01 — Curator Story
Specialist in: pop, soul, R'n'B, jazz and more
Open Ear playlist extraordinaire and account manager, Lily is the founder of the Sweet Lemonade music blog, DJ and radio host. For Open Ear she curates playlists for the likes Selfridges, DF/Tacos, Tonkotsu, TOG, Bestseller, Mothership Group, and many more.
"If in doubt, leave it out. You really need to believe in your choice, the confidence should transmit somehow, I believe! You also need to understand the listener, to capture the attention of someone you don’t know is a real skill."
02 - An interview with Lily
1. Let’s start from the beginning - please introduce yourself and give us a background to your life in music…
My name’s Lily, I’ve been working in music for 7 years across events management, promotions, radio and DJing as well as generally being obsessed with music research, discovery and nightlife. I now run a music blog and playlist series called Sweet Lemonade FM.
2. Do you remember what music inspired you at an early age? And perhaps a few tracks that inspired you to start a career in music?
From a very early age I told my family I wanted to be Cher. I remember dancing round my Nan’s house to ‘If I had a Hammer’ by Peter, Paul and Mary and having to shout at my parents for having Rock to RnB, Folk to Soul battles on their hi-fi when I was trying to sleep. I recognised the extent of my knowledge when I was about 9, sitting in McDonalds in Camden and naming artist lookalikes for everyone who came in, at that age knowing so many artists was pretty impressive. When I got my hands on a laptop and disk drive, I started importing my parents' CD collection, categorising and making playlists for me, my friends and parties my mum hosted at the house. I idolised Trevor Nelson for making a career in compilations and knew I’d get there one day.
3. Is there one area of music you specialise in i.e. genre or scene that you are particularly close to?
Soul and r’n'b is my go-to, but I love folk, banjos make me go crazy. If it’s a good song, I’ll like it.
4. What are your favourite places, sources, sites, radio shows or people to discover new music?
Worldwide FM, NTS radio have a really good exploring platform, Boiler Room for listening to newly discovered DJs and general ‘what’s going on in the scene’. I cover all publications on a weekly basis - Pitchfork, Fader, NME and the rest! And I’ll also always be up for a conversation with someone to get a few recommendations.
5. Talk to us about your approach to music playlist curation, do you have some key do’s and don’ts?
If in doubt, leave it out. You really need to believe in your choice, the confidence should transmit somehow, I believe! You also need to understand the listener, to capture the attention of someone you don’t know is a real skill.
6. How is playlisting for brands different than playlisting at home or for personal listening on-the-go?
It’s far easier to play music at home or to people whose taste you’re familiar with, because less thought goes into it. To curate music for a brand you have to get to know them and their customers through a logo, location or their menu and roll with it, it might take some time to fully grasp their music identity, this means spending time with the staff and in the venue to get a better idea of what the customer should be hearing.
7. What are your thoughts on computer algorithms shaping the future of music curation?
I think it’s untrustworthy. And although money is consistently being pumped into them, money doesn’t create taste.
8. Tell us more about the client(s) you’ve worked with using the Open Ear platform. How did you meet the client’s expectations? (Explain your thought process and final result)
I’ve been lucky to work with all sorts of businesses, and they all work fairly differently. The Spotify import has worked very well with TOG, staff members quite rightly enjoy listening to their own music at lunch, so this has been a great opportunity to work with their team to make sure they’re satisfied at work. The interleave feature also works well for many clients, being able to share cutting edge tracks with a few familiar favourites on top creates a really nice balance.
03 — Case Study
"We consistently receive great feedback from our customers on our music selection across all outlets. With the high turnover of staff that all hospitality businesses are faced with, Open Ear have been a crucial part in our ability to deliver a consistent and high quality customer experience since opening."