This week NPR Music reached the coveted Wooden Anniversary, and a relatively short five years after its official launch, the site has become known as a premier destination for music content and reporting – from both its own staff and public media stations across the country.
While we wanted to offer our colleagues a hand-carved recorder or lute (so public media, right?) to celebrate the occasion, we thought those might be overlooked when placed next to the team's ever-so-shiny golden lady.
So instead, we've put together an unofficial NPR Music Anthology of five illustrious moments in its history. From its roots as a fledgling online show to the NPR Music we all have bookmarked today, each of the events listed below was at the time a landmark achievement, and in some cases, set the industry standard.
All Songs Considered premieres
During the first week of the new millennium, All Songs Considered launched into Y2K as NPR's first web-only show. Its success helped shape the larger idea behind NPR Music. Hear Bob Boilen reminisce about how it all got started (and listen to the debut webisode) at the All Songs Considered blog.
First live, online concert broadcast
When Bright Eyes took the stage at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., more than seven years ago, Conor Oberst and crew weren't just performing for the ticketed crowd. All Songs Considered was streaming the concert live at NPR.org for fans nationwide. This show paved the way for the multitude of online music shows and events now available, live, at your fingertips.
Promo poster for NPR Music's first Parish showcase at SXSW in 2008.
Promo poster for NPR Music's first Parish showcase at SXSW in 2008. Caitlin Sanders/NPR
NPR Music takes a road trip to SXSW
In its first stint at the annual SXSW music conference, NPR Music grabbed Austin, TX, by its boots, signaling its growing prominence and starting a new tradition. The team, joined by music Member stations, hosted and broadcast an official showcase at Stubbs headlined by R.E.M., and a second event at the Parish that featured then little-known act Bon Iver.
First Tiny Desk Concert posted
After having a hard time trying to hear folksinger Laura Gibson play a show in a noisy bar, Bob Boilen and producer Stephen Thompson had a eureka moment. They decided to just ask her to come play Bob's desk, and a new series was born. Watch her perform in the pre-HD-video glory of the now famed series:
First Listen debuts
Perhaps in a bit of Field of Dreams happenstance, a representative from Sony Records called NPR Music with an idea to premiere a forthcoming Bob Dylan album at the site. The team said, "Well, let's hear it first," to slight shock on the other end of the line. Fortunately for music fans, Dylan had crafted another winning album and the advance stream gave rise to one of NPR Music's most popular features.
We're proud to support NPR Music and the Member Stations around the country that devote their time and energy to music discovery and look forward to making even more music memories down the road.
And in the meantime, let's take a look back at what NPR Music looked liked during its young beta stage:
The design of the NPR Music site at its launch in 2008.
The design of the NPR Music site at its launch in 2008. NPR