Like any stereotypical 80’s kid, I spent many a Suburban Saturday schlubbing around my local malls (Southlake, Greenbriar and Shannon for those keeping score at home) for hours on end. During those non-driver’s license dark ages, parents could drop their kids off at these pre-teen daycare facilities from sun up to sun down with little to no worry about their safety. We learned to perfect the art of the all day hang with barely enough money in our ill-fitting Levi knock-offs to purchase a handful of cassingles, much less a meal. No matter how many bowls of Fruity Pebbles you’d had that morning, the midday rumbles hit everyone the same. So we all learned to listen closely for the siren’s call of the food court, “would you like to try a free sample?” After a few well-timed rounds through the questionable culinary circuit, you’d have a bellyful of Pizza Hut mini squares, Golden Panda mongolian beef bites, Chick-Fil-A nuggets, miniature Dairy Queen ice cream cups and if the grub gods smiled down, a somewhat filling 3-inch Blimpie sub. All this for only the price of a simple “yes, thank you” to the paper hat wearing patron saints of free mall food.
This “try it before you buy it” mindset eventually leaked over into the music industry and now tons of artists, labels and innovative, forward-facing online musical communities (ahem) are offering free song samplers in exchange for minimal contact info. While some try to bemoan the demise of the music industry structure as we’ve known it, others are quietly building their own empires with the bricks of free promotion, digital distribution and most importantly, fanbase connection. Is it crazy to think that a potential fan could find an unknown song or a new band without purchasing anything and then turn into a card-carrying member of the fan club that supports the artist by buying albums, concert tickets and merchandise? A quick search through NoiseTrade’s offerings will show you that many artists, bands and labels don’t think the idea is crazy at all. Make no mistake about it, these are not just throwaway B-sides or bedroom demos that are being offered either. Incredibly talented musicians and songwriters are releasing high quality album cuts and there’s also great compilation samplers that package 10-20 different bands at once for you to pick and choose from. So to help get things started, I’d like to offer you some of my own personal favorite samplers that are currently on NoiseTrade. Imagine me donning a too-tight, monochromatic polyester uniform or a full-size hot dog costume and hoisting aloft my tray of free musical goodies. “Would you like to try a free sampler?”
NoiseTrade Fall 2011 Sampler – By simply pressing the “Like” button on our Facebook page, you’ll get our gigantic 30-song Fall 2011 Sampler for free. You’ll get some fantastic songs from the likes of Joe Pug, Matthew Sweet, The Hawk In Paris, Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken, David Mead and more. We guarantee that if you don’t like at least one song out of the thirty we’re offering, we’ll refund your mouse click, no questions asked.
Ten Out Of Tenn – This collective of independent artists showcases some of the best songwriters to come out of Nashville over the last few years. Having just released Volume 4 in the series, Ten out of Tenn boasts a handsome roster of previous and current members that includes Katie Herzig, Matthew Perryman Jones, Griffin House, Trent Dabbs, Kate York, Ashley Monroe, Joy Williams and many others throughout the years. NoiseTrade is offering a couple of their earlier volumes and you can also find out more about them at 10outoftenn.com.
On Joyful Wings: Seven Swans Reimagined – Most will agree that Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans album from 2004 is one of his best received and most well loved records. His minimal instrumentation, quiet vocals and lyrical imagery create an intimate atmosphere for the weight of the album to exist in. On Joyful Wingsis a cool tribute album consisting of 15 independent artists covering the 12 tracks from Seven Swans, plus 3 additional tracks from the two 7” singles Sufjan put out in conjunction with Seven Swans. NoiseTrade is offering a 6-song sampler of On Joyful Wings that includes tracks from Derek Webb, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Half-Handed Cloud, DM Stith, Wakey!Wakey! and Inlets. You can purchase the entire On Joyful Wings album HERE, with profits being donated to Komen for the Cure.
Bloodshot Records Fall Sampler 2011 – I’ve got a deep-rooted love for twangy songs about heartbreak and honky tonks, so Bloodshot Records always knows how to put a smile on my face. Their alt-country leaning sampler is spilling over with sudsy goodness from Ryan Adams, Justin Townes Earle, Old 97’s, Excene Cervenka, Dex Romweber Duo and Alejandro Escovedo, just to name a few. In the spirit of full disclosure, a few of the tracks on this one contain some spicy language, so you may want to preview it before gathering the family around the hearth for an old-fashioned digital sampler listening party.
Arise My Soul: Indelible Grace – To balance out Bloodshot’s Saturday night, there’s Indelible Grace’s Sunday morning. This beautiful collection of acoustic based hymns mixes the gorgeous language of the hymnwriters with updated instrumentation from the likes of Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb, Matthew Smith, Matthew Perryman Jones and others. There’s also an insightful two-part lecture about hymns from Kevin Twit.
Blitzen Trapper/Dawes Tour Sampler – Blitzen Trapper and Dawes are currently out on a 29-date tour through the US and Canada and they’ve created this tour sampler to help promote it. With three songs offered from each band, this EP-like sampler is rich with folky acoustics, swampy electrics, gorgeous vocal harmonies and great lyrics. Currently my favorite track on the sampler is “Little Bit of Everything” from Dawes, but each song is a keeper. To see if they’re going to be playing anywhere close to you, check their tour dates out HERE.
We’re also offering a plethora of single artist samplers, with some of the more incredible offerings being from Sandra McCracken, Brandi Carlile, Marc Broussard, The Hawk In Paris, Andy Gullahorn, Plumb and many, many others. But as the literary shaman Levar Burton always reminded us, “you don’t have to take my word for it.” Just click around the database, find some interesting album artwork or just type an artist name or the word “sampler” into the search box. Discovery is such an integral and fun part of music. So just give it a shot. Your next “my new favorite band” could be just a click away.