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.

Grammy Winner fun. Debut New Artist of the Week

fun. bandSlacker’s new Artist Of The Week is New York based indie pop group fun.

It’s a bit ironic for the trio to have won the Best New Artist award at this year’s Grammys, as they joked throughout the ceremony, they are not actually “young” any more. In fact, the band is the product of 12 years of work as artists. Nate was in a band from Phoenix called the Format for many years, Jack was in a pop-emo band from New Jersey called Steel Train, and Andrew was in a band from Michigan called Anathallo.

It’s also notable that “Some Nights” is actually their second album, preceded by 2009’s “Aim and Ignite”. After going through the music business ringer, with several label deals and prior band breakups behind them, the members moved to New York City and went back to the drawing board. The result of their creation and collaborating is fun. (fun with a period) – the band that took home 3 Grammys this year, including song of the year in addition to their best new artist nod.

On the origins of fun., Nate told Interview magazine “I had always kept note that those were the two people that if anything ever happened… maybe I could see the writing on the wall, or something like that. As soon as that became a possibility, I just called them up right away. I asked if there was something we can do. Next thing I knew, I found myself in New Jersey a week later.”

Their music has been given the Glee treatment (twice) and their mixture of theatric baroque pop and hip-hop influence has won over fans of musical theater and pop music alike.

We are debuting a new Artist of the Week station here at Slacker. On the station this week, youll hear the band fun., their previous projects like The Format and Steel Train, artists they were influenced by, and hits from their contemporaries.

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

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