What is The Next Mix?

Dearest Listener,

This is the next mix. 😉 But if you came wondering what this site is all about, here’s a little background for you:

My name is Patrick Metzger. I’m a writer, product leader, musician, and pop culture analyst (see The Millennial Whoop, The Nostalgia Pendulum).

I’ve been obsessively making playlists for many years now, sharing them with friends as I go. The Next Mix is a way to share the music I love with a broader community in the form of articles and Spotify playlists (1).

I’ve always had an eclectic taste in music. Growing up, my mom would play music in the car or at home—Motown, singer-songwriters, and classic “oldies,” which at the time meant rock and pop from the 50’s and 60’s. My Dad introduced me to a lot of classical and folk music from across the world. My sister introduced me to early electronic dance music, music from Japan, and punk music. In my own explorations, I discovered metal, techno, hip hop, 90’s alternative, and eventually just about every genre you could imagine.

That’s me! Patrick Metzger

The Next Mix is an attempt to showcase some of my favorite songs of the past and of today, with a bit of personal context for why those songs are meaningful or interesting to me.

To me, music is a mental health practice. Music is sacred. Music is magical. I truly think that we have undervalued music to a criminal degree.

2016 was the first time in 16 years that there was any significant revenue growth in the music industry at all, following the Napster-driven collapse of physical music distribution, when we decided that “Everything Is Free.” These days, artists make a fraction of a penny for each stream of a song that they poured their heart and soul into.

Data from the Recording Industry Association of America. The orange bars show the birth and death of CDs. The green bars show revenue from streaming and subscription services.

Meanwhile, studies have shown that listening to music reduces stress and depression, enhances cognitive functioning like reading and mathematical abilities, improves working memory, and can stave off the effects of aging. Learning an instrument combines all those benefits and takes them into hyperdrive, integrating the visual and motor cortices of the brain to connect mind and body. People listen to different kinds of music in different seasons and at different times of day in order to modulate their mood. All this means that music is essentially the caffeine we drink in the morning, the melatonin we take to fall asleep, the SSRI we take for depression. Music is the miracle drug we’ve all been ignoring.

Not every playlist I share on The Next Mix is going to cure depression, and I make no specific claims about the health benefits of any particular song or playlist. But make no mistake about it: Music is powerful. With the awareness of this power, I deeply consider and appreciate every song that ends up on a mix, whether it be playful or heart wrenching.

I hope you’ll listen to some music today, and I hope that The Next Mix helps you find something new to dance to, something to smile about, something to remind you of the ones you love. If the first mix you find on here isn’t your style, rest assured you’ll find something completely different… on the next mix.

Footnote (1): But why Spotify playlists? While I fully respect and regularly support independent musicians who choose not to list their music on Spotify (in lieu of something like Bandcamp), Spotify is the most widespread, user-friendly streaming service, and tends to have the most expansive catalogue. I’ve also found it to be the platform that best encourages quick and easy playlist creation and sharing. Apple Music has a user adoption problem. Tidal was built for a niche audience, over-promised to musicians, and never really took off. YouTube tends to be unpredictable in terms of sound quality or videos getting removed for copyright violation.

All-in-all, crowdfunding platforms like Patreon are probably the best system currently for actually financially sustaining independent musicians—Amanda Palmer being one of the star examples. Spotify absolutely needs to better compensate musicians for their art.

That said, Spotify is one of the only reasons that the music industry has grown in the last few years. As discussed above, 2016 was the first time in 16 years that there was any significant revenue growth in the music industry at all, and that growth was driven entirely by streaming music. Thom Yorke, Taylor Swift, and The Black Keys have all ended their feud with Spotify and added their music to the platform.

Money is not being distributed equitably by Spotify. But there’s something to be said for them helping to revive an industry that had no sustainable business models left.