Up to now, this blog has been heavily focused on finding new artists and music, which really puts a spotlight on the artists themselves. Focus on the artists alone has left a particular individual or team, vitally instrumental to the creation of the music you enjoy, unaccounted for, unrepresented, and unappreciated. This team, or single person in most cases, is of course the music producer. A music producer is as important as the artists themselves and the music you enjoy listening to would not be the same without them. While some artists do in fact self-produce, there are countless other artists who enlist the services of a music producer to help them realize their vision. A music producer has to balance a million tasks including being a financer, organizer, and visionary, and somehow come out with a finished album or song as the end product. Music producers really are the unsung heroes who stand behind many of your favorite artists. Now, how does this relate to music discovery? Well, the same methods I have been talking about for discovering new artists can be transferred and applied to music producers. I encourage you to research and investigate who the producer is for some of your favorite music because chances are you will like their particular style of producing. With this step completed, you can then find new music by investigating what other artists that particular producer has worked with. One newer trend that is starting to gain popularity is for artists to credit who their music producer was for each of their songs. This is usually done in much the same way that featured artists are recognized, but instead of the song title saying, “feat.” it will instead say, “prod.” This shift towards recognizing the music producer on particular music tracks, as well as the artist shows the growing appreciation that all artists should show towards their music producer.
This week’s featured artist section will actually feature two artists. One of which is self-produced, while the other artist makes great use of saying who actually produced their tracks by naming them within the actual song titles. First is twenty six year old self-produced Ryan Hemsworth who is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada. He is mainly an electronic based artist and as of April 2016 he has an astounding three studio albums, two mixtapes, and seven EPs. He also has an impressive catalog of singles, remixes, and productions, which he has done for other artists. I would suggest you check out his album Alone for the First Time and his Taking Flight EP. Next up is an artist who goes by the stage name Bladee. Bladee, also know as Benjamin Reichwald, is a twenty two year old rapper and singer originally from Sweden whose music is often classified as cloud rap. I highly recommend you check out his debut mixtape from 2014 entitled, Gluee.
While this blog has focused primarily on the aspects of discovering new artists and music, it is now time to shift gears slightly and tie in the idea of supporting artists into the main topic of music discovery. If there is a particular artist that you enjoy and appreciate then why would you not want to help support them monetarily in some way?
If people want to pay money to go see a movie or a play, so why is it that when it comes to the entertainment area of music that people often times never pay money for the music they love? While most people, myself included, would agree that free things are always better; the artists who rely on their music to make a living would disagree. I am not saying that you need to buy every album your favorite artist has ever put out. The reason being is that for most people, physically owning music is a trend that has died out. However, there are still a few key things you can do in order to help support the artists you discover and love. The first and seemingly most obvious point is to avoid illegally downloading, and sharing music. Moving on, if you use a music streaming service, it is a good idea to actually subscribe and pay money for that service. The reason being, artists stand to make substantially more money from the users who pay for streaming services in comparison to users who do not. Lastly, most people completely forget about this aspect of music, but it is one method artists can make a majority of their money and that is through concerts. Live music events provide you the opportunity to experience your favorite artists in person while also helping to support the artist monetarily. It is also important to note that most artists will sell merchandise at their live events and most times 100% of merchandise profit will go directly to the artist. Musical artists provide listeners not only entertainment, but everything from pure enjoyment to true happiness, so why would you not want to help support them in return?
This week’s featured artist is XXYYXX, who I actually had the pleasure of experiencing in person by going to his concert in Denver last December. XXYYXX is the stage name for electronic music artist and producer Marcel Everett. XXYYXX is Originally from Orlando, Florida, and at just 20 years old, as of April 2016, he has already released two albums along with an impressive number of mixtapes, EPs, collaborations, singles, and remixes. I suggest you listen to his self-titled 2012 album XXYYXX from top to bottom. If you like what you hear, I highly recommend you go to one of his concerts as he is amazing to see live!
When searching for new music, like all aspects of life, it is important to always keep an open mind. Sure it is always nice to find new artists in and around one particular style that you enjoy, but if you never take risks with new music then you will never truly expand your musical knowledge. Most everyone will tell you that there are at least one or two styles of music that they just absolutely “hate.” I suggest you pick a style or two that you already think you dislike and give it an honest listen. For this to work you have to listen without any preconceived notions and listen intently, not just put some music on in the background. After you have finished listening, you might find that you still do not like that particular style of music, but there is also a chance that you will become more open to enjoying new musical styles. I recommend you try this activity from time to time and even revisit styles that you have tried before to see if your opinion has changed over time. A philosophy that I always keep in mind is that you do not have to personally enjoy every style of music, but you do need to respect all styles of music. This idea of always keeping an open mind should be applied not just when searching for new music, but when someone shares new music with you as well. The music that you like is very personal to you, so always be respectful and open-minded when someone else is opening up and sharing their music with you. Keeping an open mind is simple to practice in regards to music, and can be applied to all areas of your life as well.
Keeping with the theme this week, I have selected an artist that is different from the styles I have suggested in the past. Rag’n’Bone Man also known as Rory Graham is a vocalist originally from London whose roots trace back to soul and blues music. His discography includes one album, four EPs, and a number of features with other established artists including Bastille. I highly suggest you give Rag’n’Bone Man’s soulful and haunting vocals a listen on his Disfigured EP!
Previously in this blog, I covered discovering new artists and music by using broad indicators, such as similar artists and genres. Now I want to discuss the idea of analyzing the music you enjoy in an effort to look for the minute details that may actually be the underlying factors as to why you enjoy certain types of music. What I mean by this is, say you enjoy one particular singer very much. You may really enjoy the instrumentation that this particular singer usually uses, or you might enjoy a specific aspect of their voice, such as the overall raspy, or soulful quality. The first step is to pick a song and begin to pinpoint and isolate certain qualities of the music. Next, you must determine whether or not those qualities are something you find appealing. With these specific qualities in mind there will be an entire new world of music open to you. As you continue to find more qualities you deem attractive, you can keep refining or expanding your musical tastes and knowledge. One great service that uses a technique quite similar to the process I have described above is Pandora Internet Radio. Pandora takes over 450 musical qualities along with your personal input into account when deciding song recommendations to you, the listiner. With a little bit of time and dedication, you can begin to analyze the music you listen to and start to use the information you gather as another means to go about discovering new artists and music.
The artist of the week for this post is Garrett Borns, better known as BØRNS. Originally from Michigan, BØRNS is a singer and musician who released his debut single in late 2014. Relatively new to the game, he has released two EPs and one full-length studio album as of April 2016. I recommend you check out his Candy EP, as well as his 2015 album, Dopamine! BØRNS also has a small collection of acoustic renditions of his own songs that are definitely worth a look. I highly recommend the song, “Seeing Stars,” but all of his acoustic songs are worth a listen!