Even listening to the record was typically a shared experience, a few friends hearing it together on someone's home stereo or on the local diner jukebox.
Without that power, that authority, that reach directly into the intimate social context, the creation of a new music scene is infinitely harder. It seems to me that the reestablishment of that type of channel also goes a long way toward rebuilding the music economy, connecting bands with much-needed revenue streams and music providers with incentive to help them.
Data mining isn't going to go away, as much as I may not like it. But it remains for someone to humanize it, to make it serve the needs of musical experience, rather than the needs of data miners.
Pandora at least appears on track to do this. Using its more rigorous data collection -- based on its Music Genome Project which, by design, requires direct human involvement in the categorization of each song -- the service has the potential to promote small bands and help them reach their potential audiences.
But the door remains wide open for promoters -- talent managers like the old record label model, people with a vested interest in smoothing the road for new talent -- to take advantage of those online tools and to use them to build personal relationships between listeners and artists. The door remains wide open for the cultivation of new avenues for shared listening experiences, online and elsewhere.
We are ready to fall in love and these streaming services are putting the music out there to fall in love with. All it would take is a little push.
-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park.