Grammy Week: Songza, Revolt TV, BrokeMogul Execs Discuss Music Discovery, Man, Machine
The Digerati Grin & Grip at the Grammy Connect event in L.A. (from left): Eric Davich, CEO of Songza; Alex White, CEO of Next Big Sound; Whitney-Gayle Benta, Senior Vice President of Revolt TV; Scott Vener, music supervisor; Quddus; and Evan Greene, Chief Marketing Officer of The Recording Academy.
Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen.

In the quest to surface music to new fans, the industry has relied on two tracks -- algorithms and humans.

At Grammy Connect, the music industry's fifth annual confab on digital and social media, the Recording Academy explored the relative merits of both aspects of music discovery.

The blog, BrokeMogul, started as Vener's way of keeping his friends informed of new music he found and liked.

"I was too lazy to make CDs for people, so I started my blog," he said. BrokeMogul, which now gets about 50,000 hits a day, over the years has become a tastemaker's guide to music.

Benta, who was at MTV and is now senior vice president of talent at Revolt TV, spoke similarly about using her gut instincts to identify new talent. Recalling how she had not Initially liked Lady Gaga's early music, she urged the audience to keep an open mind about for fresh sounds.

"I challenge all of you to reach out to five friends and ask them for names of records you've never heard of and start your own journey to music curation," Benta said.

Representing the machine faction was Alex White of Next Big Sound, who walked the audience through how the New York data company uses correlation analysis of social and sales trends to predict which artists will break.

Eric Davlch, co-founder of Songza, rounded out the speakers with an approach that leverages both humans and machines. The company's app delivers ptayllsts designed to suit specific activities -- waking up, working out or driving home from work, for example. The playlists are developed by a network of 50 music experts, Davlch said. But the effort to predict which playlists its listeners might want to hear at any point In time is based on algorithms.

"Context," Davich said, "not content, is king."