I’m hesitant to do so because I love his music and I worry in light of his recent Grammys he is in danger of becoming overexposed, but I’m going to mention Chance The Rapper twice…
Before algorithms existed, and music companies tried to game and monetize how we discover music, how did we discover music? For a lot of people, it was by sheer volume. In other words, we listened to a butt-ton (sorry for using such a technical industry term) of music.
For the most hardcore, dedicated music fans, this process involved a lot of digging through records and music collections. For more casual listeners, it was done via more passive means like radio.
Radio had (and still does to some extent) a vice-like grip on the relative success or failure of musicians and music. Here’s the thing though. The idea that radio DJs curate music and help you discover music is (mostly) a myth.
In fact, for most terrestrial radio stations, the songs that are played are preselected for greatness in deals between stations and labels. Most DJs have very little latitude to change that up. So for independent artists, they have to fight for scraps or use gimmicks to get attention on radio. Like in Chance The Rapper’s single “Angels” where he name drops Chicago’s two major hip-hop stations.
There are exceptions around the periphery of terrestrial radio radio (college radio, for example), but really the opportunity for discovery come via the internet (a gift that should not be taken for granted).
One of the ways the radio format has been taken and overlaid onto the internet is in the form of music focused podcasts. Unfortunately the simplicity of format transference has not been lost on many of the big players in the old radio format and many music “discovery” podcasts play by the same rules, in that the music is often just preselected for greatness, and you’re really not helping small artists find success independently.
And yet, the internet has always been big, messy, and ugly and has often resisted efforts to tame it (which is a good thing and again should be protected). This allows the proliferation of a vast array of music podcasts that break the old mold and truly are a great forum for music discovery.
In that sense, we should be promoting and celebrating such podcasts. Here’s one to start out with. Chicago has a unique and devoted local music scene that is very much tied to place in a way that isn’t the case in many large cities with more transient populations like New York and Los Angeles. Dynasty Podcasts is Chicago’s foremost music podcast that focuses entirely on local acts. You can listen to all of their podcasts here.
Jaime Black and Mikul Wing, the duo behind the podcast, have long done things to support Chicago’s local creative community beyond the podcast, such as hosting panels on topics like women in technology and collegiate entrepreneurship.
In recognition of their efforts, check out their next panel (on March 1st) and go listen to their podcast and others like them, supporting new acts and local and independent artists…
… like Chance The Rapper once was.