Where Are The Taste Makers?

Tastemaker Feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Where are the taste makers? Does anybody take the time to go down the “Rabbit Hole” on ReverbNation?

Does anybody click on “If you like this, then you’ll like this” on Pandora?

I did once.  The song sucked.  I never did it again.  There’s no filter, man, I don’t have time to risk it.

We Need The Taste Makers

What is really missing in the new music industry is the trusted taste maker, man. We need a taste maker and platform that allows the taste maker to curate.  I mean terrestrial radio had the DJ’s and then the Program Directors thatTaste Makers Radio DJ image ultimately decided what you were going to be exposed to.  Of course their filter was the record labels, which was a pretty effective filter as the labels really needed to believe, back in the day, that the artist would break before they sunk 3 albums worth of capital into the project.  My buddy Brian down the street who turned me on to all the cool bands was quite effective.  I also had MTV (believe it or not they used to only play music videos) which created their playlists using the labels as a filter, a curator, if you will.  You either liked it or you hated any new songs BASED ON YOUR TASTE but the quality of the recordings and the quality of the songwriting always had a certain level of professionalism; the bar was high.

This techie, algorithm crap that keeps getting shoved down our throats by EVERY ONE of these startup “internet radio” companies SUCKS.  It is NOT EFFECTIVE.  Want proof?  What band has ever “BROKE” on internet radio?  What artist has ever been launched into orbit after being “discovered” on Spotify, or Pandora, or Slacker, or Deezer, or any of these other dumb-ass online sites?  It’s definitely happened on YouTube but that isn’t really internet radio, although it can behave as such.  The video aspect of it helps create the viral effect.  Many artists have broken on YouTube, btw; new, incredibly talented artists.  This doesn’t happen with the websites that are audio only.

They’re fucking it up.

Music is personal.  Music is spiritual.  Music is emotional.  They will never invent the perfect algorithm that takes the place of the taste maker.  They don’t realize this because they’re techies.  Trust me; this isn’t the first time that a bunch of engineers have thought that the solution was all scientific.  Without Steve Jobs understanding the need for both science and control, Apple products would suck just as much as your Android and PC do; and they do suck, you just don’t want to admit it.

CONSUMERS DON’T HAVE TIME TO GO DIGGING DOWN SOME SHITTY “RABBIT HOLE” TO FIND THE NEXT BIG ARTIST THEY WILL SUPPORT!  They will only continue to visit these sites to hear the crusty old songs they are searching for.

And there’s the rub.  You have to be exposed to something that you like first, before you go “searching for it”.  So to me, every one of these sites is nothing more that big-ass, worldwide Tower Records Store.  I never went into Tower Records (back in the day they used to have record stores and stuff, they were massive like Wal-Mart spaces with Taste Maker MTV image

droves of music available to purchase) to aimlessly walk around looking at random Album or CD cases to find some cool music, I actually had an agenda.  I actually KNEW what I was looking for, because I was exposed to it via terrestrial radio, MTV, or my good buddy, Brian.  OK, there was a little stretch of time where I went into the Mom & Pop record store in Lake Geneva, WI to aimlessly meander around and look at CD covers, but that’s because I was in love with Nancy the check out girl; I was trying to get laid!  FYI, she was really hot…and really crazy.

I realize there are some of you ARE the person that would buy music based on the album art, and you what I would define as the local TASTE MAKER.  You are the one that always has the killer new CD first before anyone else on the block did.  Brian was my local taste maker and a trusted friend but even he didn’t consume music by searching for it, he had an older brother and sister that turned HIM onto the good stuff.  However, while this local tastemaker is an important role to be sure, mass consumers do not consume music this.  They simply don’t have the time.  So why are we consistently setting up the new internet radio sites to enable mass consumers to behave like a local taste maker?


Who will be the first company to create an internet radio that is for just the indie artists?

Who will be the first company to pick good, solid, NEW music and market it online to the world?  I mean, creating web traffic is not as much of a mystery these days as it once was, right?

Am I that far off to believe that once you build something like this, provided the quality of the music is GOOD, people would catch on?  I think about this on a business level often.  New York City is the #1 radio market in America.  With some 14 million people living there, how many of them are listening to the Rock or Country station at any given time?  More so during drive time to be sure, maybe a few million?  750,000?  Once this WiFi thing becomes ubiquitous in automobiles (say 5-7 years), a REAL Internet radio station could do some serious damage.  Creating a listenership that would dwarf any station in New York, or L.A., or Mexico City.

We need a site with a program director that pours over countless entries and DECIDES what artist is good in their own opinion.

We get that started, with some serious capital to promote it and BOOM!  The 22 immutable laws of marketing will Taste Makers 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing imagetake effect, it’s better to be first then to be better!

We simply don’t need another site that requires us to dig or do any work to be turned on to cool, new music.  Create a playlist and PLAY IT for the love of Pete!!  Use a good ear to decide who will make it on the station.  People that tune in won’t have a choice as to what they hear, other than genre.

This is what we need.

I wanna COOL station to listen to, man.

I wanna trust you, Mr. DJ.  I wanna be turned on and inspired by your next selection.

This whole business of allowing everybody the space just results in too much noise on the radar screen.  My ex-wife is a TV producer so I have tons of friends in the TV industry.  Did you know that if you say “NO” to a project someone is pitching you will be statistically right 80%-90% of the time?  This is a fact they actually teach!!   This is because most people suck at art.  That is why we are so blown away by the people who excel at art; it’s why music is so fascinating!  There has to be a filter of sorts to weed out the dregs.  Additionally, we will grow to LIKE some of these taste makers, well, taste!  I predict this is the way that new artists will be able to break to a mass audience again.

It will come around, eventually.  Let’s face it, 90% of the indie crap that is on these online radio stations is shitateous.  They consist of absolutely horrible songwriting, horrible performances, horrible recording quality, just plain horrible.  Ugh.

Could you imagine if TV was set up and “distributed” like these “online radio” stations??  Oh wait, it is, it’s called local cable access and it BLOWS.
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