Friday, August 21, 2009

Music Promotion via Cassette Tape in the Digital Age

It's nice to have retro versions of your music.

Vinyl is a big fad again, this time as an underground revelry around the pops, scratches, clicks, needle skips, hifi analog sound reproduction, and artifactual surface noise that only vinyl can deliver.

Cassette tapes are another incredibly flawed and old fashioned mode of music distribution. Wow and flutter, oxide particle hiss, mold, motor drag, head demagnetizing, strand entanglements, and drop outs are common problems.

I hate how you have to rewind and fast forward intuitively guessing where songs might be buried in the magnetic mess. But I'll soon be releasing some Str8 Sounds music on Cassette Tape Only, the good old cassalbums of yesteryear.

Do you have cassette tape editions of your band's music? Why not? Some people have tape decks in their older cars, and they might love to jam away on your tunes. It might shock some friends, they might say "I thought you only had a tape deck in your car!" and you say, "I do. This is a cassette you're hearing now. A cassalbum by Rubber 0 Cement" or whatever.

Regression is fun. Put out wire recordings, Edison cylinders, 78 rpm ceramics, DATs, 8 track cartridges, vinyl singles, and cassalbums of your band now!

Click here to visit Str8 Sounds on Rhizome.

Now my pals at Rhizome at the New Museum (NYC) have an interesting article on cassettes: "101 Cassette Labels".


In the 1980s, cassette labels played a vital role in the distribution of underground music, most notably in the noise, industrial, and punk scenes of the time. Easy and relatively inexpensive to produce, cassettes became a common format for the circulation of music lacking popular appeal. Although the majors produced cassettes as well, many of the producers of these underground labels saw their DIY business model as a stance against the greed of the mainstream music industry. Connections made through distribution and information sharing among the artists and musicians in these circles helped to establish a network for those involved.

In the age of GarageBand, Myspace, and file sharing, it may come as a surprise to some that cassette labels are still very much in operation.

Tapes now function as a basic form of patronage between musicians and their audience; since a physical format is no longer necessary to send or receive music, these objects become a gesture of support.

Tapes act to make tangible the connection between a creator and their listeners, and the attentive and often handmade packaging speaks to this exchange.

One instance of this relationship is revealed in the description provided for the Gilgongo Records “Singular Set” series, a run of cassette releases recorded directly onto the tape by the musician in an edition of one.

Gilgongo’s James Fella explains that for the project, “…the emphasis is on reaching out and sharing something specific with one other person, that an unrepeated portion of time and creation was individually cut and passed on to one other person to hold onto as their own.”

Cassettes also yield a grainy, degraded sound quality, an aspect that has its own appeal. The draw to this sound can be read as a type of nostalgia,


READ MORE at Rhizome

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Star Wars Kid, the Internet and public stupidity

Recently a blog ran an article bewailing the fate of the Star Wars Kid. As I've always hated light sabers and Star Wars, I was intrigued.

"Privacy As We Know It Just Died -- and the Internet Killed It"

This is the famous viral video of a fat kid using a golf ball retriever as a light saber. He slashes around with it in a clunky dorky manner. Somebody videotaped it, obviously with his knowledge. Now it is said that the internet has "destroyed his privacy" and exposed him to worldwide humiliation and ridicule.

Here's what the blog said:

Millions of people know him as the "Star Wars Kid." However, his notoriety is not for a Nobel Prize-winning scientific discovery, a spectacular sports play, or an Academy Award-winning big-screen performance. Rather, his notoriety is for one of the most embarrassing moments in his life which has been viewed by millions over the Internet.

In 2008, the story of the Star Wars Kid was reported in Scientific American Magazine.

In 2002, as a 15-year-old, he was videotaped waving around a golf ball retriever while pretending it was a light saber. Without the help of the expert choreographers who worked on the Star Wars movies, he stumbled around awkwardly in the video. Unfortunately, this video was uploaded secretly to an Internet video site by some of the boy's "friends."

It became an instant hit with millions of fans. All across the Internet, people started mocking him, making fun of him for being pudgy, awkward, and a nerd. Several remixed videos of the Star Wars Kid popped up, adorned with special effects.

People edited the original video to make the golf ball retriever glow like a light saber. They even added Star Wars music to the video and mixed it with other movies. His image appeared in a video game and on television shows such as Family Guy and South Park.

However, his instant fame involved constant ridicule, misfortune, and torment. For a 15-year-old boy, it is one thing to be teased by classmates at school, but quite another to be ridiculed by millions all over the world.

As the Internet has moved from a niche phenomenon to mass adoption in recent years, this same fate has been shared by others on a smaller scale over and over again.

While I'm sorry a young boy was mocked, the lesson in this, for me, is not how horrible the Internet is. It wasn't the Internet that made that boy act stupidly. It wasn't the Internet that videotaped him. It wasn't the Internet that posted the video to YouTube. Why blame the Internet for anything?

The blog post goes on to say that North Carolina privacy law "does not apply to situations involving the use of public records or acts that were lawfully observable by the public without mechanical means, and as to which the offended person has no reasonable expectation of privacy."

Our "expectations of privacy" must change. I think it's good that people have to be aware that what they're doing and saying could come back to haunt them. While there will be abuses, there will also be good resulting from such "citizen surveillance".

Don't blame the Internet for privacy vanishing. Word of mouth gossip and cave paintings began the trend toward public dissemination of other people's follies and foibles.

Shame on the Internet?

That's like blaming Alexander Graham Bell for robo-calls and telemarketing scams.

My advice: quit doing stupid things publicly.

If you're so worried about your "privacy", then realize that everything you say and do, in a blog, an email, or in real life, could be held against you. It can be quoted, videotaped, and spread all over the world.

Don't blame the Internet or YouTube or blogs. They've helped information to be distributed worldwide, causing much good to occur as a result. Lives have been saved, criminals have been caught, people have learned new skills and gained new friends, all thanks to the Internet.

The Internet, webcams, YouTube, blogs, video chat rooms, status updaters, mobile computing are part of our world now. Deal with it.

Don't blame technology.

Blame yourself for acting or talking so dumb. Stop doing things you might regret later. It's a rule of blogocombat: don't do anything that might later be used against you by an opponent. Go back over videos you've uploaded yourself, and delete any that make you look ridiculous.

Learn how to take advantage of the technology, instead of whining and complaining about it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

top 15 music marketing SEO content sites

From an SEO (search engine optimization) standpoint, and not from a usability or community angle, these are pushing the most link authority and popularity to my band name Str8 Sounds, per Google.

In other words, if you want your band or musician or label to be found when fans search for you, you should contemplate creating a developed presence, and community interactions (when feasible), on these high SEO power sites.

NOTE: Some, like Vodpod, are vampire sites, sucking content from other sites, YouTube primarily. Others, like my Ustream page, are experiments I've abandoned or are on hold. That's okay. It all adds up to people finding you. BONUS PRIZE: Having multiple fully-loaded presences on the web helps to bury any hostile websites or blog comments opposing you or lying about you, etc.

Str8 Sounds per Google Search

1. MySpace


3. Rhizome at The New Museum (NYC)

4. Eventful

5. GarageBand

6. Blog Catalog

7. Vodpod

8. Live Music Peoria

9. Pure Volume

10. Vimeo

11. Ustream

12. Mevio

13. SoundClick

14. YouTube

15. Blogger

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free mp3 marketing and the improved NME site

NME Daily Downloads
FREE mp3 blog:

For some insane reason, NME (New Musical Express) has archived some of my mid-period Str8 Sounds music videos, mostly videos I created prior to my experiments with Sony Vegas, Magix, and other video editors.

A few days ago, and it was so special I Twittered about it with links, I downloaded 2 CDs worth of new music mp3s by the hottest bands in the UK. 90% of it is the kind of music I often make: techno pop punk trance house. You know: electronic dance music, blending street aesthetic with disco deconstructions.

I am both challenged and entertained by all this fresh new music, derived FREE from NME. Now, I guarantee you this: I'll be buying at least one CD by some of these bands, like such artists as:


Gang of Four

Dinosaur Pile-up

Fan Death

Casio Kids

Boy 8-Bit

Magic Arm

Horse Meat Disco

Marina and the Diamonds

Little Boots


The Rogues




Riton and Primary 1


...and I've barely scratched the surface. NME provides one new mp3 per day. How many CDs is that calculated over a year, 365 songs?

Are the bands and record companies losing money? Why are they giving away all that product for FREE???? They could've charged 99 cents per tune! How much money have they flushed down the toilet?

WTF is wrong with these knuckleheads???

They're smart!

These bands aren't giving away everything for free. Just some free samples of complete songs, EPs, mix tapes, and albums. They want to get their music "into your system" like a drug or medicine.

On NME Download Blog, Horse Meat Disco gives a free 30 minute mix tape, loaded with songs by various bands. I assume they got all the permissions needed before they could present it on NME.

Why free samples? Many reasons.

It's a big commitment, shelling out $10 to $18 per CD. Will you play it a lot once you buy it? Will your friends laugh at you for your taste in music? What if the album only contains a few good tunes?

You can sell individual tunes via iTunes, and whole albums via CD Baby. That's working out well for both famous and unknown bands. But if you aren't handing out some free samples, and showing some music videos, you're missing out on the most effective promotional tools for music marketing.

Showing photos of band members, and blabbing on and on about the music, don't sell shit. Fans want to hear it and see it, they don't want lectures, lengthy biographies, lists of gigs performed, litanies of influences, or preaching.

They want to burn some free mp3s to a CD (or iPod) and play that CD / iPod at parties and in their cars. When people ask, "What was that track that just ended?" and they are told "Oh that was Indian Jewelry", that band just gained a new customer, who will probably buy a CD or some songs on iTunes by Indian Jewelry.

That's how it works today.

There's TOO MUCH MUSIC in the world now. From ancient wire recordings and Edison cylinders to 68 bit recording studio product. Much of the recorded music of the world is now available in some form or other. Vinyl is making a comeback, as are cassette tapes. It's overwhelming.

No matter what genre you love, there's more music than you have time to discover and listen to. It's crazy. Be as insatiable as you want, there's always tons of music you'll never hear.

Everyone can be a musician today. It's easy to get music software, instrument interface equipment, and digital sound lab studios. You can do everything on your computer, all acoustic, concrete, tape, electronic, computer, brain wave, and simulation music is now possible and happening at a frenzied pace.

Sometimes, I get creative due to being inspired by some new composition tool or effects hardware, and I might produce 3 CDs in one week. I put them online at and provide selected tunes on MySpace Music and Live Music Peoria. The best songs get music videos that I make with various editing software.

So with all this home-made, DIY, slapdash music being made, much of it really great, what's an old fashioned lug and load band to do? Get hip! Or be left behind in the dust.

You have to provide at least a few FREE mp3s, as complimentary samples. Free samples always have been and always will be powerful marketing tools, when distributed wisely. But even random "tape dropping" efforts can pay off. What matters is getting your music into other people's heads.

Once your music is in their heads, if it's really good, they'll start craving more of it.

That's when you make sales. AFTER you give them a few free mp3s. I speak of this so often, I'll just leave it to your own imagination how a band with free mp3s is strategically superior to a band with 30 second sample clips or no music that can be heard and/or downloaded online.

Free samples push sales of paid product.

All the cool bands are whipping around free mp3s like crazy, even free or pay-what-you-want albums. Why? Because they (1) want you to like them and (2) they want you to get addicted to their sound. The first fix is always free, eh?

NME is setting a good example for all musicians, record labels, and music marketers.

Give free, get known, gain sales.

That's the formula.

I cruise the net labels (digital only, no hard copies of the music, no vinyl, no tapes, no CDs, just mp3s) and traditional record label sites. If there are no free mp3s to download to my hard drive, I'm not the slightest bit interested in the label or the bands.

If a label or artist page contains entire tune mp3s (not those lame ass 30 second clips which cannot possibly give you any feel for the entire song), they seem more friendly, confident, and generous.

Nobody likes to buy shit from tight wads.

People who charge for every fart and burp are pathetic. Don't be like them. They're stingy, miserly, uptight.

The new generation is all about caring and sharing.

Free product yields new fans faster than charging for every morsel. Loosen up. Free will never let you down. It's Business Karma!

If you can't yet grasp the economic punch of free samples, at least provide a music player on your site, like at MySpace Music, to let fans hear complete (not excerpt clips) of your songs.

Give fans videos to watch. Music videos may soon outpace music CDs as lucrative vehicles of musicianship. People are more visually oriented today. They often prefer to WATCH and not just LISTEN to music.

Videos can show the band in all their visual splendor, or can be abstract (like in techno videos), or can tell a story. There are many possibilities for music videos. Experiment with the technology.

Generate good business karma now.

Free samples = More fans = Increased Sales.'s email from NME:






This is a service email from MyNME to all web registrants.

STR8 SOUNDS latest free mp3 album on

"Enter the Intermaps"

Experimental techno noise trance-house music.

All Str8 Sounds recordings on

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FriendFeed widget

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Eventful Demand It widget

Str8 Sounds on Eventful

Monday, August 3, 2009

why inspirational quotes on Twitter suck

Inspirational quotes, mixed with "make money now with..." and "get 10,000 Twitter followers with..." tweets are sure signs of a Twitter spammer.

You won't understand this post unless you've been on Twitter a while. After you assemble a Follower posse, based on real people you know and bloggers you like, you start checking out recommendations.

Someone on Twitter suggests you Follow a person, who "has awesome tweets". What that usually means is they're using a social media marketing gimmick, like relentless inspirational quotes. It seems innocent, even beneficial, at first. You read a positive affirmation or a brilliant witticism. It makes you smile. You feel good. It's like sugar or a recreational drug. Fluffy and spacey.

After a while though, you get tired of it.

All these gurus yapping at you to quit being sour, dream big, expect a miracle, stay sunny-side up, whistle while you work, put on a smiley face, don't worry be crappy, and so on. It starts to drip like a melting ice cream cone in your Twitter time-line. You start to feel sticky, syrupy, sickeningly sweet.

What's creepy about inspirational quote Twitter users is that it's constant. You feel like they are programmed robots, spewing mushy nonsense, splattering hot fudge and caramel all over the place. It begins to make you want to vomit it all out in defiance.

Nobody likes even nice sentiments shoved in your face all day long. You can be drearily over-inspired, to the point that you feel like Dale Carnegie is peering over your shoulder, rasping "Is that anyway to win friends and influence people?"

Whoever is coaching CEOs and affiliate marketing gurus to pollute the Twitter streams with all this mindless parroting, please stop. It's similar to some daffy old aunt trying to shove religion or atheism down your throat when you're a child. It feels artificial, contrived, desperate.

Inspirational quote tweets are patronizing, demeaning, "holier than thou". They say: "You mopey slacker! You need motivation!" It's like some witchdoctor psycho-babble guru examined Twitter and concluded: "Twitter is full of bitter nihilist wankers drowning in depression. We need to cheer them up."

Relentless inspirational quotes are a pathetic attempt to get people to RT (retweet) your tweets, to #FollowFriday recommend you, and ultimately, to attract new Followers. But it's not you they're Following, it's the authors of the inspirational quotes.

You have negated yourself. Your own personality becomes hidden. You act like you don't have any original thoughts, and are unable to put your own spin on a proverbial saying. You look almost like a troll or spammer.

Is this what you intended when you started sounding like Al Franken in the film Stuart Saves His Family?

Twitter spammers, con artists, criminals attempting to trick you into fake "money making" schemes use relentless inspirational and motivational tweets.

Don't imitate these jerks. A wise saying once in a while may be okay, but relentless tweeting of them makes you look like a spammer and some people may Report For Spam you, jeopardizing your Twitter account.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

marketing pundit Twitter deterioration

Enlightened individuals and organizations know all about Twitter.

The smart ones have figured out what Twitter really is, how to use it to be more human and approachable online, to practice altruism and to spread information.

People and companies use Twitter to communicate. But if you never get beyond the lame question "What are you doing now?" above the Twitter text entry box, you suck. Why? Because, as the new Twitter home page suggests, nobody cares about what you're doing. They care about what you know: information, insights, tips, links to cool sites, news, updates on entertainment, opinions about hot topics.

Communicate. Share. Teach. Encourage. Sympathize.

Twitter is a channel for the radical humanization of the web. This is special topic in itself, which I'll develop for you later. But for now, let's focus on how Marketing Pundits, from success gurus to inspirational"speakers to social media marketers, are misusing Twitter.

Professionals and businesses use Twitter for customer relations. They share their expertise. You can contact them via @ Replies or DM Direct Messages. They answer your questions, offer deals, and solve problems.

Personal users of Twitter just chat. They share their ups and downs, their feelings and dreams, thoughts and opinions. You feel like you're at a party, eavesdropping on half-public, half-private conversations. This is how Jacques Derrida described the postcard, in his book "The Postcard": it's both private (addressed to someone specific) and public (visible to random someones, like the mail delivery official).

Business substance vs. personal life activities.

What happens when a marketing pundit gets on Twitter?

Marketing Pundit Twitter Deterioration

(1) They share expertise and links.

(2) They discusss relevant topics.

(3) They express their opinions and beliefs.

(3) They talk about what airport they're stuck at.

(4) They mention conferences they're attending, but rarely any insights gained from them.

(5) They become so egotistic, they think their Followers care about the minute details of their life and daily activities.

(6) Their extravagant dissipation results in being totally empty, thus they start tweeting inspirational quotes by greater a sick and tragic bid for Followers.

In effect, their Twitter message stream deteriorates from valuable information to frivolous details and then to fluffy la la land affirmations. The brilliant inspirational quotes are usually from Zig Ziglar, Twain, Emerson, Chopra, Buddha, Oprah, etc.

It's nice to be inspired, but it gets nasty when all you get from a Twitter user is inspirational quotes. Nice sayings turn sour when you get pummeled with them day after day.

You start to consider them stupid, dull, with no ideas of their own. You begin to classify them as bad writers, since they can't even put the original quote in their own words. They apparently can't put their own spin on a standard saying.

You think, "Is that all you got? You're flipping through a book of Inspiring Sayings By People Smarter Than You? Tweeting random sugary proverbs at us, like we're a bunch of bitter, nihilist losers?"

From a marketing pundit, personal trivia seems to be saying: "Even though I'm a marketing guru, I'm sure you'll like me so much, you'll want to know every detail of my day. And you'll get so sucked into my life, you'll want to buy all my books and seminars!"

Whereas, relentless inspirational quotes apparently implies: "I'm not creative. I'm unoriginal. I even put other people's words in my mouth, since I lack my own witticisms. These words of other people will excite you to achieve greater happiness and success. You'll never know who I am though."