Spotify’s “New Music Friday” playlist: It ain’t all that!

I think it’s time that Spotify change the name of their “New Music Friday” playlist. Yes, it’s new, and it’s music, and it’s delivered on Friday, but it is completely myopic. By that I mean, the overwhelming majority of songs are all cut from the same cloth: Urban Electronic. My guess is, this list is compiled by a small group of urban dwelling, club frequenting, 20 somethings… not that there’s anything wrong with that. Oh, they throw in an occasional country, rock or indie song, but those genres are ALWAYS under represented and very poorly curated. So, here’s a request from someone who LOVES new music: Please create a playlist that reflects EVERYTHING that’s going on in modern music, not just the narrow view you currently favor. Pretty please… with sugar on it?
Now, do I really think Spotify is listening or cares in the least what I have to say? Nope. Do I believe that they will address my concerns in any way, shape or form? Not at all. Do I think this post is a useless exercise in complete futility? I’d put money on it. But, do I feel better now that I’ve vented? Li’l bit… not much, but… li’l bit.

New Music: 2016

I didn’t find 2016 to be a particularly great year for new music, Still, here are YouTube links to a few of my favorites… in no particular order.

Emotions and Math – Margaret Glasby
I was immediately captivated by the stripped-down, rock arrangement and mush-mouthed vocal on this cleverly constructed song. It refuses to let go of me.

Hideaway (the entire album) – Jacob Collier
It’s very rare to find a musician/composer as gifted as Jacob Collier. Sometimes his arrangements serve his abilities more than they do the song, but even then he dazzles.

Remember Us to Life (the entire album) – Regina Spektor
This is a quirky collection of songs, from somber to silly, and I like it.

Blood In The Cut – K. Flay
There is an insidious subversive gravity to this record that grabs hold and pulls hard.

Stick to Your Guns – Watsky (feat. Julia Nunes)
Makes you feel like you’ve broken into a broken life and know too much.

Alaska – Maggie Rogers
The story behind this song is almost as good as the song itself… almost. Look it up. BTW, I love the song and hate the video.

Fairy Tale in New York – Bob Schneider
It’s a cover of the Pogues song… half of it anyway. Some may miss the uptempo section… I didn’t.

So, that’s it. 2016 is gone. I can’t wait to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel what the next one has in store. Let’s meet back here in a year and do this again.

Happy New Year!

A Year of Listening Dangerously

It’s been more than a little while since I’ve posted anything here… with very good reason. I’m lazy. OK, maybe not a “very good” reason, but it’s the one I’m stickin’ with.

On January 28th of this year, I dropped my Spotify premium account and tried out Amazon Prime’s service; big mistake… kinda. I’ve used the Prime account several times for free shipping on audio gear, which was great, but the streaming service was nearly useless. Not only was it hard to navigate, but there were more holes in the catalog than minutes in a year. In the time since I switched, Amazon has introduced a premium service that’s supposed to be better… and yes, as always, premium means more money. My experience has been so bad with the free service, however, I refuse to try premium. I suspect that in the near future, I’ll be asking Spotify to take me back.


Digital technology has revolutionized music. Recordings that rival the best of decades past can be created on an iPad in a closet. A quick listen to any new music playlist reveals just how sophisticated and lush even the most obscure indie artist can sound. On the consumer side, fans can download their favorite music instantly, without the need for a trip to the mall or big box store. When you visit most digital retailers, however, there is one vestige from the past that refuses to loosen its grip, the album.

Anyone who has ever purchased an album, in any format, has felt the sting of paying for 15 songs, only to discover that 13 of them weren’t worth a dime. You might think that in the digital buffet line of today’s music, where you are able to load your auditory plate with just your favorites and ignore the rest, albums would be a rarity. You’d be wrong.

It’s easy to understand why digital music retailers hold onto the album format. Ringing up a sale of $9.99 is preferable to a measly $.99. For the artist/label, the equation is much the same. Motivating your fans to buy 10 tracks at a dollar each is much more difficult than getting them to buy one album, one time, at $10.00. The only party at a disadvantage in this current scenario is the consumer.

Digital retailers like to feature albums and bury singles. This practice became very apparent to me when I began to distribute my music digitally. I chose Distrokid as my distributor. Each time I uploaded a song, I indicated that it was a single and not part of an album. After several days, when the song appeared in the Amazon store, it was listed as a single… and an album. The same thing happened when my music populated the iTunes store. Thinking there had been some kind of mix-up, I contacted Distrokid. They assured me that my songs had only been submitted as singles but that the retailer’s systems were set up to categorize music in terms of albums first, and then singles.

I understand the need for grouping certain songs together; soundtracks and concept albums are good examples of that. What I would like to see, however, is a system of singles and collections. Collections, as a class, could be much more flexible. It would not only include the traditional delineations of EP and LP but also allow for new concepts such as multiple works that are not linked by release dates. Let’s say an artist occasionally dabbles with a style of music for which they are not necessarily known. They could gather those works under a unifying umbrella, while also being able to add new tracks over time so that the collection constantly evolves. Whether or not the music industry follows suit, I intend to use the “collection” approach for certain groupings of my music. I’m currently working on just such a collection. It’s a series of modern country songs. You can expect to hear the first of these later this year.

Having said all that, at some point I might come up with a concept that demands to be labeled, “Album.” If that does happen, feel free to file this rant under another new category, “Never-mind.”

So… Now What?

The first 3 months of 2016 have faded away. With them, any improbable hopes of a rapid ascension into the popular culture spotlight have also dissipated. Let me be clear, I never expected that kind of immediate success: I also never ruled out the possibility, optimist that I am (I buy lottery tickets with the same level of expectation). But, as April approaches, I think it’s a good time to reflect on how far I’ve come, and how far I still need to go. There are lessons to be learned and realities to be faced.

Lesson 1: Most older people don’t consume much new music. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy music or listen to a lot of it. Their tastes, however, lean toward songs from the past. They prefer their musical cocktails to be a mixture of equal parts music and memories. Oldies rule!

Lesson 2: While older folks may use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, they do it in very specific ways. Their posts usually revolve around popular graphic memes of the moment, or pictures of their kids… or grandkids. Rarely do they post links to music, unless they are blasts from the past or quick snippets of their friend’s cover band performing at a local event.

This brings me to Lesson 3: Old people rarely “share”. Here’s an example of what I mean. When I released my first song, “The Christmas of Our Lives”, my son and I both shouted it out to our respective social media friends lists. Several of my son’s contacts shared the song almost immediately. My friends, well, not so much. Actually, only one shared it at all and that was several days after the song’s release. The “older” market is hard to reach and harder to crack.

Having said all that, it’s pretty much what I had suspected going in. That’s why I purposely used a pseudonym and no photographs on my promotional material. I was convinced that if I were identified as something other than young, the climb would get considerably steeper.

So, where do I go from here? While I am still not planning to tout my age, I am also not going to run from it. I have just completed a performance art vehicle which will afford me the opportunity to begin performing live. Obviously, in that environment, audiences will be able to discern my age (although I really am a young looking 103). I also realize that at some point my age may actually become a positive, should certain promotional opportunities present themselves. So, my plan moving forward is to continue releasing new songs at regular intervals while slowly folding in live performances. That’s not to say that at some point I won’t decide to toss in the towel, form The Partial Tucker Tribute Band and lead high profile demonstrations against ageism in a feeble attempt to gain popularity. After all, I’m not getting any younger.

Bye, Bye, Spotify – Welcome To The Amazon!

I love new music. I subscribed to Spotify a little over a year ago so I could listen to all of the new releases each week. I quickly discovered that the curated playlist for new music was sorely lacking. Not only did all of the songs sound surprisingly similar, but a cursory search of the internet revealed just how much music was missing: a lot! Genres like Country, Jazz and Singer Songwriter were routinely under-represented or completely ignored. At $119.88 per year, I felt I deserved better.

Today I switched to Amazon Prime.  It’s a 3 month free trial and $99.00 a year after that. In addition to streaming music, my subscription includes free 2 day shipping on anything I order through Amazon, as well as unlimited access to their streaming video service (now I can finally see Mozart In The Jungle).

To be honest, my initial examination of their curated playlists found them to be inferior to Spotify’s: very disappointing. Plus, there are a ton of gaps in their catalog. Still, I’m going to see if I can dig in and find a way to make it work. After all, in 3 months I can always say, “Adios Amazon and welcome back Spotify, I’ve missed you!”

Let’s Take It From The Top

I am a new artist, a very new artist. In fact, “The Christmas of Our Lives” is my first release and it doesn’t come out until Friday.  As I write this entry, I have exactly three followers on Twitter, and zero on Instagram.  If you look me up on Wikipedia you’ll find nothing.  There are no videos on YouTube or audio tracks on Soundcloud. There’s no verified artist page on Spotify and my Tumblr page is even humblr. Currently, iTunes has none of my tunes.  Facebook is the only place where there’s been any activity; a brief shout-out last Wednesday garnered the page 69 likes for which I am extremely grateful.

So, I am literally starting at the beginning.  But that’s a good thing.  I’m excited to see how all of this develops: the ups, the downs, the hits, the misses (let’s try to keep that last category to a minimum).  I’ll be tracking it all right here.  I hope you’ll drop in from time to time to see how everything is progressing.  Let’s face it; we both know that I can’t do it without you, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.