The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” Songwriter on Streaming: “People Writing the Music Are Getting Screwed”

The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” Songwriter on Streaming: “People Writing the Music Are Getting Screwed”

Over the past 19 months, The Chainsmokers' hit single "Closer," featuring New Jersey singer-songwriter Halsey, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, earned 7x Platinum certification by the RIAA and on Spotify alone has racked up 1.2 billion streams.

While the song's success on streaming platforms has meant a big payday for the production duo, their guest artist, and the record label—in this case, Disruptor and Columbia—the songwriters behind the record can't say the same thing.

On Thursday, in a series of early morning tweets, Canadian DJ, producer and songwriter Shaun Frank—one of six co-writers on "Closer"—revealed the royalty disparity between the artist/label and songwriters.

Based on the accounting table in his opening tweet, as well as the 1.2 billion streams "Closer" has generated on Spotify since its July 2016 release, Shaun and his five co-writers have, to date, each earned $100,000 from Spotify in streaming royalties. According to Shaun, this isn't something that can be negotiated, either. "There are no contracts for this," he later tweeted. "This is how the money is paid out when songs are streamed on the internet."

In hip-hop, more often than not, the artist is also the songwriter, which means the artist is essentially able to double dip, earning performance and songwriting income. However, if a songwriter works strictly behind-the-scenes without appearing on the song itself, which is a common practice in R&B and pop music, he or she shouldn't expect a future windfall. 

"Artists do fine. It’s the people behind writing their music that are getting screwed at the moment." —Shaun Frank

As Shaun points out in this third tweet, the imbalance in the streaming ecosystem is having an adverse effect on the quality and type of music being made. Without radio success or opportunities generated through a music synchronization license, a songwriter's long-term financial security is limited if streaming is their only major source of income. As a result, this means more songwriters will change their approach to songwriting in an effort to craft records that have a better chance to hit at radio. 

Not good.

We have reached out to Shaun for further comment on his experience.

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Rekordbox 5.1 Lets You Mix Lyric Videos

Pioneer DJ just released the latest version of its Rekordbox music management and performance software. Now at 5.1, the update includes a new Lyric Plus Pack for Rekordbox DJ where song lyrics appear on screen, similar to the lyric videos that you find on sites like YouTube. Lyric mode automatically downloads available lyric data for … Continued

The post Rekordbox 5.1 Lets You Mix Lyric Videos appeared first on Digital DJ Tips.

Automated Lighting Comes To Rekordbox DJ

Pioneer DJ just announced RB-DMX1, a hardware interface that syncs music you’re playing in Rekordbox DJ with DMX lighting. The RB-DMX1 connects to your laptop running Rekordbox DJ, and your lighting fixtures connect to the DB-DMX1. You can then code and “script” lighting commands for songs from within Rekordbox DJ using the forthcoming Lighting Mode … Continued

The post Automated Lighting Comes To Rekordbox DJ appeared first on Digital DJ Tips.

Rejjie Snow, Aminé & Kaytranada Team Up for the Ghostly “Egyptian Luvr”: Listen

Rejjie Snow, Aminé & Kaytranada Team Up for the Ghostly “Egyptian Luvr”: Listen

Now this is smooth.

Between the Kaytranda-produced grooves and Dana Williams' ghostly vocals, “Egypitan Luvr” finds Rejjie Snow drifting on another astral plane. The Dublin rapper first broke in 2016 for his ability to take the haze of lo-fi hip-hop and give it some teeth. A fine rasp to his delivery, Snow unearths the minutia that makes lost love so painful.

With an additional breezy guest verse from Aminé, the track tackles final moments and last memories with a gilded tone: “Do anything for ya, that's love / Go anywhere for ya, that's love / Might even kill for ya, that's love.”

“Egyptian Luvr” serves as the lead single for Snow’s upcoming debut record, Dear Annie, a 20-track album which drops February 16 on 300 Entertainment, for which the four-track first installment (Dear Annie, Pt. 1 EP) is available now.

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Jarren Benton Rips the Booth to Shreds for Ep. 15 of DJBooth & TIDAL’s “Bless The Booth”: Watch

Jarren Benton Rips the Booth to Shreds for Ep. 15 of DJBooth & TIDAL’s “Bless The Booth”: Watch

Jarren Benton has ripped the booth to shreds for episode No. 15 of our ongoing Bless The Booth freestyle series with TIDAL.

The Atlanta MC is fresh off the release of One Week Notice, a collaborative project with fellow spitters Dizzy Wright, Emilio Rojas, Audio Push and Demrick, that came about from the artists locking into the same Austin, TX studio for seven days. 

Shot at DJBooth’s SoHo, New York City studios, Bless The Booth showcases the lyrical dexterity of rappers both established and on the rise. Future guests include Duckwrth, Sylvan LaCue and more.

One Week Notice is available now for your listening pleasure, and you can head to our YouTube channel to watch past Bless The Booth episodes from Rapsody, G Herbo, Don Q, CyHi The Prynce, Wyclef Jean, Nyck Caution, Mir Fontane, Zoey Dollaz, Rob $tone, Jimi Tents, Khary, OMB Peezy and Kris Kasanova.

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Quarter Life Crisis: Exploring the Anxiety of Losing Control Through SZA’s ‘Ctrl’ Companion

Quarter Life Crisis: Exploring the Anxiety of Losing Control Through SZA’s ‘Ctrl’ Companion

Colliding with a tree a few feet from the road is what caused the spiraling machine to cease all movement. All was frozen, still. No injuries, no fatalities. Yet, in the midst of the calm madness, there was a sensation clawing beneath my skin as if to permanently bury a specific feeling within my jackhammer heartbeat.

Control could be lost. Even for a brief moment, losing control had consequences.

My first car accident started as a tickle of panic, the familiar nervousness of a car accelerating too quickly. Slowing down is the answer to alleviate the worry, slow down is what I told myself. But as my Ford Focus blitzed down the sloping hill and the tires rumbled off the road, it was too late. My first car was totaled that day―a casualty of carelessness, the sacrifice exchanged for a life lesson.

I think back to the collision each time SZA’s “Supermodel” is played, the intro to her debut album, Ctrl. Before she begins to sing, her mother speaks:

"That is my greatest fear / That if, if I lost control / Or did not have control, things would just, you know / It would be… fatal"

Fatal is an intense description of control and the concept of losing it. These are words realized through experience, soaked into the bones and tattooed upon the torso. Death has no presence on SZA’s acclaimed opus―the album is too much a reflection of life to explore fatality―but the powerful fear and the desire to maintain control exist as an overarching theme. SZA, as a black woman in her mid-20s, is able to examine conventional circumstances juxtaposed by the ongoing struggle to sustain a sense of authority over one’s life because it has become such a big part of life itself.

Listening to “The Weekend” is hearing how one man has manipulated the weekly schedules of two women vying for his attention. He is dominant, the center of pleasure and manager of time. Though SZA’s character describes their circumstances with confidence―sure he’ll be there no later than 10:30 for a weekend of love―her deeper desire for more has no influence over what has been decided. The Kendrick Lamar-assisted “Dove In the Wind” gives all sovereignty to the women, providers of pleasure, and the sacredness resting between their inner thighs. She holds the key to who enters and who doesn’t―all-powerful and unwavering to the undeserving.

During the Ctrl rollout, SZA arrived on Everyday Struggle and further explained the album's concept: “Control is a concept. You think about getting away from analog; control is an illusion, you try and force it.” M Kash, a contributing writer to Spotlightfirst, took the quote and analyzed how the album could be divided into three sections of illusory control types: Mind, Ego, and Heart. She touched on how love, hate, and fear are extensions of the control type foundation and how their influences manifest into how situations are handled in relationships. It’s a short but great look into the internal ramifications created by the concept and illusion of control:

“The illusion of control causes people to spend a lot of time creating techniques and strategies to prevent those ‘fears’ from manifesting in their lives. ‘Love’ can be defined as ‘a feeling of deep affection’, ‘an intense attachment to someone or something’. SZA has learnt from past experiences and is now able to ‘love’ and ‘provide’ for herself. There are a lot of songs throughout the album such as ‘Supermodel‘, ‘Garden (Say It Like Dat)’, ‘Drew Barrymore‘, ‘Prom‘ and ‘Normal Girl' which associate with ‘fear’. SZA’s fears include her insecurities and her place in such experiences. This highlights her ‘unconscious control mechanism’ which is often to find ways to not make ‘love’ a concern.” —"SZA, ‘CTRL’ and the ‘Illusion of Control’"

What will give Ctrl longevity and future significance is how its eternal theme connects with listeners who are too young to fully understand it, but who will encounter the varying degrees of control later in life; listeners who are living out the lyrics in their present, and those who remember when they were praying to survive their 20s, able to look back with new appreciation for the trials that lead to growth. The theme is a universal one, not tamed by time or constrained by age.

Living out your 20s often feels like gripping the steering wheel, attempting to stay on the intended course. You can know the direction and follow the map, but the road is filled with variables that can remove the command from your fingertips. Illusory control is internal, while there’s an external control that’s also a large part of growing up and growing old. This is why Quarter Life Crisis, the sophomore album by Marietta, Georgia's Kelechi, is a great companion project to SZA’s Ctrl. Throughout Ctrl, there’s a sense of crisis very specific to once you mature beyond adolescence but before you reach full adulthood. Quarter Life Crisis gives a voice to that sweet middle period, where you know the world but truly begin to meet it in the raw. This meeting tends to bring both joy and disaster, thrills and pain, uncertainty and self-assurance all at once.

We aren’t in control of who we are, and who we are born to. Kelechi understands this. He doesn’t curse his Nigerian black skin, but glorifies his heritage over a sample of Michael Kiwanuka’s “Black Man In A White World.” We don’t decide the world we come into, or how this world will treat us. When he raps of the police on “Bang With Us” he illustrates them as gang members. The lyric “My gang can turn fitteds to snapbacks, turn truth into lies, and kids into threats / My bullets turn niggas into hashtags” brings a haunting reality of what is well-known―there are people who h the ve power to control if you live or die and have done so with minimal repercussion. Videos of murders have made the images of black men and women being gunned down by police officers commonplace occurrences.

 

Irony can be heard on the album's first song, “Flowers”: while singing "I'm going to live forever" with the backing of a choir, a gunshot suddenly turns the soulful tune to silence broken only by a falling body. Immortality is the hope of children, death is the truth for the adult.

Morality and how little we control the end of our lives isn’t the only theme of Quarter Life Crisis, though. In a similar fashion as Ctrl, the album is wide-ranging and full of expansive themes told through various accounts that intertwine. Skits give QLC a linear story, one where Kelechi's phone calls and conversations with his brother, mother, and girlfriend bring familiarity to his world. He feels the pressure of the weight to either chase his dream or follow a more conventional path.

One of my favorite moments on the album is an awkward conversation with his mother, who is listening to her son explain why he’s dropping out of college to pursue music. “You are putting your life, your faith, in the hands of people,” she says once he explains how being a finalist in a contest could be his big break. It shows a shaky reluctance not to allow her influence to control his life while betting on uncertain variables not within his power to sway. All he has control over is the belief that it’ll all work out and the passion to follow it through to the end. The shadow of belief is doubt, to have one is to intimately know the other.  

Ctrl and Quarter Life Crisis both serve as a reminder that I’m not alone. The anxiousness and anxiety that has become second nature are shared by many, those other swirling cars are being stopped by trees. Both albums carry a similar sense of feeling young yet old, unfinished but evolving, still in search of self but recognizing who I am becoming. We want control, in love and in life; of our bodies and of our art. Albums for the hopeless romantics and dream chasers hoping to be the masters of their universes. We are in control, yet, we aren’t. 

Control is something we fight hardest for once we know the hopeless emptiness that comes with losing it. You will lose it. Maybe it will come early, maybe it will come late, but we all lose control. There are lessons awaiting in the loss.

By Yoh, aka Ford Yohcus, aka @Yoh31

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Global Digital DJ Census Winners Announced: Are You One Of Them?

We’ve just concluded the prize draw for our biggest ever Global Digital DJ Survey which saw a record-breaking 32,222 respondents join in. A massive thank you to everyone who took part! We’ve picked out all the winners, including one lucky grand prize winner who gets to take home a brand-spanking new Denon DJ Prime System … Continued

The post Global Digital DJ Census Winners Announced: Are You One Of Them? appeared first on Digital DJ Tips.

Rap, Writing, and Finally Giving My Grandmother Her Flowers

Rap, Writing, and Finally Giving My Grandmother Her Flowers

On January 8, I called my grandmother to wish her a happy birthday, but she didn’t remember who I was. Trapped at the intersection of dementia, Alzheimer's, and years of being improperly prescribed medication to the point of needlessly taking antipsychotics, her not recognizing my voice was a long time coming.

Still, everything happened too quickly. I refused to believe she was slowly deteriorating right under my nose. In a matter of months, she went from just having terrible hearing and a surly attitude to calling me every five minutes because she forgot we just spoke. And because she’s scared.

My grandmother is ending her life as a once-powerful woman, now being criminally robbed of her memories and good sense, but music and writing and love are all immortal. Time is fleeting, tomorrow is not promised, and I’m finding that yesterday may not even be remembered. So while she can still put two sentences together in her mind, here is an ode to the woman that raised my mother and damn near raised me.

“My grandma's passing / But I'm too busy tryna get this fuckin' album cracking to see her / So I apologize in advance if anything should happen” —Earl Sweatshirt, “Burgundy”

When it first became clear that my grandma was entering her final chapter, I saw her less and less. I had to focus on school, on working, on preserving my image of her as the woman who stomped down the block to demand one of the local boys put air in my basketball. I told myself she was going to forget all the times I didn’t see her, but I would never forget her slumped over on the couch, spitting into a plastic bag, unable to bring a spoon to her lips.

I was as angry as I was selfish. I couldn’t even bring myself to hear her voice, a shrill and scraggly mess. Worse off, I couldn’t bring myself to see the bigger picture. “And my priorities fucked up, I know it,” Earl said on “Burgundy.” Our actions are inexcusable, but I imagine we were both paralyzed with fear—I know I am. No matter the circumstances, my grandma was always in the right mind to love me. I owe the same to her.

“She can say in her voice, in her way that she love me / With her eyes, with her smile, with her belt, with her hands, with her money / I am the thesis of her prayers” —Chance The Rapper, “Sunday Candy”

As a first-generation American, my family history is predicated on sacrifices. Sacrifice and love, as my grandma showed me, are synonyms. At the spry age of 50, she left one of the few paying jobs in Soviet Russia to escape anti-Semitism. By way of an unexplained system facilitated by Israel, she was forced to give up her property, her citizenship, and almost all of her savings for a three-month visa in Austria and the chance to give my mother a better life. After a holding period, they were finally given refugee status in Italy for half a year, and after months of waiting, made it to America—America being South Brooklyn, New York.

Yet when I saw her two weeks ago, she was nothing more than loose flesh wrapped around a deformed skeleton. Still, somewhere between the pain and the thick fog holding her mind hostage, she managed to put an arm around me and ask if I’m still writing. Not two minutes later, she forgot our conversation and asked me what I’ve been doing. I tell her I’m writing, she gasps. Me? Writing? Anything can happen in America.

My grandma never explained her sacrifices to me, and for most of my childhood, nothing that she did made a lick of sense. She’d chase me down with a piece of fish skewered on the end of a sharp knife, begging me to eat. At nine, I thought she was crazy. I wish I understood sooner that she lived through war and famine, that when she said her heart was seizing up because I wasn’t eating, she meant it. I now know that this was her loving me more than I could ever fathom.

“Laila is my grandmother. It’s my maternal grandmother. Just growing up she always said, give me my flowers while I’m here. You grow up and you realize what it really means, showing them your love and your appreciation through a phone call or a text. It’s not always physical flowers. It can be but I just wanted to tie it to the music and this is my way of giving back.” —Rapsody, explaining the concept of 'Laila’s Wisdom.'

Too often, a loss makes me selfish and self-pitying, but my grandmother deserves better. Her harsh exterior aside, she worked until her bones were brittle and her hands crooked, and all the while she redefined what love could mean. I can count on my one hand the number of times she sat me down to tell me she loved me, but we’d need all of New York to come together to count the number of times she proved love was a verb.

My grandma’s wisdom was quiet. She taught me and my mother that there was no age limit on dreams, that there was nothing stopping either one of us from being as strong as her. By example, she taught me about grit and self-worth, and that anyone trying to cut me down does so out of fear. I can only hope that for years to come, her wisdom will continue revealing itself to me when I’m ready, and when I’m least expecting.

The damning mystique of the matriarch is that I always imagined that she would live forever; she’s already lived through the unimaginable. I don’t know what will come tomorrow or the next day, but I do know that at the very least, my grandmother will live forever on the page.

This is the formal start of her final bouquet.   

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Meet Jack Harlow, a Louisville Rapper Who is Much More Than “Just a Person Rapping”

Meet Jack Harlow, a Louisville Rapper Who is Much More Than “Just a Person Rapping”

Twenty seconds into Jack Harlow’s eerie “Dark Knight” video and my only thought was, “How is no one talking about this?” Harlow hoses down a trap beat with a concentrated stream of bars, all while bouncing around an alley and shoulder-shimmying his way into my heart. Clocking in at two minutes and 16 seconds, the single led me down a rabbit hole of semi-serious music videos and three full projects, each one crafted better than the next.

Moving from The Handsome Harlow EP to 18, to late 2017’s Gazebo, I listened to a young man find his confidence, dissect his toxic relationship with sex, and revamp an otherwise tired coming of age narrative for hungry rappers. My burning question evolved into a desire to learn more about the young artist.

Harlow’s story begins in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks to his mother, who is an avid fan of hip-hop, Harlow was introduced to a wide range of artists, listening to everything from A Tribe Called Quest to Eminem. “From there, it was on me and what I wanted to listen to, which became Drake,” Harlow tells me over the phone. There’s an attractive drawl in his speaking voice that makes him all the more charming and magnetic.

That energy intensifies as he gets into his Louisville pride. The city has played a cardinal role in molding Harlow as a creative. “I came from a part of Louisville that’s pretty diverse, with a lot of creative things going on,” Harlow says. “Louisville is a little more special [than other cities], there’s a little more weirdness in the air.

“Some people from Louisville will go so far as to not claim Kentucky, they’ll say they’re from Louisville, Louisville. I’m not one of those people. I’m proud to be from Kentucky. The experiences that I had as an individual, you know? The girls I talk to, the things I get into, the stories I have, it’s all about where I’m from.”

Yet two years ago, a younger and admittedly misguided Harlow didn’t see himself as a Louisville rapper. No, he saw himself as a rapper who happened to find himself in the city. This distinction, Harlow explains, came from a place of ambition.

“You just Nardwuar’d me,” he says while attempting to return to his old headspace. “I just found that a lot of times, I had aspirations for outside of the city. I was just getting introduced to the idea of a hip-hop scene, it was something about it that made me feel like there was a lot of people in the city that had [music] as a hobby, but didn’t wanna take it seriously and go anywhere.”

Presently, Harlow makes clear that he’s far from a Louisville one-off. “There’s a lot of people in Louisville pushing for what I’m pushing for, and there’s a lot of talent coming out,” he says proudly, also mentioning his collective Private Garden as well as The Homies. Though the city doesn’t have a definitive sound, Harlow holds firm that they can get there—collectively. In the meantime, though, Louisville remains a hotbed for raw talent.

Equally instrumental to Harlow’s early artistic development were the melodies and dogged women-chasing narratives that comprised classic country music, a genre his father shared with him. Women are a common subject in Harlow’s music, but he approaches sex with a vexed pen. Sex quickly moves from an achievement to a vice to a sordid topic on Gazebo. While I didn’t expect someone so young to approach sexuality with such nuance, everything clicks once Harlow explains that he has been passionate about writing since age 12.

“I was always into writing, when I was in school I liked writing papers and writing in general,” he says. “Hip-hop was a new way to do it [...] I’ve always said that every kid wants to be a rapper, whether they do it or not, I feel like most kids have written a rap. It was just a dope way to express myself.” His love for hip-hop, dubbed by him as “the coolest shit ever,” grew in tandem with his love for writing and recording music.

But if every kid wants to be a rapper, at what point did Harlow make the transition into a fully-fledged artist? “Maybe when I was 16 or 17,” he muses. “I still have days where I don’t think of myself [as a rapper]. It’s hard to pinpoint that transition.”

Though I mistook this admission as a moment of self-doubt, Harlow clarifies that he has no doubts about his recording career. “As an artist, I just feel like a kid trying to make some raps,” he explains. “There are moments, of course, where I’m very serious. I believe in myself to be able to accomplish all of this. There are just days where you’re like, ‘Man, I’m just a person rapping.’”

At this point, the mystique of Jack Harlow begins to unravel. His humility and humanity make the music approachable and memorable. Filled with images of cul-de-sacs, spying neighbors, “Wasted Youth,” and all the other makings of a feel-good '90s flick, Harlow’s music thrives because he writes what he knows. Anyone can be a good artist, but it takes a believable act to achieve greatness. In that breath, Harlow is sitting on a goldmine.

“I think I’m just a self-aware person, often to a fault,” Harlow says in regards to his relatability. “I’m thoughtful about what I’m writing and how I’m representing myself.”

Harlow’s methodical personality is present all over Gazebo. Opening track “Eastern Parkway” is a measured rumination, the sonic embodiment of a late night drive home from a night gone wrong. Meanwhile, the more morose and melodic “Maybe” works as a series of questions probing at the gray area between sadness and depression.

Even so, Harlow is conscious that too much methodology could sour his music. “It sounds weird, but sometimes I wish music was objective,” he admits. “I can knock out so many tasks for things that are objective—I’m an efficient person. Music is all about feelings and being subjective. So one thing I’ve had to do as a person is grow from being analytical and just move off of what feels right.”

This mindset has translated into Harlow submitting to the process and allowing himself to make bad music and write weak songs, all in an effort to grow organically.

“We have no patience because of how quickly we can get everything right now,” Harlow notes. “I think it’s hard for people in my generation to make shitty stuff […] You can’t always hit the mark, and that’s what I was talking about with having no patience. You’re not always going to make fire, you have to go through making that weaker stuff before you’re gonna get the fire.”

How does Harlow summon his fire? Churning and burning through the recording process, with an emphasis on mood. His three projects were released in the span of two and a half years, but Harlow reveals he would have actually preferred to move faster.

“It’s easier for me to create in a shorter timespan,” he explains. “But it has to feel good to me every time, from the first bar I start writing. There has to be that feeling that ‘This is me, this is real, this is genuine,’ and when it’s genuine it really hits. That’s how you make something profound, and profound doesn’t mean deep or serious. Profound means something that feels real and feels right.”

As Harlow sorts through his feelings, he’s working on sustaining vibes and finishing songs. Following his recent move to Atlanta, and a record contract with Atlantic Records, he’s started work on over 100 songs. By the time this interview is published, he’ll likely have 100 more.

Before we said our goodbyes, I asked Harlow if he had any advice for young artists who might be too scared to follow their dreams. With full conviction he told me: “Man, it’s what I tell everybody: you’re gonna die. You might as well get it jumping and see what happens.”

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DJ Mixer Professional gets v3.6.9 macOS High Sierra update

DJ Mixer Professional gets v3.6.9 macOS High Sierra update

DJ Mixer Pro DJ SoftwareHere's to the plucky underdogs who keep doing what they do, largely under the radar and unknown by far too many. One such DJ software product is DJ Mixer professional, that despite having all the requisite features, languishes in relative obscurity. V3.6.9 is out and delivers macOS high Sierra compatibility.

For the very best in DJ gear news, check out DJWORX.

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