The FezGuys
One Reason To Get Up In The Morning: Money
[ No. 8 - June 1997 ]

Things That Are New
(expanded deluxe National Association Of Broadcasters version)

Ghetto-ized by a bemused but cautious industry of smokestack romanticists, the Internet Island at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference hosted most of the usual suspects, who ran around in packs with matching shirts with the company name embroidered between their shoulder blades. This year it also hosted your friends and Fezzes on the scene-- us, the FezGuys. Random snatches of conversation overheard on the floor: "fourteen gigahertz is a shared bandwidth, SO...", "the most advanced amplifier EVER!", and "serve a lot of alcohol." A state-of-the-art Jumbotron television mounted on a flatbed truck stationed close to the sidewalk blared high-energy television news stories about the goings-on occuring inside the convention center. Las Vegas. It's been said that it's the only city in the world where it is morally acceptable to litter.

The technologies associated with audio on the Web are myriad. There's RealAudio, LiquidAudio, Shockwave, Xing, Beatnik, Telos, Waves (straight outta Tel-Aviv!), several others and who knows what Microsoft will toss into the mix? LiquidAudio is angling for your attention with the claim that they are the most understanding of the music industry, specifically. Everyone pretty much said that they were best for music. There is so much activity and confusion in the industry right now that there must still be an opportunity for you, Dear Reader, to leap into the fray and launch your own streaming codecs company. You'll have just about as good a chance as anybody else at being very busy and spending lots of money.

One interesting development is the recognition, by participants in the audio (and video) streaming community, that a system of protocols must be agreed upon and a sharing of information must be established at some level. To that end an ad-hoc commitee gave birth to itself in one of the many meeting rooms at the Las Vegas Convetion Center. The first physical meeting of the International Webcasters Association (IWA) had about forty people show up in a room that could hold 200. They were a scrappy and influential bunch. Promotional, marketing and legal groups were represented, as well as AT&T, NHK, BMI, Progressive Networks, SonicNet, UCLA, and people from Web radio stations. Their (and, by default, yours and ours) mission: to establish a rapport, worldwide, for the open exchange of information as it is relevant to streaming content on the Web. Or, as Reverend Jon the Fez whispered to Uncle Al the Fez during a particularly passionate exchange between high-level geeks: "maybe this will provide added security that the big boys won't come in and make ridiculous rules."

It was fascinating to watch humans of different cities and ideologies express the exact same concerns to each other in such disparate regional dialects. The Web: the great equalizer. Many had communicated only through email. They smiled shyly at each other, recognized and acknowledged their mutual intimacy and embarrasement for an instant, and got down to business. The FezGuys support the creation of a unified voice of concerned and respected (or, at least, powerful) people within the community. Of course, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We'll keep you posted. As has been asked by Decimus Junius Juvenal, (Roman pundit, A.D. c.50-c.130): "quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who will watch the watchers?)"

We recommend individuals and businesses alike take a moment to check out what the IWA are about at <>.

Guess what's making money on the Web? If you guessed the sex trade you are right. It seems that an interest in adult entertainment has driven the public's acceptance-- and embracing-- of several technologies, from photography to the video cassette recorder. And music is following in the sex trades' footsteps in making money on the Web. But how does this factoid help an independent musician make money on the Web? Let us FezGuys help you out:

You place your music on a server, you dress up your site as appealingly as possible and you promote the HELL out of your URL. Now you've set the scene for the firs t people to tentatively approach you, and (hopefully) gain an interest in hearing more of your music and supporting you as an independent artist (there's always the political angle... human nature being what it is).

How are you going to be compensated for your musical works? How will we throw money at you? Do you want us to throw money at you? Do we want to throw m oney at you? Will it hurt if you are pelted with money being thrown at you?

Quote Of The Month

"I'm eating these enormous dinners... I never eat this way at home." - NAB attendee overheard outside of Las Vegas Convention Center.

Why don't we assume we want to throw money at you, and you don't mind if it hurts. Instead, let's focus on how to interact with the buyer, collect the funds and deliver the product (your music).


You want to give the public good reason to purchase your music and this can be done in a wide variety of ways-- be creative! Offer portions of the music for free up front (either clips of multiple songs, a few songs in their entirety, or combinations thereof). Remember that wonderful old industrial revolution axiom whereby making stuff available gratis creates a demand where none previously existed: "The first one's free, sonny!" Use traditional marketing (postcard mailing lists), combine that concept with the new tools (electronic mailing lists, online promotion of your Web site) to generate interest in bringing people to the virtual store counter (but without those awful lines!). Tempt them with unique specials like an autographed coffee mug or, for a lower budget, a sticker or pin.

Another choice (often overlooked) is to offer the music, in its entirety, for free, with the message alongside to send money if they like or use it. In lieu of cash, p eople can also be asked to send you an amusing postcard. Heck, try bartering. You never know what you'll get -- look what Jack did with those beans he traded for his cow. Think of it as a sliding scale for hungry geeks.


The transaction of commerce using the encryption of credit cards by way of the Internet is not yet an exact science. There are various companies springing up designed to provide the interface for accepting credit cards-- research them (on the Web, of course). The system itself works (ask or the sexworkers) but the absolute integrity of your encrypted credit card number remains challenged by those paranoid about the Internet (who, strangely enough, tell faceless drones on 900 phone lines their account numbers). Until public perception changes, keep in mind that blank money orders are virtually untraceable. Cash will never go out of fashion. If you feel up to the challenge, take a stab at online digital cash systems like First Virtual <>, DigiCash <>, and CyberCash <>. It may not be simple, but it's not rocket science, either.


You are probably already familiar with shipping a copy of your CD or cassette out via postal mail, but what about other more cutting edge (and far more efficient) opportunities? You can make access to sections of your web site restricted by assigning passwords to users who have paid for the privilege.

By being exposed to a worldwide audience you're going to get a worldwide set of reactions. More opportunities for more people to hate you, love you or do something in between. And you get all this, without the hired services of the entrenched, old-boy distribution network that crouches with its meaty hands around the music in dustry's throat!

Fez Item!

Item! The FezMessage has been modified! Go to <> and click on the text to hear the new set of urgently important instructions! Go! Go now! Hurry!
List of Resources for Web Commerce
First Virtual
American Express

Letters To The FezGuys

From: Dan Marshall <>
Subject: Leftbrain vs. Rightbrain

Dear FezGuys: I enjoyed I want to give you my full encouragement on what you are doing. As you can see from my site (see FezGuys #7), I believe in empowering bands with knowledge. There is a time for a professional (an atty or otherwise) to help, but there is so much that bands can do themselves. Don't get me wrong, I will charge a band to do a copyright, but I would prefer them to learn how to do it themselves. As you know, the web is only effective when you get your site out there. - Michael McCready (Chicago)

Dear Michael:

That's the spirit! Do It Yourself! Let it be a lesson to all of us. The learning curve may be long, but be patient. What's that old saying? "Give someone a fish and they eat for a day. Teach someone to fish and they eat for the rest of their life." Thanks (for all of us) for the support. - The FezGuys

May the Fez be with you!

Please check out the FezGuys website: <>



About the authors:

Jon Luini is a working technophile, a musician (bass player/singer) with full-blown facility and extensive experience on the Web and no free time. He is a co-founder of IUMA and MediaCast, co-creator of Addicted To Noise, and runs an Internet and music consulting and technology company, Chime Interactive (formerly Evolve Internet Solutions). <>

Allen Whitman is a working musician (bass player/singer/producer) with a keen, real-world interest in the practical use of the Web. Music credits include: The Mermen, "Brine-The Antisurf Soundtrack, biL, Deep Field South, Doormouse, Delectric and Drizzoletto. He has written for the San Francisco Examiner, Wired, EQ, Revolution, Yahoo Internet Life, Prosound News, Surround Professional, Replication News and others. <>

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