I think the best music streaming app. to have on your phone is Spotify. You can try it out, for free, and if you want to pay 10 bucks a month and get Premium, you can avoid having to listen to advertisements. If others in your household want Premium then you can get The Family Plan for 15.99 a month. That’s the price of one CD. All the music and podcasts you want, in your pocket, for that price is pretty good. If you stick with the free plan you’ll be limited to listening to music in shuffle mode and can only skip a certain amount of tracks per hour. A lot of other people seem to love Spotify as much as I do. Spotify has around 30 million paying subscribers and nearly 90 million users total, which is more than any other music-streaming platform out there. To put it in perspective, Apple Music has about 13 Million subscribers.
I listen to music and podcasts everyday and Spotify is my main source. If you decide to download the app. and try it out, here’s a simple guide to get started and have all the music and podcasts you need to build the soundtrack of your life.
Home Sweet Home
The Home section displays Spotify’s great approach to music for lifestyle convergence. It contains your recent playlists, new episodes of podcasts that you follow, playlists hand-picked for you by Spotify, music you might like based on what you’ve listened to, the main songs you listen to, playlists that you’ve created or ones you follow, songs you can’t get enough of, other recommendations and one of my favorite sections, Mood.
Search for a song, an artist, a podcast topic…
Tap the search tab, a little magnifying glass, and type in something you are searching for. If you like the song and want to save it to Your Library you can tap the little heart on the right side of the player button. Spotify will give you matches to your query as you type, including artists, songs, playlists, albums, podcasts, podcast episodes and profiles that match your search.
Search / BROWSE
Inside the search section you can Browse . Explore Spotify’s amazingly vast catalog of featured playlists, charts, new releases and genres to build the soundtrack of your life. The tiles at the top are playlists that Spotify thinks you'll enjoy, based on your listening habits.
When you are in the Search Section, notice the camera icon in the top-right; this lets you scan special Spotify tags that link to a specific playlist or song. You might see these tags on Artist’s concert posters or promotional materials, or you can scan it from a friend who has opened a tag of a song on their screen .
Spotify’s Genres & Moods section is a great way to cue up playlists based on activities. This is one of the features that proves Spotify is keen to the idea that Music Makes the Moment!
The last tab is YOUR LIBRARY but if you are new to Spotify, then you haven’t built much of a library yet, so let’s look at a few other main components of using Spotify first and before long you will have built your library and you'll see how it's the soundtrack of your life.
-Now Playing -
The Now Playing bar always shows at bottom of screen right above the navigation tabs.. Tap it to see full details, including Play/Pause and Seek buttons, Shuffle and Repeat functions. Touch the three-dot menu int the upper right hand side of the screen for options pertaining to the current track. Here, you can access a bunch of functions like adding the song to a playlist, putting it queue, share it, go to a radio station based on the songs and more.
-Follow a Playlist -
Scroll to see the Playlist results from your search. If you like a playlist and want to save it to your playlists then you can follow it and it will get added to your playlists.
-Turn the Radio On -
You can choose a radio station that’s pre-made or tap the "+" button at the top to create a station based on a song or artist.
Build your library
The very last tab in the app is Your Library. It's where you can store and organize all the music you find on Spotify. This tab is a collection of all the music you’ve saved in Spotify. You’ll find your Playlists, Albums, Liked Songs, Artists, any stations that you created in the Radio tab and more for easy browsing. Here you can also also find everything you’ve recently played,
Want to Make a Playlist? You have several options:
> Tap the option button (circle with three dots) next to a song and hit "Add to playlist." You can add it to an existing one that you created (not someone else's you're following) or create a new Playlist with this song.
> Go to the Playlists section in Your Music, tap the Edit button in the corner, then the "+" that appears in the upper-left corner.
When you create a playlist, you can decide whether to make it public or not. If it’s public, anyone can search for it and it will appear on your user page. Right-click a playlist and choose Make Public to send it out to the masses.
To further build your playlist you’ll see Recommended Songs for your playlist if you scroll and You can click Add to drop these into your playlist to make it even better.
> Build a Playlist with Your Friends
Right-click it and choose Collaborative Playlist. Share the link and other Premium users can edit it and add to it. note: you need Premium to make Collaborative Playlists on a mobile device.
Going on a hike or road trip to a remote place? You can Download songs for offline listening.
To download music, go to Your Library. At the top of any playlist, album, artist, or your entire Songs list, flip the switch to "Available offline."
It is recommended that you connect to Wi-Fi and charger cord first because downloading songs sucks up data and battery power. You can listen to that music even when your device is in airplane mode — and it won’t use your data if you are online.
Line ‘em Up!
Queue songs to play next. You can queue up music on the fly by tapping the option button next to a song (circle with three dots) and choosing "Add to Up Next." To view the queue, go to the Now Playing screen (tap the bar at the bottom of the app) and hit the icon in the upper-right corner (three lines).
Some additional activities:
Share a Song or Playlist:
Spotify makes it easy to share music and podcasts with others.
To share on mobile, tap the three-dot icon on any artist, album, or playlist page, or next to a song. Tap Share and you’ll see several sharing options, including Copy Link.
Discover New Music:
The Related Artists section on every artist's page suggests other artist you might like. Right below the list of popular tracks, you'll see a little section with a list of similar artists. Choose one and explore.
Follow your friends in the app to you view (and add) their playlists, see what music they're listening to and directly send them music you like. To find and add friends, go to Your Music and tap your photo at the top-right corner. Hit "Find Friends." You can also go to the main search bar and look for them there.
Follow an Artist:
Use this feature to get notifications when an artist you like releases new music or adds it to Spotify for the first time. Just go to an artist's page and hit "Follow" at the top.
Some settings you might want to play with:
Go to your Library and hit the gear icon at the top. There are a lot of settings to choose from, so here are some important ones:
Gapless playback. This is my favorite setting. You can take out the gap between songs with this feature. You can even adjust the crossfade slider to make the songs overlap which is great for continuous play for workouts, wedding dances and events like that when you don’t want the music to stop.
Stream / download quality. You can set download & stream quality to Normal if you want to save some data.
Offline mode. Enable this mode and Spotify will only let you play downloaded music.
As a music consumer that grew up making mix tapes on cassette and saving ups my allowance to by a CD, I am simply amazed by Spotify and love all of the features for integrating all of my favorite music into my life. One of my main uses of play-listing on is for fitness and Spotify even has special features for that purpose. Stay tuned here for an upcoming guide to using Spotify for fitness. In the mean time, explore all the playlists that I’ve created, follow them, collaborate with me.
Share some of your playlists and favorite songs and podcasts on Spotify here in the comments section below.
Song stuck in your head?
We all know, stuck-song syndrome happens. In fact, according to a Finnish study, about 92% of people experience this cognitive itch weekly and these types of parasites are clearly not consciously self induced.
Is it a clear sign of a good song? Does it signify that the song is well endowed
with catchy melodies to slosh around in your noggin whether you want them to or not? Indeed, no matter if you like the song or not, it'll get in there. You hear someone humming it or it is playing in the grocery store or from the radio on your way to work and you say “thanks a lot, now that song is stuck in my head !”
Does a memory trigger a repetitive loop that your brain is needing to express? Is there something you see that triggers a song? Are you merely filling the void of a bored mind with an uplifting beat? It could be any combination of these triggers but the musical simplicity, repetition and vocalization of something such as the “doot-do do-dootie-doot” in the baby shark song makes the sound swim around in your fishbowl head, feeding on your brain for days.
This unique musical phenomenon, scientifically known as "involuntary musical imagery”, or INMI comes from the German orwhurm."
Experts on INMI from Goldsmiths, University of London indicate that music with notes that last longer but are closer together in pitch are more likely to get stuck in your head. Perhaps a good example of this would be the Star Wars Imperial March song ? Oops sorry if that is stuck in your head now! The scientists created a model that could predict whether a tune has the potential to take up residence in your head with an over 80% success rate. Why is it usually just a snippet? Something in that part of that song that hooked you in?
Is there an emotion that triggers a song? Perhaps we have this innate ability to store a song in our radio head so we can pass along the vibration and communicate the message to ourselves or perhaps our brain waves get addicted to the pattern.
FREE THE SHARK!
It’s been said that a song gets stuck in your head because you haven’t heard the end of it. You’ve been exposed to a pieces of it and it won’t go away so to get it out of your head you need to listen to the whole song. Does this work? Is this some sort of survival tactic for music to stay active in human culture?
The other option is to replace the song with another one. In your experience is this a guaranteed fix? Does it cure the problem? Can it chase the baby shark but not be so
catchy itself to take it’s place endlessly sending waves to your inner ear?
These scientists call it the the "saturate and seek closure" method. Listen to the tune all the way through, at full volume, preferably singing along. By concentrating on the full version of the tune, the tune that haunts your inner ear will be broadcast by your radio heart beat until the very last chord fades from your mind.
How could the practical or therapeutic uses of ear-worms benefit for our brains and mental health? Try and anchor a melody in your head all day and see what happens.
Have you seen Dead To Me?
Dead to Me is a fantastic dark comedy created by Liz Feldman which premiered on May 3, 2019 on Netflix. The series stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini as grieving women who bond during therapy. If you are a fan of the show, like me, you will be pleased to hear that it has been renewed for a second season! Sweet! Recently, at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, Christina Applegate received a nomination for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, which is well deserved because she is brilliant in this series. If you've seen it, you know what I am talking about, if you haven't seen it, I highly suggest it, and I'm not working for Netflix or anything, I'm just a music lover, and yes of course, I really like the sound track. The music is fantastically curated by music supervisor Tricia Halloran. Listen to the playlist I made on here and please follow Magnetic West Music on Spotify.
It's important to have a Music Performance Agreement between you and the venue so the terms are clear and there's no gray area to figure out during or after the gig. Send this form ahead of time to the booking agent, talent buyer or music coordinator at the venue if they don't send you one first.
On the form you will of course include all of your Contact Information. If your act has multiple members then this is a good way to have one member be the point person. It is very important to have a phone number that the talent buyer can use to reach you easily for updates to the gig or contact when you are on the road.
The performance Date is helpful to keep clear for scheduling, travel and information for publicity and obviously showing up on the right date for your gig and making sure the venue doesn't double book you. Pinpoint the location / address of the venue to plug into your maps app. so you can arrive in a timely manner and plan your travel time. If your venue is in your home town and you play there a lot then maybe mapping it out isn't important but this contract is still important. If the Event has a name, like if it is part of a certain music festival, a series, showcase or something along those lines, it is helpful for publicity to indicate that. All of these items ensure that you and the venue are on the same page.
The Services section covers a lot of useful information to the venue so they are clear about what to expect: what services you are providing / your genre, band members, or any notes about what you are delivering, so that the venue isn't expecting a full band when you show up solo. The Performance Details are often filled by the venue and can include: the performance order and where you're placed on the bill, how long your sets are, breaks, if there's more than one act performing, what time you're expected to arrive and load in and do sound check. You can ask about these details in this section if they haven't been previously arranged.
It's good to have the venue write down PA / Equipment Details so you know what you need to bring and what the venue has. You can also put your tech. / stage plot requirements here.
Payment: this is good to clarify your compensation, wether it's a guarantee, percentage of the door cover or ticket sales. Does it include food & drink? Are you getting paid a portion of the money upfront (“deposit”), and if so, what is that amount, and when is it due to be received? Are you being paid before or after the show? How are you getting paid – cash or check? There are a lot of variables in how artists are compensated so it is good to get those details taken care of before the gig.
Seems like I may have forgotten something, right? Other Info. to include could be an agreement as to what happens if you are sick or the event gets rained out or anything else that is unique to the performance.
After you and the talent buyer sign and date it, and you get their contact info. so you can text them when you get to the venue, you'll have taken care of business and you'll be able to focus on the performance. Download the complimentary form below! Have fun!
chime in : Do you you already have a form you use? How does it differ from mine? Have you noticed using a Performance Agreement helps ? How often do you use them?
kindly, Mike Caruso ( MAGNETIC WEST MUSIC )
I met with my friend, singer/songwriter Justin Gordon and we talked about his new album Backwater. Early on in the conversation he stated :
“you compartmentalize some part of your identity and, for me, I’ve always been committed to making records. It’s how I’ve arbitrarily chosen to mark the eras of my life. ”
With what Justin communicates in his music, he believes the listeners to be " the presumed perpetrator of bad culture, which is in fact, the person who is just like you or me or anybody else, doing their best. ” In addition, he describes the album as "a query to be answered by O yea, I understand what you are saying... I feel that way all the time. It’s a call for reassurance. " He continues to illustrate this reciprocity one might have with his music as “I heard that song and I really connected with it because I feel the similar feeling of alienation or something along those lines " and then he " connects with that person over that feeling.”
Furthermore, of the material that floats in the mirror pool of Backwater, he says " some of them are just love songs or songs of lost youth. ”
We examined the element of songwriting where you decide to include or leave out specific place names and Justin said " certain songwriters use that to great effect. You think it might be putting people on the outside - well I’m not from Jersey - or something like that but it’s almost an intimacy , it can be like you are getting let in on this person’s geography, like an inner circle." The album's songs feel rooted in the geography of southern backwater reflecting a warm desert glow, but the songwriter sites locations spanning from Maine to Southern Oregon, from Athens, Ohio and the Lost Coast of California, and as far as Mexico and Columbia.
From the first tones of the acoustic guitar on the opening track, Folly of Youth, you can hear the carefree character of Justin’s $10. guitar that has appeared in many recordings (including the 2006 album entitled Ten Dollar Guitar ) . On this track, that has some of his signature chord structuring, comfortable vocals deliver a confident melody and the final moments of the song are enchanted with the chiming notes of piano. On the track that follows it, Cabin Life, the buttery growl of Justin’s Harmony Rocket , a semi-hollow body guitar with gold foil pickups, churns under his poetics. Then Possibilities shows up to celebrate with a fun retro style. Riohacha, which appeared on 2016 album Home Fires as a reverb soaked acoustic track ( which I coincidentally played on accordion on) got released in it’s full glory brewed in the smokey Backwater which is the original version of the song , how it is played live, with Dave Hampton on drums and Jeff Fretwell on bass.
The album , like Justin’s other work , is full of captivating melodies to hum , or whistle, like he does in Wilderness, which, if you’ve heard his song Me & Chuckles, you might recognize the melody (Wilderness was actually partially written while in Guatemala in 2009. Me & Chuckles came later and took over some of that melody . ) Simple Man is a tune that I could hear spinning in the background of a party, cascading good vibes into the air. The playful marimba sound comes from an 80’s Casio keyboard which he feels is a portrayal of a “simple melody played in someone’s bedroom , a lack of polish, a counterpoint of clean tone” to balance out the warm lo-fi recording. “I like combining those things” he adds. Stones , the fifth track on the album is a beautiful deep dive into emotional territory. Elders, which delivers an elegant sense of the sonic field of the album and The Beach , which brings you right there to that sandy location with an easy going rhythm and relatable lyrics, are two personal favorites for the songwriter. When I asked Justin to elaborate on Elders, which is my favorite too, he said “ I was looking at chords that I had written out years ago with the first verse of the song, there was a scribbled out chord and the scribbled out chord looked like a letter C. I played the progression and I was like, That’s not right, but I like it. It was a strange place to start a verse or a song but I was like oh, this is going someplace already.” He continued with “most songwriters are either embracing their structure or trying to find new ways to get out of their tendencies or chord progressions. I don’t make any great effort to get out of my chord progression tendencies but I certainly try to think of every possible angle that I can go on a key...there are no rules”.
The warm, inviting recording , which was originally supposed to be captured directly to 1/4” 4 track reel to reel tape, was actually recorded digitally and then mastered to tape. The melodies are engaging and the well crafted lyrics rise throughout the album like delicate desert flowers or gasoline fumes packing a pungent punch. It is truly gritty and honest Americana poetry at its finest. Backwater reaches new landscapes in its effort to remove itself from the mainstream but it is certainly not a departure from Justin's well seasoned creative persona. The achievement catches my senses. It is firmly rooted in honesty and it feels good to listen to. About the title's theme Justin says " Backwater is a place where things don’t change, they haven’t been modernized. I wanted to convey reclusion or trying to achieve some remoteness, a getting away, an escape from feeling crowded, which coalesced on a trip to the Lost Coast. I think this collection of songs is like the Lost Coast. It's about appreciating the old ways. "
I know this is my blog about music but it was just a matter of time before I wrote about food. I grew up snacking on traditional Italian pizzelles ( ha, my computer says I am spelling pizzelles wrong and it is trying to auto-correct it to Pirellis but no, I didn’t grow up eating car tires. ) Anyways, my Nonnie made light and crispy pizzelles that were anise flavored. Usually around the holidays they would start stacking up on the countertops and the sweet buttery crispy cookies shaped in beautiful designs would be a comfort and delight, and an occasional giggle-fest when someone would mispronounce anise. What flavor?!
So, don’t tell my Nonnie, but this recipe is for gluten-free pizzelles, and you can flavor them however you want.
Mike Caruso’s Wicked Light + Crispy Gluten Free Pizzelle Recipe:
3 eggs ( chicken eggs work best )
3/4 cup sugar ( I use fine organic cane sugar )
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
You need 1 and 3/4 cups : you can use 1 3/4 cups of whatever gluten free flour(s) you want but just make sure to use mostly rice flour. I tried using all coconut before and they were wicked crumbly and tiny crumbs would get stuck in your throat and when you would try and talk to people while eating them you would just end up coughing and your eyes would water and they would ask “ are you ok?” and when you couldn’t respond they would just kinda walk away. I don’t want that to happen to you, that’s not really what we are going for here. Here’s what I like to use:
11/4 Cup of Bob’s Red Mill GF 1to1 Baking Flour ( or something similar )
( it’s a blend of two different rice flours/potato starch,
sorghum flour and tapioca flour and xanthan gum )
1/4 cup of fine coconut flour
1/4 cup of fine almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
10 tablespoons of melted butter
1 extra bit of butter for greasing your Pizzelle iron ( you have a Pizzelle iron right ? )
powdered sugar for dusting
1 teaspoon of flavor ( almond, anise, etc ) extract
melt the butter in a little pan on the stovetop while doing the next step:
Beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well combined.
Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixing until smooth.
Add any additional flavors ( I like almond extract. there’s always anise, and even lemon perhaps, I may be just imagining it but I think I had some butter-rum flavored ones too that were pretty scrumptious.
Add the melted butter, again mixing until smooth; the batter will be thick and soft.
Heat your pizzelle iron. Take a pad of butter and rub it on your hot pizzelle iron - don’t burn your fingers! especially if you play guitar and have a gig that night.
As the iron heats, the batter will stiffen, and the children will start circling around and dipping their fingers in the powdered sugar.
Cook the pizzelle according to your iron. In general, they'll take somewhere between 45 seconds and 2 minutes cook. Mine has a little light that goes off when they are done. Take them out quick before they get too brown, just a light toasted color is good.
Remove the pizzelle from the iron with a spatula or something, it will be soft and wicked floppy, lay it on a cooling rack and make some more.
fun idea : While they are all bendable you can roll them up and make ice cream cones or cannolli shells.
They cool and harden very quickly and then you can trim the edges to make them all pretty. you can feed the edges to you dog or kids or trash can.
Dust cooled pizzelle with powdered’ sugar
One word that often gets used by people who claim to not know how to speak about music is dissonance so I though I would clarify that term:
Musical Dissonance. You've heard it before, like a baby banging on many keys of a piano at the same time , can be a clashing and harsh sound but also, done well, it can express conflict or tension.
Simply put, Dissonance is a clashing of notes, associated with unpleasantness, whereas Consonance is a harmony, associated with sweetness + pleasantness.
For the purposes of being on the same page when we talk about music for a creative media project I don't think it's necessary to go into the specifics of what notes sound good together to create consonance and what notes clash to create dissonance, you know it when you hear it.
Consonance, in general, refers to a pleasant sound, something that is comfortable to your ears. Dissonance, on the other hand, refers to tension and instability, and also you get the sense that the music needs to go somewhere to be resolved back to consonance.
Can you come up with any examples of dissonance in music?
Your Love Story
Music is always an important part of every story. Your wedding is a celebration of your love story, the pages past and the ones yet to come, so your music should accompany that. Was there a song playing in the background somewhere on your first date? Are there songs that you shared with each other when you first met? What songs have you realized together that you both really like? What songs do you associate with your love? Start writing down that list and hold on to it. As you start to plan the soundtrack to your night's itinerary, notice where each song might fit best. It is important to place the right song at the right time to maximize the emotional support music offers to each moment.
Bridal Party Entrance
The processional is enhanced by beautiful melodies, elegant and joyous songs. You can
choose an uplifting song that represents the family members as they enter and then pause and switch to a song to signify the bride’s entrance. Sometimes even a bit of humor in the music is a great way to help the bridal party and guests relax into the ceremony time a bit.
The ceremony is a very intimate part of a wedding, so you’ll want to choose songs that set the right tone and support the emotions of your ceremony. An acoustic guitarist, vocalist, string section of cello and violin, a singer/acoustic guitarist, perhaps an elegant harpist or a combination of any of those types of musicians will deliver non-obtrusive,heartwarming and pleasing melodies to weave around your vows and officiant’s words. If you have special meaningful songs for your ceremony, you can have a singer/guitarist perform a rendition. Another option, if you want to go without live musicians, is to ask your DJ to arrange a pre-recorded set of your song selections. Often, ceremonies have special moments, like sand ceremonies, where there are no words spoken and music can weave in and out of these to support the moment and fill the silence.
Here's a moment to turn it up a notch, it's time to celebrate! This should be a fun, positive song, meaningful to you as your first song walking forward, hand in hand as a married couple.
Cocktail Hour Music
Often you can use the musicians from your ceremony for this time before dinner. A string quartet makes for nice mingling music and a singer/songwriter is a great way to entertain guests. They often come with their own love song based repertoire to blend in with your requests.
Dinner music is about creating a comfortable ambiance, a soft background soundtrack for social conversations. Find some mellow (but not boring) music and create your own playlist, or have your live musicians or DJ provide this light dinner music. Often this music fades in and out with various stories being told and speeches being made in honor of the newly married couple.
This song should have a special meaning to you as a couple, and be a slower, sweet and intimate song. Perhaps you will have danced to it many times before and have choreographed your moves.
If you can find one that can deliver the right music for your reception’s dancing and celebration, a live band is always a great option. Your other option is recorded music, either you or a family member can have that run a playlist through the PA or you can hire a DJ. DJs arrive on the scene to create a solid beat to keep all the guests moving but the dance floor tunes don’t have to be an hour-long mega-mix, you can pull together your own playlist that the DJ can be inspired from. A week before the ceremony you can jot down a list of your ‘must play’ songs, or even your ‘must not play’ songs. A DJ will only need about 7 tracks here to get an idea of the vibe you’re going for.
What else would you include in this guide to selecting the perfect soundtrack to
your special wedding day?
A third option, which I think looks great, is to order custom made stamps
from a place like rubberstamps.net and a raised pad ink pad
like the ones sold by Yellow Owl Worksop.