Influencer Spotlights

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EventsInfluencer Spotlights

Follow Mutek Electronic Music and Digital Arts Festival on Rdio


Canada’s premier electronic music festival is Mutek, the annual, five-day celebration of all music that blips, bloops, bumps, and blasts. This year’s edition will take place from May 30 to June 3, and will feature internationally acclaimed electronic artists such as Apparat, Nicolas Jaar, Blondes, Monolake, and Tim Hecker.

The festival doesn’t just come to Montreal — Mutek celebrates digital arts annually in Mexico and Chile as well, and is known for breaking local digital musicians. It’s easy to see, then, why the Mutek organizers have become such tastemakers, and why they’re an Rdio Influencer. Hear it for yourself — play the Mutek 2012 playlist below, and follow Mutek on Rdio to get the low-down on who’s up and coming in the world of electronic music.

∞  May 28, 2012 — 9:00AM

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Follow Influencer Arts & Crafts on Rdio


Toronto indie label Arts & Crafts was founded in 2002 by former Virgin Records executive Jeff Remedios and Broken Social Scene frontman Kevin Drew. It was meant only as a means for managing the band’s critical breakthrough, You Forgot It in People, but by the time they finished, they realized they had a platform for releasing the music of their friends. By 2005, the label was releasing music by non-BSS-affiliated bands, as well.

Today, Arts & Crafts is one of Canada’s most respected and widely recognized indie labels, responsible for the release of albums by bands such as Feist, Stars, Dan Mangan, Timber Timbre, Los Campesinos, and The Dears. Feist’s The Reminder won the Juno Award for Album of the Year in 2008.

Arts & Crafts is on Rdio, demonstrating taste beyond their own roster of Canadian and international artists. They’re constantly adding new and exciting artists to their collection, including their more recent signees, like Bishop Morocco, The Darcys, and Trust, whose new album TRST is their label debut. Follow Arts & Crafts on Rdio now for their latest Canadian and international additions, and listen to their “New From Arts & Crafts (2012)” playlist below.

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Follow Modular People on Rdio


Quick, name a few of Australia’s most critically-acclaimed, unique bands and artists from the last decade or so: Did The Avalanches, Wolfmother, Cut Copy, Tame Impala, The Presets, or Ladyhawke come to mind? Thank Modular Records.

The Australian independent label responsible for bringing us such remarkable and unique talent began in 1998, just “a few hours before the first release was due to go to press,” according to the label’s founder, Steve Pavlovic. More than a decade later, the label’s sophisticated taste in new music, especially in electronic and dance, made it a tastemaker in modern music. A look at some of the label’s other acts — Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Chromeo, The Rapture, and Robyn for example — conveys the label’s panache and style.

The label falls under the Modular People umbrella, which is responsible for Modular Touring, The Modular Agency, Modular Ideas, as well. Their Rdio profile is one worth following, especially if you’re a fan of unique dance and electronic artists.

Want more good music from Modular as they continue into the future? Listen to their playlist below and follow Modular on Rdio.

While you're at it, make sure to explore the Rdio accounts of these Modular bands for more great music:

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Five Questions with Scott Ellis, Drummer for She Wants Revenge


Scott Ellis wears a lot of hats in the music world. Not only is he a touring drummer par excellence, he’s also the manager of Pearl Group Entertainment, where he manages bands in Santa Monica, California. A musician for over 15 years, first finding success with bands such as The Start, Man Will Surrender, Human Waste Project, Motochrist, Campfire Girls, Mellowdrone, and most recently with style-shifting rock duo She Wants Revenge.

Over that time he’s absorbed a multitude of influences from a variety of genres, and his Rdio profile shows it — his top artists include L.A. rapper Game, croon-poppers Maroon 5, campy punk troupe The Misfits, and neo-Americana rockers My Morning Jacket, just to name a few. Ellis grew up listening to punk rock and the music of the ‘80s, but his taste has broadened a lot in the past decade, when he started embracing music beyond the genres in which he typically played. Check out Scott Ellis’ Vibes playlist below, then read our Five Questions with him.

Five Questions with Scott Ellis

  1. Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before?
    Scott Ellis: Good question. In my opinion, some of the best are the musicians the general public doesn’t know of. To the musicians, my answer will be somewhat generic but as far as “Never heard of before”, I’d go with Billy Preston. Some say he was the fifth Beatle, though I disagree since he was more involved at the end of their career. Either way, he was very important and somewhat the glue to the creation of Let It Be, which is a beautiful record.
  2. If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now?
    SE: The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta. That one never gets old.
  3. Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood?
    SE: Oh man. I grew up on a lot of ’80s punk (mostly British), rock (Zeppelin & Sabbath), and another style they called New Romantic or New Romanticism. Now they just file that under “alternative”. Basically New Romantic was music with synthesizers and dance beats. So I’ll say I associate with Duran Duran because I would run around Huntington Beach with liberty spiked hair, eye liner, painted leather jacket, boots, etc; trying to be the king of punk but I’d come home and pull Duran Duran’s “Rio” 7" out from under my bed and listen to it in private. I may have even danced around my room a little.
  4. We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music.
    SE: It’s hard for me to speak for others, but I hope people feel something when they listen to records I’ve played on or music in general. I think this is what music is supposed to do. It should be emotional. It should bring up feelings of happiness, love, pain, rage, etc.
  5. We were thinking about ______________ when we wrote music for the new album.
    SE: It’s hard for me to answer this one because I’m always a hired musician and can’t speak for others. I know I was happy Justin and Adam asked me to play on this latest She Wants Revenge record as I had just broken my collarbone in a bicycle accident and figured I’d miss out. Justin called me over to track for a few days and I did most the beats with one arm. I only used the hurt side when I had to do a fill. Quite an experience!
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Follow and Listen to Rhino Records on Rdio

BlueBest gratefulAreatha

Rhino Records’ humble beginnings as a single record shop in 1973 have been largely obscured by their recording legacy since. The company started distributing records in 1978, specializing in novelty and punk records, before moving into reissuing in the mid-‘80s. By then it had found its niche releasing remastered editions from The Smiths, Joni Mitchell, The Cars, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and other musicians making pop, rock and roll, and R&B records. In-house studio master Bill Inglot’s deft touch made Rhino Records famous for their excellent sound quality.

Today, Rhino and its affiliate label Rhino Atlantic continue releasing exciting new music (such as the latest from The Streets) while ensuring that older gems, such as the Grateful Dead, continue getting their due.

Check out the Rhino label page and follow Rhino Records to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of classic cool.

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Listen to Smithsonian Folkways on Rdio

FolkswayswoodClassic folkCimmaron

No, it’s not your typical pop music, and you’d be hard pressed to find them on the radio, but the importance and cultural relevance of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label owned by the Smithsonian Institution, cannot be overstated. The label, founded in 1948 by Moses Asch, has a simple MO: spread the music that speaks to the power of folk culture, which both illuminates our own heritage and engages us in the culture of others.

Smithsonian Folkways’ commitment to bringing historically and socially relevant music to the attention of wider audiences has rightly made them an influencer and a musical institution. Their attention to detail, which includes writing extensive and in-depth reviews for almost all of their releases, and making plenty of exciting, cultural- and genre-based playlists such as “Throat Singing”, “Boogie Woogie Piano”, “Radio Haiti”, and “Radio Africa”, makes following Smithsonian Folkways on Rdio an easy decision.

Don’t take our word for it though — straight from the folks at Smithsonian Folkways, below are their suggested “Five Essential Smithsonian Folkways Listens,” including commentary.

Five Essential Smithsonian Folkways Listens

  • Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly - Folkways: The Original Vision
    A list of music from nearly 3,000 Smithsonian Folkways albums would need to start with Woody Guthrie and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, two singer-songwriters who are arguably the most impactful American folk musicians of the last 75 years. This album was one of the first releases by Smithsonian Folkways after the Smithsonian Institution acquired the Folkways Records collection in 1987. A companion to this album is Folkways: A Vision Shared, which features the same songs performed by other artists including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson, and helped raise funds for the launch of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

  • Various Artists - Classic Folk Music from Smithsonian Folkways
    We often take for granted the influence of artists such as Doc Watson, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete, Mike and Peggy Seeger, Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, Elizabeth Cotten, and other folk musicians. This compilation, one of the numerous albums in the “Classic Series from Smithsonian Folkways,” sheds new light on the success of the urban intellectual-driven movement that made rural white and African-American artists and their music favorites everywhere.

  • Elizabeth Mitchell - You Are My Little Bird
    Quality family music that doesn’t “talk down” to children has been essential to the Smithsonian Folkways mission. An excellent recent example is You Are My Little Bird, the 2006 recording from Elizabeth Mitchell that brings a fresh sound to cherished American folk songs, contemporary covers, and other melodies from around the world.

  • Various Artists - ¡Cimarrón! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia
    Smithsonian Folkways has one of the largest and most diverse collections of music, spoken word and sounds from around the world. The “Tradiciones Series” features 33 recordings that showcase the diverse musical heritage of the more than 50 million Latinos living in the United States. A recent stellar example is ¡Cimarrón! Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia, which features percussive strings, dynamic vocal expression, and a full-throttle pace that makes Joropo one of the most exciting regional musics of Latin America.

  • Babatunde Olatunji - Drums of Passion: The Invocation
    Smithsonian Folkways not only produces new recordings, but it also accepts donations of other independent record labels or collections, such as Monitor, Fast Folk, and Cook Records, which would not otherwise be made available to the public. A recent acquisition is The Mickey Hart Collection, 25 albums of music the Grateful Dead percussionist performed, recorded or co-produced, that furthers his endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons. Drums of Passion: The Invocation is one of two albums by Nigerian artist Babatunde Olatunji in the series.

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Influencer Spotlight: MTV News Canada


Everybody knows the tremendous influence MTV wielded over the musical landscape since its inception in 1981, but it has infiltrated popular culture far beyond the original channel. Today MTV influences music in a myriad of more subtle ways, and MTV News Canada is one of them.

This half-hour program is a curatorial news show reflecting daily pop-cultural events and trends, so they're a natural fit as an Rdio Influencer. Their finger is firmly on the pulse of music culture, whether it's about Internet phenoms like Kreayshawn or more established news-makers like Kanye West. They also interview deserving Canadian artists such as Arcade Fire, Hollerado, and Shad.

The show’s Rdio page is constantly updated with playlists reflecting headlines from noteworthy news days, as is their collection with the hottest new artists. “Artists on the Show Oct 11-16” showcases the kind of talent you can expect to hear about, and is a good indication of the music music you will discover by following MTV News Canada on Rdio.

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Influencer Spotlight: CBC Radio 3


If you’re looking for the newest in Canadian music, look no further than CBC Radio 3. The online, cutting-edge branch of CBC’s radio division was born out of CBC Radio 2 in the late nineties, and firmly established itself as a full online magazine in 2002, when it won three Webbys and 20 other awards for excellence. Today, Radio 3 is the place to hear a mix of your favourite new Canadian artists, established faves, and those who just don’t get their due elsewhere. Excellent taste in Canadian music and care for artists at a grassroots level make CBC Radio 3 a must-follow on Rdio. Below is a smattering of tunes you might expect to hear on CBC Radio 3’s Rdio page, courtesy of online personality Bren Hodge.

Check out the CBC Rdio3-30! playlist for suggested music, and check in weekly for new additions to their Rdio collection.

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The Alan Cross Recommendation Project on Rdio


Involved in a number of interesting projects over the years, veteran Canadian music broadcaster and writer Alan Cross doesn't show any signs of quitting. Take, for instance, his Recommendation Project: using Rdio, Cross created a number of playlists, each with a different theme, on which users can collaborate and add their own suggested music. The ultimate goal? To share as much music as possible between fans, without resorting to “robots like Apple's Genius,, Pandora or any number of algorithmic recommendation engines.”

The project started with the The Recommendation Project Part 1: Summer Song 2011 playlist, which asked users to contribute their favourite new musical discovery from this summer, old or new. Since then, the project branched out to include playlists with themes such as Canadian music, cover songs, cars, and more.

Have you contributed yet? Add to any of the Recommendation Project playlists on Alan's Rdio page (and don't forget to follow him!)—you could find your new favourite song of 2011.

∞  August 18, 2011 — 10:26AM

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Influencer Spotlight: Last Gang Records

Last gang

More than just a record label and promotional outfit, Last Gang Records has been shaping musical taste in Canada and abroad since 2002. Last Gang began when music industry lawyer Chris Taylor was unable to find a label to release Metric’s landmark debut, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?—their second release was Death From Above’s seminal 2004 debut I’m a Woman, You’re a Machine.

Since then, they've dedicated themselves to finding Toronto and Montreal’s most forward-thinking electronic acts, such as MSTRKRFT, Crystal Castles and Tiga. They also pride themselves on nurturing relationships with their impressive array of artists. Want to know what’s ticking over at Last Gang? Follow them on Rdio and check out their playlist below, Us Against the World.

For a more in-depth taste of Last Gang, check out their Spring 2011 mix or indulge in their “Festive Afternoon Hangover Cure” playlist, curated for Toronto’s week-long festival earlier this year.