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' Discover New Music Today ' from our truly GLOBAL JAZZ STATION
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Interview with our host Wes George for
Jazz World - Part 3/3

Our host and producer Wes George has spent his lifetime in the entertainment's industry all over the world especially in the jazz genre. Here he's talking to
Jazz World about the JazzNet247 project.
 
wes george


JW - How do YOU listen to music ?

WG - I guess everyone is different but as a marketer I always followed the 80 / 20 rule, and after 60 years in the entertainment's industry and more than 50 years presenting music I think that this ratio is probably a fair reflection on Hearers (80%) and Listeners (20%).

These are my personal thoughts, BUT am I alone in my complicated evaluation of a new song ? I asked others throughout the years what music meant to them and how they evaluate a new song. Here were some of my questions :-

L
EVEL 1 – Do you 'hear' music or do you actually 'listen' to music ?
Many people like to have music playing in the background for company, but don’t actually listen to the content or know who the artist is. It’s a companion if you are alone and breaks the silence and perhaps loneliness.

On a car journey your attention levels may be greater and you might pay attention to a song that you like on the radio and listen out for the name of the artists and the title of the song. Others play MP3s and CDs they like in the car so they know what the menu will be.  However would you be encouraged to write down the details of a song that you heard on the radio when you have a moment and then purchase the track to add to your own music collection at a later date ?

LEVEL 2 – Do you actually listen to music ?
Are you the sort of person who turns on a radio show and listens to the track to try and find songs that peak your interest ?  If so, do you listen intently or enquire about who the artist was ?   Are you more inclined to watch a music channel and be impressed by a song or an artist because of the video ?  Many songs have become popular because of a good video, but I am old school and believe an evaluation should be by your ears as if you heard it on radio.

LEVEL 3 – Do you disseminate the content of a song ?
When you listen to a song, are you impressed by a particular instrument or catchy solo in the piece ?   Do you listen to the interaction between the rhythm section or how the song is arranged ?   If the song is a vocal, how long does it take you to establish if you like the vocalist or not, 10 seconds, 30, 60 ? If the song is in a foreign language do you dismiss it because you don't understand the words ?

LEVEL 4 – Do you listen to music or are you motivated to buy songs that you hear ?
When you hear a song that you like on a music channel or radio show, do you note the artist and song and head over to Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby or another to purchase the song ?

Obviously to a marketer buying impulses and trends are very important, but most of us have different levels of interest and compassion towards music, some listen because it is trendy, some for companionship, some people are always wanting to quench their thirst for new music, some cannot wait for the next project by a favourite artist, some musicalholics simply just cannot get enough.


As a radio show music producer and marketer the answers given to me over the years and perception at live shows to playing music has led me to add this factor into my own playlists and I try to create a balance on our STREETJAZZ shows that no two following songs are by the same instrument, that we have a vocal every other song to break up the instrumental predominance of the Smooth Jazz genre and also a mix of old and new. We also feature quite a lot of non English vocals as the instrumentation of the song is strong and of course, we feature the music of that country. e.g. Brazilian bossa

Most music is older and most people haven't heard it so I use the slogans DISCOVER NEW MUSIC TODAY and IT MAY BE NEW TO YOU to highlight the wealth of music on back catalogue.

Working with Sony Jazz for 6 years drove this point home to me about their back catalogue of artists and songs which was probably the who's who of the jazz genre. Much of that music influenced what we hear today.

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Interview with our host Wes George for Jazz World


JW
- How do YOU evaluate a new song or an older one that is new to you ?

WG - My wife often tells this story to visitors who come to our home about a mutual friend called Hardy who came to my apartment in Germany before I met her and was also a frequent visitor to the nigthclub where I was working 5 nights per week. He said to her ' I have a friend who ' sleeps, eats and dreams ' about music. He continued 'when I think of music and I hear a song that I like, I probably don't know the song title and I certainly don't know the artist, but this guy listens to the ' nth degree ' and knows the artist, song, album it came from, packshot cover artwork, artists performing on the song, year and goodness knows what else'.

A few weeks later he brought her to the club where I was working in in Stuttgart and I was introduced to her. The rest is history, but to this day she doesn't understand how I evaluate and interpret music as she is a 'hearer'.

It all started for me growing up in a family of professional jazz musicians, my parents played 6 nights a week for more than 30 years, my two brothers played and I started playing guitar at 5 years of age. At 10 years of age the family opened a music shop as their playing out days were coming to a close and I grew up learning to play instruments, listening to all kinds of music and learning how to repair musical instruments.  

My parents were playing jazz music, Brazilian bossa and my mother was a classically trained pianist. My eldest brother was an art student and listening to rock and soul music, another brother played in many cabaret and showbands and was interested in pop, rock'n'roll, folk and country musi
c.

I was hearing all of these genres and of course the pop of the day on radio so I sooned learned to listen closely to the content and find out who the artist was and what the name of the song or album was.

It wasn't long before I started to analyse the content of the songs, i.e. who was the lead guitarist, who was the vocalist, who was the drummer ? I listened to how the songs were arranged and apart from the usual verse, verse, chorus, instrumental, chorus, verse sequence I was more interested in jazz compostions when individuals would solo.

Nowadays, I listen to a song and can tell within 20 seconds if I like it, I can tell sooner if it is a vocalist that is not great, I listen out for great solos and harmonies and if the song has real musicians or sequencers and drum machines.

When I reviewed albums for more than 30 years I always used well known artists to indicate the type of style or genre of the new song so the reader could relate to some artist who they may already knew.

Nowadays I receive many many tracks each week for consideration for airplay on our STREETJAZZ show and I must say that that there is an abundance of talent out there and most people have never heard of these artists or their repertoire which is a shame. With only 24 slots to fill on our weekly show the airtime is limited to these artists, but I try and programme as many as I possibly can to showcase them to our listeners in more than 90 countries worldwide and to our 14,000 plus Guests on our Facebook Blog Pages and 165 FB Groups.

Most radio stations are commerical and therefor play the artists and songs that people know and they also feature new songs by these artists as it is a safe bet. I listen to a song and evaluate its merit from a point of view of style, originality, content, harmonies, interplay and potential. Many songs on our playlist are by artists who are not so well known, but perhaps Berklee graduates, seasoned professionals and outstanding session persons, but never have had the opportunity to excel in their own right. Many never will and continue their music career teaching, nurturing or mentoring others.

I like to think that when I listen to a song that is new to me, whether it is brand new or a title from the past that I use the same formula that I have used all my life and which has been enhanced with experience, which is something that you cannot buy in this lifetime.

I am always looking at the reaction to songs that I play, obviously when you are playing live, a full dance floor means that the audience are enjoying it, but nowadays it is the feedback from listeners who come back and enquire about a song that we have featured and want to know more about the artist.

A new feature that we have just introduced for the artists who we feature on our STREETJAZZ PLAYLIST is that they can send us a link to where the reader can purchase the song directly, be it Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby or another source. When the reader clicks the link on the website's PLAYLIST it will go diirectly to that song where they can buy it.

Music means so much to so many different people and whether you are a ' Hearer' or a 'Listener', if you enjoy it, that's what matters.

* Read Part 1 of this Interview
* Read Part 2 of this Interview

Also see - Wes George Talks to LIVE365

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