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Category: Music News (Page 2 of 5)

The Rise (again) of Music Discovery Sites


If you’re a struggling unsigned band, it can be a jungle out there. You create your music, put it online via Soundcloud, Bandcamp or some other online music service, make videos and put them up on YouTube and send mp3s out to as many blogs as humanly possible in the hope that someone, anyone, will hear your music, like it and maybe even buy it, so that you can start to create a buzz. With so many bands out there vying for the same listeners’ ears (and hard-earned cash), the odds are stacked against you. All you have to keep you going is your belief in yourself and a love of the music. Or at least, you’d better have a love of the music, because if you don’t or you’re not sure, there are definitely easier ways to make a living. Truth be told, being a music listener is no less daunting. Where do you go to hear new bands? How do you wade through all the, let’s face it, utter dreck out there to find those songs that give you goosebumps, or at the very least, find music that sets itself apart so that you stop thinking about the half dozen other things on your mind and really listen?

There are so many places to learn about and listen to new music, it’s mind numbing. Terrestrial radio is a thing of the past, gone the way of the dinosaur (though I still listen to it in my car). There are countless online stations, there’s iTunes, there’s Spotify (and all the others of that ilk), there are zillions of music blogs and of course, your friends on Twitter, Facebook and wherever else recommending bands. For musicians trying to promote their music, the possibilities are endless. This is both wonderful and horrible at the same time. Wonderful, because there are so many places where you can promote your music online, opening avenues of promotion and marketing to those with little to no funds. Horrible, because the listening audience is incredibly fractured and all over the place. It’s impossible to hit every music discovery platform, every blog, every social networking site. An army of marketing firms specializing in this wild frontier have risen up to represent those bands that can afford them, because seriously, a musician’s time is best spent creating music. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be involved in your business and oversee every aspect. Anyone who’s serious about getting their music heard and being a musician for a living these days has to be fully involved. It’s more the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day.

In 2008, it was internet radio — Pandora, iLike and Last.fm. By 2009, people were talking about Shazam, The Hype Machine and many other music discovery sites like Stumble Audio, which has since bitten the dust. On the “hottest music streaming and discovery sites” list for 2010, Bandcamp joined the scene, as did TheSixtyOne. In 2011, it was 8Tracks, an internet radio station, and Blip.fm, a social network/internet radio blend. Soundcloud made the lists in 2012, and We Are Hunted, a music aggregator, joined forces with Twitter on their own music discovery project, Twitter Music (which was shut down in 2014). Over the past few years, the introduction of new music discovery sites has continued unabated. Mixcloud is a place for both amateur and professional DJs to share their mixes and radio shows. Discovr Music is a service from music reference site AllMusic. It shows you related artists for a particular band, and you can drill in to get more information, their biography, song streams and videos. You can also track your favorites. Songza suggests music to fit your current mood, and you can see what’s trending and popular. And that’s just a very small sampling.

In the already chaotic scene of music discovery portals, places where musicians can post projects and fans can discover new bands, a few more have appeared in recent months. Consider this the eighth or ninth generation of music discovery sites.

Tradiio

Tradiio, a Portuguese startup, first launched in the U.K. on March 2 of this year. This music discovery platform is a little different, in that it’s reward based. It’s an interesting little twist to distinguish itself from the many others, and a pretty cool concept. It can be accessed via the web, IOS and Android. Not only are Tradiio users able to listen to new bands, but by “investing” in them with virtual coins, they’re able to be talent spotters and tastemakers, helping their favorite acts rise up the ranks into recommended and trending lists, gain exposure and credibility, and potentially go much farther than just online accolades. The more popular bands are given real world rewards and opportunities, such as a performing slot on the Tradiio Stage at Field Day, access to studio time through Tradiio’s partnership with Moloco Studios, benefits from Tradiio’s label partnership with Believe Recordings and the chance to make a music video with Radar. Tradiio is open to both new bands and more established artists, and it’s a free service for artists and music fans. This music discovery site has worldwide impact. In Portugal, Universal Music Portugal selects artists from Tradiio’s top 50 chart for worldwide distribution.

Listeners on Tradiio are encouraged to use the service with “missions” and “challenges,” turning the music listening experience into a fun game. Social engagement includes being able to follow other users to see their musical picks and the ability to share your discoveries on other social networks. There are also real life benefits for music fans. By investing in artists you like, you earn credibility and virtual coins which you can then redeem for Field Day tickets, Bleep download store vouchers, AIAIAI headphones and Sonos speakers. While in the Tradiio Market, you can also get Add-Ons, which let you earn coins more quickly.

Tradiio: web | facebook | twitter | instagram

WorldArts

WorldArts is a music discovery and opportunities platform, based in Los Angeles. Their mission is to change the way musicians connect with fans worldwide, and to offer bands huge opportunities for wider exposure. Like many of these music discovery sites, WorldArts levels the playing field for new bands, making it easier to get started without having a manager, record label or publicity company. The Artists section is a listing of World Arts artists. Select a band, and you can read their bio, listen to music, watch videos, look at photos and see who’s a fan. You can share and follow your favorites. From the Discover page, you can watch videos from new artists and choose to follow or share. The Opportunities page is how bands can win big career boosts by submitting their music. Current opportunities include music video production, a recording session, a professional photo shoot, the opportunity to record a track at NightBird Studios and airplay on KROQ’s “Locals Only” radio show in Los Angeles. Previously they’ve chosen artists to perform at a SXSW showcase, which was then live-streamed, and one musician was selected to attend and perform at the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo, which included a studio recording and vinyl pressing of a single. WorldArts Live regularly live streams concerts and festivals. In the News section they offer original and aggregated content that helps you keep up to date with music business news, items of interest for working musicians and upcoming events. There are also artist profiles, Q&As and other music-related content.

WorldArts: web | facebook | twitter

Busker

Busker is the newest of these music discovery sites, about to launch this summer. Busker, with headquarters in NYC, is calling themselves a “next-generation discovery and booking platform for musicians.” This service will feature live music videos from musicians, letting users browse artists, view their videos, create playlists and follow their favorites. Channels will act as guideposts — they give the example of a Julliard channel for students and alumni of the prestigious music school. This music discovery site will go one step further to help musicians get gigs so they can build a sustainable career. There’s a booking platform for anyone interesting in hiring musicians for any type of performance, from private parties and events to venues and large festivals. It is said to function like an airbnb for musicians. Busker’s “Musician on Demand” service will allow potential hosts to text a request, and the Busker team will line up a musician for their event. Their mission is to show people that it’s not as expensive as one might think to hire musicians, and to give musicians help in finding work. The long-term goal is to “use technology to help musicians make money,” which would include not only online bookings, but direct links to purchase music and merchandise, including concert tickets.

Busker is being guided by a group of people with impressive pedigrees — a Harvard MBA and Sydney Law School graduate and advisors from Berklee, Julliard, Manhattan School of Music, Google, Kickstarter, Grooveshark, Spotify, MTV, ABC, Sony and others. You can check out the beta version right now. Musings from Boston readers can use the code “BSTNSURV” for VIP status when you sign up (as a user) or submit videos (as a musician). They’ll add you to their mailing list and will keep you informed about the launch and their services.

Busker: web | facebook | twitter

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Checking in with The Calder Quartet (they’re at Jordan Hall Friday night)

photo by Autumn de Wilde

photo by Autumn de Wilde

The Calder Quartet, as distinguished and classy string quartets go, keep some mighty strange company sometimes. Readers of this particular publication might know them for their musical adventures with The Airborne Toxic Event and the inimitable Andrew W.K.. However, on Friday night they’ll be performing more traditional string quartet fare, as part the Celebrity Series of Boston in beautiful Jordan Hall. You can buy tickets here. The performance will include music by Andrew Norman and Thomas Adès, in addition to Ravel’s “String Quartet in F Major” and Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Opus 95, ‘Serioso.'” That’s certainly a far cry from “I Get Wet.”

Violinist Andrew Bulbrook was interviewed by WBUR recently, where he spoke about the quartet and this upcoming performance.

If you happen to live on the other coast, The Calder Quartet will be performing two shows at the world class Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on May 28th and May 30th. They’re also doing a Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York on Sunday, February 22 and other shows in Colorado, Oregon and elsewhere. See their schedule for more information.

web | facebook | twitter | the Boston Celebrity Series

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Modest Mouse Returns! (with Strangers To Ourselves, coming soon)

This is about when we last saw them.

This is about when we last saw them.

Typically we’re all about struggling indie bands here, but I do on occasion make an exception or two for my favorites. Here’s one of those. The good thing about covering a better known band is that I can dispense with the background information, cut to the chase with the new music and call it a night. Modest Mouse are back, their new album Strangers To Ourselves comes out on March 3 on some obscure little indie label called Epic Records, and for now, you can listen to “Lampshades On Fire” (because, you know, it’s not being played anywhere). It really chugs along, doesn’t it? Assume there will be a tour announced soon.

That’s all, bye.


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Arcade Fire at Xfinity Center, Mansfield MA 8/19/14

To commemorate Arcade Fire’s amazing performance at the Xfinity Center (formerly Great Woods), I offer a few brief thoughts and a scrapbook worth of photos. This was my first time seeing them, definitely a band that had been on my “bucket list.” I knew it would be something grand and theatrical, but what I experienced went far beyond my expectations. The intensity of their music in that acoustically ideal amphitheater and the awe-inspiring stage show combined to create a breathtaking evening.

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Introducing: Darren Rose Radio: Inside Radio & Records (it’s a podcast)

For those of you who enjoy a behind-the-curtains look at today’s music business, there’s a new podcast you should know about. Darren Rose, best known for his previous on-air gig on Alt 98.7 KYSR in Los Angeles, has just inaugurated Darren Rose Radio – Inside Radio & Records. It’s an unedited and uncensored series of conversations with people from every corner of the music business — artists, managers, DJs, producers, label executives and others.


In these hour-whatever conversations, it’s no-holds-barred discourse about people’s careers, world views and insights into this sketchy sophisticated industry. Darren has a great resume for doing a show like this, as he’s interviewed many people in the biz at 98.7 and enjoys a casual rapport with them, which always makes for great conversation. Judging from his first four podcasts, this is going to be a real eye-opener, a rare look at how the music business operates today.

Thus far, he has featured Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event, Pete Galli of The MGMT Company (who manages Airborne, Andrew W.K., The Bravery and others), his friend Josh Venable, Radio Programmer and DJ at Z104.5 in Tulsa (and formerly with Alt 98.7 and 102.1 The Edge in Dallas) and producer Andy Rosen (a.k.a. Dr. Rosen Rosen). Here are my initial thoughts.

His friendly chat with Mikel – This 75 minutes is like a rushing river of information after a particularly long dry spell for Airborne news. Mikel has a tendency toward major snarkiness if an interviewer 1) doesn’t know anything about the band and clearly hasn’t done their research or 2) asks the stock questions (“So tell us about the name”). This was a casual chat between friends, unguarded to the point where Mikel spoke about what he’s been doing the past six months, his home studio, what his plans are for the next Airborne album, how he and the band work together, his writing process, his thoughts on radio singles, his favorite artists, his health and workout regimen, his lifestyle, marital status, personal introspection, the music industry, you name it. For the Airborne fan, it’s an exhausting, exhilarating, gluttonous feast.

Music Business 101 with Pete – It’s a 30 minute crash course on today’s music industry and what a band has to do to get noticed, from one of the most savvy people currently in the business. Pete shares his four steps for breaking an artist (great songs and recordings, a good story, band identity, live show). He talks about the importance of blogs, radio, major labels and gives an extremely valuable insider’s perspective. It’s also heartwarming to hear him get totally geeked about Airborne and their huge hit, “Sometime Around Midnight.” After many years in the business, he still has that youthful passion and enthusiasm and isn’t completely jaded. Great stuff.

His two-hour gabfest with Josh Venable – This one’s an extremely interesting and thoroughly depressing look inside today’s commercial ‘alternative’ radio station travesty industry. It takes some effort to get beyond their gushing over Coldplay and their defense of Clear Channel (I suppose it’s understandable for a pair of working DJs, as CC has absconded with the bulk of U.S. radio stations). But there’s some really funny shit here. Their conversation veers recklessly from an extremely precise look at DJing as a career, ratings mechanisms and the inner workings of a rock station to behind-the-scenes gossip and endless stories from two chummy radio DJs who are survivors of the industry’s implosion and almost complete annihilation of independent stations by corporate giants. As the “interview” winds on, things eventually disintegrate into a gloriously unedited drunken frat party.

His tête-à-tête with Dr. Rosen Rosen – The conversation veers from home renovations and parenting to his remixes, recent production work with Meg Myers, what it takes for a band to be successful, the role of radio, the importance of artist interviews, live shows and stage production, his process of becoming a producer and his favorite artists. Timbaland? Uh, no thanks. Hearing about his experience as a songwriter and producer in the music biz? Yes, please.

Damn, this is going to be good. Best of all? The podcasts are free to stream or download from his site. Here’s to many happy podcasts, Mr. Rose.

As he says himself, “Over the last 15 years, the music industry has seen more changes than any other time in history. One of those changes in recent years has been the near extinction of the long form interview. Enter Darren Rose Radio, a chance to connect and understand the business from artists and industry insiders far beyond their social networks.”

web | facebook | twitter | youtube | instagram

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Priscilla Ahn ~ gentle reflection and a spring tour

Priscilla Ahn, a multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, harmonica, ukulele, banjo) with an angelic voice, is new for me but has been performing for more than a decade. She has toured with DeVotchKa, Willie Nelson, Amos Lee and others, and has collaborated with Tiesto (“I Am Strong”) and Ashtar Command (“The Breakup Song”). She released her fifth album, This Is Where We Are (Universal Music), back in July.

At her core is quiet introspection with the focus on her beautiful voice, softly accompanied by wistful, delicate piano and acoustic guitar. On her latest album, she incorporates electronica and beats (and sprinkles of fairy dust), though fortunately this adds to the appeal of her intimate and haunting vocals. While artists with less talent hide behind electronics, Priscilla Ahn uses the technology to further color her already quite colorful inner world.

Spring Tour

4/29 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
5/1 Cambridge, MA – T.T. the Bear’s Place
5/3 Washington, DC – The Hamilton
5/4 Philadelphia, PA – Tin Angel
5/6 Toronto, Canada – The Drake Hotel
5/13 Seattle, WA – Columbia City Theater
5/15 San Francisco, CA – Yoshi’s San Francisco
5/30 Los Angeles, CA – Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

See full schedule

web | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube | girl in a tree (blog) | soundcloud | wiki

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Lorde: The Pure Heroine?

I ask a lot from my music. A strong beat, something tuneful or catchy, isn’t enough for me. It’s not enough to hold my attention, and it’s not enough to inspire me to write. There has to be philosophical inquiry, social observation, searching, or struggling, scathing commentary, yearning, mourning, hunger. If it doesn’t provide me with answers, at the very least it has to ask the right questions. Whether it does this in words, in music, or both, I really don’t care. But it has to do something.

I don’t know if Lorde can be trusted. Is she the youngest philosopher of our time, or a savvy business woman light-years beyond her earthling age? In either scenario, if she indeed is the author of these coming of awareness tales, precociously making her social observations and spewing her venom towards mainstream culture while starkly framed by the skeletal remains of modern tribal electronica, then she’s a genius.

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The irreplaceable Pete Seeger


From a concert in Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona with his son Tao Rodríguez-Seeger
(thank you calmosca).

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Introducing… Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-PAN) ~ interpreting the music’s heart and soul

D-PAN_DVD2-250

While enjoying the bands at the recent Boston Calling Festival, I happened to glance over to the side at a super-animated woman gesturing wildly out to the audience, in time to the music. At first I had no idea what this was, but soon realized it was an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter. I had seen this before at other shows, and became fascinated by these “unsung heroes.” Some were as entertaining as the musicians, dancing and gesturing and fully absorbed in the music and the moment.


Entertainers in their own right, they bring the joy of the performance to audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing. Clearly I’m not the only one who’s been noticing these folks. Earlier this year, The New York Times did a great piece on one such interpreter at Lollapalooza in Chicago.

It was because of my appreciation for these special music lovers that a recent email caught my eye. It was about the Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-PAN), an amazing organization whose mission statement reads as follows: “D-PAN aims to make music and music culture accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community, and to give recognition to deaf and hard of hearing artists everywhere.” They’re based in Detroit and spearheaded by hip-hop artist Sean Forbes. Founded in 2006, they released their first ASL music video for “Where’d You Go” (by Fort Minor), which generated over half a million hits on YouTube. Their 2008 DVD “It’s Everybody’s Music,” which sold over 10,000 copies worldwide, featured videos for James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” (performed by Sean). Their unusual and imaginative videos created quite a buzz. This brilliant one for The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends” (see below) was featured on The Today Show, CBS.com and The Huffington Post.

For their second music video collection, “It’s Everybody’s Music” Volume Two (with songs from The White Stripes, Owl City, Carly Rae Jepson, The Clark Sisters and an original song from Sean Forbes), they’re been taking it on the road with concerts nationwide. On 11/9 (tomorrow night), they’ll be in Los Angeles for their DVD Release Party. Learn more about D-PAN’s activities on their official site. For a serious dose of inspiration, check out Sean talking about his project back in 2009 on CNN. Truly awesome.

D-PAN: web | facebook | twitter | youtube

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Boston Calling ~ May 25 & 26 ~ welcome to the city’s first rock festival!

Boston Calling
City Hall Plaza, Boston
May 25 & 26, 2013
::: buy tickets :::
(VIP tix only)

Saturday, May 25

Fun. ~ The Shins ~ Marina and the Diamonds ~ Matt and Kim ~ Portugal. The Man ~ Cults ~ Ms Mr ~ Bad Rabbits ~ St. Lucia

Sunday, May 26

The National ~ Of Monsters and Men ~ Young the Giant ~ Andrew Bird ~ Dirty Projectors ~ Ra Ra Riot ~ The Walkmen ~ Youth Lagoon ~ Caspian


So I would be remiss in not acknowledging and commemorating the City of Boston’s very first music festival. Boston Calling is a 2-day extravaganza being held May 25 & 26 at City Hall Plaza, right in the center of Boston. For anyone who attended WFNX’s ‘Best Music Poll’ show back in 2009, this is a really cool location for live music. They also happen to have a pretty stellar line-up, no doubt due to the involvement of the National’s Aaron Dessner, who helped to curate. There are two local bands on the bill as well (which doesn’t always happen at these sorts of things — instrumental group Caspian (from Beverly) and Bad Rabbits (from Boston).

Unfortunately, after I’ve just hyped it like that, regular tickets and passes are completely sold out. However, if you’re well-heeled and enjoy the ‘Rock Star Treatment,’ you can still get single day or weekend VIP passes, which include your own entrance, VIP lounge access, food and a private bar, private restrooms and some festival swag. See the line-up below and check out a few of the featured artists performing. Happy Festival, Boston!

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