Day Three Updates! From Texas!

The morning began with a keynote address by Tony Visconti, a high profile record producer who has worked with countless artists. Visconti was extremely close to David Bowie, producing many of Bowie’s records, including the late artist’s final work, Blackstar. Visconti’s speech began with hilarious accounts from his past in the music industry. About halfway through his talk, the initial jubilance wore away, and Visconti began speaking on darker subjects. He read the audience a story he had written about the bleak existence of the industry’s future. However, he still called for optimism, acknowledging many newer acts, such as Sun Kil Moon, that continue to push boundaries and give him hope for new generations of talent, which he expressed in a concise adage “You don’t need to be psychic to be a prophet. You just need to follow the signs.” The story reflected experiences of Visconti’s past, and eventually brought the keynote speaker to tears as he alluded to the death of David Bowie. The ballroom cleared after a standing ovation.

I then attended an excellent panel titled “Nigeria’s Music Industry: Ready and Open for Business.” The panel included Ademola Ogundele and Ovie Ofugara, CEO and owner of Not Just Ok, a popular Nigerian music site, DJ Cuppy, artist and DJ, and Michael Ugwu, general manager for Sony Music West Africa. The conversation began by addressing how African music is often over-generalized by westerners as “Afro-Beat”, specifying that African music is far more complex and diverse than that title expresses. In explaining the structural differences between the Nigerian and American music industries, the speakers highlighted African music’s collaborative aspects that foster community and interaction between artists. One of the largest issues in Nigerian music is the piracy’s popularity as a method of distribution and consumption. Because of this, Nigerian artists and record labels have a lot of work ahead in creating and enforcing structures of distribution that bring more credit back to the authors of the music. The role of government in Nigeria’s music industry was also discussed, as well as music’s role as exportable culture. This led me to think about how media outlets abroad influence other country’s music industries.. We at KZSC are fanatics and consumers of many different foreign sub-genres of music; but how do we impact these foreign music industries?

Shay attended “Creative Convergence: Artists as Labels” which highlighted the pros and cons of being a self-releasing artist. Anna Vogelzang, an independent artist, spoke about the preparation that comes with self-releasing and engaging with Kickstarter and related funding sources. It has a high reward, as an artist can avoid signing contracts, but does mean that the artist has a lot more to push before the online campaign begins. What do you think? Would you be willing to support an artist who utilizes online funding as their main source?

In “Radio Re-tuned for the Multi-platform Ecosystem,” panelists touched on when to go to radio with new artists’ work. The end message: when you’re ready. However, from Shay’s point of view as the music director, it is always best to submit your work to college radio when you’ve reached a point of audience support that you’re comfortable with and feel your work is strong and relatable enough to garner a larger fan base.

In another radio-related panel, “How is Radio Shaping the New Entertain Me Button,” panelists Simon Cole, Larry Marcus, Nico Perez, and Kevin Stanley talked about the future of personalized radio. One prediction: voice interface in automobiles. This would be something similar to Siri, but in cars, so that individuals can request what song, artist or radio station they want to hear at any given moment. Is this a threat to traditional radio? Shay thought so, but given that one of the panelists had their start in college radio, and later founded Mixcloud, it could provide a hopeful future with public radio’s potential integration. They also highlighted the importance of podcasting as a means of archiving, so that listeners have an additional means of tuning in to their favorite programs.

Shay also sat in on “Goodbye to Your Tunes: Techs Race to Save Music.” Analog music lovers spoke about preserving music collections. Cheryl Pawelski of Omnivore Records suggested that the most important collections to preserve are the ones with the most impactful stories. Scott Goldman of the Grammy Foundation said what was on all of our minds: streaming services are not archives. Although the majority of people look to services like iTunes and Spotify for collections of music, these can often be changed and pulled as the music politics change. Andy Leach of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame echoed this, suggesting that libraries are unable to provide access to such collections. This, in Shay’s opinion, is why college radio is essential: we are able to share rare collections with an audience. Pawelski suggested that re-releasing or debuting records on vinyl is a way of archiving, stepping away from the digital world into something physical. However, there is one main issue: the actual preservation of said wax. For how long can we maintain this method of listening to music?

Nikhil’s first panel of the day was a discussion of the newly premiered film Miles Ahead, directed and starring Don Cheadle, who also co-wrote the script with Steven Baigelman. The panel consisted of Cheadle, Robert Glasper, (who composed the original score), Keyon Harrold (who acts and pays trumpet in the film) Skip Livesay, (sound editor) producers  Erin Davis and Vincent Wilburn Jr. (Miles’ youngest son and nephew) and Felix Contreras of NPR Music who hosted. A majority of the session was spent discussing the intricacies of capturing the music in the film, and the arduous process of paying homage to one of history’s greatest trumpet players. Each panelist echoed a sentiment of wanting to deliver a film that emoted “what it feels like to listen to Miles”, deciding that in their individual capacities they would strive to produce a similarly intoxicating experience. They didn’t want it to be a didactic retelling of his life, and instead focused on the relationships in his life that influenced his diverse output.

After the Radio…Entertain Me session, Nikhil headed to Can’t Tell Me Nothing: Independent Hip-Hop which boasted a panel consisting of Brandon Hixon, founder of We Make Music and manage of De La Soul, Amaechi Uzoigwe, manager of Run the Jewels, Naomi Zeichner, editor-in-chief of The Fader, and Hayley Rosenblum, head of music outreach for Kickstarter. They stressed the importance of building a relationship with your audience and avoiding the stagnancy of trying to figure out mass appeal, which is constantly in flux. Often times they’ll give their music away for free and make most of their income off of ticket sales, merch, and fans serious enough to pay for the music even when given the option not to. What they underscored is having a dedication in your work ethic, for in time, passion and focus can perfect any product. Zeichner and Rosenblum discussed the need to keep an ear to the ground, which means being active on Twitter, speaking to friends whose taste are aligned with your own, and keeping an ear to your local scene just as often as you do for musicians getting national recognition. They were in consensus that at the end of the day, fans drive everything, and that the artistry of music is a constant process of giving back.
Chelsea went to a panel called “24/7/365 Promotion and the Always-On Artist”, which spoke about how having a small roster avoids problems with cycles of artist promotion. This entails a focus on making the music the best that it can be, before trying to market the artist. With a 5 year plan in mind, it is difficult to make a cookie cutter market plan, but easier to think about what the band wants to accomplish. Ask the artist what they want to say and how they want to promote themselves –quality over quantity– don’t make music to fill a schedule. The idea of using social media for instant feedback can be discouraging, so they advised not to rely on public feedback for art: make art for yourself, if others enjoy it, view that as a bonus.

The next panel that Chelsea went to was “She Who Goes First Sets The Rules: Women Innovators,” which focused on how women should rebuild the entire music industry infrastructure to fit women exactly as they are. Women shouldn’t have to be more masculine to be taken more seriously, but instead they should be able to write their own rules. They then discussed how there are often few women on festival lineups, and furthermore, how of Billboard’s 100 Most Powerful Influential Executives in the Music Business, only fifteen were women. Women, however, are arguably better than men at certain jobs because some women can be more in touch with their emotions, or empathetic, which makes them more valuable in understanding what consumers need.

Thursday night’s musical showcases were the bee’s knees… but the evening coincided with Texas’ celebration of the late Saint Padrick. Thus, alcohol-fueled crowds were piling into venues. We were able to catch Loretta Lynn, who at 83 years old performed with enough sass to make Beyonce proud. Cocorosie played in an interesting showcase located inside a Presbyterian Church, creating awe-inspiring sonic acoustics. Other great acts we caught were Faith Healer, Mitski, Lionlimb, Lapsley, Lissie, L.E.J, La Luz, Shannon and the Clams, Nef the Pharaoh, Divine Council, Nick Grant, DOOMSTARKS (MF Doom and Ghostface Killah), and Lil B.


Wednesday Highlights from South by Southwest!

We need to talk about Michelle Obama’s biceps, and that moment she held Missy Elliott’s hand.

Photo Mar 16, 1 29 35 PMAfter a full-body pat down by the Secret Service to begin the morning, we were breathing the same air as Michelle O. The first lady came all the way to Austin to speak about the Let Girls Learn initiative, which promotes and provides education for girls all around the world, bridging the gap between socially-marginalized young women, and the resources needed for healthy and prosperous futures. Obama was joined by the likes of Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Diane Warren, and Sophia Bush. The talk wrapped up with questions from the audience. When asked how she felt about her time in the white house coming to an end, Michelle concluded that she was very excited for the future, and will be “blazing” into her fifties and sixties.

Continuing on to the conference, Nikhil and Shay attended “Feeling Ourselves? Black Girl Power in Music” with Whitney Gayle Benta, Janeé Bolden, Shanti Das and Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis. The panel spoke to the lack of black female representation in mainstream media, and white girls as the “standard”: the show Girls does not need “white” in the title, because it is already assumed. All of the panelists recognized a need for diverse imaging and representation of women of color, in contrast to the typecasting that often takes place.  Simultaneously, Shanti Das brought up the importance of feminism, supporting fellow women in media and in the workplace, and that sometimes, celebrating women is more important than focusing on racial difference. It was multi faceted, yet concentrated view of sexism and music industry cultural appropriation, as well as a call to nurture sisterhood.

After seeing the stellar “Feeling Ourselves” panel, Nikhil continued on to another insightful session discussing the new film “The Art of Organized Noize”, which followed the rise to acclaim of influential production team, Organized Noize. Their impact on the music and culture of not just their native home of Atlanta, but all of hip-hop, is unquestionable. The panelists, consisting of director Josh Krause, members Sleepy Brown and Ray Murray, Ms.Shanti Das once more, and moderator Nick Huff, were humble and knowledgeable, sharing unique production tidbits amidst the Dungeon Family’s remarkable story.

After the First Lady’s Keynote, Chelsea attended a panel called “Sell Those Tickets! Marketing Your Tour and More,” which focused on the key aspects of how to successfully promote a show. Some key notes mentioned were how to leverage artist’s content and music to foster popularity on the road. Whether it be releasing a music video or a special version of a song, having fresh content pushed out with tour dates engages fans on multiple levels.IMG_3549

Chelsea then attended “Music & Activism: Amplifying Your Voice for Social Good,” which included Chadwick Stokes, frontman of Dispatch and State Radio, as well as a human rights activist; Marika Anthony-Shaw, violinist of Arcade Fire; Marta Riggins of Pandora Radio. They spoke about how artists should be allowed to wear their value systems on their sleeves. Some organizations mentioned as examples include Pandora’s Little Kids Rock, which funds music education in public schools. Plus One was created by the band Arcade Fire in support of Haiti, encouraging $1 donations from each concert ticket sold. Ultimately, the speakers told everyone that making a difference is simple— it’s all about bridging a gap between like-minded people, or finding musicians or causes that have the same values as your organization. It is better collaborate with others, rather than trying to reinvent too much, as there is strength in numbers.

Shay and I then attended “Is Rock & Roll on Life Support?” which turned out to be the let down of the SXSW Music Conference. LA Lloyd, Chuck Loesch, Jason McMaster and David Rath essentially complained about the lack of good white male artists in the rock industry. After crying over the lack of a modern Van Halen, their sexist rant ended when a member of the audience said aloud: maybe women would be more interested in working with you if you stopped calling them “chicks.” Snaps to that guy, and cue our exit.

IMG_3522Meanwhile, Chelsea was in a much better discussion called “Representation of Women in Media,” led by founder of She Shreds Magazine, Fabi Reyna. The panel also included Kiran Ghandi, Michell Fleischli, Sadie Dupuis, and Tom Barnes. The discussion started with, “until we see that there are as many women as there are men in the industry, with positions of power, there will be no change” They then started off discussing a question about how they feel about feminism beginning to seep into the mainstream. Giving diverse depictions like “ Beyonce feminism,  Taylor Swift feminism, Queer feminism, and Riot Grrl feminism,” makes one understand feminism in their own way without having a narrow view of feminism. Reyna believes that having one single view of feminism won’t work. They then spoke about the frustrations when constantly being asked “what it’s like to be a woman in music and how gender is only indicated if the person identifies as female?”. They emphasized that gender should never be a topic of discussion in an interview, unless the subject would like to go that direction. Women should be able to talk about what matters to them, and writers should be mindful of their own transparency. Later they discussed how being a woman in music, it is often difficult to be yourself for fear of not being taken seriously, resorting to dressing a little more masculine to fit into a “dude’s world.” Gandhi talked about how she believes in a “3D femininity” where some days she can dress more masculine and some days she can dress more feminine, it doesn’t matter, she can do whatever she wants.

Late in the afternoon, Shay and I checked out “How 3D Printing Can Transform the Music Business.” This seminar with Isaac Budmen and Errol Kolosine laid out 3D printing for those of us who are more or less clueless about what that actually entails. After laying out some of the materials that can be used in 3D printing—everything from chocolate to plastic—the duo gave examples of instruments that have been created using digital 3D design and printing: Ernie Ball’s new signature St. Vincent guitar, as well as custom sculptures that are also programmable midi controllers.

NikhiI’s last session on Wednesday was “Rewriting Hip Hop History.” He had the chance to hear from some of hip-hop’s leading historians and journalists as they spoke on the importance of comprehensive and accurate documentation of not only the origins of hip-hop culture, but it’s entire journey into the present. A major aspect of the panel was citing the many contributions of women to the genre, as well as acknowledging the contributions of regions, other than the generalization of the West and East coast. The panel consisted of  Ben Ortiz, curator of Cornell’s Hip-Hop Collection, and is currently working on the digitizing of Africa Bambaataa’s discography and record collection. Also in attendance was Maco Faniel, author of Hip-Hop in Houston, and longtime respected journalists Johnathan Shecter and Dan Charnas.

The final panel Shay attended was a band website critique, which offered many suggestions for streamlining your website on both computers and mobile devices. While KZSC looks into the future of our online design, what do you want to see on our website? What would make it easier for you to learn, listen and support KZSC? If you have an idea please send an email to!!!

Wednesday’s evening showcases were epic, including but not limited to: Mitski, who wore a knee length tweed skirt and played bass and it was the most punk rock thing that ever happened; The Parrots, who carried the intensity of a bull fight across the atlantic, from Madrid, Spain, to my earholes in Texas; Alex G; Froth; Gwenno; Moving Panoramas; Frankie Cosmos; and Erykah Badu, who played an excellent show to a venue well over capacity. 

Here are some lo fi cell phone pictures. Stay tuned for more from Austin City!

Article written as collaboration of KZSC staff: Shay Stoklos, Nikhil Viswanathan, Chelsea Valenzuela, and Lennon Stankavich.


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Photo Mar 17, 2 38 51 AM


South by Southwest: Tuesday Highlights

How long was your March 15th? Take that, add two hours, but only account for 3 hours of sleep. At least, that was the case for Shay and I. Chelsea drove 8 hours straight, then hopped on a plane that got her to the conferences mid-day. Hello Austin, TX and 90˚ heat. Jesus take the wheel.

SXSW’s first day of Music Conferences began with public radio icon Ira Glass of This American Life. Interviewed by Mark Olsen, Glass was asked to share his his views of broadcast journalism in comparison with that of his work on the film Sleepwalk with Me. Glass told us the simple truth: making good content is the biggest challenge of producing radio journalism. However, he found that podcasting listenership is a huge arena for journalism right now: while it took 4 years for Glass and his team to reach 1 million downloaders, it only took 4 weeks to reach that many subscribers for the spinoff podcast, Serial, launched in 2014. Glass stressed that podcasting relies on the relationship between the technology and the content, stressing that the technology has no appeal without engaging content. In comparison with filmmaking, he said that he enjoys taking the time to do something that is fiction. This turned some gears: why not do a fictional podcast? Apparently, The Message has already done it, and there’s plenty of criticism accompanying it. Glass ended with his Golden Rule of media: only make things that you yourself would consume.

The second panel attended included Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Panos Panay, Hank Shocklee and facilitator Maura Corbett. This panel focused on the transparent future of music: a loss of industry value, artist proliferation, and leaving behind a “Golden Era of Music.” Some panelists argued that there was never a Golden Era, that in fact musicians have always been struggling to stay out of the red and in the black. Though streaming and royalties are not doing musicians justice, the future of music requires integration of music with other media makers, as the music industry was not created in a vacuum. The most important lingering question from this panel: what is the Uber of music? How will artists receive immediate and fair pay for their art?

A third panel covered Arts and Social Impact, in which several creators and non-profit founders discussed their work in communities that inspire art to be created. Adam Green of San Francisco’s Exploratorium spoke about the Whispering Dishes that you may have interacted with in the past. Green explained how they allow strangers to interact, and how several more dish art pieces have been created through the city and near schools as learning and play spaces. The biggest challenge: getting the local government to support art-based initiatives. Luckily, the Santa Cruz community promotes art education heavily, but how can we bring this, and college radio, as an educational tool into the lives of those who aren’t already exposed to it?

After, we attended a panel titled Tech, Impact, and Driving Social Change. This panel talked about how to carefully invest in social change. This panel was not geared toward the radio or music industry, but I decided to go anyway because any form of social change is important to consider. The panel talked about how technology is the way of the future and how it can lead to possibly alleviating poverty. Another speaker spoke about how coding could be a viable opportunity for those that don’t have a college education, such as the Coalition for Queens, a non-profit organization that works to increase economic opportunity by “[transforming] the world’s most diverse community into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.”

We stepped into an audio tech and recording industry panel called “High Definition Audio: FLAC or Fluke.” The panel was focused on the industry’s shift concerning lossless audio files and codecs. High quality audio streaming is currently a niche market, waiting for mainstream adoption by the likes of streaming powerhouses such as Spotify and Pandora. The data shows that most listeners do in fact notice and appreciate high resolution upgrades to the listening experience, hinting that high resolution streaming could easily become the next big trend to cash out on. The opportunities of high definition streaming do not stop at file development. The adoption of premium files by mainstream streaming services would also put demand on complementary businesses, such as headphone manufacturers, broadband providers, etc.

Towards the end the day, I wandered across town to check out a panel concerning copyright law titled “F*** You, Sue Me: Artists Rights Corporate Theft.” This panel featured multiple artists, as well as a lawyer that specialized in media and copyright. The biggest question asked was what happens when a corporation steals your work? Typically, the answer is a lengthy court case. In many cases, the independent artist has prevailed over the corporation, but unfortunately, corporations can often afford stronger legal backup than the low-budget artist. If anything, we all walked out of this panel with more respect for the craft of the underdog.

Come the evening, we passed through shows featuring the likes of Diet Cig, Sunflower Bean, Ruby Jane & The Reckless, CAPYAC, Lushes, Tennis System, Still Corners, Sextile and Vaadat Charigim. Spinning their new album Ceremony on repeat, we have a clear bias toward Sunflower Bean, who played three songs in a glass box studio presented by Mazda or Comcast or something. Honorable mention to Still Corners, whose brooding songs soothed our eardrums.

South by Southwest day one concluded at 1:00am. Stay tuned for updates from the mayhem.

KZSC is Going To South By Southwest!!

South By Southwest is the fastest growing music and media gathering in the United States. The festival is held yearly in Austin City, Texas, and KZSC is sending five intrepid reporters to bring you the highlights back from the mayhem!! The event will be so fantastic that Obama will be skipping Nancy Reagan’s funeral to fly out! So stay posted to our blog from March 14th to 19th for coverage of the conference’s exhibitions and music showcases.


2012 SCPride Marshals

KZSC’s Closet Free Radio Wins Lifetime Achievement Award!

KZSC is bursting with pride, for Closet Free Radio!  They’ve been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Diversity Center Santa Cruz County. Closet Free Radio is the longest running radio show about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning issues in the country. You can count on CFR for a comprehensive stream of LGBTQ news, interviews, and entertaining commentary every Monday at 7 pm.

2012 SCPride Marshals

2012 Santa Cruz Pride Grand Marshals Kai Azada, Jane Schwickerath, and Richard Baldwin photo by Tané Tachyon

The Trailblazers Lifetime Achievement Awards spotlight leaders who have been exceptionally proactive for the local LGBTQ community. The award recalls the time that Santa Cruz gathered in San Lorenzo Park for the first Santa Cruz “Gay Pride” Parade in 1975. CFR was honored as Grand Marshalls of the Pride Parade in 2012. The first awards were given in 2014 for the 40th anniversary of Santa Cruz Pride and the 25th anniversary for the founding of The Diversity Center. This is the second time that The Diversity Center has picked a list of Trailblazers.  The award ceremony on March 13, 2016 will coincide with the “coming out” of the Museum of Art and History’s new LGBTQ Archives.

Congratulations and thank you for Closet Free Radio’s dedication to KZSC’s educational and community service mission!


Bowie is Gone… but Rock Charts are Back!

KZSC has shed many a tear in the last couple days over the loss of a legend. As Vonnegut would say, so it goes. In preparing the CMJ Charts & Adds for the week, I discovered this new B-side, “David Bowie Songs,” released by The Spook School just hours before Bowie’s passing. In addition to Blackstar itself, The Spook School’s Try To Be Hopeful was one of our Top 5 Adds this week at KZSC. Check out the remainder of our adds, charts, and some sweet songs below.

Top 10:

  2. GALACTIC – Into The Deep
  3. SHEER AGONY – Masterpiece
  4. TY SEGALL – Ty Rex
  5. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – “FloriDada”
  6. CASS MCCOMBS – A Folk Set Apart
  7. JOANNA NEWSOM – Divers
  8. GRIMES – Art Angels
  9. WARM BRAINS – Big Wow
  10. THE MANTLES – All Odds End

Top 5 Adds:

  1. DAVID BOWIE – Blackstar
  2. THE SPOOK SCHOOL – Try To Be Hopeful
  3. THE BESNARD LAKES – A Coliseum Complex Museum
  4. WRAY – Hypatia
  5. SUNFLOWER BEAN – Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP