Archive for the ‘music’ Category

The internet: a bittersweet ‘Taste’ for some…

These days it seems like there isn’t one organization that is not online, large or small. This is especially true in the world of journalism. And not just on the web, they are present in all forms of social media devices – take the New York Times iPod app, for instance. But it is not just large publications going online; small outlets are finding that they need to include web elements as well. Tastemakers magazine, a small student music publication at Northeastern University, is a great example of this phenomenon.

Tastemakers began in the fall of 2006, and currently has a circulation of about 3,000 readers on average. It has a pretty steady production rate: a few issues every year give or take, and features reviews of local music shows and CD releases, artist interviews, feature articles, and the like. But, being a student publication, its audience does not stretch beyond the Northeastern community by much, if at all.

In November 2008, the publication’s leaders finally decided to make the move and play in cyberspace.

Katie Price, editor-in-chief of Tastemakers magazine and third year journalism and music industry student at NU, pioneered the creation of the website, along with other members of the team, such as Jackson Connor, a third year journalism student at Northeastern and feature editor of the publication.

Now one might wonder what took Tastemakers so long to make the jump, but a number of technical issues arose when the idea to set up online first came about.

“It was really poorly maintained back then, and we didn’t have content going up every day like we wanted,” said Connor. “Katie and I really pressed for a new website; last semester we said we need a deadline for when there’s going to be an actual live website.”

The Tastemakers website

And that’s exactly what happened. Over this last semester the website has gone from being “just a solid blog”, according to Price, to now featuring, in addition to all the latest magazine content, feature articles, CD and show reviews, links to multiple music blogs and more, all using the Word Press platform. Tastemakers also makes good use of applications like Twitter and Facebook as well: they offer a feature called “Tasty Tweets”, which highlights the most interesting and popular feeds on the groups page at the time, and they also now have a Facebook Fan page as well, where they used to simply have a Group page.

In addition to all this material, the group plans to soon produce podcasts on the site using SoundCloud, offer advertising space to local businesses, and also include a forum and comments section. The website will also be group’s primary focus for the summer months, when the print staff writers are usually at home or participating in the co-op program and not on campus.

So would you say that Tastemakers needed a website? While first time staff writers like Michelle Buchman believe that the publication could survive on its own in just print form, higher ups like Price and Connor believe it was a key move in progressing the publication and the group as a whole. In fact, Price believes that they were getting to the point where they couldn’t be considered a legitimate publication without a website.

Click to view Slideshow

“We get now about nine 900 a week (on the Facebook Fan page), which is kind of crazy,” says Price, “and our website per month gets about three thousand views, which is how many magazines we can print. So what we are getting in a month (on the site) is what we are getting in a full issue cycle.”

Tastemakers’ marketing director, Diandra Apoyan, also claims that it was a necessary shift as well, and says that it has done wonders for her marketing endeavors, helping to spread the Tastemakers name and increasing readership of the physical publication on campus.

“It was definitely the best move we could make. If you’re not on a website you’re just not in the loop,” she said in an interview. “It was no question that we had to be on Twitter, be on Facebook, and that we needed a legitimate website.”

Price says that having the website has allowed her to reach out to more music executives and PR agencies interested in being involved with the evolving publication, in addition to attracting more writers to work with the magazine. Connor says it has been easier to get the publicists of bands to respond to interview requests after he sends links to the site to prove their legitimacy. Even writers like Buchman get a perk: she now feels more comfortable applying for jobs knowing that she can direct potential employers to the website to showcase her work.

The advertising that Price brought up is a big deal as well. Tish Grier, a Social Media Strategist and Freelance Writer at Tish Grier & Associates, said in a phone interview that one of the greatest resources available to online publications is the ability to do target advertising. This means that instead of having random advertisements appear next to articles (a guitar ad is placed next to an ad about guitars, for example).

“Tools will eventually become available to help outlets, even small ones, scale advertising to content,” says Tish. She says that up until now, savvy organizations have manually facilitated target advertising on their sites, but soon the ability to automatically and systematically place target advertising on publications’ websites will become such commonplace that all groups, small or large, will be taking advantage of this method.

While the physical publication is always the priority, the website is high on Tastemakers' to do list

But is everyone necessarily happy about this trend? While it is a great benefit for groups and helps to compete with larger publications, some, such as Connor, wish that they could go back to the good old days of straight print.

“Just in general I think the way that journalism is moving to be mainly based online is a bad thing,” Connor says. “I’m not a huge fan of it; it’s more bad than good for the business. But at the same time we’re not this veteran publication: we don’t get to make the rules, and we can’t really be relevant without a website.”

But as much as they admit that they need a website, it is clear that the print publication will always be their main focus, and that for them, having a website will never replace the feeling of holding and leafing through the glossy pages.

But experts like Grier maintain that there is no turning back, even for outlets like Tastemakers.

“It’s about keeping up with where readers want to access their information,” she says. “Where and when.”

Categories: Local Stuff, music

The Plastic Beach

Gorillaz fans rejoice! The cartoon quartet, created by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jessica Hewett, has released a new album titled Plastic Beach, and I felt like a proud parent to see that one of its tracks, “Some Kind of Nature”, is a top single on Rolling Stone this week.

I gave Plastic Beach a listen and loved it. To me it seems like one of the most well put together albums that the group has ever produced. And while it may lack the powerful singles that everyone loves like “Clint Eastwood” and “Feel Good, Inc.“, the sheer flow and great construction of the album is satisfying. Plus they feature lots of celebrity appearances, such as Snoop Dogg and Mos Def.

Check out my review of the album for a little more detail. There’s also a great music video for the track Stylo that I personally liked a lot that I included below.

Categories: music

No one’s crying over the House of Blues

Backstage entrance to the House of Blues, Boston

Imagine this – you’re a brand new student at Northeastern, looking for a place to indulge your love of music. Sure, you could see who’s playing at AfterHours on Thursday or Friday night, but if you want to see big performances in a hip concert setting and not business and engineering majors covering Jack Johnson (not that there’s anything wrong with that), make your way over to the House of Blues, Boston.

HOB, as its shortened to, is a chain club venue conveniently located in Boston right, next to Fenway Park on Lansdowne street, making it pretty easy to find (if you’re out on the street don’t know where that is, ask the next Bostonian Red Sox fan you see…they’ll know where it is). There’s also a number of great restaurants and bars right nearby, if you want to grab a bite to eat or a drink (if you’re of age, of course) before a HOB show.

Front entrance

HOB features a good size concert venue floor – not to big and not too small. There are also bar stations on either side of the floor. There is also balcony seating area surrounding the floor which, depending on the event, may be free to go up to, offering a cool bird’s-eye view of the stage.

Formerly known as the Avalon, HOB Boston has actually drawn in more revenue than its previous space holders and continues to book big names, such as lyrical master Ben Folds and rap icon Snoop Dogg, who both will be coming next month in lieu of other performers, both nationally acclaimed and local. I recently went to see Grace Potter,  an up-and-coning folk star from Vermont, back in November, and the venue was perfectly fitted to the event (I was right up close to the stage but didn’t feel packed in, as often happens in smaller venues).

The House of Blues is more than a concert venue, too. It features a restaurant that specializes in southern-style cuisine, a delicacy which I have yet to experience (but plan on doing so). It also offers a couple VIP lounges for special events, including their famous Foundation Room. Membership is required to access these areas but seems like an ideal location for a corporate event or special celebration. In addition to this, HOB Boston also features a Gospel Brunch that is held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month.

House of Blues, Boston, is at the center of Boston's heart - right across from Fenway Park.

So check out the HOB Boston website to see the list of upcoming events and concerts. If you see something you like, I encourage to try out the House of Blues at least once.

Click the main image at the top of the post to see a slideshow of venue outside of the HIM show on Sunday, March 28th.


15 Lansdowne Street

Boston, MA 02115



Restaurant Hours of Operation

Tuesday-Saturday 4pm-12am

Sunday-Monday: Closed unless there is a show

Retail Hours

Tuesday-Saturday: 4pm-12am

Sunday Gospel Brunch: 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month, 9:30am-12:30pm

Monday: Closed unless there is a show

Categories: Local Stuff, music

My brand new Twitter account

Well, my record of not being on Twitter has officially been broken, but I’m not upset about it. There is a lot of great stuff on there, especially for someone like me whose passion is music and culture. It seems like almost every big artist out there has a Twitter feed (even Slash!); and coupled with the Twitter feeds of publications like Rolling Stone, Twitter makes it really easy to stay on top of the music scene. Here are 10 of the feeds I am following:

I’ve gotta say, there are two very different things that you get when you look at the publication Twitter feeds versus the artists’ Twitter feeds. If you are looking for events, music festivals, new releases, etc, it is best to look at the publications’ feeds. The artists, however, seem to be more self-promoting, Tweeting about their new albums, interests, songs that they are digging (Slash even tells us that he is trapped in a Spongebob Squarepants marathon). It definitely is entertaining, especially the artist’s Twitter feeds, and is also a great resource to stay on top of the latest music news and events.

Categories: music

…it’s Grammy time.

So I don’t usually watch the Grammys, but I try to stay on top of whose winning what.  I can’t say I was surprised, but sometimes I think we need to think about the music that were putting at the top of our charts.

Taylor Swift won the biggest album of the year award.  Makes sense, can’t walk by a bar these days without hearing her voice emanating from it.  That must have been a bummer to Beyonce, she won 6 awards, but we know that everyone remembers who takes away the big one.  Oh well, at least we know who had the best video of all time.

Green Day took away the Best Rock album of the year.  Got to admit, I liked their old stuff better, like when they weren’t winning Grammys.  Maybe I’m just being nostalgic.  Or maybe Billie Joe Armstrong has just come a long way.  Oh yea, and Green Day is going to be on a Broadway show…wait, what?  Although, to be honest, I could always see the album American Idiot as being a saga of sorts.

Let’s see, what else.  Bruce Springsteen got an award for his Working on a Dream album; way to go Bruce.

Stephen Colbert got a Grammy! *As if he needs anymore of an     ego-booster:)*  He got it for best comedy album, but what else would he get it for, best rap album? (Maybe someday, not today).

Judas Priest made an appearance, winning an award for best metal performance.  I wonder if they’re still Breaking the Law these days.

I can’t say there was much else about the Grammys this year that was too much of a shock to me.  Although I did find out that Ziggy Marley has a children’s album.  I guess he would be considered the Raffi of the new generation.   

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