Music News: Nine Inch Nails release surprise album

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Nine Inch Nails have released hours of new music: 'Some of it kind of happy, some not so much.' Other artists are releasing quirky new material, including Kesha's song about...Nicolas Cage? Meanwhile, some financial help for hurting artists is starting to come in, with the federal stimulus bill moving forward and Spotify contributing up to $10 million. Finally, before you can rewrite the Knack's 'My Sharona' in light of the coronavirus outbreak...don't worry, they already have. (MPR Video)

Nine Inch Nails have surprise-released 23 new instrumental tracks as a free download. Describing the release, parts V and VI of the band's ongoing Ghosts series, Trent Reznor tweeted, "Some of it kind of happy, some not so much." That seems about right. The band's last proper album was 2013's Hesitation Marks, although they've dropped three EPs since then as Reznor continues to keep busy scoring films and TV shows like HBO's Watchmen. (Pitchfork)

Other artists are sharing new music that's more pointed — like Ben Gibbard's new song "Life Under Quarantine," debuted online as part of his nightly concert series. (Consequence of Sound)

Some artists, on the other hand, are getting completely absurd. Kesha dropped a one-minute track about Nicolas Cage, because...why not? (Pitchfork)

Financial help for hurting artists: Federal stimulus bill, Spotify donation

While much more will be needed, financial help for hurting artists is beginning to arrive. Spotify is matching donations to music relief funds, up to $10 million, made through a special website it's established. Industry giants including Amazon Music, YouTube, and Tidal are also part of what's being described as a "generous" donation via the Grammys charity MusiCares. (Variety)

And how about that federal relief bill? The package passed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday totals $2 trillion. How could that impact the music industry? Well, part of the bill is a provision that allows self-employed musicians, songwriters, and music support crew to apply for relief grants and loans — if, that is, they make less than $100,000 annually. That's the result of direct lobbying by industry groups, which wanted to make sure that the bill included supports and protections for people in the music world who can't apply for conventional unemployment because they're self-employed.

Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, tells Rolling Stone, "Here's what this boils down to: They're going to be eligible for loans and grants and possibly forgiveness of those loans if they can't make up the income at the end of the year."

The U.S. House of Representatives will take up the bill on Friday. (MPR News)

Artists who are financially secure are turning around and supporting peers and fans who need help. Taylor Swift is sending "Swiftie Stimulus" checks to fans in need, and Ariana Grande has been quietly sending support via Venmo to fans who are hurting.

Meanwhile, the late George Harrison's The Material World Foundation is donating $500,000 to COVID-19 relief funds, and Harrison's son Dhani is asking fans to share "inner light" moments to spread inspiration. Here's Dhani Harrison performing the Beatles song "This Inner Light," released in 1968 as the B-side to "Lady Madonna" and written by his father. (Billboard)

The Knack parody their own "My Sharona"

As the AV Club notes, coronavirus-themed song parodies are proliferating like mad as everyone's cooped up inside with time on their hands and sometimes guitars in their hands. Before you can get around to rewriting the Knack's "My Sharona" as "Bye, Corona!", though...don't worry, the band have done it for you.

Lead guitarist Berton Averre acknowledges that, sadly, singer Doug Fieger died in 2010. So, Averre and bassist Prescott Niles bang it out, demonstrating that Averre can still shred — making sure to disinfect his fretboard.


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