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How Elders Can Find New Music They Like

Newsweek continues its intermittent series of “The Boomer Files” cover stories concentrating this week on the relationship between boomers and their music.

Aside from the fact that designating this series as being only about boomers gets more irritating with every issue (as if those of us older than 60 are too senile, if not already dead, to be worthy of interest), there is a good story on how to find new music that matches (or comes close to matching) the tastes we developed during the Sixties which was, arguably, the most astonishingly creative period in the history of popular music.

How many sets of Beatles albums have you worn out in the past 40 years? Or Dylan? Or the Stones or Joplin or Hendrix or so many others? They’ve held up for nearly half a century and continue to capture the attention of younger generations as each comes along.

Still, it would be nice to have a guide to whatever it is that’s going on the pop music world today because it is impossible to keep up when it’s fragmented into so many genres and sub-genres emerging from so many different sources. There is hardly such a thing as a top 40 anymore, or a band or singer who can capture the imagination of an entire country the way Sinatra, Elvis and The Beatles did, each in their era.

But help is available. According to Newsweek reporter, Steven Levy, there is a bunch of online services that, using the latest technology, can track down new music you would probably like if The Doors still light your fire - something, maybe, that segues nicely out of The Crystal Ship but has a 21st century edge to it.

Since Newsweek inexplicably does not link to the free services Mr. Levy describes, I’ve done the work for them (and you) with the list and links below. Perhaps, if you try these, you will report back here on your success - or not - in finding some terrific new music you like.

Pandora - Immediate search from home page delivers computer matches

Last.fm - Immediate search from home page delivers computer matches

MyStrands - Requires download for Windows Media Player or iTunes

MOG - More like Friendster for music, there is no computer matching. A place to find others who share your musical tastes and appears to be focused on young MySpace users.

Comments

Great topic, one I've written about a few times myself (in my "culture" category). After months of looking for a way to have music in my life I very happily arrived at XM Satellite Radio. So no more reruns of the same-old-same-old anymore. Now I have 70-some channels of all-music, plus lots more. But the point is I've discovered I love blues and bluegrass and Roseanne Cash! And now our newest DJ Bob Dylan is slowly turning me on to his favorites. Or I can listen to Wynton Marsalis's show and learn more about jazz. So for 10 bucks a month this boomer can go beyond Crosby Stills and Nash. (No, they're not paying me.)

I have had Pandora for about 8 months, and use it to listen while I am web surfing. It is a good way to build a collection of jazz and old standards, which I love. On rare occasion, it makes my computer run a little slower, but works well most of the time.

Sirius satellite radio has been a Godsend for me; with channels dedicated to old standards, blues, jazz, old radio shows, etc. Plus, it is almost commercial-free, which is a definite benefit!

I used Last FM but just discovered Pandora thanks to you and think I like it better. It's much easier to use and I think it agrees better with my setup. Only you are not supposed to use it out of the States... Oh well...

I use Pnadora and like it a lot.

Like you Ronni, I'm always amazed that online publications don't link to the main websites mentioned in their stories. I really shouldn't be amazed.

They are afriad of losing 'eyeballs.'

If they were smart, they'd figure out that by sending people away, they'll get more people coming back.

When they neglect making outbound links active, or neglect even posting links, people get frustrated and don't return.

"How many sets of Beatles albums have you worn out in the past 40 years? Or Dylan? Or the Stones or Joplin...."

Ummmm...none. I don't even own anything by any of those, as far as I recall. But, then, our collection is mostly 45 rpm (nearly 1000 records) or 33 1/3 rpm (well over 400 LPs). Between us, HH and I probably own 100 CDs--and I first started purchasing them 20+ years ago. Then there are the tape casettes.... The last music to which I listened (about 1 AM, today) was Gene Simmons. We cannot be pidgeon-holed, can we?

LOL - I just posted something a little similar yesterday.

Having teens in the house guarantees I'll get exposed to lots of new music!

Now, whether I like any of it is a roll of the dice.

I had not heard of the last three sites you provided links for, so I spent more than two hours downloading and installing applications and trying to set them up to do what they said they could do for me. I was so frustrated and confused by the time I was ready to give up, I just uninstalled everything. They want to know so much about you and they threaten to be very intrusive in my mind.

I've been using Pandora for a good while now and none of those others could compete with it for simplicity, convenience and ease of use.

I too at times get the feeling that I might be missing so much when it comes to modern day music. I've heard some of it as soundtracks for various movies and I really liked what I was hearing. I don't like to think of myself as bigotted against any kind of music but I must confess...I AM.

I was hoping that one of those sites you linked to might offer the opportunity to listen to RANDOM music selections from today's most popular artists. If they did, it might be possible for me to filter out the type of music I don't care for.

It's difficult to do a search for certain artists or types of music one is not familiar with. That's why RANDOM selections would be so great.

I have an extensive music collection on my computer. Still, I would like to hear what's being listened to by the majority of people today. HOW to do it is the problem.

Thanks for trying your best to help us Ronni.

try a programme called Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW - available here.

Musical tastes vary from individual to individual of course. I personally collect fifties and sixties music and have an extensive CD collection of that music. But the thoughts stimulated by Ronni’s post do not relate to the specific subject of what our choices might be but rather the medium that we choose to use to listen to those choices.

Most folks anymore only listen to their music choices on iPods, portable cd players, or their computers. None of which fulfill the soul of the music. Before the cell phone came along many use to obtain some brief measure of fulfillment in their automobiles. But what has happened to the home sound systems and those hours spent listening to the music as it was intended to be listened to in its complete dynamic envelope?

People, at least a good portion of the listening population, are missing the complete listening pleasure of their music today. I can remember when the stereo record players and consoles came out in the late fifties and spending hours on the floor in front of those speakers with a pile of records listening to those wonderful full, rich, dynamic sounds never before experienced. And now with the digital technology, those rich and dynamic sounds put the past to shame yet most miss the greatest of the music experience and that is again, to listen to the richness and dynamics that can be fulfilled on playback systems that do the music justice.

I love music, I play music, and music has been an integral part of my life and it truly saddens me to know how much people are missing from that listening pleasure, regardless of their music choices. It seems like so many things today in our society, we tend to listen to our music on the go – rather than stopping to smell the roses and oh, there is such sweetness to be taken from those roses.

Alan, I think that what happens is we now listen to music the way we used to listen to the radio, in the olden days (or still do, for that matter)
One thing I really appreciate, is being able to buy one single piece out of a CD, instead of buying the whole CD and never listen to more than one or two pieces.
A lot of the time, I will hear something I like on the radio or Pandora or lastfm or whatever, look up the title on iTunes, and buy it.

Claude brings up another good point with me and also an associated technical challenge. Indeed, as Claude has pointed out, it is great now that we can go on-line and purchase a song or two we like off an album, save several bucks, and get only the songs we really want. That is a “no contest” as far as I am concerned on that point. Done that myself a number of times.

But…..getting back to my issue - after I do download the song then I want to hear the song in its full dynamics. So I have to know how to get that downloaded song to a CD so that I can listen to it the way I feel has to be done to get the most out of the experience. I think that is the real rock in the road for a lot of folks. First of all you have to have a writable CD drive in your computer and in addition you need software that can accomplish creating the music CD for you. And there is a little bit of terminology that you have to become familiar with, so it is not a slam-dunk operation. I think that there is a large majority of the folks who download songs whose only choice is to listen to them on their computer or perhaps iPod because they don’t have the hardware, software or know-how to do otherwise. And please don’t misunderstand, I am not putting anyone down for that – it’s just simple fact.

So….if it was your desire to listen to your music secured through Cyberspace in its intended form – you have to expand your equipment and/or your knowledge base accordingly to get there.

Our local radio stations simply don't play any contemporary music, unless it's country/western. The FM stations usually play oldies, so although I get to hear "my kind of music", maybe it's not such a bad thing that I never hear what's popular today. And, from what I can gather, listening to the radio when I'm traveling, I'm not missing much.

I have never been able to figure out how the words "rap" and "music" go together. Watching the Grammy awards tells me all I need to know about what passes for music these days.

Out here in PA I listen to "WXPN" and am learning not only about new music but also new stuff from people I still hold dear like Emmy Lou Harris and Mark Knopfler who just brought out a CD together recently, and Paul Simon's latest called "Surprise."

Really appreciate the info provided here re music. Had never gotten around to checking out what might be available with links such as these.

Did a quick check with Pandora and they passed my test immediately as a possible listening source to augment music recently added to my personal music library.

I'll certainly check out those other links, too, when I have more time.

As for audio quality, as many of even the current musically knowledgeable pop and rock star artists acknowledge, digital is at best only a substitute for the full rich sounds of music provided acoustically.

Certainly, digital captures the individual sound frequencies the human ear perceives, but there is more. Most people are quite content with the digital experience. I must admit the convenience of those little CDs and other digital products is nice.

I don't have any of those albums you mentioned either. But...I do have some of the tunes which are performed with different arrangements, different instrumentation, different artists, among my favorites.

I, too, welcome the opportunity to hear new music, whatever genre, and would not want to be limited to only that with which I am familiar. Sure I have my favorite genres, artists, and tunes, but have found something of interest with every generation's favorites, some of which, surprisingly to me, have become favorites of mine, too.

I took a listen to those tunes you mentioned, Cowtown Pattie, and found them worth the listening. I think parents, and grandparents miss the boat for opening lines of communication if they don't make an effort to listen with an open mind to the music, lyrics of what their loved young ones enjoy. Doesn't mean you'll like all of it, any more than I like all of my favorite genre, but you just might be surprised, as was I with my son's music, to find a few gems.

I, for one, will appreciate any and all source links you might choose to pass my way, Ronni, since knowing what all is available on the Internet, how and where to find it, I'm finding to be a never-ending process.

I use Pandora, because it is the least invasive. I didn't have to download anything, and I can share with whomever I choose.

I wish I could find a community college course that goes through all of today's genres and what they mean and artists and why they are popular. Something that helps give me an overview of the music today. I agree, that it is really fragmented.

There is a wealth of music out there, and not only the signed, known artists. Indie musicians are putting out some great music too, and likely won't be heard on your normal radio station. You can hear them on internet radio sites, like the one I DJ for - SongPlanet.com. All genres are represented there, and you can search through the artists or genres there and find some real gems. Also, you can listen to the music 24 hours a day there. You can play it via Windows Media Player or Winamp, and there are links on the site to get you there. If you like rock, pop, ambient, classical, acoustic, electronica, goth, industrial, metal, rap, we have it - enjoy!

As an independent artist it's hard to say whether a particular music is popular today because of people's choices or because of what's "crammed down our throats" or what combination thereof.

Since the majority of radio stations are owned by only a few corporations, such as Clear Channel, our choices are pretty limited in the whole spectrum of what's available out there.

The record industry business practice is not conducive to new sounds or artistic experimentation, and if by chance something original does slip through, it quickly goes into cloning mode.

The internet has been a real lifesaver to not only provide individual voices the opportunity to be heard, but to preserve the local flavor and culture of our diverse society.

And by the way, Pandora isn't just for listening...it's for submitting your music. Thanks Ronni, for bringing this to my attention. Someone had forwarded me their link a good while ago, but I never got around to checking them out until this morning. I'll be sending them a copy of my CD this week.

As an aside, one of the top ten goals of people to reach before they turn 100, according to one contest, is to learn to play the piano. That is real doable.

It's never too late to not only expand your musical tastes, but to expand your musical experience as a player and maker of music. I didn't start writing songs until I was in my mid 30's, and didn't release my first CD until my 49th going into 50th year. And it's services like Pandora that enable me to share my creativity with more people than immediate family and friends without having to live out of a suitcase.

And that's nice.

Demian,
~DreamSinger

I need to find the music to
-------------Cecilia

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