I recently took a trip to visit family, and travel to Taipei, Tokyo and Hong Kong with them. It was an amazing experience. I was planning to write a blog post about it, but instead I decided to just make a song and a music video about the whole experience.
I’ve thought for a while that the recent ‘sharing economy’ trend (AirBNB, Couchsurfing, Uber, etc) could easily be extended to musicians (especially touring). A friend sent me this TED talk by Amanda Palmer and it just clicked again:
What do most musicians want? They won’t mind being rich from their labours, but most of them would just want to gig, make music and share their music with fans. Today, this means keeping a ‘day-job’ to sustain it until they take the leap and do it full-time.
When a band tours, they need to get there, have some food (and some drink) and a place to crash. That’s all really. The problem now is, is that the band has to “guess” if they have enough support in an area to hopefully cover the loss from their touring. Usually a promoter assumes this risk. This is the internet, and we have a burgeoning sharing economy. It CAN be done differently.
All a band needs are their fans to pay up front for them to come play somewhere. This greatly lowers the costs and assumed risks (for all parties involved). The band can stay at a fan’s pad, be sponsored food and drink, and the venue can be booked by the fans (or even sponsored as well).
The execution needs work, but the idea is there. What do you think?
The idea for this is quite old. For a while I wanted a way in which people can listen to music together, and share music with a common goal. I originally intended for people to earn badges. ie. Listen to 200 jazz songs. Or listen to 100 songs of the 2000’s.
And then last week I realised it is kinda pointless. Let’s MVP it. Keep it very basic. One theme a week, and that’s it. People share as much as they want.
The goal was to make the hashtag readable as possible without being too large. So I came to: #listenwithus.
The idea is also counter to increasing personalization that is occurring on the web. Everyone is living in their own bubble having individual journeys. We are losing shared culture. A newspaper served as shared culture. And magazines (amongst enthusiasts) as that was the only place where information came to people (besides word of mouth). So I want to bring back some of that shared culture to music. Each week, I will pick a theme and we will share music and discover it together. Suggestions for themes are also welcome!
For now, I’m focusing on Twitter, but other platforms can also be used: App.net, Google+, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Spam is a potential problem, but I’ll tackle that in the future (have some ways to tackle it).
My definition of success for this is small. If I get one new song a week from the hashtag, I’m happy!
So, let’s share and discover music together. Listen with us!
I love Grimes. Her album, Visions, is one my favourites of 2012. She recently put up a tumblr post detailing her top songs of 2012 which included pop hits such as Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe (<3) and Psy’s Gangnam Style. Being the epitome of ‘weird’ and ‘arty’ and ‘hipster’, she received lots of flack. See the Forbes post on it (thanks @rianvdm for sharing it).
I’m fully behind her. Although I have a very eclectic music taste, I really love my pop bangers such as Call Me Maybe (<3). I listen to music primarily because of well… the music. In the past I’ve dealt with people who’ve run up to me (a friend) and shouted: “Simon, Black Keys is going to be on the new Twilight movie soundtrack! No!” I simply don’t care. In the very least, now more people can discover how awesome they are. Now, I’ve even seen tweets (after the Grammys) from people saying: “Remember when the Black Keys was cool?” Yes. They still are. Their old albums didn’t suddenly disappear. Their new album is spectacular. What’s the problem?
So it got me thinking. Why is there this backlash towards artists becoming mainstream? Why when they get big, the ‘hipsters’ all go ‘BOOO!’?
I think it boils down much deeper than the music itself. While ‘hipsters’ do sometimes have a sense of elitism and superiority over their taste of music (“I understand and appreciate more nuances than the usual 4-bar 3-chord songs”), I think the distaste towards popularity actually has to do with connection and identity. Let me try and explain:
If you are human, you crave connection and understanding from people. Primarily we do this through language. It’s pretty decent, but we have to adopt similar vocabulary to convey what we think means the same things.
Art, or appreciation of certain expressions, does something similar. I make an emotional connection to a painting (for example). If someone else gets it, we immediately form a bond/connection. The emotional response is “proxied” through the art to another individual. We can connect on levels that language doesn’t allow us to. It is intangible, but meaningful.
This is exactly the case with music as well. If you meet someone with your intense love of that one b-side of Radiohead or Beck’s early slacker-blues albums, you form a connection that transcends what language can provide. “You like Lewis (Mistreated) as well?! No way. Me too!”
If it is only you and handful of people that “get it”, that appreciates this new and unknown artist, you form a deep and intimate connection (regardless of emotional connotation to the song). When it suddenly pierces into mainstream too many people have connections to this song/band. The sense of intimate understanding and connection is diluted and lost. Now that everyone “gets it”, an individual has lost the connection to the few people who understood them. And so, the “hipster” goes to the next new artist to find people to connect with in ways which language can not. If everyone likes the same things, it doesn’t become something to connect with. “Oh you like Gangnam Style? What’s new? You drink water? Big deal.”
To create the law of “Hipster Connection”: The more obscure and deeper down the rabbit hole of music you go, the deeper and more intimate connections between individuals become.
At the turn of 21st century, music became less an art form controlled by labels and radio and one everyone could do and share. This allowed it to flourish. Expression went past shared cultural trends such as Grunge in the 90’s, to smaller and more intimate shared identities (witch house trend, chillwave trend, etc).
In this light, I reckon: Hipsters, do your thing. I don’t want ascribe ways in which you want to connect with people, but for the better, I advise to not tie your identity too much to music (or anything else for that matter).
So, to end off: Has anyone heard this track by a new artist called “Casually Here”, called “Settle”? He only has like 74 likes on his FB page and 2700 listens. It’s awesome.
It’s that exciting time of year where I list my most listened to albums of 2012 (according to my last.fm charts). I also add my own judgement based on the album as a whole (some only have one or two hit songs). I usually give leeway to October of the previous year, since I sometimes discover the album only in 2012. So some of the albums may have already appeared on 2011 top lists.
The YouTube playlist for all the songs listed here is at the bottom of the page.
This really surprised me. Her weird look. The wispy vocals. The future dreamy pop sounds. It’s one of those albums where you listen 2-3 songs a lot at first, then after a few weeks suddenly get into the rest of it, and the whole album just clicks. Thumbs up.
This one was released on 24 October 2011. Was contemplating about putting this in, but it’s just too good. So forgive me.
So, if you are a Justice fan, you either hate this album, or you love it. It’s a big departure from their previous electro-house sound. As I got more and more into this album, I started appreciating the great hooks. It is everywhere. I even started liking Ohio. I like to call it 80’s-moustache-electro-rock. \m/
Being frank here. I didn’t like Brothers. It just didn’t click with me. El Camino on the other hand is a masterpiece, through and through. So listenable and great tunes. This garage-rock duo comes in at numero 3.
Released 18 October 2011. Once again contemplated whether to add this. Started listening to it in January, and it is just too good, so I did.
Masterpiece. I liked M83’s previous stuff, but wasn’t a massive fan. This however is just incredible. The production is top notch. The sound is so full. The added influence of some 80’s bass and guitars makes it a wonderful shoegaze rock epic. It’s very varied as well: from the anthem Midnight City, to the wondrous Raconte-Mui Histoire, 80’s slap bass influenced Claudia Lewis and beyond epic Echoes of Mine and Outro.
A synth/electro-pop journey. What if the The Knife met Kate Bush, mixed with synthpop and great hooks? This is Niki & The Dove! Epic and introspective. It’s like dancing in an empty club, but you feel all the people around you. It feels like falling in love. (I love the Swedes, always making amazing music).
The best beach summer album. Surf psychedelic happy summer vibes. Everyone I’ve had listen to this, loved it. How can you not?! Stand up and shake that summer tush! What makes this album stand out so much is that every song on this album is amazing. Very rare for any album these days!
I actively consume new music. I love discovering new sounds.
For quite some time my method was mainly as follows:
1) Load up Last.fm and see the artists they recommend. Click through to the pages.
2) I then check what the artist is about and then see what the top songs are.
3) If last.fm has a preview I listen to a few.
4) If not, I click through to the track page, to hopefully find a youtube video or hype machine link to the song. If there is none, I usually end my search and move on.
This became rather laborious. An artist has music up somewhere on the web, whether its on YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, Rdio, Grooveshark, hypemachine, Last.fm, ex.fm (you catch my drift). I don’t want to make effort to listen to a new artist’s best songs (to determine whether I should do the effort to actually get their music): it should just be easily available.
I was literally going to start and make my own web version of this: pull in stats, pull in music from all the sources, so that when I search for an artist I can listen to their stuff with ease.
It’s amazing! It’s very similar to what I wanted. It’s Last.fm, but pulling in music in a music player. What’s also great, you can load up your existing music and it will augment it by adding the artist pictures and album pics as well. Now when I listen to M83, I can also see related artists, and quickly jump through to listen to them!
It works like a normal music player. You can add playlists, etc. It however also has automatic playlists autogenerated based on a massive amounts of filters! It’s awesome! (Just tested: Mood - Energetic). Not bad. It pulled in songs from YouTube and SoundCloud. (Powered by EchoNest).
It’s still buggy here and there, but I probably haven’t been this excited about a music app like this before! Do try it out. It’s open-source as well.
Besides my love for technology, I also love music. With my passion for creating things, I also slap some bass, make the beats, and sing now and again.
I’ve released music under old monikers, but Simon Segfault is my latest venture. It’s a solo project of which I’ve released the debut EP earlier this year.
If you like it, go download it on Bandcamp. It is a pay-as-much-as-you-want model. Preferably, I want my music production side to sustain itself. If you like the music, please considering dropping some money for it!
I uploaded the songs from the EP to my YouTube account. I’m most active about posting music (wips,remixes,originals) on my SoundCloud account. If you make music, share you soundcloud or facebook page. Keen to listen!