Tuesday, September 29, 2009

12 music CD packaging and promotion tips

I have had the joy and honor of recording, producing, manufacturing, distributing, and promoting music recordings, from cassette tapes to CDs, for several years now.

Many things have been learned as I promoted Str8 Sounds, my old band Camouflage Danse, and such clients as The Skabs, Vava Vol, Ritualistic School of Errors, The Kick Me's, and many more, with more clients accumulating.

Here are some of my more recent conclusions and observations.

(1) CD front cover art should include the title of the CD and the artist name.

(2) CD back cover art should include numbered track listings with time durations. Numbering the tracks helps those who are hearing a good song and want to know which song is playing at that moment.

Also include the relevant URLs (MySpace Music page, artist blog, CD Baby) and contact information (email address and land address)...on the back or in the inserts).

(3) Never substitute non-text artwork or corporate hype about the band on the back CD cover, unless you're trying to be obscure, difficult, and anti-fan. For some avant garde artists, mystery is desired, they don't want to be user-friendly.

The album "Hillulah" by Gang Gang Dance is a good example of what not to do with your CD cover art. I'm not slamming this band, I love them, but they goofed on this point, if they seek maximum sales.

If you desire popularity and record sales, you must think "What would a fan want to know about us, in buying this record and in perusing it as they listen to the music on it?"

Stories on CD back covers don't sell records. Interesting song titles do!

(4) Doing a parody of another artist's CD art will not be seen as such. Most fans will not "get it". They'll just think the art is your idea, or they'll think you ripped off the other artist because you couldn't think of anything else to do.

(5) Don't begin your CD with a poem. If you must have a little recited poem on your album, shove it to the end so people can skip it if they want. A poem at the start of a rock album will slow down the listening pleasure, for most folks don't like poetry even with guitars rambling around aimlessly in the background.

(6) If you want your CD to sell, you must get out and play gigs in real world venues. Your record label president will be angry if you're a lazy slacker who fears audience critique!

(7) Be sure to have more than just the old limit of 6 tunes on your MySpace Music player. Since artists can now have 10 songs, fill 'er up! It shows you're proud of your music and you want to share it with fans.

(8) Keep adding fresh photos, video, and songs to your MySpace Music page. To let it sit with no changes may imply to music lovers that the band has broken up, or is stagnating and not doing anything new.

(9) Get up off your butt and interact with other MySpace Music artists. Post sincere and specific comments on their pages. Send out Friend Requests. Your record label president won't like it if you're lazy here too. How much can he put up with?

(10) If you want to be the Flagship Band of Honor for your record label, you can't disobey your record label president and fool around with shit that hurts, or does not help, record sales. Do some local shows and promotions, but concentrate more on iTunes, CD Baby, and touring to support the album.

If you refuse to tour, you're saying you're lazy or you are insecure about the musicianship and relevance of your own music!

It's just another slap in the face to your record label president.

(11) Be careful about joking around about being apathetic, or not caring about anybody's opinion, or wanting people to hate you. Again, if you emphasize this "bad boy" attitude, and your records don't sell, your record label president will want to have a few words with you.

(12) Band feuds DO NOT sell records. People will just think you're being petty, jealous, or hiding the fact that you suck as much as your enemy does. Bashing other artists may get some attention for Already Famous Bands and hip hop artists in particular. But for obscure, small label bands, it's a suicidal policy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Your music is just noise

Pity the poor critic who wishes to befuddle themselves by saying to me: "Your music is shit. It's just noise."

I smile and ask, "What kind of noise are you referring to?"

I then present them with a drop-down menu of items from which to choose:

static interference

lossy data latencies

quantization quirks

din engines

cacophonic flotsam

detuning debacles

bent circuits

feedback loops

signal decay

maladaptive plug-ins

acoustic artifacts

reverberation shadows

.au format errors

metallic ringings

sonic anomolies

domain transform trauma

frequency masking mistakes

cassette mold distortions

wow & flutter wobblings

wrongful warblings

tape drag

magnetic hiss detritus

volume spikes

oxide particle build-up

disobedient Dolbies

pre-echo variants

drop-out desuetudes

delirious dithering

clip property disruptions

glitch intertwinings

asymmetric modulations

sound defilements

vinyl surface non-linearities

glissando impairments

peak clippings

entropy encoding flaws

Nyquist negations

Surround Sound codec corruptions

shift anisotropies

ยต-law algorithm accidents

bad compandings.

They usually leave me alone after I pummel them with the list. It's my way of telling them to take a hike and pack a lunch.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

new song honors Vaspers blogocombat king

Matt Searles: "Vasperian Blogocombat"

Please slow down on all the accolades and praise people! I'm only half-human, just like you! LOL

Evidence of Vaspers Blogocombat King per Google.

Internet Killed the Video Star..  and something about Fresh Meat.

For those new to me, I am known all over the internet as Vaspers, Vaspers the Grate, Pluperfecter, Str8 Sounds, and Steven Streight.

For a song to exist that honors Vaspers is quite an odd pleasantry. It's a charming and deviously ambient joyride of electronic sound. The composer, Matt Searles, has long been a loyal mentor, ally, and inspiration to Str8 Sounds.


As you listen, please think about blogocombat brutality, reconciliatory peace, and defeating foes by turning them gently into allies or neutrals. For love may yet convert the trolls and crybaby bullies to a better way of being!

I'm sure the restful tones and unexpected twists in this tribute tune will put a smile on your face and supreme triumphalism in your heart! May it be so!


For more incredible ambient electronic music experimentation by Matt Searles...

Matt Searles on MySpace Music

Matt Searles: "Steven Colbert - Lawrence Lessig mash up remix"

This is the art work for the cover of Viveka..

interview with Vaspers on blogs and blogging

Here's an audio interview I did over the phone about 5 years ago.

Interviewer is Chris Ritke of 49 Media. It's the only interview I've ever done. I prefer the manifesto as a means of disseminating information. But you may find it interesting what I was saying about "new technology, new words, new people" and other meaty Web Revolution topics.

I even was asked to define "blog". I said "online diary or journal" is the worst definition. Listen and learn! LOL

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Boostalk we gon rock VIDEO

Some call him mentally challenged. I call him Genius. Boostalk is just alright with me yo playa haters.

Boostalk "We Gon Rock"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Younger Than Yesterday new outlet for Str8 Sounds

Go to here to get your FREE copy of the exciting new STR8 SOUNDS "The Remixes Vol. 1" CD:

Younger Than Yesterday

2615 N. University
Peoria IL USA

(309) 682-1116

ACT NOW -- supplies and sequels are UNLIMITED but in HOT PURSUIT by music fans!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Autistic Fire Monkey dreamy French female vocals

Within a day or two of posting some Str8 Sounds songs on Sony ACIDplanet, I had a fan and mentor who was posting detailed reviews.

Str8 Sounds at ACIDplanet.

Here's a sample of her too kind reviews:

STR8 SOUNDS "You're So Remote"


I like the lo-fi sax and the vocals more again ! Cool levels for the vox in ur mix . The latin feel and the sound a la Portishead add a good lil' something. Original and well-done spoken word .


maybe some mix-up or puzzlement when wishing to know what means the title .... (are the leaders remote ? do you like leaders ? do you hate them ? ) :

so , the titles are the secret story of the song for someone who doesn't understand English too good ... like me ..


Good production without any doubt. Good flow of the lyrics ! Xellent mix.

-- AFM Autistic FireMonkey

I feel so good with a guide and colleague at this site that I'm new to.

Her music is floating, dreamy, atmospheric, French/English jazzy pop. Sultry in a nice way. More like intellectual and sweet. Very relaxing and polished. I'm so honored that she likes the Str8 Sounds. I must not suck that bad! LOL

Her version of Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door".

Check out her 3 different profiles on ACIDplanet, download her free mp3s, and be amazed...

AFM Autistic FireMonkey

Autistic Fire Monkey aka ANGELS FRAGMENT

Autistic FireMonkey aka NOBODY'S HERE

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sony Acidplanet music genres

I'm experimenting with both composing and remixing songs, using various music studio software.

The book The Complete Guide to Remixing: Produce Professional Dance-Floor Hits on Your Home Computer by Erik Hawkins (Berklee Press, Berklee School of Music, Boston, 2004) is excellent and highly recommended for DJs, composers, and recording studios.

Berklee Music

Berklee Press

I've been working with Sony Acid, have joined their Acidplanet online artist community, and have started posting some Sony Acid produced music to my Str8 Sounds page. As I was uploading a tune, I noticed the popup menu for Genre and was intrigued by the brief descriptions.

See if you agree with these specifications. As an opinionated researcher and collector of musical styles, I have sharply delineated objections to many of them, especially "Noise" "Experimental", and "Psychedelic/Trippy" but actually, this is a decent attempt.

It's hard to find a good treatment of music genres. I guess it's assumed that everyone knows what they are or has their own understanding. It's a bit vague.

How would you tweak these definitions?


A Cappella

Sung without instrumental accompaniment.

Acid House

House music featuring squelching loops from Roland TB-303 synthesizers.

Acid Jazz

Contrary to its name, this style has little in common with Acid House. Acid Jazz consists of various blends of Jazz, Funk, House and Hip-Hop.


Created without the use of electricity.


Usually quieter than other styles, ambient music describes three dimensional atmospheres with sound, often without a beat.


Genres that create an extraordinary emotional tone or quality.



A narrative, sentimental poem set to music.

Big Beat

This genre features very thick, prominent beats (often breakbeats) with fun, energetic samples and a party atmosphere.


Growing out of spirituals and worksongs, Blues usually features simple chords and improvisation on vocals and instrumentation.

Breakbeat / Breaks

Any music that uses drum break samples from rock, soul or funk.



Relating to European music during the latter half of the 18th and the early 19th centuries.

Club / Dance

Any style of music with a danceable beat.


Music created similar to current styles.


A very simple and traditional style, Country stems European folk music and other sources, and has since taken on other influences such as blues, rock, etc.


DanceHall (Ragamuffin)

A style of Reggae featuring faster synthetic drums and rapid sing/speak vocals.


Genres with distorted samples or beats.

Deep (Deep Underground)

Often containing many elements of Dub, Deep music is the furthest from the mainstream, with relaxed, smooth and romantic characteristics.


This style accents percussion and bass, with sparse vocals, echo effects, and reverb on other instruments.



70s style funk performed with synthesizers.


A term representing any style of music made with electronic equipment.

EuroDance / Hi-NRG

A variation of Disco that's simple, lightweight and catchy, with a faster tempo and fluffy, repetitive lyrics.


A general term surrounding electronic music without predefined genres.



An effect created by temporarily removing high or low frequencies.


A down-to-earth style focusing on universal truths, often with traditional acoustic instrumentation and a simple melody.


An effect created by building and releasing tension with the placement of notes and rhythms.


At the time of its origin, Fusion was a blend of Jazz with the aggressive qualities of Rock. Today it can represent a blending of any two or more styles.



This style is an extremely fast variety of 4/4 Dance music with tempos of over 200 BPM.


Music placing emphasis on dark, grotesque, gloomy atmospheres.


Happy Hardcore

An extremely fast variety of 4/4 dance music with 'happy' melodies and tempos of over 200 BPM.


Genres with faster, louder, pounding beats.


Genres displaying intense melodramatic loyalty to specific characteristics of a style.


Four elements make up Hip-Hop: The MC (Master of Ceremony), DJ, Breaks and Graffiti. Rhymes performed by the MC center around subjects relevant to daily life.


Named after its birthplace, the Warehouse, a club in Chicago, House is in many ways an electronic extension of Disco. House features a steady 4/4 beat, with accented percussion and basslines.


IDM (Intelligent Dance Music)

Sometimes called Brain-Dance, this style features extremely fast, complex rhythms in not only the percussion, but in every instrument used in the track.


This style often combines elements of Dub, Hip-Hop and Drum 'n' Bass, with dark & eerie atmospheres.


One of the earliest styles of dance music, most Industrial has Heavy Metal / Rock influences with a 4/4 beat. It often is dark and dehumanized, with samples from mechanical tools such as drills and saws.


Music without vocals.


Genres created for listening, often much more complex than dance floor counterparts.


Jungle / Drum 'n' Bass

Both styles display very fast tempos around 160-200 BPM, with double-speed breakbeats along strong basslines. According to leading DJs, Jungle conveys a party atmosphere with Reggae inspired bass, while Drum 'n' Bass is considered to be more intelligent listening music.



More of an umbrella style than a genre, Latin influenced music often has acoustic instruments and horns with many layers of percussion.


This style refers to easy listening music made in the 50s and 60s from a blend of Swing and Big Band, but the modern representation of Lounge can be synonymous with Downtempo.



Heavy, distorted guitars with simple melodies and loud, brutal percussion.


Music created with the lowest degree of instrumentation possible.


New Age

Music aimed at producing a sense of inner calm.


Often abrasive, this style contains distorted samples and white noise.



A term for the 'original' sound of a genre before sub-genres appeared.



Styles that have characteristics from being created by the latest of technology and technique in audio production.


Has a catchy melody and relatively simple rhythm.

Psychedelic / Trippy

Genres relating to hallucinations, distortions of perception, or altered states of awareness.


R&B (Rhythm & Blues)

As an extension of Blues, R&B steadies the beat and adds a concrete melody.

Rap (Toasting)

Speaking in time over a beat.


Music directly imitating styles of the past.

Rock (Rock & Roll)

Pure Rock has a strong beat and a catchy melody backed by three or four chords.


A term often applied to music closely related to the birth of a genre.



Genres with a relatively constant tempo and volume.


Lush, inoffensive and smooth, often very commercial.


Music with an emphasis on performers expressing a high degree of emotion.


Genres containing sweeping symphonic textures.



Often very aggressive, associated genres sound very mechanical, like metal scraping on metal. Tech is often used to describe techno-influenced music that has too many organic qualities to be pure techno.


This term has come to have two popular interpretations, the first being a description of all electronic music. The second interpretation is a style that developed from House music, which completely abandoned the influences of Disco; Techno is more mechanical and less organic.


This style usually features a 4/4 beat with intense arpeggiated synthesizers along energetic build-ups & breakdowns.


Genres utilizing tribal drum patterns.

Trip Hop

This genre is a variety of breakbeat usually featuring psychedelic atmospheres and female vocalists singing in a rock-influenced style.


US Garage

Named after NYC club the Paradise Garage, this style is very similar to Disco, mainly differing with deeper bass and more pronounced percussion.

UK Garage / 2 Step / Speed Garage

Pronounced 'gare-ridge' in the UK, it is similar to US Garage, adding influences from Jungle and R&B.

Underground / Alternative

Genres existing outside of pop culture.


A term given to R&B and Soul produced in the 80s and 90s.



Refers to music with heavy influences outside the traditions of the US and the UK.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

new Faust Cycle 15 hour radio play by Ergo Phizmiz

Feeling good is nice to be. The September 2009 print issue of Artforum arrived a few days ago, and then I got the following email today, from Ergo Phizmiz:


"The Faust Cycle" new 15 hour adventure for radio from Ergo Phizmiz, supported by Arts Council England, Quay Arts and Ventnor Blog.

Premiering on Soundart Radio, 12-3am from 8th to 12th September

One afternoon Ergo Phizmiz finds himself lumbered into delivering a parcel to the house of legendary alchemist and necromancer Dr Johann Faustus who, since the events of some time ago for which he is renowned, has entered into a rather quieter life in a vast, labyrinthine house, with hundreds of lodgers running the gamut from artists, birds, bird-people, walking fictions, ventriloquists, a Cassowary, running chairs, walking gramophones, and myriad automata.

This enormous dream fable, told through speech, songs, collage and sound-design, is the result of over three years delving down variousrabbit-holes, and features collaborations in a range of contexts with artists of many disciplines, including Jack Phoenix, Margita Zalite, Pete Um, Angela Valid, Bela Emerson, Martha Moopette, Amie Willingale, and Zenith Pitts.

In glorious radiophonic technicolour, it is a musical-comedy of disorientation and magick, somewhere between nightmare and the half-remembered childhood whimsy of an insomniac music-hall artiste.

Please note - "The Faust Cycle" is not, necessarily, suitable for sensitive ears at times, containing, as it does, some naughty words, some sexy references, and a healthy smattering of scatological excess.

If you just can't wait, you could do worse than head over and download the free album of instrumental music from The Faust Cycle,

"Music From The House of Dr Faustus"


Ergo Phizmiz

- www.ergophizmiz.com -

- ergophizmiz.blogspot.com -

- myspace.com/ergophizmiz -