Drowned in Sound
By Sean Adams
Drowned in SoundNov 30, 2023
Journalism Without Borders: Julia MacFarlane On Recording Global History (DiS018 | S2 EP10)
What can the music press learn from traditional news journalism in war zones and TV studios?
As Drowned in Sound's podcast season looking at the future of media media continues, we wander into the world of international journalism with award-winning reporter Julia MacFarlane. From her in-depth coverage of major global events to her journey from the BBC to ABC News, Julia shares her unique insights into the art of reporting and the challenges of conveying truth in an age of misinformation.
- From Beirut to Brexit: Julia discusses her experiences covering critical global events.
- The 'One Decision' Podcast: Learn about Julia's co-hosting experience with former Chief of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove, where she interviews experts on a range of pressing topics.
- Challenges of Modern Journalism: Julia reflects on the importance of accuracy and impartiality in journalism, especially in high-stakes international reporting.
- Self-Shot Journalism: Julia discusses the challenges and rewards of self-shooting journalism and the necessity of recording events impartially and accurately.
- The Power of Personal Stories: Understand the role of personal narratives in making complex global issues relatable and understandable.
- "Recording events as they happen is vital... it's important to have professionals who are trained to record things accurately and impartially." - Julia MacFarlane
- "The BBC was a crucial connection to home and world events for English-speaking families abroad." - Julia MacFarlane
- "In filmmaking, whether you're a solo journalist or part of a team, finding compelling stories and voices is essential." - Julia MacFarlane
- [02:06] Julia's Background and Career Path
- [14:03] Challenges and Responsibilities in Journalism
- [29:17] Insights from 'One Decision' Podcast
- [34:23] Navigating Journalism in the Digital Age
- For more on Julia MacFarlane's work, check out the "One Decision" podcast and follow her on social media (Linkedin | Instagram | X | Threads).
- Enjoyed this episode? Share it with a friend or leave us a review on Apple or Spotify.
- For updates about Drowned in Sound, subscribe to our Substack newsletter
Hosted and Produced by Sean Adams.
The Music Press Paradox: Is 'Traditional Media' Still Relevant for New Artists? (DiS017 | S2 EP9)
Does the music industry still need the music press? Do new acts still care about media coverage?
Explore the shifting landscape of music promotion in the digital era with Atlanta Cobb, the award-winning Music Business Coach and manager of multi-platinum selling artists.
In this episode, Drowned in Sound's founder Sean Adams delves deep into the existential questions surrounding the relevance of traditional music press in a time of TikTok. Atlanta shares her journey from Florence + The Machine fan site creator to consultant and coach, aiding hundreds of artists in navigating their evolving careers.
Key Topics and Time Stamps:
- 00:00 The Changing Role of Music Press
- 00:13 Audience Consumption Shift
- 00:51 Insights from a New Generation Music Consultant
- 01:34 Challenges in Getting New Artists Coverage
- 02:15 Decline of Music Press Influence
- 03:48 Rise of Social Media in the Music Industry
- 05:05 Reality of Music Consumerism
- 06:44 The Impact of Press on an Artist's Career
- 09:58 Role of Fan Communities in Music Promotion
- 10:19 Atlanta's Journey into the Music Industry
- 21:22 Impact of Press Quotes in Marketing
- 28:10 Effects of Social Media on Artists
- 29:51 Power of Audience and Fans in Music
- 30:55 Potential of Social Media Platforms
- 36:55 Role of Social Media in Music Promotion
- 51:00 Struggles of New Artists in Today's Industry
- 57:10 Need for Adaptation in the Music Industry
- 58:18 Closing Thoughts: The Love for Music
Insightful Quotes from Atlanta Coombs:
- "Consistency is crucial, both in how press champions artists and how I advise my artists in their promotional strategies".
- "The industry's trend towards TikTok and social media metrics often overlooks talented artists who lack massive followings or resources".
- "The music industry needs to find different approaches to adapt and evolve, especially in how artists release music and engage in storytelling".
- "It's like the wild west out there in the music industry, but having a deep love for it is essential to navigate its complexities and stay the course".
About Atlanta Cobb: Atlanta's rich background includes roles at Island Records and Columbia Records, working with artists like Post Malone and Drake. Atlanta was recently a day-to-day Artist Manager at Crown Talent & Media Group, working with artists such as Becky Hill, Ella Henderson, and Camden Cox.
- Atlanta on TikTok
- Learn more about Atlanta's mentoring for new artists
- Subscribe to Drowned in Sound's Substack newsletter for thoughts and advice on the modern music industry
Subscribe and Follow:
- To stay updated with the latest in the music industry and Drowned in Sound episodes, subscribe to our podcast and follow us on our social channels.
Doesn't Ads Up: If $600 billion a year is being spent, why are so many publications closing? (DiS016 | S2 EP8)
In a digital world awash with advertising money, why are music publications and media outlets facing extinction?
As we explore the future of the music press, we take a detour into the world of marketing to help make sense of the economics of the media landscape. Especially as the brilliant Jezebel closed last week and so far this year we've seen huge amount of job cuts across the media (especially at media behemoths VICE and Buzzfeed) and the closure of publications like Gal-dem.
Drowned in Sound's founder Sean Adams invites Darren Hemmings, mastermind behind Motive Unknown and a trailblazer in music marketing, to unravel this paradox. Together, they dissect the perplexing reality of a booming online ad industry ($600 billion a year according to this piece for Harvard Business Review) juxtaposed against the decline of traditional ad-supported music press. From the intricacies of connecting with music fans to the future of music media in the digital era, this episode promises an enlightening journey into the heart of the industry's current conundrum.
- The Advertising Enigma: A look at how $600 billion is spent annually on online ads while media industry job losses and publication closures continue to rise.
- Marketing, Money, and Music: Darren sheds light on the challenges of building an audience for artists and spreading music beyond existing fans.
- The Art of Connection: Insights into the essence of marketing as not just a transaction but a meaningful connection with audiences.
- Strategies Behind Chart-Topping Successes: The tactical approach to getting artists like Wet Leg and The 1975 to the number one spot.
- The Evolution of Targeted Advertising: Discussing how the granularity of targeted ads has transformed over the years, impacting the way artists reach their audience.
- The Rule of Seven in Music Marketing: Exploring the multitude of touchpoints required to persuade someone to invest in music or a product.
- The Role of Indie Sector in the Evolving Music Ecosystem: A critical look at the role and response of the independent sector in shaping the music ecosystem amid major label strategies like Universal's investment in NTS.
Notable Quotes - "Marketing is about connecting with people in a way that doesn't treat them like a cash cow." - Darren Hemmings. - "There's a misconception that marketing for big artists like Robbie Williams is challenging, but in reality, they are the easiest to market due to their established fanbase." - Darren Hemmings. - "We've reached a point where you don't need to buy banner ads on music websites because you can target their readers on Facebook." - Darren Hemmings. - "I've become that person where every headline I write is a question. It's playing the game almost inadvertently." - Darren Hemmings. Related Links - Motive Unknown - Darren Hemmings' Network Notes Newsletter - Subscribe to Drowned in Sound on Substack
Darren Hemmings is at the forefront of digital marketing in the music industry as the founder and managing director of Motive Unknown, a strategic marketing consultancy. With a keen eye for the evolving landscape of digital advertising and a deep passion for music, Darren has led innovative marketing campaigns for a diverse array of artists and labels. His impressive roster includes influential acts like The Spice Girls, Wolf Alice, Jungle, Moby, Run The Jewels, Robbie Williams, Underworld, alt-J,, and prominent labels such as Sony Music, Dirty Hit, AnjunaBeats, AEI, Partisan Records, Warp Records, AWAL, LuckyMe, Lex, Platoon, Because Music, Mass Appeal, and B-Unique. Darren's expertise and insights offer a unique perspective on the intersection of music, marketing, and digital media, making him a sought-after voice in the industry.
This episode was produced, researched, and hosted by Sean Adams.
PROG Editor Jerry Ewing on Magazine-making, Kate Bush, Genre Journalism and more (DiS015 | S2 EP7)
How do you become a magazine editor? And what’s it like running a genre-specific title in 2023?
In a world where the digital age is rapidly redefining media, Sean Adams (@seaninsound) meets a titan of the magazine world, Jerry Ewing, editor of PROG magazine for a rare interview. From his roots starting a Marillion-inspired fanzine to being at the helm of genre-defining publications such as Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, Jerry's journey is a testament to the enduring power of specialist knowledge and passion-driven journalism.
The Genesis of a Genre Journalist: Jerry recounts the serendipitous moments that led him from crafting a fanzine to steering the course of iconic music magazines.
The Art of Magazine-making: Delve into the craft of curating content for a niche audience, the evolution of magazines in the internet era, and the potential resurgence akin to vinyl's comeback.
Defining the Undefined: What is progressive rock? Jerry challenges the conventional confines, advocating for a broad, idea-driven definition that encompasses the innovative spirit of the genre.
Adapting to the Beat of Change: The discussion turns to the seismic shifts in media consumption and the strategies for staying relevant in a landscape transformed by technology.
The Human Touch: Jerry envisions a future where the human element is not just a feature but a proud declaration in magazine-making.
Notable Quotes from Jerry Ewing:
"Progressive music's reach is quite wide... It's the ideas and the approach to making music that sets them apart."
"Understanding your readers is crucial... Be comfortable with your readership, and they'll feel comfortable with you."
"The editor guides the magazine... decides what goes in it, helps point the tone."
"For our readers, it's the music that matters... They're not interested in sex, drugs, and rock and roll."
"Communication between human beings is at the root of journalism."
From Court Jester to PROG: Jerry's DIY beginnings and the transition from fanzine to professional journalism.
The Inclusive Vision of Prog: Embracing a wide spectrum from prog metal to experimental indie, Jerry's editorial direction is as diverse as the genre itself.
The Editor's Role: Setting the tone and creating a dialogue with music aficionados, Jerry's editorial philosophy is about crafting a space for in-depth musical exploration.
The Vinyl Moment for Magazines: Speculating on the tangible allure of print in the digital age, and the unique value it could regain.
Tech-no-logic: NBC's Kat Tenbarge on Culture & Tech Reporting (DiS014 | S2 EP6)
What can the music press learn from reporting on technology and content creators?
In the ever-evolving landscape of music and technology, where do the twain meet and diverge? Drowned in Sound founder Sean Adams meets NBC News' tech and culture reporter, Kat Tenbarge. With her finger firmly on the pulse of internet culture and the influencer economy, Kat's expertise, honed at Insider through investigative forays into the complexities of digital fame, offers a fresh perspective on the symbiosis between tech and tunes.
- Read Kat's reporting on NBC here.
- Q&A about how Kat reported on the David Dobrik allegations for Insider
- Kat's piece about Angelina Jolie and Amber Heard
- Find Kat and her tweets about Evan Rachel Wood and others cases against Marilyn Manson here
- Reporting: 'Free Britney' organizers and influencers took over a bar, threw a drag brunch, and blasted Britney Spears in a weekend devoted to the pop star
- Follow Kat on Threads here
- Reporting: How Tory Lanez trial bloggers are shaping the conversation around Megan Thee Stallion
- Also mentioned on this podcast was the defunding Check My Ads and Stop Funding Hate
- Podcast recommendation: Offline by Crooked Media
"The Influencer Economy": Sean and Kat unravel the fabric of online influence, pondering its implications on cultural consumption and the MeToo movement's resonance within this sphere.
"Music and Memes": They delve into the curious interplay of internet culture and the music industry, where virality can be both a career catalyst and a capricious whirlwind.
"Ethics in the Age of Exposure": The conversation takes a contemplative turn, probing the moral compass guiding journalists amidst the relentless glare of the digital age.
"The Future of Influence": Kat shares her prognostications on the influencer culture's trajectory, contemplating its impact on the internet's burgeoning denizens.
This podcast was produced, researched, and hosted by Sean Adams (@seaninsound), the founder of Drowned in Sound website (est. 2000). For more deep dives into cultural currents and explorations of the musical zeitgeist, tune in and subscribe to DiS' Substack.
Quotes from this episode:
- “I’m telling the story of our downfall as it's happening” on reporting on the downfall of the media
- “Honestly, one of the most, like, mind bending things to watch someone like say to the public what they do and then have those people turn around and be like, he could never do this.” On Marilyn Manson
- “I think that reporting that takes a point of view is actually going to be what is successful”
- “This is a period that's going to redefine the next few centuries.
- "The way that technology has evolved in the past 15 years. is going to change the rest of history. It already has”
- “I worked at News websites that were dominated by the clicks and the traffic. And I recognized that in order to get people to click on something, there had to be conflict. This is how all storytelling, whether it's fiction or non fiction, works. You have to have conflict. There has to be a narrative. Um, if you're telling a story about a new product being launched, no one's going to click on that unless There's some element of this product launched and it's offensive “
Big Time Intersectionality: Cultural Revolutions vs Pop In A Time of Populism (DiS013 | S2 EP5)
Shouldn't all music journalism be intersectional?
In this episode, DiS founder Sean Adams meets journalist, writer, editor, and wonderful human Emma Garland who has written for Vice, Huck, The Quietus, The Face, Crack, Dazed, Sunday Times, Rolling Stone and many more great publications about everything from revolutions in Iran to the pleasures of Lana Del Rey. Emma's interviewed everyone from Emily Ratajkowski to Lingua Ignota, capturing their essence in a style of writing inspired by the journalists from a more literary tradition like Joan Didion and Hunter S Thompson.
The conversation begins about the differences between journalism, culture writing and music criticism, before spiralling in a range of directions from psychoanalysing the cast of Love Island to the way the culture war means interviewees are now a lot more guarded because they're speaking far beyond the readers and their fans.
Emma Garland shares insights into her creative process, using humour to tackle weighty topics and how she spotlights underrated artists and big ideas, often at the same time.
We discuss concerns over limited career pathways for emerging writers and calls for more sustainable funding models for music publications (if there are any rich benefactors out there, please get in touch).
Additional topics include:
- The changing appetite for music journalism in the digital age
- Challenges pitching profiles versus reported features
- Activism in music media
- Hopes for more focus on grassroots artists
- What needs to change leading up to future UK and US elections
Guest Bio: Emma Garland is a writer, editor, and journalist with a knack for capturing the zeitgeist of contemporary music and culture. With a career spanning over a decade, Emma has become a voice for countercultural narratives and a champion for the kind of editorial that combines fun with serious critique. Her upcoming book, "Tell All Your Friends," promises to be a seminal work in understanding the cultural history of mainstream emo from 2000-2013 (more info).
Read Emma Garland's article on women's role in music's political revolution, here.
Read the Vice and Gal-Dem MeToo coverage, here.
For a monthly dose of cultural insights, subscribe to Emma Garland's newsletter, here.
Visit: Emma Garland's Website
About The Host:
Want to keep up to date? Sign up for DiS' Substack here.
A Few Publications Mentioned in This Episode:
Crafting DIY Magazine: Emma Swann on Two Decades of Music Writing, Editing, Printing and Website-ing (DiS012 | S2 EP4)
What's it really like to edit a music website?
DIY Magazine co-founder Emma Swann joins DiS founder Sean Adams on season two of the Drowned in Sound podcast about the future of music journalism.
We journey from the early days of the website to its current print & online format with a discussion that contrasts and compares DiS & DIY's stories, the thrills, the challenges, building a trusted voice, how brilliant the new Bully album is, some White Stripes fandom, a fair few mentions of Wolf Alice, red carpets, and much more.
We explore DIY's origin story, the value of human curation versus algorithms, and whether print magazines could make a comeback. Emma shares her unique perspective from the front lines of music media.
"Music journalism isn't just about reviews; it's about making connections, about showing the humanity behind every note."
"Print magazines have their own magic; they offer a pause, a moment of engagement you won't find online."
Climate Change x Pop Culture: No Music Press On A Dead Planet (DiS010 | S2 EP2)
Is music journalism’s future at the intersection of society’s bigger issues?
Journalist, podcaster and climate communicator Greg Cochrane shares how interviewing ANOHNI changed his life, what it was like editing NME’s website, the joy of being involved in Loud & Quiet magazine plus a little bit about writing for The Guardian, interviewing Lady Gaga for the BBC, and plenty more.
The focus of our conversation is around the importance of understanding the intersection between the climate emergency and culture. “We need more stories about what’s happening” said Greg, in a really moving section of the podcast involving his hopes for the future of journalism. Toward the end, we also touch upon the economics of media and the creative economy as a self-sustaining ecosystem, including a shout out to Novara Media’s subscription model where people are encouraged to donate an hour of their salary.
Read Greg’s life-changing interview with ANOHNI
Greg’s coverage of Billie Eilish’s recent “solutions focussed” Overheated event can be found here
Rebecca Solinit on hope in an age of climate boomers is here
Subscribe to the Sounds like a Plan music & climate podcast that Greg co-hosts with Fay Milton (from Savages, co-founder of Music Declares Emergency and new music project Goddess)
Learn more about Greg’s work with Heard - the communications charity who support individuals and organisations to tell better stories on climate. https://heard.org.uk/articles/climate-stories-that-work-turning-awareness-into-action/
Listen to Loud & Quiet’s podcast and subscribe to the magazine
Learn more about the Reuters Institute’s Oxford Climate Journalism Network
From Fugazi and Beastie Boys to The Royal Society: Kickstarter's co-founder on the future of Media (DiS011 | S2 EP3)
How will the music media of the future be funded?
In this episode Sean Adams is in a conversation with Kickstarter's co-founder, Yancey Strickler delve into the impactful musical legacies of Fugazi's Dischord label and Beastie Boys' Grand Royal and discuss the forward-thinking ethos of The Royal Society, a prestigious fellowship of the world's most eminent scientists.
Yancey is a big thinker, a music lover, writer and a 'zine publisher. He wrote about music for Pitchfork, Village Voice, eMusic (with many of the current Bandcamp Editorial team) and more, before becoming a notable figure in creative project funding at Kickstarter and now Metalabel. He shares a wealth of insights on the intersection of music journalism and the quest for authentic creative expression in the digital age.
- Discover more about Yancey's work on ystrickler.com or follow him on Twitter @ystrickler.
- Learn more about The Royal Society
- Read Yancey's viral essay on The Dark Forest Theory
- Discover Meta Label, an endeavour aimed at building infrastructure for the creative economy and making collective projects easier.
- Read about Grand Royal's fleeting yet impactful existence (The Atlantic).
Some Yancey Strickler quotes from this episode:
"To use the most obvious example, but you know, what if Taylor Swift had a magazine, right? Like, what if? What if Taylor Swift wanted to create a space to platform things that she celebrated, the things that she cared about, things she thought her fans wanted."
"Frank Ocean has been on that, you know, I think a lot of people in the hip-hop space have done a lot of creating wider platforms for themselves through fashion. Through other lines of cultural output that I think have proven to be extremely meaningful."
"...what is music journalism? I'm just gonna say it's ethnography and I'll go to your cartography comment. To me it's explaining lineages... What are the connections? What are the origins? What is the broader sweep in which this work appears? ...like, take me inside a world I wouldn't know otherwise. Help me appreciate that world the way people inside do. And I would say any, any, any piece, anybody that can do that I'm interested and that I think is a, true service and not that music journalism needs to be a service, but if I think it, how do you elevate above sharing an opinion, which is something that anyone can do. And so that has been rendered... Mapping the context, making that context, something that people can appreciate, that I think is maybe the highest form it can attain."
Activism & Music Journalism: The Big Issue's Venue Watch Campaign (DiS2009 | S2 EP1)
Is music journalism's future in campaigning?
On this episode of the Drowned in Sound podcast (S2 E1 | DiS009), DiS founder Sean Adams (@seaninsound) spoke with Laura Kelly, Culture Editor at The Big Issue, about their Venue Watch campaign, which is shining a light on grassroots music venues across the UK.
As Laura says, "Across the UK, there was more than two venues closing every single week." Through Venue Watch, The Big Issue is raising awareness of the challenges facing venues and driving action by "telling the story of a venue" each week.
As part of Drowned in Sound's new season of podcasts about where music journalism is headed, we explore how sharing these stories and putting "values to the fore" allows The Big Issue's activist journalism to kickstart national conversations and create change.
We asked Laura how music journalism can go beyond entertainment to activism, and she responds "I think music journalism is about building that bridge between the art and the artist and the world around."
Laura offers an insightful look into The Big Issue's unique social mission and using journalism as "a force for good." We also shoutout James O'Brien, The Skinny, Music Venue Trust, Beyond the Music Festival, Duran Duran, Nick Cave, and Smash Hits.
Sign up to Venue Watch here:
Read Laura's writing: https://www.bigissue.com/author/laura-kelly/
Follow Laura on Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurakaykelly
In this episode we mentioned that 16% of people working in the creative industries are working class, you can find the data behind that study here.
The Big Issue is a British magazine that provides a platform for homeless and vulnerably housed individuals to earn a legitimate income by selling the publication on the streets. It features a mix of social and cultural content, and its mission is to empower disadvantaged people through employment while raising awareness about homelessness and poverty-related issues.
Introduction to S2: The Editor's Letter / Voice Note
Where is music journalism headed? Sean Adams (@seaninsound) introduces season* two of the Drowned in Sound podcast in the style of an editor's letter meets a meandering, unscripted voice memo.
TL;DR? To mark 23 years of Drowned in Sound, I decided to embark on a series of interviews with TikTokkers, rock writers, tech reporters and more to try to figure out whether things could be headed.
* = series?!
DiS008: Live Music And Mental Health
Everyone from Radiohead to Sugababes to industry insiders are raving about a new book by therapist and live music expert Tamsin Embleton. It's an extraordinary body of work entitled Touring and Mental Health: The Music Industry Manual, which includes contributions from a series of mental health experts providing insights and advice covering everything from breath-work to nutrition, and resilience to rest.
The book contains interviews with people who live and work on the road, alongside musicians including Pixies, Pharoahe Monch, Nile Rodgers, Radiohead, Four Tet, Lauren from Chvrches, Will Young, Justin Hawkins from The Darkness, and many more.
In this conversation with the author you'll learn more about the realities of the road, how touring with Nick Cave & Anna Calvi fed into the initial stages of this book, and why Live Nation has bought 3000 copies of it to put in dressing rooms. We discussed some of the topics in the book such as dressing room environments, dealing with the media and some simple changes the industry can make.
This is what Nile Rodgers had to say about the book: “The life of a musical artist can be a magnificent thing when you’re on stage experiencing the enthusiasm and appreciation for your work and seeing first-hand the incredible impact it can have…. There are however another 22 and a half hours in the day when you are not performing. Being away from home and the watchful eye of your loved ones can be incredibly hard work mentally as you go around the world at a pace dictated by the tour. Having what is effectively a mental health wellness manual to keep yourself in check is a wonderful initiative.”
Host: Sean Adams (@seaninsound)
DiS007: AI, AI, AI! UK Government's War on Copyrighted Music?! Beatles AI song! - Dr Hayleigh Bosher explains it all
Our series of conversations about Artificial Intelligence and music continues with a look at the ethics and legal implications of these new forms of technology that inhales creativity and spits out creativity using everything that has been fed into it. And not everything has gone in with permission, let alone consent.
At the spring 2023 budget, the UK government announced that they would be allowing AI firms to more easily access copyrighted material.... this seemed somewhat alarming to us as people who run a record label, manage musicians and care about the creative industries. Should be be worried?! We asked Dr Hayleigh Bosher, a leading expert on intellectual property to help us understand the law and the bigger philosophical issues with Artificial Intelligence technology using existing music to create new music.
Dr Hayleigh Bosher (@BosherHayleigh) is the author of Copyright in the Music Industry, is a senior lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at Brunel University, and hosts the brilliant Who's Song Is It Anyway? podcast.
DiS006: Women's Equality in Music & Glastonbury's pipeline with Vick Bain from The F List / ISM
In case it wasn't obvious, this a music podcast that hasn't had enough of experts and to mark International Women's Day 2023 we spoke to Vick Bain the founder of The F-List and President of ISM (the independent society of musicians), to her PhD research into inequality in the music industry.
This episodes covers everything from her research into the Ivors songwriting awards having a pitiful amount of women winners to setting up the F List database of female+ musicians.
In recent days, Vick Bain has appeared on the BBC's flagship programmes Woman's Hour and Newsnight, as well as spoken to The Guardian about what Glastonbury's Emily Eavis called a "pipeline problem" in trying to secure festival headliners that aren't male.
This is the first in a series of conversations about inequality and the future of the music industry.
If you've been impacted by harassment within the music industry, visit WeAreMusic for a selection of links.
DiS005: How music can embrace the power of AI with ChatGPT expert David Boyle
“If you start out and it doesn't do something that you're very impressed by, your assumption should be that your prompt wasn't very good,” this summarises the advice from music industry veteran David Boyle, who specialises in understanding audiences, and over the last few months has become an expert in using ChatGPT (if you've not already, give it a go here). So much so he's co-written a book called PROMPT about, you guessed it, writing prompts to get artificial intelligence to give you better answers.
This conversation is aimed at musicians and people who work in the music industry, but the takeaways should be fairly obvious whatever you're trying to achieve. Our host, Drowned in Sound founder Sean Adams, shares some of the ways he's been using ChatGPT to get movie recommendations based on the songs that are on the soundtrack and using it to better understand the complex legalese in a contract.
This conversation has also inspired David and his team to write a new edit of PROMPT for musicians, taking in some of the elements and workflows we discussed. Drowned in Sound listeners can grab it at a special rate using this link.
We hope you will find the practical examples and advice in this episode useful, and we would love to see screenshots or hear about how you've used it. Tweet @seaninsound and @beglen if you get chance. Actually, a sneaky tip, there's also a Twitter bot that you can send Qs to here.
- the Hannah Peel tweet that inspired this episode.
- the Nick Cave blog post about ChatGPT.
- here's MidJourney, the AI image generator that's mentioned in this episode.
- this is where you can sign up to the Drowned in Sound newsletter on Substack.
- Water & Music have just released an interesting deep dive into AI and music - summed up in this Twitter thread
DiS004: Tune in, AI Out - the co-founders of Endel on music's potential futures
The robots are coming, and people are fearful and excited about the potential for AI and music to collide. It's hard to escape the discourse surrounding artificial intelligence, with various projects launches or low-level things reaching critical max in 2023.
As someone who is pretty cynical and emo about everything, Drowned in Sound founder Sean Adams is oddly optimistic about some of AI music's potential futures, especially surrounding the collision of science, technology and more 'functional' strands of music. As a lover of Sigur Ros, side two of Bowie's Low and contemporary composers like Poppy Ackroyd and Grouper, he's been a heavy user of the Endel app, which composes/generates music in real time, using sounds, textures, samples and frequencies, to create a soundscapes to listen to whilst you focus, relax, walk, sleep and more.
In this episode, two of the co-founders Oleg Stavitsky and Dmitry Evgrafov (listen to some of his non-AI music on bandcamp here) discuss everything from circadian rhythms to their love of Brian Eno. They also explore the science and tech behind the launch of an 8-hour Sleep Science playlist (listen here) with Amazon Music, which opens with an Amazon Original track featuring electronic duo Kx5 (Kaskade and deadmau5) that was produced using the hit EDM track “Escape”. The source material, including synths and chill vocals, was processed by Endel Pacific to create a high-quality, relaxing soundscape activating the parasympathetic nervous system and getting the listener ready for sleep.
Using this link, you can get a free month trial of Endel to better understand what we're talking about: https://code.endel.io/?code=drownedinsound (worth getting it just to hear the James Blake soundscape)
As always, if you have any thoughts or ideas, contact our host @seaninsound on your social platform of choice and subscribe to our mailing list here.
DiS003: TikTok, "Authenticity" and Music with Eleanor from Crystal Fighters
TikTok is so important, but what on earth are you meant to be doing on it? Here at Drowned in Sound we have not had a enough of experts, so we found one who can help us and you get our heads around TikTok. Our guest this week is musician and producer (and soon to be stand up comedian) Eleanor Fletcher, who's also a member of festival favourites Crystal Fighters, to find out how she's garnered 900k like on the platform and found a new audience in just a few months. Give her feed a scroll and follow her here tiktok.com/@eleanorkishere
This is part of a sub-series of podcasts, looking at the foundations of where the music industry is at. It's sort of a mini masterclass for musicians but the advice applies for anyone who wants to have a better understanding on creating "content" for the platform.
There's some really simple tips about how to introduce a video (the first few seconds are known as the 'hook' to 'hook people in', rather than the melody of a pop song...) and Eleanor mentions the key things of being "interesting and intriguing", keeping a list of ideas in your notes app, and makes the whole thing feel a lot less daunting.
Would love to know what you took away from this episode and anything you feel I missed to cover in future episodes.
Links to bits mentioned in the show
DiS002: Discover... The Faux Faux (Faith Vern from PINS)
In this episode, Faith tells us all about the debut single of her new solo project The Faux Faux, which is the first release on the rebooted Drowned in Sound Singles Club (drownedinsound.org).
Drowned in Sound founder and podcast host Sean Adams (@seaninsound) introduces the podcast with a little history of the Drowned in Sound label and asks questions about how this solo material is different to the fun party punk that PINS were known for, what it's like writing music for big HBO, Netflix and Apple TV shows, how a mixture of Plath and moving out of Manchester inspired the track, and in a world where liner notes are rare, there's credits and more background to the track.
Watch the music video shot in the North of England using 500ft of film and find out more here https://www.thefauxfaux.co.uk/music
Go deeper and hear tracks by acts involved in this track on this Spotify playlist.
DiS001: The trade unionist campaigning for fairer streaming - Naomi Pohl from Musicians' Union
How do we "fix" music streaming? It's a question that has plagued the music industry and musicians for a decade and a half, whilst debating the pounds, pennies and slithers of a pence per stream... so this discussion about music streaming seemed like a great place to restart our podcast, which is will focus on music, through the prism of creativity, sustainability, pioneers and big ideas.
There are now a range of campaigns around the world and several organisations unifying in the UK to try to change the law, to ensure musicians and those who invest in them receive fairer pay from Spotify, YouTube, TikTok, Apple, Amazon, etc, etc, etc...
In the UK, there's been a UK government DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) enquiry exploring the issue of music streaming royalties and the challenges faced by musicians in receiving fair compensation for their work.
In this relaunch episode of our podcast, DiS founder Sean Adams (@seaninsound | drownedinsound.org) spoke to Naomi Pohl, the General Secretary of the Musicians' Union, a trade union representing 33,000 musicians about music streaming. We also discussed various campaigns she's the driving force behind to improve things for musicians. The General Secretary highlights the efforts of the Musicians' Union to advocate for and support musicians, including their fight for fair pay and improved working conditions. You'll also learn about the importance of joining a union and how both musicians and music fans can support their campaigns, which you can find here musiciansunion.org.uk (including how new members can join for as little as £1).
The wide-ranging enquiry into music streaming, entitled Copyright (Rights and Renumeration, etc) Bill, also known as The Brennan Bill (named because it's been led by musician and Labour MP Kevin Brennan) is looking into the current music streaming landscape, including the payment structures and methods used by music streaming platforms, as well as the challenges faced by musicians in receiving appropriate compensation from the platforms and their labels. The aim of the enquiry, which has been going on for a couple of years now, is to make recommendations to the UK government on ways to ensure that musicians receive fair compensation for their work, and to ensure that the music industry continues to thrive and support musicians. You can read more about where the enquiry is currently at on MusicAlly here.
In this conversation, Naomi Pohl explains her role and the process of changing the law and discusses her wider challenges over the coming months and years.
Want to help? "A positive step you can take to find out who your local MP is and try and build a bit of a relationship, especially if you find that there's somebody there who's passionate about music" - you can find your MP using theyworkforyou.com
How many musicians are there in the UK? There's a census happening which you can take part in here musicianscensus.co.uk
From the Archive: The Importance of Lights at Concerts
They are the road crew, but what do they do? DiS is fascinated by how lights can enhance* a gig, so we had a conversation with lighting and production designer Ed Warren of http://www.nextlevellights.com about his journey from watching bands to flicking on the bright lights on for a Glastonbury headline set. He's worked with everyone from Mumford & Sons to Four Tet via Interpol, Antlers, Metronomy, Father John Misty, Shakira, Mogwai, The Maccabees, The Strokes and loads more. In this first of a series of behind the scenes chats with people who are part of the village that makes music happen, Ed shared tales from the road, some helpful career advice, and his Kickstarter project. Shortly after we spoke he won the TPi Award for Best Lighting Designer.
* = and in some cases ruin
From the Archive: Mercury Prize judges help us ponder: What makes a truly great album?
Mercury Music Prize 2015 judges John Kennedy from Radio X and Kate Mossman from New Statesman/BBC Four, join DiS editor Sean Adams and podcast co-host Danielle Perry from Absolute Radio to discuss this year's Mercury nominees and what this year's 12 albums say about the current state of music plus we ponder what makes a truly great album?
The winner of this year's Mercury Prize will be revealed live on the BBC on Friday 20th Nov
The 2015 Mercury Prize ‘Albums of the Year’ in association with BBC Music were announced on Friday 16 October. The 2015 Albums of the Year are:
Aphex Twin 'Syro'
Benjamin Clementine 'At Least For Now'
C Duncan 'Architect'
Florence + The Machine 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful'
Gaz Coombes 'Matador'
Ghostpoet 'Shedding Skin'
Jamie xx 'In Colour'
Róisín Murphy 'Hairless Toys'
Slaves 'Are You Satisfied?'
SOAK 'Before We Forgot How To Dream'
Wolf Alice 'My Love Is Cool'
From the Archive: Blogs that became labels with Toby L from Rockfeedback / Transgressive (2015)
Toby L who founded music website, concert promoter and TV show Rockfeedback, as well as the Transgressive label (home to releases by Foals, The Antlers, Regina Spektor, Alvvays, Songhoy Blues and many more) chats about the past decade and a half with our hosts Absolute radio's Danielle Perry and Drowned in Sound (which also turned 15 this week) founder Sean Adams.