Joao Afonso

Joao Afonso

Gig Club

I’m the founder of Gig Club, an annual subscription service for live music.

Where are you based?

Porto, Portugal

Where do you work? What do you do?

I’m the founder of Gig Club, an annual subscription service for live music. We kicked-off in Porto and Lisbon early this year and we’re soon launching in other European cities like Madrid, Barcelona, London and Berlin.

What are you listening to?

While I write this, I’m listening to Big Thief’s new album “U.F.O.F” – the first on 4AD – for the first time. Sounding really good, as expected. Love everything Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek get their hands on. This week I’ve been listening a lot to this Brazilian band called O Terno. The new album is really beautiful. The frontman, Tim Bernardes, is probably the most talented singer songwriter of his generation in Brazil. I’m also hooked to FKA Twigs new single “Cellophane”, Kelsey Lu’s new album “Blood” and the new The National – Gig Club is doing screening and album advance listening events for the release of this album, so I was able to listen to the record a little bit earlier.

I’m hooked on something different every week but, as anyone else, I have safe places I often go to. Sufjan Stevens, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Wilco, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, just to name a few.

How do you find new music?

It’s a mix of sources, I guess. I get emails from labels with upcoming releases; I have this rss feed with several blogs and online magazines, which I check every day; Youtube is also a source sometimes. I’ve also a more proactive way of finding music. When I’m hooked on a song or album, I tend to check who played in it, who produced it, etc. This usually leads me to finding new music.

And there’s also live, of course. I frequently go out to watch shows of bands I’ve never heard before – obviously, I only do this when I know who’s curating the show. Actually, this is something we’re trying to replicate at a bigger scale with Gig Club. If the community trusts our curation, we can take more risks in bringing lesser known bands because the audience will come anyway.

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

I listen to Spotify most of the time with an occasional jump to YouTube for some tracks that are still missing on the catalogue or for live renditions. During the weekend, I usually listen to vinyl. I still buy vinyl regularly and own a fairly big collection of CDs as well, though I don’t listen to these that much.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

I basically listen to music all day. While I walk to work; while I’m working; at home. I’m so used to listen to music all the time that I get stressed if I have a day with too many meetings. In fact – and this might be too geeky – I have speakers on my bedside tables. I listen to music since I wake up till I go to bed.

How do find and listen to pre-release music?

Because of my work, I have people sending me pre-release music almost every day. Labels, booking agents and artists themselves. Some through services like Byta; others through secret or unlisted links on Soundcloud and Youtube; others even through Dropbox or Box.

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

My biggest frustration is the lack of detailed information, which for me is one of the best ways of finding new music. It would be awesome if we could check who composed the song, who played in it, etc. and then click on those names and jump to their other work.

If think the biggest benefit is how fast you can go from thinking of a song to actually listen to it.

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

I used to use Lastfm’s scrobbler a few years back but eventually stopped when I moved to Spotify. Now I save albums on Spotify and I build playlists. I started doing a Song a Day playlist on Spotify in 2017, which proved to be quite useful for this. I can look back to a whole year of songs, one each day. It’s almost a diary because, not only do I remember the song I was listening at the time but also what I was feeling or experiencing. Music is a powerful way to index memories.

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

Yes, and I do it through different channels. I share 1 to 3 songs a day on Facebook, curate several playlists on Spotify and I send direct recommendations through WhatsApp to a handful of people. There’s also this thing I do with messaging and music. Sometimes, instead of sending text or an emoji, I reply with a song and it’s funny how that triggers a similar response from the other person. I’ve had conversations almost purely based on music. A song carries a lot of information and emotion, it’s a really powerful message. Sometimes I wonder if a music messaging app would work.

Anything you want to “promote”?

I have to mention Surma and First Breath After Coma, which are two of the best Portuguese acts right now and seam well prepared to break internationally. Shouldn’t be long before they sign for a big indie label. We were very close to get that with their latest records.

There’s also this young talented polish pianist, Hania Rani. Her debut album, Esja, came out weeks ago and it’s really good. Would love to work with her.

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