A roundup of this week's music news: Soundcloud's deal with WMG, Wiley plays the game, and Four Tet & TEED take selfies.
A new feature for Dummy: every Friday we'll be rounding up five things from around the 'net that made us smile, made us think, or made us tap our feet. Here, we tackle Soundcloud's deal with Warner Music Group, a belter of a mix from Jessy Lanza, and a dumb but great game about Wiley.
Soundcloud struck a licensing deal with Warner Music Group this week, its first major label deal. Warner will partner with Soundcloud around its ad-supported 'On Soundcloud' programme, as well as a paid subscription model that's launching next year. This means that co-operating WMG artists will be able to earn royalties by having their songs on the service, and will also earn from bootlegs of their tracks, and whenever their tracks appear in DJ mixes.
It's cool, in some respects: Soundcloud received 175 million unique streams last year, yet it lost close to $30 million in the same period, so the platform needs to become financially viable somehow. Yet there's also the issue that, as usual, it's the major labels who win out on the deal, not the independent artists who actually built the platform by using it and turning it into what it is today. Still, it's an interesting development and one worth keeping an eye on over the coming months: will this be the start of users receiving streaming royalties from the service, or the beginning of the end?
After all the hoopla about instrumental grime making a comeback last year, this year has seen a lot of vocal grime come back, whether that's through new MCs, or familiar MCs like Riko Dan hooking up with new school producers like Rabit, or through Skepta or Wiley putting out straight-up grime records. Wiley's new album 'Snakes & Ladders' for Big Dada falls into the latter category, and to tie in with the label have made this game of - yup - snakes & ladders, which tells the rags-to-riches-via-more-rags story of a young, up-and-coming MC. It's simple stuff, but it's pretty fun and actually fairly illuminating. Play the game over at the Big Dada site.
This one's worth pointing out if only to ask: has there been a clearer success story than Jessy Lanza the past 18 months? Ever since dropping her Hyperdub-released debut album 'Pull My Hair Back' last September, she's toured relentlessly, appeared at every music festival under the sun, and most recently collaborated with and headed out on the road in support of Caribou on his new album. And she's still gaining new fans every day.
On her mix for i-D, Lanza stitches together music by Mouse on Mars, Virgo, and Delroy Edwards, as well as her new track with footwork DJs Spinn and Taso, which is sure to be ma-hoo-sive. As Lanza says to i-D, "The whole time I was trying to cheer myself up. I hope that somebody else finds it cheery. As Dan Snaith would say, it's all about the bangers and ballads."
James Murphy has been building one for years. Now it's Floating Points' turn to design a DJ mixer. It's probably the nerdiest pursuit around, but when you take DJing and audio quality seriously, and you've got the brain wired for it, then there's really no reason not to try improving the tools at your disposal. Floating Points aka Sam Shepherd's team-up with Isonoe (the same company Murphy was working with - they design boxes for audiophiles) is called the FP Mixer (duh), and it's a rotary mixer - the big daddy of all DJ mixers - and was dreamt up because Shepherd found that the mixers on the market weren't up to the same quality as the rest of his studio. Apparently a prototype is in use at London's Plastic People right now. Keep your eyes peeled on Isonoe for more details about buying one when the time comes.
Right, this won't require too much brainpower: Four Tet and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs were tweeting at each other about a collaboration. They uploaded the collaboration to Sendspace, Four Tet's preferred outlet for leaking music. It was a folder of selfies. There you go. That's it, that's all. Go and download the selfies here.