Last week, five influencers in the music discovery field met to discuss the roles and challenges of curators in a time when people crave quality over quantity. The panel was moderated by Songza’s Director of Content Jessica Suarez, and included Grammy Award-nominated musician and Chief Vision Officer of Myspace Kenna; David Adams from SoundCloud; BuzzFeed’s music editor Matthew Perpetua; and Don MacKinnon, whose new venture, Milq, helps curators share cultural content.
After listing their numerous impressive accomplishments (and announcing Kenna’s new single release), the panelists went on to explain what makes someone a curator, and how can they effectively reach an audience. In terms of music discovery, recommendation from other people is key, and according to Perpetua, it’s always best if guidance comes from someone we already know and trust.
Almost immediately, the conversation veered into the maturation of social media and its impact on communication between artists and their audiences. As MacKinnon mentioned, reading too many blogs gets tiring, and in the end only those who share your music taste are the ones you want to connect with. This ruled out Spotify as a curator. Another downfall of Spotify, they mentioned, is the lack of space where users can write about the music they like.
Twitter, on the other hand, was determined to be too broad, and has many artists failing to act as people, which was the company’s original intent. As for Pandora, MacKinnon complained about the site not offering enough “serendipity” and used Hear Music as an example that aimed to solve some of these issues by making new music accessible to millions at once. One important point they all agreed on was the necessity of all platforms to nurture of their curators.
The discussion also addressed the role of an artist as curator. “As an artist, you want to be part of the curation process,” said Kenna. With SoundCloud and Myspace, the conversation begins with the artist. SoundCloud for instance, allows artists to share their music and to discover new music in an easy, personal manner. Kenna alluded to Myspace’s new editorial side, which transformed it into an all-encompassing music site that serves not only as a showcase platform for artists but also a music discovery source for listeners.
So what makes someone a good curator? MacKinnon said music taste is key, and Kenna insisted a person needs storytelling skills to succeed in the world of music curation. Bottom line: Everyone is a curator and a creative in some way and all five panelists are trying to find the best ones. As Kenna put it, “We’re all looking for a thing that matters, not just another thing.”