Artists have always had opinions about what music (other than their own) is great. But in the digital era, there are far more chances to trumpet those tastes to their fans. The idea of ‘artist as curator’ is gaining currency, with a variety of examples.Usher’s Top 100 iPhone appR&B star Usher is the star of Melodeo’s latest streaming music iPhone application. It’s a playlist of 100 songs apparently hand-picked by the man himself from his favourite ever tunes. That means Arethra Franklin, James Brown and Michael Jackson among other artists.The app – powered by Melodeo’s NuTsie service – then streams the songs to users, who’ve paid $3 for the privilege of downloading it. Melodeo has released a number of generic streaming compilation apps like this, but Usher is the first big star to put his name to one. Clear Channel’s A.P.E. radio stationsRadio giant Clear Channel has got together with Irving Azoff’s Front Line Management for the next big thing in online radio (possibly). It’s called A.P.E. – standing for Artist Personal Experience – and it involves artists fronting streaming radio channels with a selection of their songs and their favourites.Christina Aguilera, Weezer and Joe Walsh of The Eagles were the first to sign up. The stations make money from advertising, but also function as a promotional tool for the artists – plugging tours and new releases. When it was announced, Azoff himself pitched it as a replacement for “the old model of trying to get radio airplay”. YouTube’s UK relaunchMusic videos went ‘dark’ on YouTube UK for most of this year, following Google’s licensing dispute with PRS for Music. Well, they went dark apart from all the music videos that were still on there, we mean. But when a deal was struck earlier this month, it was notable that YouTube chose to mark the relaunch by getting artists in to curate selections of their favourite videos.Local stars Tinchy Stryder, Basshunter and Florence and the Machine were roped in to provide their selections, handily reminding the industry of the perceived marketing benefits for artists of having their videos available on YouTube. Topman’s CTRL blogUK men’s clothing retailer Topman made a well-publicised move into music branding in March this year when it launched its CTRL initiative. It involved the obligatory sponsorship of gigs, but also a blog where each month a different artist was invited to curate, choosing their favourite music, films, fashion and art.Metronomy and Ladyhawke kicked it off in suitably fashionista, er, fashion. And no, before you ask, Topman didn’t get tired of the idea quickly – the Black Lips took part in August, while Phoenix helmed September for the initiative. Little Boots’ mixtapesThe start-of-year hype around Little Boots may have died down, but she’s still making good use of online marketing. The latest wheeze – the one after her turn at a Nokia-sponsored rollerdisco – is a downloadable mixtape with a selection of Boots’ favourite songs, including tracks by the Beach Boys, Fever Ray and Miike Snow [sic], as well as a remix of her new single.We remain slightly puzzled about the economics of giving these kinds of things away when it comes to publishing royalties, but the mixtape is actually Little Boots’ second – she issued one earlier this year. These can be controversial though – Lily Allen was slammed recently for unlicensed mixtapes she’d issued at the start of her career.
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