Here’s a handful of sources that have curated excellent new music.
More to come…
What’s in a band name? According to Glen Phillips (lead singer) it was “a joke that went on too long” and they had to adopt the name by default. “Toad The Wet Sprocket” originated from a Monty Python skit and the guys thought it would be a hilarious temporary name until they came up with a real one. It is memorable and it stuck.
The song this week is called “California Wasted” and was released earlier this year on their latest album.
Send me an email to get the MP3 or sign-up on the right.
What do Phillip Phillips and Greg Holden have in common? “Home” – the song made famous by Phillips was written by Greg Holden.
Greg is an incredible singer/performer in his own right. I found Holden when I suspected the Phillips didn’t write “Home.”
The song this week is called “She’s Got Something” and it’s recorded with just acoustic guitar and vocal.
Send me an email to get the MP3 – or signup on the right –>
I like Noah. When I started to research him, I wondered where he was from and he included “Seattle, Washington” in the header of his website. He knew I would want to know.
His new single “Ledges” is one of those tunes that instantly resonated. Great lyrics, very cool vibe, mature songwriting.
Send me an email or enter your email on the right to get the MP3.
Scotty Crosby turned me on to Joe Bonamassa a few years back (thanks Scotty!)
Joe is an amazing guitar virtuoso and has killer live shows. The song of the week is called “I Know Where I Belong” and is a live recording from a recent show.
If you like hard rockin’ blues, you will love this song.
(Sign-up for the Artist Spotlight to get the MP3 or send me an email.)
I first saw these two in a video somewhere and thought they were weird.
Maybe they are, but their music is quite captivating. This week’s song is called “Birmingham” and it’s pretty sparse (as is most of their music) but very engaging.
Sign-up for the Artist Spotlight to get the MP3. (Blue button to the right)
It seems every time I get to talking to friends and family about music, I hear the same complaint. “There’s no good music today” or “it’s too hard to find good music.”
This always baffles me since almost every song you could ever want is a few clicks away. iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody (anyone still use that?), YouTube, Kickstarter, Daytrotter, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter – and the list goes on. Of course, FM radio is still here and there are thousands of stations across the U.S. that curate excellent music.
So what is the real issue? I think it’s two-fold:
Spotify alone has over 20 million songs in their catalog. It is said that there are over 97 million songs recorded in the world. On average, the typical music fan is introduced to 50 songs per year. Let that sink in.
If we look a little closer to that market segment that I mentioned, 40-60 year-olds. They grew up on rock-and-roll, generally speaking. The most ‘pop’ular form of music being promoted from 1950 – 1995 was some form of rock-and-roll. This is the genre that several generations of people are connected too. They have emotional ties to this style. All the best memories of growing up are connected with songs from this era.
I think what people are complaining about is that they cannot find new songs that move them emotionally like they remembered back when they were much younger. Our young minds were filled with hope, aspirations, discovery and love. The songs presented to us during that period are permanently attached to those feelings. This should explain nostalgia.
So now, here we are later in life with some money to spend and the music that is popular is appealing to.. yep, young people. Go figure.
However, I believe there is hope for gen-x and baby boomers to discover new music. Many of us in this generation are discovering great new music. We just need a more effective way of sharing our discoveries.
But wait, isn’t sharing music illegal? Yes, it is and that is part of the problem. You cannot buy a CD or MP3 and make copies to give to your friends. That could cost you $250,000 and up to 5 years in jail. Think about that, you just found an awesome song in iTunes and you make a copy to send to your sister. Felony.
Ok, so beyond all the antiquated laws of copyright infringement, we need a better sharing model. One that allows the “curators” to find the good stuff and easily share it with people. The way it stands today, corporations are curating music for us. Honda is sharing Michael Bolton with me. Allstate is sharing Philip Phillips with me. And it used to be that all the radio advertisers (with a little help from program directors) curated rock-and-roll for us in the 70s and 80s.
I would like people I know (or don’t know for that matter) with good taste to share music with me.
So, what is the problem with music? Well, it’s certainly not the music’s fault. 97 million songs in the world and people think 96, 999,500 of them are bad? Probably not. We just don’t know what they sound like, yet.
Steven Hyden just wrote an excellent article on the state (and potential future state) of pop music.
He contends that pop music and thus pop stars are becoming an accessory to selling technology. Can’t argue with that at all. However, I believe the bigger issue is “pop music” as a category.
Ever since mass media became mass, anything “pop” has been made popular by a very narrow set of tastemakers. We have been spoon-fed singles for the past 50 years. This is how the music industry had so much success. The majority of music listeners had to live with the Top 40 as a primary means of new music discovery.
It’s well-known that bands like Journey ad REO Speedwagon were huge radio stars because their fans matched the target demographic of the radio advertisers. It was a symbiotic relationship.
In 2014, this has all changed. The Internet has democratized attention for the same masses as in 1982. “Pop” is no longer Popular. Let me say that again – “Pop Music” is no longer popular music as defined for the past 50 years.
Hit singles are no longer spoon-fed by a narrow set of tastemakers. Hit singles are determined by how much its shared. I can guarantee that whatever my 13 year-old just downloaded is being listened to by hundreds of millions people (not just kids) all around the world. She was listening “Cups” by Anna Kendrick six months before it went to radio. Radio and mass media are becoming a reflection of what is organically becoming popular online.
Even the morning news is reporting the latest viral video and stories that I’ve already skimmed on Twitter. Frankly, I don’t even see the value in 95% of news programs. (But that’s a different post….)
The meaning behind popular music is a song that resonates. Today, it really doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it resonates. If it’s a mash-up of bluegrass and house music written by a producer who doesn’t perform as a musician, the song can still resonate.
So, what is the future of pop music? I think it has little to do with the medium on which it travels. A songs popularity will be based on its own merit and craftsmanship. The notion of “Pop” stars will be nothing more than a traveling circus. Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, etc will be the golden era of megapop stardom. If we’re still talking about music, it will always come back to the song – the emotion and the experience of the performer. I hope that lives forever.
…And it will be for a long time to come.
Three reasons: 1)Free 2)Curated 3)Simple
I just read Macklemore’s post on his meteoritic rise to international superstar. One year ago, he and his team were an underground rapper/band playing any venue possible to an audience of 10-100 people. After his first single, “Thrift Shop” going #1 on iTunes for 3 weeks, he received a few phone calls – to say the least.
LA Reid came out to see one of his shows in Minnesota and offered him a deal. He politely refused, however, Macklemore’s manager got an idea. The idea was to approach their distributor (subsidiary of Warner Bros) to shop their single(s) to radio and pay a commission back to the distributor. This is a story unto itself – possibly changing the music business forever. At first the distributor refused, but after some negotiation they struck a deal. Thrift Shop was a monster hit on radio, which blew up worldwide. Macklemore followed up with two more singles that were just as big, “Same Love” even bigger.
The internet provides access to billions of people, but there’s very little curation and focused attention. It’s an extremely long tail with millions of curators. There’s no such thing as passive listening – even Pandora requires self-curation.
Radio provides focused exposure that the Internet can’t. The reason is the car radio. It takes no effort to listen to the radio in the car. Even Pandora and Sirius have limited listenership due to the (underrated) digital divide. You need to pay a subscription and/or have high-speed Internet in your car. I’m all about innovation, but radio still provides higher quality sound (look it up). Radio is super simple tech. Two buttons that you can use while still driving.
Macklemore’s songs went to #1 on iTunes, but that was only 78,000 albums sold after a month. iTunes was the ultimate test market for Macklemore and radio provided the multiplier. Sales went into the millions after radio.
Think about it, as big as Macklemore is now, why couldn’t he breakthrough his modest underground following? I think it’s because his network of influencers can only reach so far. Having your (great) songs blasted on thousands of radio stations, tens of thousands of times per day is going to gain new influencers – thus dumping gas on the forest fire. Everyone in Macklemore’s camp knew – there was a ceiling in the underground world.
YouTube probably has the same impact as radio, however it still requires someone to 1) find the video, 2) press play and 3) watch something on a device. All of which is not free, curated or simple.
Last week I started sending my friends some songs they probably haven’t heard before. Here’s the list of tunes and artists from last week:
She’s Got Something – Greg Holden
From a Window Seat – Dawes
Reckless Days Endless Nights – Loren Benjamin
Hail Hail – Shovels & Rope
Love To Get Used – Matt Pond