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From the Editor’s Desk – a Look Back at 2017

Dear Reader,

THANK YOU for all the support you’ve given us this year. You’re one of well over a million new people we’ve met in the last 12 months, and we couldn’t be happier that you’ve somehow found your way here. If this is your first time landing to rest your wings on Flypaper, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

As we bid farewell to 2017, I wanted to share some thoughts about the past, the present, and the future. But first, some housekeeping: This will be the last newly published piece on Flypaper until our regular schedule resumes on January 2, 2018 – until then, we’re excited to share with you the Top 15 most read articles of the year via Soundfly’s Facebook page.

I’m also deeply excited about what’s to come in 2018. I don’t want to give it all away, but January is already shaping up to feature some of the best writing we’ve ever had on the site with articles covering the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago, the music of Haruki Murakami’s novels, Brian Eno, American dive bar venues, the new wave of Mexican indie artists, an interview with the 79-year old field recordist and nature soundscapes pioneer Bernie Krause, and all the outstanding content on guitars, synths, composing, production techniques, recording technologies, classic album histories, and other niche topics you’ve come to expect from Flypaper.

This past year often felt like a rollercoaster of blissful highs and terrible lows. We lost a ton of incredible musical talents this year, some of whom were not at all close to slowing down. Flypaper took as many opportunities to cover this year’s significant losses as possible, yet as a growing publication, we lacked the ability to write about so many others. Here are the artists we honored with reflections on their lives and careers:

Malcolm Young. Fats Domino. Tom Petty. Glen Campbell. Albert Johnson (a.k.a., Prodigy). Gregg Allman. Chris Cornell. Nat Hentoff.

And here are some of the artists we wish we had the time and resources to pay tribute to individually:

John Abercrombie. Muhal Richard Abrams. Geri Allen. Walter Becker. Chester Bennington. Chuck Berry. John Blackwell, Jr. Charles Bradley. Ralph Carney. David Cassidy. Wayne Cochran. Kelan Phil Cohran. Fred Cole. Larry Coryell. Holger Czukay. Gord Downie. J Geils. Johnny Hallyday. Col. Bruce Hampton. Grant Hart. Pierre Henry. Al Jarreau. Lil Peep. Sunny Murray. William Onyeabor. Della Reese. Joni Sledge. Clyde Stubblefield. Grady Tate. Butch Trucks. Z’EV. 

Obviously, it’s been a whirlwind year politically, as well. I don’t wish to wax political here for a few reasons, but the biggest being that this blog aims to position itself apolitically as a conversation-starter in a lot of ways, not a conversation-ender, and my personal views on these matters do not belong here.

However, 2017 has been so consumed with destructive political noise — whether debated responsibly by way of openly talking and sharing opinions or catalyzed irresponsibly via violence, hate, and the spreading of lies and misinformation — that it would be a poor reflection of how we spent so much of our time this year if I didn’t call to mind the way that our culture has appeared to shift toward the divisive, tone-deaf, and tunnel-visioned and away from the approachable, cooperative, and open-minded.

As musicians, we have an innate sensibility to the acts of listening and collaboration, and, therefore, we have a responsibility not to use our platform simply to voice steadfast belief but to promote connectivity and community, improvement through shared exchange, and so on. Working in concert with other artists to create something, engaging in real-time with complete strangers — these things make what we do that much more important to the world, even in its fundamental abstraction.

And the internet can scare us away, as well as be an isolating void — that’s why this year, we here at Soundfly decided to fully reorient our learning model to incorporate one-on-one mentorship, people helping people, as its central focal point. To us, this is what growing as a musician is all about, and it might help make better citizens in the process.

Great things also happened this year. There was that whole solar eclipse fiasco, that time when Southwest Airlines flew a plane full of puppies to safety after Hurricane Harvey (in retrospect, aptly named), media empires built on decades of sexist misappropriations of power and paid-off silence beginning to cripple due to the courage of a few brave women, Chance winning three Grammys, and the Soundfly staff birthing two beautiful future musical superstars: Lucy Lewis Cipolla and Elliott Finn Young Temple.

I also think that we have grown a lot as an adolescent company and Flypaper as a publication. We ran some amazing, unique articles this year reflecting a wealth of shared knowledge, following curiosities to explore something deeper than ever before and revealing the touching vulnerabilities of the working artist today. And yet, some of the best fell disappointingly through the cracks, so here are some of my favorite overlooked articles from 2017 (in no particular order):

“Hear a Never-Before-Seen 1986 Dexter Gordon Piece, Played by 8 Different Artists”

“That Time a Stock Photo Connected Us to the Hardest Working Band in Brazil”

“The Statistical Analysis of the 70 Most Popular Disney Songs You’ve Always Wanted”

“(Artificial) Space Is the Place: A Reverb Tech Primer”

“The Musical and Sociopolitical Evolution of Kanye’s Use of Soul Music Samples”

“Fear of Success Is Real: Here’s How I Found Out I Had It”

“How Does Cory Arcangel’s Cat Video Mashup of Schönberg’s Atonal Opus II Stacks Up Against the Original?”

“4 Different Ways to Start a Musical Sentence”

“How to Make Your Synthesizer Fart. Yup.”

“Journey East – An Extended Introduction to the Enchanting Sound World of the Oud”

“‘Double Basses, You Know What You Must Do’: Breaking Down Ben Folds’ 10-Minute Song”

As a last point, I just want to say that my inbox is always open to you. I’ve communicated with at least one Flypaper reader or inquiring writer, Soundfly student, or fellow musician looking for advice or direction, every single day this year, and I don’t intend to stop being available to these conversations as we move forward.

Best wishes and happy new year,

Jeremy Young
[email protected]

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Jeremy Young

Jeremy is a music business guru and loves giving advice to young, emerging bands on how to make their tours more effective. He also plays guitar, publishes audiobooks, runs a record label, and is an artist working in sound media. He has performed and released material throughout Europe, Asia, the US, UK and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.