Lots of things happen in the music business and on the internet every week. This is an attempt to make sense of them. OK, here we go.
Last week, the music industry gathered in Austin, Texas for SXSW, so you’d figure everyone would just want to take this week off for a nice, long nap. Maybe talk about the best bands you saw, but mostly just catch some zzz’s. Really, what would be the downside of napping for a week? Justin Timberlake and Beyonce will still be here when we wake up. But apparently no one wanted to go along with this compelling nap plan, so instead I have to write this column. YAY!
SXSW, like little league sports, is all about one thing: winning. Particularly what bands, brands and taco trucks are winning. For years, people were handsomely paid to declare winners, but now we have computer algorithms to make those decisions for us. This week, SPIN reported that social media research firm Fizziology declared DIIV the winner of the fest. Haim and Phosphorescent also had a big “social media swell,” which sounds really dangerous and they should probably get that checked out by a doctor ’cause it might be infected.
Perhaps aided by an appearance at SXSW—and, oh yeah, an appearance on every single night of the week on a major network called NBC—it looks like Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience is riding a wave of “Is this actually any good?” acclaim to the top of the charts. Billboard quotes industry sources who are now forecasting that the album could sell “900,000 by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, March 24.” This is a shocking development because most people figured that this giant, too-big-to-fail record from a music/movie/Bud Light Platinum star would be a big old flop. Perhaps, dare I say it, a full-scale, scorched-earth marketing plan pays off? Who knew?
Speaking of big pop stars, Beyonce released “Bow Down/I Been On,” a snarling, daring song on Sunday. It was basically the exact opposite of Timberlake’s tasteful, dudes-wearing-suits funk, and you should probably check it out if you haven’t listened to it 50 times already:
This week wasn’t all about fun and games. According to the Wall Street Journal, subscription music service pioneer eMusic “quietly merged Monday with an e-book distributor.” The company’s CEO, Adam Klein, also stepped down. I’m mostly just confused by the phrase “quietly merged.” Is that like clapping really quietly or when you accidentally bump another car when you’re trying to parallel park?
The big topic of conversation this week: SPRING BREAK! Particularly the kind of spring break displayed in Harmony Korine’s new film Spring Breakers. Pitchfork talked to Korine about the film’s audacious soundtrack and Vulture caught up with Gucci Mane, who discussed sleeping through his big sex scene. Also, you should probably read this Grantland profile about Harmony Korine and Riff Raff’s ever-evolving relationship. Actually, you should probaly just stay in all weekend and read about Spring Breakers.
In between all your Spring Breakers reading, maybe take a break and find some time for this fantastic Talkhouse piece written by Mish Way of White Lung about Waxahatchee. Talkhouse is a newly launched that’s all about creating a dialogue between musicians by having them write about each other and letting you read it. The site is edited by Our Band Could Be Your Life writer Michael Azerrad and former CMJ editor Michael Tedder, and it looks pretty awesome so far.
Alright, that’s it for this week. Listen to Waxahatchee’s “Peace And Quiet” and go see Spring Breakers by yourself so no one can judge you for having a profound emotional experience.