By Gina Garcia
How Do You Listen To Music?
A few months ago I wrote an article about Spotify and how its features allow me to classify music based on the color I predominantly think of when I listen to some tunes. However, I did not mention that online music applications, such as Spotify, are the newest outlets for music. It is not big news that record label companies have failed, and it is not necessarily because they are doing bad business deals, it is because we now center ourselves with the digital world. Now, people are listening to their iPods to music that they download from iTunes, or people are listening to their electronic devices from music that they buy on Amazon or rip from their (or someone else’s) CDs.
So what do users benefit from music applications? Spotify delivers users a large music catalog, and according to statistics, Spotify has declined illegal music downloads. With Spotify users have the option to select a free subscription, an unlimited subscription, or premium subscription. All have access to Spotify’s large catalog but its biggest flaw is serendipity. Of course many could argue this, since users can select the artist’s biography page and look at what Spotify classifies as similar sounds for music exploration. It is hard not to judge a book by its cover and that is why it is important for music applications to “sample” music that is new for users seeking similar (artists) sounds that they already like.
On the other hand, Pandora allows users to create their own music channels by personalizing what is good and worth listening. Unlike Spotify, Pandora allows personalization. It provides a thumbs-up or thumbs-down rating system that helps users weed out music that is not favorable. In addition, Pandora recommends new sounds based on the original track, album, or artist listed as a channel. How does this benefit the user? Well, new sounds are brought to ear and it gives indie bands and more obscure bands (not heavily advertised) an opportunity to be heard for the first time.
Music has traveled far than the used-to-be-top-music-videos on MTV back in the 90s. Record labels are suffering and artists either create their own record labels or sell their music through iTunes. iTunes is completely different from Pandora or Spotify. Artists have the option to license their music with iTunes to sell digitally and allow iTunes to carry artists’ full music catalog. In addition, there are some artists who choose to be iTunes exclusive only and carry their music only through iTunes. In essence iTunes works similar to a record label. Now, record labels enjoy making the artists by not only producing music that is mainstream, but almost every artist under a record label has a name outside of music. Artists have perfumes, colognes, an apparel line, or accessory line. Artists have saturated the fashion market, rather than the music industry; and to make matters worse, radio only plays what record labels consider music that is listenable for the masses.
Long ago before the record labels had any input with radio, radio jockeys played music that was local to the town or city they were found. This benefited the bands, singers, and artists because their local radio station featured their music and allowed the folks in residence to listen to the sounds of their hometown. The music aired defined each town or city. To a surprise, this brought many to visit a city due to the music that was unheard of elsewhere; for example, jazz. People traveled down south to listen and experience the age of jazz music. Nowadays, this practice does not exist because the record labels are manipulating what gets air time. Now we hear Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Drake, etc., and it is not just with one radio station it’s with all of the radio stations all over the country. When I travel and I turn on a radio station to listen to some tunes, I am not surprised to hear the same sounds I hear in Texas as I do in California or New York. This hurts local artists who are trying to make it “big” in the music industry.
All in all, my goal with the music articles is to provide information about indie bands, or bands that receive little or no air time with radio. It is not easy being a band or a singer without a large crowd. Therefore, I will begin my articles with a few bands that I know that are local to my area and deserve hype because of how good their music is. If Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, or iTunes features the artist’s music I will provide a link and give readers the option to sample their sound. If the music is likeable, please, I encourage my readers to create a radio station with Pandora (if possible) and listen to similar sounds…”you will never know what you may find.”
*** If bands want to get featured on Sundown United, please contact us so we can provide an article with a biography and the band’s music approach and style. ***
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