Discover Black MIDI, the songs made with millions of notes

What would happen if you made a song with 6 million notes in it? The chaotic yet strangely beautiful answer lies within the strange world of Black MIDI.

It’s been over a decade since the strange chaotic creations known as Black MIDI found their initial community in underground forums on the web. The concept: to create music on computer MIDI that used so many notes it would often crash computers, that they could paint pictures with and develop a dimension beyond the music whilst still creating a composition that sounded incredible.

In 2011 the first Black MIDI video was uploaded to YouTube and an artform in itself was born. The original video was deleted but you can see it in it’s original glory from a re-upload below.

It’s hard to believe that this pixelated, manic video of discordant sounds representing something like a Matrix fever dream captured the hearts of millions around the world and inspired an entirely new artform but it did. P.S. the best bit starts just after the 2 minute mark.

Black MIDI is named to describe literally what these compositions look like when played on a MIDI scrolling program on computers. As the notes come down towards the piano (think Guitar Hero if you’re unfamiliar) the compositions eventually become so dense that the screen becomes black – hence why creators will often colour their notes to distinguish them.

The compositions are, or certainly were, the main event with Black MIDI. Created as some sort of neurotic evolution of classical composition that has slowly gotten more complex and mind-boggling. To emphasise this strange dichotomy of composition and chaos, here is a classic from Grieg brought up to the Black MIDI standard.

The above video begins to example how Black MIDI has evolved itself in the decade since its inception. What I perhaps find most impressive about modern Black MIDI compositions is the focus creators have made on the visual aspect. In fact, to describe some of the creations made in the past few years as ‘Black’ does them a disservice.

This is where I believe it has gone beyond simply an experiment or at stretch a new genre.. What originally began as a sort-of musical experiment has become an almost three dimensional art form, where the music is only half of the creation that pairs up colourful, psychedelic visuals created by utilising the natural patterns within music and the density of Black MIDI compositions.

In some cases it is simply overwhelming and perhaps complete random, but I believe that many of these have been thought out in depth. The use of colours and patterns are as methodical as the music notation themselves. They represent something like a Bullet Hell game, pure visual chaos but a frenzy that has been designed with love and dedication.

Example:

As the popularity of these strange MIDI creations have grown and so has its base of creators, so too have the abilities to produce them enhanced. There are specific programs now capable of colouring and patterning MIDI piano rolls to provide the canvas for this new breed of artist.

As an excellent display of the emphasis on visuals within Black MIDI that I’m talking about, check out this piece called Tau which exemplifies everything that makes modern Black MIDI so great – and also features over 6 million musical notes in it’s 6.5 minutes!

The archetype of the best of Black MIDI: Colours and patterns used to incredible effect, chaotic sound that remains somehow emotionally resonant and enjoyable, and even the use of shapes in a form of MIDI Art.

It may not be an art form for everyone. In fact, some of you may not agree that it justifies existence as it’s own form of art as I do. But whatever you believe you cannot deny the effort that goes into creating these wild and wacky combinations of visual and aural madness.

To play us out, here’s a song we all recognise that has been transformed by one of the many Black MIDI mad geniuses in the world. Building on a classic and renowned composition in an entirely new way.

Qobuz raise €10 million to take their hi-res music service global

Qobuz have been taking on the big streamers for a few years now with a focus on Hi-Res and their latest funding pushes them even further globally.

French music streaming service have been operating for a few years now, but compared to the rest of the streaming scene they are the fresh faces. Last year they made two big moves: launching in the U.S. and ditching MP3 to focus entirely on high resolution music.

Following a new round of funding, Qobuz are poised to expand even further around the globe. They have raised €10 million following their previous round of capital earnings last August which raised them €12 million.

The company states they are “now pursuing a major development plan” with significant funding and over 45% growth in their last fiscal year. They are now planning an “unprecedented” recruitment drive for the year.

Qobuz chairman and CEO, Denis Thébaud says: “We are very proud of our latest fundraising milestone of 10 million euros, which shows our historical shareholders’ confidence in our model. The end of the year promises to be full of exciting projects for Qobuz.”

Qobuz is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy. It will be exciting to see where they go next.

Apple’s deeper Shazam features will have it scanning music all the time

iPhones and iOS devices will be able to turn Shazam on to tell them what music is playing around them and in their apps constantly.

Apple have only just updated devices with iOS 14 but as developers have got their hands on another update it seems to bring some enhanced features. Notably, Apple seem to be capitalising on their ownership of Shazam in iOS 14.2 with some seriously deep integration.

In the upcoming update, the music recognition app will be added to the ‘Control Center’ on iPhones. From there users will be able to switch it on to identify music constantly in the world around them so you never miss out in the time it takes to open the app.

The new always-on feature will scan for music when you’re using apps as well, so it can tell you the songs playing on your applications. It will scan apps internally so it will be able to pick up music whether you’re playing it out loud or through headphones.

Apple bought Shazam in late 2018 but promised not to restrict the app’s availability. It’s still available on other devices, but clearly Apple are making use of their ownership in other, unique ways. It’s a question of whether people will want their phones constantly listening, however.

Whilst iOS 14.2 is available for developers at the moment, Apple haven’t revealed when they might launch the update to general iPhone users.

Amazon launch their HD music streaming service in Canada

Amazon Music Unlimited is expanding its high definition streaming service to offer top quality music to Canadians with their first 90 days free.

Amazon have announced that Canadians can now sign up to Amazon Music Unlimited HD. The streaming service offers Amazon’s full streaming catalogue in their best possible quality with millions of songs in CD quality HD and more than a million in 24-bit, 192 kHz Ultra HD quality.

It’s great news for audiophiles in Canada who may be upset at the compressed sounds of standard streaming services. To let users decide whether they feel that the HD upgrade is worthwhile, Amazon are offering a huge 90 day trial to new sign ups in Canada.

If you’re looking to sign up to Amazon Music Unlimited HD, it is best experienced with a good pair of headphones or speakers with a compatible amplifier. Amazon recommend speakers from Sonos, Sennheiser, Polk Audio, among others to get the most out of HD streaming at a decent price.

Amazon Music Unlimited HD costs $12.99 a month after the free trial or $8 a month for Prime members. As well as Canada, it is available in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria, Japan, France, Italy, and Spain.

TikTok plan 20% sale to Oracle, seek a U.S. based IPO, Trump demands “total control”

TikTok have confirmed their plans for the future following Trump’s pressure on the app’s place in the United States.

After the U.S. announced last week that they would ban TikTok from US app stores on the 20th September, ByteDance have spoken. The Beijing-based company have confirmed that they will sell 20% to Oracle who will become their “trusted technology partner” and Walmart their “commercial partner” for operating in the US.

The Trump administration, with pressure from the president, ordered that TikTok sell their U.S. operations based on security concerns of citizens data with the Chinese company. Some commentators have pointed out that their new deals with U.S. companies don’t resolve the security concerns of many U.S. users.

ByteDance have announced that they will now seek to launch an Initial Public Offering in the U.S. to sell stock in an effort to “further enhance corporate governance and transparency”. It seems that they’re not going to split the app between territories to get over the U.S. problem, with plans to list their company as ‘TikTok Global’.

Since the statements from ByteDance, Trump has now put their solutions into question. He stated that the US companies “are going to have total control of [TikTok]” and that if they don’t then “we just won’t make the deal”.

He had previously given his approval over the Oracle sale but now it’s unclear whether any form of deal will work for TikTok other than a huge sale of U.S. operations in full. He added: “If we find [Oracle & Walmart] don’t have total control, then we are not going to approve the deal.”

Kanye West calls for a music revolution… RouteNote is already providing one

Kanye’s recent Twitter outburst speaks to many artist around the world trapped in label and publishing deals. But the solution he calls for is already here in independent music distribution.

Kanye’s no stranger to going on huge Twitter rants, and we think he’s hit on some hugely important points this time. Over anger at his lack of ownership over his music which, whether you like it or not, he has dedicated much of his life to creating and perfecting he’s attacked the big label-based music industry and its structures.

His series of tweets describe the many ways in which artists should have more control and rights over their music and we totally agree! The thing is, RouteNote have already been providing these opportunities to artists for years.

The artist always has 100% control and rights to their music on RouteNote, forever.

We split it even more, 85/15 in the artist’s favour and 100% goes to artists on Premium.

It’s important to understand exactly what you’re doing to fully launch your music career but it’s also hugely valuable to create a music community that all looks out for each other.

We make our terms easy to read and understand and are happy to answer any questions you have. There are no smoke screens on RouteNote.

Don’t be dependent – be independent! You have full control over what you do with your music on RouteNote and we provide you full streaming and sales statistics so you can look as in-depth as you like at how your music performs and what you are receiving.

Yes, when you are in control of your music distribution you want to know exactly what’s happening with it. Our dashboards give you in-depth analytics and control over your music.

So Kanye, we’ve been helping to transform the industry in a world where artists have the power and capability to take the reins of their own music careers.

If you want to have a chat, Kanye, get in touch – and to all the rest of you too, we are here for you to make a world of music that works for the musicians and creators in a new digital world that makes it possible.

TikTok will be banned on US app stores from Sunday

TikTok is officially being banned from stores this weekend in the US with the potential to become illegal to download in the coming months.

Trump threatened to ban TikTok, claiming that it’s creators ByteDance had access to US citizen data. The US department of Commerce will now be banning the video sharing app this Sunday, 20th of September from app stores.

After that they have until the 12th of November to secure a deal or the app will be banned outright, warns the US government. If fully banned in November, it would make it technically illegal for citizens to download the social app.

WeChat has also been banned from US app stores under similar circumstances. Donald Trump has revealed that he spoke to Walmart about a possible deal with TikTok, and that his administration had spoken to Oracle who looked set to take over US operations for TikTok earlier this week.

As of yet, nothing has been confirmed and the huge social app’s future in the US looks shaky.

Apple One bundle prices revealed

Apple have revealed the entertainment bundles which they’re offering with Apple One and how much each subscription will cost.

Apple One combines Apple’s range of content offerings under a cheaper subscription plan. It brings together Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and iCloud but how much are you really saving?

Now that Apple have officially announced the bundles on offer and how much they will cost we can see if they are truly good value.

  • Individual includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage for $14.95 per month.
  • Family includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 200GB of iCloud storage for $19.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members. 
  • Premier, where available, includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2TB of iCloud storage for $29.95 per month, and can be shared among up to six family members.

Apple One users can also sign up to a free 30-day trial of any of the services that they don’t have included in their plan.

How much do you save with each?

  • Individual – over $6 a month
  • Family – over $8 a month
  • Premier – over $25 a month

However, some people are suggesting that what comes in the bundles reduces their value. Whilst you’re technically saving money, many people will be getting the bundle for Apple Music and TV+ but not Arcade, and so-on.

If, however, you’re a sucker for Apple’s offerings and most if not all of the services available in the bundles are something you would use then these are some good value entertainment packages. Apple plan to launch Apple One this fall in over 100 countries.

Warner Music are in trouble over their hacked website

Warner Music Group’s commercial websites were recently affected by huge hacks and now they are named in a class-action lawsuit over the issue.

Earlier this month it was discovered that Warner Music Group’s commercial websites had been hacked. A major data breach had compromised the credit card details of an unspecified number of accounts across a number of websites.

Warner Music Group apologised to their impacted customers after discovering the hack, which had reportedly been going on for months. With any number of personal details potentially stolen, WMG paid the cost of Kroll, an identity-monitoring service, and encouraged victims to use it within 12 months for free.

It seems that for some customers, that isn’t enough from one of the 3 biggest record labels in the world. Digital Music News have received a copy of a newly filed lawsuit which names WMG over the two plaintiffs reporting unapproved changes to their banking details.

This follows another lawsuit facing Warner Music Group over the hacks. The previous lawsuit specifically targets Warner Music Group for failing to “secure and safeguard personal identifiable information”. That lawsuit states that potentially millions of transactions are now available to hackers with the potential to be sold on.

It’s a huge breach in data from one of the biggest industries in the world. We are yet to see the true fallout of this potential information theft.

New Twitch charts shows the top music used in streams each week

Twitch streams are more popular than ever and Chartmetric have launched a series of new charts to track all of the popular music that finds its way onto the biggest streams.

Twitch had already become huge before 2020, with millions tuning in to people’s streams. This year it has exploded in lockdown with musicians and personalities heading to Twitch to connect with fans and with that music has boomed on Twitch as well.

In particular the amount of music played as gamers stream has increased massively and shows how well the two go hand in hand. To keep track of just how popular certain artists and songs are doing on Twitch, Chartmetric have launched four new charts.

  • Weekly Top Users by Viewer-Hours
  • Monthly Top Users by Viewer-Hours
  • Weekly Top Users by Followers
  • All-Time Top Users by Followers

Chartmetric founder and CEO, Sung Cho says: “We feel these charts give a great overview of who’s gaining traction, as well as what level and kind of engagement they’re getting on Twitch. We think these charts will prove valuable to music professionals of all sorts as they try to see how livestreaming fits into the business.”

The uptake in both streamers and viewers on Twitch has seen notorious music presences appear. Monstercat have gained nearly 800k followers on their 24/7 stream of their label music. deadmau5 has also gained a following of almost half a million on Twitch amongst many other musicians and music organisations.

You can find all four of Chartmetric’s new Twitch charts at chartmetric.com.