As I reflected this past weekend about how to begin establishing the feel, purpose, and overall aim of this blog, I had a little difficulty deciding where to begin. Should it begin with a “top 25 events” (in my opinion) that led folk rock to where it is today? or with my definition of what I believe the genre itself “is” today? (Images of a game of “Guess Who?” come to mind–“Does your man have a beard and an acoustic guitar?” “You have my folk rocker!” ) Or in this same vein, perhaps even a set of characteristics to help someone decide whether they wanted to further pursue an investigation into the genre–“You might like folk rock if…”
But there will be time for all that yet. Instead, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to one of the best tools I have found for “self-discovery” of music online. Like an introductory course, one must first be acquainted with the texts and implements utilized by the instructor before they can adapt the use of those tools to suit their own needs. While I am not an expert on folk rock by any means, I feel that I can aid others in this regard by sharing an online community designed to introduce others directly to music being put out by dedicated, skilled independent and unsigned musicians.
The website is called “OurStage” and can be accessed at http://www.ourstage.com and was created with the sole purpose of bringing new music of all genres to people interested in a) listening to it b) rating, judging and ranking it and c) seeing their favorite “underdogs” get introduced to opportunities, like shows and recording contracts, that they might never have without the support of their online fans and followers. The website is one that I rely on heavily for finding new music online, and one that I have had great success in getting others to explore because it has something for everyone (the site boasts 44 separate genre categories-from alt-rock to club to death metal to rap to spiritual to tropical…you get the idea-there’s something for everyone and overlap in between!) Additionally, your level of involvement is up to you–if you want to have an account by which to actively compare and judge groups’ releases, you can. If you just want to pop by and listen to what else is “out there,” you can do that without penalty too. The site also has links to artists’ pages, music-related blogs, and a forum where you can see posted concert dates around the U.S. for the artists who have their music available for consumption.
While the website does NOT allow for much opportunity to immediately download what you discover, the artist sites themselves often provide ample opportunity to learn more about the musicians and connect with the mediums by which their music is accessible–either through iTunes, cd, or, on occasion, free download.
If you become a member and open an account (which I suggest if you regularly look for new music online), Ourstage will send a weekly e-mail of the Top Songs for the genres of your interest, as well as links to Up and Coming artists, and playlists of popular free downloads related to the site, making it easy for one to really focus their attentions on what most interests them, and what’s been recommended by other like-minded listeners.
Later this week I’ll post a write-up of some of my most recent, most favorite OurStage finds…but, in the meantime, if you find any, feel free to share! It’s all about keeping one’s ears open, after all.