Sharon Van Etten & Santigold Review

Modern folk rocker Sharon Van Etten performs live in the studio. Jim and Greg also review the sophomore release from pop artist Santigold.

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Like The Ramones, many musicians would say, "It's not my place (in the 9 to 5 world)." So then, how do they pay the bills? It's become more complicated than ever in light of changes in the music industry, so the Future of Music Coalition launched the Artist Revenue Streams project, which examines how revenue streams are changing and why. Project co-director  Kristin Thomson talks to Jim and Greg about their most recent data: five financial case studies profiling how different kinds of musicians make a living. There's the Jazz Bandleader-Composer, the Indie Rock Composer-Performer, the Jazz Sideman-Bandleader, the Professional Orchestra Player and the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. These musicians still depend on touring for much of their earnings, but the barrier to record sales is smaller than ever.

Sharon Van Etten

Many songwriters view their craft as a form of therapy. But despite the highly personal nature of her tunes, for Sharon Van Etten, sharing is caring. During her conversation with Jim and Greg she explains that it's selfish to perform songs people can't relate to. There's certainly nothing selfish about her performance in our studios. Check out the video here. And check out her moving 2010 release Epic and her most recent album Tramp, produced by Aaron Dessner of The National.

Master of My Make Believe Santigold

Master of My Make-Believe (Deluxe Version)

After wowing many people, including Greg Kot, with her 2008 debut Santigold, Santi White (now Santigold), is back with a new album called Master of My Make Believe.

She's working with a number of new producers including members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio, and she's expanded her sound palette substantially. But, thankfully, the songwriting is as strong as ever. Greg admits that she's not the most impressive vocalist, but he appreciates that in this era of over-singing. He says Buy It. Jim is especially taken with Santigold's exuberance, humor and spirit. He says it's a great contrast to the Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.'s of the world. Master of My Make Believe gets a double Buy It rating.


Looking at an artist like Sharon Van Etten, one is reminded of how much the music landscape has changed in the past two decades. It's possible that despite her talent, Sharon wouldn't have gotten noticed without the help of critics and fans on the internet. Take Lida Husik. Greg explains that in the '90s she was every bit as good as singer/songwriters like Liz Phair and Beth Orton. But, without blogs, message boards and social media, she never got her due. Greg can still give Husik a little love by adding her track "Mother Richard" to the Desert Island Jukebox this week.

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