Thursday, July 2, 2015
Beats 1 revealed itself powerfully on its Born Day. Through the lens of its compellingly cool spirit animals—DJs Zane Lowe, Julie Adenuga and Ebro Darden—we experienced three uniquely different vibes, from region to sound, language and presentation.
Each was an expert hand guiding us through a new land, the DJ rocking a crowd while talking up the music they’re playing with unbridled passion and expertise. The coolest part as a new listener yesterday was realizing these were well-formed parties already in progress, but now going worldwide.
Beats 1 is a celebration focused on being a portal for exposure for new, and fiercely committed to a high level of entertainment value around the experience of music.
I’ve only gotten to hear Zane Lowe in pieces—his interviews on YouTube and a few shows when BBC was broadcast on SiriusXM—but his energy overall is just off the chain. I get why people love him so much; enthusiasm like that is instantly contagious. And special. His serious convictions and roll the record back antics leap out of the speakers.
Listening to Zane scream, ‘YAAAAS!” off mic in the background over some blazing new rock song from Manchester with the soaring chorus, “I won’t let go, Won’t let go, tonight of your hand, Who am I? But what does it matter, who am I? But what does it matter?” was like participating in his tribal battle cry, and I’m so with you, dude! Let’s go!
Hearing that was a moment, like the Moon Man landing with the MTV flag on cable TV a generation ago. Suddenly an interesting new way to discover and discuss music was here, on a strange new platform—the app.
Listening to Lowe nervously mumbling “Test…test-test” pre-show over Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports before the first big mic break at 9am was endearingly human. Social media lit up with people worldwide, sharing a “Did you hear that?” moment like it was an earthquake. Others trolled it, and others laughed at the faux pas, But it sure had everyone’s attention—they were all listening.
“Is there an artist out there that more perfectly embodies the freewheeling nature of creativity than Beck? I don’t think so. ‘Dreams!’” Lowe excitedly shouts into the intro of another new song. This guy will lead the movement, pom-poms and all.
And that’s the point. At its most thrilling, music is a tribal, communal experience. It’s been proven time and time again, from Wolfman Jack to Richard Blade to Larry Levan that in the dynamic of radio, you put the right music master in the chair and the audience will follow.
Beats 1 has three ninja masters.
It’s obvious the programming philosophy is show-based, not format-centric, but the reason is simple—it’s a more accurate reflection of the modern music lover. “Our genre is…great!” Lowe proclaimed at one point in his inaugural broadcast. Although block programming is the dominion of places like the BBC and NPR—not quite competitive with commercial radio—those are only the best audio examples. I believe by virtue of the artist partnerships alone that they’ve lined up over the next month, what Apple Music is striving for here is much more along the lines of Netflix and HBO. You get access to all that music content sure, but the original programming is ultimately why you’ll be listening.
“They’re building,” Lowe said of the Spring King’s “City,” the first record he would play, “that’s exactly the kind of story we need to kick this whole thing off with, because man, it’s not about fanfare. That’s fireworks and a hangover the next day. It’s about quality and consistency.”
Music is emotional for the new Beats 1 crew, like it is for all the music heads of the world who find a new song or artist they love— you want to tell your friends about it. Now Apple Music has anointed a global platform for the communal spirit of discovery. Hope it rocks the world.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Presenting mesmerizing soul in a #songsfromscratch collabo from Mr. Carmack along with Bay Area's Kehlani called "All In". She is the truth; carves her own lane entirely with a refreshing new brew of real R&B plus way she sings... we live for Lana Tsunami because there is an emotional song vibe in her cool spirit that's on Sade levels. The backstory is amazing and she is only 19. Like Raury it's a maturity way beyond the years and without question an Artist To Watch. Seek out her mixtapes You Should Be Here and Cloud 19 if you haven't already.
Video piece on the collaboration below....
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Apple Music is applying the winning playbook for subscription, as previously defined by HBO for broadcast TV and later Netflix for on-demand. The philosophy is simple: to retain subscription fees long-term the consumer expects total access to all the basic hits plus a load of excellent premium material that’s exclusive added value. Netflix even went a step further when producing their own original content and took a page from the music business by dropping full TV seasons like albums, thus changing the way people view programming with the “binge-watch.”
When you ponder Apple Music in the subscription landscape just think to yourself,
“That’s no moon… it’s a Space Station.”
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Gotta keep it 100 and tell you that when first hearing of Evan Ross being signed as a recording artist, the news was met with an eye roll. Nepotism is rampant in the entertainment business, and I have little patience for it. The descendants of legends (in this case Diana Ross) have lots of advantages and connections, but are far from being guaranteed an inheritance of crucial je ne sais quoi needed to ascend; not to mention getting handed down actual talent. You'd better be special beyond super crafty at the Hollywood schmooze to break through in this day and age....
Monday, June 1, 2015
It's been awhile since I've encountered a song that lasers right into my heart like a first kiss and stays on repeat for weeks, eliciting the absolute need for me to learn every word so that I can sing along to it loudly whether I'm alone in my house or walking down street to the train station. But a soulful shy-girl from Ontario Canada named Alessia Cara has delivered an instant-cherish-anthem you have got to know about immediately. The song is called "Here".......
Sunday, May 31, 2015
The momentum around the hugely anticipated new album At.Long.Last.A$AP (aka A.L.L.A.) from Polo Grounds/RCA global hip-hop and high fashion icon A$AP Rocky has been huge, with the artist’s highly anticipated sophomore effort two years in the making easily grabbing the #1 sales spot moving 116k units and ramping up enough Spotify listens to rank at 144k on the new "consumption" charts...
Monday, May 18, 2015
Although it’s been waning in ratings and influence in recent years, now that the sun is setting on American Idol, it’s only appropriate to reflect on what the show has achieved: a significant paradigm shift that created a whole new type of enthusiasm for music, and even more importantly, did so during a time in history when the music business was reeling from illegal downloading and desperately needed it.
At the height of its popularity, Idol was drawing audiences of nearly 40 million for its finales, and during its 13-year run this show has minted numerous bankable stars—something the many competitors formed in its long shadow have yet to accomplish. The show launched talent that went on to long-term careers; whether they “won” their season or not, their names now all too familiar in the American pop lexicon—Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, Katherine McPhee, Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Fantasia, Jordin Sparks, and Jennifer Hudson.
And even if all of these Idols didn’t stay on the charts, their genuine talent level, combined with a newly anointed celebrity status from Idol’s cultural significance, created a lane that led them on other successful paths, including Broadway (Constantine Maroulis, Justin Guarini, Frenchie Davis) and, in the case of Clay Aiken, even beyond that....