MUSIC JOURNALISM 

by Karen Hirabayashi

News Piece

IMAGE: Facebook ​

14 May 2018, 12:00 (News Piece)

Research reveals: All music streaming services are bad for musicians, but YouTube is worse...

 

According to the research from Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, YouTube and its parent Google (which in turn is owned by Alphabet) have never paid enough money for the musicians (creators). Taylor Swift and U2 agree. Also, the famous band manager Peter Mensch who manages huge bands such as Muse and Red Hot Chili Peppers says that "YouTube, they're the devil.” as the music industry is always a tough place for most people who want to make money.

Nowadays, there are a lot of ways to listen to music such as downloading and streaming besides buying the physical resources. In 2016, 51.4%, more than half of the people who listen to music use streaming. This indicates that streaming cannot be ignored for any musicians’ life. 

When we compared between Apple music (only paid members), Spotify (both paid members and free members) and YouTube (not flat-rate), you can see the obvious difference of payments to music creators.

IMAGE:Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA

This bar graph shows how much money musicians get for 1,000 streams on each service. This graph reveals how low the payment of YouTube gives compared to the other two services.

However, more than 1.5 billion people per month are watching Youtube. Additionally, a survey said that around 82% of all the users of YouTube are using YouTube for listening to music or watching music videos. Therefore, 9/10 of the top 10 views are occupied by music videos (VEVO etc...).

IMAGE: RIAA Analysis and estimates of company date.MiDIA Research and Maratt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP graphic

For example, Taylor Swift – Shake It Off has around 2.5 billion views on Youtube. She could get around 2.5 million dollar (2.5 billion views ÷ 1000 views = 2.5 million views, 2.5

million views × 1 dollar = 2.5 million dollars) based on research. However, if she just wants to get 2.5 million dollars from the current Spotify, she just needs to get 360 million views (2.5 million dollars ÷ 7 dollars ≒ 360,000 views, 360,000 views × 1000 views = 360 million views).

 

YouTube said it had paid more than one billion dollars globally last year to the music

industry from advertisement that runs around videos.
“YouTube is contributing a meaningful and growing revenue stream for the industry.”

“YouTube is working with the music industry to bring more money to artists, labels and publishers,” said a spokeswoman.

However, Spotify paid record labels about 2 billion dollars in 2015, twice as much as YouTube.

In this way, all the musicians say YouTube does not pay music creators enough.

The sales of YouTube is only depending on advertising at the moment. Because nobody has to be paid members, it is easier to get mass audience compared to the other streaming services.

This is a huge global flaw in the music landscape: it is alarming.

Opinion Piece

Musician VS Youtube (Opinion Piece)

by Karen Hirabayashi

How do you listen to music in the present day?

 

The survey shows that 51.4%, more than half of the people who listen to music uses music streaming. Besides, it also says that Youtube is still the most common way of streaming for now.

 

In this way, taking advantage of Youtube is one of the most important skills for musicians to be famous even though they might not really like Youtube.

 

There are a few aspects of pros and cons for Youtube. As I mentioned before, Youtube is most utilized for streaming service at the moment, so it will be helpful for giving publicity.

 

 

Musicians will be able to obtain mass audiences compared to other streaming services since Youtube always allows everyone to watch videos (not flat-rate) . This is the biggest benefit for using Youtube from musicians’ perspectives.

 

Nowadays, lots of people have their own Youtube channel. There are more than 720,000 channels which have more than 5,000 subscribers in the world.
When I stream Youtube, I will be able to find new music and artists so easily, based on recommended videos. This is because Youtube’s algorithms are set to give you the best matches possible. These recommended videos are either viral videos that are popular globally, promoted videos, videos uploaded in the general area, videos from popular channels, or videos
basedupon your viewing history or cookies. Basically, Youtube wants more business from them (Related videos - more views - more advertisements played - more revenue).

 

Also, approximately 68 million people worldwide were doing streaming subscriptions at the end of 2015, according to industry body the IFPI. These facts show how effective Youtube is for advertising to mass audiences especially if you are a prominent artist.

 

On the other hand, musicians claim that Youtube is not fair to everyone in terms of the payment. In the present situation, musicians are able to gain only half the amount of payment from Youtube, compared to other streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes. So, they can never get enough money from Youtube. From the statistics of today, if musicians want to make a living by sharing their music on Youtube, they need at least 190 million times hits per video. This means that it is nearly impossible for most of the musicians.

 

Needless to say, when the audiences stream the videos on Youtube, they do not care about business, payment and how musicians feel. In short, they end up consuming the music in itself.
As a result, they are not willing to buy any CDs and records of musicians, because of streaming on Youtube. Also, since Youtube enables everyone to stream videos again no matter when and where they are on Youtube, they are unwilling to pay for streaming subscriptions on Youtube.

 

In this situation, payment for artists by Youtube absolutely imperative for musicians.

 

One of the biggest issues of Youtube is that Youtube has struck deals with labels, publishers and collecting societies to share revenues from advertising around their music. The industry’s current war of words with YouTube boils down to that “Value gap”, which leads to extremely growing the number of music video streams on the service not being matched by similar growth in royalties for labels and publishers.


This is where things stand right now. So, we need to consider what musicians can do.

 

Narrowing down the target to fewer streaming service can be a strong strategy. If you use all services on Youtube, Spotify and iTunes for sharing your music, it must be better for musicians to share their music on only one of them. The reason is that, by filtering your target, particular audience could get a favorable treatment. Therefore, they will be more interested in the artist. And then, we

can expect them to search and listen more.

In 2014, Taylor Swift deleted all her tunes from Spotify. This challenge gave her the chance to get the big hits from her official channel. “Music connect from research company” says that the hits of the video were 75% increased overall. This suggested the new and innovative way to make a business with streaming services.

IMAGE: globeenglish.com

At the moment, it is better to have lots of views on one streaming service rather than have fewer views on few different streaming services. This is because, the small number of views are not going to make a different of payment.

Perhaps, you are thinking that the world is going crazy with complaints but I do not write this article for staring a petition against how Youtube treats the musicians.
Every artist should get a fair consideration for their own music. So, please do not treat all the music under the deserving value.

Interview

Daichi Kato is rising star in Japanese Jazz scene

(Feature)

IMAGE: Amazon

by Karen Hirabayashi

 

 

Daichi Kato is a jazz saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist and music educator based in Nagoya, Japan.

Following the last two albums (“First Connection”, 2011 and “On The Way of My Life”, 2014), he released his third album “Don’t stop Go ahead” in 2017. His third album has been met with critical acclaim.
A most distinguished artist, Daichi Kato is definitely gaining recognition in Japan from music fans and industry professionals.

 

I caught up with Daichi shortly after his successful release.

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At 14:30, the atmosphere is calming yet brimming with ideas. As I entered the sophisticated studio in his own house and sat down on the sofa with an amazing jazz back ground music to interview with Daichi Kato. When I listen attentively to background music of Jazz Messengers’ record, accidentally we discussed about the importance of buying physical copies of music such as CDs and records. He strongly claims that physical copies of music are much better than one downloaded for listening. I feel like I have been accepted into a private exhibition of the minds behind Daichi Kato as he told me his honest opinion.

 

Daichi was born in Nagoya, started to play piano at the age of 5 and clarinet at the age of 13. When he started university, he devoted himself to jazz saxophone because he could get a seat in the university big band.

 

 

 

IMAGE: Daichi Kato Official Website

At the same time, he also enjoyed playing jazz in small ensembles so he started gigging with his bands. He was majoring a non-music based degree in university, in this way you might see that how hard it is to make time to become good at music.
His music is not only about precision and conviction but also elegance. If you listen to the music of Daichi, you will recognize that an amazing alto player Cannonball Adderley is a significant part
in Daichi’s saxophone playing.

Also, recently he is really into George Robert and Dick Oatss. He always tries to find the favorite players in his music career.
In fact, I was really amazed
with the amount of CDs and records in his studio. There were literally more than 500 physical copies of music. I was able to see his collections filling two big book shelves.

 

 

Additionally, he told me that he bought around 10 CDs each month. It is surprising that he is still collecting the CDs and records.

Having no opportunities to study music formally, he developed his own techniques by listening.

He told me:

“Listening is the most important part of practice.”


“CDs and records can be your greatest teacher.”

 

Deeply listening is one of the most effective and efficient ways to improve, he said.
 

IMAGE: Daichi Kato Official Website

Nowadays, lots of jazz musicians tend to show their skills and knowledge over their improvisation in Japanese jazz scene. That means the level of the Japanese jazz scene have been climbing steadily, he insists.
However, he is disappointed with the improvisation situation. It is surely no problem to show what the musicians want in performances, but the musicians also really need to consider what the audiences want to listen to. He claims that sometimes the audiences prefer to listen to the improvisation which is melodically beautiful rather than harmonically difficult and dissonant.

 

His first priority is always audiences, because he strongly thinks that music will not be complete without the listeners. This is anything but being comfortable for the musicians. This also means the musicians have to keep changing musically to keep the audience interested in the music.

His ability to keep audiences interested in the music is the reason he is so in demand as a musician in the jazz industry in Japan.

Finally I asked him about the future. He said that he wants to try something new as well as keep going with what he is doing now. He is planning to form a large ensemble. He is now working on arranging the tunes for the new band.

He has got strong ideas, he might be a big star for sure.

 

Daichi’s best advice for working as a musician.

 

 

1. BE PROACTIVE - “Just waiting will not bring anything to you therefore you need to go out for the events like someones’ gigs and jam sessions. Every chance comes from people, so you must get to know people for getting the chances.” For example, he has a habit during the gig, when he gets the interval, he tries to go down to the seats to chat with the audience as much as possible. He told me that talking with new people always teaches his something new. In addition, sometimes he is reminded of something important which he had forgotten. He finds that this is the good way of networking.

 

2. BE NICE - “Even if you are the most talented and creative musician in the world, if you are always late for the gigs, people are not going ask you to play together anymore.
Be punctual, polite and kind etc... Being a musician is not a special job. Musicians are the same as businessmen. You need to have common sense for sure. Most of the time, music is produced by more than one person.” Hence, you have to know how to work together with other people.

 

3. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!! - “All musicians have to practice! Always have aspirations for music. Practicing is essential.” He recommends to keep taking some classes and aim high!

“Don’t be afraid to go out and do it. Go and gig, go and meet people, go and learn!. Try new things, listen to loads of good and bad music, just learn form the experiences. Spontaneously you will find a place that resonates with you. This is what I learnt the most in this 10 years.”

 

 

 

 

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Don’t stop Go ahead” is available now: AMAZON

【PERSONNEL】


Daichi Kato– Soprano, Alto sax Peter Madsen – Piano
Eiji Nakayama – Bass Masanori Ando – Drums

【TRACKS】

1. Take Five Paul Desmond arr. Daichi Kato
2. Substitute Daichi Kato
3. Prologue Eiji Nakayama
4. Monk's Dream Thelonious Monk arr. Daichi Kato 5. Julian Daichi Kato

6. Topaz Eyes Eiji Nakayama
7. Home Daichi Kato
8. Oblivion Astor Piazzolla arr. Eiji Nakayama 9. Segment Charlie Parker 


Album Review

Seiji Endo: Circle For Peace (Jazz) album review - a stunning expression of the importance of life.

Seiji Endo: Circle For Peace. Album art by Tatsuo Inoue, courtesy of Nippon Acoustic Records Inc (03.29.2017) .

This is Seiji Endo’s second album which is composed of all original tunes. He had been working on this project since the summer of 2015.
He has been active for playing any types of music from jazz, pop to classical music at the moment. Therefore, I could not really guess how his album sounds like.

 

Seiji Endo is a pianist in Japan. He started to play classical piano at the age of 4. At the same time as entering university, he devoted himself to jazz music. In this way, he is able to perform any kind of music.

 

Circle For Peace embodies all of Seiji’s pent-up thoughts after that. However, his message is not merely one of despair. There
The message behind Seiji Endo’s album is powerful; praying for the peace and restoration support following the Great East Japan earthquake which took place in 2011.
pain, anger and conflict in it. In addition, it also includes hope and gratitude.

 

Circle For Peace itself is from his previous release (Sakura Meditation, 2012). Moving away from the straight-ahead piano solo sound of classical influence, this new album has more diverse types of music such as jazz-influenced sound and the collaboration tune with the local chorus of the affected area by the earthquake.

The simple and soft vibe of the music reveals his techniques of the piano and beauty of the harmony.

Combining not only captivatingly convincing soulful melodies but also rich and soothing harmonies with beautiful piano and stable grooves, each part is carefully crafted to produce a fascinating blend of musical influences.

 

There is a tune called “Miracle tree” (奇跡の木) in this album. Seiji composed this tune as a three-parter (守られた命, 葛藤, 未来へ繋ぐ). This new challenge made the album much more interesting compared to the other solo pianist’s albums. Indeed, the originality and creativity have been most demonstrated in this part of the album.

 

Circle For Peace balances passion, vulnerability, heartache and resilience of humans in the most elegant way possible, and through it, Seiji Endo presents a particularly poignant expression of the importance of life. I can highly recommend it for all music listeners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revisited Album

Twenty Years On: Dookie - Green Day (Revisited album review)

 IMAGE: genius.com

by Karen Hirabayashi

 

 

 

The album is full of energy, and still earning its crown

 

Released in 1994, Green Day’s third album Dookie is a gem to rediscover. Dookie became a worldwide commercial success, peaking at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200, charting in seven countries and winning a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1995. Dookie also produced five hit singles for the band: Longview, When I Come Around, Basket Case, a re-recorded version of Welcome to Paradise and She which are radio only singles. The album helped propel Green Day, and even punk rock music into mainstream popularity at the time.

 

Overall, Dookie has sold more than 20 million CDs, which is the best sales for the punk-rock album even now. 

IMAGE: PIETER M VAN HATTEM/NME

Green day is an American punk rock band formed in 1986 by Billie Joe 

Armstrong(lead vocalist and guitarist), Mike Dirnt (bassist) and Tré Cool (drummer). Tré Cool was not an original member, but he replaced the drummer called John Kiffmeyer in 1990. 

 

 

Brief stories of punk rock often highlight the immortal class of 1977 (Pistols, Clash, Ramones) and then jump to the crossover success of Nirvana, Oasis and Green Day in the 90s. That is entirely misleading, overlooking a multitude of amazing punk and punk albums in between, but there's a reason Dookie remains such a landmark. Dookie forced the powers that be to once again pay attention to punk rock.  

 

 

The listeners say, Green Day is musically really special. Generally speaking, punk music has super fast tempo, loud sounds, less melodic ideas and rebellious spirit in music. However, Dookie is not sounding like that. There is strong and catchy melody and positive atmosphere in their music even though they are still singing about something heavy such as anger against the government, murder, divorce, his own difficulty etc…

 

This is the reason why Dookie was easily accepted by music fans. 

 

In fact, it is really hard to be famous as a punk band in foreign countries because everyone is culturally different. In addition to that, in punk music, the lyrics are one of the important parts to understand. In order to be a famous punk band in other countries, the band has to be musically convincing enough and sound great. 

Green Day has become famous worldwide. Indeed, they have charted in seven countries so far. 

 

 

 

In 1999, Billie Joe Armstrong said, 

 

「I couldn't go back to the punk scene, whether we were the biggest success in the world or the biggest failure…」

SPIN MAGAZINE

 

 

His words describe how Green Day were feeling like at the time. Of course, it is good to be famous but they always had the conflict between what they should be for the public and what they want to be for themselves. 

 

 

…………………………………………

 

 

 < Dookie >

1   Burnout

2   Having a Blast

3   Chump

4   Longview

5   Welcome to Paradise

6   Pulling Teeth

7   Basket Case

8   She

9   Sassafras Roots

10 When I Come Around

11 Coming Clean

12 Emenius Sleepus

13 In the End                                       

14 All by Myself (hidden track)           

IMAGE: myspace.com

As I listen to the 7th track “Basket Case” with fresh ears, I found satisfaction in the guitar and singer’s simple and pleasant sounds that introduce the tune. It is said that this tune is the most popular in this album. This reminds me of a power pop song rather than punk rock song. The previous tune “Pulling Teeth” sounded like a medium straight punk rock song, so I was surprised and excited with the big difference of the tunes. I was wondering where the music would take me next with the album, it is full of surprises.

 

Green Day have built up their own musical style since day one of the music, additionally they have had a big impact on other musicians after the release of Dookie. In a good way, punk music became much more friendly for the public. They are more musically easy-listening and suitable for all people. Also, they are responsible for new interest in punk rock music after the death of punk music in the 1970’s. 

 

 

 

Dookie is by no means 100 percent perfect for everybody, but it is a magnificent album for sure. If you are looking for 40 minutes full of classic punk rock attitude, tunes and biting lyrics, you won't find anything better than this. This is definitely the right album to start listening to for punk rock music!