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Pops, listen to this

A mix of old soul and new

I haven’t made many personal playlists for people, but I’m moving in that direction with technologies making it much easier. Imagine if Spotify or some other music service made it so simple to compare your music taste with someone close to you and serve up suggestions, building something that constantly updates based on each of your moods, new music, new connections, and so much else.

Until then, here’s a static playlist I made for my pops for Father’s day. I actually don’t call him father or pops, so here’s to you dad: a mix of old soul to get familiar with again and new soul that’s already among the greats for me, and hopefully one day for you too. Thanks for introducing me to the music that inspired what I love today!

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Keep Calm (Don’t Panic)

For when our world is going to shit

The first 50 or so songs (up to Prince) were meant to tell a story of our physically distant lives, but all the rest are here to keep you calm. I hope it helps when things go to shit. Or when you just need to relax.

Inspired by brandonstosuy.

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Kisses Sweet

Maybe you give me... (a love playlist)

I probably screwed this up and included some heartbreak song. It’s not about the lyrics when I select. Always the feeling.

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend said all I had was heartache playlists and nothing for love (a few exceptions,) so here one is. For her, Miz Liz. She inspires me as much as this music.

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Channel Tres, best described with music

Music speaks to the heart and not really through words

Music is about feeling. And is best described through it. Even the words are written for the heart more than the head. My last decade has been defined primarily by music, curating here and at TuneIn, but more recently I’ve shifted towards spoken word. Podcasts, not specifically poetry.

Podcasts have the buzz these days, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the substance. They’ve got more of it for the head than music does. The insights from the conversations and questions that come out of podcasts are only matched by the feelings I get from music. But I can find dozens of new inspiring podcast episodes each day. I can’t say the same for music. Music has a greater barrier to greatness and is far more subjective as an art, but the ones I do love I can listen to forever. All the more reason why curation is so important to music. People need as much context and connection when discovering something.

Most of the new music I found in 2019 came from SXSW and I guess that’s how I found Channel Tres. He wasn’t at the 2019 showcase, for all I know, but he was there in 2017 supporting Duckwrth. It was one of the most memorable shows of my life. Dudes could dance, in unison.

Channel Tres has grown into his own thing since then and I was so honored to see him at the Starline Social Club in Oakland this last December. The presence him and his dancers, Jessie & Nique, embodied on stage reflected in his audience. Their routines livened the whole club up. A progression from his dance moves with Duckwrth just two years ago. It felt like something out of a movie. The whole experience. It’ll be etched in my body forever. And the music even more so.

Trying to describe in words something that is far deeper is challenging. I’ll keep it simple, Channel Tres can make a Jew from Minnesota feel like a cool ass black dude from Compton. And it’s mostly through his beat. Empathy at its finest.

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The Music Tectonics Conference

What's hot in music tech: AI, blockchain, and podcasts

I first heard about the term “music is like fire” from the Music Tectonics Podcast. It comes from “music is like water,” where music is treated as a commodity because of music streaming services. In other words, it’s cheap and you can get it anywhere. As opposed to music being like fire, spreading onto smart speakers, into social media, and everywhere else in our lives.

Dmitri Vietze, host of the Music Tectonics Podcast, printed up 18 trading cards with themes similar to “music being like fire,” which could be collected at the first-ever Music Tectonics Conference. The trading cards were a fun way of getting to know others at the conference, as well as a helpful way to know what’s going on in the music industry. The next best ways were the panels. Two of which, my favorite and least favorite panel, got me thinking about how AI, blockchain, and podcasts relate to music, specifically music curation.

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Great Talks in Music Podcasts: Spotify & Discovery

Where Spotify is now, where they want to be, and how to get there

I find at least one insightful thing a day in a podcast. I wanted to put together a dozen or so music podcasts that have been particularly memorable, but I noticed my top picks had two themes in common: they’re all interviews with current and former employees of Spotify and have to do with music discovery.

Spotify’s VP, Paul Vogel, recently stated that music discovery is one of Spotify’s main focuses. As Vogel describes, “When you own discovery, you own so much of the ecosystem; you own demand generation. Over time, you end up owning gross margin when you own discovery and demand generation.” In other words, the first music service to make music discovery a viable business will be the leader in music streaming.

The four podcast episodes below helped me verbalize my thoughts on how music editorial and curation will help Spotify get there. This article only scratches the surface of the future of music, so I plan to start a series that will highlight other podcast episodes with great conversations around music. Let’s call it “Great Talks in Music Podcasts.”

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Planet Home at the Palace of Fine Arts

Finding solutions from multiple resources

Planet Home was a three-day conference, festival, and pop-up village inside of San Francisco’s historic Palace of Fine Arts. It got people together to talk about and show the progress of potential solutions to our world’s biggest environmental challenges, along with musical performances to close out each night. Notable speakers & performers included Edward Norton, Bill Nye, Chet Faker, Snoop Dogg, and Wyclef Jean.

The festival and village were open to all, but there was a special track, known as Visions, which opened up panels, workshops, and talks with experts in the future of our planet. However, unlike most festivals that offer VIP upgrades for three-times the ticket price, to get into Visions was a different story.

First off, there was an application process, which appears to gauge if applicants already work on these challenges or simply bring new ideas with a “solutionist” approach. I’m not sure what made up the rest of the process, but based on the people I met at Visions, it was a pleasant change over the VIP bros and made for some meaningful conversations.

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77 “Bittersweet” Sad Soul Songs

SG Lewis' fans compiled some of the saddest songs with soul

SG Lewis asked his Twitter followers what were their favourite sad soul songs. Similar to what I did with brokemogul’s “Best Music Documentaries,” I took over 100 responses and compiled it down to 77 songs.

What I love about this list is how deeply personal and eclectic it is. It comes from over 100 different people who have the same purpose in mind and some level of love for SG Lewis but are probably pretty different otherwise. I removed a few songs that didn’t fit and some late 80’s/early 90’s R&B, but I tried to keep too much of my bias out of it.

It was hard to define what’s sad and what’s soul music. Or what’s old for that matter. Some songs may sound happy – Sam Cooke’s “Good Times” is a good example – but can be used just as well for sad times. The Twitter responses pushed the boundaries of what soul music can be defined as, which I can appreciate to a certain point (it’s still a good song.)

My biggest conflict was not including Angie Stone’s “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” and it’s for the most childish reason. Seriously, wait for it. I swear there’s a random fart noise every measure or so. Or am I just making this shit up? First one starts 14 seconds in. It’s an otherwise genuinely beautiful song.

SG Lewis still has yet to post his own sad soul song. Maybe we can get 77 more in the next year with his choice included.

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Singularity University’s Global Summit

Hundreds of entrepreneurs solving the world's biggest problems but one

I remember listening to a panel at MUTEK, a global touring electronic music & arts festival, and the speaker asked us all what we thought was the greatest existential threat to humanity. She said most of us were probably thinking of climate change, I was not. While they might be right about climate change, the first thing that popped into my head was the dissemination of information. It greatly affects all other issues. It influences our world view and on a global scale shifts elections, shapes our political and social response to climate change, and everything in-between.

Singularity University recently held their annual Global Summit in San Francisco and I’ll I want to talk about is the XPRIZE panel. XPRIZE holds competitions to see who can come up with ways to solve the world & humanity’s biggest problems and award millions to the winners. The first XPRIZE was put together by Peter Diamandis, who founded XPRIZE in the late 90’s.

Adults always ask kids, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I always felt like an astronaut was a pretty stereotypical but bold claim for a kid to make. Peter followed that childhood dream and when NASA didn’t seem to be a viable option, he built a $10 million competition for the first team to build a working commercial spaceship, which was awarded to Burt Rutan in 2004. Peter hasn’t made his dream into space yet, but it seems right on the horizon.

XPRIZE’s panel at the Global Summit felt like a bunch of superheroes on stage. They’re creating new competitions in areas including adult literacy, removing carbon from the air, using ai on a number of issues, and over a dozen other prizes that have already been paid out. One thing they haven’t tackled, however, is still my greatest concern.

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Durand Jones and The Indications

Takin' it back from the highs to the lows

I already touched on Durand Jones and The Indications when I heard them live at Outside Lands, 2018, but let’s try it again. My literal jaw dropped when I first heard Durand Jones and The Indications, but not from Durand’s voice. The group’s drummer and falsetto backup, Aaron Frazer, had me from his first note.

Like Khruangbin, their build-up has taken a few years, but Durand Jones, Aaron Frazer, and The Indications have got a full lineup of classic hits and I don’t say that often enough. How Aaron and Durand’s voices play off each other, from the highs to the lows, is unmatched. At least for this generation.

Not to get too “number-y,” as Aaron likes to say, for how talented this group is, I do not see it reflecting on their social, music services (Spotify seems decent), or from many bloggers (according to the Hype Machine.) So I’ve taken it upon myself to reach out to these bloggers, specifically ones that love soul music, and see what’s up! I’ll keep you up-to-date. You just make sure I do what I say.

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