The musician M. Ward curated his new iTunes app as much for himself as he did for the rest of the world. As a frequent traveler who often jumps from town to town, he'd struggled to find quality radio stations. This seemed like the quickest way to fix that.
Ward, who made a name for himself touring with musicians like Bright Eyes and My Morning Jacket in the early aughts, has since reached further acclaim with his solo records and collaborations with Zooey Deschanel on She & Him. Now his new, free app will allow users to locate almost 1,000 of the country's best, independent radio stations -- handpicked by Ward -- and easily stream them online.
"I think everyone who has to travel knows the feeling," Ward told The Huffington Post as he prepared for a show at Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Aug. 7. "When you land in a new place, you get into your rental car, you're stuck with other people's presets, and you end up listening to bad commercials, bad radio."
Ward said that there are certainly stations out there, hundreds of them, that haven't been infiltrated by commercials and corporate playlists, but he thought it'd be nice to make them easier to find.
"I've talked to a lot of journalists about radio and it's amazing how many cynics are out there who believe radio is dead," he said. "I don't believe it's dead at all, you just have to do a little bit of hunting, a bit of research."
This project aims to "ignite" that research, he said, while also giving fans the opportunity to hear tracks off his newest album, "A Wasteland Companion," and follow his tour schedule.
Though Ward has previously professed a love for radio (The guy named his 2004 album, "Transistor Radio," after all) he has also quite publicly expressed his own distaste for computers in general, and his sound harkens back to an earlier time.
While describing his recording process to Exclaim in 2009, he said, "The Beatles set the benchmark for sound -- it wasn't set in the '80s with the Miami Vice soundtrack. I'm shooting for something that's gonna be more durable than music with a foundation that is computers."
While there are other apps that serve as DJ booths, guitar pedals and various beatboxes, these days it's difficult for musicians to ignore the benefits of having an app of their own, though Ward's certainly seems tailored to his own specific tastes.
"I'm one of those people that enjoys turning on the radio and not knowing what kind of program I'm in for," he said. "You end up learning something about the community you're in, you get to know a DJ's voice. And I think [independent radio] is especially important in an election year, and getting news from non-biased, nonpartisan sources."
Ward's most recent tour continues with dates in Salt Lake City; Boulder, Colo.; and Vancouver towards the end of August. Click here for dates.