Gigmor’s New Live Music Marketplace

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Gigmor’s new live music marketplace. Our mission has always been to develop innovative technology that addresses inefficiencies in the music business. We started by matching musicians with compatible players in their area. Today we added a crucial element: connecting them to paying gigs. The Gigmor network now has 50,000 artists who have played at over 1,500 venues in the US and Canada.

Our team has been working hard since last summer building our new site: a next generation booking platform focused on helping talent seekers find and book qualified talent for their venue or event. (A talent seeker is anyone looking to hire musicians, e.g., talent buyers, venue managers, promoters, event planners, festivals, colleges and individuals.)

Talent seekers can now publish gig posts and when artists apply to those posts, talent seekers can see their music, ratings/reviews and gigging history before making a hiring decision. Artists can post avails, which will become a valuable directory of independent artists for consumers and industry pros alike. Members can follow each other, allowing them to track the posting and booking activity of other members. We’ll soon be adding robust analytics tools that will help quantify emerging artists’ fan bases by city or region.

We’re super stoked about the new site. But we’re really just getting started—we have a ton of enhancements in the works.

We want more people to experience the joy of live music because Gigmor has made it easy to find and book the right talent!

In Memoriam: Mr. Leonard Cohen

When Leonard Cohen was 32 years old, he told his good friend, Adrienne Clarkson (the 26th Governor General of Canada) that poetry was, in many ways, analogous to polishing shoes. When she questioned his remark, he explained: “If you want people to have shiny shoes, you want to write those very good kinds of instructions.”

That phrasing —  “very good kinds of instructions” — feels  like an inadequate description of Cohen’s lifework. The Canadian-born, first-poet and second-musician was one of the greatest songwriters of our time, his only competition being with other greats like Dylan, Cash, and Williams. His songs were marvelously specific and contextual, yet always close enough to the imagination to be understandable. Cohen sang of long nights spent over red wine and cigarettes. He sang of his women lost and won, found in the misty halls of the Chelsea Hotel #2 or his moments spent next to the naked, the beautiful Suzanne. For all of the intertextuality that Cohen’s songs held, he never waned far from the truth that he understood. He was a famous lover of women who had a certain obsession with sexual love and the concurrent bodily pain of loneliness.

“Woman is the context of a man’s life. A man is the context of a woman’s life. That’s all we’re doing,” he told Clarkson in a 1989 interview. What love is, he continued, is the act of writing a song, endearment by endearment, touch by touch.

 

"Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen

 

No one can try to discuss Cohen’s songwriting prowess without mentioning his most well-known and respected masterpiece, the song that almost killed him: Hallelujah. Cohen wrote about 80 drafts verse for the song. One writing session at the Royalton Hotel in New York is remembered, when the writing of the song reduced Cohen to his underwear, banging his head into the ground. The original version of the song, as recorded on his Various Positions album, mentions several more biblical references than the most famous versions of the song.

Malcolm Gladwell recently discussed the song’s rise to fame. On his podcast, Revisionist History, Gladwell walked listeners through the agonizingly long time it took for Hallelujah to reach even mild fame. After taking Cohen a total of five years to write the song, the record companies didn’t like it. In 1984, CBS Records passed on Cohen’s album with the original “Hallelujah.” “It barely makes a ripple,” says Gladwell. And it’s true: Cohen went back and made edits to the song. He cleaned up the first verses, made it longer and darker, and shipped it back to the record company. It was eventually recorded, but not until musician John Cale reproduced the song did it start to seep into popular culture.

Cale reexamined Hallelujah, as most musicians must when approaching the delicate creation of another artist. He brought a level of vocal somberness and deep sincerity that Cohen couldn’t. Following Cale, with an electric guitar this time, Jeff Buckley brought up the song to even greater, inexplicably famous heights. With Buckley’s weepy, heart-wrenching musing of the song, “Hallelujah” reached equilibrium in both of its expression: as a poem and as a song.

With age, Cohen’s voice became more and more of a gravelly baritone. With age, his musicality did not change. He played simple chords on an acoustic guitar or chords on some cheap piano. At some points, or at most points, Cohen was anything but prolific. He spent years struggling to write something with strength, though it was those songs who were quickly transformed into the most celebrated, most beloved songs he would create. Among his 14 studio albums, there aren’t meant gold-plated hits. But there are miles and miles of poetry, of misunderstanding and understanding, of sex and love and everything in between, with wine and cigarettes and the moments shared in between.

Spotify And Apple Music And Dubset

The biggest differentiator to once exist between SoundCloud and all other popular music streaming sites was the website’s offering of unofficial, user-uploaded content that the major labels don’t release. But back in March and May of this year, Spotify and Apple Music broke deals with Dubset, a music rights management service. And as of this past Friday, Spotify started finally using this service and streaming original mixes. The first song to be released in this new, mixed originals format is DJ Jazzy Jeff’s recreation of Anderson .Paak’s “Room in Here.”

What does this addition mean to for musicians and the music streaming sites that support them? Dubset’s service is reassuring in its promise to piece apart the artists included in the production of a track. Dubset helps Apple and Spotify to navigate who is going to get the royalties (DJs, labels, and publishers) when something is being listened to. But what does this mean on a larger scale? How could this change the music industry? Or would it at all?

SoundCloud and Spotify and Apple Music offered a variety of services across the three platforms, but there were always some characteristics that were specific to each. SoundCloud offered song remixes, Spotify offered easy personalization, and Apple Music offered the artist-created radio stations and playlists (Beats Radio is regularly recognized as the savior of the music streaming site). Now that SoundCloud’s strength has been effectively removed from the site, its decline will be all the more swift. 700 million people listen to mixed content last year. It’s a huge market of people that SoundCloud is about to lose to the Spotify and Apple Music giants.

The economic effects of this change isn’t all that concerning. Dubset, as a service, guarantees proper payment to the appropriate parties. But what remains of concern is how the market will react. Will Apple Music and Spotify rise up as the almighty holders of streaming music? How will the market react? Will the wealth be spread or left alone to exist in these places-to-find-music places? The market will hopefully respond with something new. The market will provide more options new and upcoming artists to post onto. The market could develop something new. More money will be spread, but music streaming options will be more limited. And with more market share means a larger hold of one company on all of its customers. So the musicians and the listeners can listen to and endorse more artists — and that has always been a good thing.

Spotlight on Alex Bloom: The College-Grad Among Us With An Album

It typically takes people a long time, or a while, or a lifetime to figure out what they want to do (in your career, in your life). And it usually takes even longer for most of us to figure out what we are good at (in our careers, and in our lives). Through the rose-colored frames that artistry brings, it’s easy to imagine that the creative types have it all mapped out in front of them. From the outside looking it, the artists seem cosmically preordained.

Gigmor sat down with Alex Bloom, a recent graduate of USC’s Thorton School of Music. A couple of months after graduation, he released his first solo project, Blue Room. Lyrically and musically, the album is touching. It’s only noticeable similarity to music today is in how original it is. Blue Room has complex simplicity —á la the Beatles—with nuances of Fleet Foxes folk and something similar to Elliot Smith. It’s a first album to be proud of. Alex spoke with us about his college experience, his non-cosmic ordination, and how he wrote the album.

Gigmor: So, you did it!  You made an album!

Alex: May 6th it was finished. And then I finished up a short film that will be coming out to soon for the album. feels like something coming to a close. I’ve been getting a lot of really great feedback, and it’s opening a lot of doors to writing with other artists or producing with them.

It’s like updating your LinkedIn profile after you getting a job, isn’t it? The second you get a job, the Internet starts e-mailing you.

Yes it’s like that. When I put out the album I started getting contacted by more musicians and artists being like, “Oh, you make music, too? Great, yes let’s collaborate.” And it’s really nice to feel some sort of validation for all that I’ve been working on for so long. In the meantime, when all things aren’t focused on writing and music, I’ve been working in a studio. I help with production and other little odd jobs around the studio. So that’s been cool. I don’t know, life is in a little bit of weird place right now.

Preach, same.

I spend a majority of my time writing demos and working on music.

I have another age-related question for you. I think that a lot of kids our age (the recent college grads and 20-somethings) are going through the motions of what they think they should be doing right now. They aren’t sure how happy it will make them in the long-term or even sometimes in the short-term, but they are doing it anyways. Do you feel that way ever about music? I’m trying to imagine what these feelings would be like for a young musician or artist or anyone that has started in on some specific, more creative path.

I’ve been working on music since I was about fourteen or fifteen years old. I’ve always had that to fall back on no matter what happens. Going to music school was kind of a consequence of that. I wanted to make music and become a better musician in whatever capacity I could. I still have this thing, writing songs and doing music in general. I guess the difference between me coming home from music school and someone like you coming back from Michigan — they have a job that they go to from 9 to 5. There is more structure there. I do all my ‘work’ on my own time. Or all the time. I don’t know, it sounds cliché.

No, no it doesn’t, it makes sense. You’ve figured it all out then, no more struggle.

(laughing) Yes, yes I’m set. No more struggle. Life is perfect.

Great, excellent. Interview over.

No, honestly it feels more like a constant struggle. I worked with a producer once who asked me about my highest aspiration for my music career and where I see it going. And I couldn’t really answer him, because I haven’t really thought that far ahead. So it’s pretty scary because I don’t know what lies ahead, and I don’t know what will be required from me moving forward in this career path. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been always doing since I was a kid. I’m lucky that I get to do what I love, but it’s still pretty scary. So I combat that fear with low expectations.

Makes sense. Let’s get into the making of the album. How was the writing process for you?

I decided last summer that I wanted to record. I was making demos in a studio in my backyard. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos to teach myself different instruments, like learning how to play the drums and tune them, too. I loved doing it, and I learned how to arrange music in the process. A lot of these songs were from that. Three or four are just from me in my backyard. There are a couple others that will never see the light of day.

In terms of when and how I wrote them, it was a gradual thing that happened over the past year. I wrote “One More Shot” in November of this year. It really all came together at the end of the year — I was taking too many credits at school and things got busy. So I’m glad I eventually got myself to complete it.

How did your music school education play into the making of this album? I don’t imagine that you sat down and wrote charts out for it. It was probably more organic than that, like you just messing around in your backyard.

Yeah, yeah that’s interesting. Writing and composing music for class is so much different for a class. I took a music arranging class and learned a bunch of things that nobody really needs to know about. Or with music theory classes, I would look at the mathematics of music. But when I’m arranging and writing my own music it’s all just by ear. I’m not bogged down by the logistics of it all, of all those things I learned in school, and I think I’m lucky to still have that. That was one of my biggest fears when I got to college, especially since when I got there I didn’t know how to read music.

You listen to the Beatles. You can just tell from listening to your album that you listen to a lot of the Beatles.

Oh yeah. They are the band that I always go back to. They’re probably my favorite band.

It’s that developed pop song vibe you’ve got going that made me think that. The pop song that sounds simple but is highly developed. Kudos to you there.

Listen to Alex Bloom’s album, Blue Room, on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music, and make sure to check out his profile on Gigmor.

Photo by Halle Pelfrey

Francis and the Lights: Farewell! Starlite

 

Many just met Francis Farewell Starlite of Francis and the Lights. To the many, he was just introduced to the mainstream music scene by hip hop’s youngest prophet, Chance the Rapper. Francis and the Lights wandered between the ears of Chance’s dedicated followers as the opening melodic, electronic mumblings to “Summer Friends,” the third track on Chance’s Coloring Book. Quickly, and then perhaps purposefully, Francis and the Lights became to Chance what Justin Vernon is to Kanye: a softer, electronic-heavy hype man production artist with a portfolio speckled by all genres of music.

Justin Vernon has offered hifranciss musical mastery across all named genres of the music industry. He went from “Skinny Love” to the Staves to Volcano Choir to the confusing, haunting madness in Kanye’s 2010 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Francis Farewell Starlite is more or less the same. From his underrated 2013 EP Like a Dream to his film score for Robot & Frank to the quiet genius of his production on Drake’s Thank Me Later  and Donnie Trumpet’s Surf, it’s clear that what he has is pure, unexaggerated talent that won’t be tarnished by the selfish lover that is fame.

Farewell! Starlite is now streaming for free on the Francis and the Lights website and Apple Music as well (if you too have sold your wallet and soul to the bigger man of poor music streaming sites). A generous, overeager fan such as myself will tell you to drop everything — ignore all else!! — until you hear Starlite’s long-awaited release. And a new, Chancellor the Rapper groupie would probably tell you the same.

It’s by far one of the most original albums of the year, and is most succinctly described as a detail-oriented, thought-provoking, somewhat haunting 40 minute playlist from inside Francis Starlite’s hidden, enigmatic person and mind.

The Internet activity surrounding Francis and the Lights isn’t heavy, but it still remains cult-like. Francis’s black-and-white, typically unexplainable music videos drew original, quiet fandom. That was 2013. This is 2016, when artists like Kanye West, Justin Vernon, and Chance the Rapper are drawn closer to Starlite’s magic. And in 2016, the music videos and music remain magical: minimal with the overwhelming ability to captive listeners with untouchable simplicity.

With detailed and disciplined choreography, production, style, and presentation, Francis Starlite has been basking in his quiet genius for over a decade now. He has been lurking in the corners of Spotify and Soundcloud, buried deep in the production notes of Drake’s or Birdy’s or Donnie Trumpet’s respective albums. But we learn then, through dear Francis, that with patience and humility comes power, grace, and an almost perfect understanding of one’s craft.

Calculated but not intentional, delicate but tough, the album stretches and expands to the hearts and ears of its listeners. Take a look and a listen: whether he is interested or not, Farewell! Starlite is about to propel itself to indie stardom.

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