Tuesday, September 16, 2014
For quite some time now, the world has been going digital at a rapid pace. Social media is an ever growing and evolving realm – one wherein entrepreneurs and artists are able to make their mark in an immediate, impactful way that was once practically unheard of. And it appears that at least in this regard, things will only get better.
In particular, here are some emerging trends in social and digital media that will most likely change the music industry:
24-hour, multi-channel engagement
Only a mere few years ago, you could only go shopping for certain items (groceries, home renovation supplies) during certain hours – and many local stores still only accepted cash. Nowadays, that's simply not the case. You can order a gallon of milk online to be delivered to your doorstep the next morning, with a few simple swipes across your iPad. You can even schedule automatic refills of grocery and drug store items that you purchase the most, so that you no longer have to think about buying them each month. We have become accustomed to being able to get everything at any time, and in a variety of ways. The music industry has only scratched the surface of what this means, and it will be interesting to watch how this 24/7 mentality becomes a bigger focus for artists and producers.
Streaming vs. packaging
The music industry still has yet to figure out something that its counterpart, the film and TV industry, has seemingly mastered: the art of "windowing," or releasing products to different markets or methods of distribution at different times. When a film is first released, it is only available in theaters; it then becomes available on DVD, then Video-On-Demand, then pay-TV, and so on. Each of these "windows" lasts a finite amount of time and sets a new (lower) price point – thereby reaching a wide variety of fans and viewers, but at different times. Diehard fans are willing to pay more to see something first, whereas casual viewers are willing to wait longer to pay less – but in the end, both parties will watch the same film.
Meanwhile, when a song or album is released, it tends to be available on all channels (streaming, radio, MP3 download) at once. If and when the music industry figures out how to re-configure this, it will be a game-changer.
The "Internet of Things"
There has been a lot of recent chatter surrounding the "Internet of Things," the term used to describe the relationship between the digital and tangible worlds. Cars, televisions, watches and now even household appliances are being designed to be connected to the web. Apparently, it won't be long until your dryer can send you a text message to tell you that the laundry is done!
What does this mean for the music industry? Well, for one thing, many possibilities are presented by the new Facebook-connected wristband concepts that have been popping up at this year's more innovative music festivals and events. Add to these our growing tendency to share our habits and preferences via social media (think Spotify's Facebook integration) and we're sure to see new opportunities for web-based engagement among music fans in the near future.
Each year, reports show an increase in mobile app sales and profits – and music-based mobile apps are currently one of the fastest-growing app categories out there. From apps that let songwriters compose new music on the fly to those that allow for constant streaming to those that help artists connect directly to their fans and followers, the variety and success of these apps are stunning. We have no doubt that the music industry is going to continue to shift and evolve to better accommodate this increase in mobile technology – and, perhaps more importantly, our dependency on it.
Check out our recent review of the latest and greatest mobile apps to hit the music scene, and remember to keep checking back with us here at HillTop Records as we continue to bring you current news and updates from the industry.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Summer may be ending – and with it the warm, sunny weather that allows for outdoor concerts and events – but the party's far from over. Put one or more of these upcoming music festivals on your calendar, and you'll have plenty to look forward to this September:
Brews and Blues (9/6/2014) in Saratoga, California
Attendees of this fun-filled event, hosted at lovely Wildwood Park, will enjoy four full hours (from 3:00 to 7:00 pm) of craft beer tastings along with the musical stylings of an impressive lineup. Headlining act the Shakedancer Blues Revue features Grammy Award nominee and Blues Music Award winner Mark Hummel on the harmonica. Breweries scheduled to attend include local favorites Santa Clara Brewing Company, Firestone, and Faultline Brewing Company. Tickets are on sale now for $30, and you must be 21 or older to attend.
Sessions in the Park (9/6/2014 - 9/7/2014) in Memphis, Tennessee
Providing a fantastic platform for up-and-coming artists of all genres, this annual event represents all that makes Memphis great. The two-day festival will feature everything from Gospel and R&B to Rock & Roll at the heart of historic Beale Street. Independent artists will not only be able to perform in front of a sizable audience, but they will also get to make industry connections as there are sure to be plenty of representatives from well-known labels, companies and organizations in attendance.
8th Annual Bluegrass Adventure & Roots Festival (9/11/2014 - 9/13/2014) in Algoma, Wisconsin
True to its name, this event is sure to be an adventure. It will include three full days of live bluegrass and roots music along with camping, craft and music workshops for adults and children, and special activities like carriage rides and informal jam sessions. There will also be a Friday fish fry, a barbecue on Saturday, raffles, arts and crafts vendors, and free music on Thursday night.
Fall Music Festival (9/19/2014 - 9/21/2014) in Katonah, New York
This three-day music festival will combine American roots, jazz and classical music together to create a truly one-of-a-kind event. Not only will the different genres all be represented, but they will be combined and arranged in a way that you have never heard before. In addition to enjoying unforgettable live music, festival-goers will be able to explore the sound art exhibition in the Garden of Sonic Delights and also tour the historic Rosen House.
2nd Annual Oak Cliff Jazz Fest (9/20/2014) in Dallas, Texas
In response to the great success it enjoyed in its first year, this event is back – and it promises to be even better. Set within a 5-acre campus and hosted by the Labyrinth Walk Coffee House, the festival will feature 10 live musical acts and an array of vendors selling arts, crafts, and items made out of recycled materials. It's a family-friendly affair, so feel free to bring the little ones.
Bigfork Charlk n Rock Festival (9/20/2014 - 9/21/2014) in Bigfork, Montana
What if you combined fantastic live rock music with a love of original chalk art? Well, that's what this charming event does – and it does it well. More than three dozen street painters (or "Madonnari," as they are called in Italy) will come together to beautifully decorate the town of Bigfork, Montana. They will create spectacular pieces of impermanent art while a lineup of 6 musical groups provides a lively backdrop. You won't want to miss it.
Teddy Bear Two Music Festival (9/27/2014 - 9/28/2014) in Lebanon, Tennessee
Just as you might expect given its name, this music festival is all about the kids. The free event is being held to raise funds for the Monroe Carell Jr. Childrens Hospital at Vanderbilt, and all donations will go directly to the cause. The lineup includes Leona Williams, Lonesome Road Bluegrass Band, and the Antique Medicine Show as well as many others. While the concert is free to attend, onsite RV parking is available for $25.00 per night.
AZ Reggae Fest 2014 (9/26/2014 - 9/27/2014) in Phoenix, Arizona
Taking advantage of Arizona's still-warm weather, this 2nd annual event will be held outdoors. Guests may spend the two days shopping for clothes, crafts and art while sampling local cuisine, watching live demonstrations, and (or course) enjoying plenty of live music. This year's lineup is impressive, featuring the likes of Yellowman, Sister Carol and Barrington Levy. There will also be a beer garden and plenty of room for your lawn chairs and picnic baskets.
EarleFest – A Celebration of Americana Music (9/27/2014) in Santa Rosa, California
Billed as Northern California's premier Americana music festival, this event features a stellar lineup amid the beautiful grounds of the Earle Baum Center. Headliners include Todd Snider and The Brothers Comatose, and wonderful Sonoma County vendors will be there to sell delicious food, beer and wine. Without a doubt, this will be an ideal way to celebrate the last unofficial days of summer.
Oakland World Percussion Festival 2014 (9/27/2014) in Oakland, California
This free event has certainly got the beat! Attendees will enjoy four full hours of live drum and dance performances that will make it impossible to stay sitting down. Sounds from around the world – from Japan to Brazil, Guinea to Oakland's own neighborhoods – will set a festive scene while demonstrations and workshops will educate concert-goers on the art of percussion. There will also be vendors selling world cuisine, a community drum circle, and all manner of souvenirs and trinkets (including CD's and DVD's, handmade craft items, skin care products and more) for sale.
Other great events to keep an eye out for this month:
– Miles of Memories Country MusicFest (9/4/2014 - 9/6/2014) in Hastings, Nebraska
– Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival (9/5/2014 - 9/7/2014) in Huntington Beach, California
– 3rd Annual Brazilian Beat (9/6/2014) in Boca Raton, Florida
– Grinders Switch Music & Arts Festival (9/6/2014) in Centerville, Tennessee
– Kayak, BBQ & Blues Festival (9/6/2014) in Pensacola, Florida
– Soundwave Music Festival (9/11/2014 - 9/13/2014) in Berlin, Maryland
– Coleman Hawkins Blues Festival (9/12/2014 – 9/13/2014) in Saint Joseph, Missouri
– Annual ETC – Indie Music and Arts Festival (9/13/2014) in Norfolk, Virginia
– Annapolis Craft Beer and Music Festival (9/13/2014) in Annapolis, Maryland
– Berkeley Old Time Music Convention (9/16/2014 - 9/21/2014) in Berkeley, California
– FreshGrass BlueGrass Festival (9/19/2014 - 9/21/2014) in North Adams, Massachusetts
– 36th International Folk Festival (9/26/2014 - 9/28/2014) in Fayetteville, North Carolina
– Long Beach Folk Revival Festival (9/27/2014) in Long Beach, California
– New England Acoustic Music Festival (9/27/2014) in Putnam, Connecticut
– Harmony Music & Arts Festival (9/27/2014 - 9/28/2014) in Harmony, Florida
For more information and updates from the American music industry, continue to keep checking back with us here at HillTop Records.
Friday, August 1, 2014
We're officially entering the final leg of Summer 2014 – and while it may not feel like it, the weather will soon be changing. The days will grow colder, and weekend festivities will more likely be indoors than under the blazing sun. So if you feel like you have not yet taken full advantage of all that summer has to offer, now's the time!
Here are our picks for the best music festivals happening around the country this August:
Bass Mountain Music Festival 2014 (8/7/2014 - 8/10/2014) in Franklinville, New York
Originally started in 2012, this festival skipped a year – and now it's back! With four full days of camping and live music at the Woods at Bear Creek, this event promises to be one unforgettable party. The lineup (which includes over 50 international and national EDM acts on tour) features KJ Sawka, DJ Baily, Protocol, Subset and more. If you like electronic music, you will not want to miss this.
Mile of Music (8/7/2014 - 8/10/2014) in Appleton, Wisconsin
Billing itself as "the premier, handcrafted Americana festival of the Midwest," this annual event will showcase the best of American music – from over 200 artists, on over 60 stages throughout Downtown Appleton. From singer-songwriters to multi-piece bands, indie rock to soul and jazz to folk, there is sure to be something for everyone. Some of the shows require a ticket, while many others are free to the public. Check the official website for the full lineup and more info.
27th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival (8/9/2014 - 8/10/2014) in Long Beach, California
A time-honored tradition that Long Beach residents wait all year long for, the Long Beach Jazz Festival is a local institution. Now in its 27th year, the event will return to its beautiful setting on a grassy knoll overlooking a sparkling lagoon. There it will feature a fantastic selection of live jazz music as well as food, art and more. Bring the whole family and make a day of it!
Sweet Auburn Music Fest (8/9/2014 - 8/10/2014) in Atlanta, Georgia
One of the largest multi-cultural festivals in the Southeast, this one always draws an impressive crowd to the historic streets of the Sweet Auburn district of Atlanta. The family-friendly event will once again feature national recording artists as well as up-and-comers, as well as a delightful array of food and drink vendors. If you're looking for a way to soak up some local flavor, this is it.
Soulshine Farm Music Festival (8/14/2014 - 8/16/2014) in Green Mountain, North Carolina
Set within the picturesque grounds of Soulshine Farm, this three-day festival offers so many things to see and do. It will have wonderful live music, spectacular hiking trails, crafts for sale, organized workshops, local brews and healthy food, and even a special area for kids. The atmosphere is laid-back and family-friendly, making it a lovely way to enjoy the final days of summer.
Hudson Valley Jazz Festival (8/14/2014 - 8/17/2014) in Warwick, New York
With four full days of live jazz in a picture-perfect setting, this music festival is the ultimate summertime event. This year's lineup features New York City's famous Vanguard Jazz Orchestra from The Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center, as well as other renowned acts (Adam Nussbaum, Jeff Ciampa, Peter Levin, and many more.) Venues are spaced throughout various Hudson Valley towns, allowing you to enjoy the scenery and culture while attending the shows.
COUNTRYGRASS 2014 (8/15/2014 - 8/17/2014) in Jefferson, Maine
Now in its 7th year, this much-anticipated event will once again be held at the Broken Acres Farm. Against a scenic backdrop, concert-goers will be able to enjoy the musical stylings of Leona Williams and her Son Ron Williams (who are among this year's headliners.) Also on the lineup: Fred and Pat Thomspon, Bob Elston, Slim Andrews, and many more renowned performers. The festival also offers free camping, but no seating – so bring lawn chairs and a tent.
Chicago Hip Hop Day Festival (8/16/2014 – 8/17/2014) in Chicago, Illinois
Love hip hop? Then you'll definitely want to get to this event! The free festival pays tribute to the genre's four elements, and especially the legendary contributions made by the city of Chicago. Located in historic Garfield Park, the grounds are divided into four sections that will feature b-boy and b-girl exhibitions, emcee battles, turntablism, and graffiti artists. From live entertainment to local vendors to educational workshops, this hip hop festival has got it all.
Blissfield Bluegrass on the River (8/23/2014) in Blissfield, Michigan
Just like its name indicates, this festival is held on the scenic banks of the River Raisin – and its pretty location is only one reason to attend! The family-friendly event, now in its 4th year, will feature the likes of the Bridge County Bluegrass Band and Fossil Creek. With 8 different stages featuring the best of bluegrass, you're sure to feel inspired. Luckily, you're also welcome to bring your own banjo or fiddle and join in on one of the festival's lively jam sessions.
17th Annual Rhythm and Roots Festival (8/29/2014 - 8/31/2014) in Charlestown, Rhode Island
One of the hottest music and dance festivals in New England, this event serves as the unofficial end of summer in Rhode Island. It's got two and a half days of live music on five stages, and guests of all ages are welcome to attend. It's expected to welcome thousands of music lovers from around the region, many of whom choose to camp and thus transform Ninigret Park into a colorful, impromptu village. Come to enjoy world-class roots performers on several stages, lively dance floors, family-friendly activities like storytelling and crafts, and plenty of vendors selling everything from ice cream to clothing.
Cornstock Folk Festival (8/29/2014 - 8/31/2014) in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania
Described as an "annual acoustic and roots movement," Cornstock is a festival for die-hard music lovers. It comprises three full days and nights of concerts against a stunning backdrop in Lazy Brook Park. Come to the picturesque gateway to the Endless Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania to enjoy not only beautiful scenery but also incredible music, workshops, and other activities.
North Branch Bluegrass Festival (8/29/2014 - 8/31/2014) in Bridgewater, Vermont
Family-friendly fun and good, old-fashioned bluegrass music are the cornerstones of this annual festival. It's become a Labor Day staple for Vermont residents, who continue to love the 3 full days of live performances and 16 music workshops. Free camping is available, so bring your gear and the entire family to celebrate the final days of summer in outdoorsy style.
... Not what you had in mind? Here are other music festivals worth checking out this August:
– East Ports Blues Festival (8/1/2014 - 8/3/2014) in Port Sanilac, Michigan
– Tampapalooza (8/2/2014 - 8/3/2014) in Tampa, Florida
– Jazz on the Lawn (8/3/2014 - 8/31/2014) in Santa Monica, California
– Peninsula Music Festival (8/5/2014 - 8/23/2014) in Fish Creek, Wisconsin
– Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival (8/7/2014 - 8/10/2014) in Richmond, Minnesota
– 4th Annual Rocky Mountain Music Festival (8/10/2014) in Littleton, Colorado
– Lake George Music Festival (8/14/2014 - 8/21/2014) in Lake George Village, New York
– Centenarys WNTI Stage Summer Music Festival (8/15/2014 - 8/17/2014) in Columbia, New Jersey
– Rock on the Fox Music and Camping Festival (8/22/2014 - 8/24/2014) in Yorkville, Illinois
– Bluegrass 101 Bluegrass Festival (8/23/2014) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky
For even more upcoming festivals and events, be sure to visit Festivals.com – and also keep checking back with us at HillTop Records as we continue to bring you news and updates from the American music industry!
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Paul Horn began playing the piano at the age of four. By ten he was also playing the clarinet and by twelve, he had added the saxophone to his repertoire as well. Needless to say, then, the fact that he went on to pursue a career in music (studying the clarinet and flute at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, and then obtaining a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music) was no surprise to anyone.
After finishing school, Horn moved to Los Angeles for a job with Chico Hailton's quintet. He played professionally with them from 1956 to 1958. Two years later, he recorded his debut album Something Blue. By then, he was already an established session player on the West Coast; his resume included Duke Ellington Orchestra's Suite Thursday and collaborations with the likes of Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole. He also scored the 1959 animated television series Clutch Cargo. However, his most celebrated and groundbreaking work was still to come.
Driven by his personal spiritual beliefs (Horn was a known practitioner of Transcendental Meditation), the musician and composer began a series of album recordings that he called "Inside." They were haunting, echoing sounds that Horn created by playing innovative melodies (typically relying heavily on metal and/or traditional wooden flutes) inside famous places of religious or spiritual importance. The first in the series was the result of Horn sneaking a tape recorder into the Taj Mahal while on a trip to India in 1968 with the Beatles. That recording was released as Inside, and its popularity within the New Age music world led to the release of several others: one recorded inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, one from the interior of a cathedral, one from the sacred canyons of the Southwest United States (recorded with celebrated Native American flautist R. Carlos Nakai) and even one featuring the soothing sounds of orca whales.
In 1998, Horn was granted permission to record within the walls of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet – a massive structure revered immensely by Tibetan Buddhists. He was the first westerner to ever be allowed to perform within this sacred space – and in 2003, he returned to Tibet to film on the holy Mount Kailash, where he also scattered the ashes of his dear friend, Buddhist monk Lama Tenzin.
It is these anecdotes that set Paul Horn apart from other American musicians. While he can be objectively classified as a great jazz musician, his fascination with and resulting incorporation of spiritual practices and rituals were what made his music something truly undefinable. Aside from his legendary Inside series, he also left us an impressive number of mainstream jazz recordings that featured musicians from all across the globe.
Horn's success made him a six-time Grammy nominee, and he also played for a while with the NBC Staff Orchestra. In addition, he did some film acting (credits include The Rat Race and Sweet Smell of Success) and he was the subject of the television documentary The Story of a Jazz Musician. His 1966 album Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts won a Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. However, through it all, his deep love of New Age and World Music remained obvious:
"New Age music does something wonderful to the nervous system," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1987. "It settles you down into a deep state of relaxation. When people want to 'cool out,' a [New Age] record will do it real quick. It's meditative music."
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
What month says "fun in the sun" better than July? Round out your summer schedule of barbecues, beach days and camping trips with one (or more!) of these great music festivals:
Vero Beach International Music Festival (7/5/2014) in Vero Beach, Florida
This inaugural festival promises to be a one-of-a-kind event, featuring Folk, Americana, Celtic, Rock, World and Jazz music as well as local students from the Mike Block String Camp. Along with a diverse array of live concerts, attendees will enjoy a Family Fiesta with special activities for kids, a dance barn, and many food and merchandise vendors.
New Bedford Folk Festival (7/5/2014 - 7/6/2014) in New Bedford, Massachusetts
Now in its 19th year, this beloved local folk festival just keeps getting bigger and better. Music lovers are sure to flock once again to enjoy the best in American folk and acoustic, live on seven stages. The event has been featured in numerous publications and guidebooks – and with good reason. From a special "meet the performer" area to workshops to a fantastic lineup, there are so many reasons to not this festival.
Bunbury Music Festival (7/11/2014 - 7/13/2014) in Cincinnati, Ohio
Looking for something fun and different to do this July? Head to the scenic banks of Cincinnati's Ohio River for this annual but relatively new event. First held in 2012, the alternative rock music festival was such a success that it is still going strong. This year it will feature six stages and over 80 performances by an impressive lineup of alternative and indie rock bands.
Stratford Stride 30th Annual Bluegrass Festival (7/11/2014 - 7/13/2014) in Stratford, Iowa
The same says it all – because for a music festival to last 30 years it's got to be good, right? With multiple bands, fantastic regional cuisine, a Sunday Community Church Service complete with live Gospel music, a 5k run/walk and even a parade, this is no ordinary music festival. It's a local institution.
Choochokam Arts & Music Festival (7/12/2014 - 7/13/2014) in Langley, Washington
Its name comes from a Native American Hopi word that roughly translates to "a gathering of stars" – and the lineup indicates just that. This year's event is set to welcome more than 115 artists, artisans and craftsmen offering live demos, fine art for sale, and education. Music lovers will enjoy over 50 live performances and everyone is sure to have a great time on beautiful Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound.
Annual AT&T Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival (7/18/2014 - 7/20/2014) in Norfolk, Virginia
Residents wait all year round for this event, which takes full advantage of summer's warm evenings by setting up outdoor stages all around Downtown Norfolk. Jazz enthusiasts will be especially thrilled; however, everyone is welcome to enjoy the smooth sounds and serenity along the lovely Elizabeth River.
Shady Grove Music Festival (7/19/2014) in Arden, Delaware
Known as Delaware's premier festival for local and original music, this event tends to draw quite a sizable crowd. It began in 2002 as the Arden Music Fest but has since grown to showcase both nationally touring rock bands and local acts. However, no matter how big the festival grows, it remains dedicated to promoting original, up-and-coming talent from the tri-state area.
Sourland Music Festival (7/19/2014) in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey
With proceeds going towards the promotion of ecological integrity and preservation of historical resources, this is one event that allows you to party for a great cause. Set within the beautiful Sourland Mountain region, this annual music festival tends to incorporate local tradition and flair. Enjoy delicious food, unique crafts, and a full day of bluesy rock music in a lively, family-friendly atmosphere.
JulyFest Art & Music Festival (7/19/2014 - 7/20/2014) in Mentone, Alabama
Perched atop Lookout Mountain in picturesque Mentone, this event (now in its third year) boasts spectacular scenery – and so much more. It includes free music by notable Alabama bands, a pet parade, a silent auction, and unique arts and crafts by local purveyors. Browse the booths and you'll find pottery, iron work, baskets, jewelry, paintings and more by about 50 truly talented artists. Attendees are also encouraged to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets to comfortably enjoy the live performances.
PAL Blues, Arts and BBQ Festival (7/25/2014 - 7/26/2014) in Redwood City, California
Presented by the Redwood City Police Activity League, this event offers live performances by talented musicians from around the Bay Area as well as unique highlights like an inflatable play land for children, and delicious cuisine from local restaurants. Get there early to take advantage of the glorious summer weather, and purchase a raffle ticket to be eligible to win a variety of wonderful prizes.
Not enough live music for you? Check out these upcoming events:
– Jamaica Day Reggae Festival (7/5/2014) in Crownsville, Maryland
– New Hampshire Music Festival (7/8/2014 - 8/14/2014) in Plymouth, New Hampshire
– Annual Grassroots Blues Festival (7/11/2014 - 7/12/2014) in Duck Hill, Mississippi
– Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival (7/15/2014 - 8/12/2014) in Harrison, Maine
– Buckle Up Music Festival (7/18/2014 - 7/20/2014) in Cincinnati, Ohio
– Jazz & Rib Fest (7/18/2014 - 7/20/2014) in Columbus, Ohio
– FARM Music & Arts Festival (7/24/2014 - 7/26/2014) in New Brunswick, New Jersey
– Dallas Nelson Mandela World Music Festival (7/28/2014 - 7/27/2014) in Grand Prairie, Texas
Find even more information at Festivals.com – and be sure to keep checking back with us here at HillTop Records as we bring you the latest updates from the American music industry!