too many choices - not enough time or attention
As Im sure you guys know - there's almost unlimited choice in news and entertainment now. You can still listen to radio and watch TV to get an idea of what's new & cool. The problem with those mediums is 2 fold.
First - they are totally bound by time & space. There are a limited number of channels and a limited number of hours in the day you can broadcast so the presentation is always going to be limited. It's scarcity.
Second - only things that attract the widest possible audience get "time" on the network. It's great for mass appeal stuff like Michael Jackson & Spiderman movies - not so good with high quality stuff that's more niche in appeal.
Online blows that whole thing wide open. You no longer have to wait for the 6 O'Clock evening news to find out what's happening in the world (on the west coast at least - the evening news is already several hours old by the time it "airs") and you no longer have to wait for a radio station or MTV to play a song before you find out about it.
This is very very cool.
It gives indie musicians and artists the opportunity to be discovered like never before. Of course - when I say "be discovered" I'm not talking about BY the TV and Radio people. Of course that can happen. But they're still looking for the same mass appeal style material they always have.
What I'm really talking about is being discovered by music FANS. Fans that will tell other fans. That trusted source of fan to fan - friend to friend carries far more persuasive weight than an advertisement or a corporate marketing strategy.
But a new problem arises in the land of ubiquity. Too much stuff.
For example. I'm looking at the feeds in my RSS reader. I use Google Reader. It's so efficient that I've subscribed to almost 400 feeds. That's easily 1100 new posts per day. And while google reader makes it easy to sift through all that info - it's still too much to fully appreciate.
So what I do is look to a few trusted sources across several key areas of my interests.
These - incidentally are NOT the traditional "trusted sources" like CNN or The New York Times. They are people (like you) who have earned my TRUST - who have already digested some of that other material and now present it in a smaller more focused and easily consumable package.
In other words - they act as filters. As curators. They perform the same function as CNN or MTV - but on a much smaller scale and for much more focused interests.
I too am a curator of the information I consume with the "share" function of Google Reader. I simply mark items I find interesting and Google Reader posts them to a webpage accessible by anyone. It's not a definitive list of what's available online. It's a definitive list of what I find interesting online. My Google Reader Page.
How is this useful to you? If you like me, if you share interests, if you trust that I know the difference between quality items and shit - my shared items page is a really good resource. I scan 400 feeds a day and only share a dozen or so per day at most. THAT is curation.
What if we could do this with MUSIC? Well, we can't just yet. BUT -
Steve Lawson just launched a new use for our favorite new internet toy Twitter. It's called To The Left Of The Mainstream. It's a regular feed of music Steve finds interesting and worthy of your attention. Follow the TTLOTM feed HERE.
If you like Steve, and trust his taste it's worth following. And it's not just about following Steve - it's about ADDING to the conversation too. You can tell Steve about something - and if he likes it - BOOM it goes on his feed for others to find out about.
Why does it surprise anyone that networking is easier on a NETWORK where communication and information flows in synchronicity?
Curation and filtering are even MORE vital in the internet space because it's potential is nearly limitless. But unlike the old guard - the new filtering is NOT a top down affair. It's interactive. You can shout back at the TV & radio now - and they can hear you- if they choose to listen.
EVERYONE can become a filter.
When you look at what these online tools allow it's all ultimately about connecting with other people and sharing information and ideas. And music connects like nothing else.
How do you do it? By participating. By sharing items online, by engaging others and ADDING to the conversation. In fact - if you engage in conversations you can add value to - the whole space gets better and more useful for everyone.
BTW - it also helps establish your personal BRAND. That's an issue for another time as there is ALWAYS a "what's in it for me" element to the equation. The short answer is - a lot!