Dave Sitek's Federal Prism Label Announces New Model For Releasing Music

Dave Sitek

Federal Prism, the new record label from TV On The Radio‘s Dave Sitek and his partner Jeff Bowers, is trying a new approach to releasing music.

It’s become clear in recent years that where mass marketing was once the name of the game in the music biz, direct fan engagement is now the holy grail for artists and those labels interested in building careers. But how best to make that connection?

Federal Prism’s answer is thorough online interaction with fans. New music from their roster will now be released on SoundCloud prior to any retail release. Going even further, the label will offer select track stems (essentially deconstructed pieces of songs) for fans and other artists to hear and remix.

“The goal here is to allow listeners to participate fully in the creative and marketing process, in many cases prior to the commercial release,” said Bowers. “SoundCloud gives us an opportunity to break albums and singles with a completely new engagement strategy. Young producers and fans will have access to new music before it’s proper release, but more importantly they will have a unique opportunity to reinvent the track and interact directly with the producer and artist while doing so.”

Head over to their SoundCloud page starting today for the first such releases, including music from TV On The Radio, Oh Land, Chuck Inglish, Asher Roth, and more. And look for new releases soon from Sitek, Kelis, Scarlett Johansson, Stardeath, and the White Dwarves.

Stream Thrice's Live Album – "Anthology"

Still heartbroken about Thrice breaking up? Well don’t you worry. They understand, and just to show how much they care, they’ve put together a 24-song collection of select live recordings from their farewell tour. The limited edition physical 4-LP/2-CD box set is set to be released next week on October 30 by Staple Records, but you can hear it right now streaming on SoundCloud! So grab your buddies and some tissues, sit back, and enjoy the final recordings of Thrice as you weep for the demise of one of our generations greatest bands. (Suck it up. There’s probably gonna be a reunion anyway.)

If you like Thrice, then you might also like OurStage’s own This Armistice.

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SoundCloud And Twitter Team Up

Earlier this week, Twitter increased the number of partners who could take advantage of their Expanded Tweets function, which allows users to view photos, play videos, preview a story, and even listen to audio right from their timeline. YouTube and Instagram have been integrated for some time now, but this recent batch of partners is notable as SoundCloud is the only music-streaming site.

SoundCloud integration will embed the ubiquitous HTML5 waveform player into twitter cards, giving users the ability to play, like, and share music without ever leaving the Twitterverse.

“Partnering with Twitter for this rollout allowed us to create a richer experience for our users […] Overall, we’re super excited that SoundCloud can unmute tweets,” SoundCloud founder and CEO Alexander Ljung told Rolling Stone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Industrial Revolution: MySpace – The End Is Nigh

Oh MySpace. I don’t think I need to delve into your sad story because it’s a familiar tale. Even if you don’t know the details of the rise and fall of the Internet’s first smash hit social media site, you still know the story”assuming you studied ancient Rome in grade school or have watched literally any rock bio-pic film ever made. Humble beginnings, spectacular rise, crucial missteps, steep decline, public shame, optional drug overdose, likely death.

The ending is yet to be determined, of course, but demise seems inevitable. The prescient 24/7 Wall St. blog has released their yearly Ten Brands That Will Disappear list for 2012, and while the inclusion of such stalwarts as Sears and Kellogg’s Corn Pops might surprise many, the appearance of MySpace is no shock. But it is the first official time-of-death call, and it’s from an observer with a pretty good track record of predicting these things (for example, the disappearance of both T-Mobile and Blockbuster). Their summary is concise and worth excerpting in full:

MySpace, once the world’s largest social network, died a long time ago. It will get buried soon. News Corp (NYSE: NWS) bought MySpace and its parent in 2005 for $580 million which was considered inexpensive at the time based on the web property’s size. MySpace held the top spot among social networks based on visitors from mid-2006 until mid-2008 according to several online research services. It was overtaken by Facebook at that point. Facebook has 700 million members worldwide now and recently passed Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) as the largest website for display advertising based on revenue. News Corp was able to get an exclusive advertising deal worth $900 million shortly after it bought the property, but that was its sales high-water mark. Its audience is currently estimated to be less that 20 million visitors in the US. Why did MySpace fall so far behind Facebook? No one knows for certain. It may be that Facebook had more attractive features for people who wanted to share their identities online. It may have been that it appealed to a younger audience which tends to spend more time online. News Corp announced in February that it would sell MySpace. There were no serious bids. Rumors surfaced recently that a buyer may take the website for $100 million. The brand is worth little if anything. A buyer is likely to kill the name and fold the subscriber base into another brand. News Corp has hinted it will close MySpace if it does not find a buyer.

Indeed, just one buyer remains a possibility at present, and that is the Chairman and CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, who heads an investor group interested in having a stake in the company, rather than purchasing it in full (theoretically, News Corp would retain 20%). Word is that even if this investment somehow goes through, it ain’t gonna be for no $100 million. [Late-breaking update: Sure enough, News Corp. has reportedly made a deal to MySpace for $35 million to Specific Media. News Corp. is expected to retain a 5% stake.]


What happened to MySpace? It really is hard to say. The first thing that springs to mind is the lack of a communal space (Facebook’s Wall) that allowed users to really feel connected to their friends. Then came the deluge of users and spammers, who were eagerly accepted as friends in order to raise that number. In that way, MySpace was a learning environment, which informed our later behavior on Facebook. We knew, by then, to be more selective, and that the number of friends you had really didn’t matter at all. Without MySpace, all those mistakes would have occurred on Facebook, which would now resemble the gaudy wasteland of MySpace (damn you, layout wizards!).

For many of us, MySpace was attractive as a music discovery site. But unfortunately the music on MySpace sounded like shit, due to their standard low-bit-rate streaming MP3s. When MySpace began to accept that they had lost the social media game to Facebook, they tried to re-focus on just music. But they had blown their credibility on that front, and many other, less tainted and cluttered sites had filled any void left by Facebook’s (initial) lack of interest in catering to music fans (Soundcloud and Bandcamp being the current leaders). The once-hyped MySpace Records has foundered and this year laid-off at least half of its staff, though is still apparently functioning as an A&R operation in partnership with Interscope Records.

The thing is, efforts like MySpace start up and close down all the time. The world gets what they want out of it, learns from it and evolves. The only reason it’s still a matter of interest is because of MySpace’s former ubiquity. It really was the first social media site to pervade the public conscious. It was also the first time artists saw the web as more than just a secondary marketing tool, opening up a world of direct fan engagement. In these ways it was a success. But for the music business, this is yet another object lesson that you need to stay ahead of the game, predicting what’s next, rather than trying to cash in on what’s already working by cobbling it together with your business model. And just like with social media, the deluge hampered the ability of quality artists to connect with willing fans. No one is certain what will happen next and how this latter situation might resolve. But here at OurStage, fan-driven music discovery”where the community evaluates and puts the good stuff up top”is our bet.

[Ed. Note: You can read MySpace CEO Mike Jones’ letter to the staff regarding this week’s sale to Specific Media here.]

The Beat Generation – So What's The Deal With Dubstep? A Brief History Of The Genre

You’d think that once a genre breaks into the mainstream, you’d be able to listen to it and tell someone what it is. I mean, what other genre could get coverage in a major online publication that admits that it doesn’t even know what the genre is in the title of the article? Dubstep has been growing in popularity for the past decade but has really come into its own, in the past three years. Most people in college will probably recognize dubstep as that REALLY LOUD bass-heavy dance music they’ve heard at some frat or house party or club venue. Also known as “wobbles”, this music is made to make you nod your head. But that’s not all there is to dubstep, although you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

The roots of dubstep can be traced back to UK Grime rap and 2-Step, growing out of the darker elements of drum and bass music in London. The earliest song to be released with many of the characteristics of the sound would be “Charly”. The sound of early dubstep reflects its urban origins; dark, claustrophobic and nervous created via very heavy subbass. The genre even had something of a home base in its early days. Big Apple Records, based in Croydon, South London, was a record shop specializing in jungle, techno and drum and bass releases throughout the 90s. It began to become the heart of the scene with Dubstep musicians Skream and Benga both working in the shop by day and DJing by night. At least one journalist also conjectured that dubstep had a parallel relationship with rising Ketamine use in the UK. Woah man, drugs and music? Slow down, you almost lost me.

Around 2002 and 2003, the term dubstep began to be thrown around to describe this new dance music. With the name came a jump from local scene to regional flavor and then quickly to national prominence. Much has been made as to how quickly dubstep has come to prominence. Probably doesn’t hurt that the music started out in one of the biggest and most international cities in the world.

Skream is a name that keeps coming up time and again through the growth of the genre. The release of his self-titled Skream! in 2006 with the unexpected UK hit “Midnight Request Line” proved to have a great deal of crossover appeal.

Skream Midnight Request Line by ieseala

House producer Deadmau5 also debuted his first release in 2006. While not a true dubstep adherent, singles like “Strobe”, “Ghosts N Stuff ” and “Faxing Berlin” would prove popular to listeners on both sides of the Atlantic and introduced Americans to music like dubstep. Some wobbles here and there but very melodic and very digestable. Side note: Deadmau5 has started releasing little dubstep experiments on his Soundcloud page and through his Facebook as well. We’ve posted one below for your immediate listening pleasure.

Dub5tepthingie2 by fuckmylife

The 2007 release of Burial’s Untrue, maybe the single most important release for dubstep up to that point if for no other reason than the reviews it received when it came out. Getting positive write-ups almost everywhere, it has since appeared in the Top 10 releases of the decade lists in FACT Magazine, Stylus Magazine and, most notably, placed Number 3 on Resident Advisor’s Top 100 albums of the decade. This brought to dubstep something is was sorely lacking prior; critical acclaim. No longer just the music of club kids and the tastemakers, Untrue proved that not only did dubstep have a dark, gritty, urban soul, but it could also have a brain.

Currently dubstep is bigger than ever. Rusko might have collaborated with Britney Spears on her latest album (“Hold It Against Me” definitely has a bass drop around the 2:40 mark), all around hip guy Diplo released a dubstep collection late last year and the Internet is polluted with a dubstep remix of every song ever made. The genre is not just an internet/pop culture phenomenon, however. For all the critical support as of late, perhaps the highest profile champions were the late legendary BBC Radio1 DJ John Peel and fellow BBC Radio DJ Mary Anne Hobbs. So outside of the basic characteristics of sound, dubstep has had one other stylistic attribute since it has come into greater prominence: it is a genre which exists nearly equally in both the mainstream and in the underground. For a form of music with such a large, young and dedicated following, with write-ups in major publications for years it was, at least until this moment, out of step with the greater continuum of mainstream music and culture in the US. It’s just too dirty for most people. Which, of course, is part of the appeal.