Money distribution for streaming music

From the listener perspective, we pay our monthly or annual fees and just turn on our music streams. The path those fees take from our wallet to musicians is less straightforward. For The Pudding, Elio Quinton does a good job of visually explaining where the money goes (and some of the better ways you can support artists).

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Money distribution for streaming music

From the listener perspective, we pay our monthly or annual fees and just turn on our music streams. The path those fees take from our wallet to musicians is less straightforward. For The Pudding, Elio Quinton does a good job of visually explaining where the money goes (and some of the better ways you can support artists).

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Examination of songs after virality on TikTok

Vox, in collaboration with The Pudding, looked at what happens when a song goes viral on TikTok. It heads down the TikTok-to-Spotify pipeline, which signals money to be made and draws labels to take advantage.

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Visual deconstruction of popular songs

Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding, for NYT Opinion, look at how the structure of songs have changed to fit with the current methods that people consume media:

It’s inescapable that today’s aspiring artists and songwriters must operate, for survival, in a landscape of streaming services and social media. From Spotify to TikTok, the goal is to create music that will grab a listener’s attention from beginning to end. You’re not just competing against other creators. You’re also competing against everything else that takes up our time: podcasts, TV, apps and more. So to keep streaming consumers engaged, it is increasingly common for songs to begin in medias res — with a hook, followed by a hook and ending with another hook.

Put your headphones on and turn the volume up for maximum effect. The combination of the songs, visual breakdown, and words work well together to help you understand song structure.

Now I know why my brain is often confused when I hear a full song, instead of a looping chorus on TikTok.

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Comparing live music recordings against the studio versions

There’s something about hearing music live no matter how many times you’ve heard a song record in the studio. Maybe the acoustics are different. Maybe the musicians play a favorite song differently. Maybe the musicians feed off a big crowd’s energy.

For The Pudding, Kat Wilson and Kevin Litman-Navarro quantified these differences between studio and live versions. The result is the Live Music Jukebox, which lets you pick an artist and see which songs differed the most.

I was just lamenting over returned concert tickets from 2020. I guess this’ll have to do for now.

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Defining ’90s music, based on song recognition

In search of songs that define music in the 1990s, Matt Daniels and Ilia Blinderman for The Pudding look for songs that that Gen Z still recognizes. Also, the songs that are mostly foreign to the younger generation:

In 1999, “Wild Wild West” was the song of the summer. Yet it is fading far faster than any other ’90s hit with comparable starting popularity. Twenty years ago, it was inescapable. Maybe Millennials are still too sick of it, even for nostalgia rotation. Perhaps it wasn’t even that great of a song to begin with, artificially inflated by Smith’s celebrity and cross-promotion with the film Wild Wild West.

Sorry, Will Smith.

The results are based on data gathered by The Pudding in an interactive survey.

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Remix and make music with audio from the Library of Congress

Brian Foo is the current Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress. His latest project is Citizen DJ, which lets you explore and remix audio from the Library:

It invites the public to make hip hop music using the Library’s public audio and moving image collections. By embedding these materials in hip hop music, listeners can discover items in the Library’s vast collections that they likely would never have known existed. For technical documentation and code, please see the repo.

Give it a go. Even if you’re not into making music, you can still explore the sounds, listen to them in their full context, and end up reading about some song written in the early 1900s.

I’ll take all the rabbit holes I can get.

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Looking for generational gaps in music

Inspired by the genre of YouTube videos where younger people listen to older music, The Pudding is running a project to find the generational music gaps. Enter your age, songs play, and you say if you know the song or not.

The aggregate results are shown as more people listen. For example, the above shows the percentage of people in a given age group who did not recognize the listed songs.

I’m looking forward to what they do with the finished dataset.

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Neural network generates convincing songs by famous singers

Jukebox from OpenAI is a generative model that makes music in the same styles as many artists you’ll probably recognize:

To train this model, we crawled the web to curate a new dataset of 1.2 million songs (600,000 of which are in English), paired with the corresponding lyrics and metadata from LyricWiki. The metadata includes artist, album genre, and year of the songs, along with common moods or playlist keywords associated with each song. We train on 32-bit, 44.1 kHz raw audio, and perform data augmentation by randomly downmixing the right and left channels to produce mono audio.

A lot of the time, generative music sounds artificial and mechanical, but these results are pretty convincing. I mean you can still tell it’s not from the artist, but many of the examples are listenable.

OpenAI also published the code.

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Testing the infinite monkey theorem

If you have a room of monkeys hitting keys on typewriters for an infinite amount of time, do you eventually end up with a Shakespeare play? For The Pudding, Russell Goldenberg and Amber Thomas put the infinite monkey theorem to the test directing the computer to randomly generate musical note patterns to match classic songs.

All said and done, the point here isn’t the real numbers, but the faith that given enough time, randomness will prevail. Will our experiment eventually play even the simple Nokia ringtone in our lifetime? Almost certainly not. Given enough time would it? Almost surely.

The experiment has been running for 10 days so far, currently working on “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen.

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