I don’t work for NPR, but I did work for a member station, NET Radio, for seven years. NPR has become a huge supporter of the indie music world and people are using them as a source for great new music. NPR sets itself apart from other sites by being fearless with variety and keeping their listeners’ minds engaged. The link above is Passion Pit’s Tiny Desk Concert. Here they have been stripped of all sonic glitter. They are nearly acoustic and certainly raw. Did you have any idea Take a Walk had such an involved storyline? The charm of this series is the way it tucks musicians into a small space and films them being who they are — no distractions, no autotune, just the artists and their music.
Sure, the flash of current production does seem to be in demand on radio, but MTV started their unplugged series for a reason. Audiences engage in authentic and personal performances. Flash and glitter only take an audience so far and require more and more to keep our attention. The Tiny Desk Concert series specializes in the unexpected, the marginalized, the outsider. They have showcased big names like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Adele. They have hosted indie artists like Conor Oberst and Tweedy. They’ve also brought in artists not yet part of your musical horizon like the Dublin Guitar Quartet and St. Paul and the Broken Bones. In short, there’s a seat for everyone at this tiny desk, and it gets these acts seen and heard by a worldwide audience.
The good news is the Tiny Desk Concert series is looking for unsigned artists to perform. You might not have thought of contests as a marketing strategy, but give this one a try. At the very least, you will get your music heard by the judges: Bob Boilen, John Congleton, Valerie June, Reggie Watts, Robin Hilton, and Thao Nguyen. At the very most, you’ll gain a new audience, one that will see you for who you really are.