On the front page of Pandora’s website, there’s a statement that says “It’s a new kind of radio — stations that play only music you like.” How can it be that Pandora knows what you’ll enjoy? Isn’t liking music purely up to personal taste? Pandora, like many other digital music platforms, uses a complex algorithm to predict what their listeners want to hear. Other services employ human beings to curate their music discovery systems. So who’s the more effective tastemaker? Man, or machine? On today’s episode we tackle this question with writer and consultant Jim McDermott, then talk to two people who get paid to listen to music all day: New Music Scout and Artist Relations Manager for Marmoset Brandon Day and Rumblefish’s Senior Music Supervisor William Nix.
When people hear about the Recording Academy, some scratch their heads in wonder, while others immediately recognize them as the organization that puts on the Grammy Awards every year. However, both of these responses bely the true effort and intent behind the organization, as they are just as involved in awards shows as they are in advocacy for musicians on Capitol Hill and beyond. After several successful years of doing the music industry lobbying day, “Grammys On The Hill,” the Recording Academy decided to take the model that they had developed for Washington, D.C. and bring that back to musician’s home districts. This year represents the second time that “Grammys In My District” has happened, and we speak with three different players inside the organization about what’s different about this year’s event, and catch some soundbytes of the event that took place in Seattle on October 14.
Some music services are more “artist friendly” than others, and some might say that Bandcamp is the penultimate in that regard. Unlike other services that charge artists a per year fee for their services, regardless of units sold, Bandcamp is totally free until you sell a song or album, and then their take is only half of what other services charge artists for distribution. In this episode, we speak with Andrew Jervis and Jennifer Elias of Bandcamp about the company’s history and future, and their different roles within the company. We then toggle over to Christopher Kirkley (Sahel Sounds) and Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos), to get their impressions as long-time Bandcamp users, as label and artist, respectively. We end our episode with a snippet from our Bandcamp subscriber exclusive segment called, “How Did You Get Into Music,” where we talk to singer-songwriter, Laura Veirs, about her past, present and future!
As the music industry continues to shrink, investors have begun to circle around record labels and holders of large back catalogs, likely in the hopes of acquiring large amounts of publishing and master rights for an artificially low price. What do these investors know? In this episode, we explore this topic at length, and try to figure out why investors are spending a lot of money on a “failing” industry, when artists’ core audiences aren’t.
In our second installment of our “Gatekeepers Roundtable,” we speak with Ali Hedrick of The Billions Corporation about some of the new acts that she’s working with, and how they’ve come to her, or vice versa. Christen Green adds to the conversation by telling us about how she ended up working with The Lumineers, among the other notable acts that are a part of Onto Entertainment. We also have Nate Nelson tell us the story about how he ended up at Stones Throw Records via the leaked Madvillain demos, and how his experience there ultimately led him to start Innovative Leisure. Don’t think for a second that this is a puff piece chock full of “success stories.” We dig in, and ask these folks about who they regret passing on, too! Lots of valuable “what not to do” information in this episode.
In this episode, we explore the historical impact of musical videos by looking at the advent and evolution of MTV, and the explosion of YouTube as a format for music, and music videos. We kick off the hour with Courtney Smith, a former programmer for MTV and MTVU, who gives us a bird’s eye view of how videos were selected for air, and how her days with the station were different than the early days. From there we toggle over to Ed Vetri of Wind-Up Records, who explains the importance of music videos to his label’s growth, and the careers of bands like Evanescence and Creed. After that, we catch up with music video director, Alicia J. Rose, and talk to her about what’s changed since she got into the directing game a decade ago. Rounding out the hour is a discussion with Jack Conte, who’s band Pomplamoose has made videos a priority from the outset of their career, which eventually led him to develop the video subscription/patronage website Patreon.