Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Feb 18th 2011 at 11:00am UTC

Grammys’ Big (City) Winner

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The big winners in Sunday night’s Grammy Awards took many by surprise. Arcade Fire took home the record of the year for “The Suburbs” and the country group Lady Antebellum’s song “Need You Now” won awards for best record and best song of the year. The former is from Montreal, the latter hail from Nashville.  The internet and social media exploded with a raft of incredulous messages – - a Tumblr called “Who is Arcade Fire?” compiled dozens of them.  The Today show’s Matt Lauer blurted: “I’ve never heard of the Arcade Fire. I’m going to have to download them.”

Could these wins reflect something of a broader trend?  Is the landscape of popular music changing? Could it be that new upstart music scenes in Nashville, Montreal, and elsewhere are gaining ground on New York and LA, the long-established hegemonic centers of commercial and recorded music?


Steven Pedigo
by Steven Pedigo
Thu Jan 20th 2011 at 10:24pm UTC

Lady Gaga’s Monster Influence

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

We all know Lady Gaga as a singer, dancer and performer.   But in the last two years, she’s climbed from just an entertainer to a monster endorser and creative visionary.

According to CCG’s very own CEO Rana Florida,

She [Lady Gaga] has changed the way endorsement deals work. She’s putting more of her influence, thought and creative energy into a line rather than just endorsing them. She has been able to successfully marry music, fashion and culture, making her a truly visual maven. She is her own movement.

Read more about Lady Gaga’s influence  at CNN International.

Is Lady Gaga the first artist to truly exemplify the qualities of the creative class?  How has she leveraged the 3-T’s: technology, talent and tolerance to build her brand  and influence?

Kwende Kefentse
by Kwende Kefentse
Wed Feb 25th 2009 at 10:40am UTC

Musical Spikes: One of These Things Doesn’t Belong Here

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

There’s lots of good music emerging out of the T-Dot urban music scene right now, which seems to be indicating something interesting about the city’s profile with respect to talent, at least in that scene. Toronto has a notoriously coarse urban music culture, known internationally as “The Screwface Capital” – in the analogue world, we used to get the music early from our cousins in New York and play it out just so that we could be over it first. We can’t wait to be apathetic about your music. Especially if the artist is out of the GTA. Something about that metabolism has always devoured artists from the area before they could break international ground. And yet within the last few weeks or so:

K’naan released his hotly anticipated album Troubadour yesterday:


Drake has been generating quite a bit of buzz around the recent release of his “Mixtape” So Far Gone:


K-OS single called 4 3 2 1 from his forthcoming Yes! album has been picking up steam with the release of the video:


And Zaki Ibrahim’s recent EP Eclectica (Episodes in Purple) has just received a Juno nomination for R&B / Soul Recording of the Year – she’s making noise in the UK and other places around the world as well:


So here’s a question: How many of these artists, each of whom has been experiencing great success abroad, and represents Toronto not only on their MySpace pages but also in their lyrics and music, were born in the GTA or even the province?

The answer: Only K-OS.

And while K-OS represents something of the “old guard,” one of the last monuments to the early 90s scene, K’naan, Drake, and Zaki Ibrahim are arguably some of the strongest talent cultivating some of the strongest international buzz out of the city. And they are all imports – K’naan from Somalia, Drake from Tennessee, and Zaki from… well… all over, starting with Vancouver.

While each represent the city in their own way, they are unapologetically hybrid – much like Toronto itself. These artists have been able to come to the city, call it home and find the right people, layers of connectivity, and industry infrastructure to launch their careers into the national/international stratosphere.

So what is it about Toronto’s music scene – at least the urban music scene – that international talent has found so enabling? Why has it seemed to be less kind to its “native” artists?  Why haven’t we seen this kind of talent-spiking in Halifax, or Vancouver, or even Montreal? What is it about a city that gives it the capacity to not only attract and incubate such a diversity of talent, but the capacity to launch it as well?

I know there’s already enough music in this post, but here’s some more.

Alex Tapscott
by Alex Tapscott
Tue Dec 23rd 2008 at 10:23am UTC

N-Gen Music: Mash-up Mania

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Warning: If you’re over 30, please proceed with caution. I mean it. This may upset you.  I just caught wind of a 28-year-old musician who goes by the name of ‘Girl Talk’ who is ‘sampling’ The Band, The ‘Stones, R.E.M, AC/DC, and Aretha Franklin, and mixing their iconic sounds with the likes of 50 Cent, T-Payne, Gwen Stefani, and Bubba Sparxx (who!?)

Listen here.

Because he (Girl Talk is a he) started his own ‘independent label’ he thinks he can basically do whatever he wants! No royalties, no fees. And his album is basically free! His website says, “Pay whatever you want.” And he encourages YOU, the listener, to use and sample his music. This internet-driven model threatens to bury the whole record industry!

Here’s another way to look at Girl Talk: as an artist and as an MC, but not in the traditional sense of the word. He has no records, no turn-tables, and no CDs. He has a laptop. That’s it. Girl Talk is commonly described as a mash-up artist: someone who takes the vocals from one song and the instrumentals from another and mixes them together into a new, unique sound. Think The Beatles’ The White Album meets Jay Z’s The Black Album to create Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album. But Girl Talk takes the style to a whole new level. 50+ samples in one four-minute song are not uncommon, and he mixes his massive database of music at live shows in real time on a plastic wrapped computer. Because his samples are so short, nothing he does is illegal according to “fair use” copyright law in the U.S.

I believe Girl Talk’s music is a metaphor for my generation. His songs, which sample from Roy Orbison, Queen, Nirvana, and T.I., to name a few, require a very broad musical knowledge to be fully appreciated. N-Geners today listen to a lot of music and can give a wink and a nod to the clever way older songs are used. Even if they don’t know those songs, odds are many kids will go online and discover them afterward.  OK, kids listening to and/or learning the greatest rock/pop songs of all time. That’s a good thing.

On the other hand, his music can be construed as the ultimate symbol of our short attention spans and our obsession with short, easy-to-digest sights and sounds (think Sneezing Panda on YouTube). One could argue that digital technology has left us incapable of focusing on a good song for more than a few minutes (so let’s jam 50 samples into one track instead!), and Girl Talk is my generation’s answer. OK, that’s a Bad thing.

Girl Talk understands his target audience. He knows his music will be widely disseminated online, for free, before he has the opportunity to release a CD. So he embraces an open, online platform for his music where payment is optional:

“I think what we went for seems like an obvious game plan now, just because as soon as it hits the internet, anyone…can get it for free if they want to. So why not tap in and let them actually take a step back and think about it, and maybe offer some money?”

Get the whole interview with Pitchfork Media Here.

In this open and collaborative model, more money goes directly to the artist (and not a major label), he fosters good will with his fan base, more people get to hear his sound, and as a result he attracts a wider audience to live shows. I think this is a good thing.

This last question depends on your perspective. Some of his mash-ups take important songs out of context and use them only as a means to an end. How would you feel if he mixed Sam Cooke’s powerful and spiritual ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ with the vacuous and asinine ‘My Humps’ by the Black Eyed Peas just to get a ‘cool’ sound? In this regard, his music can be construed as not respecting the wholeness and message of his songs. I’m not a music critic, so I’ll stop there before I start sounding foolish, but I encourage you to share your thoughts.