Friday, March 9, 2018

Discoverability and pure dumb luck

As an indie author, I have a soft spot for indie artists generally. I particularly love to discover a new band that hasn't broken big (yet). I've found bands on Twitter, sometimes from a tweet recommending them (Rizzle Kicks, H/T to James Corden), and sometimes via direct contact from the band itself (Lux Lisbon). Discoverability has always been the key to an artist's success, but discoverability is so different now to what it was a generation ago. Musicians can find an audience halfway across the world without trekking there in a broken-down van to play a crowd of 20 people. Sometimes purely by accident.

My son is 8 and into music. If you drew a Venn diagram of what we like, there'd be a reasonable sweet spot in the middle. Most of those songs are ones I've introduced him to, despite his initial reluctance to give anything I like a chance. From AC/DC to Trombone Shorty to Snow Patrol, he has added a fair number of my tracks to his mp3 player and/or Spotify list. It doesn't often flow the other way, though. He gets a lot of his music from whatever they play on Dude Perfect, which mostly all sounds the same to me, bland synthesized music and cliched lyrics that play well behind footage of morons performing trick shots.

So when he wanted to play something for me this week, I expected more of the same. This time, though, he was onto something, and he discovered it totally by accident. He was searching on Spotify for "I Found Out," by the Pigeon Detectives (one he got from me that he hadn't let on until now he liked). He got instead "Found Out," by a band called Derrival. He gave it a listen and liked it enough to add it to his playlist.

My usual response when he asks if I like one of his songs is, "well, it's okay," or "which NTAC is this?" if he seems in a good enough mood to take a jibe. (NTAC = No Talent Ass Clown, courtesy of Michael Bolton in the movie Office Space.) But halfway through "Found Out" I was congratulating him on finding something good. We listened to a couple more Derrival tracks, then googled the band to learn they hail from Vancouver, B.C., and just recently released their debut album. And here's one of the great things about new bands: They usually make their songs freely available for anyone to listen to, because they need as much exposure as possible. So we listened. And listened. And then bought the album (in digital format only, because they don't seem to make physical CDs, because only old people like me buy them anymore).

I can't quite put my finger on what band(s) Derrival reminds me of. There's a little bit of an 80s vibe at time (Level 42, maybe?) and at others I'm searching my brain for more current comps and never quite coming up with the right one. I want to say they sound like one or a couple of the bands featured on the old Paste Magazine CDs (which were a great way to discover new bands), but I still can't narrow it down beyond that. It's catchy as hell and very listenable, though, and I can't seem to stop playing it. So there's a victory for serendipitous discovery. And one I'll remember a long time as a band my son discovered for me.

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