Saturday, March 14, 2009
How to greatly expand your music repertoire for your Spinning classes
This is a question I get all the time. The next most common question is where do I find my music?
Obviously, music is a very personal thing, and you have to take your market into consideration, but after the first year of teaching Spinning where I used primarily popular music (from the mid to late 90's), I made a huge transition in what I played. For many years, I played almost exclusively electronic and world music. The past 3-4 years, I've been mixing more rock, indie and the occasional pop song (like Madonna) in to please a wider range of students.
Most of my students have loved it over the past 12 years. Sure, you will never make everyone happy with your music choice, and occasionally I mess up and end up deleting a song forever from my library after using it in one class. On one occasion I had someone walk out of a class - she was a hotel guest (our club is part of a destination hotel) and came in late to a Race Day class, right as the "race" was starting - I think it was a Juno Reactor song (I love energetic electronic especially for Race Day). Literally 3 minutes later, she got off her bike. I went over to see if anything was wrong, and she said, "I'd rather have my eyelids super-glued shut than listen to techno!" and she stormed out.
I almost said, "I think they have super-glue at the front desk."
(I think I may have posted that story once on this blog, but it's relevant here).
Oh well, you can't win them all! Everyone else just laughed and enjoyed the class...
A lot of my music was given to me by friends, including from different corners of the globe. So I have an eclectic international repertoire. I also have to fess up that I was an early use of Napster during the years that it reigned, and started growing my library over 10 years ago with international, electronic, trance, and world music from that source. But now, I want to use sources that pay their artists for their work.
But as you know, IDC instructors can go broke paying $1 per song! So we need sites that pay artists and offer users a good price.
[FYI, that doesn't mean I wont gratefully accept a song emailed to me by a fan of this blog or the forums! I even reciprocate!]
I'm not a big fan of iTunes. It's more expensive and the DMR restrictions is annoying (apparently some tunes are now DMR-free. I'll have to learn more about that). But it certainly has a wider variety of genres than many downloading sites. I find myself using it for theme rides, and usually spend about $5 per month on iTunes on average.
I have been very successful with eMusic and that's where I get the rest of my music. It's not expensive, and you can find some very unique tunes. But you will not find any pop music, nor groups from big labels. You will find lots of electronic, trance and club music, a good variety of indie bands, older rock, hip-hop, jazz, world, ambient, psychodelic and classical.
They offer you 25 free downloads just for checking them out, and 50 free d/l for joining (and you can cancel anytime after the first month). So that means you can get 100 songs for $15. Not bad! Click on the eMusic icon on the left side of my blog to get your 25 free downloads.
Instructors always ask me, "what do I do once I join? Who do I search for? It takes so long to search!"
So, to make it easier on anyone looking to expand their music library with more of these genres of music, I've gone through my favorite songs and listed which ones are available on eMusic. This is only the first edition. I will constantly update this, and if you have found some great tunes that I haven't listed, please let me know and I'll update this list. It will be a communal work-in-process.
Click here to download the list. And then click on the icon on the left side of this post to start getting your free downloads. I hope you'll do that to support me - yes, full disclosure - eMusic gives me a little "pat on the back" for sending you to them (but you'd laugh at how insignificant it is). However, any tiny bit I can make to support this time-consuming passion of mine of maintaining this blog, does help out!
If you already are an eMusic member, then you'll really appreciate this list, because sometimes it can be hard to find your 50 songs a month! Again, if you are a member, share with me your favorites, and I'll add them to this list.
There are other music sources, and I'd love to list more options for my readers. I don't know that much about them because I don't have the time to research and learn new systems. I tried beatport.com for awhile and found some hard-to-find electronic music, but most were $1.99, so I don't use it much.
There is www.gomusic.com, a Russian music downloading site that is very cheap, but it's highly unlikely that they pay the musicians well enough for their art.
Rhapsody.com is another popular one. If you have success on this, let me know more about it. I'd like to understand the limitations a little better.
You can't go wrong with most of the songs I've put on this list if you are open to non-pop. Some are even among the most popular songs I've used at conferences. If you downloaded my ECA playlist, you'll see that I highlighted the ones available through eMusic.