When I was seven years old, I had a plastic turntable with built-in speakers and a boombox that I used to record and create “radio shows.” My little brother would often sit in as a guest on the show while I would play different songs during the “interview.” I would play the recordings for my family and everyone would have a great time listening. My mother kept those tapes for years. I hadn’t built my own record collection yet: I would just play the albums that were in the house, like The Bee Gees, The Stories (remember their hit, “Louie Louie”?) and the soundtrack for Jesus Christ Superstar, among others. That’s how I started my career as a Music Curator.
Music curation in simple words is creating an experience with music, to support a specific ambiance, at a specific place, or for a specific brand. As a Music Curator, I have to know how to find and compare tunes from different genres, BPMs (beats per minute,) intensity, era, tempo, and match those to the needs of an audience.
Most curators are walking music encyclopedias, with deep knowledge of many genres. We also work hard to build upon our passion for music by developing complementary skills. Understanding analytics, musical trends, and cultural context helps us create impactful music stations and playlists that serve the needs of our customer’s end users.
At Feed Media Group we curate for businesses including The Beachbody Company, Tonal, and Mirror. For us, understanding the context of how the end user will experience the music, and what type of goal the music is serving is paramount. Whether pushing through a HIIT workout, having a great stretch recovery session, or increasing rowing strokes, our mission is to help fitness clients reach their goals.
To become a Music Curator, you need to be able to transcend your own taste, always keeping the end listener in mind. It doesn’t mean that you will never go with your gut when curating, as we all know that music is very subjective. At Feed.fm we are fortunate to have playback analytics such as skip rates to inform our process. We also lean on our personal experiences, cultural knowledge and our teammates. We have a human approach to curation which creates an important balance between all the parameters we use when curating a station.
Music Curators are fans of music at heart. We breathe music every day, always. Music Curation doesn’t happen from 9 to 5; you need to have that insatiable appetite for music. We are always thinking about music and ways to discover new tracks, both for our personal enjoyment and for work.
Here are a few suggestions for anyone looking to take their music curation skills to the next level:
- Be super curious about the way music evolves, how genres interconnect, and draw connections from your favorite artists, producers, writers, and musicians.
- Follow music websites and publications, like Billboard and Pitchfork, to learn new trends.
- Build a network of like-minded people on music forums.
- Educate yourself about the music industry and learn how music distribution works through streaming apps, media services, radio or commercial usage.
- Research all the streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, YouTube, etc.) and explore their public metrics and rankings.
- Make your playlists sound like a journey. Build your playlists with the consistency needed to create a pleasant ride. For most people it is hard to go from Bad Bunny to Slayer.
- Test your playlists on different audiences – friends, family, or even better if you can get a gig DJing at a venue or event.
Music Curating roles are found throughout the entertainment industry, from streaming services, music supervisors for movies, or curating for brick-and-mortar places. Also, searching for Music Curator roles is a great way to learn about the industry, and to also find new topics and areas that might interest you. “Music Curator” is a blanket term that can also lead you to several other opportunities to explore in our beloved Music Industry.
If you’re interested in being a Music Curator or working at Feed Media Group, check out our open roles!
Feed Media Group is for businesses that need licensed popular music to create the most engaging customer experiences in their digital apps and physical spaces. Unlike navigating complex, time-consuming negotiations with music labels and publishers, Feed Media Group’s proprietary streaming platform and SDKs deliver pre-cleared music—compiled by the industry’s best curators—complete with user analytics, payments to rightsholders, and legal indemnification for our customers.
Feed.fm powers music for the world’s leading brands including American Eagle Outfitters, Mayo Clinic, Mirror, Nautilus and Tonal; and up-and-coming startups use Adaptr to create unique music-based experiences. Our music partners include Warner, BMG, and Merlin. Learn more at feedmediagroup.com.