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A Spooonful of Sugar

January 2, 2009

Contrary to what you might think from the title of this entry, this isn't another post about Julie Andrews. The spooonful in the title refers to a fantastic, free online newsletter which introduces recipients to one emerging artist or band each week.

The service, which offers musical tastes of bands and artists working in such genres as alternative, dance, electronic, folk, hip-hop and rock, launched in May 2008. I've been very impressed with it in the couple of months that I've been a subscriber.

What makes Spooonful different to other online music missives is its minimalism. In the way that Google's plain, uncluttered interface drew in Web users when the search engine debuted 10 years ago, Spooonful's offering of just one musical act per issue gives people a chance to digest the music properly. Our attention is fully focused on the one featured artist or band on offer -- we don't feel bamboozled by being offered multiple different things to listen to and read about.

The formula is straightforward: Each week, subscribers receive an email in their inbox comprising of the following information of the week's selected artist or band: their name, where they come from, the musical genre(s) they work in and what other more famous acts they resemble. Then, following an audio link that enables subscribers to hear one of the artist's tracks (as well as download the track and/or create a cellphone ring tone out of it should they wish to go that far) the newsletter goes into some succinct but intelligently-written detail about what makes the act so special and their back story. The bulletin ends with some links to help users find the act elsewhere in cyberspace (eg the artist's website / myspace page / entry on Wikipedia / recording company etc) and tour information.

As a result of Spooonful, I've been turned on to a number of new musical acts lately, one of which, a new wave outfit from New York called The Virgins, I'm keeping a close eye on. The clean look of the website and its easy-to-digest format prevents overload, which makes the service's name perfectly chosen. What I'd like to see is the service expanding to other musical forms like classical, jazz and world music, or perhaps similar services popping up for these other genres elsewhere in cyberspace. Perhaps they exist already in this user-friendly format. If they do, please send the information my way. I'd love to hear more.

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