Archives For Music

“Playlists are Spotify’s answer to product innovation,” – industry analyst Mark Mulligan.

Source: The Secret Hit-Making Power of the Spotify Playlist

In the next generation of software, machine learning won’t just be an add-on that improves performance a few percentage points; it will really replace traditional approaches.

To give just one example: a decade ago, to launch a digital music service, you probably would have enlisted a handful of elite tastemakers to pick the hottest new music. Today, you’re much better off building a smart system that can learn from the real world – what actual listeners are most likely to like next – and help you predict who and where the next Adele might be.

As a bonus, it’s a much less elitist taste-making process – much more democratic – allowing everyone to discover the next big star through our own collective tastes and not through the individual preferences of a select few.

Source: Eric Schmidt on Smarter Music… Intelligent machines: Making AI work in the real world – BBC News

“Some brands — notably Red Bull, Squarespace and Converse — have found ways to partner with musicians without infiltrating their works…

So to a degree, ‘selling out’ can be creatively liberating. But there’s a difference between selling a partnership and selling part of your song’s message — the part that a listener trusts and needs to connect with. Consumers need to look at branding in lyrics with extreme skepticism. They should look to support acts that only use brands to establish an artistic identity, not solely a financial one.”

Pop Music Is More About Advertising Now Than Before — And Nobody Realizes It.

greg swan throwback thursday verizon

I was interviewed by the Verizon Wireless (client) team about my personal listening through technology habits this week

“Spotify has changed my lifestyle,” he says. “I can see what my friends are listening to, the service will recommend albums and most importantly, I can access almost any album I want and stream it in its entirety with no ads onto my phone.”

Read the whole thing here:
#ThrowbackThursday: Evolution of Personal Music Tech.

kindohmI was interviewed for Minnesota Public Radio’s Art Hounds this week, talking about Mike Hodnick’s Kindohm live-coded audio project.

It’s seriously the coolest thing happening in music today.

Mike just dropped his debut album, and you can hear him play Live-coded music @ Bedlam Lowertown on 12/10.

Listen to the segment here:
Art Hounds: Whale, Italian Style and Live Coding Music

Read my interview with Mike Hodnick here:
Decoding Algoraves: Live Coded Audio coming to Minneapolis

Not one artist’s album has gone platinum in 2014. Is it streaming, albums, the music or all three?

If you’re looking for evidence that the sales model is dead, here it is. If you’re a marginal band on the road surviving on $20 signed CDs, if you’re employing sales shenanigans as publicity to drive concert attendance, I’ve got no problem with that.

But if you’re decrying the death of sales as a vast conspiracy of the military industrial complex, I feel sorry for you. Things change.

Agitating for a return to the past based on the loss of some beneficial features in the future is futile in a world where we sacrifice the keyboards of our BlackBerries for apps on our Androids and iPhones.

Something is always lost in the march of progress.

You could lament the disappearance of vent windows in automobiles with the advent of air conditioning but you’d be fighting a losing battle because the exclusion of these small windows saved the manufacturers money and most people didn’t miss them, when was the last time you even thought of them?

So, so long platinum records. You were a construct of the classic rock era, when the music was so good everybody clamored to own it. Music was the iPhone of its day.

But this really isn’t news. Everything I’ve said above has been in plain sight for nearly half a decade. So if you’re complaining, if you’ve been caught flat-footed, I feel sorry for you. You’re behind the times. In the information age you know nothing. You run your operation on your heart instead of your head.

Then again, if you put your heart in your music we might want to listen to it.

All we want is some truth. From someone who can write, sing and play.

Sounds simple, it’s not”. — Bob Lefsetz

As of August 2014 Perfect Porridge was put into archive mode. Thanks for the last decade of awesomeness! Here are some closing thoughts…

When I started Perfect Porridge back in 2004 the world was a much different place.

OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” was #1 that year, for starters. Ugh. But MySpace was emerging as a more important music distribution (and marketing) tool than the legacy big dogs, like Rolling Stone. But the majors didn’t have that figured out yet.

Indie and underground bands were finally able to find listeners, build fan bases and advertise concert dates using these new and emerging social media networks and blogs. Legacy labels were trying to figure out how to balance the lack of scale with these online tools — compared to radio/TV — and determine the meaning of this new era of engagement.

It was the wild west, and it was awesome.

I was still new to Minneapolis and was just leaving my role as editor in chief of Art Scene magazine. My wife and I moved here, in part, because of the music scene, but what I didn’t discover until I got here was the amazingly vibrant music media scene — bloggers, photographers, writers and scenesters (true fans!) who each did their part to lift up the most promising bands, highlight the best tours coming through, and foster each other’s codependency and costly addiction for spending every spare dollar on music, shows and organizations who helped equip musicians to create music and put on shows.

Minneapolis/St. Paul has unique attributes (significant demographic size with small-town feel, diverse musical tastes, two major newspapers, colossal theater community) that created a perfect storm for blogs, messages boards and social media to usurp the mainstream press overlords – or at least offer a consistent complement to them — in volume and breadth of album reviews, show previews/reviews, last night’s photos, and discussions geared more toward highlighting great music than shunning the bad.

It was Minnesota Nice ala the WWW.

I’ve always been an outlier to the music media community here. I didn’t live here through the Prince, Husker Du or even Soul Asylum eras. I tend to do have a cyclical attention span on writing about music. I always had a full time job and never really desired to write about music in a way would generate self-sustaining revenue. Unlike some of the fantastic music writers in our city, I never considered myself a music journalist, and compared to those who make it their craft, I’m an unworthy comparison. I just loved discovering new music and sharing it with others, and I always have.

For a while I was committed to posting one review per day and a “Show Highlights” roundup each week. I think was I still in magazine editor mode, and it just felt good. I had a giant Post Office box for all of the incoming CDs (name another 30 year-old who pays $150/year to receive mail!), and I even had a crew of writers for a period.

From Sigur Ros to Tommy Lee, The Kills to Cursive, Maynard James Keenan to Michael Stipe, this blog offered me the opportunity to meet, interview and photograph some of my very favorite bands and musicians. There were so many magical moments (and some near misses) over these last 10 years. It’s really thrilling to think about.

But I also went from zero to three awesome kids in the last 10 years, and they needed me home at night more than I needed to be gone at shows or staying up late writing music reviews. And I’m glad I made that call to stay home more, even if the content became hit and miss.

And that content, however limited in reach, was important.

Even with today’s tools (Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook), if you’re a new musician or band looking for attention in a local market, you still need someone to give you a chance, offer honest feedback and share with others. It’s often something as simple as a pull-quote from a respected local blog that will have booking agents give you a chance or a mainstream music journalist give you a listen.

That was the power of the music community in the Twin Cities in the mid-2000s, which has changed in some ways, but really isn’t so different today. Some may call these influencers and tastemakers “gatekeepers,” like that is a negative thing, but I believe they serve a critical role in the music attention economy. And I’m excited many of that original crew is still going strong, while a new generation is exploring emerging ways to help elevate the vibrant music scene of which we are so very blessed.

With all that said, I’m entering a new season.

So that brings us to today. I’m damn busy and not able to prioritize managing the site or doing the music community justice. And there is nothing I dislike more than dormant websites. I’m grateful to the Minneapolis music community, the labels, touring bands and readers over the years who have made running this site such a rewarding endeavor. And I’m not giving up music, just foregoing writing about it.

You can still catch me on Spotify, Twitter, my personal blog, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. etc.

See you around.

Given my recent fascination and advocacy for live-coded audio, this piece in Harper’s Magazine really got me excited…

“In fifty years’ time…I think people will still be playing piano, guitars, and violins, but I also think they will be playing electronic instruments — actually performing virtuosic work upon them. What these will look or sound like, I don’t know. What music can we expect to hear from these new digital instruments? If a generation of people who grew up listening to plugged-in instruments and guitar solos have moved onto the computer, what happens when a generation of musicians who have learned to sample and manipulate automated audio clips are given the tools for expressive digital instrumentation?”

[Postcard] | Virtualsity, by Michael Barron | Harper’s Magazine.

Maybe your music doesn’t scale to everybody.

But what’s weird is no music scales to everybody today. There’s no hit everybody knows, no show everybody’s got to go to.

But we all know the aforementioned Google, Facebook and iPhone. And we know Amazon too.

And it’s all because they’re useful, they provide a service.

That’s the modern model, that’s what’s hip today.

Sure, write your book, make your music, but know the heyday of those creations is past. Could come back, then again, there was only one Renaissance. Oh, people have been painting ever since, it’s just that painting…doesn’t drive the culture.

But no one in book publishing or the music industry will admit the foregoing. They believe it’s the same as it ever was. But it’s not. The nitwits might go on TV talent shows, but the educated want nothing to do with the so-called arts, they’re all into tech, and tech is about being useful, because useful SCALES!

Bob Lefsetz on the scalability of tech over the arts and music

“If someone wants money they almost have no choice but to take money from corporate sponsors. But a lot of times I feel like music is now post-apocalyptic because everyone is making it in the shadow of this huge music industry that hit the ceiling and crumbled and is never coming back. If we ever get to the part when Mr. Clean is sponsoring experimental rock acts to play the end of the world, then I’ll be incredibly sad/legitimately happy.” – Jordan Michael