Hi guys, I’d like to draw your attention to an issue that no one appears to be talking about; the growing problem of what I call “Playlist Monopoly,” especially in regards to social media. What is “Playlist Monopoly” you ask? Well, as far as I see it, there are two entirely different issues that creates one problem. Let’s talk about the social media aspect of it, such as sites similar to Facebook (primarily I think). Groups that are dedicated to music streaming on social media, appear to be made up of mostly desperate artists looking to get followers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the “hustle” to make money for your work, however, I think this is the wrong way to go about it. First issue, lets talk about the content many of these artists are pushing. A lot of the content I see are predominantly badly written hip hop music, while also promoting porn on their album covers. Ninety nine percent of new hip hop circulating on social media would never be in my playlist. So, because we now have an open platform, meaning you no longer need a record label to produce and distribute your content, the quality of music has really gone down hill. Many of these people have had no training, or strong background in making music. In turn, it makes it harder for music lovers like us to find music we like, because new music now are so poorly produced. Quite honestly, I’ve heard hip hop from the Creative Commons platform that sounds better. Now, having said this, there is no emoji for “it sounds ok.” You either give it a thumbs up, or none at all. If I’m nice enough to give you a thumbs up, that’s not a queue for you to bombard me with “follow me and then I’ll follow you” messages. No one is going to make me feel obligated to follow your music, especially if I’m not feeling it. I’m the type of person that ALWAYS skim through profiles before I follow it. You must have something of value before I follow you.
Second issue is, the number of followers on a playlist. If a playlist has thousands and thousands of followers, some artists will even try to contact the playlist creator, and attempt to pay that person to have their music place in said playlists. Yes…. They do that. In fact, I’ve heard people offering to purchase the actual playlist. This is why I am always skeptical of playlist with 20,000+ followers, and over 2,000+ songs. That is a huge red flag people need to watch out for. This is not a playlist created out of love for music, it’s often times a playlist filled with garbage for the expressed purpose to promote. I really don’t understand this approach; what would make you logically think that an indivdual would listen to a singular playlist with several thousand songs? Who has time for that? Are you f**king nuts? It’s entirely possible that maybe some of you feel you just want to “help struggling artists out/give them support.” The problem with that is, the way many algorithms work on streaming services. If you thumbs up, like, save as an album/playlist/follow, or play enough of garbage, it’s going to effect the kinds of music your streaming service will try and help you find in the future (ie, playing radio, featured music, & suggestions, etc). Music discovery is one of the most important features of a true music service; it’s not just about how large their library is (one of the many things YouTube is not good at/designed for). Something that I strongly suggest that you consider. Don’t follow anybody’s playlist you don’t want to follow. It is better to cherry pic the songs you do like, and throw away the rest. Also, don’t listen to a significant amount of music from one particular genre if you don’t like it! If you do, it’s going to take a long time before your service’s algorithms recalculate/realign/readjust (whatever you want to call it) to the kinds of music you really do like. Remember (if you do save/follow) the smaller the playlist, the better. Not only that, you’re not spending hours sifting through a bunch of dead/expired songs, because the playlist is nothing but a dumping place, without any kind of maintenance.
In my opinion, rather than finding music on social media (playlists), I think it would be best to go someplace like Topsify or something like that. Or even personal blogs such as mine. Shit, even former president Obama has a playlist! LOL. There are actually plenty of playlists sites you can go to. Playlists sites consist of music fans (apposed to music promoters) who spend a lot of time and love putting together playlist they feel people would love. Therefor; you’re listening to the best of their taste in music, as well as adding culture to your musical heart. You’ll quickly notice a huge difference between the playlists on social media, and the playlists on private blogs and playlist sites made by fans, for fans. Doesn’t mean it’s not impossible to occasionally find garbage on playlist sites, but, your chances are far greater of finding quality music there.
If you see a playlist name that says “Best songs on the planet,” or “1,000 of the Internet’s biggest hits,” or something to that effect, don’t even bother. Trying to find even 80s playlists can be difficult, because if you’re cultural like I am, you’ll realize most if not all songs I already have. Don’t forget Shazam is a great resource to discovering music too.
Like many old school fans, I still have quite a few old cassettes from back in the day, when I used to tape off the radio. Now that we have such amazing technology today, I’m glad I didn’t actually through away all my old cassettes YET. I’ve been shazaming a LOT of my tapes over the years, which allowed me to get rid of a significant amount of cassettes. Now, I’m not the type of person that would tell a stranger to throw anything away that has sentimental value to them (especially if it’s a vinyl album or something like that). However, I do recommend using Shazam to help you retire those old tapes to make more room for other things. Manly for three important reasons. First, finding a good cassette player has become hard to find. I’ve purchased a number of cassette players and they all sound like crap. In fact, a couple of them ruined a few of my tapes. And I’m not willing to spend upwards of $300 for a “good cassette deck,” when I know I’m only going to use it for the purpose of Shazam’n’. Second good reason to Shazam your cassettes, you don’t have to hear the dj bable anymore.. LOL. I used to hate when they’d talk through the song I liked. But I knew they did it so that we can buy the album. Thirdly, Once you Shazam something, and or save it to your Spotify, it stays there forever! Even if the license on a song expires, it’s still listed! The nice thing about that is, if you can’t find it in any other album, you can just purchase it from Amazon or Google (DRM free). At this point I Spotify will ALWAYS have free accounts, so I really really doubt you have to worry about anything. Oh yeah! One more thing, you don’t have to run around asking friends if they know the name of a song!! 😳
Some of the songs I’ve Shazam’d lately are, “Touch Me (All Night Long) by Cathy Dennis,” “Sweet Love by Anita Baker,” “Midnight Blue by Melissa Manchester,” “Don’t Turn Around by Owen Gray,” “Let It Whip by The Dazz Band,” “Jungle Love by The Time,” “What Is Love by Haddaway,” “Broken Wings by Mr. Mister,” “Suavecito by Malo,” and “I Can Dream About You – Dan Hartman.” Those were just a few of several thousand Shazams, and tons of tapes 😫 😐; but it was all worth it. If I were to throw them all away, that would have been music I wouldn’t ever hear again. Mainstream radio doesn’t play music from my generation anymore period. One thing you’ll learn, even when it comes to streaming services, hand picked music is not the same as a computer generated playlist based on habits and algorithms. But, it’s good for the young kids who don’t yet have a musical perspective.
It’s been about 4-5 years since the announcement of Shazam and Spotify partnership. This is a partnership that can only be best described in my opinion as “A marriage made in heaven.” Very rare do you find two products that come together, and work nearly flawlessly! As far as I’m concerned, Shazam is truly Spotify’s “companion application.” Also, not only did it make business sense, both companies made the integrated features fully functional to free users. One of the many things that make Spotify unique to Shazam than all the other partnered companies, is that you can actually save Shazam’d songs directly to any of your Spotify playlist. Shazam also allows you to play the full song using Spotify’s player, from within the Shazam application.
Visiting family can’t get any easier. You’re relaxing and all of a sudden, your relative decides to pop on some vinyl on the old spinner. Oh, oh! All of a sudden you hear that favorite song you haven’t heard in 15 years! You’re dancing and grooving…. You feel yourself about to ask that relative the dreaded “let me borrow that album.” Da 🎵 ta 🎵 ta 🎵 da 🎹 !!! LOLOL. Then you catch yourself! “Wait a minute! I got Shazam and Spotify!” Oh great! It found the song! Now I can easily add it on my Spotify playlist! And even better, you’ve just saved yourself from getting that “hell no!!” look from that relative that knows you’re not going to return their album the way they gave it to you (if at all). The world is back to normal. 😀
Ok guys!! Rant time!! Haven’t done one in a long time. When it comes retailers and their high markups for their accessories, can kiss my @ss 😡. I’m specifically referring to Samsung’s OEM earbuds. Anybody that’s a die hard, true music lover knows that, no matter how much you pay for a pair of headphones, THEY NEVER LAST!! I know that a lot of my readers maybe brand-loyal, but trust me, ALL major brand headphones crap out within 2 years of consecutive use, 3 years if your lucky. Some may last longer, but they still don’t last long enough, when you weigh the amount of money we spend for them.
Every retailer I’ve ever purchased these Samsung headphones from were all $30. On average, I’d say I squeeze about 4-6 months of life out of them before buying a new one. So, 90 dollars a year is a lot of money to spend for an accessory, that’s not even sturdy, or child proof even! I know I probably sound like a spokes person for Amazon, but, I keep telling you guys, BUY FROM AMAZON! They sell almost everything up to 4 times cheaper in a store. Retailers get you because their convenient. You hear a little crackle in the left ear, just go to any electronic store or T-mobile store and pay for a $30 new one. Amazon has these same OEM buds for $7. You can buy 3 of them for and still come out cheaper. Sad part is, these are the ONLY in ear buds that fit comfortably in my ear. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so, cause I know a whole lot of you will still gonna spend full retail price anyway, after I told you not to. Shaking my head 😕
You know, now that I’ve built up quite a bit of content, it’s kind of hard to remember whether or not I’ve discussed the same topic or not. But I guess it doesn’t really matter, because there will always be something someone hasn’t seen yet, or noticed. When it comes to classic content, I believe there is a sort of “Ying and Yang.” While more and more out of print *music* and film are being resurrected in the digital world, believe it or not there are still issues finding them. Some of my biggest concerns are:
- Not enough seasoned people are using computer technology, and sharing their memories with us! (biggest issue I feel).
- We have a situation where the last several generations of children were not exposed to classic entertainment history, therefore there is absolutely no interest by young people (with the exception of an occasional Marvin Gaye song). So sad.. 😥
- Because classic music is no longer played like it used to be, there is a severe decline in fandom. Yes more vinyl are being sold, but consider the biggest number appears to be from the UK (which is very telling about the decline of our own interest in American music and cinematic culture, foreigners appreciate our music more than we do as a whole). This is why seasoned folk are so important to the internet, especially when we talk about Black entertainment.
- Especially in terms of Black entertainment, there just isn’t enough bloggers of color on the net, period. And I’m afraid it is a direct reflection on the fact that a significant amount of people of color don’t read. And if I remember correctly, the school statistics still show this. Click here.
- I also think Facebook has made people lazy. People rather copy and paste, rather than actually take the time to write something of value using their own words.
- Blogging takes a certain level of dedication. I’ve seen soo many blogs that haven’t had any posts since more than 8 years. Their blogs are just sitting in cyberspace dormant. Like space debris, it’s just there.
- We don’t share other bloggers that are creating awesome new content about our classics! We’re working hard to keep both music and cinematic history alive! So few of us are doing it, please make the extra effort and share us. Show your appreciation. The Black community is notorious for not supporting each other. Hint, hint.
- Many Facebook group owners don’t show love to bloggers as much as they should.
- Many classic blogger’s sites themselves are sooo old, they’re not optimized for search engines. This is is just a matter of not being HTML and CSS savvy.
- Last biggie is, many old school artists/studios still don’t fully understand today’s digital culture, and lock their gems away in license/copyright bullshit. If you charge too much for your license so that no one can see your historical work, who’s benefiting? Absolutely no one!! Not even the studio. Daaahhhh.
So, despite the difficulties in finding new/old written content on the net about many of the classics we grew up with, how can we rediscover our music so we can relive them? There are actually a few ways.
- Search and find news letters where “classics” is the subject matter.
- Subscribing to blogs is the same as receiving newsletters.
- I’ve rediscovered classics from listening to podcasts on iTunes.
- Cable TV has awesome music channels. You can Shazam as much as you like!
- Old shows such as MTV are great to use with Shazam!
- 70’s and 80’s parties are a great source too! Actually, this is something else we should do more often. However, try to find parties where the music is diverse.
- I’ve said earlier, explore internet radio. There is an infinite wealth of music stations that play a range of oldies! All day and every day. Rare oldies, the kind of oldies that’ll make you say “Oh Shit! I haven’t heard that in ages!” There’s nothing more fun to hear a favorite song you’ve forgotten about!
- Explore foreign internet radio! I’ve found quite a few of non-English radio stations that exclusively play American classic music.
- 8Track is a wonderful legal website were users can upload their music (non-DRM). No computer generated playlist can take the place of hand picked music! They no longer offer unlimited listening, you get about an hour a month (if I remember correctly).
- YouTube has almost every song on the planet. I guess this is one of the flip-side benefits of the illegal uploading. We get to enjoy the music we would not hear otherwise (if legal streaming doesn’t have it).
- Old magazines! Yes, old magazines. Why? They will often have old celebrities you’ve forgotten about, that can open a flood of memories, and songs you loved.
- Barbecues and cookouts!! You are bound to hear some oldies there.
- Most churches (Black churches in particular) consistently have seventies themed parties, or play at least a sizable number of oldies.
- Sift through your Twitter Accounts.
- Sift through your Google Account. Google isn’t heavily active with classic content, but it is a decent source.
- Don’t forget that the Shazam application itself has suggestions of music similar to what you’ve just Shazamed! A great way to discover even more music.
- Facebook has a wealth of classic music groups. Sometimes they can get a bit repetitive, but occasionally you do find that goldmine, from a real classic fan. The only thing I should say is that, they do tend to have members of mixed age groups. So many things that are shared you’d never consider as classics, so sometimes some groups require a bit of sifting, but most times it is worth it.
- Streaming services like Spotify, Napster, Beats, etc, all have suggestion features, based on similar songs. They’re not always super accurate (in fact most of them aren’t), but then again, maybe they shouldn’t look for music exactly the same. Why? ‘Cause this is an opportunity to expose true music lovers to the kinds of music they were not privileged to.
- Gather with some old friends and discuss some of your memories of your favorite performers, and or movies.
- We don’t think about it much, but Documentaries can also be a great source. Free video streaming such as TubiTV has music documentaries that may play music you really like.
- I’ve came across a lot of videos on YouTube that contain “Top Ten Rock Music,” Or “Best Music From The 80s,” etc. Sometimes you’ll find a lot of gems there too.
- For movies, I think going to a Matinee every once in a while is a great idea to find oldies film.
- Of course, you know your Roku box is filled with hidden gems. All it takes is a little effort, and actually search. Stop being lazy.
- IMDB great choice.
- Sites that have rating systems.
- Movie bloggers.
- Sites that have articles on Sound Tracks.
- Your local library.
- Movie biographies.
- Books of “Best Movies For 19xx.”
- TCM and AMC
- Netflix offers DVD/Blu-Ray suggestions for every movie you add to your list/inquire.
- Vudu always offer “classic specials.” They also offer 99 cent rentals. They also now offer some FREE movies with commercials.
- Friends almost ALWAYS have movie recommendations.
- Visit and sign up for Blu-Ray.com, users add their movie and TV show collections to their profiles. Sift through their collections and discover mass treasures. You’d be surprised how many people are in to classic movies. Connect with other users, and strike up a conversation to locate rare, special edition, or obscure movies. It is basically a FREE movie fan site.
- Order movie catalogues. You don’t have to necessarily buy anything from them. Just use them to find interesting movies, then simply add them to your Netflix account. Why would you buy anything now-a-days just to watch it only one time? Unless it is a collector’s item, and it has additional material that a true fan would want. If Netflix doesn’t have it, fill out an online request form. Your only other option is to see if Amazon or Vudu has it for low rental.
- Don’t forget that you can use Shazam for a lot of movies and TV too.
Wow! I worn myself out remembering all these resources and ideas.. LOLOL.. I do hope tho, that the seasoned folks who are not exploring the internet like they should, understand what they’re missing in terms of not accessing classic music and film. Do you realize you no longer have to break your neck finding album stores (that will one day become extinct) that have that one rare album, or stores that will charge you an arm and a leg for an album you can most likely get from Spotify? Legally! And free! And the artist gets credit! Oh yeah, did I mention FREE on Spotify, that offers FREE accounts?!?! At no charge?!?! Hypothetically, if Spotify would get rid of their free accounts, $10 a month is still a steal!! $10 dollars to listen and or download anything you want! I’ve seen offers for On-Demand radio for $5 a month. Come on now guys!! A lot of visitors that may be reading my article spend more money than that on cancer sticks!! Yet a lot of you hypocrites talk about “supporting Black business,” and you refuse to invest $5 a month to listen to your favorite Black artist. I digress. So, for the last 10-15 years or so, all the albums I’ve really wanted bad enough, I’ve had to order all of them via the internet (Amazon). I don’t even think these massive record stores exist in NYC anymore. Many of the ones I remembered closed down.
I was thinking, when was it the last time I actually purchased an album, or a CD? Wow! I really couldn’t remember! The best estimate I can make is some time about the beginning of the 1990s, which is still a pretty long time. Now, this goes to show you how technology has effected all of us, especially me. When I think about the kind of person I am, in terms of being a heavy fan of the classics, I almost never gone a month without buying something, even if it was a single or a remix of something. The 80’s were huge for me, because I used to buy a lot of both records & CDs of disco, club, and acid-house music. Now because of digital technology, I can only remember making 2 physical CD purchases since the 1990s, and that was only because they were a replacement to music I used to have. I must say technology has also changed the way I think of memorabilia too. Now, I just prefer to purchase all my entertainment on digital where it can be stored. Cassettes and CDs really do appear to be a hassle now (in terms of traveling). Wow, I just laugh when I think back on how I used to bring cases of CDs with me everywhere I went, because I never knew what musical mood I was going to be for that day. However, I don’t miss my cassettes being tangled up though. LOL 😀
You know, the one thing I am extremely happy about (at least when it comes to music), because of music streaming and how the music business is now setup, it’s pretty hard to do anything illegal. I mean although I complain about YouTube a lot, the reality is there are many factors as to why YouTube is one of the very few entities that are allowed to getaway with a lot of things. However at this stage, it doesn’t really matter what those factors are, the end result is that people can listen to music free, and as a listener you have absolutely no outwardly known legal obligations, or bound to any contract (other than not illegally RIPping the song straight off YouTube, but if it’s free already, why would you even bother doing that? It’s more work than it’s worth). Just listen and share on social media and the artists (and sometimes songwriters) get paid and marketed at the same time, though the power of fandom. I know I’ve said this a number of times before, but it’s so true, “if you still use torrents to download music illegally, you’re pretty much out dated and doing it because of habit and not necessity.” While the streaming world isn’t going to have every classic music (and for obvious reasons they will never have), to be able to go on Amazon and find that one song you want for download, and only pay just $1.29 at the most for that song (I’ve seen some classic songs for as low as .69¢), that is a steal! Then enjoy everything else on Spotify or YouTube. The music industry has made a complete 360° turn around, sad to say though, it was done not because they wanted to do right by fans, it was to save the industry. Finally, music is for ALL fans of music, and not only for the elite who can afford it. Now, we just need to work on the movie industry.
Sort of by accident, I found this wonderful documentary called “Downloaded (2013).” This film is almost two hours long. I’d never thought I would sit through a documentary like this; but like I said, it is extremely interesting and educational for me as far as hearing intimate feed back from RIAA and record labels. In essence, it is a very interesting look at the history of Napster, and how it changed the music industry forever. First, I’d like to say very quickly upfront, the film is not a “how to,” nor is this entire film about labeling all file sharers evil. I wanted to share this not because I want to sway people to think a certain way, but to help both music and film lovers be aware of the effects of file sharing, and how it really could have destroyed the industry.
Shawn Fanning was one of the original co-founders of Napster (long before Rhapsody took over). He quit school to pursue his dream of building a company with a fan based application, that would allow other fans to share files and communicate with other fans of the same artists or movie. Back then, because it has never been done before, it wasn’t officially illegal yet, in terms of sharing files. The music industry was slow to understanding the scope as to how many people were actually downloading, exactly how much was downloaded, as well as the ease of downloading with Napster. However, Fanning very much wanted to work a relationship with the music labels in order to get artists paid, this was his intent all along. However, the music industry still had problems with Fanning’s vision, because the music industry as a whole wanted to stick with their old ways and old formulas.
Many artists were divided on this issue. Some artists felt that Napster was doing a good thing; because statistics has shown that a significant amount of people that used Napster, actually purchased the music later on. Some artist saw it as stealing. But again, it boils down to something that was new, and the people that theoretically stand to lose money (in their eyes) was the ones that were most against it. However, the courts understand that you can’t stop technology, in addition to the fact that the music labels gave no room for fair use instances. Many fans saw Napster as no different than borrowing their friend’s record, then taping it on cassette and giving it back to them (which was legal for personal use). However, the sheer massiveness of the Internet changed the game as far as how fans get their entertainment.
I understand both sides. As I’ve said before, there are those who vow never to buy one piece of music ever again; as a form of rebellion against the greed of the music industry. It is interesting that throughout the legal battles, the music industry NEVER discussed the fact that the reason why many download so much, is because they couldn’t afford it. Once technology moved to CD, those prices went off the chain! However, through the years of long legal battles Napster had with the record labels and the RIAA, it’s helped shape the new business model we have today. Because the music labels felt that if they get rid of the “threat,” and the treat meaning Napster, everyone would stop downloading for free. This never happened; in fact, literally thousands of other file sharing software was developed using the same type of Napster infrastructure. But through the aftermath of all that mess, they have found away for fans to listen to music for free, and the labels can still get paid through an ad supported services. But I think the old peer to peer mindset still exist, and I think it will still take a while longer for old habits to break. JMHO.
After watching this documentary, I realized this might be one of the many reasons why the music labels haven’t attacked YouTube as harshly as they did Napster. They are literally scared of having an even worse repeat performance of piracy, and that people could theoretically stop using legal services like Rhapsody, etc, altogether; and really end the music industry as we know it for good. Even though the music industry would never admit it, the fans won; and the days of milking fans dry was over; and that was the bottom line. It was because of Napster, that music (and film) has now become more affordable/accessible to those who support their artists/actors. There are many companies such as Spotify who have a vision of making music free by using an ad based system. So far, despite the apposing view from companies like Apple, this formula does seem to work (they’re not making loads of money, but they work). But you know what? It is my view that it really doesn’t matter, because no matter what any music streaming service does, at a standard price point of 9.99 a month, the music labels are going to take 80% of the revenue anyway. Music streaming is a very hard business to get into. Which is why business like Live365 has folded. This is largely because labels want more and more money; labels just have a hard time understanding that our economy has changed. Especially when it comes to music, music is a part of our culture, fans have a right to afford their favorite music. Watch it on Netflix Downloaded (2013).
You know I was thinking….. I think that in this day and age; where digital technology is here to stay; it’s absolutely hilarious that we are still using the word “albums” to describe non-physical medium. We we’re still using the word “albums” even for CDs. This goes to show you how much of an impact that old school still has on our society as a people (and not even know it). I think that we’ll still be using the word “albums,” long after albums eventually become extinct. Can you imagine a great grandfather trying to explain to his great grandchild what an album was? LOL… I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. I know that would be funny as hell! By then then I truly hope that every single piece of history has been preserved on digital; and easily accessible by all; without “elite membership prices.” You need to help support and fight for the digital archiving of our history; because once it’s gone, it’s gone (even if it exists, it’s lost).