AIMS API's Einar Helde on how the tech start-up can help navigate catalogue for syncs and playlists

AI and music are becoming an increasingly powerful partnership in the industry. AIMS API is one of the key players establishing a presence with clients including Universal Production Music, Warner Chappell Production Music, Partisan Records, Hipgnosis, Extreme Music, BMG Production ...

Hitmakers: Cat Burns on the making of her million-selling hit Go

Cat Burns’ Go isn’t just a hit, it’s a case study in the power of TikTok when it comes to pop music. Here, the BRIT-nominated star reminisces about how a story of a friend’s relationship drama evolved into a stripped-back, million-selling phenomenon that empowered her bid to conquer the music industry… INTERVIEW: COLLEEN HARRIS To this day I don’t really know why Go crossed over. I think the song is just very honest, it’s not a mean song or a song bashing another person. It’s about acknowledging something that has happened and then choosing to walk away from it, while being blunt in saying that.  The song is about my friend, who was my guitarist at the time, he got cheated on and told me the whole story. I thought it was really dramatic and interesting and wondered how I would react or handle ever being in that situation. Then the song just wrote itself. I think people connected with it because it’s easy to sing along to and it’s catchy. I was 18 when I wrote it. I had the chords, then I came up with the hook in my house. I had a session with George Morgan, then another with Will Tannergard and we wrote a little bit more of the song. Then I had a session with a producer called Jonah Stevens and we finished the song off together.  It happened quite quickly and the chords don’t really vary that much. There are three different guitar parts in Go, but it isn’t super difficult in terms of production. The main issue was getting it to sound how I wanted it to. We had about nine different versions, including a super beat-heavy one where it sounded [like] a lot [was going on]. We wanted to make an acoustic version, but it wasn’t the right acoustic sound. Then we landed on the version that came out, which is a bit more stripped back, I love it.  When I write songs, the lyrics and melody come to me at the same time. I can’t do one or the other, I can’t hum and then add the words later. I need to have the words and the melody together so I understand the journey that I want the song to go on. I wanted to tell a story and, casting my brain back to 18-year-old me, I felt like that melody was catchy enough for you to still be able to sing it, but also know and understand the story. You can very clearly understand the lyrics.  I always write conversational lyrics. I like my music to be relatable, and for people to hear it and think, ‘Oh my God, she’s written that for me.’ I’m not a deeply metaphorical person with my lyrics and word choices. I just like to say it how it is on the tin.  People say success is just hard work meets opportunity and luck, and I have put the hard work in. I had already shared the song a lot before it first came out, I think there were about 19-20,000 videos made using it on TikTok. The song was in the algorithm and it was luck that a group of 15 to 17-year-olds found it and liked it enough to start making videos to it. At the time, the song was trending a bit, so people would use it because they wanted their video to go viral. That then helped a load more people on TikTok find it as well.  After I’ve written a song and shown it to people, I just sit with it for a really long time until it’s released. I show loved ones, mainly my mum, my sister and my partner. My sister guessed [Go would do well]. When I teased it on TikTok she was like, ‘I think this is going to go viral.’ I asked why and she said, ‘I don’t know, I can sense it.’  At the time I wasn’t believing any of that. I’d had a lot of ‘no’s and felt I was not in a very good place in my career. I wasn’t sure that people were going to vibe with the kind of music that I wanted to do, so I had no expectations for the song whatsoever. Then it did go viral and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ TikTok has definitely changed the trajectory of my career at a really fast speed. I joined in March 2020 and I think I had 600,000 followers by last summer [now 1.4 million]. That naturally sprinkles onto other platforms. Because there’s not many Black girls from London doing pop music and singing and playing guitar, I think I stood out a little bit. I think I’ve shown that the UK wants more young Black girls doing whatever they want to do.  Since making Go, I’ve learned that TikTok is an ever-changing app. The trick is actually accepting that you know nothing about it, because the moment you think you’ve got it, you haven’t. They’re constantly changing the algorithm and how things work. You have to stay consistent and it really can change everything for you, but it’s not to be solely relied on as your decision-maker for everything.  Go came out and it wasn’t until two years later when it had its resurgence on TikTok. It’s weird, because I wrote it so long ago that when I saw it gaining so much success, it almost felt like it was happening to somebody else. You just never know when a song will have its time. I could put out a song now and it may not be until 2025 that someone random finds it and decides to give it a new lease of life.

Notes on a conditional format: Record Store Day targets new generation of fans

Record Store Day is bringing together major artists, indie retail and TikTok to further boost vinyl sales. The 2023 edition on Saturday, April 22 is the 16th edition of the vinyl celebration – a period which coincides with the revival of the format in the UK. “It’s no coincidence,” said Megan Page, RSD coordinator at the Entertainment Retailers Association. “Record Store Day really put vinyl back on the map. It was something that executives had probably written off and didn’t realise there was still an appetite and demand for it.” Vinyl album sales reached 5.5 million units in 2023, the 15th consecutive year of growth for the format, according to Official Charts Company data. That compares to the low point of 200,000 units in 2007. The 1975 are the Record Store Day UK ambassadors this year and will release 2,500 copies of The 1975 – Live With The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, an exclusive double LP for RSD.   The band’s No.1 album Being Funny In A Foreign Language was the seventh biggest seller on vinyl in 2022. “There’s definitely a fanbase there that are really into vinyl,” said Page. “It was probably one of the biggest Record Store Day announcements that we’ve ever done in terms of the amount of traffic and volume of messages that came through our socials and website. In fact, it crashed our site a couple of times.  “So it just goes to show you the power of a band like The 1975 for indie record shops and Record Store Day. And they have a real flagship release in terms of something completely unique, it doesn’t exist anywhere else.” Taylor Swift’s Midnights was the biggest seller on vinyl in 2022 with 89,163 units. Swift’s Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions is one of the standout releases for RSD 2023.  Page credited Swift with bringing in new fans to the vinyl event last year when she served as global ambassador. “It was the Taylor Swift effect, lots of 14 and 15-year-old girls going out and finding their local record shop for the first time, queuing up with parents and friends, and making a real experience out of it,” said Page. “That’s really what Record Store Day was always intended to do. It’s a driving force to get new people who don’t know where their local record shop is to go out and find it.” For the 2022 edition, overall vinyl sales were up 80% by volume week-on-week and 107% by value. Last year also marked the first time since 1987 that vinyl outperformed CD based on total market sales revenue over the 12 months. “It’s amazing to have that significant commercial boost and uplift but ultimately, first and foremost, it is a cultural event,” said Page. “It is about celebrating the culture of the stores and the art of vinyl. But of course we’re really delighted when we see those numbers come in and the impact that it’s having on the industry as well.” Organisers are hoping this year’s line-up of 400 titles, available at more than 250 stores, will deliver a similar boost.  Across major label and independent releases, artists supporting Record Store Day 2023 include Sam Smith & Kim Petras, Elton John, Loyle Carner, Pixies, Nas, Madonna, Yard Act, Baby Queen, Greentea Peng and Piri & Tommy. “Something that we’ve been saying to labels is to think more about the breadth of genre,” said Page. “We’re dependent on the labels to make sure they’re bringing us all of those different genres and styles of music. When you look through it [this year], it’s a really eclectic list.” Alongside the Behind The Counter video series on record shops supported by Classic Album Sunday and Bowers & Wilkins, Record Store Day has formed a partnership with TikTok for 2023. “In terms of widening our reach and attracting a new audience, that’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Page. “It allows us to tap into that 16-25 demographic and the crazy world of Vinyl Tok, and talk to them in a much more creative way.” Alongside the involvement of this year’s RSD acts on the platform, TikTok will boost content, create a playlist in the Sounds Library for creators and support the retail initiative. Page described Banquet Records as the “gold standard TikTok account” for a record shop. “It’s going where the customers are,” said co-owner Jon Tolley. “If your customers are on TikTok and you’re not, then you’re neglecting a key part of what your business should do.” With vinyl now firmly established once again and on track to overtake CD unit sales in the years ahead, the role of Record Store Day is changing. “I think it has to evolve,” said Page. “Record Store Day was there to put record shops back on the map and to help with a format that was probably on the brink of extinction.  “We’re now in a world where vinyl is the dominant physical format, it plays an integral part for artists and their marketing campaigns. So it’s about protecting the indie record stores, ensuring that their stories are told and making sure that the younger generation are being brought into vinyl.” As platforms such as TikTok are added into the mix alongside traditional media support from stations such as BBC Radio 6 Music, the annual vinyl celebration looks set to welcome a wider audience into stores next month. “It’s inclusive and diverse, we want everyone to feel that they can be a part of the vinyl community,” said Page.

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