#88 - Balanced Breakfast 🌞

Your Weekly Music Round-Up: Hit Me Hard and Soft review, ACM Awards 2024 surprises, Spotify vs. NMPA, Epidemic Sounds possible IPO, Audrey Nuna.

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Happy Sunlighter Sunday! For a balance of genres to satisfy your music hunger (and to learn our taste in music), check out our Balanced Breakfast playlist. For us to better understand yours, help us by completing this survey to make your Sunday reads more curated and entertaining.

Rating Rationale: This week, Billie Eilish, who we first discovered in 2016, released her third full-length album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, in collaboration with none other than her brother, FINNEAS. As you probably predicted by the title, it’s a very intimate album and one we think is her best body of work since her 2017 EP, dont smile at me. Similar to WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?, Billie again pays homage to Hayao Miyazaki through her reference to “CHIHIRO,” the ten-year-old protagonist in Spirited Away. Throughout the album, she continues to illustrate her immense, moody versatility (not just a “whisper” artist), all while revealing her chaotic emotions, albeit now in a more refined manner. One theme we’re noticing this year with big-name pop artist albums is their unabashed vulnerability; they’ve chosen to make music for themselves without much concern for fan backlash. Ariana, Taylor, and Dua have taken this route, and so too now has Billie. Perhaps it’s the zeitgeist of the maturing Gen Z.

Soundside Festival & The Best Day Ever Festival debut this year, Glastonbury unveils remaining spots on lineup

Two more inaugurals have been announced for this year: Soundside Fest in Bridgeport, Connecticut, boasts a strong alternative-folk lineup, featuring headliners Noah Kahan and Foo Fighters. Additionally, Aminé will be launching The Best Day Ever Festival in Portland, Oregon this August, featuring Kaytranada, BADBADNOTGOOD, and Toro y Moi, among others.

After announcing headliners in March, Glastonbury 2024 unveiled plans to add two new stages along with the remainder of artists set to take the stage at Worthy Farm next month.

Pop

Billie Eilish thanks “First Fans” via SoundCloud, Gracie Abrams releases sophomore album tracklist

Billie Eilish embraced her SoundCloud roots (she was discovered on the platform with “Ocean Eyes” in 2015), by partnering with the DSP to offer her day-one fans early access to the album via SoundCloud’s “First Fans” platform. The collaboration was made complete with the streaming company refreshing its logo to celebrate the drop.

A few weeks after announcing plans for her second studio album, The Secret of Us, Gracie Abrams dropped a track listing, including a feature with Taylor Swift on track 5 👀

Country & Folk

2024 ACM Awards surprise fans with stellar performances

Last week, Reba McEntire hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs) in North Texas as Lainey Wilson and Chris Stapleton swept the evening of awards. A few surprises throughout the night included: Dua Lipa joining Chris Stapleton on stage for a duet of “Think I’m In Love With You,” Post Malone debuting a new country song, “Never Love You Again,” and Noah Kahan joining Kelsea Ballerini for a duet of “Stick Season.” As country music gains mainstream popularity and artists embrace the current momentum of breaking genre barriers, we expect to see more collaborations moving forward. Lana Del Rey and Lewis Capaldi have already hinted at a few upcoming ones…

Primer: In celebration of AAPI month, we’re highlighting the fluid eclecticism that makes Korean-American artist, AUDREY NUNA, sonically unpredictable and fiercely individual. Toeing the line between the conventional, austere Asian-American upbringing and pushing parental leniency to pursue her dreams, Audrey has always embraced a defiant, yet casual attitude–a trademark characteristic since her early years visiting her father’s clothing manufacturing factory in the Garment District. After attending NYU for a year, she eventually pitched her father via PowerPoint to drop out of school. Since then, she has continued to embody that same attitude within her music career à la a liquid breakfast. To put it plainly, she’s very cool. We admire her candor (particularly about existentialism and her identity duality struggles as an Asian-American) and hope she continues to be nothing less than herself.

What’s Next: After dropping “IdgaF” (🔥) and “Locket” (which samples Huey’s “Pop, Lock & Drop It”) last summer and following up with three additional singles this year, we’re led to believe that Audrey will be dropping her sophomore album soon, likely in 2024.

Spotify vs. NMPA breakdown, Google launches Music AI Sandbox, AI-driven backing band on Apple’s LogicPro

😬 Spotify vs. NMPA: Spotify's recent changes in its royalty payment structure have sparked significant controversy among songwriters and publishers. The streaming giant's decision to classify itself as a "bundle" due to the inclusion of audiobooks, which results in lower royalty payments to songwriters under the Phonorecords IV agreement, could reduce payments by an estimated $150 million annually. This move has drawn sharp criticism from the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), which accuses Spotify of undermining the creators essential to its business. In a further escalation, the NMPA issued a cease-and-desist letter over unlicensed usage of music videos, lyrics, and podcasts, threatening legal action. Spotify defends its position, claiming the NMPA previously agreed to the bundling terms and asserting its commitment to compensating songwriters.

🚫 Sony Says No to AI: Sony Music has issued warnings to 700 AI music streaming companies, declaring its decision to opt out of using its catalog for AI training. The company emphasizes the importance of protecting the rights and compensation of human artists, reinforcing its stance against the unauthorized use of its music in AI-generated content.

⏳ Playing in the Sand: Google has launched its Music AI Sandbox, a tool designed to enable artists to use AI to generate musical ideas, create unique sounds, and enhance their music production process. This initiative features collaborations with Wyclef Jean, Justin Tranter, and Marc Rebillet to demonstrate the potential and creative possibilities of AI in music.

🖥️ It’s Logical: Although its iPad Pro ad was a fail, Apple wants you to know that with the help of an AI-driven backing band, the latest Logic Pro software update will allow musicians to generate dynamic accompaniment, enhance the creative process, and streamline production.

🌐 Web3 Updates: everwave, a music collaboration platform, announced its web app now has a mobile version. Coachella onboarded 15k people to crypto wallets this year, and these are the main takeaways from the activation. Lastly, Single.xyz shares three takeaways of how big artists have maximized direct-to-fan campaigns this year.

Epidemic Sounds possible IPO, House passes TICKET, Melodie raises A$1M

💸 A Public Sound Epidemic: While the Stockholm-based music licensing company has not yet confirmed the plans, there is speculation that Epidemic Sounds may IPO in 2025. This comes after Reuters reported the company’s profits increased 25% to $140M in 2023.

🎟️ Driving Ticket Change: On Wednesday, the United States House passed the TICKET (Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing) Act, which “mandates guaranteed refunds for event cancellations or postponements, and prohibits the use of deceptive URLs that are used to rip off consumers through fraudulent ticketing sites.” This comes shortly after the state of Maryland has outlawed “hidden fees and speculative ticket pricing.”

🏆 BET On It: Unlike his battle with Kendrick, Drake is in the lead for overall BET Award nominations. See all the nominees here – the ceremony is set to take place on June 30.

✍️ Drawing Up Contracts: After 26 years, Christina Aguilera exits RCA Records and signs with Latin label, 5020 Records. Tame Impala (Kevin Parker) sells all past and future rights to his music to Sony Music Publishing.

💰 Securing the Bag: Melodie, an Australian music licensing company for influencers and content creators, raised A$1M in bridge funding.

Kendrick beats Drake on the charts, sees renewed interest in discography, Dua Lipa debuts at #2

📈 The title really sums things up, with the Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake rap battle in focus for this week as all six songs between the two hold the top six spots on the Hot Rap Songs Chart. However, Kendrick Lamar is the one clear winner, who not only took #1 with “Not Like Us,” but also eviscerated Drake’s reputation while claiming that spot. Additionally, Kendrick’s four LPs since Section.80 have all gained momentum on the Billboard 200 charts with DAMN. at #18.

The Band CAMINO drops surprise EP, Twenty One Pilots releasing Clancy this week

📅 For upcoming albums, tours, and festivals access our comprehensive music calendar here.

🚨 Surprise Drops: On Friday, The Band CAMINO dropped their Bruises EP, featuring three new tracks.

⏩ Here are album releases to look out for this week: 

  1. Twenty One Pilots, Clancy

  2. RM, Right Place, Wrong Person

  3. Sexyy Red, In Sexyy We Trust

  4. Astrid S, Joyride

  5. Aaron Carter, The Recovery Album (posthumous album)

  6. Wallows, Model

  7. DIIV, Frog in Boiling Water

  8. Andrew Bird, Sunday Morning Put-On

  9. Lenny Kravitz, Blue Electric Light

The Merch Table

  • ⚡️ I’m Just Slash: Fresh off a cameo at the Oscar’s, Slash has partnered with Gibson to launch a replica of his “Jessica” guitar as the brand’s new signature model guitar.

  • 📕 YUNG Poetry: YUNGBLUD will release a poetry book titled, You Need To Exist, which will be published on August 15.

  • 🕶️ Sunrise, Sunset: Lenny Kravitz and Ray Ban have joined forces for an exclusive partnership revealing six limited edition sunglasses in the “Reverse Collection.”

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See ya next Sunday 😎

Chris and Donya

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