How TikTok is Ruling the Music Industry

By Amanda Barkin // Instagram @the_amanda_show 

TikTok is a video sharing app, much like Vine, where people can make 15-60 second video clips- lip syncing, dancing, and comedic skits are popular categories. TikTok has quickly become one of the most popular social media networks, and has even changed the way music is discovered.

Once a user uploads an original sound, it can be accessed and re-used by any user. This allows the song to reach vast, widespread audiences. TikTok’s algorithms also vary from other social media apps- instead of promoting popular users’ videos, they are constantly looking for new clips, and promote each video based on the amount of time other users spend watching it (if people are scrolling right past it or watching the clip the whole way through). This gives more videos and songs the opportunity to “go viral”.

The song ROXANNE by Arizona Zervas was released in October 2019, and after being used in hundreds of thousands of TikTok’s, it now sits in Today’s Top Hits playlist and has 485,000,000 streams on Spotify alone. For artists, TikTok is more than just a social media app, it’s a strategic platform for marketing their songs; It can turn an artist working alone in their bedroom into an internationally recognized star.

Not only can this app help new artists gain traction and popularity, but it can also help well-established artists promote new releases. The Chainsmokers, Jonas Brothers, Charlie Puth, 5 Seconds of Summer, and others have accounts where they post various genres of videos. These videos attract viewers to their personalities and help build their brand as artists. TikTok can help creators gain a fanbase that they didn’t have before, and help fans fall in love with more than just their music. TikTok continues to grow, reaching over 120,000,000 users, which will evidently continue to be a resource for artists in the music industry.

The Tea From John Ly

By John Ly // Instagram @jxhnly

Here’s the tea from me, John Ly.

Fine Line. Harry Styles’ second studio album…Average.

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many aspects of this album that make the album loveable but from my perspective, there was nothing ground-breaking about the album. On this project, Harry released three singles before revealing his entire album, Lights Up, Watermelon Sugar, and Adore You. All of these singles debut highly on the Billboard charts which was very much deserved as it created an uproar for what Styles’ was going to release next. Adore you, was a BANGER. IT slapped. It gave me everything. The music video? A concept. However…following those singles was his album…

Like I said earlier, the album isn’t terrible. Other than the previously released singles, Cherry and Falling were the only songs on the album that stood out to me. They made me cry. Both songs were raw and relatable, perfect for the brokenhearted. After that though…Harry, what happened?

The tracks after Falling became theatrical, an experimentation on old rock music with a Harry Styles twist. It was boring and had no replay value. Each track carried the same melody that repeated throughout the song and it was difficult for me to pay attention to the rest of the album. Two of the tracks, She and Fine Line were six minutes long which dragged out the album even more. When an artist releases songs that are more than the typical three to four minutes long it is essential to keep listeners entertained with some progression or tempo change, something that adds another “oomph” to the song. 

For example, Justin Timberlake’s song Mirrors was actually eight minutes long. It became one of his most well-known songs. Radios evened played the full song, not even a radio edit. Why? The song pulled listeners into a journey of emotions. From the changing of tempos, instruments, and melodies, the song was simply a masterpiece. Needless to say, if you want to make a song that is loooong, make it captivating. 

Fine Line as a whole would have been greater if the tracklist was mixed around a little. I know that Harrys’ intention was to separate his album into four different stories, but the concept became diluted with dullness. I needed an emotional rollercoaster from him but all I got is a flatline. 

I’m not a hater. I love Harry, his music, his fashion. I just expected more. So here’s the tea from me, John Ly. This album was not for me. Score?

5/10

John Ly is a College of Charleston student studying Arts Management with a Concentration in Music Industry. As a singer/songwriter himself, John plans to establish his own music career as a POP icon.

Follow John Ly on Spotify/Social to keep up!

"What Kinda Music" by Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes Single Review

By Coleman Gould // Insta – @cole_gould

As an avid Tom Misch listener, fan, and appreciator for over half a decade, I was incredibly pleased by his and drum virtuoso, Yussef Dayes, new single “What Kinda Music.” The song begins with an arpeggiated riff with out of time and alarming tom-hits from Dayes. Then, Dayes smacks you in the face with what he is famous for, a complex and powerful drum beat differing heavily from Misch’s typical bare-bones, “Boom Bap” style. 

The song is filled with curious and deep lyricism covering angst, confusion, and inner demons accompanied by heavy bass synthesizers that can be compared to a crossover of BadBadNotGood’s neo-jazz sound and LCD Soundsystem’s electricity. As their first single released for the duo’s forthcoming album of the same name, Dayes and Misch seem like a match made in heaven.

Misch, a consument jazz, soul, and hip-hop influenced and trained guitarist, decided to get out of his comfort zone for this single. Misch’s previous albums featured J-Dilla-influenced drum loops along side simple, catchy hooks and guitar phrases giving him a very laid-back ambient sound. Misch, known as a very respected and technical guitarist, focused more on his composing and songwriting rather than his trademark sexy guitar licks and simple yet tasty lyricism. 

Dayes, a freelance drummer and member of neo-jazz jam group Yussef Kamaal, is considered to be one of the most creative and explosive drummers of our generation. 

Although many have seen this album from the two coming from various Instagram teases featuring the two bountifully jamming for the past couple months, the pairing Misch and Dayes is both riveting and agape. Dayes’ loose, jam style drumming compliments Misch’s technical playing like peanut butter compliments jelly. I personally cannot wait to listen to this duo’s album, the two being my favorite guitar player and drummer currently. Their album is projected to be released on April 24, 2020 and a tour featuring the two should be announced any day now.

Coleman Gould is Junior at the College of Charleston majoring in Arts Management with a Concentration in the Music Industry. He is Lead Guitarist of local Charleston band, Tennis Courts.

What Does it Take to Make it?

By Margie Hussey // Instagram @margie_hussey

What is more important: stage presence or vocal talent? I truly believe it depends on the artist. Some artists have a combination of both onstage charisma and a beautiful voice, while others rely on one or the other to get by. 

This topic is subjective based on the audience and genre of music. While I would say Taylor Swift dominates all sides of performing from her lyrics, sound, performance, videos, and social media, others would say she gets more attention from starting drama, which is how I feel about Kanye West. Artists in the pop/rap/rock world feel more pressure to dramatize their live performances to cause more of a splash, while alternative/folk/indie bands are more inclined to keep things simple. It depends on what you like to see and hear. 

I appreciate when an artist can just stand in a spotlight, sing beautifully, and totally wow the audience; however, I can also appreciate singers that have elaborate costuming and choreography. When it comes down to raw talent, I judge artists on their ability to tell stories through music.

Stripping a performance of its gimmicks and extra add-ons is really telling of how talented an artist is. If an artist can do all of the above, they are unstoppable.

Music Farm Presents: Whitney, Forever Turned Around

by Haylee Miller // Instagram @hayleemmiller

The Chicago-native band, Whitney, made their debut in Charleston on Friday, February 7, 2020 to play a show at the Music Farm. Personally, I’ve thought for a while that the Farm would be a fitting venue for the band in terms of size and their fanbase here in town. I was super pumped when they announced the dates for their tour, Forever Turned Around.

 A girl-band from Japan called Chai opened the night with their punk rock dance music. This was unexpected and truly a sight to see. All four members of Chai are extremely talented musicians and I love that they are an all-girl band but their music was not particularly my taste. With that being said, Chai and Whitney made for a dynamic mix of music for the show, which I respected.

Whitney was formed in 2015 by lead guitarist, Max Kakacek and lead vocalist/drummer, Julien Ehrlich after the breakup of their previous band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. In 2016, Whitney’s first full length album Light Upon the Lake was released followed by their first headlining tour in Europe. Later, the album Forever Turned Around was released in 2019. In January of 2020, Whitney embarked on a North American tour titled after their latest album. 

The band played fan favorites like No Woman and Dave’s Song from their first album Light Upon the Lake as well as songs from their 2019 record, Forever Turned Around. They also performed one of my personal favorites, Valleys (My Love). The atmosphere during Whitney’s set was laid-back and chill, complementing their beloved indie folk sound. There was a lot of subtle head bopping, swaying, and singing along going on. 

The show was close to being sold out with a primarily college-aged audience. The Music Farm was the perfect venue to host Whitney, as I predicted. Small enough to create an intimate setting that matched the music but big enough to allow room for a good-sized crowd. 

Coming from a huge fan’s perspective, Whitney did not disappoint. From Julien’s stellar falsetto vocals to Max’s catchy and well executed guitar riffs, the show was nothing less than incredible. I would love for them to make it back to Charleston on their next tour but I’d also be willing to travel outside of the lowcountry just to attend another one of their shows.

 Well done, Whitney.

Haylee Miller is a junior at the College of Charleston studying Arts Management with a Music Industry concentration. Haylee has been an avid concert-goer for years and hopes to work in the music venue industry after graduation.

AI in the Music Industry: Cool or Scary?

By Alea Murray // Instagram @aleamurray

The world of technology has been evolving rapidly in the last two decades, and the music industry has felt those changes significantly, leading us into the streaming era (which we are currently struggling to navigate). This has proven to be a difficult transition for the formatting of how to monetize music. However, technology hasn’t seemed to negatively impact the creative processes of artists, in fact it has opened new avenues for creativity.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a controversial form of technology that scares many people (like Elon Musk) and excites others. As it evolves, its crossover with the artistic world is becoming more frequent. Just the other day my professor showed my class a video of a robot painting. An article from Music Business Worldwide was published recently about AI making a song that sounds exactly like Travis Scott, creating its own rap lyrics with solid rhymes, and producing its own beat. The article states, “A US-based digital agency, Space150, recently thought it would conduct a fun experiment: model Travis Scott’s sonic and vocal style via Artificial Intelligence, and see what original production AI might subsequently invent” (Ingham 2020). It goes on to talk about the song AI produced, and later reveals that there is a new LA based record label, SNAFU Records, that claims to be “the first full-service record label built on AI-music discovery”. The label has $2.9 million in seed funding and is operated by “technologists, A&Rs, producers, and creatives” (Ingham 2020). 

Now we’ve got to ask ourselves, is the idea of AI produced music something we want to encourage? If AI music finds its way into the mainstream, would that push out some real live artists or create even more competition for their livelihood? Morally and ethically, do we want to listen to art that wasn’t created from a living human that has emotions, relatability, purpose, and passion? The humanity in music and in art is something that people love to connect to, and they love to follow and get to know the artists as people behind the music. You can’t follow a machine on Instagram. Do we want to listen to music that was not created with intent, and by a machine? We must consider the implications of this for other artists and for the sake of the validity of art itself. AI, leave art to the humans.

Works Cited 

Ingham, Tim. “Artificial Intelligence Made a Song in the Style of Travis Scott. It Sounds Unnervingly like Travis Scott.” Music Business Worldwide, 16 Feb. 2020, http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/artificial-intelligence-made-a-song-in-the-style-of-travis-scott-it-sounds-unnervingly-like-travis-scott/.

Alea Murray is a senior at College of Charleston studying Arts Management with a Concentration in the Music Industry. As a singer/songwriter herself, Alea

Music Modernization Act: A Battle Won but the Fight is Still Going

By Abbey Shaffer // Instagram: @ab.shaffer

Streaming services are becoming more and more popular to use as a way for people to listen to music. Whether someone is listening on Spotify, Apple Music, or Sound Cloud doesn’t change that artists aren’t selling as much as they used to for CDs, vinyl’s, tapes, or even downloads. Streaming has proven itself to be a very convenient way for people to hear the music they love at a minimal cost.

Listening to music this way isn’t a problem either as the industry has found ways for artist to still receive some earned income from a number of streams. How this works is Spotify tracks how many times a song is played and pays the artist according to the Music Modernization Act (MMA) surrounding the topic. While this new way of listening is not a problem, there is still a major issue within the legislation itself. 

The listing price for one stream of music is barely anything and nothing compared to how much an artist would get from the purchase of a CD or even a paid download. Artists on Spotify specifically should expect somewhere around $7.50-$8.00 for 1,000 streams of one of their songs. That is not even half the price of how much one album cost and yet that is more than one album’s worth of streams. This isn’t fair to the artist and it is not sustainable for their lively hood either. 

The MMA that was passed in October of 2018 was a good way to have a stepping stone into the right direction of getting artist what they deserve. ASCAP’s admirable help with many artist backing the campaign was truly something to witness throughout our lives. This act was such a monumental point in our history as a legislative pice to be passed through office for rightsholders. However, it should not be expected to hold forever. While the current legislation was a battle to win, it is still a temporary shield for streaming services to hide behind. 

As 2020 continues to pass us by, we need to remember that artist deserve fair pay for their work and thus the amount per stream needs to be increased as they have rightfully earned. We need to remember that this act was not meant to be permanent but to have our foot in the door to a fair future for artist pay. 

Abbey Shaffer is currently studying Arts Management at the College of Charleston, with a concentration on the Music Industry. Shaffer intends to graduate from the College and kickstart her career within the music industry.