#HowWeListen – Amber Horsburgh / Deep Cuts

March 5, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in music about how they find and listen to music, new and old.
Amber Horsburgh Deep Cuts
Who are you?
Amber Horsburgh

Where are you based?
Los Angeles, USA

Where do you work? What do you do?
I’m an independent marketing consultant helping major artists with brand strategy and content creation. I write about music strategy for label marketers and artists through my newsletter, Deep Cuts (subscribe). Prior to that I was SVP of Strategy at Downtown Records (NYC), Senior Strategist at Big Spaceship (YouTube, Samsung, Sonos, Google Play) and MTV.

What are you listening to?
Sharon Van Etten, Tommy Cash, Jessica Pratt, Jeff Tweedy and a healthy amount of Gaga.

How do you find new music?
The boring old ways, blogs (Pitchfork, Noisey, NPR, Dazed), podcasts (Song Exploder, Pop Shop), friends and whatever is overhead at the office.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
Me personally, streaming mainly. I recently threw every single thing I owned out to go backpacking around the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Africa for a year so went and sold all the last remaining CDs or vinyl I owned.

The formats people prefer is all down to how they listen to music.

Vinyl is often an active listening experience where the listener very intentionally picks out the piece and listens to it as an activity, whereas digital is more passive. There isn’t the same time or monetary investment as with physical formats so the listener is often less committed. Vinyl is an artist’s premium product, whereas digital is more utility, both are important from a marketing perspective but satisfy different uses. I did Vinyl Me, Please’s Cameron Schaefer who has great insight on vinyl listening behaviors and respective marketing.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
If an artist I care about releases something new I’ll sit down with it properly at home and listen top to bottom, but otherwise most of my streaming happens at work and the gym.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
I get sent pre-released music through my work and friends if they want an opinion on anything, but I don’t seek out pre-released material.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Two things:
1) I can’t keep track of it.
I don’t listen to Spotify created playlists, the music starts to sound all the same to me, but I’m too lazy to categorize and make my own so I find I listen and forget about so much good music.

2) Artist discovery is terrible.
You’re looking at basically a spreadsheet of words that play music, no branding, no imaging, no story. It’s impossible to get a hook on an artist if you do not immediately connect with the first 30 seconds of their track. It’s boring.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I don’t, really. I have a few private playlists that I update with new songs to not forget but nothing nearly as sophisticated as when I had physical music or even a digital library in iTunes.

With digital it’s really tough for new artists to get that follow or add to a playlist because it’s not the mainstream user behavior of streaming platforms. People’s music listening habits are driven by their emotions far more than they care to admit. Emotions, moods and events trigger listening patterns so for new artists they need to be top of mind when a listener is triggered. So, keeping track of new stuff may not be a reliable source of new fans but rather marketing initiatives that keep targeting new listeners. I write more about combatting this for artists in a recent post Playing to strangers: why people that have never heard of you are most profitable.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Usually with videos, if the music is good but an artist has nailed their aesthetic and the videos are good, I’m hooked. I cannot stop shouting from the rooftops about Tommy Cash, I think he is a genius, so captivating, everything he releases whether it is official videos, merch, even status updates are more compelling than the next. His PMW video may be my favorite video of all time.

Anything you want to “promote”?
I’ve just started working on my own as a music marketing consultant, which is really fun, and gives me the chance to work on artists I’m most excited about. I write my Deep Cuts blog – all about music strategy that deeply analyzes marketing trends and tactics to build audience and creatively package music.

A good starting place to check out my writings are The A-Z of Artist Brand Building, Why the Music Business Gets Digital So Wrong and if you’re at labels or management firms check out my Bases Get Aces Album Promo Checklist and Music Marketer’s Toolbox (140 free and freemium tools for music marketers).

If you want to get in touch my Twitter and other contact details are here.

#HowWeListen – Colin MacKenzie / Byta & Envision Management [EN]

February 25, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

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

Colin MacKenzie Byta

Who are you?
Colin Mackenzie

Where are you based?
Montreal, Canada

Where do you work? What do you do?
Byta North America – preaching the gospel. Plus Envision Management and Production – artist strategy, grant writing. Management – artist Jerry Granelli, a great improv drummer (Vince Guaraldi Trio drummer, played on A Charlie Brown Christmas). Working on a short animated film with the NFB in Canada.

What are you listening to?
Lately – like right now..and this will change tomorrow, or next week…

New Jungle album is a fun listen – old disco vibes.. And yea, the videos are killer too. I am a sucker for Sharon Van Etten – always happy when a new album comes out from her direction. I just bought this old Kris Kristofferson album – The Silver Tongued Devil and I, his 2nd I think, sounds a lot like Leonard Cohen. Also Silla and Rise – two Inuit Throat singers and a DJ. I have been digging back into those recently released Prince demos – Piano & A Microphone 1983, I dig the new Neneh Cherry, the new Cat Power, Kamasi Washington, the new Charles Lloyd with Lucinda Williams, Bedouine, Brian Owens’ Soul of Cash – Johnny Cash tribute, a gift and I love it. New J Mascis is always a treat, new Jessica Moss is sonic poetry. It is all a bit schizophrenic, in that I am reading and listening to a lot of stuff and so end up jumping out of an article or podcast to dig into some music reference that was mentioned.. That can lead to the rabbit hole effect.. and popping my head out in the world of Chinese Hip Hop or Ukulele folk.

How do you find new music?
Strangely daytime is not where I make a lot of music discoveries – much of what we listen to at the Envision office does not tend to be “new music” – unless we get sent demos by one of the artists we work with. Folks tend to listen to their own soundtracks with headphones on. This is a new situation, due to growth at Envision (so all good) – used to just be two of us taking turns on the work day soundtrack – throwing down new discoveries for each other, which was fun. These days there are too many choices, too many tastes when it comes to our office Sonos system. That being said I do try and slip new discoveries into our office playlist.

But we do run Spotify, and so the playlists that get a lot of spins are: Spotify’s Outliers, Release Radar and Discovery Weekly. Then we punch in various genre names into the “playlists” and roll with that. When tension bubbles up, deadlines and such… the office requests anything “chill”. Basically put “Chill” in front of any genre of music.. And it ends up being a mellow office friendly version of that music, then I sometimes head for the earbuds. So right now, in these winter months I do crave and search out music that has a little more crunch/edge to it outside of office hours. I do have to admit I had no idea Chillhop was a thing…

Outside of the Spotify world, I check the Pitchfork reviews each morning as well as what is on the NPR First Listen, and will every two weeks or so tune into All Songs Considered also on NPR, I check Canada’s national music mag Exclaim, as well as music in The New Yorker. I also have an old school subscription to the Sunday New York Times and a French paper in Montreal Le Devoir. So I scan their music sections each week for tips/surprises as well.

I do not do Facebook, but I do hear about a lot of new music from emails via various publicists and record labels and a little from Twitter.

We work with a number of interesting artists at Envision and so I also come to a lot of music through their suggestions and who they might be working with or touring with at any given moment.

When I go out to see shows – opening bands can still be a great surprise.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?
I listen to music at work, as well as at home. I like to dial in the RAWK station in my home town when driving solo that would be CHOM-FM (I heard some writer in New York asking if Rock radio is even still a thing.. Ahhhhh, yea dude, in Montreal it is). I like to tune in just to see how many tunes it takes them to get to a Led Zeppelin, or a Police, or Pink Floyd track. I make very few discoveries there but I do relive my 14 year old self. On longer trips in the car I will break out some new music. My family lives a 10 hour drive from me, so LOTS of driving time.. With a bluetooth speaker I mix it up between investigative and music podcasts like NYT’s Popcast and also play music on my iPhone and Spotify. The old car still has a CD player so I gather up my old music and toss a pile into the back seat, if I have company in the passenger seat they play DJ.

My dad just gave me an old CD player, Denon 5 CD player. So literally last night I put 5 CDs into the player at home and let it go – DJ Shuffle repeat – but I had no way to play a CD at home for about 6-9 months before that.

NO to cassettes, I got rid of my double cassette deck (for making dubs and mixtapes) about 8 years ago, but I still have some.. and yes to LPs. I have lots of LPs and still give them a spin and still buy them at shows, record shops.. In fact, I just replaced my needle/cartridge and a friend of mine just gave me a leather turntable matt (sorry PETA) not sure if it really works.. Am going to really test it with some new Jazz, Glenn Gould and yes my fresh new blue Sharon Van Etten album. I tend to by an LP by an artist I really like and want to support..often when I see them live.

A friend just gave me a classical album – Daniil Trifonov a crazy piano player, as well as a giant box set of John Coltrane LPs. So that may be my listening homework for the next few weeks.

A lot of what I listen to around the house can also end up being off Spotify. It is super easy…and I can call up whatever is on my brain or what I just read or heard about dip my toe in to see if its “just right”.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
Probably split between work and home.. And some in motion – walking with buds in my ears. Podcasts about music or music I have on my iPhone.. I do not have unlimited data so I will also download some albums on Spotify to listen to in transit
As mentioned I have Sonos at work.. at home too where the “stereo system – CD player and turntable, is nothing crazy or vintage (just old) or crazy high end (my friend’s turntable cartridge cost more than my whole set up), but solid and does the job and makes the piles of CDs and LPs seem relevant, helps rationalize the “collection” gets me out of my chair to flip an LP, look at the cover, liner notes.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Because of what I do for a living and some of my connections I do get advances from a few record companies – I download them to my computer and drag them into my iTunes. Also get advances through Byta. I tend to tune into various websites who do 1st listens, NPR, CBC Radio First Play, Pitchfork and the French side of CBC – in Montreal, NYT used to do some, Guardian, etc.

Of course I get tracks sent to me from the artists I work with – often private Soundcloud links, or via WeTransfer, DropBox, etc. I get sent rough demos and finished mixes, all pre-release material.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
I used to live and die with iTunes, but in the last couple of years it has become more of a pain in the ass. I stick with Spotify to quickly “listen” to anything anyone suggests to me – my fast fix.

Soundcloud links and streaming links in general actually have been frustrating because I will listen to the track and then a week later have no idea where the link is and have to go back to my email to dig around and try and remember where it came from and from who.

When I get sent tracks via WeTransfer I then need to download them to my computer, Dropbox, same thing.. and then I have to spend what seems like hours dropping in titles and names and such once I input the tracks into iTunes.

Trying to listen to anything on Youtube drives me nuts because it shuts down if you go someplace else on your iPhone. But that is a spot where I find things..

I notice more and more a lot of the artists of interest to me have stuff on BandCamp.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I will make playlists and am just starting to do a better job of putting a “star” on material in Spotify.
Obviously the LPs just keep taking up more and more room in my apartment, I need to do some spring cleaning in that dept for sure.. Just ask my partner…
I have a folder on my desktop at work and at home usually they contain different “albums” so I want to play something and it is literally left at work on my computer not synced on the mighty cloud so at home I can not listen to it if it is not out yet, on Spotify. I also, once a year or every 18 months.. Have to go through my laptop to “clean out” anything I do not need as my hard drive fills up with films and songs and pictures…

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Yes. Totally.

Every year I make a best of compilation – fave tracks from the year, I send that digital mixed tape- 15-20 tracks to about 50-60 people every Christmas Morning (North American time). That used to reflect music I had purchased over the last 12 months, but now it is just music I have heard that I liked, maybe bands I have been to live that past year and re-discoveries.

I also send notes to my friends, email a link, either a track, a video – YouTube, or an article about an artist, I let friends know a new album is out and they should check it out. I will even buy iTunes albums for friends to get them on-side (I have older friends)… Now also starting to send Spotify links to people if an album is out in the world.

Anything you want to “promote”?
Oh yea.. Lots of great things. New Tim Hecker Konoyo: kind of awesome, the Colin Stetson soundtrack to the horror film  Hereditary. Should definitely check out the “How To Be Alone” Tanya Davis video. Also new Richard Reed Parry video that goes with his new album Quiet River of Dust. Jerry Granelli’s album – Dance Hall some great versions of music he came up with, through his career. Great winter music: New Kid Koala album; Music to Draw to:io.

#HowWeListen – Oskar Ekman / YEAR0001

February 18, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in music about how they find and listen to music, new and old.
Oskar Ekman YEAR001

Who are you?
I’m a pretty regular guy.

Where are you based?
I’m based in Stockholm since 2001.

Where do you work? What do you do?
I work with a “hybrid music company” that we call YEAR0001. There I oversee most of the daily company structure and direction.

What are you listening to?
Right now I’m listening to other people beating up their Macbook keyboards. Ever noticed the new Macbooks are so fucking LOUD?
Other than that I’ve been listening to a lot of 90’s stuff and early 00’s hiphop lately. It’s nice to look back and revisit old records sometimes.

How do you find new music?
After the record store / fanzine years I used to scour blogs, feeds, Myspace and Soundcloud. Nowadays I mostly get music sent to me by friends and co-workers or I find stuff in a few select playlists that I follow: YEAR0001 – Sounds, Warp Selections, True Panther Banter and Pollen.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
Since streaming came (very early in Sweden obviously) I barely haven’t bought anything physical. Streaming is just too convenient. But I think it also has to do with the fact that I enjoy not having to much “stuff” around in life.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
That would be at work. I’m at my office between 9 to 12 hours a day right now and when I get home, usually the last thing I want to do is listen to music. I don’t even have a stereo system at home anymore. Kind of sad when I think about it.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
I listen to unreleased music daily because my office is also a music studio. I’m a very active A&R with my artists and usually a part of the process from start to finish.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Loading times. Data. No reception. Bluetooth. Constantly having a cellphone in your hand.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I don’t. But if I’m listening to Spotify I have like 3-4 playlists that I dump stuff into.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Lot’s of ways. I have email circles, message threads, playlists. My close friends and people I trust I can send unreleased music via Byta for quick feedback.

Anything you want to “promote”?
I can’t wait for the world to hear this new Thaiboy Digital album we’re putting out this year. The title is “Legendary Member” and in my opinion it sounds like absolutely nothing else ever made.

#HowWeListen – Dan Runcie / Trapital

February 11, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

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

Who are you?
Dan Runcie

Where are you based?
San Francisco, CA, United States

Where do you work? What do you do?
I’m the founder of Trapital, the hip-hop business newsletter. I break down the strategic moves that shape the culture. Last week I made the jump to work on Trapital full-time! There’s a ton more to focus on, and other stories that need to be assessed and told.

What are you listening to?
According to Spotify, I listened to Travis Scott more than anyone last year. Been liking J.I.D., his Dicaprio 2 album was dope. I’ve been getting back into R&B lately. Love H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar’s albums. And I still got Frank Ocean Blonde in regular rotation. Apparently Frank’s Endless is finally coming to all streaming platforms too. I’m sure that will be in the mix as well.

How do you find new music?
I find out about a lot of stuff from my friends through group text messages and GroupMe chats. They are always posting new songs that come out. My Twitter feed is pretty music-centric too. I find out a lot based on what folks are saying. But sometimes Twitter trends too mainstream. I’ll have to go check other sources. Spotify’s Most Necessary playlist is good for finding up-and-comers. SoundCloud has been a go-to source for years. And I still check RapCaviar to see how popular lesser-known artist’s songs are getting.

I still go to YouTube to check for music videos too. YouTube is still the best platform to get a read on engagement. I check the comments often to see how the world is reacting to certain songs. There’s a lot of noise to cut through in YouTube comments, but I still find value in reading them.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
I listen to everything digitally now. I couldn’t even tell you where my CD collection is right now. Maybe my parent’s house… I used to sell bootleg CDs back in the day. I still think I have a stack of 50 Cent Get Rich or Die Tryin’ CDs somewhere.

Would love to get some classics on vinyl though. Whenever I stop by a friend’s house and see a vinyl record player, I kind of want to get one myself.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
I listen to a lot when I’m running errands. Doing laundry, washing dishes, cleaning up our apartment. I also listen when walking around the neighborhood, walking to and from the train station, etc. I also listen during work if I’m doing more procedural tasks.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
I get more and more plugs for pre-release music through email. Because of Trapital, I now get invites and links to stuff from PR folks and publicists a few days before official drops. But most of the time, I’m fine waiting till it’s available on one of the streaming platforms I subscribe to.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
A lot of mixtapes and remixes of great songs aren’t available on certain streaming platforms. This is usually because the samples weren’t cleared. The catalogs on main streaming services are mostly limited to commercial releases. For example, No Ceilings is one of Lil’ Wayne’s most popular mixtapes, but it’s not on Spotify or Tidal. YouTube is a better place to find rare and random songs, but it can be limited there too. I never had these challenges in the Napster/LimeWire/KaZaa days. I could always find the specific remix I wanted to a song back then (even if DJ Clue was shouting all over the track).

A lot of those songs are now on my old hard drives, iPods, and old computers (it’s one of the reasons I still haven’t thrown them out!). Back in the day my friends and I would swap iPods and do dumps on each other’s computers.

Overall, I think digital music is in a much better spot today though. It’s easier to access music than it was before. And it’s easier for artists to reach their audience. It’s helped democratize hip-hop. There’s less friction than there’s ever been. You no longer need a connect to get your music in front of fans or to hear the latest music.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I really don’t. I have my go-to playlists depending on what I’m in the mood for. When I’m writing a story about a particular artist, I like to listen to their music while I write–even if it’s an artist I normally don’t vibe with.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
I go straight to the group chats and threads to let my friends know. They do the same for me.

For big releases, Twitter turns into an album listening party. Everyone usually starts playing the new album when it drops at 9:00pm PT on Thursdays. One of the many benefits of living in California is that I can listen to new albums before I go to bed.

It’s dope to react with other folks in real time to the same songs you’re listening too. It’s a decent replacement to being there in person. When Astroworld dropped last summer, it felt like hip-hop fans on Twitter all came together for an hour.

Of course, any album worth listening to should be judged after multiple listens to give a real assessment. But the initial reaction is still fun to engage in.

Anything you want to “promote”?
Yes! I think music lovers would love reading Trapital! A number of music execs, business leaders, and VCs enjoy reading because it provides a fresh perspective on the music industry. You can join them by signing up for Trapital here to get the stories in your inbox.

Go check out YBN Cordae! I like his song “Locationships.” Came out a couple weeks ago. I will still give a shoutout to Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap. I don’t think it needs my promotion since it got nominated for a Grammy, but I still think it got slept on.

#HowWeListen – Katie Garcia / Bayonet & Secretly Group

February 4, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in music about how they find and listen to music, new and old.
Katie Garcia Bayonet Secretly Group
Who are you?
Katie Garcia

Where are you based?
NO SLEEP TILL BROOKLYN

Where do you work? What do you do?
I’m the founder of Bayonet Records and Director of A&R at Secretly Group.

What are you listening to?
This very second I’m listening to Chelsea Wolfe. More generally speaking I’ve been listening to a lot of Turnstile, Pouya, Disq and Kacey Musgraves. Also been listening to “Doorman” by slowthai x Mura Masa on repeat.

How do you find new music?
It’s honestly such a combination. Getting suggestions from friends, getting to shows early to see the opening band. Seeing a friend post about a new band on instagram. Emails from managers too, but personally I prefer to see it live or have a friend who I trust recommend something to me.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
Streaming, vinyl, cassettes, CDs in that order. The reason being mobility! The way I consume music is directly related to where I am in the moment and where I’m going. Streaming is easy to listen to when you’re walking around the city. Usually when I have people over my house I’ll put vinyl on. When I’m in the shower I listen to cassettes. And lastly when I’m in a car I usually pop on a CD.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
This is a slightly boring answer, but I think I do most of my listening at my desk on my computer at work or walking around on my phone. I like being able to walk around and listen to music in my headphones by myself. The way I feel listening to music walking around is very different than when I’m listening in a car or at my house. Different settings, the time of day, the weather, your mental state all change the way you interpret music you hear.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
It depends! Sometimes I’ll just get mastered versions of an album we’re putting out. Obviously I get a LOT of those as a result of what I do for a living. However, outside of work stuff I usually get sent watermarked downloads or private streams.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
I think the benefit again is mobility and being able to listen to music on the go. As far as frustrations for me it would be not being able to listen to something on a streaming platform when I don’t have good service. I try to put the stuff I want to listen to later offline. Another frustration is the lack of transparency on the backend of payments.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I just have an ongoing massive playlist of things I’m listening to. And anything not on a playlist I just have download of on my phone or have saved on Youtube.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Usually if it’s something I like, but am not signing I’ll send to other friends who might dig it via text/email/insta. Or if it’s a project I’m working on I’ll just post about it on my stories.

Anything you want to “promote”?
Go to Bayonet Records shop and buy one of everything! Also pick up Better Oblivion Community Center, keep an eye out for Faye Webster this year.

#HowWeListen – Jon Bartlett / Kelp & Megaphono

January 28, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

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

Who are you?
Jon Bartlett

Where are you based?
Ottawa, Canada

Where do you work? What do you do?
Artist manager at Kelp Music (formerly Kelp Records) and director of the MEGAPHONO festival. I manage Andy Shauf (and his other project Foxwarren), Lido Pimienta, Kacy & Clayton and Trails.

We also run a showcase music festival called MEGAPHONO, this year’s edition runs February 7-9th, 2019. We’ll have about 50 international and regional music industry delegates in town to hang out and hear 80ish regional artists play shows all over Ottawa.

What are you listening to?
I just came across that Kadhja Bonet album Childqueen last week and it was a mind-blowing and truly wonderful surprise. Noname’s new record Room 25 is great. I have listened to the Zuider Zee reissue Zeenith more than my fair share over the past year. The Beatles White Album reissue lives up to the hype.

How do you find new music?
Sometimes I just let Spotify run after an album plays through and once in a blue moon, the algorithms work their magic and find some gems. I pay attention to what local stores like The Record Centre and Birdman Sound are carrying, watch friends’ feeds for recommendations, pay attention to show listings and emails from promoters of bands coming through Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto. I hear about new music from the artists we work with and their teams, and listen to good ole fashioned radio…campus-community stations like CHUO and CKCU and also CBC. I am a dinosaur type of person that still prefers to listen to albums front to back, so adjusting to the streaming universe has been difficult. I love the buffet but I miss the user interface and layout of Rdio.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
Streaming first because it’s in my car / office / phone but a lot of vinyl at home (somehow I won the battle and got to put the turntable in the dining room). CDs in the car sometimes, but rarely.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
Music is always on everywhere we go, at home and at work, unless we’re listening to the news. Life has a constant soundtrack, though some moments of silence are nice once in awhile.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
I’m emailed albums a lot, or bug the labels we work with to send streams of other albums they have coming up when something piques my interest. It’s always a privilege to get to listen to things long before they’re released, definitely my favourite part of working with our artists…hearing songs come together from the demo stage to the final version on the album. That’s the magic for me.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
I really hate the way the algorithms take over…my son loves to DJ in the car, so Spotify thinks I’m a massive Imagine Dragons fan, and a good chunk of my “new releases” are garbage. The fact that singles aren’t identified as such drives me bananas…I’ll spend five minutes trying to find an album to play, only to have to do it again when the song’s done. Like I said, I miss Rdio….it had a nice mix of algorithms and friend interaction, and more often than not, music I cared about seemed to bubble up to the front page. I can’t believe one of the DSP’s hasn’t come up with something better over the past three years since Rdio’s death. That said, keeping tabs on what’s coming out, getting to sample a panoply of new releases in one click…it’s pretty nice.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
Save the album to my Apple Music or Spotify profile; add it to my Discogs wish list or just buy it on LP in a store.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
I try to. The “college radio music snob” part of me still likes to start sentences with “Have you heard this band yet?” There are small groups of email chains with certain friends to keep tabs on what each other is listening to. But a lot of word of mouth, I’d say…

Anything you want to “promote”?
I guess the latest management project is the Foxwarren (ANTI- / Arts & Crafts) Self-Titled LP, so go give that a spin.

#HowWeListen – Joe Thompson / Hey Colossus

January 21, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

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

Who are you?
I’m Joe.

Where are you based?
Street, Somerset, South West England. North of Cornwall and Devon, beneath Bristol, a mile from Glastonbury. It’s a village. It’s where Clarks shoes come from. Yes, the village is called Street. I assume once upon a time it was, indeed, just a street. Now it’s way more, it has a Subway.

Where do you work? What do you do?
Shepton Mallet, I’m a postman. I also play music in a too many guitars band. We’re based in London and Somerset and Bristol and Nottingham and Watford. We’ve been going since 2003. We’ve released a lot of records and played a fair amount of shows. I’ve been a postman for ten years, I recently received a little badge to celebrate this fact. I’m tired.

What are you listening to?
I cannot stop listening to Anderson Paak, Malibu and Venice are works of art. Just waiting for the new one to get released properly. Workin’ Man Noise Unit’s new record on Riot Season. One of the best UK bands. A band is only as good as it’s drummer and WMNU’s drummer swings.

Finally got the ‘last ever live show’, Mission of Dead Souls by Throbbing Gristle, just re-released by Mute. I picked it up from Raves from the Grave, Frome, Somerset. People say Frome is one of the most happening places to live. These people have never been to Frome. It’s ‘fine’, I give it 4/10.

The Wiki record on XL last year was a total monster. It was slept on by most people as it didn’t have any traditionally big tunes, but if you like rap music you should like the Wiki record. I went to see him on a boat in Bristol with my youngest son. 200 people. In your face. What made it become such a regular listen was having the CD with the vinyl, it was played in the car and house for a full year. Top tip there. A download code is no good, you can make CD’s for pennies. Do that and insert it in the vinyl sleeve, don’t be afraid to give people what they actually want, it won’t hurt.

The Rixe record on La Vida Es Un Mus. Who would have thought I’d be buying Oi records in 2018. This thing kills. The French do Oi like the Australians are destroying garage/scuzzy punx, Total Control are never far from the stereo, Amyl and the Sniffers, and The Chats 10” ain’t far either.

I’m convinced Aesop Rock’s Impossible Kid 2xLP should be taught to kids at school. Everything from the production to the rapping to the album’s packaging. The new Warthog 7” on Static Shock is pure destruction, cannot wait for them to come over in a few months. Same with the two Uranium Club records on the same label.

There’s shit loads of music, new and old. The new Low record has surprised the hell out of me, I thought I was done with miserable music. I still can’t listen to Nick Cave though.

The Arthur Verocai record from 1000 years ago that Mr Bongo reissued a couple of years ago, this is one beautiful record. The Tin Man 4xLP that came out recently, acid acid acid acid acid. Who doesn’t like acid? From the same world: the Bass Clef 2×12” on Alter. So good. I dreamt I was delivering acid to children at a campsite last night, baffling as I wasn’t getting paid overtime for it. Get the Union on the phone.

How do you find new music?
Word of mouth, youtube people with their channels, reviews – Maximum RnR (Just shut down yesterday. Shame) / The Wire / Quietus), talking with people in record shops, buying from gigs. There are a few labels who I trust so will always check out their business.

I do enjoy the ‘What’s in my Bag’ type shows on YT, be it Amoeba or any of the others. I hoovered up the Crate Digger series, made me buy a lot of records I never would have thought of. I have friends with decent tastes in various genres so I pay attention to what they’re talking about. I live in the middle of nowhere now so I’m quite reliant on social media for top tips. I also get shop mailouts that can be worth a browse.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
Vinyl at home, CD in the car. Streaming is the worst thing. It’s changing things in a way that people are sleepwalking into. It benefits no one. The listener is getting an instant gratification with absolutely no long term reward. The music maker isn’t being rewarded. The people releasing the music aren’t being rewarded. The listener is creating no memories for themselves. There’s a panic to make the first 30 seconds of a song be incredible, there’s no patience anymore.

It blows my mind that people don’t pay for music, paying a few money units a month to get unlimited music through to your ears is not in any way covering the costs of making the music. What are these people gonna look back on? What story is your empty shelf going to tell you? I’m way too many years old now and out of touch. But of a night, when I’ve eaten too much lasagne and fancy having a flashback night, I can pick a record out and relive a moment. Get the Motley Crue out and go back to being 12 years old. It’s the shelf of memories. The bent sleeve. The wine spill on the Lincoln/Hoover split 7” from when David Seaman saved that penalty back in 1998 and I lost my mind, arms in the air, smashing over my glass of red.

I guess people can do what they want but I’m not gonna be sitting back in my grandad nappy at 80 years old, piss trickling down my inner thigh, trying to remember what I streamed in 2018 in an effort to get a memory related contact high. Shelf of memories please. Minimalist living is a depressing fad. Let my great grandkids deal with chucking it away when I’m gone, it’s part of the deal. The vinyl binning circle of life.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
Home in the living room, in the car on the way to work.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
I guess I don’t apart from when websites preview a new song from some forthcoming release.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Apart from Youtube I don’t. I’ve never downloaded anything apart from rough mixes of the music I’m involved with, which either comes via WeTransfer or Google Drive. It sounds fine, for what it is. I still run a Nokia phone. I don’t wear headphones when out walking, the world makes better sounds than any album. I’ve never looked at Spotify, my 70 year old dad does. My sons listen on Youtube and Amazon. I can’t handle it. It depresses me too much. The house being silent while all the people in it sit with their headphones on is the grimmest noise.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I have a box of around 100 records by the record player that I consider my top 100 (or so) records of the moment. I run a strict rotation system.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
No one at work gives two fucks what I listen too. I judge them though, harshly. They all take the piss out of me for not having a computer phone as they play the morning music through bluetooth speakers. 80’s pop, 70’s rock, indie classics. It’s as bad as the radio in the same playlist filler fashion. I don’t allow The Who though, you have to have rules. It’s surprising how often The Who are almost played. It’s kinda like someone’s paying vast sums of cash to get them onto internet playlists.

Anything you want to “promote”?
I want people to get back into directly supporting artists and labels and shops. We’re gonna miss them when they’re gone.

#HowWeListen – Spiral Stairs

January 14, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

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

Who are you?
Scott Kannberg aka Spiral Stairs. Founding member/guitarist/occasional singer from 90’s heartthrobs Pavement. From 1989 to 1999, Pavement released 6 critically acclaimed full length LP’s and relentlessly toured the world. In 2010, they reunited for another successful worldwide tour and the 30th anniversary is coming in 2020, so fingers crossed. If that wasn’t enough, I also have 5 solo records, 2 as Preston School of Industry, and 2 as Spiral Stairs (3rd Spiral coming in 2019).

Where are you based?
Currently living in Merida, Mexico. It’s in the Yucatan. Moved here a few years ago from Los Angeles with my family. We had been in LA for 3 years, but felt we needed a life change. Hopefully, moving back to the states next summer. And then back to Australia at some point.

Where do you work? What do you do?
I still make a living through music. I’ve been managing the Pavement catalog for years as well as my own music. It’s a hustle. In Merida, my wife and have been also flipping old colonial houses. It’s so cheap down here. But it takes forever to get something finished. Red tape.

What are you listening to?
The Kelley Stoltz Que Aura record. Straat LP. Jim Ford. Beefharts Sun Zoom Spark box set. Bryan Ferry’s Horoscope demos. These turned out to be on the Manouma record from 93 or so. Roxy Music live at the Wembley Pool circa 75. Great bootleg with most of the Siren Songs played live. I am also obsessed with the first two Nick Lowe records. I’ve been getting into his older stuff as well. Trying to track down the G W McLennan solo records. Only heard a handful of tracks from those records, they are so good. At the moment, it’s been hard since all my records are in storage back in California.

How do you find new music?
Online mostly. I belong to a bunch of fan sites on Facebook that take me in weird directions. But I like old music mostly. I’ve been reading a lot of music books. The John Peel one was great. Also the Jon Savage 1966 book was killer. And the Van Morrison and Roxy Music bios. And Simon Reynolds Glam book. And Dylan’s Chronicles took me in so many directions.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
If i had access to my records, I’d listen to records. And my cds. Unfortunately, i only listen to stuff on my computer here. Or my phone from stuff i’ve downloaded from iTunes. I surf the YouTube a lot. I don’t have Spotify. I don’t really agree with it. I think it’s killing music. It’s definitely killed making money in music. The only people making money now are techies (and the advertisers). And all they listen to is fucking doof doof. So there you go, robots who design robots listening to robots. The future is bright. But i do understand that it’s the way most people listen to music. On their location device.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
At home, or when i’m out exercising. If i do listen to the few vinyl records i have here, i do it on a portable record player i got in Japan in the 90’s. Still sounds great.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Occasionally, i’ll get sent a pre release. Last one was the Mark Eitzel record, not to be confused with Mark Kozelek.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Ads. Of course it’s easy. Too easy. Finding out about bands was always fun. There used to be a mystery to it. Now, you can find out everything, see what they look like, see if they’ve been accused of sexual assault, see what their political leanings are. All on the internet.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
ITunes playlists. Or surfing through the YouTube.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
My Twitter feed, or Facebook feed. I’m not really one of those kind of people who instagram what record i’m listening to, but i am in the early process of doing a podcast where i alphabetize my record collection. Lots of stories there.

Anything you want to “promote”?
New Spiral Stairs “We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized” out in March. All PSOI and Spiral records have now been re-released digitally as deluxe editions with b-sides and extra tracks included.

#HowWeListen – Jen Pomphrey

January 7, 2019 Byta #HowWeListen

How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in music about how they find and listen to music, new and old.
Jen Pomphrey CoFounder Byta
Who are you?
Jen Pomphrey

Where are you based?
Melbourne, Australia

Where do you work? What do you do?
Co-founder of Byta, I work on all aspects of design and front-end development

What are you listening to?
My album of the year has to be Lost Friends by Middle Kids. I can’t stop listening to it. The songwriting is great and I have luckily been able to see a number of their gigs lately and they are such a tight band. I am also totally on the bandwagon of loving the BoyGenius EP. So good.

How do you find new music?
I used to find a lot from blogs but now seems to be more via social media from the likes of Tone Deaf, Consequence of Sound and Pilerats. I still check in on Pitchfork for some good writing. Likewise I also really enjoy Spotify curated playlists. The Discover Weekly playlist tends to through up some real treats and I frequently check in on my new releases playlist that is curated from other bands I listen to.
Away from the digital realms, I find a lot of new music from going to gigs, music showcase (Melbourne Music Week was great for this) and also festivals. I had only causally listened to Big Scary before I went to Laneway Festival in 2016 but since then they are a solid favourite.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
I listen to Spotify pretty much every day, mostly due to the nature of my work making me desk bound. I have CDs for my car that are mostly gifted to me by friends who no longer have CD players but think I would like their collections (pretty much all of them are right, though I have some duds) then at home I listen to LPs, since getting my own house it has been fun to go crate digging and find what treats I can get for $5. My collection is slowly growing!

Where do you do most of your music listening?
Mostly during the day at work, where I listen on headphones from my computer. Otherwise, I listen in the car, from CDs, the radio or hooking up my iPhone.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Pre-release on blogs or first listens on the radio mainly, Triple J do a lot of first listens, so I will hear a lot of them when I am in the car.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
I get frustrated with ads which definitely led to me paying for Spotify because I use it so frequently. Similarly, I find it frustrating when I listen to a track forget to bookmark it and then can’t find it again.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I create a lot of my own playlists on Spotify, favourite things on Soundcloud and try to bookmark articles about new music that I like.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
A lot of friends ask me to make them playlists. So I set up public playlists on Spotify a lot for those situations. Otherwise, I send over links to blogs etc. Then more frequently I just drag them along to gigs with me.

Anything you want to “promote”?
I am also super excited for Angie McMahon to release more material. She has a small handful of tracks about now so go have a listen if you can. Likewise, Jack River is amazing and I think she is going to go somewhere. Give her album Sugar Mountain a listen.

#HowWeListen – Jason Reynolds

December 17, 2018 Byta #HowWeListen

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

Stax Museum

 

Who are you?
Jason Reynolds

Where are you based?
Atwater Village, Los Angeles, California

Where do you work? What do you do?
Most recently Warner Music Catalogue, handling global marketing & product development.

What are you listening to?
Lots of vinyl left over from my time in the office, now that I have time to listen! Old Stax Records releases, Blue Note jazz… Plus Jawbreaker vinyl, after seeing them play live recently; The latest from Spiritualized ‘And Nothing Hurts’ is still on high rotation; Primal Scream ‘The Memphis Recordings’ album (2-CD edition with the bonus tracks); Burned CDs of an audience recording of the recent LA Spiritualized live show; pre-release digital of the 2019 Mercury Rev ‘The Delta Sweete’ Bobby Gentry covers album; Terry Callier 2-LP ‘The New Folk Sound’ reissue; Craft Recordings ‘Stax ‘68: A Memphis Story’ CD box; Plus old cratedigging finds by everyone from P.i.L. to Etta James to Billy Holiday to Otis Redding to the Tindersticks.

How do you find new music?
New artists – it used to be primarily from friends talking about new records on Facebook. Though that seems to have died off for the most part now – that was how I discovered Phoebe Bridgers in the last year. A lot of people I trust were talking about Idles, so I tracked them down. Every now & again I will go to Pitchfork to see if a record is worth me investigating, once I have found out about it. I am on the digital servicing list for 1 indie label group, & find out about some newer releases there. Then I am also signed up to email lists for a few other indies (Sub Pop, Merge), so keep on top of at least what is released. Ditto following Domino on Twitter. That involves finding out when a new album is out by an older act (for example, the new Catpower album, on Domino). I do have a few club bookers, & music biz people that may recommend new artists, plus I always find tips from the folk at the Rough Trade Shop in London are good ones. Plus this time of year I go through a lot of the year-end lists to see if there is anything essential or that sounds great!

I also listen to the radio in the car – KCRW in LA and stumble on things there. That is where I am using Shazam most frequently – to find out what is playing on air. More often than not though, the Shazam “what is this? I don’t think this is something I’ll be thinking about buying!” To each his own, as they say! Sometimes listen to the Seattle radio station KEXP online, which I feel I should do more.

I confess though, I am not as interested in that much ‘new’ music now. A lot of what I listen to is just new records by older acts I cut my teeth on (for example the Primal Scream ‘Memphis Recordings’ album). With current music, I am not sure I am interested in hearing just 1 song by a new artist – I still listen to albums for the most part – and find a lot of new acts just not sustainable over a full length, or that interesting (see Shazam comment)!!

Older releases – discovery is via lots of bios & music books, that lead me to tracking down records. James Carr (the greatest soul singer ever!) was a notable discovery that way. I have a stupid list in my head of artists & albums that I need. Sometimes I am in a store, digging through the soul section, & find something that looks interesting, & may look it up on Allmusic for some background, to see if it’s worth buying. I have discovered some great albums that way – like Millie Jackson, & Spencer Wiggins. Also general recommendations from friends. I collect a few label’s catalogs (Stax, Blue Note), & have paper lists printed out, marked up to ID the titles I still need (I’ve bought multiple copies of LPs more than once, thinking I didn’t have them). So I am discovering new (old) music by just buying & listening, based on the weight of the catalog & rep of the label. I’ll always point to the fabulous Candi Staton FAME recordings as something that I tracked down because of the label, & those albums are some of my favorites now.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Service and why?
Vinyl is probably the primary medium, in my living room at home. I used to have a turntable in my office too, which was where I’d listen to most music. Being in LA I spend a bit of time on the road, & have a 15 year old Volvo station wagon, which has both a CD player & a cassette deck! So, lots of CDs in the car. I recently cleaned out the majority of my CDs, & was left pretty much with my favorite records, & a ton of greatest hits & boxed sets. Though I was surprised – and kept CDs – of some things that are just not on streaming services in this country (for example, much of the Super Furry Animals catalogue). Online – if it is just 1 song I want to hear or revisit, I will normally Google it & listen on youTube. Full albums I will stream on Spotify. I don’t subscribe to any digital services, & don’t really follow many playlists. I do love streaming though – the fact that a world of music is right at your fingertips & instantaneous is fabulous.

Where do you do most of your music listening?
Right now, at home on the stereo & in the car. From my laptop for digital – sometimes with an external bluetooth speaker. I have an old vintage turntable & receiver in my living room for vinyl. I actually wish I could hook up a CD player, though I’d like it to be a vertical one (which I don’t think exists) so I could just hide it away on the bookshelf underneath. I don’t have a Sonos-style digital set up. I also go on a decent number of roadtrips out of LA, so there are a lot of hours to listen to music. Since my car has just a single CD player (not a multi-disc magazine), it does mean I am more inclined to listen to an album multiple times, as the disc just re-starts, & gives more opportunity to have a deeper dive, instead of possibly dismissing it quickly as it didn’t grab me on first listen. I am very definite in my music listening – usually consciously going to listen to something, with a purpose, rather than having it as background.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Mainly digital files I get via email (& DL from Dropbox or similar), from friends. More often than not – if it’s something I really want to hear – I download it into iTunes & burn a CD to listen to in the car. I always have so much music to listen to, I rarely listen to things pre-release unless it’s something I am eagerly anticipating. First listens on radio/NPR if I am really keen. The aforementioned indie label group – I get serviced all their records, but maybe only DL & listen to 10-20% of them. Though honestly now, again I have so much music to listen to, unless it’s top shelf or my favorite artists, I often don’t get around to listening to a lot of new records until *after* release date.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
Well, my iTunes library is a mess. Lack of space on my laptop means much of it is spread over various external hard drives, which are not plugged in constantly. I’d appreciate an easier way to consolidate/find all those songs & files if I do choose to listen to something from back catalog. Promo music services are a bit clunky. But again, it’s DL -> burn CD a lot of the time. I rarely listen in the PlayMPE or Promojukebox players themselves. I do get huge numbers of emails with music in them, & barely click/listen to any.

Other streaming – I do like the convenience in general. I always thought streaming was perfect for ‘less engaged’ listening. I don’t really need to play a lot of back catalogue – I have already shed a lot of those records/CDs from my collection – but if I suddenly feel a need to listen to, say, Depeche Mode – it’s there! I don’t need to go out & buy a release like that. The ads on Spotify I tolerate, though they haven’t hit me hard enough that I am compelled to subscribe to the service yet. There are holes in what is up on Spotify for sure, especially for UK releases in the US, which can be a bummer, especially when you are thinking of listening to something on a whim. I never usually listen to Soundcloud for listening, only for promo purposes (which is just a track or two).

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I don’t! It’s usually just what’s in the stack. My vinyl is all carefully categorized (by genre & labels in some case) & alphabetized though.

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
Not as much. When I was in the developing/new artist world, I used to do it a lot. Often at the time it was just uploading digital files to Dropbox & sending on the link. Nowadays I sometimes talk about things on Facebook, or mention in conversation. In the end it tends to be a very ‘analog’ process (I don’t make playlists of things to share on Spotify/etc).

Anything you want to “promote”?
I do have a few solid recent favorites – Courtney Marie Andrews I found out about 5 or 6 years ago, very early on, via Damien Jurado. All her recent albums are great, & it is super seeing the job Loose has done & the recognition she is getting, especially in the UK. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on Sub Pop from Australia are neat – seen them a couple of times live now & enjoyed it immensely (need to listen to the vinyl in my pile!). A reminder of a lot of the bands I grew up with living there, such as The Go-Betweens et al. I worked on some fun releases in my time at Warners – The Replacements ‘Maxwell’s Live’ album is one that stands out – I felt that it all came together so well – the recording, the packaging, the show. People responded with glowing reviews (and then there were those cardboard stand ups too!) The Flaming Lips vinyl reissues turned out nicely, & getting ‘The Mushroom Tapes’ out on LP for RSD was cool. Another band that has been a constant in my work life for 20+ years – Luna – we recently put together a new 2-LP compilation of an expansive set of their cover versions, called ‘Lunafied’ which is fabulous. And it goes without saying that the Spiritualized album was my favorite of 2018. I also highly recommend the biography by Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records, called ‘Siren Song’ – a stellar read & a fun reminder of how great it is to be lucky enough to work in the music business.