jacques Greene, meanwhile, follows up his previous two EPs with the more vibrant Phantom Vibrate, which includes the hip-hop influenced No Excuse, all cut up vocals and big drum claps. New out of the blocks, however, is the excellent 18-year-old American Jordan Bratton whose mixtape The Grey Area comes on like a slightly more naïve Frank Ocean.

After years of magazine articles and support slots, Australian-born rapper Iggy Azalea finally releases her debut album, The New Classic. Featuring guests Charli XCX (on the UK top 5 single, Fancy), Rita Ora and T.I, it’s mainly helmed by UK production outfit The Invisible Men, but also features work from Stargate, Benny Blanco and The Messengers. 2014 has also seen the return of rap heavyweight Rick Ross and relative newbie Schoolboy Q, whose album Oxymoron featured the likes of Tyler, The Creator, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, alongside production from Pharrell, who himself finally followed up his patchy 2006 solo debut, In My Mind, with G  I  R  L, but given his omnipresence, you probably knew that already.

Indie

Having carved themselves a unique niche within the UK indie scene, Kendal’s own Wild Beasts finally cracked the UK top 10 earlier this year with their fourth album, Present Tense. Utilising a more synth-lead sound the band’s transition into future festival headliners was completed by the sheer amount of lasers used on their recent live shows. That and the massive songs of course. Another band transitioning into a slightly more groove-based realm are Warpaint, whose self-titled second album was produced by Flood.

Flood crops up again as producer of Wolf Gang‘s forthcoming EP, The Black River – their first new material since 2011 – the epic title track of which mixes elements of everyone from Bastille to U2 to Arcade Fire. Someone else opening up their sound to let in elements of epic is St Vincent, whose self-titled fifth album – her first since she collaborated with David Byrne on Love This Giant – mixed beat-driven laments with some virtuoso, head-spinning guitar playing via the Alanis Morrissette-esque drift of Prince Johnny. Knotty, ever-changing indie-leaning songs are also the order of the day for UK newcomer Fyfe, formerly David’s Lyre. You should expect his debut album to ‘drop’ later this year, with a new EP due at some point in the summer.

While the mysterious BOOTS was being heralded by every critic for his production work on the latest Beyoncé album, his longterm friend and fellow Beyoncé employee Gambles was continuing with his bruised folk and synth-lead indie. The wonderfully frayed You Won’t Remind It, mixed by BOOTS, appeared online in April, signposting a slight shift in sounds for the EP, I Can’t Keep Still When It Comes To You.

Proper cardigan-bothering, emotionally fragile British indie is alive and well in the shape of over intellectual trio, Fear Of Men. With a name taken from an anxiety disorder (Androphobia) and with a remit to cover “crippling disconnection, boredom and sexual dread” in their songs, they make perfectly poised indie jangles that walk the fine line between lovely and melancholic, with frontwoman Jessica Weiss‘ sorrowful vocals lending their debut album, Luna, an almost unbearable sadness.

Dance

Stadium house/electro/EDM – call it what you will – is still the predominant force in the US and some countries, but in many others it has peaked and the backlash has started (see Lonely Island’s SNL sketch). Elsewhere, deep house – an ever-widening genre – is the main player, and increasing numbers of big house producers have taken note, so we are now seeing a fusion across the genres. So: a bigger, tougher house sound, but groover & techier than EDM – that still works in a stadium environment. Oliver Heldon’s “Gekko/Overdrive” is being tipped by Shazam as one of the hits of the summer the new MK mix of the irresistably-named Wankelmut’s ‘In My Head’.
Elsewhere, deep house is as big as ever, influencing pop (note Kiesza, above) and incorporating everything from disco (Duck Sauce’s ‘NRG’ & Patrick Toping’s “Forget” are really blowing up, as is ‘Pushing On’ by Oliver $) to UK Garage. Regarding the latter – what started with Gorgon City & Disclosure is getting ever-bigger, with a lot of old big-name acts suddenly appearing again. It’s still a bit early for 2-setp though: Four to the floor is still the order of the day but a 2-step revival could be just around the corner.

Songs You Should Not Miss

2 Wet – You’re The Best
2-1 SZA – Green Mile
2-2 Cher Lloyd – Sirens
2-3 Florrie – Falling Free
2-4 Charli XCX – Boom Clap
2-5 Bok Bok feat Kelela – Melba’s Call
2-6 Nimmo and the Gauntletts – Jaded
2-7 iamamiwhoami – Hunting For Pearls
2-8 Shamir – If It Wasn’t True
2-9 Mapei – Don’t Wait

Notes From The Music Industry

Ben Cardew is Aurotone’s business editor. He is also a regular contributor to The Independent, Music Ally & Music Week

Apple, iTunes & Beats

With a rumoured 90% share of the US download market, the idea that iTunes could be in crisis probably sounds ridiculous. And yet that is precisely the word being bandied about the digital music industry about Apple’s all powerful store, as summer 2014 moves into gear.

1a streaming-music-services

Evidence of this crisis – the naysayers believe – can be found in Apple’s decision to buy headphone maker / fledgling streaming service Beats for a cool $3.2bn.

Even before news of the acquisition leaked, Apple was said to be planning “the most dramatic overhaul of its iTunes music store in more than a decade” in response to this decline, all of which gives the music business considerable food for thought.

But why on earth would iTunes be in crisis? Streaming, essentially, and its effect on the download market, with digital track sales in the US in the first quarter of 2014 down by 12.5% year-on-year, according to Nielsen. Digital album sales – once seen as the saviour of the music industry – also fell, down 14.2% in the same period. And where the US leads, other music markets tend to follow.

The surprise is not so much that this is happening – even the most analogue-friendly of music industry execs probably accepts that streaming is the future. Rather, it is the speed of change: digital sales were meant to have a good few years of growth in them yet before slipping into a gradual decline.

For record companies, this is problematic. But if streaming income can eventually replace that of downloads – as has happened in Sweden, where digital income rose 5% annually in 2013 – then the decline of downloads may only be a temporary snag.

1B.applebeats

For iTunes, however, and Apple’s music business in general, a fall in download sales is potentially catastrophic. iTunes Radio – Apple’s entry in the streaming wars – has failed to take off, while Spotify, Deezer et al go from strength to strength. As a result, iTunes’ share of total label revenues is falling. And that, in turn, means Apple’s influence over the music industry is on the wane.

Adding to iTunes’ headache is the rise of Android, which accounts for around 70% of smartphones shipped worldwide, compared to iOS’s 24%, and which does not have its own version of iTunes. That’s a lot of phones that Apple is missing out on and in a lot of key markets too.

So what is Apple going to do with iTunes? No one really knows. But three moves seem possible.

The most immediately straightforward option would be to launch an Android iTunes app. This would shore up iTunes’ share of the mobile music market and – while Apple and Google remain intensely competitive – Apple does have history of opening up to competitors, launching iTunes for Windows in 2003.

More intriguing, perhaps, is the idea of an on-demand streaming service from Apple, which would represent a huge volte face for the company. And this is where Beats Music’s streaming service could come in.

For all the talk of iTunes Radio as a “Spotify killer”, the service actually follows the Pandora internet radio model rather than Spotify’s on-demand strategy: iTunes Radio users can skip tracks and customise radio stations but they cannot exactly choose what they want to listen to. That may be why the service has yet to really take off.

In any case, iTunes Radio is intended more as a way of driving download sales than as a standalone service. That puts iTunes Radio in a different market to Spotify and Beats, which are focused on streaming in and of itself.

Much of this is probably to do with the late Steve Jobs’ attitude to music streaming. He claimed in 2007 that consumers “don’t seem interested” in music subscription services, adding at Macworld the following year: “We’ve never offered a rental model in music because we don’t think people want to rent music.”

Six years on, Spotify has some 10m paying subscribers and Apple must surely realise that Jobs got this wrong. The Beats deal comes at least partially in response to this. The launch of an on-demand streaming service might be a great leap into the unknown for the company but acquiring Beats should give it a considerable head start.

The process would not be as straightforward as simply combining Beats Music and iTunes, of course, as it seems unlikely that Apple would be able be able to transfer Beats’ music deals to a service of its own. But buying Beats Music gives Apple considerable streaming expertise, as well as Beats’ much-lauded music-recommendation algorithm.

1C.beyonce

Apple certainly won’t forget downloads any time soon, though. In fact, you can expect to see some more Beyoncé-style exclusive releases coming to iTunes over the coming months. Beyoncé, lest we forget, released a shock eponymous album through iTunes in December, taking the music industry entirely by surprise. Crucially, the release was not just secret, it was also an iTunes exclusive, meaning that for a week the only way to hear the album was to go through the Apple store.

This provoked a great deal of griping from other retailers. And yet it proved a massive success for both Beyoncé and iTunes, with the album shifting some 828,773 copies in just three days and setting a new iTunes record. Such exclusives won’t turn around the decline of the download market, of course. But as sticking plaster solutions go, they can be pretty powerful.

Little surprise then, that the music industry is already abuzz with rumours as to who will be next to “do a Beyoncé”, with unconfirmed reports already promising something similar from “a major artist that you’ve definitely heard of” (although it won’t be Mariah Carey).

The next few months could be very interesting indeed for iTunes, then.

Music & Messaging – going where the teenagers go

2.Apps

The music industry has long been obsessed with teenage behaviour. So the incredible rise of messaging apps – especially among the core teenage demographic – has not gone unnoticed.

Already we are seeing the first fruits of collaborations between the music industry and messaging services: Paul McCartney launched a profile on messaging app / social networking service Line in October 2013, attracting 3.1m followers in just two weeks (more followers than he has on Twitter), while One Direction worked with Canadian messaging app Kik to promote their new album Midnight Memories at the tail end of last year.

These, however, are likely to be just the curtain raisers: with messaging apps predicted to hit 2.9bn users in 2017 (not to mention Facebook’s $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp), the music industry will doubtlessly find new ways in 2014 to use messaging to reach its key audience, much as it has embraced Facebook and Twitter.

Festival Season is Tech Season

3. festivalsWallpapers-Pics-Photos-Nicky-Romero-at-the-main-stage-all-hands-in-the-air-crazy-beats-crowd-view-from-behind

Anyone who retains fond memories of festivals as little deserts of isolation, far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, look away now: festival season 2014 is going to be the most technologically advanced yet.

And it’s not just that you’ll be able to get a mobile signal, either. Even the most obscure festival has its own app in 2014, while Coachella, which took place at the start of April, boasted a T-Mobile-sponsored YouTube channel and also used Apple’s micro location iBeacon technology to allow users to interact with beacons placed around the site.

The cashless festival is also close to becoming a reality, thanks to near field communication (NFC) technology, which allow punters to pay for their drinks, food and stupid hats by waving a weary limb at a payment terminal.

This shouldn’t really comes as a surprise: tech – and in particular mobile companies – have long loved festivals as a way of connecting with the youth. But in 2014, with smartphone penetration in the UK predicted to hit 75% of the population, technology is set to be inescapable in the busy festival market. Just remember to pack your charger..

Spotify Playlist

Spotify Playlist

spot14

Credits

Editor : Pete Martin
Pete Martin is Aurotone’s co-founder and creative director.

New Music Editor : Michael Cragg
Michael is the new music editor for The Guardian.
He is also a regular new music reviewer for Dazed & Confused and is features editor of Pop Justice.

Music Trends Editor: Paul Lester
Paul Lester is a music feature writer for the Sunday Times, and writer of the Guardian’s New Band of the Day feature

News Editor : Ben Cardew
Ben Cardew is a former News Editor for Music Week, the music industry’s best selling trade magazine; and is a regular music contributor to the Independent and Music Ally.

International Contributors:

Matteo Esse – Milan
Bobin James – Mumbai
Mark Russell- Seoul

Shawn Despres – Seoul
Pete Jackson – Shanghai
Ayomide Oluwasegun ‘Tayo – Lagos
Ivan Striga – Paris
Joe Sparrow – New York
Sean Michaels – Montreal
Héctor Vázquez – Mexico City
JP Souza / Diego Coreiro – Sao Jose dos Campos
Ian Martin – Tokyo
Dayna Young – Sydney
Miks – Sydney
Edo Van Duyn – Sao Paulo
Alexander Tzenkov – LA
Mary Chang – Washington DC
Kees Van Doorn – Cape Town
Kenneth Bager – Copenhagen
Arletta Przynoga – Copenhagen
Alex Payne – Almaty
Juan Fransisco Gacitua – Buenos Aires
Katrina Tan Kit – Manila
Karl Batterbee – Stockholm
Par Berglund – Stockholm
Alex Klimovitsky – Lisbon
Maxim Yarmov – Moscow
Tom Keil – Berlin
Denise Scott – Jamaica
Rainer Weichhold – Munich
Jon Sigfusson –Reykjavik
Greta Gotleib – Auckland

Web Design : Tim Waring

© 2014 Aurotone Ltd

www.aurotone.com