Michael Nelson

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Spotify Reportedly In “Advanced Talks” To Buy SoundCloud

SoundCloud has had a rough go of its move toward monetization, but it's still the most important and influential service on the planet for unsigned…
Michael Nelson | September 28, 2016 - 5:32 pm

But Who's Buying?

No Wave: Is This The End Of Tidal? And If So … Then What?

On June 30, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was in talks to acquire Tidal, the on-demand music-streaming service launched by Jay Z (and…
Michael Nelson | September 27, 2016 - 10:07 am

Metallica – “Moth Into Flame” Video

Look, I'm not gonna say anything about the new Metallica album, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct, till I actually hear it, because my feelings about Metallica are way…
Michael Nelson | September 26, 2016 - 11:09 am

Premiere

Planes Mistaken For Stars – “Riot Season”

When Colorado-via-Illinois' Planes Mistaken For Stars released their debut album, 2001's Fuck With Fire, they appeared to be a better-than-average screamo band lost in a…
Michael Nelson | September 15, 2016 - 11:59 am

Premiere

Oathbreaker – “Immortals”

The Belgian quartet Oathbreaker don't belong to any existing metal subgenre, and the self-ascribed subgenres listed on their Bandcamp don't do much to clarify what…
Michael Nelson | September 8, 2016 - 1:46 pm

Premiere

Alcest – “Je Suis D’Ailleurs”

The French band Alcest have effectively been around for about a decade now -- their first EP, Le Secret, was released in 2005, and that…
Michael Nelson | August 31, 2016 - 10:48 am

But Who's Buying?

CMJ Sure Seems To Be Over. So How Come Nobody Is Talking About It?

The CMJ Music Marathon has been around longer than many of its participants have been alive. Like infinite waves of incoming NYU freshmen, the marathon…
Michael Nelson | August 29, 2016 - 12:30 pm

Universal Reportedly Bans Its Artists From Any More Streaming Exclusives

A couple weeks ago, Chance The Rapper's manager, Pat Corcoran, talked to Billboard about the Chicago rapper's decision to release his recent mixtape, Coloring Book,…
Michael Nelson | August 23, 2016 - 7:08 pm

But Who's Buying?

No Control: Thoughts On The End Of The Headphone Jack And The Future Of Digital Music

Do you know who Lyor Cohen is? This isn't a rhetorical question. I have no perspective here. If you work in the music business, he's…
Michael Nelson | August 12, 2016 - 11:29 am

The Smiths & PETA Launch Meat Is Murder Videogame

For many of us, the '80s were largely defined by the Smiths and 8-bit video games, but it's been quite rare to see those two…
Michael Nelson | August 10, 2016 - 10:51 am

But Who's Buying?

Skewed VIEWS: The Huge Truth About Drake’s Record-Breaking Chart Run

There's no point anymore in trying to keep up with the records broken and set by Drake's VIEWS because its legacy further swells every week.
Michael Nelson | August 5, 2016 - 12:03 pm

Alcest – “Oiseaux De Proie”

Look, under normal circumstances, new music from Alcest would be my cue to write a 5,000-word essay, but I'm crunched for time at this particular…
Michael Nelson | August 4, 2016 - 3:17 pm

Premiere

Kishi Bashi – “Hey Big Star”

Kishi Bashi is the pseudonym used by Athens, Georgia musician Kaoru (or "K") Ishibashi. The project came to prominence with the release of Kishi Bashi's…
Michael Nelson | August 3, 2016 - 10:01 am

But Who's Buying?

Countdown To Extinction: An Update From The Front Lines Of The Festival Wars

Back in January, I wrote this story for Stereogum about an unusually public clash between two music festivals. Both were happening in New York City,…
Michael Nelson | July 29, 2016 - 11:55 am

Carpool Karaoke Series Coming To Apple Music

In March, it was revealed that James Corden and the producers of The Late Late Show were shopping a series based on Corden's well-received Late
Michael Nelson | July 26, 2016 - 5:38 pm

But Who's Buying?

We’ve Passed Peak Vinyl – Here Comes The Collapse

From 1996 - 1999, I worked at a New York City record store called Rebel Rebel. I was a student at NYU when I got…
Michael Nelson | July 22, 2016 - 12:38 pm

Stream Sun Kil Moon’s “God Bless Ohio” From New Double-LP Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood

Say what you will about Mark Kozelek, but you can't knock the dude's work ethic. He's been dropping material with the frequency of peak Pollard,…
Michael Nelson | July 20, 2016 - 12:23 pm

Wilco Announce New Album Schmilco; Stream “If I Ever Was a Child”

Last week, Wilco released a new track called "Locator" -- ostensibly to recognize the one-year anniversary of the band's last LP, the surprise release Star
Michael Nelson | July 18, 2016 - 6:13 pm

But Who's Buying?

You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby: Thoughts On The Nielsen Music Mid-Year Report

Is there even such a thing as good news anymore? Man, if there is, please share, because I'm not hearing it. The whole world is…
Michael Nelson | July 15, 2016 - 1:37 pm

But Who's Buying?

But Who’s Buying? A Column About The Music Business

A few weeks before Britain's historic Brexit referendum -- before John Oliver eviscerated the whole thing on Last Week Tonight; before Noel Gallagher broke his
Michael Nelson | July 8, 2016 - 10:07 am

Spotify: Apple Rejected Our iOS Update To Drive iPhone Owners To Apple Music

Do you guys like to live in a state of constant paralyzed technophobic horror? You should read Dave Eggers' 2013 novel, The Circle, or this
Michael Nelson | June 30, 2016 - 5:58 pm

Noel Gallagher Steps Into Brexit Debate: “I Like The Fact That It Sounds Like A Cereal”

You guys been following this Brexit stuff? I have. I don't know if I should find it reassuring or terrifying that the UK has a…
Michael Nelson | June 22, 2016 - 6:34 pm

Harakiri For The Sky – “Funeral Dreams”

I don't know if it's intentional or not, but the cover art accompanying Harakiri For The Sky's upcoming III: Trauma bears more than a slight
Michael Nelson | June 20, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Kanye West Announces Saint Pablo Tour

Kanye West has been promising a fall 2016 tour in support of The Life Of Pablo for months now, and today, he makes good on…
Michael Nelson | June 14, 2016 - 8:35 am

Numenorean – “Thirst” (Stereogum Premiere)

Calgary's Numenorean self-categorize as "post-black metal," a term that is often used interchangeably with "atmospheric black metal." Popular bands that play this style of music…
Michael Nelson | June 9, 2016 - 10:00 am

Band To Watch

Band To Watch: Astronoid

Astronoid are a five-piece band from Boston whose debut LP, Air, is set to be released next week. I've talked about the album a couple…
Michael Nelson | June 1, 2016 - 11:01 am

Brand New – “I Am A Nightmare”

Oh shit! A few hours ago we were getting teased with a snippet of new music from the awesome (and absent-too-long) Long Island post-emo quartet…
Michael Nelson | May 17, 2016 - 2:17 pm

RLYR – “Reconductor”

The borders dividing metal, post-rock, noise, screamo, and/or shoegaze have grown almost imperceptible over the last few years, having reached a point now where any
Michael Nelson | May 17, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Astronoid – “Up And Atom”

The Boston-based shoegaze-metal quintet Astronoid will release their debut LP, Air, in June. Stereogum premiered the title track last month, and in that post, I…
Michael Nelson | May 17, 2016 - 10:55 am

Morrissey Laments Label Indifference To The Queen Is Dead’s 30th Anniversary

In 2013, the NME named the Smiths' The Queen Is Dead "the greatest album of all time." I stopped falling for the NME's beast-feeding hyperbole…
Michael Nelson | May 13, 2016 - 5:56 pm

Comments from Michael Nelson

Already apologized to the rest of the Black Market crew for that unreasonably long Metallica blurb (essay?) but wanna apologize to you guys too. It's unreasonably long, and I know it, and I'm sorry.
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September 30, 2016 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – September 2016
I love Blood Fire Death but Hammerheart is The One IMO.
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September 6, 2016 on Rihanna Dressed Up Like A Giant Fur Heart And Fed Pigeons In NYC
Fenriz is the fucking king. Good stuff.
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August 31, 2016 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – August 2016
HAHAHAHA. I stand corrected! The description still fits (tho Ted's vox are not the same kind of "ugly" as Fenriz's). Tbh, now that you mention it, I actually might have been quoting Fenriz when I came up with that.
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August 31, 2016 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – August 2016
Hahaha, Fenriz is a total fucking legend, that's a great quote. Credit to Doug for coming up with that genre tag, btw, it's a perfect encapsulation of the music.
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August 31, 2016 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – August 2016
I'm beyond stoked for that Carcass/Deafheaven/Inter Arma show; they're playing in the sticks on Long Island, which is a real '80s metal move and I love it. Used to be that all the metal bands would hit the suburbs on their national tours and I think that was a big reason why I discovered metal as a kid. This whole tour is like secondary and tertiary markets and that's so rad -- you get way different crowds than you do in the city, it's just a whole other experience.
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August 31, 2016 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – August 2016
By "room-rattling urgency," I'm referring to the sound of the recording, not the "heaviness." It sounds really immediate and organic in ways that I think Neige increasingly moved away from after Le Secret, Souvenirs, and Amesoeurs. And the "unsettling shadows" ... man I dunno, I think of Souvenirs as being a warm, beautiful record with a real dark, ominous quality, and the disparity between those two tones is partly what I find so magical about it, and I think that got flattened out a little bit on Ecailles and Voyages, and flattened out entirely on Shelter.
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August 31, 2016 on Alcest – “Je Suis D’Ailleurs”
Yeah, I dunno, I moved out of Astoria like three years ago so I'm not gonna pretend to be Mr. Queens, but I saw good bands in cool spaces when I lived there, and I definitely think LIC, Ridgewood, and Astoria are pretty central to the culture right now. Plus you gotta remember that CMJ shows aren't always hosted at places like Bowery Ballroom, but like Cake Shop or Brownies (RIP) or whatever. Places like that -- little bars with performance spaces -- absolutely do exist in Queens, and if you were hosting an honest small-room music festival spanning NYC, you'd want to include them ESPECIALLY because the scene in Manhattan is so wack today. Also in fairness St. Vitus is way closer to LIC than South Williamsburg, and Shea Stadium is way closer to Ridgewood than North 6th St. etc. But if you wanna strike the Queens mention, that's OK, I think the point stands -- I was just saying present-day NYC is not like Austin, where you can walk to and from basically any SXSW-participating venue in 15 minutes or less. If you gotta haul from Baby's All Right to fucking Irving Plaza, you're probably just spending the night at Baby's All Right.
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August 30, 2016 on CMJ Sure Seems To Be Over. So How Come Nobody Is Talking About It?
Haha yeah those quotes are gold but that's Lefsetz, and he's just a reporter. It would really be something if Sir Lucian Grange went in on Frank Ocean (publicly).
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August 23, 2016 on Universal Reportedly Bans Its Artists From Any More Streaming Exclusives
I'm on vacation or else I woulda written about it here. Not gonna go deep on my immensely complicated feelings about it from my motel in Cape Cod, but because you asked (and because I really WANT TO talk about it): I'm into it! But super reticent to commit for obvious reasons. Leaving it there for now but will return to it later I promise.
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August 18, 2016 on Metallica – “Hardwired” Video
Thanks Piney! You are truly too kind and I'm sincerely flattered. You shouldn't refrain from commenting either!
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August 17, 2016 on The Shins Album Postponed To 2017 So They Can Get Better Coachella Placement
Will, please don't apologize -- I'm super-flattered that Mick and passivepinetree are familiar with my byline, but I'm pretty sure they're in the minority, and that's totally fine with me. Also, please don't refrain from commenting. You brought up a great question! FWIW, I think commenters here are generally really friendly/informed/engaged. It's my fault for not responding sooner.
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August 16, 2016 on The Shins Album Postponed To 2017 So They Can Get Better Coachella Placement
It's definitely a chicken-and-egg thing, and both parties are using the other to boost their own profile. One thing I left out of my assessment: If the Shins released their album next month, it would (presumably) be followed by a tour, so that by the time Coachella rolled around, lots of people would have seen the Shins touring behind the album already, thus making their appearance at Coachella less of an event. But if the tour is built around a headlining spot at Coachella, that becomes THE event. And it helps the band too: a Coachella topliner can probably book bigger venues than a Coachella midliner, in part because they'll probably be booking a lot of AEG venues (and AEG runs Coachella), so there's maybe a little quid pro quo going on. I don't mean to imply anything shady, it's just a mutually beneficial arrangement that the band probably has little control over.
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August 16, 2016 on The Shins Album Postponed To 2017 So They Can Get Better Coachella Placement
Hey guys! Just saw this. Will, your question is a good one, although it would be impossible to track whether festival flier placement had any effect on album sales. My GUESS is it's like this: The festival wants its big-font acts to be prominently in the news -- doing interviews and late-night appearances -- not least because the album (or reunion) PR cycle helps them promote the festival. The label wants its high-priority acts to get big-font placement because those fliers act as advertisements outside the festival. They're extremely visible to millions of people who don't even attend Coachella. Being at the top implies you're an "important band" while being in the middle means you're either "on the way up" or "on the way down" and in the case of the Shins, it would be the latter. For Sub Pop (and the Shins) there's definitely real value in having the Shins at the top of the flier, but again, there's no way you could actually track whether it has any effect on sales because every case is unique. I mean, that's my guess anyway. Hope it helps!
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August 15, 2016 on The Shins Album Postponed To 2017 So They Can Get Better Coachella Placement
I still use a Classic too and when that dies I'm gonna splurge on one of those Sony Walkman 128gb mp3 players. They're kinda pricy ($700 I believe) but the specs look great and the reviews are uniformly superlative. I'm lucky though that I don't have any DRM on my library and I can move my files to a non-Apple device without the hassle. Still, not looking forward to that day.
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August 12, 2016 on No Control: Thoughts On The End Of The Headphone Jack And The Future Of Digital Music
This is what I mean about questions that deserve more attention than I can give them in the comments. Please don't mistake my brevity for anything other than me just having a ton of stuff to do -- this is really well-organized and compelling and it deserves more. 1. Lyor: I mean, come on. I'm not trying to deify the guy but I do think the POV of a four-decade biz veteran -- especially one with his resume -- is meaningful inasmuch as it pertains to an invasive species like iTunes and a music dilettante/opportunist like Jobs. But honestly, I mostly quoted him because I just read the piece last week and it stood out to me as something I wanted to think/talk about and it ultimately provided a good framing device for the bigger story. 2. If it doesn't matter to you, it doesn't matter to you. It mattered enough to me that I did switch to Android. (This is partly because -- no joke -- I needed a new phone anyway because my iPhone 6's Lightning Connector stopped working.) 3. Sure, there will always be workarounds -- you ever see the workarounds for people who run into HDCP walls? They're like these piece-of-crap splitters you get from Radio Shack for 25 bucks. Apple stuff never plays real well with non-authorized gear though, or at least, that has been my experience in buying gas station iPhone chargers. Moreover, it's just a headache to be forced into using workarounds simply to get outside Apple's ecosystem. 4. I just threw in the Mike Herring quote because it was recent enough that I thought people might remember it and it helped give some context to Lyor's quote: I wasn't saying, "Let's pile on with all the old beef we can find," I was saying, "Beefing with Dead Steve Jobs is commonplace, but Lyor's quote stands out to me as characterological rather than a broad critique of his business model." Again, though, it was primarily a tool employed in the service of establishing a narrative arc. If I'm more critical of Apple than I am their competition, it's because Apple have "a finger in every tart" as they say. Spotify doesn't make headphones or hardware. Apple does. Samsung doesn't run an online radio station that employs Zane fucking Lowe. Apple does. Google doesn't sign artists to $20 million partnership deals that include vastly more millions in promotions. Apple does. Sirius Radio doesn't run an on-demand streaming service. Apple does. Etc. It's hard to NOT talk about Apple. The old-school sharks were surely monstrous people but the reach of those businesses was limited by federal regulations. That's not the case anymore. And somehow, even stripped of federal regulations, nobody else is playing on Apple's level. Apple is the biggest (second-biggest?) company in the world, and it has made music its most visible priority. But like I said in the comment above, I do feel like I come off a little fixated, and I really don't mean to do that, so I apologize. There's a lot about Apple that I respect, and more importantly, I use Apple machines every day (even after switching phones). I mean, honestly, we agree, the music industry was never great. The music industry 100-percent fucked itself and all its artists and basically put everyone in this position. I'm not talking about the prostitutes, I'm talking about the boilerplate contracts and the systemic arrogance and frankly the fact that the whole business is built on taking advantage of 20-year-old kids. I don't think that has entirely changed, it's just that it's scalable now. Anyway, I guess that wasn't so brief, and yet somehow, still probably too brief. Seriously thanks for reading and sharing yr thoughts.
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August 12, 2016 on No Control: Thoughts On The End Of The Headphone Jack And The Future Of Digital Music
Thanks! And please, throw 'em at me: article ideas, specific questions, general questions, whatever. I can't promise I'll address everything, but it's tremendously helpful. I was thinking of maybe doing like a "mailbag"-style column now and then because there are so many good questions in the comments already, and I really don't have time to answer them with the attention they deserve, but that would give me a forum to get to some of them. Like, I never got to answer this one guy's comment-question about Live Nation's insurance coverage from three weeks ago. And that was a great question! I mean, I thought it was anyway. I dunno, maybe it wouldn't work, but yeah, by all means, just hit me with whatever ya got in the comments, or if it's way off-topic, just email me or @ me on Twitter or whatever. I truly appreciate it. Thanks again!
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August 12, 2016 on No Control: Thoughts On The End Of The Headphone Jack And The Future Of Digital Music
Hi guys, thanks for reading! Just wanted to say a few things here at the top of the comments. First off, I want to thank you all for the enthusiastic and thoughtful comments on this column week after week since it kicked off six weeks ago. I'm truly humbled by them. Second, I'm not gonna do a column next week, so the next one might not be till the 26th, or even the first week of September. I'm not sure. I love writing this but it's not possible to do it at the level I want to do it on a weekly basis, so I gotta pace myself a little bit. I apologize. It's still a regular feature, just not a weekly one, which was never the intention in the first place. I just find a lot of stuff to write about every week, so I've been pushing myself to do a column every week. Maybe it'll be every other week or something. I dunno. It'll still be a lot. Third, this is the second week in a row I went in a little bit on Apple Music, and I just want to clarify that it's not intentional. This time, it was actually an accident. I started writing about something else, but kept finding myself saying, "But let me back up a step..." and by the time I finally got to where I needed to start, I was here. I don't have anything against Apple; I have friends who work at Apple. They're cool people and I never hear them complain about their jobs. Apple makes great products and they employ talented people. It can just be hard talking about the business of music without talking about Apple, because Apple is so involved in so many aspects of the business of music. But I've got plenty of problems with Samsung and Spotify and Youtube and the RIAA and the labels and everybody else, too. I also have a ton of respect for the people at those organizations, too. I guess that's it. Thanks again for reading. You guys are the best.
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August 12, 2016 on No Control: Thoughts On The End Of The Headphone Jack And The Future Of Digital Music
Can't be worse than fucking Kozelek writing a diss track about me.
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August 5, 2016 on Skewed VIEWS: The Huge Truth About Drake’s Record-Breaking Chart Run