Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Zender Agenda Turns 10!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since I started The Zender Agenda.  While that may seem like a long time in the online world, this blog is just a continuation of several others that existed before it.  In honor of this anniversary, allow me a self-indulgent trip down memory lane - a brief documentation of my history.

I originally started Roger’s Music Blog back in 2005!.  This was hosted as part of Apple's .Mac suite of services, and I used this iBlogger tool to publish content. It was so much fun to engage with these new online tools.  While that site has long since perished, I was able to capture the contents and have it still it hosted up over on Amazon!  It wasn’t a smooth transition, and doesn’t necessarily look the same - but it wasn’t much to look at to begin with. You’ll find that I have (embarrassingly) included that first blog post ever, below.

I named my next blog Only Music Left, a melodramatic act was spurred by some major changes in my life.  I don’t remember if the transition to Blogger was by force (.Mac depreciation), or if I was just seduced by the features of a real blog platform (tagging! comments! RSS Feeds!).  Either way, it was short lived, running from 2008-2010.

During this time however, I was asked to write a monthly column for a local online lgbt magazine called Spangle being run by a friend of mine.  He had the brilliant idea of naming the column “The Zender Agenda” and from there on out, it just made sense. (thanks Brian!)

In the full transition to becoming The Zender Agenda, I moved to a new Blogger account and a professional logo!  What a relief, and a wildly fun process to collaborate on (thanks Matt & Sean!). I also created my tag line, getting right to the point: Live Music & New Releases - Cleveland, OH.  It was here that I really began to formalize my content and structure.  I also made an attempt to use the pages feature to highlight my Concert Calendar (my most valuable asset), local Music Venues (never completed), my House Concerts (needs updated), local Record Stores (depreciated), About TZA (another nice little summary), and Submit your content pages.  I also tried this wonky DAKS concept that I never consistently employed, but still kinda stand by!

This is also when I fully engaged FaceBook Pages, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, SoundCloud, Songkick, Tumblr and even FourSquare (remember that?).  It was great to have a reason to play with all these new online social technologies, and a with purpose to do so.  They’re all still active (except FourSquare and Tumblr), so feel free to go subscribe, follow, etc.!  I even started a Newsletter using Mailchimp!

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to guest on a couple WRUW shows with friends, DJ a Beachland Brunch, and run a series of AMAZING house concerts.  The House Concerts have been such an fulfilling experience that it deserves to have it’s own anniversary post.  I even have some business cards, stickers and coasters (!). I’ll have those forever because I’m terrible at leaving them places.

The whole point of all this effort is really just a continuation of my formative time working at Finders Records in Bowling Green, OH.  Being a small town kid in love with music and concerts (thanks Kari!), then going to college and being able to work at the "largest independent music retailer in the Midwest" (or something like that) - truly changed my life.  Fun fact: I was the first person to create a website for them, using dial-up!

Being able to experience endless amounts of music, and being able to talk about it extensively with co-workers and customers, really ignited my fire for supporting music (in any form). It all changed after moving to Cleveland in 2000 and transitioning in to a career. I really missed the ability to connect with people about music, but more importantly, connect people with music.

I’ll let my very first blog post take it from here… (remember this is 2005!)

"Only music could drive me to Blog

I’ve never quite understood the point of blogging. It seemed quite self-indulgent and unnecessary, unless you were some amazingly interesting person who was a great writer. I’ve since lowered my standards and have had quite a bit of fun reading some people’s blogs. At the same time I came to this realization that I was gathering so much music information and experiences, and didn't have the means with which to share it. I would constantly read music news, go to see shows, buy lots of CD’s, and then I would try to keep from bombarding my friends with the excitement of my discoveries and from the endless hours of ‘you should hear this.’

One day I was sitting at one of my favorite places on the planet, Barking Spider Tavern , and I heard this woman on the CD player, her voice and music just blew me away. I ran home and listened to her music, bought it from (great site!) and then signed up on her mailing list (her name is Chris Pureka who I will talk about soon as she'll be coming to the BST). My next thought was asking myself who can I tell?? Realizing that I probably had given all my friends their fill of new music, I thought, why not blog it? Then it all starting coming to me, just how I could incorporate all my interests in music into a website / blog.

This is the first step of a huge website / blog behemoth.

I go to so many shows, many of which are remarkable, and this is the perfect way to document and share the experience. Realizing how boring text is, I decided that I needed a new digital camera that was small enough, with a great zoom, that I could sneak into venues and get decent shots. Enter my new favorite camera! I’m still learning to use it (as you can see from the Lucy picture). I highly recommend this camera. I purchased it at the Apple Store in Legacy Village. You can find out more information about it here .

So in the end, I realize this is completely self-indulgent, but hopefully someone, somewhere will find it informative and/or entertaining.

Posted: Mon - February 7, 2005 at 10:05 PM"

(Via Only music could drive me to Blog.)

So while I may have never become “a huge website / blog behemoth” (thankfully?),  I have consistently enjoyed exploring and blending these worlds of new music and new technology - while expressing some creativity in the process.

It’s not stopping here. We are all experiencing an incredible time of reflection and transition as we are still trying to understand the impacts of this corona virus.  I had already begun strategizing my next move over to WordPress and have been thinking about what the next stage of online engagement and support will look like - and sceptically eyeing all these new online technologies (Stories, SnapChat, TikTok, Twitch, etc.).  However, what I wasn’t considering was a potential massive change to world of live music.  There’s no way to know what it will look like from where we currently stand, but whatever we are about to experience, I’ll be sure to do my part to support it.

Video Day #tzaupbeat

Nick AM is new to me, but his new video, which “contains scenes from protests in Hong Kong, Palestine, Iraq, Chile, America, and more” really caught my attention!  Juls, the Ghanaian-British producer and DJ just released his stunning new video for Soweto Blues featuring Busiswa and Jaz Karis, filmed in the streets of Soweto, one of South Africa's most famed townships.  HUMANS just released their new video for Felony.

btw - The Zender Agenda is 10 years old today!

Bonus:  Christine & The Queens recently released an EP, and alongside it a full 13 min+ video accompaniment. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Article: Why We Need To Support Cleveland's Grassroots Music Venues

Great article talking about the importance of structurally supporting our independent music venues, like those of our bigger name cultural institutions!

"‘We view this segment of the music business as business rather than as culture, but there are other segments of the arts that are not having to exist as pure for-profit businesses,’ says Watterson. ‘Would the [Cleveland] Orchestra be able to exist without support beyond just ticket sales? Probably not.’

If we truly want to double down on our Rock Hall fame and make Cleveland a music city, we must first realize grassroots music venues such as the Happy Dog occupy a singular place in the city, and should be treated like it."

"Why shouldn’t small clubs get similar assistance? With the vast value they provide to the community, one could even make a convincing case for zeroing their admissions tax rate out altogether.

At the very least, small clubs need an advocate. A night mayor could help them get up to code, navigate tricky tax situations and have a representative at the table. The position could be an intermediary between artists, venues and government, and promote inclusive, homegrown music. ‘I wouldn’t feel so bad about the admissions tax if some of that money went back to paying for a music promoter,’ says Barber.

By recognizing that these clubs play a unique tune, Cleveland can ensure the survival of its institutions, and stake its claim as one of the country’s great music cities."

(Via Why We Need To Support Cleveland's Grassroots Music Venues.)

Robyn / Live at Club DOMO (4/16/19)

There’s been an incredible flurry of musicians streaming performances, all over the internet.  These are showing up on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitch, and even gaming platforms like Fortnite!  They’re also coming at you at any time of day, depending on timezone etc.  There’s no way one can keep up with all these, particularly knowing about them in advance.  With the lack of concerts to write about for this blog, I thought maybe I’d switch to covering these streams. However, with an exponential matrix of artists, times and platforms, I’ve resigned to just enjoy them as our paths cross naturally.

Of course Robyn would be the exception.  Not in that I knew this live stream would be happening. I just happened to get an alert on this particular afternoon that it was happening.  Being only 4pm (EDT), I quickly shifted modes and set up for a dance party (streaming it to my TV!).  Robyn was a set up in a little mirrored corner with lights going and slicked back hair.  She was playing some amazing music and the best part was her performance behind the decks.  Despite a hot mic, she gave it her all in that corner - and for that I love her even more.  

It was so great to reconnect with an artist I love.  I hope you’re able to cross paths out there with yours… 

Robyn  Live at Club DOMO  4 16 19

Robyn  Live at Club DOMO  4 16 19

"Thanks for tuning in to Club DOMO on Friday! 💜😭 I decided to make a playlist with the songs I played in the set. Below is a track list. Four of the songs aren’t in the playlist, but two of them will be soon! Olof Dreijer made a dope remix of 'Monument' that will be out in just a few weeks and Avalon Emerson's beautiful new remix of 'Honey' will too. I was excited to premier them both for you. I also played a Wendy Williams/Between the lines mash up that Kindness made on tour last year for their djsets ;) and 'Purple Music' by Prince.

1. Do your Best - John Maus
2. I wish u heaven - Prince
3. Gradient - Choker
4. Break 4 love - Raze
5. Chez A. - Untitled
6. Basic cut - Kevin Over
7. Honey - Avalon Emerson
8. OAR003-B - Oni Ayhun
9. Always - Erasure
10. Babe we’re gonna love tonight- Lime
11. Purple Music - Prince
12. Monument - Olof Dreijer
13. Hyper seconds - Lone
14. Got her own thing from Sweden - Kindness
15. Move on up (extended version) - Curtis Mayfield
16. Idontknow - Jamie xx"

(Via Facebook.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Video Day #tzachill

Pantha du Prince draws otherworldly inspiration (expectedly) for his new video for Pius in Tacet feat. Jungstötter.  Sondre Lerche just dropped a couple of new songs that cut right to the heart, releasing videos for I Know Something That Will Break Your Heart and Why Would I Let You Go?.

Bonus:  A stunning video… "On the day they were due to perform a headline show at the Barbican, London-based experimental vocal ensemble Shards release 'Inside I'll Sing' with their newly formed Isolation Choir. Stream and download 'Inside I'll Sing':"

Monday, April 20, 2020

Article: Why Do We Even Listen to New Music?

Looking back at history for lessons on why we find it so difficult to listen to new music.

gregory & headphones
"gregory & headphones" by J. McPherskesen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

"Stravinsky, having already thrilled Paris with his ferociously complex Firebird ballet three years earlier, was the bright young thing of symphonic music in Paris, and The Rite was to be something essentially unheard of. Drawing from the Slavic and Lithuanian folk music of his homeland and his viscerally atavistic brain, Stravinsky blackened his score with rhythmic and harmonic tension, stretching phrases to their outer limits and never bothering to resolve them. The harmonies were difficult to name and his rhythms impossible to follow. Leonard Bernstein later described The Rite as ‘the best dissonances anyone ever thought up, and the best asymmetries and polytonalities and polyrhythms and whatever else you care to name.’


Many members of the audience could not fathom this new music; their brains—figuratively, but to a certain extent, literally—broke. A brawl ensued, vegetables were thrown, and 40 people were ejected from the theater. It was a fiasco consonant with Stravinsky’s full-bore attack on the received history of classical music, and thus, every delicate sense in the room. ‘One literally could not, throughout the whole performance, hear the sound of music,’ Gertrude Stein recalled in her memoir. The famous Italian opera composer Giacamo Puccini described the performance to the press as ‘sheer cacophony.’ The critic for the daily newspaper Le Figaro noted that it was a piece of ‘laborious and puerile barbarity.’"

(Via Why Do We Even Listen to New Music?.)

EDIT: I’ve been pointed to a more nuanced take of this event.

"Of all the scandals of the history of art, none is so scandalous as the one that took place on the evening of 29 May 1913 in Paris at the premiere of Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring.

The Rite descended into a riot, the story goes. Magnified in the retelling, it has acquired the unquestionable certainty that only legend can have. Everyone simply 'knows' that there was a riot.

But is it possible to separate fact from fiction?"

(Via Did The Rite of Spring really spark a riot? - BBC News.)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Video Day #COVID19

Charli XCX is home making her new album in isolation, and just dropped this uplifting video sourced from an incredible amount of footage (the editing!).  twenty one pilots are taking the social distancing to heart in their new video for Level of Concern. K.Flay put a call out to her fans for her new Dreamers video: "i asked you guys if you wanted to make a music video together. WE DID IT BABY. thank you to everyone for your creativity and spirit and sweetness!”.

Bonus:  Washed out did the same - with amazing results.

"'I went in thinking if I got 100 clips, I’d have enough to make the video I wanted to make,' he says. '30 minutes in, I had the 100 clips, and a few days in, I had over 1,200 clips - from London, Bali, Okinawa, Ann Arbor, Dubrovnik and a few hundred other places around the world. It was pretty amazing for me to see the vids and pics flood in like they did.'"

Friday, April 10, 2020

Article: The My Generation: An Oral History Of Myspace Music

What an amazing time capsule of an article.  Lots of artists and industry folks talking about their memories of MySpace.  Looking back through all this, it was quite magical.

"Like white belts and orange cans of Sparks, Myspace so thoroughly defined the way the ’00s looked, sounded and felt that it was probably destined to not make it out of the decade alive, even if, technically, a website continues to exist at the domain. But at Myspace’s height — roughly 2005 through 2008 — the website changed the way artists and fans found each other and how record labels and buzz-seeking blogs found fresh meat. Artists like Panic! At The Disco, Arctic Monkeys, Soulja Boy, Lily Allen, and Colbie Caillat would become pop stars in part because of their presence on the site, whereas artists such as Los Campesinos! or Nicole Atkins would eventually settle into cult careers after navigating through the sudden, unexpected attention the site could often generate."

Also a reminder of this massive cultural heritage loss by the company.

"It came to light that Myspace’s new owners ‘lost’ all of the music it hosted from its inception in 2003 through 2015, reportedly misplacing more than 50 million MP3s from upwards of 14 million artists, in essence completely erasing a significant part of this century’s cultural canon. What’s more, it took the company months to own up to their negligence, writing in a statement that ‘As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace. We apologize for the inconvenience.’"

(Via The My Generation: An Oral History Of Myspace Music - Stereogum.)

Video Day #tzachill

Moses Sumney self-directed his beautiful new video for Cut Me. I’m excited to see Sondre Lerche has a new album coming out (Patience, 6/5/20) which was announced alongside this new single and video for You Are Not Who.  Baths just announced a new b-sides (Pop Music / False B-Sides II, out 5/29) with is new fashion-forward video for Mikaela Corridor.

Bonus:  I continue to be intrigued by all the widely varying new stuff coming from Alex Ebert, such as his ability to skate so well in his new video for Stronger (Future Suit Mix)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Article: Music Streaming Subscriptions Grew by Nearly a Third in 2019

After recently asking if the vinyl & CD business can survive this pandemic, it’s curious to see the flip side of the successful streaming market.  

"Spotify still had a solid lead at the end of 2019 with 35 percent of subscriptions. However, its rivals are growing fast. Apple Music's listener base grew 36 percent to give it 19 percent of streaming, while Amazon's share grew by half to hit 15 percent. This put them comfortably ahead of rivals like Tencent (11 percent) and YouTube Music (6 percent). The remaining 14 percent of tended to be split between regional giants like India's Gaana and Russia's Yandex Music."

(Via Music streaming subscriptions grew by nearly a third in 2019 | Engadget.)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Video Day #tzaupbeat

STRFKR should win best location for their video for Deep Dream.  Channel Tres is a close second with their vintage video for Weedman.  Glass Animals have been dropping a couple singles & videos lately, this new one is for Your Love (Déjà Vu).

Bonus:  I hate to admit that I have a bit of a crush on Finneas, particularly in his new video for Let’s Fall In Love for the Night.

Article: Can the Vinyl & CD Business Survive Coronavirus?

"Until recently, this year was shaping up to be strong: CD sales are down 8.3% compared to the same period last year, a far slower decline than in recent years, and vinyl sales were up 45%, even amid distribution problems. Retailers believed that this year's Record Store Day -- now postponed from April to July -- was going to be the biggest ever, and retailers are still putting in big orders, according to several labels and distributors.
Consumers still want to buy vinyl, even if many of them may not have as much money to spend for a while. 'The absence of vinyl records for several decades wasn't a death sentence for that format,' says a sales rep for a CD manufacturing plant. 'The landscape of who's left and what they do will surely change, but that doesn't mean there won't be other ways to twist a pipeline to get consumers what they want.'"
(Via Can the Vinyl & CD Business Survive Coronavirus? | Billboard.)