April 4, 2018
As part of our interview series, we spoke with Music Curator, Martin from Tune new music playlists. Read on to find out why music curation plays such an important part in his life.
Martin: My name is Martin, I live in London and I am the lead curator of TUNE new music playlists on Spotify. With a focus on indie, alternative and electronic music.
Music is my first and most enduring love and has got me through some very tough times.
I first started just compiling a shared playlist with some friends who also have health problems. I have a chronic neuromuscular condition called mitochondrial disease, which greatly limits my life. I then started curating a weekly new music playlist, mainly for myself and friends and then expanded from there, seeing it as a kind of project to focus on.
It wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about, though I’ve always enjoyed sharing music with others.
I really like emotive and atmospheric music and artists who are original and willing to take risks. So much music today is just following trends or what’s thought to be fashionable.
That’s difficult, but I’d probably say Four Tet. He’s always innovating and moving forward and his production skills are astonishing.
I spend most of my time listening to music. My condition greatly limits my ability to do a lot of mental tasks like reading and writing, as well as physical things like walking, so I’m at home most of the time and require a lot of rest. Music is the one constant in my life, a kind of crutch.
When it comes to creative art forms like music, I think a human ear is essential. An algorithm can tell you what’s currently popular, but if you’re looking to discover new interesting and original music, I think human curation is irreplaceable, whether that’s from a DJ, a blogger or a playlist maker.
My first playlist was the shared one I mentioned and very uninspiringly just called “New Stuff”. Although before the streaming age, I was always one for making mixtapes and then minidisk compilations.
Streaming has made playlisting so much easier and of course enabled people to share their playlists with a global community. Many people like myself, who previously discovered music from radio and music magazines, are now increasingly discovering music via playlists and are listening to a wider range of music than ever before.
As a long-time dance music lover, I’d possibly choose 5 influential and enduring dance songs I love, one from each of the the last 5 decades. 1. Donna Summer – I Feel Love (70s) 2. Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (80s) 3. Underworld – Born Slippy (Nuxx) (90s) 4. Justice vs Simian – We Are Your Friends (00s) 5. RUFUS – You Were Right (10s). And I’d call the session Decadance, because it represents 5 decades of dance music.
Yes, I think people like to listen to music socially and discuss it, so I think there will always be a desire for live social interaction with music, as well as the private listening we all enjoy.
Records OR CDs? CDs
Downloads OR streaming? Streaming
Albums OR singles? Albums
Human curation OR algorithmic curation? Human curation
Host OR listener? Host
Popular playlist OR your own playlist? Own playlist
Play in order OR shuffle? Shuffle
Headphones OR speakers? Speakers
Tupac or Biggie? Tupac
Lead singer, guitarist, OR drummer? Drummer
Find the full range of TUNE new music playlists on Spotify here. TUNE new music playlists can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Submissions are accepted via a collaborative Spotify playlist and Facebook group. Many up and coming and unknown artists are featured.
If, like Martin, you have a passion for curating playlists; why not stream them through BlueJay to your audience! Download the social radio app here:
April 3, 2018
“One little story – Harry and Margaret O’Donnell had difficulty communicating – he hadn’t spoken for some months – they put 27 songs onto his playlist – Margaret had a splitter cable so she could listen with Harry – One day he threw his hands in air and started to sing – it was “Three times a lady” by The Commodores, their love song, and he hadn’t spoken for months.” – Andy Lowndes
Andy: We are a music and dementia charity.
What we try to do is raise awareness of the power of personally meaningful music for those living with dementia. Even in the late stages of the disease people are able to respond to the music that’s been part of the soundtrack of their lives. That music often has autobiographical and emotional connections, and these can be a lifeline if you are living with dementia, as music seems to enable people to access those memories.
We’ve been going for five years, we are UK wide, we are a music and dementia charity.
I had witnessed as a nurse the impact that music can have on people with dementia, I had seen people seemingly out of it, but able to respond to music and then I met Sally Magnusson, Magnus’ daughter. Sally ‘s mother had dementia – they had kept her at home, and found that medication didn’t help her at all – they found that the songs that were the soundtrack to her life, sung together, at parties and Hogmanay, those songs sung to her, had a remarkable effect – even when she had lost the power to communicate, she could tune in and sing from start to finish, and she could harmonise.
The family started to use this – she was scared of the bath – so they’d sing her into the bath.
When she died, they asked the question if this was just luck or a more general help to people with dementia.
When I met Sally, I was an academic and had done some work on reminiscence and while we talked about doing some research, we decided “let’s not worry about the research right now, it makes sense, let’s just do it.”
Five years later, we have a small staff, but we don’t want to become big. We want to work with existing agencies that provide care.
We really want to just spread the work and it’s a simple message. We need an awareness campaign – a big awareness campaign and we need to attract funding for that.
There are 850k people with dementia and that will soon be a million, because we are living longer. Around two thirds of those are still living at home – as well as they can – so it’s not all about care homes and end of life. Want to get people who have just been diagnosed to build their playlists. We want to build an army of volunteer Music Detectives who can help them to build soundtrack of their life.
Andy: Well there’s no-one that I’ve worked with yet that it hasn’t worked for. But it’s not a panacea. The impact might not always be as remarkable as with Harry O’Donnell singing to his wife but what we know is that people seem to enjoy their music again and it can have positive effects on mood, agitation, depression and things that we hadn’t anticipated such as the effect on the persons loved ones and the paid carers that are involved too.
When you think of a playlist you sometimes have to think out of the box a bit. I recall a family who said, “dad didn’t like music. I said, what did he like? Ok football – what team – Aberdeen – so we got the songs, from the 50s to the 70s that they sang on the terraces – and he did like music!
We did – one of the original trustees was a music psychologist. There has been a great deal of research been done into the effect of music on the person living with dementia and you can find a summary of this on our website. We have partnerships with UNIs and academics who want to do the research such as The Centre For Dementia Prevention at Edinburgh University.
Research and evidence is important – otherwise it’s just something that happens. But it’s early days for the research in UNIs. But our mission is to get everyone a playlist – and we want to do this quickly.
For us, some things have been very beneficial, e.g. staff culture changes. It’s a tough job, being a carer – We’ve found that if you give staff training into a tool like this their confidence grows.
It just adds to the quality of life of people with dementia – they are not so stressed.
One little story – Harry and Margaret O’Donnell had no communication – he hadn’t spoken for six months – they put 27 songs on his playlist – she had a split cable to listen one day – he started to sing – it was “Three times a lady” by The Commodores, their love song, and he hadn’t spoken for six months.
The nature of the relationship changes from wife/lover to carer when someone goes into a care home – but getting their music back and all the memories – it helps people to fall in love again. It’s the same for kids and grandkids. To get grandkids involved with someone you can’t relate to is hard – but they can build a playlist for them.
Andy: In the last year alone 2016/17 Playlist for Life:
– Encouraged and helped individuals create 4,007 playlists
– Contacted 21,000 people about Playlist for Life
– Spoke to 12,000 people directly at talks and events
-We are now setting up 150 Playlist Help Points across the UK in the next year
– We trained 1,600 care professionals and 98 health and care organisations
– Dispatched 272 iPods to people with dementia/their carers
In Scotland, we are working with 11 out of the 14 health boards. All over England from London to Rochdale and all points in between we have carried out our training with NHS Trusts and Social Care Groups and Care Homes.
Apart from this we make a lot of our resources available online and the honest answer is I can’t tell you how many are accessing these materials without getting back in touch with us, though there are some stories and testimonials on the website from those who do get in touch.– we promote it on our website and a lot of people go “that’s a great idea” – so we don’t know – we do get stories back on the website
– In the last year our Facebook followers has increased to nearly 5,000 and 3,600 twitter followers
If we get involved early enough, the family normally do it themselves.
Later, it’s more difficult if the person with dementia can’t tell you what was the soundtrack of their life. We use a song book of 100 songs in 100 years – but we may have to go through 1500 songs – something will mean something, and they go Ohhh! – and that one goes in.
The songs are important, but the memory attached to the song is great – we have to ask questions build a story – then you can create a story and the soundtrack – it’s a connection through the memories
When families later in the journey visit their loved one who has dementia the music enables them to connect and say “remember this dad” – It can make connecting easier and it avoids those awkward moments when people just don’t know what to say.
Andy: Yes, the human connections matter – it’s not just 2pm so you need the iPod. It’s the engagement. The human connection that key to this.
It’s where some of the number cruncher scientists struggle – but, it is important – -we say connecting people, music and memories, and people are central to that.
It’s not about headphones. But they do allow people to concentrate as they get older.
Andy: It was a name given to me – I when building playlists with families, had to gather evidence – in the house, or the care home – as a detective I recognised I had to be a nosy person – that’s ok – it’s about asking lots and lots of questions and being genuinely interested in the answers.
The persons biography gives clues to, for example the phenomena of the ‘memory bump’ that time of our lives between the ages of 10 and 30 years old when we gather more memories than at any other time of our lives.
Music has probably for most of us been a big part of that. So as a detective if I can find your birth year I can search for songs from the years when you would be between 10 and 30 years old and try them. Some of those songs will probably be on your playlist.
If you get 20 songs with 20 memories, it’s a unique personal story
It’s a big hospital – Queen Elizabeth in Glasgow – biggest in the country – they had a radio station and asked us to volunteer. On Tuesday, it’s going to be Andy the music detective on the radio – chat, music, memories, and play tunes they ask for. I’m looking forward to giving it a go and hearing about peoples musical memories.
There’s really not one – each playlist for life is unique to someone’s life.
Andy: Well what’s the aim for us Playlists for Life? I’d have a ‘wakey wakey’ song – what gets you up in the morning.
I ‘e been listening to music that’s a bit melancholic – a guy called Paul Buchanan, a Scotsman – on first listen it seems sad, but it’s not.
Hanna Peel is a musician we know, who’s very good, and whose grandma has dementia – she has an album, Mary Casio: Journey to Casseopia – melancholic at times, but lovely.
My playlist will be thematic. It’d be pretty eclectic – even some classical – some of it could have been on my father’s playlist – on Sundays we had a traditional roast Sunday dinner and my father would line us up and he’d walk to the gramophone and play, say My Fair Lady, till we did the dishes.
Records or CDs? Records.
Downloads or streaming? Both. Streaming lately. I’ve been using Tidal a bit lately too.
Albums or Singles? Singles. In my day you were locked into a genre, but not anymore.
Human or algorithmic curation? Human.
Host or Listener? Both, but probably host.
Play in order or shuffle? Shuffle.
Headphones or speakers? Speakers.
Tupac or Biggie? Biggie.
Lead singer, guitarist or drummer? Singer. It’s my ego!
Andy: We have an event coming up – Deacon Blue is going to do an “in the round” concert for us – for 200 people only.
And we have a big awareness campaign planned. We are looking for funding for that.
We are not great at asking people for money. So please feel free to donate. But we have a good relationship with Universal music, we are their staff charity and hope we get some momentum from that.
Fancy hosting your own radio show? Download BlueJay now!
April 3, 2018
Crosshair Music is an influencer marketing company based out of Nashville, Tennessee. The business was created to help independent artists connect with digital influencers for promotion.
We spoke with Garrison Snell, the CEO of Crosshair Music, to find out more!
Garrison: I started my own digital marketing and social media company about 2 years ago. We have a bunch of music clients – and out of a real recognition of the needs of these people we decided to try and provide those artists with an affordable way to promote their music.
We built a web app starting about late 2015 and we launched in Jan 2017. And like most apps, we are currently rebuilding to meet the changing nature of what we want and what the tech can do.
We believe that the number of digital influencers on Spotify, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are enough that if they pay attention to a song, they can spark real, organic life into a release.
You still need some advertising and promotion and so on, but one of the best things we can do is create a network that generates organic attention – the result is that streams on Spotify are impacted and that’s nice benefit for our clients.
Success is when streams grow at a rate greater than prior to its introduction to the influencers. Streaming growth is authentic consumption growth.
Garrison: Musicians pay a one-time fee per song. It’s an alternative approach to how an agency might bill them. So, for example, we have a range of one time prices, but at one level, we charge $250 a song to introduce that song and artist to a certain number of influencers. The influencers have to like the songs enough to include them in their playlists.
Garrison: Well in the last year we launched about 600 songs – about half have been what we would call successful and half not so. One of our biggest issues has been our platform and we are in the process of upgrading it and introducing some AI, some predictive analytics, and that will lead over time to a bigger network of influencers – we currently have about 10,000 with millions of followers but we’d like to grow that significantly.
Garrison: Well, that’s interesting because they are not only categorised in the same way we might categorise music, eg, hip hop or dance , etc.
They tend to be curating more around a mood which might be exercise or drinks or dancing or dinner.
They tend to say we are looking for this type of content to suit a mood rather than a type of music. We like to think its all about genre, but it’s not, it’s really about mood and occasion. We don’t say I need hip hop. It’s more we have an emotional need for music.
Garrison: Yes, it has – but I think overall it could do a much better job – we can’t serve songs without a lot of technology, but this can and will improve.
Garrison: Yes, but I tend to listen to the music that I’ve set up for my morning run.
Records or CDs? Vinyl.
Downloads or streaming? Streaming.
Albums or Singles? Singles.
Human curation or algorithms? Human.
Host or Listener? Listener.
Poplar playlist or your own? Own.
Play in order or shuffle? Pick and choose and play things again.
Headphones or Speakers? Headphones.
Tupac or Biggie? Tupac
Lead Singer, Guitarist or Drummer? Drummer.
Anyone wanting to get further information about Crosshair Music go to their website here.
Are you a music curator keen to share your playlists with a wider audience? Download BlueJay and get hosting some sessions!
March 28, 2018
We were lucky enough to interview Ukrainian music curator, Alex Edge, who tells us why music is so important in his life and why we should all be curating playlists.
Alex: I am originally from Ukraine. My family moved to America in 1994, and I was obsessed with music and DJing ever since.
Alex: Music is a perfect reflection of emotions.
Alex: I always wanted to be the person searching for the perfect soundtrack to life’s moments.
Alex: I like the feeling of constantly needing to learn or research something new.
Alex: I imagine what would I want to hear in any particular moment. I have gotten quite good at imagining myself in a specific place or time and hearing the song that needs to be there.
Alex: I’m usually immediately drawn to tracks I like. It has a certain quality that I immediately connect with.
Alex: If you count making actual mixtapes, I’ve been making playlists for people since 1998.
Alex: I always listen to music. One of the latest tracks I’ve discovered recently is Zo! – We Are On The Move (Black Coffee Remix)
Alex: The world is complicated. Music is complicated. The way we feel about music varies and that’s hard to predict.
Alex: Oh technology has been huge for music. The sheer availability of almost any song imaginable through Spotify has been extremely beneficial.
I would call them Edge’s Classics. No explanation needed.
Dolly Parton – Jolene
Elton John – Tiny Dancer
A-Ha – Take on Me
Anderson Paak – Celebrate
Onra – No Question
Records OR CDs? Records
Downloads OR streaming? Streaming
Albums OR singles? Albums
Human curation OR algorithmic curation? Human
Host OR listener? Listener
Popular playlist OR your own playlist? Mine
Play in order OR shuffle? Play in order
Headphones OR speakers? Good Speakers
Tupac or Biggie? Biggie
If you want to listen to Alex Edge’s playlists, follow him on Spotify here.
Why not use your own Spotify playlists to host sessions on our social radio app! Download here:
March 26, 2018
We’re excited to announce that EATAPAS are going to host a BlueJay session!
Passionate about all things Spanish, including music, we’re excited to see what EATAPAS have in store for us with their playlist.
Below we catch up with EATAPAS to find out more about why they’re passionate about music and what we can expect from their session.
We’re passionate about bringing a little slice of Spanish culture to the UK. Music is a key part of this!
Our main passion is for cooking. But, we’re lovers of all things Spanish. So, we thought we’d give our listeners a chance to hear some of the sounds of Spain.
In Spain, music is rooted in history.
Spanish music draws inspiration from many different cultures and sources. So, it has a rich and diverse background.
A lot of Spanish music is famous, such as Flamenco, but the history behind it is unknown. There’s a lot you can learn from taking a closer look at the music of Spain!
Even today, music is a huge part of Spanish life. It can be seen all over the country, from fabulous fiestas to inside the home.
The Spanish love any excuse to celebrate!
Spanish artists only! We’re going to celebrate the music of Spain alone.
There’s some famous artists, and some you may not have heard of. It’s both an education in and a celebration of Spanish music!
Anyone who loves Spanish music!
If you want to feel like you’re in Spain, we’ve got the playlist for you.
We like to think we’ve created the perfect playlist for a Spanish dinner party. We love a good fiesta!
But, truthfully, we have a little bit of everything. All things Spanish allowed!
Music and food are two things that everyone is passionate about!
If you need to liven up your dinner party, or give yourself something to dance to while you’re cooking, put on a good playlist.
Follow EATAPAS on Twitter to keep up to date with their latest news, and when they’ll be hosting their session.
To tune into their session, download the BlueJay app here:
March 26, 2018
We spoke with Ellie, Music Therapist at Chiltern Music Therapy, to find out more about how music is used as a form of therapy in their organisation and also about her own music tastes!
Ellie: We are a non-profit organisation that provides Music Therapy and Community Music sessions to individuals, groups, and beyond! We are based in Buckinghamshire but cover the surrounding counties and London, and we specialise in neuro-rehabilitation, disorders of consciousness and neonatal care and provide these specialist services nationwide. We believe that everyone should have access to music, whether that’s Therapy or DJ lessons, attending a community singing group or a mental health jamming session.
This is regardless of age, illness, ability or disability. Or musical ability! We fundraise throughout the year and have wonderful organisations that fundraise for and donate to us, and this means we can make sure no one goes without access to therapy or music sessions if they don’t have the funds. We also run training events, corporate days and special fundraising days, like our annual Golf Day which is taking place on the 12th May this year.
Ellie: It’s important to start by saying that the way we work with people depends entirely on their reason for referral, their individual needs and their musical tastes, so each session is very different. The key element is that music is used to bring about positive change, either emotionally or functionally (or both). Music Therapists usually use different combinations of music making, music listening, musical tasks and often use music technology, such as recording programmes and apps too. We use evidence-based techniques where possible, and we also use standardised and validated outcome tools to measure development and track change.
In our Music Therapy sessions, we generally work in four key areas: communication, emotion & behaviour, cognition, and motor skills. Therapy aims are individual to the client, but goals are usually non-musical. We have a holistic approach to the way we work, so we will often have many therapy aims and goals we’re working towards at once. Our community music services will often be more about bringing people together and providing them with a space to enjoy music and take part in musical activities rather than specific therapeutic goals. These groups are led by our team of Community Musicians.
Ellie: The simple answer is: everyone. Working with such a diverse range of people and ages means that we have to be flexible in our approach. As with all therapy or medical interventions, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ and that’s why it’s so important to us to be able to offer a range of Music Therapy approaches to suit each individual or organisation that we work with.
Ellie: Having worked across the public, private and third health and care sectors, our experiences have shown us the challenges and benefits in each area. As an independent organisation we are able to remain dedicated to putting the needs of our clients first. We have seen the damage done by clients being discharged from services without continuing input so we place great importance on proving ongoing services including our community Music Therapy services.
We ensure that any client being discharged from our in-patient or one to one services has access to our community services, where people of all ages enjoy music-making and the positive benefits it brings. The adults and children who access our services remain the most important people in the organization. We listen to them, we learn from them, we help them to make the changes that are important to them.
Ellie: I’ll answer this one individually as there are so many people within CMT that I represent and would hate to get it wrong for the whole organisation! So, I speak as a Music Therapist and a musician, and a general lover of music when I say that – quite literally – my life would be vastly and horribly different without music. It’s one of the most important things in my life.
Every area of my life seems to revolve around music, whether it’s listening to it for pleasure, composing new songs as a way of processing my feelings and expressing myself, and then using it as a treatment tool with my patients for my job, or using it to interact with my little boy, who is 10 months old and responds so strongly to singing, musical instruments and songs. Music brings people together, it gives us meaning, it helps us express ourselves when we have no words, and I feel privileged to be able to use it to bring about positive change for other people.
Ellie: This is an impossible question! We are comprised of 25 Music Therapists, 6 Community Musicians, 5 Volunteers and 6 office staff, and then of course all of our clients and the organisations we work with… so it’s interesting to think about what one song or artist could encompass all of that and represent us as an organisation! I would have to pick Abba: Thank You For The Music. Because without the music, we wouldn’t exist!
Ellie: As I am answering these questions, we are listening to an 80s playlist in the office and it’s going down well! We listen to all sorts depending on who’s in and what kind of mood we’re in. Typical music would be upbeat, familiar and sing-along.
Ellie: Rolling Stones Jumpin Jack Flash 2) Fleetwood Mac Go Your Own Way 3) Prince Purple Rain 4) Ed Sheeran Sing 5) Aretha Flanklin Respect
We would name the session ‘Sing your heart out!’ because they are classic songs that you can’t resist but sing along (and sometimes dance along) to.
Records OR CDs? CDs for more resources; although records are cooler
Downloads OR streaming? Streaming
Albums OR singles? Albums
Human curation OR algorithmic curation? Human curation, it’s personal.
Host OR listener? Listener, we’re interested in other people and what they want to host!
Popular playlist OR your own playlist? Popular playlist, might find something new
Play in order OR shuffle? Shuffle, mix it up
Headphones OR speakers? Speakers – we can all listen then!
Tupac or Biggie? Tupac, purely for the lyrics in ‘Changes’
Lead singer, guitarist, OR drummer? One person doing all of those things – Jack Garrett!
You can help support the charity by donating here.
For more information about all of their services and events coming up visit their website here.
If you have a spare iPod, why not donate it to their iPod Pharmacy! Find out more here.
This interview was answered by one of our Music Therapists, Ellie Ruddock – read her bio here.
Host your own radio show using your phone to interact with your audience in real time! Download BlueJay and join our community of music lovers!