Imagine a fantastical future where streaming music can come to your computer by merely the click of a mouse. Yes, it already can, fine. But what if that same streaming music came to your computer from a website thoroughly dedicated to delivering, not just thirty second sample snippets, but unedited, full-length versions of astonishing recordings by some of your favorite artists? Right, Rhapsody...saw that coming. Now, what if this amazing, streaming music came to your computer from a website thoroughly dedicated to delivering unedited, full-length versions of astonishing recordings by some of your favorite artists, not for a charge, but for...get this...free! Not impressed yet, are you. Okay, before you get all "P2P" and "webradio" on us (that, by the way, still currently reside in the grayest areas of the internet), there's one more thing...this website would be all legal-like, and the streaming music would be approved happily by the artists with nary a peep about lost royalties. Could such an amazing world ever truly exist?
Welcome to your first Damn Fine Day, a website owned and operated by the Warner Bros. subsidiary, Rhino Entertainment, as a marketing tool, that, for now, focuses on the company's back catalog. Damn Fine Day was birthed by the Rhinos last year on August 25th under the direction of the company's senior vice-president of international and e-commerce, David Dorn, and with creative assistance from VP of Catalog A&R, Cheryl Pawelski, and her team.
The site even comes with a mission statement: "Damn Fine Day was born out of a love for great music that deserves wider exposure. Damn Fine Day (is) your source for outstanding, overlooked songs that deserve their place among the greatest hits of all time. Each day, we'll introduce you to a gem from the past that we feel belongs in your collection."
So how does this feat work exactly? When one goes to their site (can you guess the address?), one instantly finds Damn Fine Day's song to be savored that usually is chosen by either Rhino's staff or music experts, writers, and, of course, fans. Additionally, there is a description of the song and what makes it so special, plus a shot of the front cover that puts the track in historical context with its parent album. Damn Fine Day feels that by listening to a whole song as opposed to a few seconds of a track, one can absorb a recording's various nuances and its vibe, therefore creating a new fan of an album or artist from a different perspective than over-played, over-popular greatest hits. Bypassing the usual ADD approach to music appreciation that we've all adopted since sampling our favorite iTunes purchases, Damn Fine Day's streaming of a whole track also serves as the perfect listening station with no one waiting to grab your headset. It promotes a fuller, more conscious listening, unintentionally teaching people why they just might like the music they're hearing since it's being absorbed in a more pleasant way.
As far as its outreach to potential new fans and customers, Damn Fine Day not only exists for normal traffic by connoisseurs and aficionados, but it e-blasts a link to the day's pitched song to those who sign up for its automatic service. The recipient then links to the website and opens the streaming song using an imeem player. Inviting a lively exchange of comments and ideas, the site currently also offers a blog section for people to post both their rebuttals and, in the future, musical commentaries that borrow additional material from the choice song's album of origin. As Damn Fine Day puts it, "We've made our choice known, but really, it is up to the audience to hear the whole song and make their own assessment." Another of the site's pending goals is to give the visitor the ability to post virtually any overlooked or underappreciated track he or she desires.
To complete the experience, after one has heard and evaluated DFD's featured song, one then could purchase the track immediately from Amazon or iTunes, or its full album mainly from Amazon. Also, Damn Fine Day offers an archive section with scores of posted songs that have been accumulating since the first track was posted back in August 2008, thus making it easier to discover more of Warners' back catalog. Want more? Another goal of the website is to have an "Artist's Choice" section that will list songs and print comments purely by the acts themselves, thereby connecting with the fan through a warmer musical encounter.
"Artists have responded very positively to Damn Fine Day," says the site's overseer, Becky Wagner. "In fact, several have asked to participate and suggest songs they feel deserve more attention." She added, "We are also looking to expand internationally once there is full-song streaming capability outside the US. It has been great to connect directly with music enthusiasts. So often, we only have sales figures to judge the success of an album, but in these changing times, it is great to have a direct line of communication with the fans." With this promising level of interactivity, Damn Fine Day has the potential of becoming a major label's first step towards instituting that lifestyle-oriented site we all know can be done with a commitment to slightly bigger budgets and a braver approach to the marketing of a music catalog.
So, what's today's damn fine song? Marshall Crenshaw's "Lesson Number One" from his 1985 album, Downtown. Want to know what last Friday's was? Prince's "Hello." Before that? Well, you should go check it out for yourself. Some of the artists this site has covered include Death Cab For Cutie, Led Zeppelin, Golden Smog, The Stooges, Television, Bjork, Saint Etienne, Tori Amos, Charles Mingus, Van Halen, The Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, Little Feat, Jimmie Dale Gilmore (father of Americana artist, Colin Gilmore), Genesis, The Doors, Chicago, Dokken, NRBQ, Jimmy Webb, Rickie Lee Jones, Dwight Yoakum, Ray Charles, Alice Cooper, Joni Mitchell, Ratt, Rod Stewart, Donald Fagen, Linda Ronstadt, John Cale, Van Dyke Parks, The Incredible String Band, Love, The Rascals, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Monkees, The Everly Brothers, The Clash, Queen, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Wilson Pickett, and Aretha Franklin. Oh, and about this website's name? Its inaugural track was Randy Newman's "Damn Fine Day" from his heavenly album, Faust, and you can figure out the rest. And while looking over this list, if you can't find something you like on the site, then, come on, you just don't know how to have a damn fine day.
Follow Mike Ragogna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ragz2008