Today, LinkedIn reminded me that 26 years ago this week, I started at KGNU, a community radio station serving Boulder and Denver. KGNU, in a sense, is where I began. It's had a profound influence on the shape and course of my life. It led me to co-creating Conduit. And I'm confident that if you listen to Conduit, it's going to positively affect your life too.
I found KGNU a couple years after college. I wasn't really a listener, and only started volunteering there because you could take a training class and get on the air quickly (still true today) — an easy way to gain the experience needed to land a job at a "real" radio station. (I've wanted to be in radio since I was six.)
After just a couple of weeks of volunteering there, though, I realized I was already at the real radio station. I've always been a music freak, but through exploring KGNU's voluminous library of underheard, overlooked music, I found what I'd been looking for my whole life without knowing I'd been looking for it. KGNU was my portal into discovering the music I didn't know I love.
Conduit's mission is to help you do the same. Of course, that's what everyone is trying to do these days. "Curation" and "discovery" are hot topics in music streaming. But there are several major differences between the others' approach and Conduit's. Let's start with two.
First, their teams of curators, guided by the all-seeing algorithms, base their recommendations on what you already listen to. They're taking an educated guess that if you like that, then you'll like this. It's very high tech and a lot of good people put a lot of work into it but, it's still a guess.
Conduit, by contrast, has no way of knowing what you listen to (and we’re OK with that). I arrived at KGNU with a typical late-80s music sensibility (Zeppelin, REM, Springsteen, etc). I was unfamiliar with most of the 50k+ records and CDs in that library. But Charles Mingus' "II B.S.," and Fela Kuti's "Zombie," and a Knitting Factory compilation, and Bill Laswell's global bass experiments and so forth, blew my mind. All those different rhythms and textures and voices and sounds — my thirsty ear couldn't get enough. It didn't just sound cooler or better. It made nearly everything I'd heard to that point sound like drab black and white. Through KGNU, I found musical Oz, a land bursting in sonic technicolor. I didn't know any of it. Nor did I care.
At Conduit, we know from experience that you can fall in love with a song, an artist, an entire genre even, that is unrelated to anything you listen to now. We trust that you, too, have a thirsty ear, and are ready to hear the technicolor.
Another major distinction between Conduit and the rest is where in the musical universe we focus our attention. The big services take the wide view, from Adele and Kanye and Coldplay on down. That's not to say they don't uncover some underheard gems too, but much of what they deliver is squarely from the mainstream.
Conduit, on the other hand, plumbs the musical depths lying just beneath the commercial "sheen" of the flavors of the month. Impervious to time or trend, the music down here is fresh and vital and seemingly infinite. It's not featured on the front page of Gigantic Music Service, or profiled on Preeminent Indie Website. You've already heard that everywhere else. The ocean of music they consider edgy, fringe or unusual is where we swim.
That's what I learned when I wandered into KGNU that day 26 years ago, and I haven't looked back since. Conduit's curation crew is happy to let the others play today's hits. We'd rather help you find what you didn't realize you've been looking for.
Conduit is here to help you discover the music you didn’t know you love. Our service launches this fall. To receive the latest updates, mixtapes and an invitation to become a beta tester when we’re up and running, please visit our site and enter your email. You’ll be hearing more from us real soon.
As we approach our beta launch, our curators will be sharing tracks on this blog and mixes through our Mixcloud page. Here's a taste of what you might hear on our UPbeats channel. Thanks for reading, and for listening. There's a lot more to come.