Tiny Desk Concerts
The first Tiny Desk Concert came about in 2008 after Boilen and NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson left a bar show frustrated that they couldn't hear the music over the crowd noise. Thompson joked that the musician, folk singer Laura Gibson, should just perform at Boilen's desk. A month later Boilen arranged for her to do just that, making an impromptu recording and posting it online. The name is taken from Boilen's 1970s psychedelic dance band called Tiny Desk Unit.
The series has sometimes drawn criticism for narrowness in the musical genres it includes—described as focused on "hipster-infused indie rock" by Zachary Crockett at Vox—to the exclusion of genres like country and hip-hop. However reviewers also say the series' musical focus has broadened in scope over time. Performer Anderson Paak's appearance on the series is Tiny Desk Concerts' most popular video with 40 million views (as of November 6, 2019), surpassing (from November 2017) the previous #1 viewed video of T-Pain, seen 14.96 million times.
Tiny Desk Contest
In December 2014, NPR announced it would host its first contest, inviting musicians to submit a video of one of their songs. A jury of musicians and NPR staff choose a winner to play a Tiny Desk Concert. The contest has continued annually, each year drawing more than 6000 submissions. Jurors have included Trey Anastasio of Phish, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, and Jess Wolfe of Lucius.
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- Preezy (February 21, 2017). "11 Times Hip-Hop Connected With NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Series". XXL Magazine.
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- Segal, Corinne (March 9, 2016). "'Tiny Desk' winner on why musicians with disabilities are an 'unequal minority'". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- Morris, Melinda (February 28, 2017). "Tank and the Bangas beat out 6,000 to win NPR's Tiny Desk Contest". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
- Riemenschneider, Chris (March 3, 2016). "Duluth singer/fiddler Gaelynn Lea wins NPR's Tiny Desk Contest". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- Boilen, Bob (April 24, 2018). "Announcing The 2018 Tiny Desk Contest Winner". NPR Music. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
- Boilen, Bob (May 16, 2019). "Announcing The 2019 Tiny Desk Contest Winner". NPR. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
- Tiny Desk Concerts at NPR