Sometimes they gathered in each other’s homes and listened to music.
That’s why one genre of classical music is still called “chamber music.”
It was played in people’s living rooms, three or four instruments and a
small group of listeners.
A few friends and I had this magical, back to the future experience last
night as we listened to Tom Milsom, a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from
London, who my old friend Michael Markman discovered on YouTube
and fell in love with. Milsom has “released” a
CD called Awkward Ballads for the Easily Pleased,” and he appeared at
my door with a keyboard and a ukelele to play for my guests.
Because Tom has had all the influences of the Internet, he knows
everything from the harpsichord to Tom Lehrer. He has a delightful wit,
and a transparency about revealing his personal experiences that comes
from the present generation’s casual relationship with privacy. When he
talks about being rejected, he’s not trying to make it more attractive,
he’s really telling it, tinkling piano keys and horrific emotions and
all. As he told us, he likes to write happy songs about sad subjects —
he has a song about the death of a lobster, one about abortion, several
about the girl who rejected him for a less perfect man. Oh, and he has
done a three-part requiem for a dead cat.
If you find these subjects offensive, I can only tell you that had you
been there, you wouldn’t have. The evening was thoroughly enjoyable.
Milsom is touring the US, helped by his Twitter friends like @mickeleh.
Tom himself is @hexachordal. He’s been using Twitter as his main
marketing tool, although last night he got a good lecture from Robert
<a href=” “>Scobleand <a href=” “>Steve Gillmor,
who explained the virtues of <a href=” “>Friendfeed.
That’s where the conversation got
into the future of music, and how a musician finds an audience today.
On the Internet, of course. And how does he grow it past his own
friends? By entering the real time stream and going where the people are
who will appreciate him.
Although I had to forcibly eject my guests so I could go to bed (I
remember this from the past as well), as they went out the door they
were still talking about going where the “index” is, because in the
future, owning the index will be the replacement for having a record
label and being able to monetize your music. You will have to contact
@stevegillmor to find out what he means by that, because I didn’t hear
the end of the conversation — but it was a moment of extraordinary
mentoring for Tom, and an opportunity to amplify his signal virally (as
in, to people like those on this list, who probably don’t scan YouTube
for music videos from London).
Invest a few minutes with a set of good headphones listening to Tom’s
music. Share the delight I experienced last night. You missed the
conversation, but at least enjoy the music.