Africa Rising – New Apple Music Playlist Showcasing the Best New Talent from Africa Bi-Monthly

Apple Music has launched a great new bi-monthly playlist called Africa Rising, which showcases some of the best talent in Africa.

Nigerian-born, Afro-fusion singer and songwriter Omah Lay (pictured) will be the debut artist for the new program.

Africa Rising is now available in 33 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa is emerging as a very strong market in the music industry and it’s great to see that some of the new talent now has a greater platform.

How to break out of a creative rut: Advice for musicians and producers

It’s very easy to hit a wall where inspiration doesn’t come and it feels like you can’t write or create anymore – but there are ways out!

We’ve all been there: You have a day with nothing on, you think you’ll sit down and pick up your instrument or load up your DAW and start working on something new and just see what happens. Then nothing sounds right and eventually you give up feeling like you got nowhere.

Whether you’re just learning how to create music or you’re a veteran of writing and producing it can happen to us all!

Here are some tips that help me and others I’ve spoken to when we’restuck in a creative rut and find ourselves at a loss for inspiration.

Learn something new

Are you a lifelong pianist? If you’re looking for some inspiration, try playing the guitar. Oh, you’re a guitarist at heart? Well try doing some rhythm. You’re a multi-instrumentalist? Open up a DAW and try some digital production!

Whatever your forte, breaking out and learning something entirely new opens up a whole world of opportunities for you. You may have never picked up a keyboard before in your life but you can easily learn a couple chords in a day. The way they sound so differently to playing them on any other instrument may provide you the blueprint to start creating something new.

It’s refreshing having a new sound, even if you’re playing the exact same melody on a different instrument it can provide an entirely new feel.

Likewise if music production is your game, getting into physical instruments can broaden your horizons and potential massively when recording. Or even getting a brand new sample pack of sounds you would never normally think about using. You may not like, or you may find yourself creating music that sounds like nothing you’ve ever made before.

Connect with other passions

You likely have hobbies, talents, and pleasures beyond music which inspire you and bring you joy. Reconnecting with other passionate pleasures is a great way to find inspiration that you can bring into your playing.

Perhaps you’re a nature lover, going out and getting wild may give you the touch of green that sparks a creative fire in your head. Look at the number of songs inspired by birds, sitting in your garden or local park may provide an inspiring new melody. Maybe you love painting and getting your brushes out spurs you on an inventive drive that you can bring to your music.

Whatever loves you have beyond music, you want to make time for all of them to feel thoroughly fulfilled and other activities are a wonderful source of inspiration.

Experiment! Get weird with it

By and far the easiest way to lift myself out of a musical funk is to throw out the chords, forget the scales, get some weird sounds together and just have fun with music.

Try putting your fingers where you wouldn’t normally on your instrument. Load up a strange sample or a bizarre synth sound and start building some weirdness.

Getting rid of the rule book or the sounds you’re used to is a fantastic way to discover a new sound that catches the ear when it comes out. Of course it may well sound terrible but the point is that you’re having fun by not taking it seriously!

It’s very easy to get stuck in a creative rut because we take music too seriously and have a certain set of expectations of what we’re supposed to create. Going a bit wild sets the creative juices free and allows you to have fun without having the pressure of needing to write something.

I often find that breaking the restrictions of “trying” to create I will find a unique sound I want to work with or an interesting sequence that I can build on. Most importantly, I’m having fun playing!

Listen to other music – or don’t!

For most of us, listening to music is where a lot of inspiration comes from. Hearing a beautiful chord sequence can enliven the songwriter, an incredible lick can inspire the musician, even something as simple as a fat 303 kick can get the sparks lit up in a producer – it makes you want to create something that has that power and that feeling too!

Listening to music that you love is inspiring in many ways. It can make us think about the way songs are structured, about how the layers of music are combined together, how certain sounds are created, about the themes and conventions that make the blueprint of certain styles. It’s the best way to learn by example.

On the other hand, sometimes listening to other people’s music can invade our creativity. We get stuck with a song in our head and as we try to create we can’t escape the sounds of other music. I’ve certainly been there where I’m playing something out and realise I’ve just been recreating a song I’ve listened to a lot.

So sometimes it’s good to take a step back from other people’s music and immerse ourselves in our blank slates and let the music we hear in our heads come into fruition of its own volition.

Take a break

Too many creators expect their creativity to be on tap at any time but honestly; it sadly isn’t. Creativity can come in waves and you can certainly drain yourself of inspiration by working too hard.

Trying to force some creation is only going to hurt your motivation as you feel increasingly exasperated by not being able to bring anything to the table.

Taking a break from music making is one of the greatest things you can do to come back with a refreshed mind and a new-found spirit to your instruments and equipment. Kit-Kat’s were on to something universally valuable with their marketing.

Bonus video for lyricists

Andrew Huang has some creative advice for getting words down specifically.

@andrewhuang

How do you deal with writer’s block? Leave a comment! ##WritingTips ##Lyrics ##LearnWithMe ##LearnOnTikTok ##TikTokPartner

♬ original sound – andrewhuang

BRIT Awards 2021 gets pushed back to May

Original scheduled for its usual February slot, next year’s BRIT Awards will take place 11th May 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This move is to ensure a greater level of safety for the attendees and performers, and hopefully easied travel restrictions for those abroad. The eligibilty period for awards has also been extended.

We want to make sure that The BRITs delivers the outstanding production levels, superstar performances and live excitement that make it the biggest night in music. We believe that the best way to achieve this in 2021 is to move the show back a few months to May, and we are already at work planning a spectacular event that will remind us how important music has been in getting us all through these difficult times. I would like to thank our labels, ITV, AEG and Mastercard and all our partners for their fantastic support.

Geoff Taylor – Chief Executive, BPI & BRIT Awards Ltd

BRIT Awards 2021 will take place in AEG’s O2 Arena and broadcasted live on ITV.


The Ivors

Also announced recently, while winners will still be announced on 2nd September, this year’s Ivors ceremony will not take place, despite the decision earlier this year to push back the date.

As a community of music creators, The Ivors Academy has presented awards continuously for 64 years and 2020 will be no different. Lockdown proved how important music is to our lives and how fragile the live music industry is. Now, more than ever, songwriting and composing should be championed and celebrated to keep music alive. Our heartfelt thanks to Apple Music, PRS for Music and Grosvenor House London for their continued support.

Graham Davies – CEO & Crispin Hunt – Chair of The Ivors Academy

Next year’s Ivor Novello Awards are scheduled for May 2021 at Grosvenor House.

Sony WF-SP800N truly wireless noise cancelling sporty earbuds – review

Sony’s cheaper, longer battery, sportier and water resistant version of their flagship earbuds WF-1000XM3.

The WF-SP800N are a sportier, cheaper and newer alternative to the WF-1000XM3 while giving longer battery life and water resistance at the expense of sound quality and noise cancellation performance.

WF-SP800N Black

The earbuds are sleeker in design than other options from Sony, but still larger than a lot of the competition from the likes of AirPods, Google Pixel Buds and Jaybird Vistas. They come in black, white, blue and orange varients. Secure and comfortable fit for almost anyone, with optional arc support in two sizes, as well as four sizes of long hybrid silicone rubber earbuds. IP55 rating gives the buds water, sweat and dust resistance, making outdoor exercise in the rain or washing the earbuds easy. The bulky, hard-shell, protective case charges with USB-C and features an LED charging indicator. Unfortunately no wireless charging on the case. The case supplies the earbuds with one full charge. 9 hours out of the case with noise cancelling on, plus 9 additional hours in the case, and 13 hours out of the case with noise cancelling off, plus 13 additional hours in the case. Quick charging can give the earbuds 60 minutes of playback with noise cancelling from 10 minutes of charging. Out of the case battery performance is fantastic, but the bulky case could provide more extra life.

WF-SP800N Case

Sound quality and noise cancellation is good, but not at the same level as the flagship WF-1000XM3. Extra Bass gives the earbuds deep, powerful and punchy low-end, but some detail is lost when compared to the WF-1000XM3s or Powerbeats Pro.

Wireless bluetooth connection to only one device at a time. Sony are expected to add multiple pairing to their audio line-up, starting with the rumoured WH-1000XM4. Remove one earbud and the music with automatically pause. Taps and hold on each earbud’s touch sensor will control music, noise cancellation and the voice assistant. The glossy touch sensors are easy to feel with your finger. Hold one finger on the earbud to activate Quick Attention, bringing down the volume of music and up the ambient sound. Hands-free calling, with a tap to answer phone calls. Voice quality is average, not matching earbuds with long stems, such as AirPods.

WF-SP800N Quick Attention

Tweak the sound to exactly as you like it with the Headphones Connect app on iOS and Android. Support for Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri. Turn on Adaptive Sound Control in the app to automatically adjust your ambient sound preferences based on movement. The earbuds can switch between music only, music + voice, or music + ambient sound when standing still, walking, running or travelling. The feature doesn’t work too well and seems to change too often. Enable GPS access to change ambient mode based on location. Register areas such as the gym, park or office with different sound preferences. 360 Reality Audio gives a surround sound like experience on compatible platforms such as Tidal and Deezer. The effect is not as good as the WH1000XM3 headphones.

WF-SP800N Blue

At $198 the WF-SP800N are currently selling for $30 less than the retail price of the top end WF-1000XM3 earbuds. As they’ve been around for one year now, the WF-1000XM3 can be found on sale quite often. If you’re less concered with sport features and after the best sounding earbuds with grade-A noise cancellation, the extra $30 may be worth it.

If you’re after a great pair of sporty earbuds with noise cancellation, these are the ones for you.

Also worth considering:

Spotify’s Premium subscription for two is now available in 55 new places

Spotify Premium Duo offers two people unlimited, ad-free streaming at a fraction of the cost for couples and besties.

Spotify’s Family subscription is fantastic value for multiple people in a household but sometimes a family is just the two of you. Spotify have brought their Duo plan to pairs around the world in 55 new countries where two people can sign up to premium for $12.99 (or local equivalent) for both.

Both listeners on the account have their own Premium profile so they can listen to all the music they like, mold their playlists, and get personal recommendations from Spotify. Their are Duo benefits to be had as well, like the Duo Mix which regularly updates with a selection of music based on both of your tastes so you can share in your love of music with tracks picked with both of you in mind.

Spotify’s Chief Business Officer for Freemium, Alex Norström said: “Today we are proud to launch Spotify Premium Duo, a first-of-its-kind audio offering for just two people in the same household. Premium Duo includes our extensive music and podcast catalog and everything users love about Spotify Premium.

“With two individual Premium accounts, you can both listen independently, uninterrupted, and get all of your personalised playlists and features tailored just for you. We are thrilled to bring this unique Spotify Premium plan to even more markets around the world.”

Users who haven’t tried Premium before may be eligible to get the first month of Premium Duo for free. Just remember, the two users must reside at the same address to be eligible.

Existing Premium subscribers can switch to Premium Duo by visiting their “Account” page on Spotify.com and changing their subscription. If you upgrade to Premium Duo, you’ll keep your existing Premium account, along with saved music, podcasts, playlists, and recommendations.

To sign up for a music experience to share with that special someone, simply visit spotify.com/duo and follow the instructions.

Glastonbury festival warns they’ll “seriously go bankrupt” if they cancel 2021

2020 has been a devastating year for live music and festivals around the globe and a world favourite warns that a repeat could kill their livelihood.

It’s been a circular news cycle the past few months of seeing waves of gigs and festivals shut down for the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Glastonbury, the huge and beloved UK festival, was among the first to cancel their plans for the year back in March.

As with most cancelled festivals, like Coachella in the US, Glastonbury decided to write off this year and set a triumphant return for next year. But with the global situation still up in the air and the WHO warning the worst could still be yet to come with inevitable “second spikes” even the distant dates of 2021’s festival season is up in the air.

Glastonbury organisers, Michael and Emily Eavis, have said that if they’re forced to cancel again next year they will go bankrupt. This is telling for the thousands of smaller festivals and independent venues around the world facing similar struggles over the shutdown of live music and events if even this globally renowned festival could see it’s end with one more cancellation.

They explained that there are reserves to cover it for this year but they haven’t got the funds to handle two in a row. Michael told the Guardian: “We have to run next year, otherwise we would seriously go bankrupt. It has to happen for us, we have to carry on. Otherwise it will be curtains. I don’t think we could wait another year.”

In the UK, license fees for cancelled events haven’t been refunded to organisers which has had a huge impact on events organisers instability. Emily Eavis adds that those refunds “would offer a financial lifeline to many events.”

She says of their uncertainty: “We’ve navigated choppy waters so many times. This festival has always evolved and found ways to survive and I’m confident that we will again.”

It was Glastonbury’s half a century anniversary last weekend. In celebration the BBC brought Glastonbury to the homes of people around the country to tune in for 5 nights of the best sets over the years featuring David Bowie, Beyoncé, Adele, RadioHead, and many more.

TikTok’s impact on popular music is best seen through Charli D’Amelio

TikTok is huge, everywhere you look there’s a TikTok video, it’s even having an impact on trending songs and music charts.

In the last year TikTok’s status has gone from a trend to a global phenomenon as billions around the world now use it. With a heavy focus on singing and dancing along to music, TikTok has become inextricably linked with trending songs.

Chartmetric have been tracking the impact TikTok trends have on music when a song goes viral on the video platform. In May they launched an entirely new music chart purely for music on TikTok as songs became such a huge part of the platform.

They’ve spoken to TikTok’s biggest star, Charli D’amelio, to talk about how music plays into her videos. Looking at trends Chartmetric have seen how songs can explode in popularity for use in videos and listens on TikTok when Charli and other popular TikTokers use a song in their video.

Once a song features in a popular video on TikTok it will often see a boost in streams across streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify making it a huge new possibility for artists to get heard and recognised by millions.

Chartmetric looked at the ten tracks which received the most comments from her followers:

1. Ayesha Erotica’s “Sixteen” – 423,641 TikTok comments
2. 6ix8ine’s “GOOBA” – 327,400 TikTok comments
3. Don Toliver’s “After Party” – 264,900 TikTok comments
4. Mimi Webb’s “Before I Go” – 255,000 TikTok comments
5. SAINt JHN’s “Roses, Imanbek Remix” – 237,900 TikTok comments
6. Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” March 26th post – 228,900 TikTok comments
7. Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” March 25th post – 210,100 TikTok comments
8. Conkarah’s “Banana (feat. Shaggy) – 183,800 TikTok comments
9. Mulatto’s “Bitch From Da Souf” – 183,100 TikTok comments
10. Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” – 179,100 TikTok comments

When it comes to picking a song to use in here videos… Well, Charlie seems to just go for what she hears and enjoys. There’s no formula to it beyond the age-old musical formula of taking notice of something you enjoy. Though it’s clear when a song is getting popular and she and other creators take note and are more likely to use it in other videos.

Chartmetric dive deep into how TikTok is affecting the music charts in a new blog post and I’d recommend a look to find out more about just how how huge the impact of this blossoming social media platform is on the music charts.

You can get your music on TikTok for free and earn money each time your video is used with RouteNote.

Spotify are bringing lyrics to Free and Premium listeners in Latin America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia

Spotify listeners will be able to follow lyrics and sing along to their favourite songs as they’re introducing Lyrics to their popular music service.

Starting today Spotify are rolling out lyrics to countries around the world so that listeners can follow the words to their favourite songs as they listen. The feature is rolling out to both Free and Premium Spotify users and will feature the language of the singers for global songs.

Spotify have teamed up with Musixmatch to provide the lyrics on their apps. Listeners can bring up lyrics to the songs they are listening to by clicking a new ‘Lyrics tab’ at the bottom of the Now Playing screen. Lyrics will scroll down in real time with playback of music.

Spotify are rolling out lyrics to listeners in the following countries starting today:

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Uruguay, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

They are slowly rolling out lyrics to India as well, stating that they want to release lyrics slowly to ensure the best experience in the country.

Pandora launches a station to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community

Qmunity is a new station from Pandora to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community and celebrate the Future of Pride.

Qmunity sponsored by Xfinity, showcases artist breaking boundaries, building bridges, fighting injustice and amplifiying love with their music. The station helps listeners celebrate Pride, diversity and amplify Black voices with music from artists such as Lil Nas X, Kaytranada, Janelle Monae, and more.

The Future of Pride Mode is a hand picked selection of music from artists shaping the future of pride, with artists’ reflections on their songs and stories. This is one of Pandora’s first genre stations to feature its Mode functionality where listeners can control the types of songs played with selectable “modes” that are thematic.

Listen to Qmunity here and find the Future of Pride Mode here.

Qmunity

5 dogs who are very good at music

Dogs are often left out of musical conversations. “No fingers” they say, or “got no rhythm”. Well the next time you’re in an argument over the canine capacity for musicality prove those naysayers wrong with these fine specimens.

1. I could listen to these beautiful droplets all day. I can see this dog on stage with a big double bass accompanying his groove. Through the smoke clouded room under the pavement in the forgotten jazz club, Cookie the blind and deaf dog channels Beethoven in the 21st Century.

2. This dog has better tone than you and you know it. The Blues revival starts here. Petition for Glastonbury 2021?

3. That last dog is gonna need a support act. This dude’s pitch might need some work but he’s got that pure unbridled southern soul that gets the cowboys kicking boots and launching knees at the midnight hoedown.

4. Maple is a drummer. They were born to play the drums and that is what they do. They do it in time, they do it with style, they do it with an exalted class. Can you even picture going to a gig and having to put up with a human drummer again after watching this? There is a solution: We just breed and refine an endless line of Maples.

5. Avant-Garde music has become stale in the last few decades. Pushing the boat out with something weird and jarring is more common than popular boybands. That’s a real stat – don’t look it up! This dog has proven that their are still boundaries to be pushed. Art is still possible in a world over-encumbered with creation. This is the FUTURE! Music starts here and don’t you forget it. Where were you when the new age of artistic expression was born into this world? Right f**king here, baby.