The gloves are off. Burning Man is tired of waiting for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to justify the nearly $3 million it charges the festival annually. In “an attempt to break the cycle”, an official lawsuit was filed by Black Rock City LLC, the subsidiary that produces the iconic event, in D.C. District Court on December 13th.
The Bureau of Land Management oversees land permits for public land use and allows the organizers to host the 7-day event in Black Rock Desert. For the past 4 years, Black Rock City LLC has been waiting patiently to see if the BLM will justify the substantial charges. With no explanation in sight, they went forward with a lawsuit.
The immense charges are to cover BLM’s services and expenses, including law enforcement and oversight during the event. The organization has also been required to pay a 3% gross recipient fee or a portion of its revenue, which was $44 million in 2018.
Since 2012, these charges have been increasing with no explanation. In the past 3 years, charges inflated by 291% although the Burning Man population only increased by 39%. This past year, the organization paid out $2.9 million in charges, not including the commercial use fee.
There’s been a fair bit of drama between the organization and the BLM for a few years now. In 2015, top officials were reassigned to other roles after the bureau director accused them of trying to extort Burning Man organizers. Apparently, these top-level officials made absurd demands during the 2015 event including requesting 24-hour ice cream access and flushing toilets.
These demands, charges, and conditions, however unjust, they have left the Black Rock City LLC stuck between a rock and a hard place. Its relationship with the BLM can be described as a Hobson’s Choice conundrum, meaning that someone must submit to the undesirable option or nothing at all. With an already scheduled, highly anticipated event that attracts over 80,000 people annually, cancelling the event is out of the question. So the cycle of abuse continues. This lawsuit was set in motion to put an end to it.
Fascinated by all things Burning Man? Us too. Check out our article on what Burning Man is really like.
At the beginning of this year, the beloved internet radio and music and playlist streaming service, 8tracks, shut down. The innovative company, that got its start in 2008 when mp3s and the iPod shuffle reigned supreme, announced via a blog post written by CEO David Porter on December 26th, 2019 that it would wind down as the decade closed out.
Although not alone in the category of music streaming services, 8tracks was certainly unique. It was a platform that not only allowed you to stream music by your favourite artists but also gave you the opportunity to discover new, underground acts via playlists created by people all over the world. And these playlists were organized by tags. You could browse playlists by the mood or vibe you were in, what activity you need a soundtrack for, by genre, artist, decade, the list goes on. Of course, this structure was emulated by other streaming sites in the years to follow.
In its early years, 8tracks showed unwavering promise. A few playlists went viral on StumbleUpon (remember that?!) taking their active users from 30k to 300k in one month. Funding rolled in, full-time employees were brought on, 8tracks was on the right track. Google even reached out in 2013 to explore an acquisition, which 8tracks politely declined. They were passionate about their product and wanted to see where they could take it.
But then, in late 2013, Spotify’s free mobile streaming service launched. Many 8tracks listeners made the jump, investors backed out, and their most recent success landed them in a higher category which meant higher royalty payouts. On the plus side, they had partaken in a Soundcloud integration that allowed DJs (playlist creators) to add Soundcloud music to their 8tracks playlists, however, Soundcloud ended that integration in 2015.
What 8tracks knew they had, though, was a dedicated community. They tried their hand at crowdfunding to save the operation, raising just under $2M. However, it wasn’t enough. They could no longer afford to pay their team, resulting in major layoffs.
8tracks tried a number of strategies to keep the streaming service afloat. From a new subscription model to the introduction of audio ads, they worked to bring in revenue, but unfortunately, the listener count took too much of a hit. They brought in firms to find buyers for the company, however, even a low-balling prospective buyer backed out last minute.
Ultimately, 8tracks couldn’t generate enough revenue to cover royalty costs. Things are changing. People want all of their music needs to be met under one roof and that’s what Spotify is doing.
Those who were active members of the 8tracks community don’t need to worry that the endless hours they put into creating a playlist to accurately capture that mood they were on a fall Monday afternoon in 2011 are all for nothing. If you’ve ever published on 8tracks, you’ll receive an email including the mix name, art, description and tracklist for each. You can also export any playlist to Spotify by hitting the “Save Playlist to Spotify” button. There’s no guarantee that all of the songs are supported by Spotify, but 80-90% should be. 8tracks has warned users that they are unsure of how long the website will stay up and running, so to act fast get a copy of those playlists you worked so hard on.
So sadly, we bid farewell to 8tracks, the streaming site that was the soundtrack to many late-night dance parties, got you amped for the big game, or kept you company during your angsty teen years. You’ll be missed.
Need some inspiration for your next playlist? Check out our interview with Teknoclash. If 8tracks isn’t around to show you new music, we’ll make it our job to.
High school best friends, Cameron and Andrew, alternatively known as Bad Decisions are taking over Australia and the world with their unique blend of trap, future, and pop. The DJ/producer duo just dropped their brand new single “Looking For You”. We caught up with them to find out how the Australian scene has shaped them and what it was like to drop a single on an international radio show.
Electric Soul: You both have different musical backgrounds. Can you tell us a little about them and how you came together as a duo?
Bad Decisions: We met in high school near Sydney and were the only “DJs” in the school at the time, so we decided to suss each other out. It resulted in many sleepless nights producing music together. Trying to figure out what we were doing led to us becoming best mates!
ES: How has the Australian scene shaped your sound or your careers?
BD: Hugely! Flume, What So Not, and Alison Wonderland all played huge parts in inspiring us to push our sound to make more interesting things. All legends.
ES: Is there a big underground scene? Do you guys have favourite spots to find killer music?
BD: There’s a great underground scene in Australia. Clubs like Chinese Laundry and events like The Wall in Sydney have been crucial in pushing new sounds and bringing new producers up in the scene. Finding music is a whole other thing. 90% of the time we use Soundcloud.
ES: You’ve found yourself on both national and international stages. What was your favourite performance to date and why?
BD: Going on our own national tour was amazing: seeing people react to the music we made and them knowing the lyrics. There’s no better feeling than that. We loved playing Groovin’ The Moo festival. We had so many people came out to see us and just go so hard the entire time.
ES: Does your DJ sound and music selection differ from the music you produce? Describe your sound for us.
BD: Depending on the vibe of the festival, we play a little bit harder than we produce. But then again, we have songs like “I Feel It” which is pretty hard. It depends on how we feel on the day!
Our sound is a mix of future, trap and pop. We try to be as experimental as we can while still having as much listenability as possible.
ES: Can you tell us a little bit about the live setup you guys have in the works?
BD: We’re working on a hybrid live show. Think of San Holo-esque and how The Chainsmokers do it. All we can say for now is when it does come to light, it will be a unique experience for people coming to our shows.
ES: Your new single “Looking for You” just premiered on Annie Nightingale’s BBC Radio I show. What was it like dropping a new release on an international level like that?
BD: It’s an incredible feeling being recognized on such a scale. It’s sometimes hard to grasp something like that, something that’s intangible. You can’t see it in the way you see a crowd when you play a show.
But hearing it live will be a moment we won’t forget any time soon.
ES: You have a few other guest appearances on various radio shows, including Tiger Radio, coming up. How do you work collaboratively selecting songs and finding your sound for different shows and audiences?
BD: We can definitely get a vibe of what the show is through knowing the artist and understanding who they are. For example, with the BBC mix, that is wholeheartedly us, from start to finish, it was stuff that resonates with us completely. With other mixes, we may go a little harder or a little softer depending on the audience. It’s all us, all the stuff we love, but it may swing a different way depending on the audience. We do work collaboratively on everything we do.
ES: What has it been like working with various labels? What have you discovered about yourselves and your music while navigating the music industry?
BD: Working with different labels, for the most part, has been an awesome experience. We’ve grown a lot since we started in the music industry. Being so young, you can get taken advantage of in different ways. Something we’ve learned is that you have to be aware of everything around the music to fully understand everything and not be taken advantage of. Originally, we weren’t very aware, so we had to change that.
ES: What can we look forward to from Bad Decisions in 2020?
BD: LOTS of music. Way more than ever before. So we hope everyone’s ready to get blasted this year with new music.
Duos are the new boy band. Get to know Tokyo-based duo Dazzle Drums.
At the beginning of this year, Pioneer DJ Corporation announced that it would be changing its company name to AlphaTheta Corporation. The Pioneer DJ name will not disappear from CDJs and mixers, however. In the official statement, the company reassures that none of their brands or brand labels will be affected.
Officials state that the company name was updated to better reflect its values and vision. Any rumours of sale, mergers, or reorganization can be squashed. Back in 2015, Pioneer (the electronics company) and Pioneer DJ went their separate ways. This name change could come as a solution to end any confusion remaining after the split. The two separate entities will now exist without mix-ups.
So why AlphaTheta?
AlphaTheta refers to the alpha and theta brain wave frequencies. Alpha brain waves are slow and high in amplitude. Someone sitting in meditation is often in an alpha state. Theta brain waves are even slower. Someone that has drifted into a daydream is in a theta state.
The corporation chose a name relating to the functions of the brain to comment on the effect music has on our minds. Music can shift us into alternative states, move us to different levels of consciousness, and truly affect our human experience. AlphaTheta promises to continue to create technologies that will enable and assist these positive peak human experiences.
Nagi and Kei Sugano, more effectively known as Dazzle Drums, are a Tokyo-based DJ and producer duo with proficiency for making catchy beats with danceable tempos and groovy melodies. The couple has made their rounds in the Tokyo electronic scene and is now making their way around the world, playing at festivals and in cities across Europe. We caught up with Dazzle Drums to talk about how they work collaboratively, if they’ve noticed changes in their music since they began, and how they feel about the electronic industry.
Electric Soul: You both come from different musical backgrounds. Kei, yours seeming to be more rooted in hip-hop and Nagi, yours in dance. How do you work collaboratively? Is it an easy process to work together or does someone focus on one aspect while the other focuses on something else?
Dazzle Drums: Of course we have different personalities, interpretations and perspectives. To turn that difference into a positive, we’re always talking about music, even small things. Luckily, it’s not really difficult to understand each other because we are DJing together almost every week. It’s harder working in the studio together than it is DJing. We create balance by changing roles and tasks depending on projects.
ES: How does the music you DJ differ from the music that you produce in terms of sound?
DD: For DJing, it totally depends on the improvisation, the atmosphere and location of the day. But we do get some edits/production ideas from performing. So, there is a synergy between both playing and making music.
ES: Your tracks have been played by a number of illustrious DJs, including Tim Sweeney, Louie Vega, and DJ Nori, during their sets. Which DJ were you most excited about playing one of your tracks?
DD: We were glad they all played our music. It’s a really difficult question. However, if we pick a few… Danny Krivit, Gilles Peterson and Louie Vega. We always get huge motivation from them.
ES: It’s been 15 years since the start of Dazzle Drums, in what ways has your sound evolved?
DD: In the beginning, we were making music with analog equipment like AKAI sampler and Juno106 (we used to have Cubase for DAW). Right now, we are making music with both Ableton Live and Logic. As for our musical expression, our tastes haven’t really changed. But we have definitely upgraded in terms of knowledge and experience, including technological evolution.
ES: Where do you two draw inspiration from? Is there a particular artist, genre, or city that you are influenced by?
DD: We often get inspiration from DJs and parties. We can’t pick really one person, but we are always influenced by DJ Danny Krivit.
We are most familiar with Tokyo’s various club scenes, but there are many cities we still want to visit.
ES: Tell us about the Tokyo electronic scene. How has it changed since you’ve been a part of it? Where do you see it heading?
DD: International guest artists come to Japan almost every day. This is nothing new. However, Tokyo’s local DJ scene has evolved. We don’t believe that Tokyo DJs are inferior to foreign DJs, however, there is limited opportunity for their music to be heard by non-friends and peers. Changing this is one of our biggest goals. In the last few years, we’ve been making our own parties by paying special attention to showcasing local talent.
ES: You’ve released music through a number of different labels, but also your own, Green Parrot Recording. Which is your preferred method of releasing music? How does one way differ from the other?
DD: Having one’s own label is a nice part of being able to do whatever you want, including artwork and other things. It’s great that music can be released immediately if it’s digital, but we are also happy to release an entire record. We’re looking to deliver music in both ways and finding a good balance.
ES: You’ve now toured Europe twice. Which is your favourite city to play in?
DD: Our music taste is really diverse. So we prefer a crowd that likes many types of different music. We agree that Worldwide Festival at Sete and Brighter Days, hosted by Kamma and Masalo, were wonderful. We have great memories from Malta, as well.
ES: How does the European scene compare to the Asian scene?
DD: Historically, Japanese people don’t have a habit of going to clubs and bars compared to some major world cities. It proves difficult for people to understand music for more than just drugs and some cheesy performances. It’s not really easy to carry on our music / DJing because of this. It’s sad that in recent years, like the electronic scenes around the world, it has become more about the number of followers you have than the music. We’re more about good DJs and music rather than what’s just popular now.
ES: What can we expect from Dazzle Drums in 2020?
DD: Our 3rd album will be coming out! We also just want to work to keep the Tokyo scene evolving.
Environmental consciousness and sustainability have long been linked to electronic music. It only makes sense that people with good taste in music would also have stand-up values. This could not be truer for trance producer, DJ, and radio host, Armin van Buuren, who was recently appointed a Global Oceans Ambassador by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Van Buuren’s philanthropy is nothing new. In 2010, he worked 3FM’s Serious Request and its DJs to raise money to help children affected by AIDS. In the wake of the stampede that killed 21 people at Germany’s Love Parade in 2010, Armin banded together with fellow electronic heavyweights, Paul Oakenfold and Paul van Dyk to record “Remember Love”, dropped on Beatport under the collective name DJ’s United. All proceeds were donated to the Association of Non-statutory Welfare in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, who provided financial aid to the victims, their families, and those in need of medical or psychological support following the tragedy.
His radio show “A State of Trance” has collaborated with MBRC The Ocean to create a recycled bracelet that supports the Plastic Soup Foundation and its fight for cleaner oceans and Muziekids, who provide musical experiences for children and families affected by cancer. In 2018, van Buuren participated in the Top 100 DJs charity auction, donating signed memorabilia, tickets, and meet and greet opportunities in aid of UNICEF. In between tours, he spends his time off visiting WWF projects in Bali, experiencing how the plastic pollution epidemic is affecting animals and the ecosystem first hand.
So, it really comes as no surprise to hear that Armin has joined forces with WWF and millions of people worldwide fighting to stop the dumping of plastic in oceans. Working specifically on the #BeatPlastic campaign, he hopes to inspire and mobilize his millions of fans to stop plastic pollution and sign the WWF petition that calls on world leaders to draft a UN treaty that will outline concrete plans to stop plastic pollution.
Van Buuren has already set the standard by ensuring all State of Trance events are plastic-smart. As a father and DJ, he wants his children and fans to be able to experience the beauty of the world for years to come.
If you want to join Armin van Buuren and the fight to stop plastic pollution of our oceans, begin your journey by signing the petition. From refusing to purchase plastic water bottles to always remembering to bring your reusable grocery bag to the shop, every little effort counts in the mission to #BeatPlastic.