The Digest, Volume 2

Note: The Digest is a new feature to the Sketchbook blog. My goal is to provide a weekly annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook and let me know that as well. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media. 

Performing, by Bob Lefsetz in The Lefsetz Letter.

What was so special about the Beatles and Prince? Sure, they have huge catalogs of great music, but their real staying power lay in their acts. The message is clear, musicians: if you want a career in music today, you’re better off focusing on your live skills than your recording chops.

Memorizing – A Few Tips, by Melanie Spanswick in Classical Mel’s Piano and Music Education Blog.

And speaking of performance, how about that Franz Liszt? Melanie Spanswick tells us that pianists and other musicians have this Romantic Era Hungarian pianist and composer to thank for starting the precedent of memorizing one’s music instead of relying on the score. Liszt felt that solo pianists (another concept of his) who relied on printed music did so at considerable cost to their stage presence and charisma. Fortunately, Spanswick offers a few simple but effective tips on how to commit music to memory.

Is Your Day Job More Important to Your Music Career Than You Know? by Normandie Wilson in Music Clout

Wilson wastes no time in cutting to the chase: “Let’s be serious,” she writes. “This economy totally sucks. A regular paycheck is your best friend.” Moreover, a day job gives you a chance to schmooze and make some good connections (especially if you’re in sales), and it gives you cool perks, like paid vacation days, a free copier (sometimes in color!), and free internet.

When God and Mozart Hang Out, They Listen to These Speakers, by Michael Calore in Wired.

Peter Lingdorf’s new speakers built for Steinway, the Steinway Lingdorf Model LS Concert, are far beyond the best of the best out there. How good are they? There’s absolutely no distortion, even at 120 dB. They are so good, in fact, that Steinway engineers were able to tell the difference between Model D pianos made in their Hamburg, Germany and Long Island, New York factories simply by listening to an audio CD played through the speakers. Of course, such audiophile quality comes at a price: $190,000 per pair, or enough to buy two Model D pianos.

How To Skyrocket Your Twitter Promotion, in Music Clout.

What are the best ways to make Twitter a stronger music promotion tool? The good people at Music Clout who follow the industry’s hot topics suggest following people you’re interested in (labels, A&R companies, engineers, and so on) as well as other people in your genre.

Four Things You Should Be Aware Of Before Signing With a Music Manager, in Music Clout.

Your manager will likely be the most important member of your team, so it only makes sense that you take your time and exercise caution in picking someone you trust. Before you sign any agreement, Music Clout recommends that you examine their history with past clients, their success rates, their reputation in the industry, and (perhaps most importantly) payment. Reputable managers take a cut of your earnings. Warning bells should go off if they ask for payment up front.

Amanda Palmer’s Accidental Experiment With Real Communism, by Joshua Clover in The New Yorker.

Amanda Palmer, who raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter to fund her new solo album and then asked for volunteers to play with her for no pay when she went on tour (with her band, the Grand Theft Orchestra), is Joshua Colver’s pick for Internet’s villain of the month. Unwilling to share her Kickstarter fortune with musicians who supported her tour is bad enough, but Palmer’s hypocrisy becomes even more glaring when one considers that she is a folk singer, presumably interested in social justice. Yet beneath that, however, is an interesting set of problems about art and work in an age when both are becoming more and more devalued.

Music Fans In the Internet Age: Same Behaviors, Amplified, by Refe Tuma in Hypebot.

Has the internet killed off the music fan? The good news, says Refe Tuma, is that the fans haven’t gone anywhere, and they aren’t likely to anytime soon. The internet hasn’t killed music fandom; fandom is alive and well. But music fans have changed, and the internet has had an influence on their new behaviors.

Excelling Under Pressure, by Gerald Klickstein in The Musician’s Way

The primary distinction between those who excel under pressure and those who crack, says Klickstein, lies in how they prepare to perform. They operate from “a place of awareness” and do not rely on muscle memory.

Microsoft Unveils Xbox Music, Its New Streaming Music Service, by Seth Feigerman in Mashable.

The software giant rolled out the new music streaming service to many customers on Tuesday as part of an update to the Xbox gaming console. Updates to Windows 8 PCs and tablets will be ready October 26. Spotify redeaux?

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