How social media and the internet are changing the way pop music sounds.


If you haven’t read it yet, go read Taylor Swift’s op-ed in the WSJ.

While not a riveting novella or groundbreaking piece of original research, it is an interesting read, with interesting insights and at least a glimmer of optimism, something we could use more of right now. In it Ms. Swift says “In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”

That reminded me of a theory I’ve been kicking around for a while now  — that pop music actually sounds different because of social media and the internet— the Ho Hey singalong chorus is taking over.

It’s simple. Now more than ever “likes” and “fans” and “followers” drive revenue directly.More clicks and more eyeballs means more money. The two are directly related. It even manifests itself into real estate transactions down to the level that the fortune 500 companies (mostly franchises) grading of real estate to determine how many eyeballs dry by a given site on a given day as do websites etc. Traffic = sales = revenue, it’s very simple. More traffic = more money, virtually and in reality, going both ways.

No secret there right? So what does that have to do with the actual content of a song?

Just listen to some popoular songs and you will hear the musical manifestation of artists trying to mimic “likes” and “followers” in song form.

Every time you turn on the radio there is a chorus of 10 or 20 people singing along with the artist during the chorus. The chorus has an actual chorus singing in it <– see what I did there? Yes that is where the chrous gets it’s name, it’s supposed to be singable by a chorus, I get it.

So go listen to songs like:

Ho Hey  – The Lumineers

Demons – Imagine Dragons

Pompeii – Bastile

I will Wait – Mumford and Sons

Happy – Pharell Williams

A light that never comes – Linkin Park and Steve Aoki

American Kids – Kenny Chesney  (even country gets in the act see also every Brad Paisley album recently released)

These songs all follow s similar formula. A guy alone with his contemplative self thinking about stuff and then BAM – instant group of followers all singing in agreement. The songwriter just hit the like button a million times. Sounds like Kickstarter, Twitter or facebook or – (fill in the blank technology company)

It’s the the musical equivalent of a million “likes”. It’s like saying, this artist got a whole army to sing along with him. Many people like them. They must be successful, therefore they make a lot of money. Therefore they must be valuable and I shall like them as well.

I’m not saying I agree with the tactic, or if it even works but I am saying that the ongoings of society may actually be driving the aesthetic decisions of musical artists even if they are sub-rosa or even just coincidental.

No different than the roaring 20s and jazz. The 60s and rock and roll. Or the 70s – coke and disco. The 90s grunge —all the music reflects the times.

Todya’s music is built to make you feel like, a lot of other people like it.

It’s social music…

…with a built in feeling of all your friends agreeing with you and singing along right there in the chorus.

The music industry has rediscovered the value of a singable chorus, that can actually be sung by a chorus. <– sorry did it again 🙂

It also helps that mega music festivals are also a thing, with huge flocks of folks flooding the doors and singing along in real life. Yeah real life, so there’s that too.

So there you have it – social media is actually changing the way music sounds.

I’ll leave you with parting words from one of my musical heroes, Dave Grohl who said, “Don’t bore us, give us the chorus.” And I couldn’t agree more.


The joys of Jazz and Fly Fishing. AMEN!

I saw this posted to the Moldy Chum blog. Good stuff here boys, thanks!

In this little vignette, Vincent Maggio, adjunct professor of music at the University of Miami,  describes the relationship between improvisation and fly tying. And he illustrates a great point that would make old Bill Monroe very happy. He basically says that tying flies and trying different materials is much like improvising on a melody. You take the basic pattern and replace one or two of the original materials and try your own version. The pattern is essentially the same and the over all look and feel of the fly might be very similar but you’ve created your own thought on it, your own take.

In the same way improvising over a set of changes allows you to take the melody and replace a few phrase with your own version of things. Supposedly Bill Monroe used to tell all his players that he never wanted to hear a guy play a solo the same way twice. So you take the basic structure and make your own twist on it. This is what makes Jazz and Bluegrass so exciting, you never hear a song the same way twice.

Of course, as fly tiers there is need for repetition and tying things the same twice (like a few dozen times) but maybe by improvising a little we create new and unique patterns that, if we are lucky, might fool a fish or two the next time we are out on the river.

Thanks to Vince Maggio for articulating yet another perfect example of the intersection of fly fishing and music, it almost makes my job here too easy! Below is a little bio info from the University of Miami School of Music website. And here is a link to a record by him at Amazon.

Vince Lawrence Maggio, Adjunct Professor (Jazz Piano), received B.M. and M.M. degrees from the University of Miami. He studied at the American Conservatory in Chicago and was a private student of Oscar Peterson in Toronto. He toured nationally with his own “Vince Lawrence Trio” and has performed with Cannonball Adderly, Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Chet Baker, Kenny Dorham, and the late Mel Torme, and is a former faculty/artist member at the Aspen Music Festival. Maggio’s student quintet, “The Bop Brothers,” performs regionally and internationally, and are two time winners of The National Collegiate Jazz Competition in Boulder. Maggio’s CD, Reunion, with saxophonist Mark Colby, was released on the Corridor label.

Obligatory first post

Dale Vanderpool and Friends in Goodale Park Columbus Ohio

Dale Vanderpool and Friends in Goodale Park Columbus Ohio

Here at the Fiddle and Creel we will be exploring the cultural overlap between good music and good pastimes. We will concern ourselves with the daily happenings of the bluegrass and fly fishing communities and explore anything else that may be of interest to those of us who participate in those activities.

This weekend I was fortunate enough to help kick off the Goodale Park Music Series Concerts in Columbus Ohio. We had excellent weather, great sound provided by the venerable Mark Miller and a beautiful audience. Thanks to Alex for putting it back together and all those who showed up, had a great time

The line from left to right is — fiddlin Dan Cade, Ethan Smith – Mandolin, Terry Mullins – Guitar, Ben Lamb – Upright Bass, and the legendary Dale Vanderpool on 5 string Banjer.