Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Kat and I Do Saturday Mornings

No, you weirdos. I'm talking about after we get out of bed.

Kat and I enjoy our routines, and one thing we do every Saturday morning without fail is to listen to the new music releases that have come out in the preceding week. Typically, new music is released on Tuesdays in the USA. Why? No one really knows. Some speculate that it's because Billboard magazine is released on Wednesdays, so the album gets a full seven days of sales that are reflected on the following week's charts.

But that doesn't matter to us. Our new music day is Saturday, simply because that's the first opportunity we have in our busy schedules to sit down and listen to music for an extended time period that's usually uninterrupted. Do we listen to every piece of music that gets released? No, that would be silly. Like anyone, we have our tastes in music, and neither of us are likely to find country, hip hop, or Top 40 pop songs that grab our attention. So, she and I focus on new music in genres that we might find appealing: alternative, and sometimes singer/songwriter.

Here's how it works. We get up unhurriedly, and have coffee (that is a prerequisite; I'm not going to enjoy music while I'm half asleep). Sometimes we shower, dress, and have breakfast first, but there are plenty of times that we just chill in our bathrobes and sweats, and let the music flow. Our preferred method of checking out new music is through the iTunes Store, but I'll back up a moment.

Both of us are avid listeners of LA's main NPR affiliate, 89.9 KCRW. I'd say that KCRW is one of the top five stations in the US for debuting and promoting new music, so it's not uncommon for one or both of us to be aware of a new artist before they release their albums or singles on iTunes. We also will occasionally check various new music sites to see what people are into.

So, Saturday morning comes around. We're in my office/studio. The first thing we do is start up iTunes, and then go to the iTunes Store. Note that there are plenty of other places online to check out new music; we just find this convenient because we both purchase music through iTunes, and we often buy songs we enjoy. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We click on the "Music" menu, and usually navigate straight to "Alternative" in the drop-down menu.

Since our goal is to hear all the new alternative releases for that week, I click the "See All" link in the "New and Noteworthy" area.

Now we have a nice list of new releases to check out, and we do. All of them. It would be pointless if we only listened to the artists and bands with whom we're already familiar. We make it a point to listen to everything that's new for that week. That's how we discover artists that we like, or find new music from artists/bands we know.

Kat and I are fortunate in that almost always, we know immediately whether something is worth a full listen. Our tastes are almost identical, and so are our musical turn-offs. The second we hear stuff that's heavily derivative of other music, or that is painfully autotuned, or otherwise doesn't interest us, I hit the stop button and we move on (often with a snide comment from one or both of us). But when we come across something that is innovative or interesting in any way, we often listen to the preview files of multiple tracks.

The next step is important: if we hear something we really like, we buy it! We buy it then and there, and that lets us support the artists we enjoy, or at least reward those who did cool work for their efforts. Kat is more likely than me to buy entire albums; I tend to cherry-pick through singles that I enjoy (and sometimes end up buying the album piece by piece anyway).

So, do we always buy music every Saturday morning? Hell no! The fact of the matter is that most new music coming out doesn't capture our interest, and a good chunk of it outright sucks (as a lot of music always has since day one). But every week, out of perhaps 25 new releases, we find two or three that we can appreciate for some reason or another. Even then, it doesn't mean I'm going to buy it. Sometimes it's not quite great enough for me to want to listen to over and over again in my music library. But via our Saturday morning routine, I've discovered more new music I like and purchased more new music in the past few years than at any time since I was in my teens. Often, when I find a band I like, I also go back through their catalog and buy more music that they did earlier, but is still "new to me".

That's about it. The entire process takes maybe an hour, and is a great way to start a weekend. It's funny; when we don't do our new music routine for whatever reason, we really miss it, and end up checking out all the new releases we missed the next time we get around to it. But we rarely miss it; it's our routine, and we like it a lot. And, as a result, unlike a lot of people our age, we are completely in tune with what's going on in the music that we like, and not just fixating on music from our own youth. I highly recommend it for anyone who sadly thinks that "there's no good music anymore". There most certainly is, lots and lots of it. You just have to find it.

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