Here is an album that you probably weren’t eagerly awaiting, or even knew was coming out today (6/18/13), but hopefully you discover as much enjoyment in it as I have. If you like what you hear, please consider supporting the band with a paid download from iTunes.
Small bands making big music is a dangerous combination.
As someone desperately seeking new music, I’ll often find myself longing for a new band that sparks the idea music can still be fresh and invigorating. The time between finding those bands is akin to traveling through a vast desert.
Dallas is the most recent band to perk up my ears and set my imagination on fire. Their new song “Weathered” is a summer soaked instant hit in constant control of where it’s steering the listener. The rest of the band’s 4 track EP due out July 9th matches a familiar indie/rock vibe currently going around while still able to be unpredictable and unpretentious in the same breath.
This is the kind of new music you want to discover.
I loved Seinfeld. It was a show that probably shouldn’t have found the kind of success it did, but with the right actors, writers, and people in place it took the simple and ordinary and made it funny to a mass audience. Last year Jerry Seinfeld started a new (simple) internet show called ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’ which might have missed your radar. Everything from its long, descriptive, title to its obvious premise screams “No big deal,” yet it might be one of the biggest deals for internet television in recent years.
The show isn’t based on Seinfeld’s life, it is his life post Hollywood success. It’s him showing everyone how he’s settled into this new stage where he gets to take a step back and enjoy what he’s built over the years. He drives a different car for each guest and talks hints of coffee in addition to the random and funny topics geared specifically to each guest. Part reality, part documentary, Seinfeld’s interactions with his friends aren’t gimmicky or filled with outrageous stunts, they’re just real life moments captured in a natural way. It’s this sincere approach that captures your attention quickly from the start.
One of the best episodes from season one was with Michael Richards, who played Kramer on Seinfeld. There are the obvious reasons you’d want to see Richards and Seinfeld reunite talking about the past, but the beauty and draw comes with the two talking about more recent events. Richards had done a comedy routine years back where he was heckled and lost his temper saying some very unfortunate things, you probably remember hearing about the incident. In CCC, you see the two normally funny guys talk about it honestly and get to hear the regret in Richards voice knowing that this actor isn’t acting.
If you watched Seinfeld in the 90s and could picture yourself hanging out with the 4 friends, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee will make you think Jerry’s a close personal friend. While Jerry Seinfeld isn’t leading the indie show revolution, he appears to be picking up right on cue. This is exactly what internet-first content should look like, exploring ideas that don’t conform to primetime and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee delivers.
Season 2 recently started with the first episode now up.
Canopy Climbers aren’t a well known band. Their previous album ‘Distances’ wasn’t talked about on many blogs and though breathtaking, didn’t win any awards. This band, however, is the reason I continue to search for new music from those currently unknown. It’s music that needs to be heard, and needs to be heard by a lot of people. On their brand new release, Canopy Climbers break free of any restraints that held them back previously. ‘Miles’ is a masterpiece capable of bridging paths to most music listeners, more importantly, making those listeners fans.
The first half of ‘Miles’ is a sweeping brush stroke filled with bright reds, yellows, and oranges. Songs soar into a sun filled sky during choruses, able to float on clouds for miles. By the album’s end, the mood is much different, but the band is careful to bring the listener down into reality with carefully placed song choices and a graceful sense of style. If you’re looking for a musical comparison, think: Mute Math meets Paper Route makes friends with Sleeping At Last.
“Project” sits between “Always” and “Stuck” in the track listing, but also musically. With humble verses that groove to a monotone voice, the chorus jumps out of the speakers and makes the song a contender for top track. It also exemplifies the band’s ability to be accessible without being predictable. The pause before the second chorus or other instrumental choices separate them from your average kids making music.
Hints of electronic and pop accessorize the faster songs while the whole album possesses a digital feel. The record is sharp, timed, and purposely calculated giving constant movement, even in the slowest of spots.
‘Miles’ is a tremendous success on every level and should be seen as such. It’s possible the record won’t find every listener in the same place it found me, but nonetheless it’s a musical milestone for the band that deserves an audience.
There are social networks and then there are social networks aimed at the business sector looking to brand and enterprise anything they touch. Fusings may not be completely corporate in its feel, adapting the Pinterest look to “Building a better professional brand,“ but it’s close.
Visiting the site, you encounter a tiled layout which has become common place among likeminded sites. The tiles, or fuses, currently rely on two elements, ‘themes’ and ‘ideas’, to drive the company’s philosophy. Themes are words or phrases in solid colors which describe specific examples, such as links to blog posts, pictures, podcasts, etc. While Fusings, as a whole, isn’t complicated, it still isn’t a site that can be described in one sentence. It’s a site and service you have to use to fully understand.
Sam Melvin, who does community outreach (among other things) for Fusings, explains how he sees the company fitting between all the different networking sites currently fighting for people’s time.
…Millions of people are using Pinterest to ‘brand’ themselves online by pinning a ‘pretty’ or ‘cool’ picture to their board, so people can see what they like, or how they see things. We are doing that same thing for professionals - allowing them to brand themselves by FUSING together their perspective on a topic that they have experience with. At this point, LinkedIn is ‘the’ online resume - it is very helpful to see what projects Johnny has worked on and how often he got promoted. BUT, what is his perspective on software development?
The way it works, when you land on the homepage, you might see a tile labeled “Product Development” which has 3 themes and 11 labels. Clicking on the tile shows another page of multi-shaped squares, some with links to blog posts, others with words like "Ship before you build.” When you hover over the word squares, the un-applicable ones gray out, leaving you with related tiles. After signing in and starting a fuse, you can add content by pasting a URL to any desired item, then resize the square based on its importance to your objective. Trying it out, I pasted links to different albums on iTunes and it perfectly pulled in the cover art rather than other random images. It took only a few minutes to create a fuse titled ‘Best Music of 2013 So Far’.
You can create and edit fuses for free, but the company has a premium tier for $9/mo which lets you embed fuses on Facebook and your personal site as well as access to analytics for fuses.
The concept is an interesting idea, taking different items from around the web, and using them to visually brand yourself with perspectives on pretty much anything. But the real question is, can a site that demands some level of creativity convince the often boring and linear thinking enterprise world to adopt it and give it a chance.
It’s not the most exciting announcement Apple could make at WWDC, with the vast majority of people who pay attention already assuming apps are coming to the Apple TV, but it’s an open hole that still needs to be filled. Sure, recent rumors of deals with major labels might have a lot of people hoping for and expecting a new music service, but if history is any indicator, a new app store will not only revamp the static set-top device, but it should tap into a currently dominant goldmine.
The June 10th WWDC keynote will be one month short of the 5th anniversary of the iOS AppStore opening. Looking back, Apple TV currently feels exactly like the iPhone right before it got 3rd party apps. Whereas, it’s a functional device perfectly content to live in its own little world, but the potential is clear as day, growing long in the tooth each day apps aren’t available.
iPhone apps like Instagram, Vine, and LetterPress didn’t invent the categories they dominate, but they were fundamentally mobile – and iPhone specifically – apps first and thought about what they could do with what the iPhone was offering. They were a new breed of apps. Similarly, apps we initially think of for Apple TV mainly include video services and possibly music services. Those apps are obvious and expected, but what about the first company to make a calendar app that’s designed only for TV screens, some new innovative way of changing what the typical calendar layout currently looks like to adapt to the living room? Surely there will be wild app ideas that just work, despite our current hesitation to browsing the web on 50" screen.
Samsung jumped on the Smart TV idea a while ago, currently providing hundreds of apps including the game of our generation, Angry Birds. The response and enthusiasm for those apps and Smart TV functions? Lackluster. It hasn’t spurred on a revolution, but merely given Samsung talking points when introducing new models of televisions. Samsung’s TV apps might be so under appreciated that when Apple decides to open apps to the TV, they’ll be thought of as the me-too in the space, rather than making the first moves.
The time is right. Introducing apps now gives lead in time for testing and growth before – if they ever do – introducing a full-on television. Personally, I’ll be more surprised if Apple doesn’t introduce apps for Apple TV next week, than if they do. I, for one, can’t wait to get Amazon Prime videos on my Apple TV.
Maybe it felt like you were earning your way at the time, accomplishing tasks on your own merit, but looking back doesn’t it often feel more like someone took a chance on you?
I’m not where I’d like to be in terms of career or job, but everything is progress. Bruce Houghton, who runs Hypebot.com, was one of the first people to take a chance on me, an unproven writer, accepting a pitch to write a post. The site brings all types of people together around the common theme of music and the business behind it. It’s been a gateway to meeting people whose work I admire and opportunities to write for other sites.
I wrote an article, published on Hypebot, about how the iTunes store is one of the best places to sift through curated music selections and actually discover new music. The article was read by Om Malik, who runs GigaOm.com, and republished the link on his post ‘7 stories To Read This Weekend’. Someone who gets paid and writes professionally may have brushed it off, but I didn’t, it made my day and my week. Om has since republished a link to another story I wrote about Google Music All Access, also making me appreciate the little things that can only be counted as progress.
Brannon McAllister is another person who took a chance on me, inviting me to do posts for NoiseTrade’s blog. I’m not sure how much thought he put into allowing me to contribute, but it’s still something I don’t take lightly. He took a chance.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the little things happening in the midst of a bigger destination you have in mind. But don’t forget to look back and see who took a chance on you before looking forward and taking a chance on someone else.
[Visit StartUpEdition.com to find others answering the same question, “Who took a chance on you?” The site asks different people different questions each week relevant to start ups and the start up world.]
There are a lot of things I like about the iPhone — also a fair amount I wish they’d fix or change — but the music experience has always been one of the best of any device.
The landscape is changing from a world that previously acquired music to a world that now borrows it for a monthly fee. Prior to that, however, Windows or Mac, the clearest and simplest way from holding a CD or digitally downloading a track (point A), to putting it on a portable device and listening to it (point B) has always been through iTunes with an iPod/iPhone.
With no words, this ad captures the simplicity of getting music onto your device and having it accompany everyday situations. It’s something that only comes from having one of the largest music stores built into your ecosystem. It’s probably the reason Google is willing to lose money (if necessary) to have their own music store built into as many devices as they can. Content sells devices.
Maybe it’s not that noticeable to most people, but it seems to stick out like a sore thumb that Yahoo doesn’t have a music link on their front page next to movies and sports.
You can stumble around Yahoo and find Yahoo Music which offers a blurred hybrid of their OMG site and generic music keyword related articles. So why doesn’t Yahoo list their music site on the front page even though there’s little doubt that their music page gets substantially more traffic than most sites striving to cater to their music minded audience?
It’s probably because it’s a static reminder of the past. Yahoo and music have a strained relationship at best. For example, one of the few original blogs, ‘Early Edition’, hasn’t been updated since September of 2010. Other tabs on the site like iheartradio and Spotify mostly serve as a pass-through to other destinations. There is just very little for this, still, giant company to brag about when it comes to music and music coverage.
Yahoo Music used to mean something in the industry, the place people first thought of to view music videos and listen to songs on their music service, but that time is only a distant memory in the way MySpace seems like it was from another lifetime.
Here’s what I’d like to see Yahoo do with their prominent online space to further the music industry rather than contribute to the cruft of it.
What if Yahoo was to do something different than others were doing and make a meaningful impact? If Yahoo acquired someone like NoiseTrade.com – a site that helps artists exchange their music for fan’s contact info (email address) – they would instantly create a music discovery destination while driving the limits of a new digital industry. The main idea behind NoiseTrade is that an email address and vague location (zip code) is more valuable in the long run, helping artists contact relevant and interested fans, than a few dollars from an anonymous listener does in the short term. Based on how NoiseTrade easily found an audience of artists (and labels) that believe in using recorded music to help promote shows and merchandise sales, this type of endeavor could quickly scale up to Yahoo’s size.
NoiseTrade has built a music community around good will, something that’s pretty rare today. Maybe that’s why even though all the music on the site is available for free, the tips that fans voluntarily leave can become fairly substantial to an artist’s bottom line. Not to mention the site has always been profitable and continues to grow.
Since AOL’s recent shuttering of properties like Spinner, it would seem a bit foolish for Yahoo to go down the well worn path of typical music blogs. It would also seem that Yahoo’s time to offer a full (modern) music service has passed with plenty of competitors covering most aspects.
Now that Yahoo has officially acquired Tumblr and continues to rebuild from a dated company into current and future relevance there’s no reason music shouldn’t be apart of their plan. Being apart of the future means doing something new, rather than simply tweaking the colors of a product everyone else is already selling. Whether that looks like NoiseTrade or something new like Twitter did to harvest people’s music interest from their tweets, Yahoo desperately needs to reinvigorate their music offering before any influence is lost.
Disclaimer: I do occasionally contribute artist interviews to NoiseTrade’s blog, but don’t have any financial stake in the company.