Listen Up. We’re Bringing Music Curation Back.

When I was a kid, pre-Internet, I had a love/hate relationship with the radio.
wnew radioI grew up in New York and in my teens WNEW-FM was my constant companion. WNEW positioned itself as the station “Where Rock Lives.”  Every song seemed perfectly picked, placed, and contextualized — it was music curation at its finest. Listening as a preteen, I discovered tons of new music, or at least artists who were new to me. Rock really did seem to live on that station. Its DJs were true hosts, turning song selection and the music experience into an art form I clung to every word that Jonathan Schwartz, Vin Scelsa, and Scott Muni uttered. After all, in a time before message boards or social media, these people were my friends –intimate friends who turned me on to Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, and Bob Dylan.

After a while, I became frustrated with WNEW-FM. I had discovered a whole new world, “Where Rock Lives,” and WNEW wasn’t playing very much of it anymore. I heard an occasional Ramones song, but where were the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Jam, and Wire? WNEW was too busy playing Foreigner, Styx, and Journey.  Yuck, yuck, and yuck. (Ironically, I now have a custom-made Slacker station called The Bands I Hated in High School Kinda Sound Good to Me Now–but I’m getting ahead of myself here.)

Eventually I broke up with WNEW. The station had betrayed me.  There was only so much Foreigner I could take. It certainly was no longer the place where my rock lived. I abandoned the station and, as a result, I abandoned the radio.

Years later – Napster came onto the scene, which changed the music listening experience forever. All the world’s music was accessible with a click of a mouse. I loved Napster at first but soon grew uncomfortable with both its bad song results and lack of artist support.

Through the 2000s I drifted from service to service online. Rhapsody, Imeem, iTunes, eMusic…I tried them all. But somehow, despite the cool music platform that the Web had become, something was missing. Some days I found treasures, but most days it felt a bit cold, clinical Listening to music on these services was mostly clean and efficient, but it wasn’t all that entertaining, and it certainly wasn’t magical. These were algorithms and applications, not good friends and radio hosts, crafting my music experiences. The human element was missing.

For the first time in years, I found myself missing the old WNEW-FM.

Then, in 2011, I found Slacker.

Slacker LogoSlacker would have seemed like an impossible dream to the eighteen-year-old me. It worked everywhere. On my computer, on my phone, in my car. Best of all is the curation. At Slacker, I have more than 200 pre-programmed stations to choose from. Sure, there are the expected genre stations — Today’s Hits, New Hip Hop, Country, and an excellent slate of Alternative stations. But Slacker also digs really deep with Eclectic Rock, Great Songs You ForgotOld School R&B, and Grunge: 20 Years Later. These are thematic stations that terrestrial radio could never dream of.

With Slacker, I can access the biggest hits, or reinvent the concept of formats, on a daily basis. Only people who live and breathe music every day could come up with stations like Dive Bar Jukebox, Broken Heart Radio, or The 50 Most Embarrassing Facebook Songs. No algorithm in the world can put a music mix together like these stations.

With Slacker, I am able to follow hosts like Mat Bates and Scott Riggs, whose expert curation routinely blows me away.

I love Scott’s Indie Hits mix and I find Mat’s New Music First stations invaluable.  I really couldn’t live without The New 40, the Slacker station that plays the best 40 songs regardless of genre, each and every week.

Yet as good at turning me on to music as Mat and Scott are, I love being able to overrule them, to have more power than the DJ, to take a good station and make it better. I can fine-tune any station by tweaking the music mix based on related artists, song popularity, and song age. Fine-tune is an extremely cool feature. I can add sports from ESPN, news from ABC, and talk from American Public Media.

At Slacker, I have total control of a music library of more than 13 million songs. I can lean in and make custom playlists. I can lean back by simply typing a band or song name into the Search box and just let the music play.  For a guy who spent days as a kid making mixed tapes, this seems unbelievably fast, efficient, and wondrous.

Most important, at Slacker I feel like the human spirit of the old WNEW FM, and every great radio station from years past, lives and thrives, but within a new and innovative technological construct. Experts like Scott & Mat make superb stations – they are bringing music curation back. The technology platform makes everything easier, better and more customizable.

So go ahead, poke around, play a station, or enter a song. It’s up to you; the jigsaw jazz and get-fresh flow are here right now. Slacker is where it’s at–all you have to do is Listen Up.

Slacker’s 2013 Grammy Awards Recap

Slacker Grammy Awards Station 2013For the 4th year in a row, Team Slacker was backstage at the Grammy Awards, getting you closer to the music than anyone. Over the course of the event, I had the chance to interview nominees such as Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers, Diplo, and Lecrae. I was also able to interview emerging artists like Trindad James, Kid Ink, and Youngblood Hawke, and more established artists like Incubus, Ryan Tedder, and Chaka Khan.

You can hear these interviews, and music from the winners, on Slacker’s Grammy Awards 2013 station. Plus, to give you a sneak peak, check out what went down and what we found out behind-the-scenes at the Grammy Awards.

 

Neyla from The Lumineers spent last year’s Grammy night waiting tables in Denver. Talk about a big step up! Watch our interview with her here:

Brittany from Alabama Shakes gave us a preview of the tribute to Levon Helm, which was clearly a meaningful experience for her:

Fall Out Boy is back from hiatus with a new album and tour- even though they swore it wasn’t happening. I gave them a hard time about the misinformation. Also, Andy actually talked, which never happens.

In addition to being one of the funniest guys on Twitter, Diplo is always a reliable source of music discovery. He has been on the cutting edge of new music from all genres for many years so I asked him, “Whats next”?

Joey Fatone was there, and I just couldn’t resist asking him about JT and a N*Sync reunion…

Oh yeah, I hung out with Rebecca Black for a minute.

Rebecca Black and Slacker

It was awkward…

The Grammys were a great time as usual. I’ll wait till some other time and tell you what Red Foo from LMFAO did to my leg. Slacker has a ton of events coming up. Festival season is nearly upon us, and our next stop is SXSW in Austin.

Until then, don’t forget to check out our Grammy Awards 2013 station to hear more interviews and discover music by this years Grammy Award Winners.

Top Five Anti-Valentine’s Day Songs

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not-savagely-valentines-day-ecard-someecardsThere are plenty of reasons to be anti-Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you are newly single and the only thing getting you through the holiday are the massive discounts on chocolate come the 15th. Or maybe you are attached, but the very thought of living up to the grandiose expectations given to you with not-so-subtle hints has sent you into an panic. Maybe some of you are non-believers simply because a short guy in diapers shooting people in the heart is pretty awkward. Whatever the reason (and there are plenty) a large portion of the broken hearted, happily single, and even blissfully coupled can’t stand Valentine’s Day.

So, whether you are spending the day curled up in a fetal position crying, throwing things in anger at the opposite sex or celebrating with other singles who will happily drink the “screw love” kool-aid, there is a soundtrack of music for you. Here are a few songs to help get in the right mood for a very Anti-Valentine’s Day.

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Ben Folds Five Song for DumpedBen Folds Five, “Song for the Dumped”

This refreshingly honest breakup song by a longtime favorite band manages to blur the lines between melancholy and uplifting. The bouncy piano and hilarious lyrics expose the pissed off little kid who got his toy taken away in all of us. Listen when you are pissed. Listen when you just need to laugh.

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Christina Perri, “Jar of Hearts”

While there are countless “you suck” songs out there marinating in weariness and anger, “Jar of Hearts” packs a punch with heavy hooks and raw emotional voice. Perri sings about going back to the past, making mistakes, and finally leaving a bad relationship in a way that feels like you are sitting with a friend who understands.

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strongerBritney Spears, “Stronger'”

Take some over-the-top synth pop that would make anyone get up and dance. Mix in fantastically cheeky lyrics that give a positive spin to a woman’s newfound independence.  Now turn up the volume and you get the anthemic tribute to post-breakup empowerment. Sing along. Smile. Lather rinse repeat.

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keith urbanKeith Urban “You’ll Think of Me”

Keith’s country pop power ballade is the perfect breakup song for healthy coping. It is sad but not weak. Angry but not aggressive. Confident but not arrogant. He is resolute as he croons, “We got nothing left to weather. In fact I’ll feel a whole lot better. But you’ll think of me, you’ll think of me…”

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Chris Issak

Chris Issak, “Wicked Game”

Sometimes you just need the cathartic release of a good cry and this beautiful song of unrequited love is the perfect soundtrack. It is sad, but not at all depressing, which is important when going through a breakup. It is ok to be sad. Crying is healthy. So put this tune on repeat, sob into your pillow, and let it all go.

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Take a look at our Slacker Radio stations for Broken Hearts and moving on Post Breakup made especially for anyone needing some help getting through this Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

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Enter the New Slacker Sweepstakes!

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Do you like free stuff? Yeah you do! To celebrate the launch of the new Slacker, we’re giving away a FREE month trial of Slacker Premium to everyone who enters our sweepstakes on Facebook. Seriously, simple as that.

It doesn’t stop there though, we have more than a dozen prizes up for grabs. Take a look below at some of the prizes you can win, including a Grand prize $500 Visa gift card + one year subscription of Slacker Premium.

 

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Head over to our Facebook page here to enter the Meet the New Slacker sweepstakes. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

The Week in Music News

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From new collaborations to the start of festival season, the world of music was buzzing with news this week. Here is a recap of some of the highlights:

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David Grohl Confirms Elton John’s Involvement in Queens of Stone Age LP

The Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana alum confirmed the news in an interview with Sir Elton while guest hosting for talkshow host Chelsea Lately. Grohl appears as a drummer on the new QOSA album and other guests include Trent Reznor and Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters.

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Sasquatch! Music Festival Reveals Lineup

sasquatch 2013The Sasquatsh! Festival, which takes over the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington on May 24-27, announced its lineup for the already sold out festival.

Indie bigwigs such as Vampire Weekend, the Postal Service, the xx and Mumford & Sons get top billing while prominent spots go to Empire Of The Sun, Imagine Dragons, and the Lumineers.There are some nice surprises, such as dance music favorite Laidback Luke, veterans Built to Spill, and Primus 3D. Check out the full lineup here.

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Guns N’ Roses Added to Governors Ball

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The band will join Kanye West, Kings of Leon and Nas as headliners. This will be the first performance since the group performed at Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit last October.

Pretty Lights, The Avett Brothers, Cut Copy and The Thevery Corporation are also on the bill.  The Governors Ball will take place in Randall’s Island Park on June 7th, 8th and 9th. Tickets and the full lineup are available on the festival’s website.

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Justin Timberlake Reveals New Album Details

THE 20/20 EXPERIENCE ALBUM COVER AND TRACK LIST REVEALED!The singer revealed details about his highly anticipated new album in an open letter on his Web site, along with the album cover and track list.

“The 20/20 Experience” is Timberlake’s first new release in years and the new Jay-Z featured lead single “Suit & Tie” is already topping charts. The album is a trim 10 songs and will be released March 19th.

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