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Top Selling US Artists (by album) || Charts Round the World || Bay Area Top-Selling Artists || Bay Area Buzz Local Top Music Charts

moon phases

In 2005, we traced low-powered FM & web radio , podcasting, the continuing battle over P2Ps and the emergence of top selling  and influential artists in the Bay Area.

2004 saw lawsuits against music fans, the explosion of the iPod, and the battle against Clear Channel and big media hegemony.

In 2006, we turn our focus to hot Bay Area music festivals such as Mission Creek & Noise Pop, top Bay Area albums and the power of local web radio. And if you're looking for up and coming bands, MySpace has become the "it" spot on the Internet.

You can also check out our links, discover Bay Area music writers, check out top local artists and legends, and keep tabs on the podcasting trend.

San Francisco Guitar Gods & Legends: Carlos Santana and Jerry Garcia. Learn about their lives, their music, and their influences. Or, see Janis Joplin in Lipstick Traces.

Music on and
San Francisco Nightlife and Annual Events || Brazil Music Guide || Bahia Glossary (with lots of samba terms) || Salsa Music Guide || Media & Music Guides in Aforum

Upcoming Indie Music Events

Small Webcaster Amendments Act

The Bay Area has been at the forefront of both music and activism for decades, so it shouldn't come as a surprise Rusty Hodge, founder of SomaFM, played an important role in the passing of this legislation in 2002.

The legislation provides for discounted license rates - negotiated by record labels and small webcasters - that apply when small webcasters broadcast copyright music on the Internet. Fifty percent of the digital license payments are required to go to recording artists - including royalty artists, session musicians, and session singers.

While the SWAA was not ideal and far from perfect, it did save many web radio stations a good deal of money. For examples, instead of paying $500 a day, SomaFM only has to pay $2000-5000 a year.


More Web Radio & Directories:

Thousands of free stations created by music fans.
Links to thousands of radio stations and a free online guide.
Claims the largest radio directory on the Internet.
Radio Locator
Over 10,000 direct links and 2,500 radio streams
Digitally Imported
Electronic lover's paradise.
KEXP Seattle
King of public radio stations from Seatttle. Renowned for breaking bands.
Radio Paradise
One of the net's finest alt-radio streams.
KPOO (SF 89.7)
Jazz, blues, oldies, reggae, '60s soul, community issues, discussions about prisons...
A collection of the best shows from community and independent stations from all over the country, all downloadable free.
The original hard-rock radio station, now exclusively online.
Listener-sponsored out of Santa Monica. Now with podcasting.
Pirate Cat Radio (87.9)
An unlicensed low-powered community radio station, broadcasting in SF.

Faced with the prospect of FCC raids, local independent radio has gone online. The Internet is your best bet for finding stations that promote local music and varied content. Here are some of the top Bay Area Internet stations:

SomaFM - The big boy. Made of seven different stations, playing downtempo, IDM, house, ambient and indie rock. And it remains mainly commercial free.

5lowershop Soundsystem - Primarily features experimental dance music. Also hosts fundraisers for good causes such as anmal rights.

Enemy Combatant Radio - Riot grrrl, feminist rock, gay African diaspora, environmentalists ... not your typical radio voices.

Love Underground Visionary Revolution - Founded by local experimental media mogul Frank Moore. Just about anything goes in the 24-7 streaming content: anarchist speeches, old blues, sex shows ... you name it.

San Francisco Liberation Radio - Operated for 10 years without license on 93.7. Repeated appeals to the FCC for a license were rewarded with a raid in 2003, which shut down the offices. Now SFLR has taken its voice online, continuing to promote eclectic music and community activism.

sfSoundRadio - Features experimental, improv, noise, contemporary composition and other new forms of music being created in the Bay Area.

True Skool - preserving hip hop and funk. A resource for the Bay Area’s up and coming musicians, events, as well as hip hop & funk history.

Bagel Radio - The spot to hear indie rock.

Google Search: San Francisco Internet Radio Stations
Google Search: Small Webcaster Amendments Act + Rusty Hodge

Web Radio News Feed:

Some fast facts, as of April 2006 --

* It is the largest online social networking portal on the web
* It has 61 + million registered users with 21+ million unique visitors (media metrix)
* It's the second largest destination on the web, by page views.
* It splits 50.2% male, 49.8% female
* They reach more men online than They reach more females online than iVillage.
* The primary age demo is 16-34
* They have 1.4 million registered bands, &350,000 band blogs
* The site attracts 220,000 new registrants daily
* There are 50,000 groups including fashion, health, wellness & fitness, sports and recreation, music, film, TV, etc.

The MySpace search engine allows you to search for artists within 5 to 500 miles of a zip code, and narrow your search by choosing from terms such as genre, influences, and what the band sounds like.
California bands within 20 miles of 94110 zip code  

 Bay Area Artists & The Power of MySpace MySpace Music News
"I found Experimental Dental School, a punk band whose keyboards almost give their sound a circus feel, by going to Myspace's music page and searching for psychedelic music within a 100-mile radius of Davis. I knew who they were from seeing them at house shows here in town, but I had not heard any of their recorded music. Their page not only gave me a chance to do this, but it also allowed me to find out when and where the band will be playing again."

The trend started with the fatally successful Friendster, which became slow and unwieldy as the site’s traffic grew beyond its capacity. Friendster began losing its enthusiastic participants to, MySpace and other competing networking sites.

These days, it would seem that MySpace has emerged the victor. Its appeal lies chiefly in the fact that users’ profile pages are highly customizable--having the potential to become a uniquely expressive piece of art or a muddled mess of beeping, flashing annoyance. MySpace pages boast video clips, music samples, and custom backgrounds and fonts.

One way to find out about live music on Myspace is by clicking on the shows page.The best thing about these shows is that many of them are small and might be hard to find in other places. And if you get the itch to hear a band from another area, the most fun way might be to look through your friends? profiles to see what bands are their friends.

This is a good way to learn about up-and-coming bands without wasting too much time researching the scene. Let the cool people be cool while you kick back and listen to the sweet music that they spent hours trying to find.

“You see a good-looking girl, and you click on her pic. And then you see another good-looking girl on her friends list, and you click. It’s like collecting baseball cards.”
Many of the songs are downloadable, but if the artist has decided not to allow users to download their music, the user is confined to listening to that artist's music from the webpage. Another drawback is that when the Myspace user strays from the artist's main page (like to look at an artist's blog or photos) the music stops playing. The best thing to do to prevent that is to right click and open those links in a new window.

That's one of the small hassles of Myspace, along with occasional tedious searches, slow loading and annoying ads; but the world community of new music that Myspace created makes it worth it.

Google Search: MySpace + San Francisco Bands

This site is the central resource for new podcasts and a directory of 3646 actively tracked shows.

Podcast Alley

The podcast lovers portal. Featuring the Podcast Directory and the Top 10 podcasts (as voted on by the listeners).

"It's not going to pay the bills or support my future family for a number of years. [But] it's brand-new ground, especially if you're entrepreneurial like me. It just sounds like an exciting space.'' -- Sam Coutin, Sportspod

"A broadcast studio in my basement with a worldwide reach. That's the part that just blows me away. I got an e- mail from someone in Belgium, and I was sold. Someone halfway around the world was listening. The most powerful station in Southern California is KFI, and my podcast has a farther reach. It's not over-processed. It's not someone working in a professional studio. I love movies, I'm passionate about them, and I don't get of tired talking about them.'' -- Michael Geoghegan,

Still running hot into 2006, podcasting is the fusion of the Internet, blogs, Napster, TiVo, reality TV and Apple Computer's popular digital music player. This trend may point towards the new direction in the democratization of media, and provides hope for those concerned with media hegemony.

The most popular shows claim thousands of listeners, and run a gamut of topics from sex and food to religion and politics. Most shows are recorded at home and then posted to the internet for downloading. The advantages over radio? You can listen to your favorite show whenever you want, and there tends to be a more raw, "genuine" aesthetic than what you might hear on the radio.

Other companies are trying to cash in. San Francisco startup Odeo hopes to create an online podcast directory. of Arlington, Va., is offering podcast hosting services for $4.95 a month.

Scott Chacon, 25, a Democrat from Dublin who plans to run for Congress in 2006, hopes to use the new medium to reach far-flung voters in California's 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Joaquin counties.

Source:, Homespun shows find big audience
Do-it-yourself podcasters turn their living rooms, basements into studios
, by Benny Evangelista, 2.28.2005

A Little History ...

Podcasting began taking off in summer 2004 when Adam Curry, best known as a former veejay for MTV, wrote a computer program called iPodder, which automatically downloads audio files posted on personal Web sites or blogs.

With iPodder or any similar podcast aggregator (the site lists at least 17 of them), you can subscribe to a number of podcasts. From that point on, whenever a new podcast is posted online, the software will automatically download it to your Internet-connected computer. The podcast can then be loaded into an iPod or similar MP3 player.

There are now thousands of podcasters on the Web. These shows, most converted to the MP3 audio format, cover everything under the sun, from rock 'n' roll reviews to a Chicago youngster talking about the new Robosapien Robot he got for Christmas.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 2.28.05

Google Search: 2005

Google Search:
San Francisco+

Google Search:
Podcasting 2006

"Last month, I had 156,000 downloads. It's one of the most exciting things that has happened since the beginning of the Internet.'' -- Michael Butler, Rock and Roll Geek Show

Resources and advice for downloading music:

Steve Allen: links to free downloads, big list of MP3 sites, online music stores and file sharing programs.
Michael Crawford links to thousands of free MP3s & an argument for legal downloading. list of online music stores, download sites and music labels. Also: what's up with the RIAA lawsuits; how to protect yourself.
P2Pnet a P2P and digital media news site which promises frequent updates.

Podcasting News

Some Bay Area Podcasts:

The Rock
and Roll Geek Show

Hosted by San Francisco musician Michael Butler. Claimed 156,000 downloads one month.
Sports talk from Marin, hosted by Sam Coutin.

Chronicle Podcasts
Sports, Movies, News, etc

San Francisco Podcast Network
A new and growing audio media network devoted to representing the greater Metro San Francisco area.

Bay Area Legends

Carlos Santana

Jerry Garcia

Janis Joplin

Tupac Shakur

Sly & The Family Stone


Who's Next? New Top Artists in the Bay Area San Francisco Music

The biggest Bay Area name in music of late has been pop-punk act Green Day. American Idiot took home the Grammy for Best Rock Album of 2004, cracked the Billboard Top 100, and was notable for its vocable criticism of president George W. Bush.

From "With snappy, three-chord songs driven by effectively unshakable rhythms and squinty-faced vocals, Green Day have set the standard for Punk-Pop. Green Day came together at a time when Berkeley, Calif., was bubbling with new bands who were blowing air into Punk's gasping lungs. Though not the first Bay Area Punk band to sign with a major label, they have certainly gone on to be the biggest. Green Day remain as obnoxious and wily as when they were teenagers."
Green Day on

So, who's the top-selling Bay Area rock band? The answer may surprise you: it's none other than long-time head bangers Metallica. The group has survived membership changes and battles with P2P users and Napster, not to mention some trips to rehab, but they keep on rocking -- hard.

From "San Francisco's Metallica rule all that is metal. Their inexhaustible energy and masterful riffage have the uncanny ability to compel metalheads, indie geeks, hippies and punks to simultaneously pump their fists in the air. Combining genre-defining Speed Metal with spit-in-your-face punk attitude, Metallica provided perfect crossover material for millions of disaffected youth, garnering the band a legion of fans as loyal as they are diverse."
Metallica on

Next Generation

Hip-hop, electronica and turntablism have all become an integral part of Bay Area music. Top hip-hop acts include the Quannum label featuring critically acclaimed artists such as DJ Shadow, Blackalicious and Lyrics Born. Over in Oakland, The Hieroglyphics have achieved widespread fame, especially with the appearance of Del tha Funky Homosapien on the Gorillaz project. Behind the decks, Mixmaster Mike (the Beastie Boy's DJ) and QBert have become heros to would-be DJs around the globe. And on the electronic front, glitch artists Matmos have become big names for their collaborations with Bjork.

Or, to get an idea of up and coming Bay Area artists, check out this list of top 2005 albums from

Best Bay Area Albums of 2005 by Aidin Vaziri
"While the rest of the world was stuck listening to the same old noise this year from the usual culprits like the Dave Matthews Band and Mariah Carey, we here in the Bay Area once again got to spoil our ears by indulging in tunes that were truly innovative, genre bending and perfectly thrilling. Here, the 21 best local releases from the past year. And remember, it's never too late to discover your new favorite artist."
The top 5:
1. Colossus - "West Oaktown" 2. Sun Kil Moon - "Tiny Cities"
3. Devandra Banhart - "Cripple Crow" 4. Hey Willpower - "Hey Willpower EP" 5. DJ Cheb i Sabbah - "La Kahena"

Bay Area Music Writers

Ralph J. Gleason
Wrote for The Chronicle for 25 years, covering the likes of Hank Williams, Elvis and Fats Domino. || bio ||

Ben Fong Torres
Alameda/Oakland native. Wrote for Rolling Stone, Chronicle and contributes to
Official Site || sfgate || amazon

Derk Richardson
In addition to hosting Thursday night’s “The Hear & Now” on KPFA, he writes and produces a “Hear & Now” music column which appears every Thursday on
Google search || sfgate archive || sfgate playlist

Chuy Varela
One of California's premier Xicano musicologists. He also reviews jazz, and writes for sites such as and
Google || Google || Google

Mark Morford
Biting left-wing political and social commentary -- and some music coverage too!
sfgate column || archive || guide to web radio

Santana - Abraxas

Jerry Garcia - Garcia

JeffersonAirplane - After Bathing at Baxter's

Blackalicious - NIA

Camper Van Beethoven - Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart

Top Bay Area Albums

The Beau Brummels - Triangle

Sly & The Family Stone - There's a Riot Going On

Chrome - Alien Soundtracks

Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted

Digital Underground - Sex Packets

Green Day - American Idiot

Big Brother & Holding Company - Cheap Thrills

We've compiled a list here of some of the best albums to come out of the Bay Area. Some of these albums were smash hits; others were commerical flops that went on to attain cult status. All of them were important and influential in some way. This is by no means a comprehensive list -- but it should give you a idea of the diverse talents and voices that have come out of the Bay Area over the past 50 years.

The Beau Brummels - Triangle (1967)
Lillian Roxon called it "the album that astonished everyone and blew a million minds." A haunting, beautiful record.

Moby grape - Moby Grape (1967)
Even one of the most misguided marketing campaigns in history couldn't obscure the sheer brilliance of the quintet's self-titled 1967 debut.

Sly & The Family Stone - There's a Riot Going On (1971)
A smash hit when it came out, this is perhaps the finest work by one of the greatest bands to come out of the Bay Area.

Jefferson Airplane - After Bathing At Baxter's (1967)
A psychedelic freakout masterpiece, marrying free-jazz inspired improv with hard rock.

Grateful Dead - Live/Dead (1969)
If there's a definitive Dead album, this might well be the one. Contains the 23-minute jam masterpiece, "Dark Star."

Alexander "Skip" Spence - Oar (1969)
The Jefferson Airplane drummer and Moby Grape guitarist released a dazzling solo album before his mental breakdown.

Sylvester - Step 2 (1978)
The gender-bending singer recorded some of the finest, funkiest disco of the '70s.

Jerry Garcia - Garcia (1972)
For about three years, Garcia & Robert Hunter turned out some of the most beautiful, evocative songs about America ever written.

Santana - Abraxas (1970)
The Santana band built on their smash success at Woodstock, and produced two of their biggest hits: "Oye Como Va" and "Black Magic Woman."

Tower of Power - Tower of Power (1973)
The East Bay band was at the top of its game in the early and mid-'70s, serving up this classic slice of funk and soul.

Camper Van Beethoven - Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart (1988)
The 1988 major-label debut from Santa Cruz's premiere ska-polka-surf-Balkan-country-alternative-pop band.

Digital Underground - Sex Packets (1990)
One of the most unabashedly silly, funny and funky hip-hop albums ever made came out of Oakland.

Faith No More - The Real Thing (1989)
Before "alternative" was a buzz word, Faith No More went platinum with this rap-hard rock masterpiece that defies classification.

Counting Crows - August & Everything After (1993)
Don't blame Adam Duritz and company for their legion of imitators. The Counting Crows turned on a whole legion of fans turned off by modern rock.

DJ Shadow - Endtroducing (1996)
An introspective masterpiece constructed entirely of samples, it blew away all expectations of what hip-hop could be.

Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted (1992)
Technically a Stockton product, but the indie sound it launched is very Bay Area. Raw distortion, stellar songwriting and inspired melodicism.

Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview (1972)
The soulful mix of R&B and folk rock also reveals a darker side, and marks the beginning of Van Morrison's many digs at the music industry.

The Residents - Duck Stab/Buster and Glen (1978)
Actually two combined EPs, this loony masterpiece is indiciative of the Residents warped, deconstructionist sensibilities.

Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980)
A seminal work for West Coast punk. Snide, surf-tinged, political, and a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.

Chrome - Alien Soundtracks (1978)
Originally conceived as mood music for the Ultra Room at Mitchell Brothers O'Farrell Theatre. Gritty, strange and hugely influential.

Big Brother & Holding Company - Cheap Thrills (1968)
One of the most eagerly awaited albums in rock history made good on the hype generated at the Monterey Pop Festival the year before.

Blackalicious - NIA (2000)
From snaky Middle Eastern beats to thundering bass lines, Blackalicious is one of the more innovative hip hop acts around.

Green Day - American Idiot (2004)
A punk rock concept album built around elaborate melodies, odd tempo changes and a collection of songs that freely reference classic rock.

Check in for more top Bay Area albums in our imagefolio

Ethnic Festivals
Bay Area Music Festivals
More Top Picks

The many ethnic heritage and culturual festivals throughout the Bay Area are a great way to hear new music and have a lot of fun while you're at it.

San Francisco Oyster & Beer Festival
First weekend of April at Fort Mason. Features live Irish music.

Norway Day Festival
Takes place the first weekend of May at Herbst Pavilion in Fort Mason.


Cinco de Mayo
celebrates solidarity among Mexican and Latino immigrants to the USA, and involves a parade which usually falls on the first weekend in May. It's also a great chance to hear music, whether you go to the Mission District in San Francisco, or Fruitvale in Oakland.

North Beach Festival
Hear the sounds of Italy during the third weekend of June at this free event.

Juneteenth Festival
Commemorating the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19. There is also a celebration in Oakland between Adeleine & Martin Luther King Blvd, south of Ashby BART.

San Francisco Aloha Festival
WHEN: Early August. This free two day festival offers up the music and dance talents of Pacific Islanders.

Since so many great bands have come out of the Bay Area, it should come as no surprise that the Bay Area plays host to some sizzling hot music festivals too. Here are some you don't want to miss ...

Noise Pop Music Festival
When: One week, late February
Where: Various venues throughout the city in Mission, SOMA, North Beach and Castro.
What started as a small event for fans of distortion now hosts some of the biggest names in music. Despite its growing size, Noisepop is dedicated to remaining to a fan-friendly event.

How Weird Street Faire
WHEN: First weekend of May
WHERE: Howard Street, between 11th and 12th Streets
America's longest running electronic music street festival, featuring a wide range of artists, bands, and DJs. From folk/rock to cutting edge electronica.

Mission Creek Music & Arts Festival
When: Late May
Where: Verious venues in San Francisco
Since 1997, Mission Creek has been dedicated to showcasing the best of local art and music. In 2006, Mission Creek is partnering up with indie labels to produce band showcases, including indie label extraordinaire Tiger Beat 6.

Stern Grove Festival
The Stern Grove Festival runs all summer long. In addition to presenting free summer Sunday concerts, the Festival has a mission to improve community life.

San Francisco Accordion Festival
When: First weekend of June
Where: The Cannery ar Fisherman's Wharf
a free event celebrating National Accordion Awareness Month as well as highlighting The City’s official musical instrument. This unique event features a wide variety of accordion-based bands and will include the San Francisco’s Main Squeeze Pageant.
More info: 415-440-0800

San Francisco Free Folk Festival
WHEN: Late June.
WHERE: Roosevelt Middle School
Free celebration of folk music, with performances, dance & music workshops and plenty of family activities.

Fillmore Jazz Festival
When: Early July
Where: Fillmore Street in San Francisco, between Jackson and Eddy
More than 90,000 guests celebrate jazz, culture and cuisine against the picturesque backdrop of Fillmore Street.

Love Parade San Francisco
WHEN: Three days, late September
WHERE: The streets of San Francisco, and various venues
Started in Berlin in 1989, Love Parade came to SF in 2004. World famous not only for its eccentrically dressed revelers dancing alongside floats, but also for its celebration of diversity, promotion of tolerance, and fostering of community.

San Francisco Blues Festival
WHEN: Late September Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
WHERE: Great Meadow, Fort Mason, San Francisco
The oldest blues festival in the U.S., the SFBF celebrates some of the biggest names in the blues.

San Francisco World Music Festival
WHEN: Late September to Mid-August
WHERE: Various venues in San Francisco
An exciting gathering of some of the most interesting musicians in the world.
Information: (415) 861-3247

San Francisco Jazz Festival
WHEN: end of October beginning of November
WHERE: Many venues thoughout SF & East Bay
America's greatest with 2 weeks of live music from up-and-coming talent and legendary jazz greats, photo exhibits, master classes and lectures.

There are plenty of other great opportunities to hear great music in the Bay Area. Here are some of the top festivals and celebrations at which to hear great music.

KFOG Kaboom!
Takes place the 4th Saturday in May at Piers 30 and 32, with fireworks synced to a KFOG broadcast.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Running all summer, the festival is a series of concerts and cultural events that are free and open to the public.

Black and White Ball
San Francisco's most extravagant premiere party-one glorious night of continuous music and dancing. Falls every other year in June.

Live Oak Park Fair
At Live Oak Park in Berkeley. Continuous live jazz presented by Berkeley's jazz school. June.

Haight-Ashbury Fair
Come celebrate one of SF's most colorful neighborhoods with music, arts, crafts and food. June.

Pier 39 Fourth of July Celebration
Live music and entertainment on multiple stages along the waterfront.

Bodega Bay Seafood Art & Wine Festival
At Chanslor Ranch. One mile north of Bodega Bay Fairgrounds. Three stages of live music entertain. August.

Burning Man
Takes place in Nevada, but this wild arts festival has plenty of Bay Area flavor. Whether you want to hear dance DJs, live acts or surprise performances by some big names, you won't be disappointed. Week leading up to Labor Day.

Castro Street Fair
San Francisco's famous gay neighborhood gets dressed up to celebrate. October

Exotic Erotic Ball
The world's largest indoor masquerade ball, with music and dancing. October.

Links & Resources: music || clubs music & nightlife
citysearch bars & nightlife music
Bay Area Guardian Club Guide || Music Listings

Last Update: APRIL2006