Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

Tools for Musicians Spotlight: Cartfly

Hey musicians, have something to sell? You know, like… an album? Enter Cartfly. Cartfly lets you set up a store widget to sell your product (jewelery, music, art etc). It is painfully simple, almost free, and you can post it in all those special places.

Capitalizing on the ubiquity of social networks, Cartfly is enabling retailers “… to establish a point of presence right inside profile pages and other sites” according to cofounder Joshua Manley. Even if you’ve got your songs on iTunes, CD Baby and wherever else, one more potential revenue stream can’t hurt, right? Slap it on your Facebook and show the world your goods! Oh, and the widget uses Flex, which gets the RIA (Rich Internet Applications) junkies all excited. Want to know more? Follow them on Twitter.

Review: Thievery Corporation’s Radio Retaliation

Metromix Louiseville hit the nail on the head when they described Thievery Corporation‘s new album, Radio Retaliation, as “a quietly funky soundtrack for the MoveOn.org generation”.

The album, which was released early on iLike and Facebook, is fairly true to the classic Thievery sound – loungey, organic, multicultural. This time around, however, they deliver a decidedly more overt political message. Properly Chilled posits that they deliver their message “through a swirling, smoky kaleidoscope that will leave most people who listen to it largely unaware of, yet affected (if only subconsciously) by its social and political text”. I couldn’t agree more. After a few listens, here is my breakdown of the album.

First up is Sound the Alarm (feat. Sleepy Wonder) which kicks off with a hair-raising siren. A solid reggae beat, guitar riff and bass line set the stage for the minimalistic but passionate lyrics. Not a whole lot happens in this song, but all throughout it’s an enjoyable dub track.

Mandala features Anoushka Shankar, daughter of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar. If you are a sucker for sitar, you will like this track. A playful twangy melody glides over the layers of deep driving bass, heavy brass and percussion. Some clubby turntable scratching and electronic beats punctuate the song, giving it a timeless feel.

Radio Retaliation again features Sleepy Wonder. As the title track of the album, this is a good example of classic Thievery reggae. Background instrumentals don’t vary much, so your attention is drawn to the lyrics, which have plenty to say.

Vampires has a funky upbeat feel. As musicOMH points out, “the swaying horns and polyrhythmic drums of Vampires do a commendable job of disguising the song’s clunky political metaphors“. The song very appropriately features Femi Kuti, eldest son of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian “pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick.” (And yes, if you are still playing the Sarah Palin drinking game, you can count that use of “maverick” and have a drink.)

In Hare Krsna, the recognizable voice of Seu Jorge, Brazilian pop samba icon (possibly better known to his American fans as the David-Bowie-covers-in-Portuguese soundtrack guy for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) adds a scratchy rawness to what would otherwise be a little too smooth of a trip hop track. The title might lead you to expect an overtly Indian sound but instead you get classic Thievery muted basslines, looped guitars, brass sections… Only after listening closely do you catch what sounds like a dhol in the background. That, and of course, Seu is singing “Hare Krsna” over and over…

El Pueblo Unido, featuring Verny Varela, is probably one of the best songs on the album. The juxtaposition of jazzy Latin sounds and loungey dub gives it sort of a Buena Vista Social Club meets Morcheeba vibe.

(The Forgotten People) starts off with a sad clarinet intro and quickly picks up the pace with forceful sitar, dhol, and some electronic beats. The bass line gives this track a much darker sound than the rest of the album. A perfect song to listen to when you’re feeling a little dark yourself. Intense, worldly, and pleasing to the ear.

33 Degree features the soft haunting vocals of Zee over mellow trip hop style instrumentals. Part space age synth, part loungey beats, this track utilizes minimal percussion and a smooth blend of sounds to send you on a quiet thoughtful journey.

For Beautiful Drug, think AIR. Heavily reminiscent of the Virgin Suicides soundtrack, this one. The smoky vocals of Jana Andevska, who sounds a bit like Cat Power, gives the track a lazy, melancholy texture. You can almost picture an emaciated bored French socialite lounging in an opium den somewhere unimpressed by her glamorous yet soulless life and yearning for a different reality or perhaps a lost love…

La Femme Parallel is super mellow. LouLou‘s gentle vocals calmly drive this ambient track forward. Suitable background music for a loungey nightclub in any cosmopolitan city. You can imagine hearing this song playing softly while well dressed city types sip their martinis and steal sultry glances at strangers in the dim smoky room.

Retaliation Suite launches into a brassy funky groove with lots of triangle, some smooth sax, and provocative vocal samples. The political rhetoric contrasts nicely with the relaxed head-nodding qualities of the instrumentals. A great listen whether you play it in the background or listen to the words.

The Numbers Game is more of a departure from Thievery’s typical chill sound. Funky percussion, lots of soul and brass accompany the “Godfather of Go Go”, Chuck Brown, as he sings about the “same old game” and tells you to “shake out your mind”. Definitely a toe-tapping number.

The Shining Path is bass-heavy throughout and laced with haunting synths patterns. In the second half of the song, a tabla beat drops giving the song a more organic element, sort of a drum-circle vibe.

Blasting Through the City features Notch, whose earnest lyrics implore you to: “feel the struggle, but don’t give up the fight”. This reggae-infused downtempo track simultaneously makes you want to kick back on an island somewhere and join the a revolution.

Sweet Tides (feat. LouLou) A downtempo groove with a positive and uplifting feel to it. When LouLou sings in English, somehow she loses a bit of her charm, but the vocals are still very pretty. Seemingly uniform at first, a more triumphant hi-hat beat drops about halfway in to pick up the energy. The muted trumpets that fade out at the end of the song give it a nice polish.

In conclusion, we have another great accomplishment by the DJ duo. Some may say they went a little overboard with the number of guest artists, but it certainly adds diversity to the overall sound. The album is unique in that it preserves enough of the elements of Thievery Corporation’s core sound and feel and yet adds some new dynamics including the ramped up political undertones. I say two thumbs up and go buy/download/steal/burn (or do whatever it is you do to get new music) Radio Retaliation. If nothing else, spread the word. It’s worth hearing.

Thievery Corporation’s New Album: Early Release on Facebook, iLike

Given the current chaos in the music industry, bands must find new ways to promote their music. From musicians using Twitter to connect with fans or partnering with brands to cross promote, we are seeing more and more examples of non-traditional music promotion and distribution. The artists who are willing to take risks and think outside the box, with their art and with their careers, are the ones we here at Evolving Music are most interested in.

One such band is Thievery Corporation. In addition to being a refreshingly unique group that fuses together a plethora of genres and cultural sounds, they are not afraid to speak their minds. Sure, everyone likes a good mindless “bump ‘n’ grind” tune from time to time, but you gotta respect the artists who choose to use their music not just as entertainment, but as a way to communicate what they believe and are passionate about (as we’ve covered in previous posts about artists such as Immortal Technique and Bataka Squad.)

The DJ duo, comprised of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, hails from Washington DC, which “has long been the home of a music subculture legendary for fierce independence, a staunch do-it-yourself work ethic, and conscientious social activism.” They definitely practice what they preach. The organic multi-cultural sounds of dub, reggae, lounge, afrobeat and Indian music, to name a few, may catch your attention at first if you hear Thievery’s music at a neighborhood cafe or in a European nightclub. But, their uninhibited socio-political messages and passionate desire to open hearts and minds will keep you riveted.

Additionally, their diverse team of collaborators – singing in numerous languages, playing funky instruments, and each adding their own cultural thread to the musical quilt – give the band a truly unique sound. Not to mention their live shows, which can be pretty freakin amazing.

Photo by openeye

Their upcoming album, Radio Retaliation, purportedly takes their politicizing to a new level. According to Rob, “There’s no excuse for not speaking out at this point, with the suspension of habeas corpus, outsourced torture, illegal wars of aggression, fuel, food, and economic crises. It’s hard to close your eyes and sleep while the world is burning around you. If you are an artist, this is the most essential time to speak up.”

If you are on Facebook or iLike you’ll be able to stream Thievery Corporation’s new album on September 19th, before its official release on September 23rd. This is the first time the two social networking giants have ever worked together to promote an album.

Given that this album is particularly focused on the band’s disgust with the current state of American media, their decision to skip the middle man and go straight to their fans via the internet is appropriate, both for them personally and for the industry as a whole. According to Hilton, “We chose iLike as the platform to debut this record because it offers us a direct vehicle to share our music and communicate with fans worldwide, free from editorializing or whitewashing of our messages.”

For the fans among you, or those interested in gaining further insight into the artists and their message, keep your eyes out for a series of videos in which they introduce and discuss the album, which will be available exclusively on iLike. In the meantime, check out the title track on their MySpace.

To quote Rob Garza once more, “… if you can get people to question the things around them, just a little, then that’s not such a bad thing.”

On that note, here’s the title track from their 2002 “Richest Man in Babylon” album:

Why Musicians Should Jump on the Twitter Bandwagon

Twitter is not just for tech geek bloggers anymore. (Yes, that was a Scobleizer shout out.) Oh no, my friends. Twitter is for everyone. Especially DIY musicians.

Before you read the rest of this post, open another tab and listen to “You’re no one if you’re not on Twitter” in the background. It’s in the little music player at the top of this page. Just a little soundtrack for ya.

And, while you’re distracted, go ahead and follow evolvingmusic on Twitter.

Now, not everyone agrees with the merits of twittering as a part of an overall marketing strategy for musicians. I, however, would not only include Twitter in my strategy, I would make it one of the main features.

I know, Twitter can be mildly reminiscent of a 90s chat room sometimes. (I never really understood the appeal there). But instead of creepy old men posing as teenage girls and lonely housewives looking for excitement, it’s an entirely different crowd. Twitter is full of intelligent, resourceful, witty people who are passionate about new technology, endlessly curious about a wide range of topics, and more than happy to share helpful information. Twitter has become a great resource for all kinds of things, and perhaps surprisingly, for as-it-happens news as well.

But it seems to me that not very many musicians are taking advantage of this brilliantly simple tool. Yet.

As most of us know by now, the music industry has dug itself into a deeper hole than it can get itself out of for the time being and musicians are pretty much on their own when it comes to creating their own success. Obviously, you need a MySpace Music page. (I hate MySpace. I really do. But it IS necessary for musicians.) Obviously, you need a website, where you post your photos, tour dates, bio, etc. The next steps are also important: your blog (let your fans get to know you), your Facebook page, a Last.fm account, a YouTube channel for your music videos. These are all part of a multi-pronged approach to creating your musical identity online. Let your fans find you in the places where they are already spending their time. Give them the content they are already looking for.

Ok, so if I do all this, do I still need Twitter? Who cares what I had for lunch? Isn’t it a waste of my time??

Absolutely not! And here’s why.

First, it’s another way to broadcast the key things that you already have on your MySpace, Facebook, website etc, like tour dates, album release dates, and what not.

Second, and more importantly, it’s a way – similar to blogging – to get more personal. To let your fans get to know you, the person, in addition to you, the musician. Whereas blogging allows you to rant and rave and express your opinions in a very personal way, Twittering (which is technically microblogging), allows for the same thing. Just, you know….in 140 characters or less.

Those who follow you (presumably your fans) are interested in what you have to say, what you are doing, what you are feeling and thinking. They care. Whether you tweet about what city you’re in for your tour tomorrow or how much you hate the president today or what color underwear you have on, they care. (And if they decide they don’t care, they’ll just unfollow you.)

Say important things, say meaningless things, say witty things, ask questions. It’s all relevant if it’s on your mind.

Next, as a way of rewarding your loyal followers, give them stuff. Much like Obama sent his VIP pick out by text message first, you could announce a small show or party only on Twitter, or include a link to a free download in a tweet so your followers get it first.

Lastly, it’s a way to interact with your fans. Ask them for suggestions, like song requests for a set list at an upcoming show. Ask them which songs they like best on your last CD. Let them show their adulation with their @ replies.

One mistake to avoid: Don’t let someone else produce your Twitter content for you. Letting a PR manager or college intern or your unemployed roommate write your updates for you will defeat the purpose. Only you can mold your online identity and make it actually you.

Another tip: Share music with your fans on Twitter! You can do this by using Tra.kz, which will shorten your long audio links into cute, little links that point fans to a player page for the song; the song’s Tra.kz page¬† displays all the tweets about the song and makes it easy for people to share.

Which artists are currently on Twitter? Only a few have caught on so far. Here is a sampling: Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer, Jimmy Eat World, Sara Bareilles, Bjork, Brett Gurewitz (of Bad Religion), A Fine Frenzy, and Patrick Wilson (of Weezer).

Top 5 Music Discovery Sites

Long gone are the days of browsing through record stores to find new music (record stores are still awesome hangouts though), making physical mixtapes for your friends (except for the nostalgic among us), and putting CDs on your Christmas list (iTunes gift cards anyone?). Digital technologies and the seemingly endless supply of online music destinations have forever changed the way we discover the tunes we like.

Record Store

Born out of my own frustration with the retardedly over-crowded “music discovery” space, this post aims to sift through the plethora of sites, many of which are variations of the same concept, and pinpoint the best ones.

Do you prefer to listen to short clips of top downloads on iTunes because it’s easy? (Ya, iTunes is more of a place to buy a song/album that you know you want, but you can definitely discover new stuff by poking around, checking the free download of the week etc). Are you a fan of one of the numerous music social networking sites that let you discover people with similar musical taste, create/share playlists, or track down obscure indie bands? Or do you love Pandora’s almost-no-work-involved recommendation system?

We’re all different when it comes to our preferred methods of music discovery, but the end goal is the same, right? We want to consistently discover new music that resonates with us personally – bands we can go see live, music to download, artists we can relate to. There are so many places to do this now it makes my head spin, so I needed to simplify.

With that, here are my top 5:

Pandora
I’ve been a fan of Pandora for a long time. The internet radio station, with its robust recommendation system based on the work of 50 analysts who break songs down into musical attributes, is surprisingly good at finding music that suits your tastes. And with the thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system, the more you use it the smarter it gets. Their Facebook app is certainly convenient too.

iLike
If you can put up with 30 second clips, iLike is great for discovery. The fact that it can be plugged into Facebook, iTunes, MySpace, Bebo and others makes it a versatile social platform and is probably why they have so many registered users making profiles, sharing playlists and the like. And you can get lots of free music from new artists.

Fuzz
“Music Uprising…Connecting people who create and love music”. Other than having pretty good music discovery tools, I like Fuzz because I like the Fuzz Manifesto. This is the kind of mentality that I think everyone in the music industry needs to adopt, and soon, in order to survive and thrive in the exciting new frontier that is developing. Open, participatory, fair etc…

Grooveshark
In addition to letting you listen to any song in its entirety, Grooveshark rewards you for sharing music with people by giving you credits for free music. It also serves as an online library so you can store your music and access it from anywhere. There is a tagging/ranking system to help you find what you want as well as playlist creation/sharing.

Last.fm
Easily one of the most dominant players in the social music discovery space, Last.fm has a powerful recommendation engine based on data from the user community (unlike Pandora’s engine which matches similar musical attributes). Worth noting here is that Last.fm is now paying royalties to unsigned artists – and thus providing an alternative for artists who are not part of SoundExchange.

If this list is too short for you, check Mashable’s Music News Toolbox: 50+ Links for Discovering New Music to read about sites like iJigg, MOG, Goombah, Music Nation, and many more. Or leave us a comment with your favorite ones.

And of course, soon you will be able to discover kick-ass new music at MixMatchMusic. Stay tuned.

Privacy is Obsolete

We live in a society that is entirely public. Privacy is a thing of the past. (see the Anonymity Experiment) Advertisers and marketers know your shopping habits, your drug prescriptions, your political, religious, and professional sport affiliations. Facebook’s Beacon is only the scapegoat of what any advertiser is frothing at the mouth to implement. The clerks at your grocery store or the people that run the gas station or the car wash are just as likely to steal your credit card number and identity as a random hacker over the internet or some dude scavenging your bills out of your trash can. Anything that can be reproduced digitally will, inevitably and rapidly, end up being illegally distributed over the internet, either for profit, or just for fun.

So why are people still paranoid about privacy and piracy? Fear is only useful when it helps us prevent harm. What’s the point of being afraid of getting salmonella? I don’t need to be afraid of it anymore, I’m just careful around raw food. Loss of privacy is inevitable – you can not prevent it. All you can do is slow it down. I have my cell phone number on my Facebook profile. Yes, I limited my privacy settings so only my virtual “friends” can see it – but if I really didn’t want my cell phone number getting out, I wouldn’t be an IDIOT and put it on the internet. Honestly: how many of you really have a true expectation of privacy when you put any information on the internet? Why be afraid anymore? If you want it private, keep it in your head – nothing else is private. Deal with it.

I’ve talked to a lot of musicians lately, and a lot of them are concerned about their music being pirated. My immediate reaction is always, why? Things are only stolen because they have value. If somebody is stealing your music, it’s because they want it – you don’t suck. That’s wonderful! People want your art! Why would you want to limit your audience? Share the beauty that humans produce with humanity – privacy is selfish.

Let’s say some local aspiring rapper steals your beat and uses it as a hook in his rap song. Maybe a thousand people hear it – maybe it’s only a mediocre song. Perhaps he earned a few hundred bucks from it. Sure, you should be owed some percentage, since he used your intellectual property. But do you really care about (likely no more than) $50 from some local nobody artist? Get a day job if you need $50. However, let’s say some artist steals your beat, and his song turns into the next “Soulja Boy.” Now he’s got millions – and here’s where you might be thinking, “See? He stole my music and now I lost out on all that revenue!”

Our society may be public, but we’re also litigious to a ridiculous extreme. If you can prove that it’s your music – for example, by widely distributing it for free through a medium that can vouch for you – then you’ll win the case, and that rich thief will settle out of court with you for a tidy sum. If you’re crafty enough, you’ll get him to publicly credit you. All of a sudden, you’re rich and famous, because somebody else stole your music. When Kanye and Timbaland come knocking at your door to sample some more of your beats, don’t forget to thank internet piracy.


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