Saturday's Radio Dispatch - Issue #2

 

Hello!

Rob Christensen here from Saturday’s Radio. We thought it was time to send out a newsletter to let you know what the boys and girls of Saturday’s Radio have been up to. 

  • This week we continued the Saturday’s Radio reissue program and put out a remastered version of our third album, Opera Alley. Like our previous reissues, we think it sounds much better than the original that came out way back in 2000.  It’s more full and less harsh. Like Smile Slightly and The Truth Hurts, it’s available for download on iTunes,Amazon, and CDBaby, and can be streamed on Spotify, Rhapsody, etc. 

  • We’ve put up several more songs on YouTube, including lyric videos for “Sorry Again”, ”Thirteen Weeks”, and “Cracked”, and fun little video featuring 1921 Harold Lloyd clips for “Free For All”. We’ll get some videos up for Opera Alley in the very near future. 

  • Don’t forget to check out our Weekly Music Poll. We were doing a daily poll, but for a variety of reasons we’ve decided to make it, you guessed it, weekly. This week we’re asking folks to pick an American band from the sixties. The choices are The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doors, and The Velvet Underground. Last week The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Who all tied for favorite sixties British band. 

  • We’ve been setting up more Saturday’s Radio Stations along the frontier that is the Internet. Check us out on BandcampReverbNationTumblr, and Google+. We’ve also got pages under construction on  SoundCloud and MySpace. And don’t forget, we love our Twitter followers and to folks who “Like” our Facebook page. 

  • Future plans for Saturday’s Radio include the remixing and remastering of album #4 Roses For Sharon in the fall and a solo acoustic tour next summer. If you’d like me to play in your town please leave a note. If you can bring a bunch of friends and/or provide a couch or spare bedroom that would be just super!

Take care!   - Rob Christensen & Saturday’s Radio

 

What it's like to be the sad man...

 

Review - Behind Blue Eyes - Love Reign O'er Me - by Anne-Marie Klein

 

Behind Blue Eyes: Love Reign O'er Me is a work of "rock fiction" by Toronto author Anne-Marie Klein. It's the first in a planned series of four books; the second, Behind Blue Eyes: Love Ain't For Keeping, is also available, while volumes three and four are in the works. 

 

First, what is “rock fiction?” It’s a novel that uses rock music as part of its subject matter. In this case the main characters are musicians. 

 

Behind Blue Eyes: Love Reign O'er Me takes place in Toronto in 1978 and 1979. It centers around the life, triumphs, and troubles of young songwriter Ian Harrington. Ian is extremely talented and good looking, but he’s also very insecure. He's the victim of an emotional detached upbringing, his own heightened sensitivity, and formative years spent in British boarding schools. Ian was born into privilege but has trouble navigating the world.

 

The story opens with Ian meeting Sarah, a beautiful young daughter of a successful record executive. Sarah takes Ian into her world and offers him the potential to make all of his dreams come true. Ian goes for it, but life for him is never easy. His demons constantly threaten to sabotage everything he and the people around him are working so hard to build. 

 

Along the way we meet a fabulous cast of characters in various bandmates, relatives, music people, and fashion models. As the months of 1979 Toronto roll by, things turn on a dime; just when you think all is going well, situations change. 

 

Behind Blue Eyes: Love Reign O'er Me is a wonderfully entertaining novel. Its period details are accurate, its scenes are engrossing and surprising, and Klein's love of music and of the city of Toronto shine through. I can't wait to read the second book in the series and see what happens in the lives of Ian, Sarah, and the rest.

 

The Behind Blue Eyes series is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

 

A Reality of Middle Age?

 

I've, of course, never met that special someone I wanted to settle down & raise a family with. And I used to BURN for that. Big decisions were made based on that desire. Now, in my mid-40's, that just doesn't seem so important. Living the kind of life I want and experiencing the joys and wonders of the world now seems more important than settling down, staying put, and raising kids. I wonder if that's biological? While I'm technically not past parenting age, many of the people I went to school with now have adult children. Some of my peers are even grandparents. I can't imagine. It's not that I'm adverse to the idea of settling down. It's just no longer a top priority. Thoughts?

 

Daily Music Poll Results - July 22-28

 

Here are the results of our Daily Music Poll for the week of July 22 - 28:

 

Sunday, July 22 -  We asked which Wilco album you preferred, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or A Ghost Is Born? YHF won unanimously, 3 to 0.

 

Monday, July 23 - Fans of The Who picked "Won't Get Fooled Again" unanimously (3 to 0) over "Who Are You". We'd have to agree.

 

Tuesday, July 24 - We asked which Quadrophenia song you liked more, "5:15" or "Love Reign O'er Me". "5:15" won out, 1 to 0. However, Behind Blue Eyes (A great music related novel!) author Anne-Marie Klein missed the vote and later said, “LROM of course. :) I think it is one of truly great songs Pete has written- superb lyrics, and such a great vocal by Roger.” Very well put.

 

Wednesday, July 25 - Voters unanimously picked acoustic guitars over those of the electric variety. Personally, I'd hate to be without either, but if I had to make a choice to have only one it would be an acoustic. 

 

Thursday, July 26 - We asked: Albums or Concerts? Voting was split exactly down the middle. To me the best bands and musicians pull them both off well. That said, some bands are fantastic live but don't make great records, and that's totally okay. Likewise, some bands make great records and aren't super good live. That's okay too. It's all part of this wonderful world of music.

 

Friday, July 27 - This Daily Music Poll generated the greatest response so far. We asked, Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen? We had five voters (Which might not sound like much, but we're building this thing slowly & five voters makes us very happy, especially when compared with two or three.) - 3 voted for Tom Petty and 2 for Bruce Springsteen.

 

Saturday, July 28 - We asked, simply, “Solo Beatle, Lennon or McCartney?”. Two folks voted for Paul McCartney, one for John Lennon. 

 

Thanks again to everyone who voted or who chimed in on Facebook and Twitter. If you can, stop by http://saturdaysradio.com daily and take the poll. It'll be more interesting and more fun if more people participate. We try to post reminders on Facebook and Twitter mornings and evenings. 

 

Daily Music Poll results - July 15-21

 

Here are the results of our Daily Music Poll for the week of July 15 - 21. (Apologies for being a little late with this one.)

 

Sunday, July 15 - Bruce Springsteen fans voted for The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle over Nebraska, 1 to 0.

 

Monday, July 16 - In our Police albums poll, two people picked Synchronicity and one person picked Zenyatta Mondata. 

 

Tuesday, July 17 - Folks recommended Elliott Smith's Either/Or over his XO by a vote of 2 to 0. One Twitter follower stated that they were both great albums, to which I wholeheartedly agree. 

 

Wednesday, July 18 - Paul McCartney fans recommended RAM over Band On The Run by a ratio of 2 to 1. I have to say I was a little surprised. While I love RAM, to me Band On The Run is a perfect album. 

 

Thursday, July 19 - We asked if you preferred music from the sixties or the seventies; the results were split down the middle.

 

Friday, July 20 - Voters favored 80's music over music of the 90's by a ratio of 4 to 1.

 

Saturday, July 21 - Our Daily Music Poll asked Wilco fans if they preferred Being There or Summerteeth. Being There was the unanimous choice, 2 to 0.

 

Thanks to everyone who voted or who chimed in on Facebook and Twitter. If you can, stop by http://saturdaysradio.com daily and take the poll. It'll be more interesting and more fun if more people participate. We try to post reminders on Facebook and Twitter mornings and evenings. 

 

Music These Days

 

Yesterday the NME published the results of a new study by some Spanish scientists. This study concluded that “pop music has steadily become louder and blander over the last 50 years.”

 

To a lot of people this will come as no surprise. I put up a link to the NME article on my Twitter feed and got a few “my suspicions are confirmed” re-tweets. I agree. And I disagree. But before I get into my reasons, here’s the text of the NME story for your reference:

 

A Spanish research team analysed pop songs recorded between 1955 and 2010 by delving into an extensive archive called the Million Song Dataset. After applying algorithms to the music in the archive, they found that pop songs have become "intrinsically louder" and less varied in terms of chords and melodies.

Explaining his team's findings, Joan Serra of the Spanish National Research Council told Reuters: "We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse. In particular, we obtained numerical indicators that the diversity of transitions between note combinations – roughly speaking chords plus melodies – has consistently diminished in the last 50 years."

Serra's team also wrote in their study – published in the Scientific Reports journal - that pop music's "timbre palette" has become less extensive, meaning that songs are featuring fewer and fewer different sounds.

However, Serra's team found that pop music has advanced in one area over the last 50 years: so-called "intrinsic loudness". This term refers to the intensity at which a song is recorded, so a song played at the same volume as another can seem noisier if its "intrinsic loudness" value is greater. 

--

Interesting. Let’s look at this.

First, the team analyzed “pop songs.” I take that as “popular songs”. Chart songs. Songs that the masses like. Black-Eyed Peas, Li’l Wayne, Carrie Underwood. American Idol. If you don’t LOVE music, you’re going to only hear about new music from the radio, TV, or from your friends (who probably also don’t LOVE music). 

Average people have many more entertainment choices to spend their time and money on these days. During rock music’s peak, let’s say from 1964 to 1980, people couldn’t buy movies, entire seasons of TV shows (much less single episodes), and video games (at least not the great engrossing ones we have today). Of course there was no internet to eat up our time. Your only buy-and-take-home-access-when-you-want entertainment options were books and music. Television viewing was restricted to the networks and a couple of independent channels, not the hundreds of channels streaming into homes today.

In addition to all of these alternate entertainment options, there’s 30+ more years of music vying for our attention. Some people undoubtedly stick to the music of their youth, the music they’re most familiar with simply because they don’t want to, or don’t have the time to, seek out good new music. They’ve got their group of songs & artists they love. They’re set. Time to take care of other parts of their lives.   

I remember driving up the Oregon Coast while on tour in 2000 and going through lots of wonderful little seaside towns, thinking “What a great spot for a record store! I wonder if I’ll find one?”, and seeing video rental stores instead. Now those video rental stores have all but disappeared. But I digress...

In that glorious period between 1964 and 1980 more people invested time and money into music. They listened to their records. When I was a kid my dad used to build a fire in the living room fireplace and we’d put on records. We didn’t have a VCR or even a color television. Music wasn’t merely in the background back then. People wanted quality stuff. Business-wise, record companies invested in finding quality artists and facilitated the making of quality records. 

In the present day, music has become cheapened and disposable to the average person. Not only is music everywhere and easy to get, but there are all those other entertainment options mentioned above. Most people don’t spend time with music and thus will simply take what is given them. It’s human nature. Similarly, most people will eat bland food at McDonalds, drink bland beverages, watch bland movies, etc. We’ll take what’s presented to us & go for the easiest option. Especially with music. 

The good news is that there are still many great music makers around and more coming up every day. People who love music will seek out great music. It’s there to be had. The downside for the music lover, and maybe this isn’t a downside at all, is that your average co-worker won’t have a clue about the artists you listen to, whereas in the 60’s and 70’s they knew who the Beatles and Elton John were. Our love of, say, DeVotchka, Neko Case, and even Wilco is our little secret.       

The study points out “The diversity of transitions between note combinations has consistently diminished over the last 50 years.” Melody. I don’t know about the last 50 years, but hip-hop has been mainstream for at least the last 25. Hip-hop has by far been the biggest influence on popular music during that time. And hip-hop isn’t really about melody. 

The study also says that pop music’s “timbre palette” has become less extensive. I think this, again, is because average listeners (or, more accurately, “music consumers”)  invest less time into music. They want what they know. They want bland. They aren’t looking for new sounds. 

As time has gone on, pop music making has become more about finding the formula that guarantees sales. I’ve attended many music making workshops over the last several years and I’ve repeatedly heard, “This is how you have to do it; these are the established techniques.” In one workshop the presenter actually said, “If you want a major record company to put out your song, you have to use AutoTune.” Have to. Or else your record won’t be touched by the corporations with major marketing muscle to get your song out to the average music consumer. And they’re right from a business standpoint. These huge corporations are not going to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on something the average consumer will reject on the grounds that it “sounds weird.”

Interestingly, hip-hop and dance have been most innovative in giving us new sounds.  Examples include the Bomb Squad’s extensive use and manipulation of samples, the Wu Tang Clan’s innovations, and Cher’s use of AutoTune on “Believe.” (Hip-hop and dance are definitely not my areas of expertise, so I’m sure I’ve neglected some great examples.)

Finally, popular music was innovative back in the glory days because artists were encouraged to develop. Listeners craved new sounds and songs with depth rather than simply something familiar. Big record companies were willing to support artists and nurture their talents because many of those investments would pay huge dividends. Today mainstream artists are forced to go with the status quo and purposely make bland records because that’s what will sell. Big record companies want artists who won’t rock the boat. Lesser-known artists often struggle financially, have to work other jobs, and don’t have the time or energy to be innovative (thankfully, technology is helping on this front). Most artists need time and support to flourish and develop. Elliott Smith, for example, was a struggling songwriter hanging drywall to pay the bills. When he landed a publishing deal and could write full time, his songwriting grew by leaps and bounds. 

Despite what was reported in this study there is plenty of great music being made. True music fans know where to look for it. The rest of the people can accept the current state of mainstream music and gripe that “music was a lot better when I was young.” I would say that it’s their loss, but it’s really not a loss for them if they just don’t care. I don’t begrudge them for that. We all have lives.

Now go listen to some good music!

 

 

 

Prices Slashed! (here's why)

 

Yesterday evening there was a heated but ultimately productive discussion at Saturday's Radio World Headquarters: 

 

Marketing expert: "We need to reach as many people as possible. We need to give some music away for free to spread the word. We also need to make the rest cheap enough to entice people who aren't familiar with Saturday's Radio to buy without risking too much of their hard-earned money."

  Manager: "If we make our music cheap people may think of it as 'cheap,' as in poorly made. Perception means SO much."

Accountant: "We need to make enough money to cover our expenses & get Saturday's Radio out on the road. We need to look at our options and figure out the best way to do that."

Artist: "Man, I just want to make music." 

Marketing expert: "'Cheap' doesn't exist in the age of digital media. People know that low price is not an indication of low quality anymore. That's why great  software applications, eBooks, and music downloads are often very inexpensive or even free. There's so much stuff out there that people want to experience, but they often don't have a lot of money in this economy. They will be much more likely, as I said, to take a chance on something unfamiliar if they don't have to spend much money to do it."

She continued, "If someone basically hasn't heard of you, they're not going to take a chance on your music, or eBook, game, or whatever, above a certain price point. In the Long Tail economy, nobody's going to buy your mp3 album for $9.99 if they aren't already familiar with you. Saturday's Radio isn't the Beatles. Even someone as established and respected as Neil Young isn't selling a lot of his current music, and that's because it's priced too high. You're a Neil Young fan, Mr. Artist. You'd probably buy "Americana" if it were $6.99. But even at a sale price of $12.99 for the CD you didn't buy it, did you? Face it, almost nobody's heard of Saturday's Radio. Put your albums up at, say, $4.49 and see what happens. I'll bet more new people will buy. You can afford it, you have a good day job. I'd even venture that you can't afford NOT to do it."

Manager: "She's right, you know. As Seth Godin has said, the enemy of the modern musician isn't piracy, it's obscurity. Now's the time to get new folks interested & build a base of people who will love your songs. We all know about the '1000 True Fans' principal, right? Now's the time to court those great folks who might become 'True Fans'. Now we don't have much control over iTunes or Amazon prices, but we can set our price at CDBaby. We can price our albums at $4.49 and point people there."

Artist: "Sounds good, man. I just want to make music."  

 

Okay, I admit that all these people exist only in my head. But these are things I think about. 

Several days back I put up a Daily Poll question relating to The Who and tried to find like-minded folks, Who fans, on Twitter. One person I met, in the online sense, was Anne-Marie Klein, who has recently self-published two books (two more are on the way), fictional works, inspired by The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes." I found her books on Amazon, read the descriptions, and because they were priced at a very reasonable $4.49, I decided to buy and try one. I'm now thoroughly enjoying it. My point, however, is that know I wouldn't have purchased the book if it were priced much higher. That price of $4.49 made it a risk-free purchase. 

So, for the time being anyway, inspired by Anne-Marie & my own buying decision, I'm going to price Saturday's Radio albums at $4.49 for a digital download on CDBaby. As you can tell from the above imaginary conversation, the pricing of Saturday's Radio music is something I wrestle with. But for the foreseeable future I'm going to take our marketing expert's advice. She's a pretty smart cookie. 

Here are the links to purchase Saturday's Radio album downloads for $4.49 from CDBaby:

Smile Slightly

The Truth Hurts.


 

Music Lovers Daily Poll Recap, July 8-14

 

About a week ago I started the "Music Lovers Daily Poll" on our website, http://saturdaysradio.com. It's pretty simple and asks folks to choose between two music related things, i.e. "Beatles of Rolling Stones". I hope it'll be a fun way to bring people to the site and give them a way to participate. So far the record number of votes is 4, so we're off to a kind of slow start. But we're going to keep it going for at least a few months and see if it'll pick up speed. It's fun & it gives me a motivation to update the site on a daily basis, something I haven't been super good at in the past. 

 

Here are our Daily Poll questions for week one:

 

Sunday, July 8 - Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Beatles - 2

Rolling Stones - 0

 

Monday, July 9 - For Neil Young fans -

Harvest - 2

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere - 0

 

Tuesday, July 10 - For 80's New Wave Synth-Pop fans (inspired by my pal Melanie) -

Human League - 2

Howard Jones - 0

 

Wednesday, July 11 - For fans of The Who -

Tommy - 1

Quadrophenia - 1 

 

Thursday, July 12 - For Bob Dylan fans -

Blood on the Tracks - 2

Blonde on Blonde - 1

 

Friday, July 13 - For Neko Case fans (I saw her play in Richmond that night!)-

Fox Confessor Brings The Flood - 1

Middle Cyclone - 1

 

Saturday, July 14 - Husker Du or The Replacements?

Husker Du - 2

The Replacements - 1 

 

So there ya go. If you can, stop by daily and take the poll. It'll be more interesting and more fun if more people participate. We try to post reminders on Facebook and Twitter mornings and evenings. 


 

Saturday's Radio Dispatch - Issue #1

 

Rob Christensen here. Long time, no see! I've been pretty busy doing music stuff over the past several months. Doing what, you ask? Well...

In March I started shifting all of my musical doings to the band name "Saturday's Radio". I've always felt like I wanted a buffer between "me" and my music projects. For instance, I'd like to make t-shirts and stickers, but I've never been comfortable with the idea of having my own name on them. So Saturday's Radio it is. It's no longer "I"; now it's "we". That is me, my imaginary bandmates, and whomever I happen to be working with at any given time. www.robchristensen.com is going away next year.www.saturdaysradio.com is our new domain. See below for more. 

In April we put out a remastered version of album #1, Smile Slightly, under the Saturday's Radio name. We think it sounds great! At this point it's download-only. In the future we'll see what happens with audio formats and go from there. I'm sure we'll put out CD's eventually. Maybe even vinyl! For now,  Smile Slightly is available on iTunesAmazonCDBaby, and several other spots on the World Wide Webs. You can also check it out on streaming sites like Spotify and Rhapsody. 

We've put up several songs on YouTube, including "These Days", "For Kurt Cobain (8 Apr 94)",  "Blue Blue Sky", "Forever", and the instrumental title track from Smile Slightly.

 This week we continued the Saturday's Radio reissue program and put out a remastered version of The Truth Hurts. It too sounds much better - more full and less harsh. Like Smile Slightly, it's available for download oniTunes, AmazonCDBaby, and can be streamed on Spotify, Rhapsody, etc. 

Also this week we completed our Saturday's Radio Website re-design. It's got links for free music, photos, articles, reviews, music links, and more. We're very proud of it. Check it out! (And keep checking back for updates and our daily just-for-fun "Question of the Day".)

Finally, we put out the first issue of this here email newsletter. Though there's a lot of newssue is definitely an experiment. We're using a new service, so we're not sure what this will actually look like in your inbox. It's been a long time since we've sent anything out to folks on the mailing list and we've probably got a lot of expired email addresses to clean up. I know that some of you are folks I've lost contact with - perhaps we went to school together several years ago,  met at music conferences, or otherwise crossed paths in our respective travels. Hope yr well. If you've moved on or don't want your email inbox cluttered with more stuff, feel free to unsubscribe below, no hard feelings. The girls & boys of Saturday's Radio want you to enjoy receiving these little updates. Our aim at this point is to put them out on the first Tuesday of every month, so look for the next Saturday's Radio Dispatch on August 7th.

One last piece of business - When new folks sign up on the website to receive The Saturday's Radio Dispatch, they get a link to an exclusive previously-unreleased mp3 of an early take of The Truth Hurts' "Sorry Again". Sign up in the box at the upper left. 

Enjoy your summer! Drop me a line - heyrob [at] saturdaysradio.com.

- Rob Christensen & Saturday's Radio