Tidal (as in, the music platform co-owned by the likes of Jay-Z and Arcade Fire) is funny. I knew it as a joke when they first launched, but I’m finding I like it for its editorial bent; its algorithm, its order, its metadata—its personality, if you will. But I mean also, full disclosure: my Tidal subscription was a birthday present. I didn’t seek it out nor do I think it’s superior to other library platforms. I like anything I get for free. Anyway, Tidal is funny because the artist bios are really gossipy!
From Angel Bat Dawid’s artist page:
Dawid grew up in Chicago and was introduced to music by her father and mother, whose backgrounds were rooted in funk, jazz, and classical music as well as Broadway musicals. Her father took her to see the Milos Forman film Amadeus when she was five years old. Instantly taken with the prodigy composer and the violin, she asked to learn to play one in the school orchestra but was given a clarinet instead. She wasn't impressed; at that time, the only music she could find at home on records was by Benny Goodman, who was far from hip. Nonetheless, she continued to study the instrument and advance her musical education. Not long after, she heard Mozart’s clarinet concerto; it convinced her of the instrument’s appeal. She began taking piano lessons at age 12, and studied at the Moody Bible Institute, flunked out, and enrolled at Roosevelt University. At 22, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that eventually required surgery.
That is all they say about her brain tumor surgery, by the way. This bio is almost poetic in its abruptness.
Here’s another gossipy bio from the page of Sophie B Hawkins:
Hawkins took the creative lead on her third album, Timbre, producing the sessions and playing a wider range of instruments than before; however, Columbia Records was unhappy with the results and wanted Hawkins to re-record part of the album. Hawkins refused, and while the album was eventually released in 1999 in her approved version, Columbia did little to promote the release, and she and the label parted ways. Hawkins formed her own independent label, Trumpet Swan Productions, and reissued Timbre in expanded form in 2001.
From Death Grips:
Despite the album's raging intensity, it became a favorite among critics upon its release. Following a signing to Epic, Death Grips released The Money Store in 2012. The label planned on delivering the follow-up album, No Love Deep Web, that same year, but when Death Grips released it themselves as a free download, the group was let go from Epic.
The Death Grips page is altogether funny for its lack of context, actually. All you need to know is that they couldn’t keep their shit together. “They started! They quit. They resumed! They quit again. Now they’re done.”
Tidal puts bylines on its gossip. How responsible! So I looked into where all this intriguing information was coming from—it says right at the bottom of each page: “Artist bio from TiVo.” And yes, this is a hella confusing name because most of us think of the DV-R platform, not a music industry metadata clearing house.
Remember GraceNotes? Remember when you all transferred your music into mp3s into an iPod and used iTunes and didn’t look back? Did any of you make your library and calendar sync so you had touring information on bands at the click of a <<Ctrl+T>>?
Can you imagine if your album liner notes came with this kind of gossip? I got a cassette tape recently (which I’m equally delighted and abhorred to see reprise as a delivery system) that included a QR code. I will never open that web page I promise you.
When I was working with Nick on Playbutton, I remember learning that blank USB dongles were more valuable than albums, that a blank tee was more valuable than one with a design. In fact people were willing to pay to erase data from the Playbuttons. It was imperative to Nick that the album be protected. Not only could one never erase the music, if he’d had his druthers, the album would only perform if the button/badge pierced through your actual ass clothing. These were some high concept barriers to proving one’s commitment to the album. The business enterprise nearly killed him, and came close to ruining our friendship. God, am I even allowed to talk about this shit? I’m happy it’s been erased from the annals of the music industry and the internet, but also wonder what happens in the parallel universe where they pile up in landfills from excessive popularity and adequate use. Maybe TiVo will tell this story for the few artists who managed to get this extraordinarily pointless but beautiful bit of album merch.
Gossip is amazing.