The FezGuys
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 and 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 merrier! <>

Ok, Let's Check Out Some E-Zines

Zine: Ink Blot Magazine
URL: <>
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
URL: <>
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.

Zine: Snackcake!
URL: <>
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
URL: <>
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, 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

Site: <>
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 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?

Site: <>
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.

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.

Letters To The FezGuys

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

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 Internet. <> provides Linux support for MP3 players and Xing <> has an MP3 encoder. Streaming servers available for Linux include RealNetworks <>, the MP3 streaming solutions Shoutcast <> and Icecast <>. - 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!



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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