Mefi Swap -- LIVE?
April 2, 2007 6:11 PM   Subscribe

I want to start a book club, only for music. How could I do this?

I'd like to start a informal group of people who would meet every two weeks or so, and take turns burning mix CDs for the whole group to listen to and then talk about at the next meeting. Like Mefi Swap, only in person, and with discussion. Or like you do with your friends, only a little bit structured, and with new blood and new music you might not have heard about otherwise.

I've never been in a book club before (I've seen the threads though), and I've never heard of anyone doing what I want to do, so any input would be helpful. How should I go about this? What would be most fun? I think I'd want to have as diverse a group as possible, but then, I am ready to roll with some Tim McGraw should it come to that -- I'm ready to try to appreciate anything somebody likes. How would I find people who are willing to listen to whatever, or should I narrow it down a little? Any thoughts?
posted by Methylviolet to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I've been to "listening parties", but usually in the context of promotion by the band itself or the label. As an avid fan of music I am going to be forthright in telling you that I do not know how well this would work, especially since it is in a mix setting. What do you wish to accomplish with the meetings? Book clubs or meetings I have been into have been rather serious and scholarly in nature.

I think it would be hard to talk about a compilation work, basically a DJ playlist. It will probably revolve around discussing the works as singles rather than as a comprehensive album.
posted by geoff. at 6:28 PM on April 2, 2007

I agree that the mix tape (OK, CD, whatever) version would be difficult. Why not get a group of like-minded folk together; agree to meet once a month (I think every two weeks would kill the group); take turns picking an album to discuss; meet and discuss said album. The person who picked the album could be in charge of getting the discussion going.

You should meet somewhere where you can listen to the CD you're discussing. There also should be beer at this place, because that's what most book groups are really about.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:33 PM on April 2, 2007

geoff, although I've never been to a book club meeting myself, I knoiw that not all are scholarly or serious. That doesn't mean they're frivolous, either. I wouldn't call Oprah's book club scholarly.

I would love to be a part of what you're describing, Methyl, to learn about new music.
posted by cahlers at 6:56 PM on April 2, 2007

Oh yes, of course. I should have qualified my statement with: ones that are less likely to devolve in the first 5 minutes to gossip and other topics.

I find that book clubs are usually thinly veiled excused for 2PM vodka Collins, but I'm being cynical. What I was trying to point out is that unless she had something she wants the group to concentrate on, it is probably going to be more of a party than a venue to discuss music.
posted by geoff. at 7:04 PM on April 2, 2007

Response by poster: I had been thinking the CDs would be like a sampler, and people could explore a certain artist more if they liked a song, and then talk about that. Maybe CDs would be sampler of a genre? Or a single artist with a long career? Or a producer? Or a country/city/scene?

But yes -- an album would be good, too, Geoff. As it is I don't listen to albums, but maybe that would be better. But then, I think, people would have to buy it, nor burn it?

As far as what I'd want to accomplish -- I'd want to be exposed to music somebody likes, and talk about it -- a little music appreciation hour, but no necessarily as high-brow as that would imply. A social group, but focussed on music. Much like the book clubs people have, really -- just that, but music.

I hadn't thought about being able to play the CD we're talking about, Corpse -- that is a smart idea.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:11 PM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's how The Card Cheat, gompa, theinsectsarewaiting and I do it at the Joint Group Howls (aka "Music Night"): we get together with friends every two months or so and then we take turns playing tracks D.J.-style: trying to follow each track somehow to keep the vibe alive. After each track there's usually a "holy shit, that melted my mind! What the hell was that?" moment, during which we discuss the track, the album, the band, the recording process-- whatever. Sometimes we do set it up beforehand ("This is a track featuring a Cambodian Yodeler") but often we find it more fun to let the music do the talking first.

In the beginning we burned all the songs played onto a Mix CD, but that got to be a royal pain in the ass. Now we just post the playlists to The Net (see 'Joint Group Howl' link, above).

The name 'Joint Group Howl,' by the way, came about when a friend of ours did a mash-up on the spot (using two turntables) of a routine from a Bill Cosby party record and a recording of wolf sounds. Just Add Beer for instant hilarity!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:17 PM on April 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Cahler -- that is really analogous -- Oprah. I haven't seen the show, but I know that she doesn't pick trash -- she's serious, if not scholarly.

So how do I promote it to others? How do (private) book clubs get peopled?
posted by Methylviolet at 7:23 PM on April 2, 2007

One thing to keep in mind (which often is overlooked in online discussions) is that burning mixed CD's and giving them to people is illegal. If you are talking about taking your own CD's to someone's house to listen to that is fine, but if you are burning a copy for every member in the club to listen to beforehand, that is against the law. (No, I am not a supporter of the RIAA's fight against piracy and how they go about it, I just want to point out the facts)
posted by markblasco at 7:37 PM on April 2, 2007

Now that we've had our first sweet taste of the copyright calvalry, I gotta say that this is a sweet idea.
I've done live swaps, in that everyone comes and exchanges, but seein's as we meet at bars, we haven't had a good opportunity to listen to the music. And that rather sucks. Aside from that, the song by song party seems the best option.
(Maybe once I'm in LA, you'll invite me.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:52 PM on April 2, 2007

But then, I think, people would have to buy it, nor burn it?

Or get it from the library.

So how do I promote it to others? How do (private) book clubs get peopled?

You tell friends what you're doing, set a time and place and music for the first meeting, send out an e-mail or use Evite or some such, encourage your friends to tell their friends. Viola!
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:57 PM on April 2, 2007

So how do I promote it to others? How do (private) book clubs get peopled?

Co-workers, relatives, friends and friends of friends. Float it out there: "So, I'm setting up a Music Club..." If someone seems interested, ask them to join. Then ask if they can recommend someone else. Happy Listening!

On Preview: what The corpse in the library said.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:00 PM on April 2, 2007

Response by poster: Yay -- I begin to think this is doable.
After all, Fuzzy is doing it! What a playlist! (Not the way I pictured it, but another, rowdier way. I'd be begging for an invitation if you lived anywhere close.)
And Klangklangston, if you lived in LA, I'd be sitting in a surveillance van outside your house right now trying to get hip.

And there's always Mefi Meetup -- ?
posted by Methylviolet at 8:30 PM on April 2, 2007

Methylviolet, if you're ever up Toronto way, we'll spin the platters that matter and Rock the Block. klangklangston, that goes for you, too.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:48 AM on April 3, 2007

Oh, god, if you htink I'm hip you'll be so disappointed when you meet me.

And I've never been to Toronto, even though I feel like I should go. I have all this fucking Canadian coinage too, since I was in Vancouver last year. Like, fuckin', $20 in a plastic bag.
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 AM on April 3, 2007

My group of friends has had what we call "music parties," and we also have a book club (technically a book TEAM, but that's a long story). The main difference I see is that a book takes many hours to read, but a song can be listened to in minutes. Thus for book team, we each read the book on our own time and then meet to discuss it; for music parties we each bring in a stack of CDs we like and take turns playing a song for everyone and then discussing/raving/criticizing/free-associating/etc. It's awesome, and a lot less hassle than trying to get a mix out to everyone in advance. I love Fuzzy Monster's idea of posting the playlist to the internet for future reference, too.

As for finding people to join, I bet flyers at local indie record stores would net you a few participants, especially if you could find a public place to meet where you could all play songs for each other. I'd be a bit wary of showing up to a stranger's house with a stack of my favorite CDs, but if the first couple meetings were in a community center or someplace safer, I'd be all for it.
posted by vytae at 8:18 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fuzzy Monster has neglected to mention that copious amounts of weed also facilitate the music listening experience for most of us Joint Group Howlers...although too much of that sort of thing can lead to situations where you read the playlist the next day and can't even remember the songs you played.

But it's all good.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:51 AM on April 3, 2007

I think the suggestions are all good; I just want to join! I'm in LA BTW; email is in profile if you're really gonna set this up. :)
posted by holyrood at 12:55 PM on April 3, 2007

Response by poster: Excellent -- should anyone else in LA be interested, please contact me!
posted by Methylviolet at 6:53 PM on April 3, 2007

This sounds so awesome! It saddens me that I live on the opposite coast. So very sad especially because I'd rather be in LA. Someday..

I don't have any actual advice, but I'm glad you asked this question. Maybe I can use the advice here and try to start one myself.
posted by VegaValmont at 9:34 PM on April 3, 2007

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