Record Companies would like you to believe that there is less music in the world. Their sales went from 14.6 Billion Dollars in 1999 to only 6.3 Billion Dollars in 2009. But they’re wrong. The music industry has been expanded and democratized. It used to be that if you wanted International exposure for your music, the only way to do that was through the radio. And practically speaking the only way to get on the radio was with a contract with a major record label.
Now there is YouTube.
It’s not just YouTube, there are a host of different web sites and services that can deliver a writer or performer’s music to the public. There are ways for independent artists to get their music into the food-chain of iTunes and Amazon.com and even distribution in stores. There are ways to buy and listen to songs that the traditional Music Industry has never considered, never even dreamed about.
Even the Music Industry is recognizing this. Do you have Beiber Fever? I don’t. But Justin Beiber is the Tony DeFranco of this generation. He’s cute. He’s talented. He has some hummable songs. Currently he’s WAY too over hyped. And he was also “discovered” after he had built a fan-base of millions on his own through YouTube!
And there is a vast underground of music that’s spinning around on YouTube and the Interwebs. Thousands of people writing songs, singing and performing, and uploading from everywhere in the world. There’s no way to keep track of it. How can you even get a perspective for what might be good or bad? Sure. You could follow the crowd, find what’s already popular; or you could look for a guide.
I’ll welcome you to Spintown!
Spintown is Travis Langworthy, a laid off Phy-Ed teacher from Ohio, who is currently underemployed at other odd jobs. He has bizarre compulsions. He plays pick-up Basketball as often as he’s physically able, despite having knees that are shot to hell. He recently recorded his ten thousandth WIN at Mario Kart DS. That’s as high as he can get. The game just stops keeping track after 9,999 wins. And Travis Langworthy tirelessly catalogs the music and dance videos on YouTube (and the Internet) through Spintown.
Spintown is Langworthy’s personal library of blogspot accounts and YouTube accounts. There’s http://spintown79.blogspot.com/ That’s the head of the beast. Then there are four sub-blogs, one each for the Song of the Day, Dance, Music Videos and one for SpinTunes (which is a combination of Independent Music songwriting contests and other music projects sponsored by Spin). Langworthy doesn’t care what’s popular on YouTube. I’ve seen him link to videos with millions of views. I’ve seen him link to stuff with less than ten views. And he pours equal amounts of enthusiasm into both. I’ve seen him link to scenes from lesser known musicals from the 30s, 40s and 50s. It’s just whatever catches his fancy. But it is rare that I don’t find something special, magical, amazing or amusing, something truly worth my time, just from scratching the surface of Spintown.
Spintown has two other notable projects, both on his YouTube channel. There is his Pain For Laughs video series. Pain For Laughs are basically compilations videos of people hurting themselves, mostly skateboarders attempting spectacular tricks and failing miserably. Think, “America’s Funniest Videos with more compound fractures.” The PFL videos are in some ways Spintown’s most popular project, getting millions of views in total. I find them just too painful to bear.
And Spin’s done a series of Interviews of musicians and dancers that he likes. Mike Lombardo (featured in Musings on a Song, “Colby’s Song”) has been interviewed. Megan Tonjes was interviewed last year, and she was on The Ellen Show just a few days ago. But as I watched the Ellen Degeneres interview, I said to myself, “Oh, I know Meghan Tonjes! I’ve seen her on Spintown.”
The amount of time and energy Travis Langworthy pours into being the Mayor of Spintown is staggering, just deliciously insane. And it’s very, very entertaining and enlightening. You will learn something following Spintown. You will discover something magical you didn’t know you needed to see or hear.
Now, I first saw Jonathan Mann on the Rachel Maddow show, singing a ballad about economist Paul Krugman. Jonathan is the Song-A-Day-Mann. He writes and records and uploads an original song each day to YouTube. He’s been doing this since January, 2009. Last year he wrote a song about The iPhone 4 Antenna. It was just another Song-A-Day. Then, a few days later, Jonathan got a call from Apple. They wanted to open an International Press Briefing with his song. It was a cheeky thing for Apple to do. It gave Mann his biggest “hit,” with over a million views on YouTube. And a little while later, someone contacted him to ask if he wanted to turn some of his songs into an iPhone App. And after several months of work, the SongATron App was born. It’s like Mad-Libs with songs. Just download the App, record any name or word into it, and you can insert that into a number of Mann’s songs. It’s amazing! It’s creative. But, as far as the traditional Music Industry is concerned, Johnathan Mann just does not count. He’s not one of their artists. He’s not selling music in their ways. Any money that flows towards Mann or his projects just doesn’t count as “sales” in their eyes. Any of Jonathan Mann’s music that flows your way doesn’t count either, because it didn’t flow through the Music Industry’s floodgates. Because as far as the Music Industry is concerned, Jonathan Mann just doesn’t exist. “Nobody” has heard of Jonathan Mann or his Song A Day or now, the SongATron. Nobody except you. And Rachel Maddow. And CNN. And Apple Computer. And Spintown. Welcome to Spintown.
“Spintown” is one of my favorite Jonathan Mann songs. It’s off of his album Song A Day: Year One. It’s available for download, and you can even Name Your Own Price. The album only has 372 cuts on it. One album with THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO SONGS! That’s just deliciously insane.
The Spintown illustration was cobbled together by me from Spintown’s logo and a custom FlipFace, drawn by Len Peralta.
Russ Rogers is a songwriter, comedian and children’s entertainer. He has a show called Rusty’s Rocking Jamboree and has recently recorded an album of more grown up songs in the duo Godz Poodlz. “Musing on a Song” features a different Creative Commons Copyright song each week. Hopefully this will introduce you to some songs and artists with which you’ve been completely unfamiliar. So, if you know of some Creative Commons Artist that deserves more attention, let me know in the comments.