Tag - music 3.0

Notes from AmericanaFest – 1

I spent most of Wednesday through Saturday of last week at the Americana Music Festival and Conference in Nashville.

I went to a lot of panels, and I took a lot of notes using an analog device known as “pencil and notebook.”  This antiquated technology works really well, at least until I go back and try to read what I scribbled.  But it was more convenient than trying to find an outlet in every room so that I could type notes on my laptop.

Jedhilly

First, a general observation: “Americana” seems at times like a brand in search of a genre.  Musically, the category covers a broad swath of the musical spectrum. Jed Hilly, the Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, did his best to narrow it down when he defined “Americana” (for the purpose of a new Grammy Awards category) as “contemporary music that honors and derives from American roots music.”

That does, indeed, cover a LOT of territory.  But more important than what the brand or genre represents musically is what the concept embodies as a movement.  Musically, this may be “roots” music, but market-wise, this is music that is coming up from the grassroots.  And, based on what I heard over this past week, it represents in some respects the very best of what the new grassroots paradigm has to offer the listening audience.  I mean, these people are GOOD and deserve the recognition that “mainstream” cultural forces are too often too slow to provide.

With that as a premise, here’s a note from the first panel I attended early on Thursday morning.

I didn’t realize until I got there that a discussion of “Raising The Next Generation of Americana Fans” would turn out to be a discussion about bringing this music to children, which is not generally speaking an area of my own personal interest.

Well… duh.  Music is sorta like cigarettes – if you want them smoking it when they’re adults, you gotta start ’em out as kids.  So (politically incorrect tobacco reference aside), what could be more important than a discussion of bringing “Americana” music to kids?

So once I realized where I was and why it was the right place to be, I started paying attention to Jason Ringenberg (aka “Farmer Jason“) and Miss Melba Toast as they described their experiences bringing music to children.

Khussey

Panelist Kathy Hussey said the one thing I found most encouraging: When she shows up for her songwriting-for-kids workshops, she said, “they start out wanting to write a rap song,” but their interest is very easily redirected.  “Kids are learning that they don’t have to consume what’s on the radio.”

When I was growing up, “what’s on the radio” was all their was, and we all grew up wanting to be The Beatles or The Stones.  But the impact of an infinite variety of cultural choices is beginning to have a diversifying effect on a new generation.

Kids today may show up wanting to replicate what they hear in the media.  They may think for a moment that that’s what’s expected of them  But if Kathy’s experience is any indication, the commitment is shallow.  They wind up wanting something resonates personally on a deeper level.

That’s a consequence of a world of infinite choices instead of just a few dominating channels.  More choice forces us to dig a little deeper to find what matters.  Mark that down as another upside of the new era, Music 3.0.

Music 3.0 – The Historical Premise

Note: December 27, 2010:  Much has changed since this essay was first posted in September, 2009.  For starters, the referenced service “Lala.com” has been acquired by Apple, Inc., and is now defunct as we await the delivery of whatever cloud music service the people who brought you the iPod and iTunes and the iPhone have up their sleeve.  And, as mentioned at the very end, the Beatles are finally available in digital format, but only through iTunes, and only for download, still no streaming.  Both topics have been addressed in prior posts).

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The glimmer of a new beginning came at the end.

The “end” in this case is the final scene of a documentary called “Any Day Now,” which follows the summer, 2008 tour of a Nashville-based musicians’ collective called “Ten Out Of Tenn.”

10Tenn The movie documents how ten mostly Nashville-based musicians pooled their resources and put together an extraordinary tour.  All the participants are accomplished musicians and recording artists at various stages in their careers – one or two ‘major label’ names, some coming off major label deals, mostly talented indies still forging their careers amid the ruins of the dying music “industry.”

But what is most compelling about both the movie and the tour it follows is the ‘Ten ouf of Tenn’ experience and its spirit of shared resources.  Traveling individually, each of these artists would have had to book their own gigs, make their own travel arrangements, drive their own cars or rentals, and played their own shows.

By pooling their resources, the ten together could afford to hire a bus and a driver.  And they all became each other’s band.  The film shows them all playing in different combinations, all the accompaniment you could possibly want right there in the pool.  Want to play solo acoustic?   No prob.  But if you need a keyboard or a bassist or even a cello, well guess what, there’s somebody already on the bus who plays what you need to embellish your sound on stage.

Hiresphoto In the film, each of the ten principals performs one of their songs.  The stage performances are interspersed with segments depicting the sort of antics you might expect of creative personalities filling their days on the road.  Each of the performances is captivating, and the all of the clips in between are entertaining and engaging and offer a good sense of just what being on such a tour would be like.

But it is the penultimate scene that seals the deal and, I think, firmly places Ten Out Of Tenn — both the tour and the documentary — squarely astride the shifting paradigms of today’s music experience.

In this nearly final scene the musicians have finished their last show, but no one wants to leave the venue.  Not the audience, not the musicians.  And so the players come down off the stage, and with unplugged acoustic guitars lead their audience in an enthusiastic sing-along of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

In that moment, the proscenium that separates the troubadours from their audience was erased.  The artists became the audience and the audience became the artists.  And I as I felt the chicken skin bubbling up on my arm I turned to the friend who’d invited me to the screening and said “THAT’s ‘Music three-point-oh.'”

Which statement I will now try to defend.

As I see it, “Music 3.0” is the perfect description of the tectonic shift that music — live and recorded – is now experiencing.  And following the transitions from 1.0 to 2.0 gives us some idea what to expect from 3.0

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