Art and technology can be a blessing and a curse. When it comes to music, technology has lowered the barrier to entry, making it easier for people to pursue their artistry, but also allowing for a flood of, shall we say, not ready for prime time players. Luckily, necessity is the mother of invention, and a couple of app developers have used their music and tech backgrounds to create innovate ways to help cut through the musical clutter. First, a reprise of my talk with Todd Dahn, aka Rediculus, who has launched Platformz, a music discovery app that aims to help consumers and musicians find each other in an inventive, intuitive way.
But before you distribute music, you have to create music. Dhruv and Sri are two innovative forward thinkers who have developed another musical matchmaking service. Tenuto.fm helps match aspiring rap lyricists with instrumental tracks from aspiring, and established, beatmakers and producers. Using an intuitive matching system, Tenuto is finding ways to catalog and categorize rap instrumentals based on style, using variables like tempo, cadence, spectral frequency etc., as well as highlighting stylistic habits of certain artists, so that an aspiring rapper could search for “Drake type beats” and receive tracks that are similar in style to the music that Drake tends to put out. This kind of filtering is a potential godsend to both artists and producer, each trying to find the perfect match to create, and sell, their creations.
Next, I switched from music and tech, to acting and theater. I came across a great program and a great organization, both using acting and theatre to enhance the lives of our tri-state citizens. First, the city of Newark New Jersey, under the leadership of recently elected mayor Ras Baraka, has begun a program aimed at exposing young adults to the fields of music, photography and acting. Targeting 17-21 year olds, the program will consist of three class types. The music class will be taught by Newark’s own veteran rap artist Rah Digga, and producer Peter Hadar. The course will cover music business, hip hop history, the recording process and music marketing. Holding down the photogprahy classes will be veteran industry photographer Brett Melius. Students will learn the skill of fine photography, a step up from Instagram no doubt. Thirdly, accomplished actor JD Williams will school acting upstarts in the principles of the craft, as well as directing, writing, staging and the business of acting. These workshops are designed to allow students to move on to more advanced vocational training, and ultimately, jobs in the field they choose to pursue.
Next, The New York Times has said that the New Brooklyn Theatre ‘has firmly established itself as a flash point for the fusion of theater and politics’. With a focus on bringing to the stage important works that touch on social issues, this organization is setting the bar for a modern urban theatre production company. With goals that include the restoration of 1215 Fulton st., formerly the Slave Theater, to staging plays in innovative settings, to reintroducing long-forgotten works that still resonate today, the New Brooklyn Theater not only needs the support of the community, but deserves it.
Lastly, a bit of commentary, about Kanye West.