CÜR Music Streaming Finds New Boss In Ex-UMG Exec

Former Universal Music Group distribution President Jim Urie has joined startup streamer CÜR Music to lead its success.

Jim Urie joins CÜR Media with 20 years of industry experience at Universal Music Group, building his way to president and CEO of their distribution. Having been a driving force in turning their music catalogue digital, where music consumption is now at it’s highest, his skills should help new music streaming service CÜR Music find it’s place in the competitive online music marketplace.

Urie said on his new position: “There is a tremendous opportunity to break new ground in the music streaming space, and I believe the CÜR Music offering is poised to do just that.” CÜR’s offering is unique in it’s low prices, aimed at casual listeners with two tiers available for $1.99 or $4.99 a month.

CÜR Music
Jim Urie (left) joins Tipper and Al Gore at a Universal Music Grammy Party in 2007

Urie replaces former CÜR Media boss and founder Tom Brophy, though Brophy isn’t entirely losing his company just stepping down to director of the company. Brophy launched CÜR Media earlier this year and last month saw some successful funding from investors. However CÜR Media remains $7.5 million in debt to labels for music licensing, upon their last announcement.

Perhaps it was the potentially dire circumstances that led Brophy to step down and hand control over to an industry executive. Whatever the case, here’s hoping that Urie is able to use his years of industry knowledge and experience to pull CÜR Music out of debt and into a new, unique streamer to freshen up the industry.

NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s Music Video With Jean-Michel Jarre Is Here

Earlier this month we heard that legendary electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre was creating a track with renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The duo were brought together by The Guardian last year after Jarre expressed interest in Snowden. The electronic music pioneer said that Snowden reminded him of his mum and her position in the French resistance.

The track features a fast paced, techno beat that is broken in half by a statement on the importance and invasion of privacy. Whilst it’s a shame we don’t get to hear Snowden stretch his vocal cords it sends the message that both Jarre and Snowden are passionate about – being safe in a world that is so connected.

You can read more about how their track Exit came to be and watch a short video about the making of it here.

Warner’s 360 Degree Artist Interviews Put You In The Room With Artists

After YouTube announced some massive updates to it’s 360 degree video features Warner Music have revealed plans to release 360 interviews with certain artists.

Last week YouTube added spatial audio, so you hear the sounds around you, as well as live streaming options for 360 videos. With 360 degree videos a buzz since this update it’s now been revealed that Warner Music Group (WMG) plan to make use of the virtual reality (VR) features on YouTube for a series of new interviews.

Although interviews may not be the most exciting use of VR it shows the label experimenting with new technology, and depending on the interviewee it can be a chance to get up close and personal with artists that wouldn’t exist otherwise. WMG’s SVP of global marketing, Beth Appleton said: “Fans have always wanted to get closer to the artists they love and VR 360 degree technology allows them to feel even closer now.”

The first, and so far only, artist to be featured in a 360 degree videos is Canadian musician Lights. Although this is the only basis we have so far, they did make use of the 360 angle by having Lights move around the room and interact with certain objects. Taking this concept further as it’s established could result in some incredibly unique and interesting interviews.

Appleton assured more interviews to come, saying: “This immersive interview with Lights is the first of many we’ll be shooting with artists across the WMG roster.” There was no announcement when we could see more, or who will feature but with Lights’ interview now a few weeks old hopefully sooner rather than later.

MTV Unplugged Is Back Along With More New MTV Series!

After 20 years since MTV’s prime as a music network they’re looking to come back, starting with the revival of their famed Unplugged series as well as a new weekly live show.

It’s news to no-one that MTV went from being one of the largest and most respected networks for music to being a crappy reality show producer that somehow got away with keeping the M in MTV. It seems MTV are looking for a revival of their heyday with a new focus on music pushing them back to their roots.

The return of MTV’s acclaimed Unplugged series is no doubt the highlight. The live series takes bands and musicians on stage for acoustic or stripped down performances. During it’s peak in the 90’s it played host to performances from major artists such as Nirvana and Eric Clapton, both of whom went on to win Grammys for the recordings of their Unplugged sessions.

Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance is one of the most famous, taking places months before Kurt Cobain’s death. Sony Studios in New York City, 11/18/93. Photo by Frank Micelotta.

It seems that MTV’s aim with Unplugged is to take it it’s classic concept and put it in a modern setting, using the internet to promote and potentially stream performances. A press release said that “the revitalized Unplugged will restore key elements that made the franchise so groundbreaking in the first place, while resetting the show in the multi-platform video world of today.”

More shows were announced by MTV to debut this Autumn, and these ones are completely new. Wonderland takes place in LA and will broadcast live shows from 3 acts every week on their network. In development with Scooter Braun Films is Studio 24, a show which partners a famous artist with a “mystery talent” to create a song within 24 hours. There is also another show that will focus on MTV’s extensive archive footage, as well as an untitled music competition series from executive producer Mark Burnett.

MTV’s president, Sean Atkins said: “We’re on a mission to reignite MTV with everything that makes it one of the world’s most iconic brands – its soul of music, it’s love of pop culture, and its unexpected, groundbreaking, creative. What we share today is just the beginning, but it’s a strong first step in the journey and shows how aggressively we are moving to energise the extraordinary promise of this great brand.”

Beyoncé’s Surprise Album Boosts Tidal, But Is Exclusivity Good For Streaming?

Beyoncé dropped her new album ‘Lemonade’ almost out of nowhere on Saturday and follows Kanye West and Rihanna as an exclusive on her husband’s streaming service.

In case you didn’t already know that Jay Z owned music streaming service Tidal, maybe the fact that close friends Kanye and Rihanna and now his wife Beyoncé have all sacrificed full releases to boost the music streaming service this year. A couple months after Kanye’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ dropped as a Tidal exclusive Beyoncé has dropped her second surprise album as a streaming exclusive.

Kanye’s release was a great boost to the service pushing it to the top of the Apple App Store and resulting in 3 million subscribers compared to the 1 million announced beforehand. After saying his album would “never never never be on Apple… You can only get it on Tidal” Kanye controversially released TLoP on other streaming services, including Apple Music.

Now Beyoncé’s release is a little different. For a start she hasn’t specifically announced her album will remain a Tidal exclusive forever – it’s also for sale on other sites, just not streaming. However once again Tidal is being pushed into the limelight thanks to an artist’s exclusivity, moving up to number 12 on the Apple App Store whereas it wasn’t listed in the charts in the weeks before.

Unfortunately for Tidal this method seems to be a short term solution to drawing in customers that ends up alienating fans more than anything. Spotify have publicly spoken out against Tidal’s use of exclusives to force fans to use their service to hear artists they love. Global head of communication at Spotify, Jonathan Prince said: “We believe long-term exclusives are bad for artists and they’re bad for fans… Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to hear the music they’re excited about – exclusives get in the way of both.”

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30: Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Dead Mouse, Kanye West, Jay Z, Jason Aldean, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce and Win Butler attend the Tidal launch event #TIDALforALL at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Roc Nation)
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 30: Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Dead Mouse, Kanye West, Jay Z, J Cole, Jason Aldean, Jack White, Daft Punk, Beyonce and Win Butler at the Tidal launch event (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Roc Nation)

Tidal’s star studded backing and close relationship with artists has helped it secure high-profile album exclusivity with a number of artists. Unfortunately for Tidal it seems that these exclusives are providing more bad press than new users. One Kanye fan is even going so far as to try and sue Kanye West and Tidal for convincing him to subscribe for his exclusive album then releasing it elsewhere a month later.

Since the release of Beyoncé’s new album many critics have praised it for it’s experimental sound and deep, personal lyrics. Some of the songs, if autobiographical, suggest all may not be too cushty in the Jay Z-Bey household – potentially it wasn’t her idea to release Lemonade exclusively? Or perhaps Beyoncé wanted to help her husband out, it’s conjecture. Either way we will have to see if Beyoncé pulls a Kanye or not, for the sake of her fans I hope she does.