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Eric Bellomo knows a lot about some of the greatest music of all time. However, what he really wants to know is why people fall in love with their favorite artists.

Instead of a podcast or radio show, he created a book club-like forum to answer those questions. Bellomo is the co-founder and CEO of 500:1 Music, an online music community and music book club that has collaborated with More Than My Complexion (MTMC), a Vallejo-based multimedia and art collective featuring Vallejo artists. MTMC is led by Danny Ali, artist and creative director, and Kolawole, artist and co-founder.

MTMC, says Bellomo, “makes music and focuses on visual storytelling. Our collaboration, in short, incorporates their expertise into the discussions I lead.”

The premise of the partnership is that every album is someone’s favorite, so it aims to consider why this issue is in public release. Furthermore, the club believes that there is an underserved middle ground between listening to music in headphones and attending a live performance.

The idea and name – 500:1 Music – came to Bellom during the pandemic when he was reading a Rolling Stone book listing the 500 greatest albums of all time.

“I was isolated and read the 2003 version of the book and then listened to every album listed in its entirety,” Bellomo said. “It started with Outkast’s ‘Aquemini’ album and I made it all the way to the Top 50 when Rolling Stone released their new album in 2020. So I started again with Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ but it kind of turned on a light bulb in my head. I wanted a medium to interact with other people and find out how they got into these albums and artists. In a sense, I wanted to create a club for music.”

Bellomo says the club currently has more than 350 members, with each album or artist discussion involving anywhere from 15 to 40 people participating at any given time.

The forum is held on average twice a week, and the number of people depends on the collaboration as well as the genre of the album or artist. Bellomo said the ages involved in the discussion ranged from people in college to people in their 40s.

Regardless, however, Bellomo almost always asks the same question first.

“How did you find out about this artist/band and what was your reaction when you heard it? What did that do to you?” Bellomo said. “Once we did a forum about the punk rock band Pool Kids and one person said they were depressed when they first heard the band and their music helped them get out of depression. Another couple said the Pool Kids were playing as they drove to the house where they were going to sign the lease. Some people say they got into the band because they went to a concert where another band was the headliner and instead, they remembered this band, the opener, a little more.

“I’m always looking more for a personal reaction,” Bellomo continued. “There’s a spectrum of ways to experience music, whether it’s listening on headphones or going to a concert, but my theory is that I want to find something in the middle of that. How did the person discover that artist? I want to know how music affects someone personally. I want to know sometimes vulnerable information and try to be the primary facilitator for that.”

For more information about the group, visit www.500to1music.com/discovery.

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