Meet The Curation Team — Ashlee-Jean Trott (Folk)

In this week’s installation of our Meet The Curation Team Series we chat with Ashlee-Jean Trott, one of our Nashville-based Curators. AJ is our Senior Folk Curator, and she’s also an Associate Producer at Music City Roots. In this Q&A, AJ shares her thoughts on Nashville’s ever-evolving music scene, tells us about some of her current favorite artists and lets us know what she thinks makes an artist unique.

What got you hooked on music in the first place? What did you listen to growing up?

I grew up in a Southern Baptist household, and we listened to a LOT of Southern Gospel music. As I got older, I strayed away from that genre, but I still loved the sounds and harmonies of it. Then I discovered Bluegrass, which is very similar but involves all different types of voices. With the Bluegrass community came very close ties with Americana and Folk, both of which immediately draw me in.

What was your first music industry job?

My sister is a musician. While I was in college, I wanted to be like her, but I couldn’t sing or play an instrument very well (or I was shy to), so I started a music festival in Birmingham, AL called The Birmingham Folk Festival and booked some great artists including my sister. We had great attendance and it motivated me to move to Nashville and pursue a job on the business side of the music industry.

You work at Music City Roots. What do you look for in artists when you’re booking lineups for the show each week?

Typically, I look at YouTube videos to see how an artist performs “live” and I ask myself, even if it’s not my thing, can I see other people liking this? Music City Roots is known for introducing fans to types of music that they would normally not gravitate towards. So my job is not only to book good bands, but also to introduce our audience to new and different things. One night a person will come in the room to see Emmylou Harris play and walk out a fan of a new up and coming indie rock band. We’re combining genres and opening ears.

What’s your favorite thing about the music scene in Nashville?

My favorite thing about the music scene in Nashville has to be the diversity. This isn’t just a city for Country music, it has very strong Bluegrass, Folk, Rock, and Soul scenes. If I’ve heard enough of one type of music, all I have to do is walk down the street to a different venue and find something to clear my head.

How did you get involved with ReverbNation and ReverbNation CONNECT?

Emilee Warner, one of my close friends here in Nashville actually worked in this position before me, and gave a handy recommendation when she had to leave. The best thing about the women in the music industry here in Nashville is: we all have each other’s backs!

What are the main things you’re listening for when you’re reviewing music? What makes Folk artists stand out from the rest of the pack?

I typically listen to the songs and how they connect together lyrically. I also pay attention to the singer. You can have a good song and a band voice (song is good, voice is average), and you can have a good voice and a band song (voice is good, song is average). It’s great when an artists can pull off both. And if there’s good production, that’s an added bonus! What makes Folk artists stand out from the pack is that musicians in this genre pull from a lot of what was old and make it new and fresh. Folk music is very popular for that reason. For instance, you have The Avett Brothers, who pull a lot of inspiration from Townes Van Zandt and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and Doc Watson. They’re very popular now, and I think that is not only because people can relate to their lyrics, but because they can relate to the sound as something they may have heard before.

Who are you listening to these days?

Some of my favorite acts right now have to be Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, The Stray Birds, Todd Grebe and Cold Country, and HoneyHoney just to name a few!

Who are your favorite ReverbNation CONNECT acts right now?

I am really in love with what Sammy Brue is doing, as such a young artist in this community.

What makes you most excited about the future of Folk music?

I think that Folk Music is always evolving, but always brings you back home. This makes me very excited about the future of folk music, I don’t think it will ever disappear. There will always be a place for this genre in the world and people actively participating in it and enjoying its music.

Check out Ashlee-Jean’s favorite ReverbNation picks below:

SamMeet The Curation Team — Ashlee-Jean Trott (Folk)
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Meet The Curation Team — Lauren Flax (Alternative)

In the fourth installment of our Meet The Curation Team series, we talk to Lauren Flax, one of our Senior Alternative Curators. As an artist, Lauren has worked with Grammy-nominated vocalists both individually and as part of the prominent Brooklyn duo CREEP. CREEP's debut "Echoes" was widely praised for its unique blend of trip-hop, shoegaze, and classic house music elements. Lauren has a keen ear for new and interesting voices. Learn more about her in the Q&A below!

What sparked your interest in music initially?

I had a passion for it from a very young age. I started playing the drums in the 5th grade which I think led to my easing into the world in my teenage years. Timing was very natural for me when it came to matching beats. I’m from Detroit, and the dance music there was and is impeccable.

What was your first music project/band like?

I had a silly band called The Bang Gang something like 10 years ago with my friend Chantel Claret. We only wrote one song.

Who influences you musically?

I’m continually influenced by people I was obsessed with in the 90s. Anything from shoegaze to trip-hop to industrial. Now I’m influenced by the people around me. by their passion. It doesn’t even have to do with music either. They keep me grounded and constantly striving to grow as an artist and a person.

How did your project CREEP start?

It was originally just a side project, something to get away from what I felt was monotonous at the time. Lauren Dillard and I started CREEP to knock down the walls of structure, to just be free with whatever we wanted to do. After we wrote our first song, “Days,” things sort of took off from there and it became our main focus.

How did you get involved with ReverbNation/CONNECT?

I wanted to reconnect with Matt Dufour (Director of ReverbNation CONNECT), whom I’ve known for many years. Matt filled me in on his life and work and we got pretty deep into conversation about what ReverbNation CONNECT was doing. It quickly became evident that it might be good for me to be involved somehow.

When you’re reviewing music, what are the main elements/strengths you look for? What are the most interesting things about emerging acts you’re into these days?

I look for unique voices, interesting, in-depth production skills and just general likeability. Sometimes it’s the simplest songs that are the most catchy.

What are you listening to these days?

Well, a lot of podcasts, haha. I’m writing a lot of music right now. When I’m deep into production and composition, I generally distance myself from listening to other music. It keeps me focused.

Check out some of Lauren’s favorite ReverbNation artists:
SamMeet The Curation Team — Lauren Flax (Alternative)
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Meet The Curation Team — Craig Shelburne (Pop)

We continue our Meet The Curation Team series by introducing Craig Shelburne, ReverbNation’s Senior Pop Curator. Craig is a seasoned music journalist, editor, and a mainstay in the Nashville music scene. He spent 13 years writing for, and now he’s the General Manager at Music Row Magazine. Learn a little bit about Craig and his music discovery habits in the Q&A below!

When did you first start getting involved with music?

Growing up in rural Nebraska, I was mostly exposed to country music, with the occasional strong signal from a pop station about a hundred miles away. My small town had TNN on the cable options, but not MTV, so I ended up becoming really interested in country music. When I was 19, I moved to Nashville so I could be closer to the music scene here. I completed my journalism degree from Belmont University and started working at a music magazine.

You’ve been a music journalist for years now. Tell us a little bit about where you’ve worked and what you’ve covered.

My first job was at a magazine called New Country. After that I went to a website called With print and web experience, I landed a sweet gig at CMT in 2002 writing news and producing video performances for Along with concert reviews, I ended up interviewing a bunch of major country artists, ranging from Reba to Luke Bryan. These days, as a freelancer, I’ve enjoyed writing about local music for the Nashville Scene.

What’s your favorite part about living in Nashville?

I really enjoy having so many options as a music fan. If I want country or bluegrass, of course I can find that. Songwriters are everywhere — and many of them are very talented! The pop scene is really special, with cool bands like Escondido. I’ve always been a super-motivated person, despite my laid-back personality, so it’s a treat to be surrounded by people who are working hard to make their career dreams a reality.

How did you get involved with ReverbNation/CONNECT?

Shortly after my time at CMT ended, one of my friends recommended me for the job. I had been doing some writing the program books for the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards, so I felt comfortable listening to a lot of pop music in the name of research.

When you’re reviewing music, what are the main elements/strengths you look for? What are the most interesting things about emerging acts you currently like?

I like lyrics that catch me off guard. If a musician can throw in a lyrical twist, I love it. Also, I like a singer with confidence in his or her voice, even if the vocals are soft.

Who are your favorite artists right now?

While curating for ReverbNation, I’ve found quite a few artists I really like. I’ve enjoyed the roots-rock vibe of Even the Animals out of Asheville, North Carolina. And Open Air Stereo from LA is worth cranking up. Lovelast’s “San Francisco,” Heartracer’s “Summer Gold,” and Twelve24’s “Higher” are a few more of my favorites. These three songs are all pretty different, but it’s the emotion in the songs that gets me. Even after 20 years in the biz, it’s still exciting to discover an artist that’s poised for a big break. To me, that is the best part of the job.

Check out some of Craig’s favorite ReverbNation artists below:


SamMeet The Curation Team — Craig Shelburne (Pop)
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Meet The Curation Team — Jess Gonyea (Dance/Electronic)

ReverbNation CONNECT is now home to a growing roster of great emerging artists, a majority of whom were discovered on ReverbNation. These artists come courtesy of ReverbNation’s Curation Team, a group of passionate tastemakers and music experts who share a deep commitment to identifying and exposing the best new music. Over the next few weeks, we'll introduce you to some of these Curators.

First up is DJ and Tastemaker Jessica Gonyea. Jess goes way back with Simon Perry, ReverbNation’s Chief Creative Officer and Head of A&R, who brought her onto the Curation Team to kickstart music discovery on the site a couple of years ago. We asked Jess some questions about her music hunting tactics and her life in general.

How did you first get involved with music?

I’d been a visual artist, set, and costume designer for years in Chicago. I’ve been obsessed with music since I can remember, though — collecting vinyl and cranking out mixtapes for my friends with original art. In 2006, after a little stint of performance art with my friends’ indie rock band OFFICE, they asked me to join as a full-time member. I sang backup and played keyboards and started DJing soon after. Eventually, I started making electronic music with Chess Knight (FKA Mother Hubbard, founder of the long-run Chicago dance party Life During Wartime) under the names Rocktapussy, and later, Moneypenny.

SamMeet The Curation Team — Jess Gonyea (Dance/Electronic)
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Why Curation? — An Interview with ReverbNation’s Simon Perry

In the first part of our upcoming series profiling the ReverbNation Curation Team, we spoke with Chief Creative Officer Simon Perry about how ReverbNation's curation technology was developed, as well as how artists can benefit from this exciting and innovative system.

UPDATE 10/13/15: Read how ReverbNation’s Curation Technology is changing how major festivals and brands approach booking and talent buying: (c/o Hypebot)

Why has ReverbNation developed a Curation capability?

The Internet allows Artists to connect directly with their fans. Since 2006, ReverbNation has provided a powerful set of tools that allow Artists to cultivate these all-important fan relationships, and manage their careers online. However, to honour our mission of delivering career growth to our Artists, we’ve always understood that we need to provide more than just this critical toolkit. We also need to offer access to opportunities in the music industry.

SamWhy Curation? — An Interview with ReverbNation’s Simon Perry
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New Song Player Announced — Embeddable & Shareable

We haven’t talked about this much yet, but you may have noticed that we’ve given our song player a much-needed facelift, and we’re pretty excited with how it looks.

You can compile a great looking playlist or share a song all by itself — both options will put your album artwork front and center. You can even customize the “waveform” of each song to match that artwork, or choose a sleek looking “dark” or “light” finish.

So whether you’re pitching your latest single to Stereogum or embedding your newest album on your website, your music is going to look as good as it sounds.

Horizontal Player

Artwork Player

To get your own player, visit the Tools > Widgets section of your Dashboard!

SamNew Song Player Announced — Embeddable & Shareable
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Artists You Should Hear Round Up — September 2015

Check out these 10 great artists curated by the ReverbNation CONNECT artist development team. They were all featured on the ReverbNation homepage throughout the month of September, and now you can dig into their music using the playlist below. Enjoy!

Monogem (Los Angeles, CA) — Indie Electronic
This LA-based indie electronic singer has garnered a lot of attention lately, from premiering her latest video (“Wait and See”) on pop culture blog The Nerdist to premiering a cover of The Weeknd’s “Earned It” on Idolator.

SamArtists You Should Hear Round Up — September 2015
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Artists You Should Hear Round-Up — August 2015

Starting this month, our CONNECT artist development team will be choosing 10 of their favorite artists from the month's selection of homepage featured artists. We've assembled them together in one playlist for your listening pleasure — let us know your favorites!

Lena Fayre
Already noted as an “Artist To Watch” by Rolling Stone and featured on Noisey and L.A. Weekly, indie pop singer-songwriter Lena Fayre just premiered her latest video, “Possessions,” on Idolator. This single is the latest from her acclaimed new EP, Is There Only One?

Vintage Trouble
After joining hard rock legends AC/DC on tour across Europe this summer, Vintage Trouble will head out on their own headlining tour. They’ll be playing across the US, including Nashville, New York City, New Orleans, and Austin.

Flora Cash
Flora Cash’s song “Save Me” was recently featured on one of Berlin-based PR agency Nordic By Nature’s Spotify playlists. Their song “Whoa My” was also featured on an episode of MTV’s Teen Mom 2 (their second feature for that show).

Lo’ There Do I See My Brother
Tacoma, WA’s Lo’ There Do I See My Brother debuted the video for their latest post-rock opus, “Twenty Three,” on

KaiL Baxley
In support of his highly anticipated album, A Light That Never Dies, LA-based soul singer KaiL Baxley premiered his latest single (“Mirrors of Paradise”) on Diffuser Mag. He was also recently featured in The Huffington Post’s “Speaking With Your New Favorite Artist.”

Sky White Tiger
After premiering his latest video for “Don’t Mean Much” on Entertainment Weekly, Brooklyn’s Sky White Tiger set off on an international tour in support of his latest EP, Child of Fire. Tour stops include NYC, Mexico, Switzerland, and Spain.

The Grizzled Mighty
Rockers The Grizzly Mighty will playing this year’s Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Festival in Walla Walla, WA, alongside Mumford & Sons, Foo Fighters, The Flaming Lips, and tUnE-yArDs.

Jesse Lafser
After several features in noted music publications across the country (Rolling Stone, The Bluegrass Situation, and American Songwriter), Jesse Lafser will spend August playing various shows around NYC and finish off with a full-band set in her hometown of Nashville, TN at The 5 Spot Live on September 3rd.

The Bright Light Social Hour
After supporting Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros in July and hitting up Float Fest in San Marcos, TX, later this month, The Bright Light Social Hour will head out on their own fall tour across the US.

Young Ejecta
Young Ejecta was recently featured on Pitchfork for her latest EP, The Planet. She’ll also be playing at CONNECT’s “After Dark” series at the Art Institute of Chicago after coming off a national tour with Lower Dens.

JordanArtists You Should Hear Round-Up — August 2015
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