light and shadow

Steps to Music Discovery

So Hard to Get Along

So Hard to Get Along – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Lately, I feel like I’m exploring more and more musical acts, especially in progressive rock and metal. So many musical discoveries have come from a combination of Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, and following the bands I love. I feel like I’m awash in music, and it brings me a lot of joy.

Don’t get me wrong: I still purchase my music, usually in physical form. I give myself a monthly musical budget, and I’m not afraid to spend that money.

But music discovery? Spotify makes this so easy.

The steps go something like this:

  1. Listen to a band I enjoy
  2. Look at the “Related Artist” tab on Spotify and poke around
  3. Check out YouTube to see if the artist has any music videos (remember those?)
  4. Head to Amazon to see what reviewers say about their albums
  5. Put an album in my Amazon wish list to reference later
  6. Purchase the album

Rinse, repeat.

I don’t do like the kids do these days and use Spotify (or Apple Music, or any other streaming service) for all my music needs. But I do find that it’s perfect for experimenting, and for checking out albums that I’ve always wanted to hear before I buy.

(And thank goodness for YouTube. If an artist is not on Spotify, chances are someone has ripped and uploaded their album to YouTube.)

For those bands that have been on the periphery of my musical tastes, digital music venues offer me a free sample. It costs nothing, except a potential album purchase down the road.

I haven’t been this excited about music since around the time I was in college, when so much good stuff was coming my way from friends in school and college radio. Today, the material is almost overwhelming, because now the entirety of rock and roll’s catalog is at my fingertips. A lot of these newly-discovered artists have quickly become some of my favorites. That’s a fun feeling.

Supporting my favorite artists with actual money is so important. Thanks to these streaming services, I can find more favorite artists to support.

(Follow along on Spotify if you’re interested in what I listen to!)

Cameras Are Like Pets

Ann Arbor, Michigan

For a long time, I used disposable cameras and point and shoots to do my photography. It wasn’t quite a hobby yet, but I used those two tools to do a lot of shooting – particularly on cross-country road trips.

But then something flipped, and I wanted to take photography seriously. I had the drive, and the intent, so I saved up money and bought my first DSLR in 2010. I saw it as an investment in a new hobby.

I get the sense that many people buying entry-level DSLRs are buying the “fancy” camera to take “better” photos.

Don’t buy a fancy camera unless you have the patience and time to do it right.

For most people, a smartphone camera is all they ever need. Point and shoots are great, and affordable.

Buying a DSLR or mirrorless camera is like buying a pet: it needs feeding, care, to be taken for a walk, etc.

On Daily Blogging

Turn On the Bright Light

CJ Chilvers, (of @alesserphotographer) through Seth Godin, writes about the benefits of the daily blog post. That appeals to me.

I used to maintain an (almost) daily blog about a subject I was passionate about. It did well, and was a lot of fun for that period of my life.

For this stage, I’m focusing my blogging efforts on photography. I try to share a photo (or two) every day, and a longer, more thoughtful series on Wednesday evenings.

What can I say? I like routines.

Sometimes that breaks down on weekends, and on holidays, or when I leave for vacation. But for the most part: a photo a day.

What if I didn’t just share a photo, but also shared…something else? Some bit of insight, how-to, or project every single day? Could I do it?

Chilvers’ insistence on the daily blogging stuff appeals to me. I like to write. I like to share. And I like little projects and personal challenges. Plus, I’ve been looking for a project to start on the first day of summer this year.

Maybe this is it.