#HowWeListen – Lindsay Melbourne / Photographer & Founder AF GANG

May 26, 2020 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Lindsay Melbourne AF GANG

Who are you?

I’m Lindsay, a music photographer, artist manager, founder of fan community AF Gang and new Mum to baby Dylan.

Where are you based?

I moved to Sheffield from London two years ago. I absolutely love being back in the north and being part of the thriving music scenes in Sheffield and nearby cities Leeds, Hull, York, Nottingham and Manchester where I am often shooting gigs.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I’m a music photographer and am currently on maternity leave but hope to be back shooting music after summer or when things resume to normal after the current Covid-19 crisis.

Last year I worked on some cool projects like the photo book in IDLES ‘Live at Bataclan’ album and worked as part of the official teams at Latitude and Reading Festival.

AF Gang also keeps me very busy, we started as a space for IDLES fans to meet but it has grown into so much more. With over 25,000 members it has become a safe space for talking openly about mental health and supporting new music.

We recently launched a website www.afgang.co.uk which includes a 10 track weekly playlist #KINKYLINKY curated by our members, a merch store and we have just started interviewing bands. The first being Sheffield based grunge rock trio Nervous Pills.

What are you listening to?

I’ve been lucky enough to have my hands on a copy of IDLES album number three so that is currently on repeat in our house.

How do you discover new music?

I discover new music in lots of different ways. Often through shows I’m shooting at indie venues and also through people I know and work with in the new music scene, whether that is fellow photographers Carolina Furolo (London), Shitshow Dave (LA) and Kevin W Condon ( New York) and also promoters such as Bad Vibrations and Felix White from Yala Records, they always seems to put great bands on so it’s always good to see who they have playing as they always seem to give hot new bands their first shows.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

Especially now I’m at home on maternity leave , Spotify and things like Bandcamp are how I will often first listen to a band, but will always buy records to support bands that I love. We do have a cd player in our car though which is where we listen to all the 00’s indie classics when we driving.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

As I’m on maternity leave with a 12 week old baby I am home a lot so that’s where I listen to music. I do go running and listening to music whilst running is one of my faves as you can really lose yourself in an album.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I find new music through bands that I work with, through recommendations from AF Gang members and also Steve Lamacq’s 6 Music show is key for new music as he seems to champion all the kind of bands that I love! Working in the industry I will often get sent music directly from bands and also form PR’s and managers pre release.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I get a lot of links in e-mails and don’t always listen to them, if I get sent a link to something and I have heard of the band through somebody I know I will have a listen, for example two friends of mine who have a similar music taste are Lisa Wright at DIY Magazine and Rhianne Thompson (BBC Music Introducing), if either of them mention a band I will definitely listen to them as they know their stuff when it comes to new music.

For me a link to stream is ideal as it is easy and instant, realistically I never actually download files and add to iTunes, which I probably used to do a lot.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Often just through creating playlists, and for me if I like something new I will often just play it on repeat so there’s no forgetting it! For instance I played Talk Show’s Fast and Loud about 500 times when it came out last year!

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

As a music photographer when I shoot a new band and share photos on Instagram this will be my way of sharing my new faves, also AF Gang is a huge community and if there’s something I love I will share it on there, as will all the other members sharing their new tips.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Until I went on maternity leave I was managing Yowl from south London, I worked on their latest EP release ‘Atrophy’ with Scott Lewis from Clue Records. He is the biggest champion of new music in Leeds and works with so many great bands. The ‘Atrophy’ EP is pure genius, they are one of the best bands in the UK right now without a doubt, this EP really shows them for their incredible lyricism and songwriting. Their live shows also are pretty crazy so I can;t wait to see them again live after the current Covid-19 crisis is over.

Also got to give a shout out to some legends on the Sheffield Music Scene – promoters Greg Archer and Tariq Navarone who are always the first ones to put on the best new bands and also local bands Nervous Pills and Any Old Iron.

#HowWeListen – Dom Frazer & Lydia Stockbridge / Boileroom, Guildford UK

May 19, 2020 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Dom Frazer & Lydia Stockbridge Boileroom Guilford

Who are you?

Lydia Stockbridge (LS): Hello! I’m the in-house booker at the venue, coming up to 10 years next July! Like all Grassroots Music Venues staff I’m a jack of all trades – we all chip in with venue maintenance, cleaning, staff training, the works!

Dom Frazer (DF): Dom here, salutations! I’m the Director of The Boileroom, see above.

Where are you based?

LS: I’m based in Guildford, Surrey, not far from the venue.
DF: I live not too far from the venue with my partner, music producer and artist SPACE & our dog Frida.

Where do you work? What do you do?

LS: Usually we set up the office each day right in the main room of the venue, opposite the stage. We tune in to BBC6 Music over the PA, and when it’s sunny we stretch out in the venue garden and work from there – sometimes with the addition of a paddling pool! It varies from week to week, but my day’s spent with a mix of emails, admin, phone calls, odd jobs around the venue, watering plants, getting catering riders and getting the green room ready, venue show-rounds, and welcoming bands in and helping with load-in.

DF: I work on the road, at home and at the venue. I check in with the rest of the team twice a week, my days are spent getting an overview of where we are with regards to bookings, events and accounts. Organising and delegating, I do a lot of delegating!

What are you listening to?

LS: At the moment I’m really into the Table Manners podcast with Jessie Ware and her Mum Lenny – it’s funny, insightful, and has some really delicious recipe ideas. I like to listen along when I’m cooking.

DF: I listen to everything, the birds and all the new noises I’m tuning into outside… as there’s so much less noise pollution. I’m not sleeping so well, so lots of podcasts. You’re Dead to Me and All Hail the Kale, also am deep into Malcolm Gladwell’s audiobook Talking to Strangers.

How do you discover new music?

LS: Oh so many ways! I’ve always been a big fan of print magazines and love reading DIY, Dork, Upset, and other free music magazines. I like chatting to other people about music – word of mouth recommendations are such a great way to find hidden gems.

DF: Love me a bit of radio, I constantly Shazam everything I’m into and then have a playlist of that music. Same as Lyd, I started out working in music magazines, so they will always have a special place in my heart. Also I LURVE a record shop, I can spend a long time browsing. I also married someone who is obsessed with music, we have a studio at home and recently had Do Nothing and Talk Show in working with SPACE, so sometimes new music finds me!

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

LS: I tend to go between streaming and listening to records on vinyl. I do have a really old collection of some cassettes and CDs that have a sentimental value to me but I haven’t played them for years – nothing to play them on unfortunately! I love having the physical copy of a record – the artistry of it, but then also having the convenience of streaming for work or when I’m out and about.

DF: You didn’t mention mini discs!!!! Jeez remember when they were a thing! Seriously, it’s vinyl or streaming for me. When you put on a record you are committing to something and that’s what I love about it. On Saturday I spent the whole day listening to records and reading the inlays as I sat there with the fire going! It was lush!

Where do you do most of your music listening?

LS: Oh probably in the car on road trips, walking to work, when I’m making dinner, and throughout the day at work!

DF: Hmmmm whenever and wherever, there’s no specific place.. when I’m cooking, in the shower- I just got a new bluetooth speaker that’s waterproof.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

LS: Through some very kind agent pals! It’s always great to hear what some of the amazing bands we’ve worked with are up to and be sent pre-releases. BBC 6 also has some great first listens and we’re pretty much tuned into that most of the day.

DF: Mail outs from labels, blogs like pitchfork etc.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

LS: we tend to get links in emails to Spotify, Soundcloud or Bandcamp – I like the immediacy of it, and then I tend to support artists and invest in buying the record at the merch table! I have a premium account for Spotify so I can listen ad-free! When I’m out doing the rounds distributing flyers I also get to pop into all of our local record stores and have a browse and a chat with the owners which is always a great way to find out about indie exclusive new releases and top tips as well.

DF: I don’t really have any, I like that it’s instant and that you can dig into a back catalogue. I think the artist needs to be paid more for their streams!

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

LS: I love a good playlist! I tend to make monthly playlists rather than by genre of what I’ve been listening to, I have a bit of an eclectic taste so I like to mix it up a bit. I’m also a big fan of spreadsheets and keep tabs on what I’m listening to, new music to discover, online articles and notes to myself too.

DF: Playlists, scribbles on bits of paper or hands…

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

LS: I like to chat music with my friends and family, send each other tracks, and of course booking in artists at the venue that I think everyone should be listening to!

DF: About once a week I go through my new shazams with my husband and we hang out and listen to new stuff.

Anything you want to “promote”?

LS: On a local level Guildford has some incredible emerging talent – favourite new record label and promoters Cosmic Sounds are about to release their first vinyl with Deja Blu and Gi – dreamy indie pop vibes. Only launched this year but their show with us back in Jan was buzzing!

DF: There are so many awesome artists in our locality! We are truly blessed to do the job we do…support your local venue!

This is a really difficult time for everybody; the plight of Grassroots Music Venues included. We’re part of Music Venues Trust’s #saveourvenues campaign to ensure that when we can safely re-open, our brothers and sisters will also be there alongside us re-opening too. Live music as we know it won’t be able to continue without this circuit, check out the website here and see how you can get involved.

viznomics: Why Music is Different = Decentralised Tension

May 13, 2020 Byta viznomics

viznomics is a blog by Byta founder Marc Brown

Music Decentralised Tension

 

Most people agree the music business is a tough racket. Some think it is unfair, corrupt, chaotic. I’ve experienced all of that at one time or another, though I wonder if it really is any worse than any other business? It’s definitely way better than it used to be, less mob involvement is something to celebrate.

Considering I’m old (45) in music business terms, it is common to hear friends my age say they “want out”, “need a change” or simply “fuck this”. Some, like me, are determined to find new challenges and develop and grow new ideas. Others hesitate and worry they have “no transferable skills”. It’s that last bunch of people I’m always telling that if one has worked in the music business the rest is easy.

Long before I started Byta I was always trying different ideas while I ran my boutique radio promotion company. Side hustles, everyone in music has at least one. I ran labels, did management, some film stuff and even worked in the artworld. The thing I noticed is the music business is a decentralised network, which is pretty unique. That is why I think if you can master that environment, you can handle anything.

Think of what it takes to be “successful” in music, that is to say making a living. You could be an independent artist or a band signed to Universal. For things to work out you need some undefinable combination of talent (I nearly wrote skill yet those are very different qualities) and attention.

Who gets, creates and or demands the attention? You, the artist. When starting out you do everything yourself: make music, release music, book shows while trying to figure out what works for you to get noticed. That is unless you give up because you or no one else cares. Let’s say enough people end up noticing before you give up, then you’ll probably get some help: a manager, a booking agent, maybe a label. With some of the bigger artists I worked with there could be 20 plus people in planning meetings, each representing different areas. We’re talking national radio, press, tv, retail, online, management, label types and international people representing an endless possibility of territories.

Fastforward and things are going well. You’ve got all these people together in some giant boardroom, in the pub or on Zoom, wherever people have these meetings. Each one has an idea about what you should do next. Who is in charge though? Most would say you, the artist, is in control. Though who represents the artist? I say the manager clearly does yet the manager doesn’t hold the purse strings, the label does. Does that mean labels control an artist’s future? No one sells records anymore, artists make money by touring (at least up to March 2020). So do booking agents run the show? They certainly act like they do.

Contrast this to the binary arrangement in the visual art world – where everything is 50/50 artist and gallery. The artist makes the work, the gallery markets and sells it. There are a lot of factors driving success in visual art but nearly everything is arranged by the gallery who perceive themselves as the artist’s caretaker. The artist’s studio is run as a feudal system with external representation frowned upon. Collectors and institutions hold influence though they are simply sales and marketing.

So what effect does a decentralised network have over binary relationships? Tension, meaning mental and emotional strain, is what makes the music business work.

Every situation, release and artist is different. The balance of power isn’t always clear. A small artist’s team might have nothing to lose by pushing as hard as they can, a bigger artist might be afraid to rock the boat. Even worse, those bigger artists might think they have all the answers. Having your ideas challenged, which single to lead with or which support tour to take, or simply being pressured to make a decision increases tension which brings new and unexpected results. I remember many times when someone on the team would pull some crazy result out of a hat: a festival headline, magazine cover, I mean this would happen on a weekly basis. First, my heart would sink, then I’d go deliver the same. These results come first from a belief in the artist but also from the tension created by feeling surrounded by the rest of the team..

Compare that to my artworld description. If the gallery is the sole caretaker then there is no tension in their work. There is no one to show them up, embarrassing them to deliver at an even higher level.

I appreciate this is an overly simplified model. One could easily argue the book publishing business works in the same way as music. However, music is unique not just because the balance of power is decentralized but because the revenue streams are as equally decentralized and unique to different artists and genres. Publishers and galleries are selling products, but are they the caretakers of the artists themselves? I would argue not. So here is another way tension is introduced, each key player in music’s decentralized network thinks they have the artist’s best interest at hand: the manager, the label, the booking agent.

A testament to decentralisation being advantageous is the fact that no one can reliably recreate success. I touched on this in my first post. If there really was a winning formula then everyone else would be repeating and refining it – we’d all be successful. This is the reason I get cynical by all the talk of “data”. There has always been “data”, there is simply more of it today. If “data” was all we needed then wouldn’t it be easier to find “success”? I would argue that it is in fact the opposite today, success is even more elusive, even with access to all this new information.

A lack of appreciation for the creative tension in music is why I get a laugh out of tech-startups trying to automate all kinds of processes in the music business. These are the same people who just can’t get their heads around the idea that some people might not need, want or even give a shit about blockchain for X or smart contracts for Y. Automation removes friction, but some systems have this built in for a reason so why remove it. One artist might want to give everything away for free, other artists might not want to give anything away at all, or at least hold out for the highest price. That is their choice.

All this is why I question my “no transferable skills” friends’ thinking they couldn’t work in another industry. Surviving in a decentralised and tension driven environment is no easy task. Getting any sort of meaningful results from it is a constant struggle. People underappreciate the unique skill set needed to juggle managing personalities, information and timing to create something magical. People outside of the music business simply don’t appreciate how its structure is actually the key to its success, and not a hindrance.

MB / Stockholm May 13, 2020

#HowWeListen – Paul Gallagher / Tour & Radio DJ

May 5, 2020 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Paul Gallagher

Who are you?

PAUL GALLAGHER

Where are you based?

LONDON, UK

Where do you work? What do you do?

I FLOAT.. NO SERIOUSLY I DJ & TAKE STILL IMAGES WITH MY CAMERA

What are you listening to?

Right this minute.. Gaz Coombes (Supergrass), The Districts, Twisted Wheel, Lord Huron, Sunship Balloon.. pure randomness

How do you discover new music?

For the most part its intuition. I wouldn’t go to as many gigs as i used to but I get a hunch on something and follow that path and wherever it goes it goes.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

I buy records all the time. Mainly cd format because you have that physical product and vinyl is so ludicrously expensive and not to mention cut from cd so i don’t get the half truth that ‘vinyl’ is better.. its nonsense unless you’ve a £10k system. Plus its not 1970 anymore.

It took me a while to accept Spotify but now i don’t mind it, it’s good if you know what you like and its mobility is handy.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

If I’m home i’ll whack the stereo on and listen via headphones to protect the neighbours.. When i’m out its Apple EarPods and my iPhone.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I don’t get sent any music. If i hear something i’ll invest in it.. And keep on investing.. I find if you get music for free you don’t appreciate it as much.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

Ha.. Nobody sends you anything apart from bad music.. OR managers or bands tryna get an ‘IN’.

Otherwise, music is music so whatever platform it arrives in doesn’t really bother me. Digital is great for portability. Can you imagine the frustration of a Sony Walkman or similar in 2020?

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

As a DJ i have my own playlists.. I don’t promote online. I still think music should be discovered organically.

Nowadays I do a once monthly radio show on Boogaloo Radio, well i did until the lockdown occurred. I have a microphone at home but i haven’t had the gumption to set up and go from home. So i get to play what i like on that platform.. I’m quite guarded for my sins.. Musically anyway.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Now and again i’ll suggest bands to people. I suggested Boy Azooga to my younger brother and he had them on his last UK tour, i just loved the track Loner Boogie.

Anything you want to “promote”?

I find that there is lots of great new music around in 2020.. You won’t hear them on any radio stations as most, if not all are commercial these days.. But what floats me presently is Father John Misty, Jonathan Wilson, King Gizzard, Baked Beans, Fontaines DC, Yak, Fat White Family, Beak, Ron Gallo, Nude Party, Greys, Ty Segall, Snapped Ankles, Richard Swift, Weird Milk, The Wants to name a few.

#HowWeListen – Michael Perlmutter / instinct entertainment

April 21, 2020 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Michael Perlmutter Instinct Entertainment

Who are you?

That’s quite the existential question! But on a terrestrial level: Michael Perlmutter – I am a music supervisor and own a boutique company called instinct entertainment; in addition, I am currently the president of The Guild of Music Supervisors, Canada.

Where are you based?

I am in Toronto along with 2 colleagues here and one in Los Angeles. And, currently, at home like most of us, these days.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I work in Toronto at home. We had a bricks ‘n mortar office for many years in the downtown core but since Sept. 2018, we have all been working remotely. As a music supervisor, I oversee most musical aspects of a production – TV, film, documentaries etc. Our main responsibility is to find songs for placement in these projects and negotiate licensing deals from copyright owners and subsequently administer the paperwork.

What are you listening to?

This may get me in trouble as we work with hundreds of labels/publishers/pitch agents/indie artists/managers etc….but currently, I am digging: Moon Duo, Little Dragon, Rose Cousins, Tycho, Allie X, Tame Impala and also listening to some great old soul from the early-mid 70s: Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and many more…

How do you discover new music?

Through the years, I would go out 5-6 nights per week to hear artists perform, meet anyone in the industry and create connections that hopefully would result in long term relationships. When you are a music supervisor, we are in the enviable position where folks from around the world find you and send you music. We used to receive 200-400 CD’s per week in the late 90s/early 2000’s. I am also fortunate that I am invited to speak at music conferences worldwide and create lasting relationships with folks. We do dive into Soundcloud links/Spotify playlists etc. that take us deep into a reservoir of undiscovered talent. We read blogs. Also, when there are specific musical needs (or obscure/unique musical requests), we research endlessly to find the perfect song. This is one of my favourite pastimes.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

I even have cassingles from the 80s….! The world moves at a super quick pace and so does our job – we usually have very tight timelines so most of how we listen today is via streamer links that DL that are sent to us or when we reach out to folks we find, they also send streamers. Because we have to deliver song ideas to directors, editors or producers, we send links to stream or DL. I love listening to CD’s in my car and I do listen to vinyl. Quick story: when I worked on the groundbreaking Showtime series “Queer As Folk” from 1997-2005, we would need to ‘sync’ song ideas to scenes. We would work with a music editor who would take our songs and our notes and place them to picture (I can’t recall how he got our songs – I THINK we sent the songs via the “Internet” – or maybe we couriered him a CD ?!). Then, he would create 3 VHS tapes (we would Fedex 2 VHS tapes to LA for other Producers to watch!) with all scenes on it and then I would go to the production office and play the VHS tape for the Producer. It would take 2 hours to get through 3-4 scenes – we’d have 2-4 songs per scene so there were many scenes to play! (now, we create quicktimes with songs and send via the ‘Internet’ :). AND, if the Producer did not like some of the choices, we’d have to re-do those scenes…there was a lot of ‘rinse and repeat’.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

It’s a basic set-up, really. I listen on my computer – I have 300,000 songs on a hard drive. I use headphones if I can. I listen to music on my phone. I listen to vinyl – I have a set up in the corner of a room. I listen to music in a restaurant, in a shopping mall and practically everywhere I go. I feel very tuned in to the aural environments. It’s basically never ending in various forms. I think Shazam is the greatest gift to music lovers!

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

20-23 years ago, we used to get MANY CD’s ahead of their releases. That rarely happens now – we may get an album link the day before the album is released. For a long time, folks were very worried about privacy concerns – many songs/albums were leaked and labels and the industry clamped down on advance releases. Today, we do receive some advanced songs/albums but they aren’t 2 months in advance. That 2-month advance could allow us to place a song and work with labels and publishers on any promotion of a single/song with airing of a TV show or release of a film. There are folks who do reach out with watermarked downloads etc. It’s rare. There are premieres and first listens etc., but what we like to do, creatively, is be able to get that song in a scene well in advance of the release of the single so the TV episode, for example, could feature that song the week before the single is released to the public. I think you have much more time in film to work with labels and publishers to plan far ahead.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

As we all know, the quality is not as sharp as if we had a CD…our ears, for better or worse are getting used to this new norm. For example, as I write this I am listening to Moon Duo, played from my iPhone through a tubular bluetooth speaker sitting atop a shelf. It sounds great for right now. The music itself has some saturation in it so it works perfectly to my ears ! We receive a ship full of links weekly. We do listen to all streamers. We download songs and put in our iTunes library when need be. I don’t notice the ads on Soundcloud – I dig in and don’t pay attention. I think my frustration from listening to music digitally is that it hints at disposability. When you had a CD or listened to vinyl, you would usually listen to the entire CD or each side of the LP. The FOCUS was the music and how it made you feel and reading lyrics on an album cover and fully immersing your being into listening. The digital listening experience is part of a multi-tasking society we live in. My 16-year-old stepson listens to Spotify
16 hours per day (don’t tell his teachers….) but he seems to be invested in each song/artist and is always researching to soak up more information. Maybe I’m wrong – but I think he is an exception to the rule.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

If I really dig a song, I’ll toss it into one of many folders that could be titled ‘indie punk’, ‘pop’, ‘world’, ‘’50s’ etc. Sometimes, I’ll scroll through all songs in my library to search – I know there will be diamonds in the rough that I may have glared over 100x before. If we are working on a project, I’ll toss into that specific folder.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

I used to be a lot more helpful to others! But, yes, happy to share any great artists with other music supervisors, labels or publishers or anyone ! My love for music stems from many things – one of the drivers is that, if I am able to, I’d love to promote that artist’s music so the more people can hear their brilliance. It’s this strange internal joy I feel but it’s very rewarding.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Safety and health.  And support musicians any way you can.

Some of the projects to entertain while we stay at home and ‘fatten’ our curve: Altered Carbon Season 2 (Netflix), Spinning Out Season 1 (Netflix), Diggstown 3 Seasons (CBC Gem Canada), Private Eyes All Seasons (Global Canada).

viznomics: Where is “There”?

April 14, 2020 Byta viznomics

viznomics is a blog by Byta founder Marc Brown

viznomics - Here to There

 

Byta is run as a distributed team which means I work by myself a lot (think self-isolating but in a good way). Back when I was a radio plugger in the UK I had an office in central London and used to listen to music 10 hours a day. Now I prefer peace and quiet, it gives me time to think.

I think about the same things we all do. Do we live in a computer simulation? Why do people think Kanye West is crazy or a genius or both? Why does Sweden have the best candy in the world?

There’s a theme here. The questions I have (or anyone else for that matter, we all have them) revolve around WHY: “why do we think something”, “why is a certain thing a certain way”, “why don’t I know?” “why is that piece of the puzzle missing?” Why why why. Thing is, these are just thought experiments, ways to look at problems from different perspectives, to self-reflect.

In music we don’t often give ourselves the time to self-reflect, especially about our own work. Everyone is simply trying to get shit done. That’s what it’s like working in music – action action action… with varying degrees of success. That is why the questions I ask myself around music and Byta are a little different.

I think most Artists, be they visual artists or musicians, are asking themselves multiple questions at the same time. They ask the big philosophical questions, while also working out how to find big success. Artists are asking ”who am I?” while needing to know “what do I need to do to get “there””.

I can’t answer the first question “who am I?” and nor should I – you are you and that is yours to own, define and evolve. 

I can however talk about “there”.

Ultimately when talking about “there” we most likely mean successful. Like you, I too have always wanted to get “there”. I’ve even probably been there more than once but I left “there” behind to get to another different (better?) “there”. What does all this really mean? Everyone defines success differently. My “there” might not be your “there”.

I think (actually I am pretty sure) it is this abstract “there” which is the root of the problem for so many artists, especially musicians. Not because I don’t think getting “there” is real or possible, moreover it is in the approach, how artists and musicians think it works vs. how they are told it works.

When one is new to anything one looks for advice which leads almost certainly to the internet’s insights – “Do X and Y will happen” or “10 steps to Z”, or “never do A, B and especially C”. The music business is no different, lots of advice, but how reliable is it really?

So if there is a “there” and the music business is full of “great” advice on how to get “there” why aren’t we all “there”?

That is because there is no “there”, in the physical sense of the word, no ideal point to get to. That also means no single piece of advice that will insure you will get from A to B.

I’ve been travelling a lot (or at least I was travelling a lot) and I read a lot. I see false narratives wherever I go. These are the three worst tips I see on how to get “there”:

1. Streaming, Playlists (insert quick fix) is the “key”

This is the worst one by far. Spotify (other streaming platforms are available) is great, it is the only way I listen to music these days. That being said, the narrative that streaming platforms are all you need to get “there” is just a sales tactic. Look around and the evidence is there, check out Jeff Moskow’s “a playlist is not a marketing plan” or Patrick Ross’ “Dry Streams Paradox”.

Another example. Last year I moderated one of hour #HowWeListen panels at the Halifax Pop Explosion. We had a music marketing expert, an indie record label owner and Canada’s last full time music writer talking about how they find, listen and experience new music. Half way through I remember thinking that we hadn’t even mentioned a single streaming service, yet alone as a source of music discovery.

Playlists DO help with music discovery but the idea that it’s the epicentre of music discovery is ultimately an out and out lie.

2. “Do X and Y will happen” or “Hire me to get Y”

This quick-fix approach to an artist’s career is nothing new yet it’s still a huge problem. Do this, and that will happen. Could work but it’s oversimplifying a very very complex world.

The worst offenders, the ones that really piss me off, are the “hire me to get Y” people. I see this at conferences all the time. This is especially poisonous when combined with the quick-fix: “Do X and Y then pay me Z and you will definitely get “there””. Hard no to that offer.

Consultants are the worst offenders. I know, I used to be one. I heard people try it on all the time.

3. Gatekeepers

It’s natural for us to fixate on those who we feel are holding us back or look for that one person to rush in and solve what we are looking to have solved. I guess there are gatekeepers but those people are there to be worked.

All you really need to know is that anyone who has real influence in the music business (and not some bullshit title) actually likes music. Watch out though, the person at the top might seem like they have influence but they actually don’t know anything and only follow the people who actually like music, so follow my original point. If your band, record, voice is good and they hear it, they will like it and they will want to support you.

Everyone, even these people, long to feel the energy of something new and exciting, remember that.

Now for the good / bad news.

First part is the easiest to articulate and hardest to execute – your music needs to be good. “Good” is like “there”, it is hard to define but you know it when you feel it. And that feeling is real. Search it out, question it, work with it.

The bad news is no matter what anyone tells you there is no button to press no switch to flick. Creativity is a big lumpy mass not a thin sleek dart (yes, anyways exceptions). It’s about the process “learning by doing”.

The road and the destination are how you define them. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

MB / Stockholm April 10, 2020

#HowWeListen – Dan Champion / Behind the Music Business Podcast

April 7, 2020 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Dan Champion - Behind the Music Business Podcast

Who are you?

Danny Champion

Where are you based?

Mainy in Bristol UK but I have split my time between there and Manchester UK for the past 4 years.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I launched a music business related podcast in 2017 called Behind the Music Business where I interview people who work in the music business.

I am also one of those wonderful ‘freelancers’ that does a bunch of things around the music business. My background is in Music publishing and Synchronisation and for the past 4 years I have been lecturing in various topics and working with up and coming bands and entrepreneurs in Bristol and Manchester whilst I set up my own business. The plan was for this to be launching in 2020 but it looks like it will be more like 2021 now considering all the issues we’re currently facing with the Covid-19 crisis. Feel free to check out www.dannychampion.co.uk though for more information about me.

What are you listening to?

As I write this I am listening to Aeges 2016 album ‘Weighless’. 2019 was mainly about Bring me the Horizon (I gave Amo a lot of listens before I really started to appreciate it) and Tool (I waited 13 years for that album). 2020 so far has been about bands like Polaris, and Monuments (should be dropping a new album this year). There is some great stuff being done by metal bands at the moment so I have been really appreciating that.

How do you discover new music?

Depends really. I have a lot of mates who are working with new acts and are in the ‘creative’ areas of the business so I often ask for tips from them and I’m always asking/forcing students into telling me who I should be listening to, especially if its genres that I appreciate but don’t know a huge amount about (electronic/dance/hiphop).

There’s a blog that I use called ‘Album of the Year’ when it comes to the weekly new releases as well. It’s basically just a list of what’s coming out each week and the first thing I do on a Friday morning whilst eating breakfast is add the interesting ones to a playlist to listen to. I usually add at least 8 or 9 albums to the weekly listen list from there. There’s also a few Youtube channels as well. Finn McKenty who runs the ‘Punk Rock MBA’ is a good source for some of the more underground US metal stuff that I like.

I follow a fair few Spotify playlists as well. Mainly official Spotify ones or ones attached to labels. across a few genres (Metal, Punk, Hardcore, Drum and Bass, Chillout/Ambient and I find these to be really useful in finding new stuff. Especially if you change the order of the playlist. Start from the bottom and work up to the top to find the hidden gems. I also try to get recommendations from my students as well but I do find that quite a few of them are not as on top of new stuff as I would be expecting, maybe this is down to the sheer amount of music that is available to us at the moment. I do enjoy some of the liquid Drum and Bass that some of them have pointed me in the direction of though.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

I am 95% streaming now. I signed up to Spotify in 09 and have been a premium user since 2011 (so says my 2019 Spotify wrapped thing). I have been gradually getting rid of CDs as well as they have all been digitised anyway and I really only ornamental these days as the only CD player I own is the one in my car.

I did buy the recently re-released Tool album (expanded book edition) though but that was more as a collectable and I think thats the first CD I have bought in a few years. If I buy physical these days it’s the occasional Vinyl but that’s it.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

Music is mainly listened to at home whilst I am working and when I am in the car between Bristol and Manchester. I do A LOT of podcast listening so these past few years the hours I listen to music have definitely taken a hit.

It’s nearly exclusively from Spotify so it’s all from my phone or laptop via bluetooth speakers but I’m going to jump on the smart speak bandwagon pretty soon though.

I do need to invest in a nice set up to listen to the vinyls though but I have my wedding to pay for before I can justify that sort of splurge and get away with it. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?

I’m not doing this anywhere near as much these days as I did when I worked at peermusic publishing or soundlounge. There is just so much music out there to have to sift through. If I’m listening to pre-release stuff it has been sent over to me and it’s usually a streaming link for something like Soundcloud, which still happens a fair bit and I always welcome up and coming writers, producers and artists sending me stuff. The plan is to launch a boutique publishing company focusing on working with UK based performing songwriters so I am keen on hearing new stuff from all genres.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

The frustration is mainly how much there is. The streaming thing is amazing because you have the pick of so much to listen to whenever you want but then sometimes that choice is just overwhelming so you end up just listening to the same stuff over and over again. I also still like listening to albums, even via streaming platforms. I think this is quite common with fans of heavy music as well. So, even though I understand the need for constantly releasing singles I do still prefer the full album to listen to.

Always send music in an email via a link. I still get the occasional mp3 attachment (especially from composers who want to write for media) and more often than not they just get buried in my computer and then deleted when I don’t remember what they are.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

I bloody love a list (so very cool I know). I used to keep a log of all the albums and films I watched each year and would give them a rating as well so that I could do my ‘best of’ lists at the end of the year. I think I did this from 2008-20016 or something ridiculous like that. I have stopped doing this as the admin was just getting ridiculous and it was another way for me to procrastinate and not do the important things I needed to get done.

I do have a playlist that I add albums to each week for me to listen to on Spotify, If I like the album I will move it to my ‘Albums’ library, if I don’t like it it gets removed so there is still a log of those releases that I have enjoyed. There are currently about 600 albums in that library (that’s probably why my Spotify takes so long to load).

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

There are a few close friends who I will regularly tip off about new music. People I have been in bands with over the years or some of the people from uni for example.

I’ll often send new music that has been sent to me that I might be doing some work with in a professional capacity to people I know in the industry for feedback and the like as well. Some of that stuff is still pretty raw and unrefined but a few will cut through eventually and helping them get on to a few peoples radar is always quite rewarding.

Anything you want to “promote”?

I’m going to have to be shameless here and plug the podcast ‘Behind the Music Business’. As of this moment there are 44 episodes available with an eclectic mix of guests. You can listen via Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Acast or any other podcast app you might use.

I did have another 10 interviews scheduled for this past month that have been cancelled due to Covid-19 but will be rescheduling them for over the summer so there are more episodes to come probably not until September now though. I gave myself the challenge of getting to at least 100 episodes so still got a bit of a way to go.

One of my fav episodes is with Alex Lodge of Thirty Two Music. The guys over there also have a label called Truant Records. They release some amazing stuff there so do check those guys out. 

There is a plan for a youtube channel to be launched in conjunction with it as well but that is likely to be later in the summer now as well. There will be links to all of this on my website.

And as mentioned earlier I am still working towards launching other things so that I can work with emerging talent more so am keen to hear from writers and performers out creating music in any sort of genre. There are guidelines for sending your music to me on my website as well.

#HowWeListen – Shell Zenner / Amazing Radio & BBC Music Introducing

January 29, 2020 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Shell Zenner Amazing Radio BBC

Who are you?

I’m Shell, a new music journalist, radio presenter and producer who does a wide array of work in the music industry from lecturing, hosting stages and events, promoting to assessing funding applications for PRS Momentum Fund and Music:Leeds.

Where are you based?

Manchester mainly but i love to travel across the north to support musicians and local music scenes in other towns and cities. I work in the music scenes of Yorkshire, Merseyside and Manchester mainly.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I present at Amazing Radio and XS Manchester and I work for BBC Music Introducing at BBC Radio Leeds and BBC Radio Manchester where I sometimes present too.

What are you listening to?

Currently listening to the latest amazing radio uploads to amazingtunes.com for this week’s show. I usually listen to 300 tracks a week on this platform. Amazing Radio is a radio station that allows artists worldwide to upload their music for free to be considered for airplay via the website! At the moment I’m obsessed with Porij, PVA, Public Practice, Working Men’s Club, Nancy, VC Pines, Havelock, Joesef and Celeste.

How do you discover new music?

I discover a variety of ways, listening to both the BBC Introducing Uploader, The Amazing Radio uploader, live gigs, blogs such as Never Enough Notes, Popped Music and websites like The Line Of Best Fit, Clash Magazine, DIY Magazine and Dork, streaming services, word of mouth, PR, social media.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

Generally on the uploaders, streaming services and then radio / LP. I still own vinyl, i still own cassettes and i have a stack of cds but they’re of limited use as i don’t really have a cd player anymore!

Where do you do most of your music listening?

At home mainly, and mainly laptop based, i do have noise cancelling headphones too that help if i’m on the move.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?

There is less focus on premieres these days as music is much more instant in the way it drops, but i still hear most of my pre-releases from the uploaders or PR in my emails / social media.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

Being so overrun with emails that things get lost! Things automatically importing to Itunes (it can’t just be me?!) links being sent via social media, these get lost really easily. Always best to ask how to best deliver music to someone and send it that way! Ie upload to the uploaders for radio play is most useful for me, find out from the person you’re interested in hearing your music and tailor that to how they prefer listening! The uploaders can be problematic to use on the move so i would say always lead with your strongest track and focus on one song, more songs just dilutes things and we’re not sure which is your best track, so think about it and plan a focus track if you’re an artist!

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Playlists, blogs, lists! I set up playlists in Spotify, i also put playlists together on Amazingtunes.com and the BBC Introducing uploader too, i sometimes blog my fave artists, albums, lists too and keep a track of things there! It’s really hard to remember what grabbed you in January in December of the same year! I use google docs and lists too!

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Of course, on radio, blogs, I’ll talk to people, i promote gigs too.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Sure, listen to my radio shows on Amazing Radio without listeners I can’t continue to curate new music! Follow me on socials too! I blog and share info and advice for new artists as much as i can! @shellzenner on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Also come to my nights a band on the wall, they’re called FREE VIBES, they’re free in and they support new artists across the north! Listen to the artists of tomorrow, today! Last years Christmas Free Vibes we had Grimm Twins and Afghan Sand Gang performing which was insane as they’ve both done really well in 2019! We’ve had Faux Pas, Slap Rash, The Goa Express, Ellysse Mason, False Advertising, Blanketman and more playing them too so plenty of emerging artists that have since blown up!!

#HowWeListen – Adrienne LaBelle / Mint Records

January 21, 2020 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Adrienne LaBelle Mint Records

Photo Credit: Kuba Wiatrak

Who are you?

Adrienne LaBelle

Where are you based?

The unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples (aka Vancouver, Canada).

Where do you work? What do you do?

I work at Mint Records, a well-established indie record label that’s been putting out mostly Canadian indie rock and punk since 1991. I write grants for the label’s touring bands. I also do a lot of other things, including tour booking, radio tracking, band wrangling, event organizing, and a whole mish-mash of other projects. I’m currently focused on a new Safety and Inclusion initiative at the label, and preparing for the onslaught of upcoming festivals and conferences. I’m also a musician, toiling away in my spare time, currently trying to finish writing an album of my own for my new(ish) project, Garbage Dreams.

What are you listening to?

I’m all over the place with what I’m listening to these days. Cate le Bon is my longtime fave and I’m usually listening to her at some point on a daily basis. I’ve recently been enjoying stuff from the Éthiopiques collection again, Mulatu Astatke and Alemayehu Eshete are some faves. Post-punk and indie rock are always floating around in my ears. I still listen to a lot of Vancouver bands, and to be honest, a lot of Mint bands, even when I’m off the clock! If you really want to dig deep, it’s up for all to see on my Spotify page. I make monthly playlists as part of a very low-key podcast I co-host with Orono from Superorganism called Mistakes & Mixtapes. We each choose a song a day and then, presumably we chat about our playlists with each other at the end of each month, but since we’re both very busy and generally live on opposite sides of the world, we’ve mostly just been making the playlists and not doing so much of the recording the podcast part!!

How do you discover new music?

At the office Mint’s label manager, Ryan, is usually playing Spotify on the office speakers, so sometimes I’ll just Shazam a song if something I don’t know comes on that I like and don’t already know. I do the same while watching movies and TV series etc. I’ve been trying to learn more about the world of music licensing so I’ve been doing a lot of focused TV-watching in the name of research. But we also get sent a lot of demos at the label, I’ll listen to those. I do a lot of glancing at blogs and podcasts, I’m on a handful of mailing lists for music news in general. I recently started listening to some record-label specific podcasts that I highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more about the other side of the music (Other Record Labels, The Future of What). Bandcamp has done some really great editorials that get me looking at music that I think I would otherwise never encounter and that platform in general is such an amazing resource. I am friends with a lot of music-minded folks on social media, so I’ll take note of recommendations and try to give things a listen. I follow other labels and see what they’re putting out, I try to keep up on the new releases. Blogs in Canada like Some Party and the Cups n’ Cakes Network are focused on Canadian content, so I’ll check those out to keep tabs on what’s going on, and of course I keep up with Exclaim! on the regular. CiTR is one of Vancouver’s trusted college radio stations and I try to listen when pals have shows, though I’m not an avid radio listener during the work day, as it can get too distracting. But I do the radio tracking for our releases every week so I’m usually checking out college charts and taking notes on who’s showing up there. In the US, for blogs I love the Grey Estates, and KEXP is always putting out great content as well. Our lovely publicist Nathan at Riot Act Media is usually promoting great artists, so I like to keep up with their roster. I still go to quite a few live shows, though don’t get out to live shows in Vancouver as much as I used to. But I’m often at festivals and conferences for work where I see a lot of new bands. I’m also a sporadically touring musician and I tour-managed one of our bands this summer and ended up finding a lot of new bands just through researching who to play with in various cities. I think booking and going on tours is a great way to find new music!

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

I’m listening to a lot of Spotify playlists right now because my record player is currently out of service and needs to be fixed! I also just really enjoy making playlists. It brings me back to my youth when I made countless mixed CDs. I love making themed playlists but I also really enjoy listening to full albums and it’s just not the same to me when you’re playing an album from a streaming service.

I miss the process of engaging with the physical product, looking at the album art, pulling the record out of its sleeve, carefully placing it on the turntable, and flipping the record when it’s time, and then putting it back and selecting the next one from the collection. There is a very lovely, tactile ritual to listening to vinyl and I don’t think anything can replace that experience for me. It’s my favourite way to listen to recorded music by far.

I mostly buy vinyl on tour from bands I’m playing with or from bands who are touring through Vancouver. I will occasionally treat myself to digging around at the local record stores in Vancouver, though I find that I’ve been doing that a lot less than I used to, just because I end up buying straight from bands at live shows more often than not and I’m not exactly rolling in money! But I do love to support the record stores when I can! Red Cat, Neptoon, and Audiopile in Vancouver are all great stores run by lovely people!

I still have a CD player in my van but I don’t drive that much and will often connect my phone via aux cable and play my Spotify playlists but I do sometimes love to just put a CD in the player and then I usually drive around listening to the same CD over and over and over and over. Currently, I’ve got Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love in the van and I’m nearing my exhaustion point with that one, as is anyone I’ve driven around in the last, oh four months or so. The hidden track on that one gets me every time, and it’s also such a relic of the time and format.

I used to buy a lot of cassettes because my car (before the van) had only a cassette player. But I’ll still buy cassettes mostly just from touring bands to support them, though I rarely actually listen to them because I don’t currently have a working tape player!

Where do you do most of your music listening?

I listen to music a lot, most often it is via Spotify either on my commute or in the office. When I’m at home, I have playlists for various moods and activities that I’ll put on. As I said, my record player has been broken and it may even be time to upgrade so once I deal with that, there’s going to be a LOT of vinyl listening at home because I’ve really been missing it!

How do find and listen to pre-release music?

We are sent a lot of demos at Mint so I do end up hearing a lot of pre-release music via our Slack channel that’s usually connected to private SoundCloud streams from artists directly. I check out premieres when they are drawn to my attention, usually via social media or blogs but I’m not usually seeking out new premieres specifically. I still really love music videos so when someone premieres a new video, that is actually my favourite way to experience a new artist or a new project or album or single. I find it more engaging and it’s easier for me to understand where an artist is coming from. Sometimes hearing so much music all the time, it’s hard to give my full attention to something specifically because there’s just so much content everywhere and only so many hours in a day.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I am always fearful of links in emails for music, but if it takes me to a trusted source like Soundcloud or Bandcamp or Spotify, that’s my preference. I rarely download files to upload to iTunes just because of space and priority and I’m scared of downloading anything, especially if it’s coming from a relative stranger as in the case with new artists submitting demos. But, I definitely think that links in an email is much more likely to get a listen rather than say sending a physical demo CD.

I appreciate the versatility of being able to listen to things digitally while I’m out and about, but I am a sucker for physical products and that will always be my preference for engaging with art in the way it was originally meant to be presented. A lot of time and thought goes into album artwork and design and concept and it’s not really the same on a digital platform. I’m sure that’s already changing with the times but I think no matter how many extra features you add to a digital release, for me it doesn’t really compare to the physical product in my hands and that goes for the whole listening experience.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Spotify is currently really my biggest storage facility. I have playlists galore. I also use Shazam a lot, and then will go back and look through the list of songs and add ones that I want to revisit later.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Mint works with a lot of up-and-coming bands, so whenever we have a new release, we are usually sharing a lot of new music from new artists. We also have guest curators updating our monthly Mint Picks playlist, which is nice for me to both find and share new music! Personally, the biggest way that I share new music is through my aforementioned podcast. Whether or not we release an episode, I will usually make my playlists public at the end of each month. Perhaps this year we will record more episodes so there’s a bit more actual story sharing going on beyond the playlists! Either way, I will keep making my song of the day playlists and anyone who’s looking for something new to check out is more than welcome to check there!

Anything you want to “promote”?

Mint released some really great albums in 2019: Kiwi jr’s Football Money, Dumb’s Club Nites, Necking’s Cut Your Teeth, Woolworm’s Awe, and Jay Arner’s Jay III.

Some other really amazing records came out of Vancouver last year that I feel deserve some attention. Divorcer’s Debt Jubilee and Only a Visitor’s Technicolour Education were both notably great releases (there are a lot of really great bands in Vancouver right now, too many to mention!) A Vancouver staple, Apollo Ghosts, released a beautiful album in October with all proceeds going to support the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the UNIST’OT’TEN Legal Fund. It’s a beautiful album.

Mint has some great releases coming out in 2020 as well! Only one has been announced so far, lié’s You Want It Real comes out in February and we’ve got an exciting new artist joining the roster in April so everyone should keep an eye out for that!

I’m really excited to go to Treefort Festival for the first time this year! I’ll be playing with Garbage Dreams and supporting Necking, promoting Mint, etc. so if any of you readers find yourselves in Boise in March, let’s hang?!

#HowWeListen – Kyle Cunjak / Forward Music Group

December 10, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.

Photo: Alan Jeffries

Who are you?

I’m Kyle Cunjak, a musician, photographer, and arts professional just trying to steer clear of the 9 to 5.

Where are you based?

I’m based in Atlantic Canada. Originally from New Brunswick and currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I operate Forward Music Group, a management company and label collective that works with a variety of artists and provides resources and support to foster sustainable careers through composition, exhibition, and performance.

Our office is in the North End of Halifax, kitty-corner to the Marquee and Seahorse venues and dangerously close to a French bakery. We share the space with our longtime Canadian publicists, Pigeon Row, and try to maintain an open-door policy for the community if anyone wants to come in and pick our brains.

My main job, i.e. what actually pays me, is working as a session player and sideperson to a number of musicians, while also performing in bands like The Olympic Symphonium and Force Fields where I co-write.

Occasionally I’ll also do various work as a photographer, which is what I went to post-secondary school for.

What are you listening to?

Currently listening to a lot of unreleased music from friends and collaborators as we plan things out for the 2nd half of 2020.

In the office I’m usually listening to ambient or piano-based music so as to not interfere with work and keep a calm vibe. Favourites are Nils Frahm, Ahmad Jamal, willamette, Sarah Davachi, Oscar Peterson, etc…

At home I can’t get enough of Aldous Harding’s new album Designer, Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, the new Lost Wisdom album from Mount Eerie and Julie Doiron, and Sandro Perri’s Soft Landing.

How do you discover new music?

I actually need some new ways to discover music. Relying on the algorithms is predictable and boring these days. I haven’t found anything through that method that’s excited me in quite a while.

Thankfully Bandcamp is good for discovery. Especially their year-end list of things you may have missed. That’s how I first heard of Noname’s Telefone and RJ Miller’s album Ronald’s Rhythm.

Radio is also a great way to hear new things. At home in the kitchen we’re often tuned to the local campus/community radio station CKDU or our national broadcaster CBC but online I’ll listen to Danish online station The Lake, BBC 6 Music, WNYC, etc…

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?

On the go I listen on my phone, usually via streaming services (downloaded though, we don’t have great data plans here in Canada), and at the office via desktop files or streaming on bluetooth speakers.

At home I listen to LPs the most but still use cassettes, CDs, and even MiniDisc sometimes. Collecting vinyl is fun and even though I’m trying not to add too much to my collection at the moment, one of my favourite pastimes is browsing through the stacks at record stores.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

Since I’m usually listening to podcasts while walking around, most of my music listening is done either at the office or at home.

I have a Pro-Ject turntable, an Aiwa cassette player (which I found on the side of the road in a garbage pile), and a Yamaha 6-CD changer (which was given to me as junk to play around with in High School and just broke last week) all going through a Yamaha tube amplifier into Signet speakers. Nothing fancy but they sound good.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?

Thankfully I have a lot of friends and collaborators that trust me with unreleased music so I don’t have to go searching too hard for it.

If I know someone has a new record coming out, I’ll drop a hint and see if they send me a pre-release link. That usually does the trick.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I was actually thinking about this recently. Unreleased music is sent via so many platforms – Dropbox (which I absolutely despise), Soundcloud streams (preferred, though not downloadable – see “data woes” above), random files that usually aren’t properly meta-tagged (a pain, but somehow less annoying than Dropbox), etc… There are advantages and disadvantages to all except Dropbox which is always a disadvantage. Did I mention I dislike Dropbox?

We get a lot of demos, which I try to at least listen to even though don’t have the capacity to respond, and they are in every format you can imagine.

When we’re sending out advance copies to industry, we’ll usually just create a Soundcloud playlist so the music is listenable but can’t easily be ripped. I’ve recently heard about this service called Byta that I need to check out though 😉

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

In streaming, I’ll add stuff I like to some of our various playlists like Currently Listening, Sick Beats, Chill the Fuck Out, Perfect Country Songs, etc… so I can go back and remember things I’ll inevitably forget about.

At home my vinyl is organized alphabetically and in different genres (Pop, Hip Hop, Country/Bluegrass, Jazz, Ambient/Contemporary, Soundtracks) but the CDs and cassettes are a bit of a mess unfortunately.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

You know the inevitable “what’s new?” question that you get when running into casual acquaintances? That’s when I try my best to slide in recommendations on new music in lieu of the weather or whatever the heck else people talk about. Try it!

Anything you want to “promote”?

Atlantic Canada punches above its weight in my opinion and I’d love for more people to be aware of all the great musicians and songwriters that are out here.

In our camp, we just announced Jennah Barry’s upcoming sophomore album, Holiday, which is really exciting and comes out in late March 2020. She has a few singles out now and there’ll also be a video in the early new year. Sarah Pagé’s debut, Dose Curves, was a recent release and helped us reach a lot of milestones this year. Extremely proud to have worked on that record.