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.
Who are you?
Where are you based?
Where do you work? What do you do?
I’m the Head of Digital Strategy at Terrorbird Media, a music marketing company with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Sacramento. I help artists and their teams with digital release strategy, and pitch music to digital storefronts for playlisting and editorial consideration. Terrorbird has plenty of departments (Radio, PR, Licensing, Publishing, Originals) and we were recently highlighted by AdHoc on their ‘List of Woman and Non-Binary-Run Music Organizations’ as well!
What are you listening to?
Right now I’ve got a bunch of local favorites including altopalo, Jachary, Softee and Operator Music Band. Outside of that, I’ve been loving the new singles from Great Grandpa, EVA and Caroline Polachek. (I’m lucky to have worked with a few of these acts too!)
How do you discover new music?
Mostly through friends and coworkers – I really enjoy hearing what people play on our office stereo. We use a Sonos speaker system, which allows any of us to put on music as long as we’re connected to the office wifi network. I love Spotify’s ‘Friend Activity’ feed for the same reason, to see what other people I know are checking out. I also find music by following friends, music critics and record labels on Twitter to see what they’re supporting and promoting. In terms of playlists, I love checking out lists that are curated out of different countries – right now I’m really enjoying ones from Australia.
What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?
I pretty exclusively listen to music digitally. I own a record player and will play records on occasion, but it’s pretty rare. I rely heavily on streaming because it’s always with me – it functions as a reminder list of things to check out and things I already love. I also enjoy the algorithmic playlists that condense what I’m already listening to into one neat package.
Where do you do most of your music listening?
My casual listening happens when I’m commuting or at work. That said, most of my active listening, and reviewing of records for Terrorbird, happens at home on my down time. I’m super easily distracted, which is why I find the best time to focus on music is on the couch with my cat!
How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Terrorbird has a bunch of departments, and many of them work to promote new releases, so we receive music ahead of time to decide on projects. Our staff receives submissions and listens to new music every day, and we often share with one another to flag cool new stuff that’s coming. That’s the bulk of how I find and listen to unreleased music, though I will check out a few smaller blogs to find new stuff (such as POND Mag, Cereal and Sounds and So Young Magazine).
What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
It’s disappointing that the major streaming platforms aren’t optimized to allow artists to express themselves and their own aesthetic on-platform. They present music in a super rigid visual format which ultimately creates a one-dimensional experience for fans, and doesn’t empower artists to be engaged there. A related frustration is that streaming services do not present a social, interactive experience – I really appreciate that websites like Bandcamp and Reddit foster community via features like user reviews and message boards. It would be great if artists could tell their stories and connect with fans in more interactive and engaging ways via consumption platforms (where their music is monetized). That said, there are plenty of benefits, the most basic one being that I love being able to access music anywhere!
How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I have a starred playlist on my Spotify account, which I use as a general aggregator for any track I like and plan on revisiting. I’m also loving the new Spotify algorithmic playlists, On Repeat and Repeat Rewind, which track your favorite songs of the moment.
Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Anything you want to “promote”?
If you want to check out artists or releases we’re working on, you can do so on our Terrorbird Digital Releases playlist!