Can a computer predict chart topping hits against pop flounders?

Professor Armand Leroi believes that pop music is a science and in a new show on BBC sets out to discover whether data can transform popular music.

Evolutionary biologist Professor Armand Leroi gathers a team of scientists and researchers in new BBC documentary “The Secret Science of Pop” to analyse over 50 years worth of chart music in the UK. Their ultimate goal? To discover if there’s a science behind what makes popular music.

When the results are in, Armand teams up with hit producer Trevor Horn. Using machine-learning techniques, Armand and Trevor try to take a song by unsigned artist Nike Jemiyo and turn it into a potential chart-topper.

Armand also takes a scientific look at pop evolution. He hunts for the major revolutions in his historic chart data, looking for those artists who transformed the musical landscape. The outcomes are fascinating and surprising, though fans of the Fab Four may not be pleased with the results. As Armand puts it, the hallmark of The Beatles is ‘average’.

Finally, by teaming up with BBC research and development, Armand finds out if his algorithms can discover the stars of the future. Can he predict which of thousands of demo tracks uploaded to BBC Introducing is most likely to be a hit without listening to a note?

This is a clash of science and culture and a unique experiment with no guarantee of success. How will the artists react to the scientist intruding on their turf? And will Armand succeed in finding a secret science of pop?

Watch the full show here.

Every track on Ed Sheeran’s new album is in the charts, raising questions of chart legitimacy

Ed Sheeran’s phenomenal Spotify success is raising doubts with some over the integration of streaming data in the official charts, as the UK top 20 currently features all of Sheeran’s new album.

Sheeran released his third album ‘÷’  just two weeks ago and has since been totally dominating Spotify, breaking records, and now he’s taken over the official UK charts. Thanks to the inclusion of music streaming in charts data Sheeran’s massive album success on Spotify has pushed every single track on Divide onto the Top 20 singles chart.

However, whilst Sheeran may be laughing his way to the bank his chart dominance is causing concern for some in the industry who feel it’s unfair for an artist to have such a complete hold over the charts, especially as rising artists struggle to make an impact. Currently, only 4 of the top 20 Singles in the chart are held by artists that aren’t Sheeran.

Worldwide Independent Network’s chief executive, Alison Wenham said that whilst Sheeran was undoubtedly “wildly, incredibly popular” his chart domination with ‘Divide’ has a “certain chill factor in the charts”. She continued: “Having Ed Sheeran dominate virtually the whole of the Top 20 is indicative of the fact it is evolving and the rules will need to be examined fairly regularly in terms of the conversion – how many streams equals a download.”

Streaming figures were integrated into the UK charts to represent music popularity more accurately, especially as single purchases continue to plummet. The current conversion rate means that 150 plays of a song on Spotify counts as a sale towards their chart performance. Wenham however disagrees with the change, arguing that the charts should have “a degree of value associated with it, people have paid to listen to it.”

The president of music managers group MMF, Jon Webster also feels that the new system needs a “drastic rethink”, saying: “You should be looking at two different things: what’s happening in streaming and what’s happening in sales. You can’t mix them. It ends up in two different metrics and that’s the problem. When you were a kid and you bought a single, if you played it 500 times over five weeks it was still only one sale. But now we’re having that 500 times over five weeks in the chart. We live in a different world, and we need a different chart for a different world.”

Despite the criticism though, the Official Charts Company’s chief executive Martin Talbot says that they will not “rush to any kneejerk actions” due to Sheeran’s success. Whilst Sheeran’s chart domination does suggest a flawed system, he is by no means the precedent and is anomalous in his ridiculously successful streaming performance.

What do you think, is the system broken or is the implementation of streaming via 150 streams to a sale a fair inclusion?

Shazam’s music discovery is getting concerts as Songkick partnership goes live

Shazam and Songkick’s partnership is now in effect allowing users to discover new and local concerts and easily as they can discover music with Shazam’s song recognition app.

Shazam and Songkick revealed that they would be coming together at the end of last year, and now 4 months down the line it’s all in place. Songkick is now integrated into Shazam so that users can discover concerts through the new ‘Discover’ section, a feature that presents a curated selection of “cards” with new songs, videos, playlists recommended just for you based on your Shazams and actions in the app.

After expressing he was “extremely excited about bringing this to our global community in 2017” Shazam’s chief product officer, Fabio Santini is chuffed to have the integration launched, saying: “When an artist announces a tour, fans who live near the venue will see a relevant concert card as part of their ‘Discover’ experience.”

Songkick CEO, Matt Jones said after they announced it last year: “The moment of discovery is such an important time to educate the fan about a show. I’m proud to say we’ve built a technology platform that will enable every artists we work with, and every fan who uses us, a chance to seamlessly discover new artists and immediately have the opportunity to see them live. Shazam plays such a pivotal role in music discovery, and we’re excited to expand our reach to millions of more live music fans around the globe, ensuring Songkick is available wherever fans are engaging the most.”

Now that the partnership is live, Jones said: “We’re constantly innovating to make the live music experience better, and this is a great example of how we’re utilizing Songkick’s extensive data to enhance the fan experience. Songkick and Shazam are both dedicated to making music fans’ lives easier, and we’re excited to see the impact of this enhanced discovery experience.”

Samsung are adding Grammy-winning audio from AKG into Galaxy smartphones

Samsung have announced a partnership between themselves and renowned audio developers AKG to bring expert sound quality to their mobile devices.

This week Samsung revealed that they had signed a partnership with HARMAN in 2016 that has led to Grammy Award-Winning audio from AKG to be integrated into tablets and smartphones by Samsung. As well as aiding the development of their speakers, AKG will also tune the earphones included with devices “to enjoy pure, natural sound with earphones”.

Executive Vice President at Samsung Electronic, Younghee Lee said: “HARMAN and the AKG brand were the natural choice to elevate our audio quality and immediately communicate the distinct and premium offering that we wanted to bring to consumers with our new product introductions. For a totally immersive experience, we wanted the best performance in audio – and we achieved that through this exciting collaboration, giving Galaxy users the ability to fully enjoy enhanced listening experiences across Samsung’s mobile portfolio.”

As the first stage of this audio collaboration, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 will debut with quad stereo-sound speakers tuned by AKG. With premium 4K video playback and a vivid Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy Tab S3 will offer a cinema-like experience and feature S Pen productivity.

Samsung Galaxy tab AKG audio sound high quality grammy award winning technology

The tablet’s AKG tuned speakers will produce pure sounds, free from distortion and distraction, inspiring listeners with a truly immersive acoustic experience. The speakers will also automatically adjust depending on whether the device is in landscape or portrait mode to offer the highest-quality sound.

Samsung and AKG will expand their collaboration by bringing AKG’s superior listening experience to Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Select Galaxy smartphone users will soon be able to enjoy pure, natural sound with earphones tuned by AKG included in-box with their smartphone.

AKG by HARMAN was founded by an engineer and physicist with the idea of creating pure studio sound that could become a catalyst for creative expression. For 70 years, AKG microphones and headphones have been used from the studio to the stage by the world’s most respected musicians, producers and DJs with a legacy of innovation that includes more than 1,000 patents and over 300 inventions in the field of electro acoustics.

President at HARMAN Lifestyle Audio, Michael Mauser said: “AKG has been delivering Grammy® Award-Winning reference sound for professional musicians for more than 70 years. Integrating AKG technology will greatly enhance Samsung’s mobile products by delivering a fully differentiated and superior audio experience to customers. We are very excited to be a part of Samsung’s prestigious Galaxy portfolio and look forward to bringing our premium audio capabilities to Samsung Galaxy users worldwide.”

Apple Music pick their side in Nicki Minaj Vs Remy Ma with this tweet

After Soulja Boy and Chris Brown never ended in the ring 2017 has moved onto it’s next rap beef, Nicki Minaj against Remy Ma and this time Apple Music are getting involved.

Remy Ma and competitive beef go together like ham and cheese, and the female rappers most recent call out has been aimed at booty-famous Nicki Minaj. You can see a history of their beef and all the in’s and out’s of who’s a “bitch” and why here, but the development we find most intriguing is Apple Music’s take on it all.

On Saturday night Apple Music’s official Twitter shared Remy Ma’s recent release ‘Shether’, in which Ma takes shots at Nicki over the beat from ‘Ether’, Nas’ infamous diss track aimed at Jay Z. Sharing the track alone might suggest support for Remy Ma, but could easily have been seen as ambiguous promotion if not for their caption…

It’s such an unusual tweet because it shows a service, which 99.9/100 times remain neutral, taking a side between artists. However it may not quite as unusual a stance considering that Nicki Minaj owns shares of Tidal, Jay Z’s music streaming service and one Apple Music’s primary competitors.

Twitter responded accordingly to the flames: