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?
The Unsigned Guide, a UK music industry directory created to put emerging bands & artists in touch with music industry contacts who can help them further their careers. I run The Unsigned Guide day to day so it’s a mixture of keeping the directory up to date, creating blog content, answering enquiries from our users, and about a million other bits & pieces! We also have a blog called Spotlight which features 5 tracks from our unsigned/emerging members every month so we get to listen to music submitted to us which is always a nice part of the job.
What are you listening to?
The Cure, Missy Elliott, Karen O & Dangermouse, Lizzo, LIINES
How do you discover new music?
I get to discover a lot of unsigned and emerging music through my job which is fantastic. Other than that – listening to the radio, checking out support acts at gigs, and my mates will usually alert me to stuff they think I’ll like.
What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?
I’d say I stream music about 80% of the time. I do still play my old CDs (my car is really old & only has a CD player!) so they’re great for a longer journey. I haven’t bought a CD for a while but will do occasionally from gigs. And I do have a load of old vinyl I still play, and I try to add to the collection with new releases too.
Where do you do most of your music listening?
The radio is permanently on in the office so we hear a broad range of music, new and old, on BBC 6Music. We also have a listening session every few weeks to the tracks we’ve been submitted by emerging bands and musicians to select who we will feature on the next Spotlight blog and our Amazing Radio show. Other than that, at home I usually listen to a mixture of Spotify playlists I’ve made when I’m cooking. On a weekend I often I put on the record player and if friends/family come over I like to dig out old vinyl to play in the background whilst we have a chat. And I like to try & make sure I pinpoint a newly released album every couple of weeks and give that a listen, usually on Spotify.
How do find and listen to pre-release music?
We get sent a lot of pre-release music from emerging acts so that’s how I get to hear most stuff – through SoundCloud, Spotify, Dropbox etc.
What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
I actually love the flexibility of streaming and prefer being able to check out a new release on Spotify and see if I enjoy it. Sadly I can’t afford to purchase vinyl releases of all the new music I’d like to, so it’s good to be able to have a few preliminary listens and if I’m really into something I’ll eventually end up buying a physical copy. Streaming gives me that opportunity to check it out. But you can’t beat vinyl packaging & design – the joy of holding & looking at a lovely vinyl cover & sleeve just can’t be replicated digitally.
How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
At work – we have email submissions from all the acts that send us a track so I store the good ones in a folder to refer back to. At home, if I come across a new track I love I’ll add it to one of my Spotify playlists. I like mixing up my golden oldie faves with newly released unsigned music, so there’s a big variety of genres from across the years. It keeps things interesting!
Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Yes, obviously we chat in the office about any great tracks we’ve been sent to feature on the blog. As I mentioned earlier, we include 5 unsigned/emerging tracks per month on our Spotlight blog. That blog is also sent onto a 40+ music industry professionals who are keen to hear what we’re championing & take a listen to see if there’s anything they like the sound of, so I guess we’re tipping new music to them whilst also helping spread the word about the great unsigned tracks on the blog. I also send tracks onto my friends & family if I come across something I think they’ll particularly like.
Anything you want to “promote”?
I guess just keep an eye on our blog feed; we post our Spotlight selection in the first week or so of the month. There’s always some really exciting talent on there. Personal favourites of mine in the past would be LIINES, Milvus Milvus, Memes, The Noise & The Naive, Marsicans, False Advertising and Gaffa Tape Sandy.