Starving artists have been affected by more than just piracy and streaming royalties

By Craig Havighurst

In their many (justified) laments about the trajectory of their profession in the digital age, songwriters and musicians regularly assert that music has been “devalued.” Over the years they’ve pointed at two outstanding culprits. First, it was music piracy and the futility of “competing with free.” More recently the focus has been on the seemingly miniscule payments songs generate when they’re streamed on services such as Spotify or Apple Music.

These are serious issues, and many agree that the industry and lawmakers have a lot of work to do. But at least there is dialogue and progress being made toward new models for rights and royalties in the new music economy.

Less obvious are a number of other forces and trends that have devalued music in a more pernicious way than the problems of hyper-supply and inter-industry jockeying. And by music I don’t mean the popular song formats that one sees on awards shows and hears on commercial radio. I mean music the sonic art form — imaginative, conceptual composition and improvisation rooted in harmonic and rhythmic ideas. In other words, music as it was defined and regarded four or five decades ago, when art music (incompletely but generally called “classical” and “jazz”) had a seat at the table. [Read more.]

Updated by Julia Belluz, Jun 20, 2015, 8:40am EDT

I’ve always had a raspy voice that easily burns out. A loud party or long day of talking can leave me sounding like Tom Waits. But is there any way to avoid this?

To learn more, I called Diana Orbelo, a speech-language pathologist at the Mayo Clinic who helps people with voice problems.

Over the phone, she almost immediately diagnosed me as a voice loser. “Usually the throaty, chesty, deeper voices are the ones that tend to get more into trouble,” she said.

Assuming I have a healthy larynx, when I lose my voice it means I’ve strained my vocal cords from too much use, causing them to swell up so they can’t vibrate as easily to get out sound. (Think of this as a repetitive motion injury.) [Read more.]

joyce-didonato

Joyce DiDonato, one of the world’s greatest opera singers, is inspiring maximum-security prison inmates with her voice. Sing Sing is one of the most notorious prisons in the world, and it’s there that DiDonato has broken stereotypes and created a bond with prisoners using classical music theory. [video]

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Just heard the very sad news that Weston Noble has passed away today. I sang under him in the Nordic Choir at Luther college from 1978-1980. My dad even played trombone under him in the Luther Band from 1951-1953. I can’t imagine how many young musicians this man influenced and mentored. The number must be in the tens of thousands. At the very least, the heavenly choir has a new conductor. RIP Dr. Noble, you will be greatly missed.

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen performing in Brooklyn in 2012.

Leonard Cohen, the Canadian poet and novelist who abandoned a promising literary career to become one of the foremost songwriters of the contemporary era, has died, according to an announcement Thursday night on his Facebook page. He was 82. [Read more.]

Bob Dylan

Val Wilmer/Redferns, via Getty Images

Half a century ago, Bob Dylan shocked the music world by plugging in an electric guitar and alienating folk purists. For decades he continued to confound expectations, selling millions of records with dense, enigmatic songwriting.

Now, Mr. Dylan, the poet laureate of the rock era, has been rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature, an honor that elevates him into the company of T. S. Eliot, Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison and Samuel Beckett. [Read more.]

Weston Noble

If one thinks of American choral legends, Weston Noble surely has to be fairly high up on the list. Born in 1922 in Riceville, Iowa, Noble discovered a passion for music at age 5 when he began piano lessons. [More here.]

A great resource for information about voice is Vocapedia. Check it out.

Tupac
Twenty years after his death, what do today’s generation think of the American rapper’s legacy? [Video here.]

 Johan Botha in Verdi’s “Otello” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2012. Credit Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Johan Botha in Verdi’s “Otello” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2012. Credit Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

The tenor Johan Botha, who performed for more than two decades at the world’s major opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House in London and the Vienna State Opera, died Thursday morning in Vienna. He was 51. [More]