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“I’ve Got Enough Music!” – Finding An Audience In An Age Of Saturation

November 18th, 2010 | 40 Comments | Categories: New Music Strategies |

[ This is a very long post. Probably too long. You can be the judge of whether it’s worth the effort to read it. I clearly think it is, or I’d have edited it 🙂 ]

First, some historical context:

Back when I was in my teens, my music collection was never big enough. I was avidly looking for new music to expand it, being acutely aware of the gaps in it, both in terms of ‘classic’ records that I’d missed, and emotional states of being that were ill-represented. I was interested in music – any music – that might meet that. I listened to the radio – mainly John Peel on Radio One and whatever weirdness I could find on Radio Three – watched pretty much every music show that was on TV (we only had four channels in the UK back then, so it was easy to watch it all) from Young Musician Of The Year to The Power Hour, The Chart Show To The Hit Man And Her (yes, really) – I was voraciously foraging for music that filled a ‘need’ in my quest for a soundtrack to me.

Music that I imagined to be the holy grail, but which I couldn’t find, became mythologically awesome in my mind. Occasionally, it lived up to that promise, like the first time I finally got to hear Michael Manring (I bought Thonk on CD at Sam Goody in the Harlequin Centre in Watford in 95 – I still remember the feeling of elation when I saw it on the shelf…) More often than not, the hype was unjustified, and I just carried on foraging.

Fast-forward to 2011 and I, like so many other people, have near ubiquitous access to music. I have a lifetime of curated music – 18,886 tracks in my iTunes (that’s 62 days, 16 hours and 35 minutes of continuous listening) plus the combined powers of Spotify and Youtube to give me access to the nostalgic soundtrack of my youth – music I’d never buy, but often go looking for for a myriad reasons. In short, I have no pressing and desperate ‘need‘ of new music.

So how – and more importantly, why – do I discover new music now? I no longer ‘need’ it – I’ve got pretty much everything covered in one way or another, and the ongoing releases by those bands I’m already familiar with could supply me with more than enough music to keep me going for many many years to come.

Now, music is about connection. It’s about meaning, belonging and relationship – it always was, even though that wasn’t my expressed intention when searching – now, that’s pretty much the only thing that means anything. Making sense of the world through music.

Music that

  • makes me feel connected,
  • Music that makes me happy,
  • Music that allows me to delight in the creativity and ingenuity of my friends and people I admire.
  • Music that allows me to see my chosen instrument grow beyond the circus-trick nonsense of so much bass-led music from the last 30 years, and into a rich emergent seam of music exploring the sonic potential of the bass.
  • Music that speaks of a changing world, that’s inspired by and celebratory or critical of the way things are heading.
  • Music that gives hope.

And none of that is communicated by me seeing a link and clicking on it. All of it comes through relationship, either with the artist, or with someone who digs it. The spread of that music, and the meaning it carries, is not primarily through press releases and hyperbole. It’s through conversation, recommendation and the excitement of music fans whose taste I trust.

One of the biggest mistakes any musician can make is to assume that there are millions of fans out there just waiting to hear you, desperate for your music to show them what music is really all about. If the ubiquity of music has changed anything, it has leveled the playing field to such a degree that superlatives are meaningless. Everyone is a genius until you listen to them.

The upside to ‘saturation’ is that the music you’ve never heard of simply doesn’t exist. People who aren’t actively looking for music aren’t ‘swamped’ with it, they aren’t wading through 6 million myspace pages trying to find you. People use Google to find the things they’re looking for, and unless your band has a hopelessly generic name, or you’re a solo artist that shares their name with one or more famous musicians, search engines do a pretty good job of bringing the audience to you who are looking for you.

So, how do we connect with people who aren’t looking for us? One of the things that happens to me on a fairly regular basis – though much less so now that I’ve deleted my MySpace page – is bands or artists emailing or ‘tweeting’ me a link saying ‘hey, check us out’. To which my immediate response is ‘Why?’

Here’s the foundation fact of discovery – your desire to be discovered is of no interest or consequence to me at all. Everyone wants to be heard, that’s a given. Being pushy is no indication that I’m likely to enjoy what I hear. And I neither have the time nor the inclination to check out a band based on their brazenness.

Let’s think for a moment about what happens if I do decide to click the link:

  • I’m entering the deal expecting it to be shit. After all, most music is. Being great is really difficult. Even amongst music that is demonstrably ‘great’, there’s still a lot I’m not particularly interested in listening to.
  • I’m unlikely to listen past the first few seconds if it doesn’t grab me. That’s an awful way to engage with your audience. iTunes has conned us into thinking that you can make a decision about a piece of music in 30 seconds. Bollocks. For a lot of my most beloved music, 30 seconds at the start of the tune might be one chord, or one repeated bass phrase, or a drum intro. It’s not even close to being indicative of what’s to come.
  • I’m not listening with any context at all – I’m hearing your music purely as an exercise in music making. No story, no relationship, no sense of where to place it, what to expect. And the number of times that I’ve heard and fallen in love with music in that way can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Seriously, if you’re banking on being that good, you’re insane. You aren’t that good. I’m not that good. Statistically speaking, no-one is that good. The exceptions prove the rule.

Q: So how do I, and you and people like us, find music?

A: It’s all about the interesting.

I’ve said this hundreds of times before – people won’t find you because you’re good (or pushy) they’ll find you because you’re interesting. And what I find interesting is best represented by the people I allow into my life, the ones I’ve chosen to filter ‘in’ – my friends, my peers, the people I follow on Twitter, the people I’m (good) friends with on Facebook. If I get a recommendation through them, I’m roughly a thousand times more likely to act on it than if it comes through any other channel. If one of my friends who I trust puts out some music, I’ll listen to it. I’ll listen to it all, even if it doesn’t grab me first time. I’ll do that because I WANT to like it. It’s in my best interests to like it, so I’ll give it as much time as I can. If those same people recommend something – especially if I already like the music they make – I’ll listen. I’ll listen expectantly, fully open to the possibility that what I’m about to hear may be awesome.

None of my discovery methods involve people I don’t know shouting at me or spamming me with links to their music and requests that I check out their shit. Anyone who does that is LESS likely to get heard, not moreso. If you’ve spammed me, and soon after someone else that I know says ‘check out this band’, my suspicions are up that they’re just doing it as a favour to you because you’ve been as pushy with them as you tried to be with me.

In short. Discovery happens

  • in conversation,
  • in communities,
  • with context.
  • It takes time,
  • it’s personal,
  • and the right to recommend things is an earned one.

This doesn’t mean, of course that you can’t talk about what you do and your love of it to people who’ve chosen to follow you. The people who are following you on Twitter, or have clicked your ‘like’ button on Facebook have selected you as being worth hearing from. That’s a very good thing, so don’t cock it up by abusing the privilege. I talk about my own music on Twitter a lot. But I talk MORE about other people’s music. On Facebook I talk about my music a lot. But I ask interesting questions that invite people to tell the stories of their relationship with music too.

Context is everything. Relationship is everything. Spam and pushines are less than nothing.

Q for musicians – what does this post mean to you? Is it frustrating and annoying, because you think I should be listening to you? Is it comforting to know that you don’t have to go round spamming people to try and get heard? Are you still lost for what kind of strategic approach is going to work for you and your music? Feel free to vent in the comments 🙂

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40 Comments so far ↓

  • Andy

    amen, steve! completely on board re: spamming – funnily enough it has mainly been restricted to myspace in my experience – i’ve had a couple of bands doing it on soundcloud but not so much. as you say, it puts you in a default position of resentment on receiving such messages.

    the difference between sending a message that says check me out and one that says i’ve just been listening to you and really like song x, just wanted to let you know, is vast. if there is nothing about them i am much more likely to click to see who they are. does that make sense? that is how relationships start – it works in real life too – if i meet someone and have to ask all the questions and put up with narcissistic babble from a person i don’t know or care about then i am not going to stick around for long – i will search, as you say, for more interesting people who have a better grip on the concept of life.

    it is hard to come up with a strategy in all of this too. i guess being authentic, interesting and interested will make things a little more fun. my strategy has become do unto others as you would be pleasantly surprised if they did it unto you.

    thanks for the post.

  • Brenda K

    More awesomeness, Steve!

    Thanks, by the way, for saving me from having to write a variation on this post myself to share with a few friends I had the good fortune to hang with last week who are now where Chi and I were a couple years ago, coming off careers as side players/corporate band members under the delusion that after going to the vast amount of effort and cost to release a “real” album of original material we’d been tooling away at in the background for many years, there would be a ready-made audience waiting for it.

    Your words of wisdom have greatly accelerated me through the “audience development” learning curve, and I am eternally grateful! And pleased to add that it is working, slowly but surely.

  • Mick Bordet

    The filtering process is an important one for me, but it goes beyond just trusting in someone else’s positive judgement. Two of my favourite artists (Frank Zappa and Peter Hammill) are musicians who I was warned off by a good friend as being music he “just couldn’t understand”, which was like a challenge to me as his musical taste was otherwise reasonably similar to mine at the time.

    Most people are familiar with ‘new’ music being thrown at them – through adverts, film scores, xfact-pop-talent and the iTunes front page and I suspect there comes a point at which some people (myself, for starters) just start filtering everything that comes via those channels (or avoiding them completely). There have certainly been artists I avoided for years because they were being shoved down my neck and my natural reaction to that is to gag as soon as it comes close.

    So yes, those relationships are critically important in this environment. Twitter/Facebook friends have, for me, replaced many of the recommendations that I would have taken from reading the music press or following the standard media offerings in the past. There are certain people who’s recommendations I might follow without hesitation, others where I would listen to a song if they sent me it directly and others further down the ‘pecking order’ who would have to all mention the same artist before I would take the time to investigate. At a guess, other people have a similar algorithm for making those choices that will work for them.

    I certainly don’t think you _should_ be listening to me, or anyone else who comes running at you with product to sell, unless you have a compelling reason to listen, in the same way that if you gave time to every trader in a traditional market you would end up there all day. You go with what you know and build up trust that will lead to new discoveries.

    That’s where the internet comes into its own; I knew nobody within 40 miles my rural home who had a musical taste remotely close to my own, so I tended to rely on music magazines and fanzines to find new artists. Nowadays all that is necessary is to say “Okay, I fancy listening to some new solo bass playing, I wonder who my other friends in the ‘solo-bass-is-awesome’ community can suggest.”

  • Steve Lively

    Absolutely! The thing is, this is not limited to music, it is true of all of life; it’s even how I ended up following your tweets. I happened upon @oneworkingmusician and found what he had to say interesting. So, when he recommends someone like you, I’ll check it out. I have since very much enjoyed your thought provoking blog posts. Just think how much richer our lives would be if we let this concept of relationship drive all of our business and commerce choices as well.

  • Adam Byatt

    For me, this is the crux of the argument:
    “In short. Discovery happens
    in conversation,
    in communities,
    with context.”
    Recommendations from friends is that avenue to access, as is asking the twitter community for ideas.
    Music is a conversation and conversation is music.

  • Jeff Shattuck

    Totally agree with this post. One of the few pearls of wisdom I’ve picked up is that “people buy people, not music” and I so agree with that. You have to give people a reason to care about you — to be interested in you, as you put it — in order for you to capture their attention and to inspire them to engage with you. Good stuff.

    • Suzanne Lainson

      Jeff, a great way to put it. And something most musicians don’t understand. I know someone who started a blog and then abandoned it after two entries. She was writing wonderful stuff about her life and it would have helped her to reach more fans. But I presume it was hard for her. Now her music career has stalled because she has run out of money. While the blog might not have helped her in that regard, maybe it would have and it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

  • Steve thack

    I’d describe myself as a pretty active listener. Activly searching out new music. i’ll check out entire fest line ups for obscure gems , or last night s listening was started from the Bbc folk awards, last night discovered couple of new names that really excited me. ( Including a guy i’d seen live last year, sat next to on bus home from gig etc – lads gone and got himself an album thats pretty hot. Getting award nominations, pretty sure i found his web site last year but that was as far as it got then) Spam, adverts etc may work for me if i’ve nothing else on my to play list but its rare. But even having discovered someone you have the second task turn me from someone who heard 4 tracks to a fan. I somehow need develop emotional connection to your music, don’t ask me how that works. Also worth remembering active listeners are a pretty small minority.
    Wish i had answers for you folks but i can’t even really explain why i listen to what i do never mind anyone else.

  • Ruben Kenig

    Your point about the 30 second preview is spot on Steve. With so much stuff to listen too it’s all to easy to skip over something and miss what could have been a beautiful relationship. Back in the days of buying music impressed on plastic. I had a personal rule that I would listen to the album/single for at least as long as it would take me to drink the same value in beer. Saved myself from missing some great music that way.

    As a listener I weary at musicians who won’t give me any meaningful description of their music either in terms of genre or similar artists. I know we’re all unique snowflakes but some bearing to understanding what you might sounds like helps. Even a disparate list helps. In fact someone who sounds like a combination of Paco de Lucia, Conlon Nancarrow and Aztec Camera would leap to the top of my to listen to list, but that’s a big promise to live up to.

    The big change in the age of social media is that I will give the music of people I find interesting, entertaining and fun online a lot of time. Perhaps this is my new beer time test.

  • Dan Bird

    Re: 30 Second clips

    In a world where people want their fixes fast and society doesn’t slow down, are the 30 sec clips a reflection of that? It’s sad but probably true.

    The only positive out of a 30 sec clip is that it can, in very small circumstances, make me WANT more. This has probably only happened a couple of times but it is probably what the companies/artists are aiming for.

  • Ruben Kenig

    One of the big problems with the 30 second preview is that it penalises tracks with long intros or that change in the middle to go in a different and wonderful new direction. It works great for standard modern pop though.

    My reaction is always frustration. I think I would rather not hear anything than be bullied towards a purchase after hearing 30 seconds.

  • Suzanne Lainson

    Years ago I used to like to be one of the first to find new music. That’s when I could browse in a record store. Then I moved to a part of the country that never got new music so I no longer tried to be cutting edge.

    These days I’ll make note of some of the most buzzed about bands, and if there is enough buzz, I will check them out, but in 99.5% of the time, I am not impressed. If anything now I am cynical about blog coverage and recommendations. These recommendations make doubt the ability of the reviewers. Have they actually listened to the last 50-100 years of popular music and is what they are recommending going to hold up in comparison to what has come before? Probably not.

    The music I actually want to keep tends to be the best of an artist’s lifetime work: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, etc.

    I’ve downloaded some legal free music and I tend to delete it pretty quickly. I know I’ll never listen to it again. And if I do like it, I’m usually content just to stream it.

    I suppose that’s my complaint. I find few exceptional filters. And what I want in a filter is someone or some site that is so familiar with the last 50-100 years of music that it serves me up the best of all time, not the best of the last month or two. I’d rather listen to Cole Porter than a mediocre indie band that will be history in a year.

    I’ll add that I just listened to the Glee version of the famous Garland/Streisand duet of Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again. The original is a classic, but the Glee version isn’t a bad substitute. Maybe that’s why Glee is selling so many singles. They are combing through lots of music and picking out some great stuff.

    • Ruben Kenig

      I think you’ve identified one of the biggest problems for musicians working today Suaznne. They’re not just competing with their peers for attention but 100 years of popular music and nearly 500 years of Western Classical music too.

      The things we cherish from that history have been filtered by time and the best stuff floats to the top, in general. Like you I have lots of albums that I love and that I will continue to listen to as long as I am able. As Steve says in the title of the post, I’ve got enough music.

      But that music was created in a time that’s already gone. I want to find the music that helps me to understand my time and culture better, and I also want the thrill I had when I heard the music I now love for the first time.

      My greatest successes in finding new music have come from crowdsourcing through platforms like Last.fm processing millions of pieces of data for me, or from individuals like Steve recommending wonderful music. I hope that 50 years from now the best of contemporary music will have filtered through time and still have an audience.

      • Suzanne Lainson

        There is, obviously, some good new music being created. But I feel my time is being wasted when I’m told that “Band X is the best rock band ever” when it’s not and won’t even last a year. There’s too much BS with a lot of current music recommendations, and I think that’s because the recommenders either have a vested interest in hyping it or they lack enough musical knowledge to know that what they are currently hearing has been done before and much better.

        • Ruben Kenig

          You’re right that a lot of music blogs aren’t very useful, but there is hope.

          Like Steve says in the post, discoveries (that tend to be useful) happen in conversation, in communities and with context. Just a few days ago Steve tweeted about Das Racist and I now own both their albums.

          It helped that I could listen to the music in full on Bandcamp before I paid for it, but I was willing to take a chance because I know a bit about Steve’s taste and how he thinks about music and that put the recommendation in context.

          • Andy

            some really interesting points. i think, Suzanne the hype you talk about is something that really gets to me these days. it is as much, if not more about the ego and ambition of bloggers/indie media to get to the ‘next big thing’ that a massive puddle of dung is created that you have to wade through – and i think this can work in a similar way to artists themselves trying to get you to listen to them. almost like an extention of that, if that makes sense.

            i do think you have to remember, however, that you remember music that has meant something to you with a great deal of fondness and a biased subjectivity – there is some amazing stuff being created today and many boundaries being shattered and it would be a shame to write off ‘contemporary artists’ with constant comparisons to favourite artists of the past because we see their influence. the great thing about art is that it is the result of an evolution, amalgamation and conception from unique sets of influences.

            jay z had some really interesting thoughts on longevity in music on the Daily Show a couple of days ago http://www.thedailyshow.com/ he has a great perspective on his art after being so heavily influenced/coming out of the early rap scene – it is about so much more than the music itself, it is about connecting with people, which is why we need new stuff. we want to feel like people are speaking what we are feeling because we don’t want to feel like we are on our own.

          • Suzanne Lainson

            Andy, I’m not writing off new artists. But if I listen to a new artist and then still prefer someone who did something similar (and in my opinion better) 40-50 years ago, that’s who I will listen to on a continuing basis. The fact that you can get me to listen to a song for 3 minutes does not mean I necessarily want to listen to it again. My time/attention is limited. And if I want to educate new artists on what is out there, I will play them something from 40-50 years ago that they may not have heard before. The smart ones will probably learn something and add to it. I am, for example, a fan of chamber pop. Presumably some of these artists have listened to at least some classical music.

          • Andy

            Yes, I completely agree, and if you are in the role of educating then it’s really important that you are using stuff that excites you. I think there are great lessons to be learned from the stories of music creation of the past and it is really important we listen, learn and apply them. But I guess your role is to educate so that these people will learn how they might go on and make their own contributions to music rather than educating them to spend their lives listening to music from 40-50 years ago themselves. I love having my mind stretched to artists of the past that I have never heard before and the stories that come with them and draw a lot of influence from many areas but I feel it is therefore a must to see how other artists are drawing together their influences too. We could go round in circles here and I guess the main point and question is that of where we hear new artists – I completely agree with you about the Hype Machine – it is a song of the week thing and many new bands’ strategies revolve around how to get their quick fix with the new single or whatever. I just keep my ears open, tell people when something excites me, whether it’s a day old or two hundred years old, and listen to the people I trust who do the same.

        • Brenda K

          Well put, Suzanne! (and Steve invited us to vent, so here goes….)

          You hit it right on the head about why I have disengaged almost completely from music promotion channels, which seems hypocritical given that I am working like a dog trying to figure out how to promote my project. It’s because of exactly that: I have rather eccentric taste, a long-term background as a classical violinist, and simply don’t find the majority of current music sufficiently interesting to spend my non-existent “free” time wading through and listening to, and above all, have been really put off by the lack of musical education and perspective of the vast majority of people promoting current music.

          The “Indie Press” in particular has disgraced journalism and discredited the review process as far as I’m concerned. I have actually gone out of my way to listen to stuff that I had been lead to believe might be good and somewhat akin to what my band is doing based on some insanely over-hyped reviews and couldn’t for the life of me get my mind around what the reviewer was going on about.

          In one notorious case I murdered nearly an entire hour listening to every track on the album trying to find a single example of breathtaking technique, heart-wrenching melody, deeply moving rhythm, inspired composition and performance, crisp, clean production, etc., (that was not what the review enumerated. That’s what I assumed the review was referring to encoded somewhere in all the yada-yada hype) and came up dead-empty. That was the point where I shut and bolted the door.

          My general impression since I’ve had to pay some attention to this given what I am doing now is that there has been a complete loss of perspective on anything outside of post-’80’s rock/pop/hip-hop. When I do happen to come across something current that I like, the exposure always come via a friend/band mate, etc.

  • Suzanne Lainson

    Here’s a possible analogy.

    If a nine-year-old tells you that “this song is the best music ever” you know that chances are the kid hasn’t listened to all that much music. It may be the best he’s ever heard, but it probably won’t be to you.

    Now, when a 20-year-old tells you it’s “the best ever” that may or may not be true. If you aren’t impressed with that person’s recommendations, it doesn’t take you long before you discount all the recommendations from that source.

    One of the best sources of “new” music I’ve ever heard was the Dylan radio hour on XM radio. He (or his researchers) would dig up music that went back to at least the 1920s and he’d tell you the story about each song and each artist. So when Dylan promotes a song, you know that some real research has gone into it.

    Unfortunately it’s not just that there is so much music available today. It’s also that there are so many reviewers who may have only listened to a relatively small number of artists in their lifetimes.

    Recently I just started following the press of a band out of Denver that has gotten far more coverage nationally than locally. It was the most blogged band on The Hype Machine last week. But since The Hype Machine tracks blog mentions for a week at most, the band has already disappeared from the “most blogged” list. I have no idea if the band will remain popular or if it has had its week of fame (and the reason it got the week was, in part, because its label released a single last week. The bloggers listed it, and now they are on to something else).

  • Steve Lively

    Keep in mind that the music we consider “classic” was often not that well thought of at the time. As stated above, it takes the filter of time to really prove what has staying power and what does not. We need to remember, however, that not all music that will speak to us or move us will pass the filter of time to become a classic. That doesn’t mean it’s not good music, it just means that it may not speak to a wide enough audience. Music really isn’t about “staying power” or commercial success; it’s about sharing life and the emotions and thoughts it generates.

    • Andy

      I couldn’t agree more, Steve – there is lots of amazing music lost in the annals of time but it had some sort of impact on those that heard it at the time and that is what matters. it’s food for the soul. we all get hungry.

  • Brian Franke

    My reaction to this post is this: if you’re a musician and want to be heard/discovered, the way to think about it is to look at how you yourself discovers music. Word of mouth is always the best way, and I really think a musician has to connect in other ways beyond just the songs people hear them play. People want to know there’s a good story behind the artist to connect with. So it’s important to tell it and tell it everyday in person, on-line, blogs, wherever. Of course, there’s always the thought process one goes through when deciding to play a song or not that you describe. There’s not much one can do to have their stuff heard other than hope technology improves to filter great music from the rest of the pack.

    Brian Franke
    http://www.brianfranke.com
    @bfrankemusic

  • Suzanne Lainson

    From Andy: “I love having my mind stretched to artists of the past that I have never heard before and the stories that come with them and draw a lot of influence from many areas but I feel it is therefore a must to see how other artists are drawing together their influences too.”

    I guess what I am saying is that if you want to make a recommendation to me, I’ll pay more attention if you tell me the two or three best artists you have heard in the last year rather than having you tell me the best artist for this week. Don’t recommend a lot of music to me. Recommend very little, but tell me why it is exceptional. It’s okay if you split music into genres, but again, just give the few best, not the top 25-50-100.

  • Ruben Kenig

    This comment thread really seems to reinforce the post. The music press/music blogs don’t work because they lack the conversational dynamic, the recursive communication of a community and give little context. It seems analogous to the role of record labels in mediating the relationship of artist to audience. The music press participate in another mediated relationship and those often produce skewed results.

    The great advantage of the online world we now inhabit is that our access to like minded communities isn’t limited by geography (and even time to an extent). We can find people we like or that pique our interest and ask them what music they like. We can even ask them why they like it. But perhaps even better if the recommendation isn’t right for us we can go back and tell them why.

    So I suppose for musicians the thing to do is to get involved in those discussions, make great recommendations and build some trust. In this world where we have so much music that we could listen to it’s the context of the recommendation that really matters.

  • Pierre

    Awesome points, Steve. I find it interesting that the most popular bands I listen to (Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes, Radiohead), I discovered through the very conversations you talked about – interactions with friends and stuff, rather that prepackaged promotion channels for music consumers. Great post.

  • steve thack

    reviewers here seem to be getting a hard time. yes main stream media is a waste of time usually and the ‘specialist’ end of the uk press word , uncut etc still doesnt seem worth parting with my cash for. on other hand there are some amazingly well informed reviewers out there.
    spiral earth is on web site i can be 95 percent sure a great review means i’m going to love it.
    i need to buy a couple of copies of r2 – odd chat with the editor on facebook he seems to know his stuff.
    but to expect anyone to curate the last 100 years of music and present you with the best bits is a crazy expectation. what you should be looking for is a journalist / reviewer who knows a genre a bit better than you do and can write in a way that shares the passion (oh and can also be trusted to only get excitted by truely great work) .

    at the moment music for me is far more a live than recorded thing, and i’d sooner see a dozen bands with the potential to be great in an album or twos time than one who has been around long enough to have passed into recieved wisdom among reviewers as being great.

    off to see boo hewerdine tonight (any reviewer of singer songwriters who doesnt regard boo as a god has no buisness putting pen to paper), but quite excitted about the support – why? cos the promotor (who did support himself last year) is a man i trust and if he thinks a band is worth stepping aside and giving the support to i want to listen. (yes i do know other promotors who i wouldnt trust in the same way at all)

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  • Tiernan Godel

    This has really got me thinking about the choices the people make about the music they buy and allow to soundtrack their lives.
    In recent times it seems that the record companies and the wider commercial media have taken on a ‘one size fits all’ approach to engaging people and this, to many people I know, is vacuous, leaving one feeling slightly under-nourished to say the least. That’s not to say that the music itself is bad as such…more that the manner by which we are brought to it is ‘over-the-top’, ‘over hyped’ and in many cases it doesn’t deliver the promised satisfaction. The reason we can’t trust the ‘hype’ is because it is now all about the £££s…
    Steve has hit the proverbial nail dead center with this post. If you have a reason/recommendation and a back-story, you listen with different ears. If you are just sent a random e-mail/link/MP3, the chances are you will not be in the right frame of mind to engage with the music on offer. You just won’t know what to expect or have a reason to care…
    It’s about talking to people, developing a relationship and establishing a reason why they should care about your music, over and above anyone else’s offering. With the possibility of taking on the entire process on your own, from composition to manufacturing/uploading to Bandcamp and all in-between, means you can create a scene of your own that could encompass a few people or 1,000s. But it will all start from planting the ‘reason to care’ with people by engaging with your potential audience.