BONUS TRACKS: Some Thoughts on Spotify, The Real Lady A, and More
Neil Young - Photo by Jim Gavenus
It’s been a rough stretch for Spotify, kicked off last week when Neil Young demanded that the streaming platform choose between hosting his music or a podcast from Joe Rogan that has broadcasted misinformation related to COVID-19. Spotify stuck with Rogan, whose podcast (the platform’s most popular) is licensed to the platform in a contract worth a reported $100 million. So Young’s music has come down, and Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, India.Arie, and Young’s former bandmates David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash have said they want to follow suit. (If you’re still trying to get your head around all of this, you can catch up on the controversy in this explainer from The Associated Press.) A lot of listeners are jumping ship from Spotify as well, and calling for their favorite artists — including roots musicians — to come along. But as Rosanne Cash explains in this piece for Rolling Stone, “it’s not viable for most artists.” Meanwhile, making a living via streaming revenue is likewise not very viable for most artists. So remember as you (re)consider your streaming habits that buying a vinyl album or CD or T-shirt or concert ticket directly from an artist is a real, concrete way to spread good in the world.
Legally, anyway, the dispute between the pop country band formerly known as Lady Antebellum and the blues artist Anita White appears to be over. Both parties filed a request in federal court this week to dismiss their lawsuits over the name Lady A, having reached an undisclosed settlement, Rolling Stone reports. As neither has announced a name change, it seems that both will be using the name going forward. The pop country trio ditched their prior name in 2020 in a performance of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. After some initial “authentic conversations” with White once it came to light that she had been performing and releasing albums under the name “Lady A” for nearly 30 years (because I guess they never Googled it?), they sued her for rights to the name, and White countersued. It’s great to see the matter put to rest, and I hope it’s to everyone’s satisfaction. But it’s hard to get past the appalling disrespect the country trio showed a Black artist, especially in the context of a name change purported to be for reasons of racial sensitivity. Equally upsetting is how the country music industry didn’t bat an eye, inviting the trio to awards shows and even the Grand Ole Opry using their stolen name without so much as an asterisk. So sure, legally the country trio is in the clear — but in my opinion they still have a lot to answer for.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for the 2022 induction class, including Kate Bush, Lionel Ritchie, Rage Against the Machine, Eurythmics, and — perhaps most notably — Dolly Parton. Sure, rock isn’t probably the first genre we’d place her in, but as Jon Freeman notes in this fantastic piece for Rolling Stone advocating for her induction, “there’s an air of rock & roll spectacle to the way she’s walked in those high-heeled shoes day after day” for the last 60 years. The Hall of Fame inductees are voted on by selected artists, histories, and music industry workers — but fans have a say too. A fan vote is open now through April 29, and the top five artists selected will be on a “fans ballot” that will factor into the final voting. Inductees will be announced in May, with the induction ceremony planned for fall. Get the full list of nominees and more info via the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
An essay titled “Touring While Black” in American Songwriter collects some experiences of Black musicians on the road, some terrifying, some absurd, many a mix of both. “Unfortunately, I have to think about my identity every time I leave my apartment,” says Sunny War, who said she tends to stick close to her hotel room and car when she’s touring in towns that don’t feel welcoming. Jake Blount is among the other artists featured in the piece, which is eye-opening, upsetting, and, sadly, not altogether surprising.
The Americana Music Association UK held a virtual awards show last week for its 2022 honors. Allison Russell’s Outside Child won International Album of the Year, while Click Click Domino by Ida Mae won that honor in the UK-specific category. The International Song of the Year award went to Brandi Carlile’s “Right on Time”; in the UK category it was “Willing” by Lady Nade. Read about the ceremony and the rest of the award winners in this write-up from Uncut.
Meanwhile, the Americana Music Association on this side of the pond has announced its board of directors for 2022. You can learn about the new members and see the full list here.
The pandemic is still hanging in there, and so, happily, are BandCamp Fridays — one day a month when the platform waives its share of sales to maximize the earnings that go directly to artists. BandCamp has announced it will continue its first Friday tradition starting today, and continuing at least through March 4, April 1, and May 6.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Jamestown Revival – “These Days”
Damien Rice – O, which turned 20 this week (check out an appreciation of the album from Stereogum here)
Caroline Spence and Matt Berninger – “I Know You Know Me”
Jesse Daniel featuring Jodi Lyford – “You Asked Me To” (Billy Joe Shaver and Waylon Jennings cover)
Taco Tapes – “I’m Fine”
Trixie Mattel featuring Shakey Graves – “This Town”
Lucius – Good Grief
Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
Calexico – “El Mirador,” the title track of their new album coming in April