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Gabriel Mazza profile image Gabriel Mazza

Wait a second, James Blake!

Welcome! This is a weekly newsletter by The Mesmerized Stream where we delve into some of the biggest and flashiest headlines regarding the music industry. We'll report our take and opinions on them, but links to all the facts will also be available.

Wait a second, James Blake!

Story #1: James Blake partners with to create an artist-first, D2C fandom-driven subscription service.

​James Blake launches music subscription platform in response to “unfair” royalty rates
Vault is a monthly subscription service model creating a direct link between artists and fans

I have dug into the company behind, a corporate entity called "OUT THE MUD VENTURES INC.". It's the same company behind the renowned Web3 music portal, with founder David Greenstein at its helm. It's easy to predict a strong synergy between the two platforms in the near future, especially considering all the enormous and partly untapped potential in the Web3 landscape.

Now, remember the James Blake tweet that made headlines a couple of weeks ago?

Was this a marketing stunt to launch A way to kickstart a conversation that would eventually lead to the product being released to the general public? Or did the collaboration between him and OUT OF THE MUD VENTURES INC. naturally developed over a two-week time period (since the tweet above happened)?

I am leaning towards it being a marketing effort, but it's worth noting that tech companies nowadays are able to turn over a minimum viable product (MVP) in a mere few days.

Last but not least: why is James Blake waking up only now to the joy of fandom-first community building and superfans curation? Could it be that his records lately haven't been performed as expected? Perhaps...

Anyway! seems to be a modern, solid platform, ticking all the boxes of modern community-building practices: control over fans' personal data, early access and messaging features increasing the intimate value of fans-to-artist interactions.

While we already have a plethora of companies offering pretty much the same thing (Patreon above all), it's worth noting that nothing stops you from simply opening a Stripe account and collecting subscriptions from your own fans, linking to a gated area on your own website. Because, spoiler alert, that's exactly what is doing (Stripe included).

Story #2: A secret composer behind 650 'fake' artists profiles on Spotify, racking up a whopping 15 BILLION stream.

This ‘secret’ composer is behind 650 fake artists on Spotify. His music has been streamed 15bn times on the platform (report) - Music Business Worldwide
Revealed in a Dagens Nyheter expose: the musician ‘behind the world’s most listened to network of fake artists on Spotify’…

Summed up, Johan Röhr, a Swedish composer, has published music under more than 650 pseudonyms via his record label Epidemic Sound.

I don't see why this would be necessarily controversial - pseudonyms have been a staple in the music industry for decades (remember the 80s?). They are quite common in the dance and club records landscape and the instrumental background music field.

Rather than focusing on the 'fake artists' narrative, a more interesting question would be whether Spotify has a specific royalty share agreement with Epidemic Sound, making it cheaper to boost the label's catalogue on the platform's editorial playlist...  

Story #3: Shawn Reynaldo's super interesting essay on the industry not actually selling music, but rather marketing to everyone the luscious dream of becoming a successful artist:

A Music Industry That Doesn’t Sell Music
a.k.a. It’s a lot easier to capitalize on people’s dreams of being an artist than it is to actually market whatever music they make.

Also, this tweet is strangely eerie:

Gabriel Mazza profile image Gabriel Mazza