Gotye: Spotify Is OK, Vinyl Should Replace CDs [COVER STORY]

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from this month's cover story featuring the musical phenom Gotye.

Belgian-Australian artist Gotye's (born Wouter De Backer) single “Somebody That I Used to Know” (off his third album, Making Mirrors) has risen to Top 10 positions on charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and a host of other countries no one knew had a taste for Aussie music.

The irony is that De Backer almost moved on with the record without “Somebody.” Finding the perfect female vocals—eventually provided by New Zealand singer-songwriter, Kimbra--was taking too long, he says. “I had already waited over two years so there were moments where I thought it just wasn’t meant to be. It probably would have been a different story had I not waited,” he adds.

That story may have been less flashy, but as for what would happen if “Somebody” hadn’t made the track list, De Backer is content to think that business as usual would have been okay. “I reckon I probably would have put up a lot of money for the record trying to release it independently,” he speculates.

Despite its universal theme of broken relationships, “the song is perhaps peculiar and coming from a strange place for a pop hit,” De Backer admits.

His four-week stateside tour is totally sold out and several shows have already graduated into larger venues than originally planned. His success is mounting stratospherically and fans the world over are lending him eyes and ears. Following his first television appearance in the States on Jimmy Kimmel in February, the artist will make his debut on Saturday Night Live later this month. “[SNL has] never been broadcast on Australian television so I don’t think [Auss- ies] appreciate the cultural relevance of that show,” he notes. “It’s sort of one of the premier pop culture shows in the United States.” With opportunities like this coming at him left and right— “Somebody” will also be covered on the spring premiere of Glee on April 10—De Backer is getting a rich taste of American culture and music.

“The American music scene allows for artists to create a loyal following and never quite become what might be considered mainstream but still be successful. That’s not really possible in Australia,” he observes. “It’s interesting in America because you have so many types of music and even cities. There are no real hot spots for music [in Australia] like you have here in the States.”

De Backer is experiencing many of these “hot spots” as he rides the proverbial wave of new international music pouring into the United States. He has found tremendous success and seems destined to change the rules about what makes good pop music—very much like Adele.

“You have these interesting times where different sounds start to grab the attention of the powers that be or radio execs decide that this is rock right now or pop right now,” De Backer observes. “I think a large group of people are sick of the highly sexualized, auto-tuned pop or really heavy R&B that has defined the American pop landscape for a while now. Yeah, there have been other artists in different genres but many haven’t poked through because of the pop success formula. I think it’s great, Adele’s success, because labels have been more open to music that is more organic-sounding or doesn’t fit into the current pop mold.”

That mold is changing in large part due to international artists becoming more accessible to American consumers via the Internet. De Backer’s own video of “Somebody” is the perfect example, with more than 131 million views in the eight months since its release. The video’s success, plus a couple of key Twitter endorsements from social media maven, Ashton Kutcher, and Brit-rocker, Lily Allen, have opened America’s arms wide for De Backer and a host of other artists across the pond.

But with the accessibility and “free”dom of the Internet comes the inevitable question: how are artists supposed to get paid? “When you look at royalties based on what artists get paid from services and subscriptions like Spotify, you have to have a really sizable audience streaming your music many, many times before that translates into whatever millions of cents you get and before it results in someone deciding they like the song enough and that they’re prepared to pay a dollar,” De Backer points out. “That kind of model does undercut artists because of what it still costs to make records...but at the same time, I can’t imagine disallowing people the chance to hear what you do, making it more inconvenient for them to discover your music.”

It’s a Catch-22 that every artist is looking square in the eye these days. But on a more nostalgic note, De Backer is joining hundreds of other indie artists in fully embracing the resurgence of an old medium that leaves no question about rights or cost or accessibility: vinyl.

“It’s an important medium for music and it is probably the medium that should continue.” De Backer insists. “I think it sounds better than CDs. Really, all the fodder the music industry put out in the mid-80s about CDs being indestructible and endless; it’s not true. Analog media—like vinyl—will last decades longer than a CD if you take care of them, long after a CD can’t be read anymore. It’s a pure medium.”

De Backer’s enchantment with vinyl began with the extensive collection he received from a neighbor as a teenager, most of which he still owns. “Vinyl has a great sense of romance to it,” he adds. “I think, in the future, music should be released just digitally and on vinyl and CDs will be gotten rid of and we can stop wasting resources on them, those little shiny discs!”

Read the full story and more in the April issue of Variance.

PREVIEW: 'Glee' Covers Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"

As was previously announced, Fox's Glee will cover Gotye's hit song, "Somebody That I Used to Know" (feat. Kimbra), for its highly-anticipated return on Tuesday, April 10. The episode, which features White Collar's Matt Bomer as Blaine's (Darren Criss) older brother, will be the first of several leading up to the season finale.

While not the powerhouse it once was, Glee has still proven to be a force within mainstream culture. In 2011, the show covered fun.'s "We Are Young" (feat. Janelle Monae), which has since become the top-selling track of the year so far. Now, Glee is covering "Somebody," a song which is already dominating the charts--perhaps in hopes of coming back strong before its season ends.

Gotye, who is Variance's April cover story, discusses his rise in pop culture as well as his views on Spotify and his upcoming debut on Saturday Night Live--all in the new issue.

Watch the full performance here: "Somebody" (by Criss and Bomer) before it airs on April 10.

Digital Charts: fun. is No. 1, Gotye takes No. 2

Two of the hottest songs in the world right now will battle for No. 1 next week!

fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae) claims a sixth week at No. 1 on Billboard's Digital Songs chart, selling 387,000 downloads (up 11%).

Most songs see a huge sales week either in their debut week, during Christmas time or right after the Grammy Awards. However, "We Are Young" saw its massive 387,000 sales frame without any of those aids. Since SoundScan began tracking download sales in 2003, only one song has had a larger week that wasn't caused by a debut, Christmas or the Grammys. That was when Flo Rida's "Right Round" sold 460,000 in its second week on the chart -- March 7, 2009.

Finally, "We Are Young" is now the year's top selling song with 2.39 million sold. It has surpassed Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" at 2.25 million.

Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" (featuring Kimbra), rises 4-2 on Digital Songs with 208,000 (up 25%) and the Wanted's "Glad You Came" slips 2-3 with 183,000.

Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open," from "The Hunger Games" soundtrack, debuts at No. 4 with 176,000. (The Hunger Games soundtrack also debuts at No. 1 this week following a record-breaking opening weekend.)

Read the full story from Billboard

White Stripes Reunion 'Only If We Were Bankrupt'

Detroit rocker Jack White, who is currently on his solo tour, has revealed that he will only reform the White Stripes if they were to hit bankruptcy.

Speaking to NME, White called a reunion "a really sad thing" if it were to happen. Despite the White Stripes' success, and his former marriage to only bandmate Meg White, Jack White expressed a severe reluctance and unwillingness to reunite the band.

"I would probably say absolutely not. Absolutely no chance. I couldn't see any reason to ever do that," said White. "I'm not the kind of person that would retire from baseball and come out of retirement the next year."

Read the full story here

fun.'s "We Are Young" Takes Top Spot on Chart

fun. becomes the first rock band in more than a decade to send a debut Billboard Hot 100 hit to No. 1, as "We Are Young," featuring Janelle Monae, ascends 3-1--knocking Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" from the top spot.

The song spends a third week atop the Digital Songs chart with 302,000 downloads sold (up 19%), according to Nielsen SoundScan. "Young" rises 3-2 on the Alternative Songs radio airplay chart and roars in as the top debut on Pop Songs (No. 24) and Adult Pop Songs (No. 33).

With its coronation, fun. becomes the first multi-member rock band to conquer the Hot 100 with its first entry on the chart since Nickelback arrived with its four-week No. 1 "How You Remind Me" in December 2001/January 2002.

Read more about fun. in the Variance cover story

Best Coast Announce May Release Date for New Album

Best Coast have announced full details of their second studio album, which will be titled The Only Place. The album, which is the follow-up to their 2010 debut album, Crazy For You, has been produced by Jon Brion, who has previously worked with Kanye West, Rufus Wainwright and Of Montreal and will release on May 15.

The record contains a total of 11 tracks and includes "Up All Night," "How They Want Me to Be" and "Dreaming My Life Away," which have all been previously released.

Read the full story from NME

fun. Has No. 1 New Album in the Country

It's official: fun.'s Some Nights is the top-rated new album in the country this week.

The band's second album, Some Nights, debuts at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. Their debut set, Aim and Ignite, debuted and peaked at No. 71 in 2009. (Some Nights sold almost as many copies this week as the band's previous album sold total--70,000 compared to 74,000, respectively.)

fun. is basking in the success of the single "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae), which is featured in Chevy's 2012 Sonic TV commercial. The song sells 291,000 downloads this week, returning it to No. 1 (6-1) on the Digital Songs chart (up 19%).

Not unexpectedly, Adele's 21 album spends a 22nd week atop the Billboard 200 chart, selling 297,000 (down 59%) according to Nielsen SoundScan. This is also 21's ninth consecutive week at No. 1 -- the most in-a-row frames at No. 1 since the Titanic soundtrack racked 14-straight in 1998.

Read more from Billboard

Kristin Chenoweth Going on Tour, Returning to Hometown

Kristin Chenoweth is taking the long way home. The Tony Award-winning singer and actress announced Wednesday that she'll kick off her first ever concert tour on May 9 in Seattle and it will end June 24 in Broken Arrow, Okla., the town she grew up in.

"I've sung all over the place but I've never committed to a tour because of my schedule," said the petite beauty with the powerful pipes. "So now I'm finally doing it."

According to the Associated Press, Chenoweth's 19-city North America tour will hit Los Angeles, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Toronto, New York, Nashville and Atlanta, among other cities. In her hometown, the main 1,500-seat stage at the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center will be renamed in her honor.

Mark Frie, the arts center's executive director, said Broken Arrow has been looking for a way to honor Chenoweth since the facility opened its doors three years ago. "We're excited to welcome her home," he said.

Chenoweth, who recently made appearances on Glee, stars in the upcoming new series GCB, which premieres Sunday on ABC.

Read the full story from Billboard

Bon Iver Releases New Music Video for "Towers"

Bon Iver has released the new music video for "Towers," in addition to adding new tour dates including The Red Rocks with Feist.

Nabil Elderkin, the filmmaker responsible for Bon Iver's epic "Holocene" video, directed the third video for Bon Iver.

Of the new video, Elderkin said: "When Justin sent me a breakdown of what certain parts/lines of the song meant to him I did my best to decode it and curate into something simple, and hopefully the viewer can take from it their own feeling of what the towers represent. It was shot up in Washington state, mostly on Indian-preserved land, and our actor's name was Mystic. He seemed to be very tuned into the land, and when he said he was also willing to fall into the freezing cold ocean up there (seems a bit sharky too), I knew he was my guy."

Watch the video here.

Keane Announces New Album Set to Release in May


British alt-rockers Keane have announced that its fourth album, Strangeland, will be released on May 8 in the U.S. on Cherrytree/Interscope, and one day earlier in the U.K. The follow-up to 2008's Perfect Symmetry will be supported by a spring tour, with dates still pending.

Billboard reports that the label is considering releasing the soaring "Silenced By The Night" as the first single in the U.S., while another song, "Disconnected," will be serviced to the band's U.K. fans. "We're going to shoot videos for both," says Cherrytree Records Chairman Martin Kierszenbaum, adding that the double-single strategy can work for "artists with a global fan base" like Keane.

Watch their video here.

Ingrid Michaelson Releases New Album, Hits No. 1 on iTunes

Only about 12 hours ago, Ingrid Michaelson released her latest album, Human Again, to the public. And in that short span of time, it has already topped Adele's 21 as well as the new album (also released today) from Tim McGraw. The No. 1 slot has changed consistently throughout the day as Michaelson and Adele battle other albums which also released this week. Kari Jobe's Where I Find You and Lamb of God's Resolution are also in the top five. (It's an interesting mix for today's Top Charts!)

Congratulations to Ingrid Michaelson on the early success of this latest LP! She discusses Human Again and more in the issue of Variance.

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