Artist of the week – Noah Gundersen

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.

Artist of the week – Joe Bonamassa

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.)

The Future Of Pop Music

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. I hope that lives forever.

Why Radio Is Still Relevant (Part I)

…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).

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.

New Music – She’s Got Something – Greg Holden

I found this guy when looking for the songwriter of the song “Home” made famous by Philip Phillips. Greg Holden is a singer/songwriter from England who had a #1 song in the Netherlands before moving to New York.

This song is called “She’s Got Something” and it’s a great tune recorded with only a few instruments and vocal. Killers hooks everywhere.  Enjoy.

Download MP3