But Who Is Paying Attention?|
[ No. 42 - April 2000 ]
This wet winter month we mostly look at e-zines, some of which
encourage musicians to send in their own work for editorial review.
The sites below do this in varying ways with varying degrees of
success. Though it's always worth your time to submit music, don't
expect too much. Who is paying attention? As our FezDad always
says: "Most of life is just showing up." That's a good argument
for playing live. But hey! This ain't Gig Magazine, this is a
project studio magazine. It's for all you twisted studio rats,
holed up in a dim room with no ventilation, putting the finishing
touches on your sonic masterpiece. Get the hell out of your room!
Take your music to the people! Vibrate the atmosphere with modulated
pressure waves! Get used to looking like an ass! It's good for you.
First, an upload site named Vitaminic.
Vitaminic's tagline is: "Thousands Of Bands In Over 150 Genres (The Music
Evolution)." Yup, that's right. They got all 150 genres. They're all here.
There's got to be a better way to categorize music. Ask yourself how the
brain would do it. Imagine wanting to hear some music at home. You go to
your CD rack and scan the titles. If you alphabetize your collection this
exercise is less effective because you already know where everything is.
Depending on how you're feeling at that exact moment a certain kind of
music is going to appeal to you. If only there was a way to categorize
Webcentric audio by emulating the way the brain works. Anyway, back to
Vitaminic. This Italian-based MP3 download site looks like most big music
sites: too busy. There's news (more useless "value-added" content), free
offers of physical promo CDs to mail you, information about the mp3 format
and actual downloads. The music downloads are accompanied by brief
typo-laden explanations. It appears that English may not be the first
language. Not that that's a damning flaw or anything...
First we register. Of course a signature is required on a 911-word legal
document. We sign without reading. We're silly. It could've said anything.
As you read this we could be dressed in jodhpurs and Nehru, wielding
pickaxes by the side of a two lane blacktop in northwestern Alabama. Just a
thought. Then we fill out the Vitaminic registration forms and lie about
the phone number (ho-hum: why do sites insist?). When all is done Vitaminic
sends an email with our login name and password, as well as a tech support
contact whose email describes them as our "Band manager." If they only knew
what that really means! The process up to now has been very fast. We log on
as a member and start to create our little area. The info supplied
in the registration process is helpfully repurposed into these artist
pages. A time saver! Uploading is straightforward though there is no alert
message on how long the process is taking. Finally the music and the site
are up and all that remains is the much-ballyhooed stampede that, lifting
us like a huge wave, will carry us to rock stardom.
Bottom Line: Vitaminic has ripped most of its ideas from the book of
riffage.com and mp3.com. It's quick and simple but suffers from the same
malaise of those other sites: Who is listening and how can you, the
artist/musician find fans? You've seen this site before and it's nothing
new. But, hell, if you've got the time why not upload? The more the
Ok, Let's Check Out Some E-Zines
Zine: Ink Blot Magazine
Tagline: "deep coverage of great music"
Coverage: The site design is a little confusing but the writing is good and
there are many interesting mp3s. Ink Blot Magazine allows and encourages
link trading and features several pages of eclectic band links with short
explanations. The "Cream of the Crop" section features one band a
month selected from submitted, independent music. Depending on how much
music is submitted, your chances of notice are slim at best. This e-zine
is definitely a labor of love.
Zine: Red Button
Tagline: "independent ezine and music channel"
Coverage: The downloads are all in the Liquid Audio format and the occasional
text reads like record company promo 101. Red Button considers themselves
an "Artist Management Company," as well. A conflict of interest?
Submissions are encouraged in the form of physical product or a link to
the encoded song on your server. Quote: "This site is free to all
artists we want to work with. We only put up what we like and what we
think has the greatest potential for success." Red Button is a trawler,
gill-netting for big-pig halibut.
Tagline: "the magazine devoted to music and snacks and those who love them"
Coverage: Cool indie site, loose and charming, if rather San
Francisco-centric. The editor also works for corporate rockzine SonicNet.
The writing is honest though somewhat disjointed. Many interesting independent
underground bands are highlighted. There's no offer for submissions of
music and no downloads are available. There's an eclectic link page that's
worth the whole site. The
site is recommended!
Zine: In Music We Trust
Tagline: "In Music We Trust"
Coverage: The writing is sophomoric and redundant but the editors of IMWT
genuinely love music and display their passion by writing glowingly about
their favorite artists, a pretty eclectic mix. There is a search engine to
guide you through the 2270(!) articles on the site. Banner ads from
unrelated sites (jewelry sites and forbes.com, etc.) point to the revenue
model. Almost all the artists are independent. Since there is no offer for
music submissions and no downloads available we're curious to know how they
find these bands. But, more importantly and somewhat rhetorically, why
should we care? Who has time to go through all this stuff? The "subscribe
page" asks for a snailmail address to send emails. IMWT posts a printed
message declaring their solemn promise not to give away user data. So
what's the point of snailmail? The message board is either faux-fan emails
posted by interns at major labels and other websites or straight
promotional boilerplate. The 49 messages posted since November of 1998 are
displayed in a very confusing layout. Is anyone listening? Overall:
Passionate and ineffectual editorial style, unfocused design. They seem to
be saying: "Don't call us, they'll call you."
Other relevant places to submit music to be reviewed
Tagline: "The Music Download Directory"
Coverage: Everything. This site is huge. They take
recommendations/submissions for review. Upon review the artist is
entered into the listen.com search engine and the site links to downloads.
Good writing, exhaustive listings, you could easily get lost in here. The
lists of bands and downloads seem endless and that feeling describes
perfectly what's wrong with the Web. There's too much information and no
intelligent, rational and synchronistic sorting method along the lines of
the human mind. No Dewey Decimal system here, in the end the Web offers a
mountain of music, impossible to climb. That's good, right?
Tagline: "Internet Music Review Service"
Coverage: Very straightforward, simple and concise with good solid writing.
The site invites you to submit your CD and they will post reviews.
Unknowns, cult figures, sidemen projects, and musicians dumped by labels
(usually a very good thing for the musician!) pepper the site.
Tagline: "The Internet Resource For Musicians"
Coverage: Very busy site. Harmony Central looks like a giant retail music
store thrown into a blender and spewed onto the Web. Lots of useful
information if you're in the market to purchase a piece of gear. There's
one page of the site that's a very excellent resource:
This area provides over
a hundred links to sites that post music, offer assistance with publicity,
provide tips about live performance, educate about copyright and
trademarking, give links to CD suppliers/production/mastering and a lot of
"other stuff." They've
done our job for us! This link page is one bright light in an often
tiresome Gordian Knot of data.
Dear FezGuys - I wanted to find out about using linux for music
production...are there any good sites to get more information? Thank you. -
Jeff - Linux has a long way to go until it will be used the way MacOS
and Windows are for music production. However, it is currently useful
for conversion between formats, encoding to MP3, and serving content up
to the world as a server. For now you're best off using a Windows or
MacOS (or even plain old analog) for the meat of your production and
then moving to Linux (or FreeBSD) when you want to get it out to the
provides Linux support for MP3 players and
has an MP3 encoder. Streaming servers
available for Linux include RealNetworks
<www.real.com>, the MP3
streaming solutions Shoutcast
and Icecast <www.icecast.com>.
- The FezGuys
Feel free to address any questions, comments, rants and tips about Internet
audio at the FezGuys Threaded Discussion Area.
We'll be there!