The Hunt For Great Music

Since I play a lot of music on the radio program each week that most people aren’t familiar with, I get asked this question a lot: “Where do you find the music you put in the show?”  It’s a great question.  The answer is actually quite interesting as well.  I started thinking about the places where music heard on The Appetizer is found, and I want to share that journey with you.

 

On this week’s upcoming radio show, you’ll hear about my search for music, and you’ll taste those findings as well.   But before we get to there, I wanted to present some pieces of the hunt.  I’ve always been drawn to things that are not celebrated by the masses.  When I was a kid in middle and high school, I’d jam out to my favorite grunge tracks from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and punk bands like Green Day, NOFX, and Strung Out.  I realize that I said I am drawn to non-popular things and then I mentioned 4 pretty commercially successful bands.  But the songs I love from those bands aren’t popular.  They never made it on the radio.  I would rock out to the songs on tape (tapes made from other friends or dubbed from cd).  Then I’d turn on the radio and want to hear those songs I’d been listening to.  When I tuned into the FM dial, I just got the same old stuff over and over again.  On top of that, I had to wait forever just to hear the bands I loved, and it was always the same old songs.

 

I tried a few times to call in and request tracks on the rock stations I listened to.  On only 2 occasions did I speak with a person and both times he said he couldn’t play the songs I wanted to hear.  It was a late night DJ who said he was taking requests.  This was my first introduction to how commercial radio really works.  When they say they’re playing a song from an album that they usually don’t, it’s either something the station manager wanted put on or a very special thing they’re doing, or the DJ is sneaking it on in hopes his boss won’t find out.  But this is commercial media.  Getting a song on the radio is more than just a way to market a band or song to the masses.  Artists, commercial artists in particular, make money from the airplay they receive.  That’s why Billboard is such a big deal.  The more often a song gets heard on more and more stations, the more money artists make.  Just so you know, it’s not an enormous amount of money ($0.008 per song per play or something close to that), but for popular artists this is a way to make money.  This is also why the Internet as a broadcast outlet is something record companies are trying to regulate as much as they can.  It’s a revenue stream that bleeds them of income unless it’s governed.

 

What does any of this have to do with the story, and the search for music featured on the radio show I host/produce?  Simple, there’s a limited amount of real estate in a given day part or hour of programming for radio.  With that limited amount of time each hour for music programming, why are we the audience only presented a very tiny scrap of the abundance of musical flavor that’s out there when we listen to the radio?  And that’s just a reference to the commercial artists we know about.  There’s a TON of music out there from people we don’t know or don’t know a lot of yet.  Even as a kid I saw this as a disservice to the listener (me and you).  So unconsciously I set out to remedy it.  The result is The Appetizer you hear each week.  This is why when I play Nirvana, you hear tracks like Drain You and Something In The Way, or when I play Pearl Jam you hear tracks like Sleight of Hand or Low Light.  These are deep cuts that deserve to be heard as much (or more) than the hit songs like Smells Like Teen Spirit or Do The Evolution (see videos below).

 

Part of the hunt for music that I feature on the show is a quest each week into my personal music collection, both cds and my iTunes library.  I have great taste in music.  If I didn’t, no one would listen to my show.  There’s music I love from bands that are very well known but the songs have never been played on the radio.  I remedy this by diving into my personal music collection and sharing with you my favorites.  I hope you’ll do the same.  You can comment here or message me on FB.  I’d love to play your favorite songs on the radio and share the love.

 

While I’m not as much a fan of this song, this is my favorite version of it because you can tell the band is sick of playing the song and kind of make fun of the track

 

And Todd McFarlane (comic artist and creator of Spawn) did the animation for this video

DGrantSmith

Host of the syndicated radio program The Appetizer heard on public radio across Texas and online from our Listen Now link; enjoys conversations, music, food, art, storytelling, and people. Connect with me. Would love to hear from you.

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