An exhaustive investigation recently exposed one of the biggest secrets in public media: that NPR's Tiny Desk is not so tiny, after all. In fact, the L-shaped table is large enough to pack in a 23-member band and a 900-pound grand piano.
Such revelations don't change the fact that Tiny Desk concerts are a fascinating way to experience favorite artists, short of seeing them live. The minimalist setup and emphasis on live instrumentation forces bands to adapt, showing viewers what they can do without software and other trickery. The constraints have yielded magical results, like when twin sisters Ibeyi sang enchanting harmonies in Yoruba, or when Big Daddy Kane transformed the NPR office into a time warp to hip-hop's early days.
As it has every year since 2015, NPR is taking submissions for its annual Tiny Desk Contest, with entries open through Mar. 25. One lucky undiscovered band will get the chance to play a Tiny Desk show at NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. and drive around the country on a U.S. tour. To enter, artists must submit a video of themselves playing an original song at a desk of their choosing — "tiny" or not.
Previous winners have included Oakland's Fantastic Negrito, who won a Grammy in 2017 for Best Contemporary Blues Album after winning the Tiny Desk Concert in 2015. To learn more about the contest and how to submit, click here.