By: Nicole Vasarevic

Spotify has finally made its way to Canada, and is expected to make big waves.

Even though the company has kept its launch on the down low, only allowing individuals who have received an invitation to join, it has not gone unnoticed. Spotify is a free live streaming service that allows users to listen to, save, and follow songs, playlists and artists. The best part being, unlike songza or 8tracks, Spotify allows you to skip and repeat songs as many times as your music hungry heart desires. But how do the company and artists featured make any money?

Even though Spotify hasn't made a comment on this, I doubt it's a coincidence that Spotify introduced itself to Canada shortly after Canadian royalties announced that artists will be paid 10.2 cents for every 1,000 plays they get on their songs in Canada.

Spotify also runs on an ad market. If you are a free user — and let's be real, most of us won't shell out for a premium account — an ad plays after every few songs. The company also profits from ad clicks that are displayed on the service, just like Facebook. Users can have ad-free listening only if they upgrade to premium for $9.99 a month.

After getting my own account, I quickly began to tell everyone about this music streaming app that has changed the way I listen to music. The mood playlists have soundtracked everything from my study sessions to an embarrassingly large amount of cliché girls nights. It has also made the rare times I do go to the gym actually bearable with some excellent workout playlists.

I thought the only way all this could get better was with the Spotify mobile app but I was a little disappointed. Unlike the unlimited freedom Spotify gives on a laptop or tablet, the phone app does not allow you to choose specific songs to listen to. It only allows users to shuffle an artist, album or playlist and it gives limited skips. These things can all disappear, however, with the upgrade to premium. The app sucking the life out of your phone battery and shutting down every ten songs will remain—not exactly selling traits, especially if you pay $9.99 a month for the premium experience.

Spotify itself is innovative in its free live streaming music capabilities, with over 40 million users worldwide. It is the next big player in Canada's music streaming industry, but it definitely needs to make a few changes before being publicly released in Canada.

Nicole Vasarevic
The Silhouette

The year started off with a bang for the Hamilton band The Zilis. Band members Justin Bozzo (bass and vocals), Zander Lamothe (drums) and Sean Royle (guitar and vocals) are not only doing a local tour with stops in Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston this month, but they are also releasing their second album, Sketches II.

Bozzo, a McMaster student, says fans can expect “more bluesy, R&B, [and] some soul” on the new album. He expands on this, explaining how bands such as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Beatles have influenced the Zilis’ sound.

“We listen to 20’s blues as well, the older jazz music that shows off a lot of good improvisation,” said Bozzo. The new album will have “a lot of variety,” according to Bozzo. “It includes the song types we didn’t include in the first album, Sketches.”

Sketches II is just one more stepping-stone in the Zilis’ eight-year-long journey in the music industry. The band has played with The Arkells, Hey Rosetta, Flogging Molly among others, including opening for the legendary bands KISS and the well-known Bon Jovi.

With experience playing before crowds as large as 25,000, the Zilis are no strangers to being on the road and playing live. The band has played from coast to coast in cities including Vancouver, Toronto and Quebec City.

The band started out in Hamilton venues such as the Casbah and The Lazy Flamingo, who helped them kick-start their career. They have also played at The Phoenix, and McMaster’s own Faculty Hollow for Welcome Week 2013.

Sketches was also nominated for rock recording of the year at the 2012 Hamilton Music Awards.

The boys are kicking off their new tour with a CD release party right here in their native city on Feb. 7 at This Ain’t Hollywood. Fellow Hamilton bands The Bandicoots and Go To The West will open.

The Zilis have stated that they will be playing Sketches II, start to finish. During past gigs, the band has been known to play impressive three hour sets where the boys lay everything they have out on stage.

The Zilis have done some amazing things in the past eight years in both the Hamilton and Canadian music scenes. The release party for Sketches II will be dedicated to celebrating this latest accomplishment with fans, which should make for an incredible and memorable night.

Sketches II will be available on iTunes on Feb. 4 2014.

Photo by Joe Fuda/Fudagraphy

Nicole Vasarevic
The Silhouette

The Steel City’s music scene was full of life last Friday night at the Doors Pub, where Hamilton band the Bandicoots played alongside Billy Moon and the Mackinaws. Exciting, for sure, but Justin Ross – vocalist and guitarist for the Bandicoots as well a McMaster student – is no stranger to his native city’s potential for musical energy.

Just over a year ago, Ross and drummer Andrew Parkinson started the band almost unknowingly. The two first began jamming when they stumbled upon a guitar and drum kit at a house party. Soon they recruited Ross’ co-worker Nicolai Koyel as lead guitarist and school friend Max Cain as vocalist and bassist.

As the band added members, its sound, classic rock with an urban twist, also began to grow. “We play what we wanna hear,” Ross said. Their influences vary from older groups like the Strokes to up-and-coming bands such as Temples, a psychedelic rock band from the UK.

The Bandicoots debuted their sound at the Casbah, and gigs at Absinthe, This Ain’t Hollywood and the Doors Pub eventually followed. Lo and behold, The Bandicoots were taking their first footsteps into the local music world.

The band experienced their biggest break last November when they opened for Born Ruffians, an ascendant indie band from Midland, ON with tour dates worldwide. The word that Justin kept repeating when talking about the night was “awesome.”

With the dual perspective of someone both in the audience and on the stage, Ross said that not only is Hamilton full of opportunities for musicians, “it’s also just a good place to be.”

“The people in this city are not concerned with the aesthetics, they do it for the passion of making music,” he said. It’s not about being the best here, it’s about meeting people and sharing your passion for music.”

The band is planning on recording their first EP soon at Hamilton’s very own Threshold Studios. In the meantime, they will keep trying to make it in Hamilton’s music scene by adhering to a simple philosophy. “Don’t think about it. Don’t play to be famous,” said Ross. “Play and write music you want to hear, because you love it. That’s the key to this music scene.”

Photo by Joe Fuda/Fudagraphy


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