Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Submitting your music to net labels

Net labels are online record companies that distribute digital audio files and may also issue music releases on vinyl, CD, cassette tape, and other formats.

Pseudo-elitist loser whiners, like you see in the dismal pessimistic net labels debate at GearSlutz, may complain that if your music is really good, a "major record label" would have already snatched you up. They man up and complain about how the net labels are mostly techno IDM music, all of it generic, uninspired Ableton pre-sets, with not much to distinguish them from each other.

They think if you have a lot of music posted at net labels, it makes you look bad.

I agree, for the most part, with their critique of the music that is often found online, but crappy music is also found in record stores, Amazon, and iTunes, so that critique is universally applicable, thus irrelevant and neutralized.

Just because music is distributed free, that doesn't mean it's "not good enough for anybody to buy", it just means that the artist is willing to let people have free music. The artist may be giving out free samples to generate publicity and buzz, or just because they believe art should be free and not commercialized.

Commercial art is not necessarily better or worse than non-commercial art.

Charging money for music doesn't mean it's good music. It just means somebody wants to make money off the music, and that might even be their only aim.

I applaud their condemnation of generic techno music, and mentioning how anybody can start a net label, and since they're inexpensive to maintain, they aren't compelled by financial necessity to feature potential super groups and glittering pop divas, in other words, music that will sell to the largest music buying demographics, the 13 to 23 year olds, but...

I must state that some of the best music I've ever acquired was free and it came from net labels and mp3 hosts like Puzzling Records, Weirdo Music, WFMU Free Music Archive, Ubu Web, Last.fm, ReverbNation, and Internet Archive.org

...and when it comes to establishment music titans and preferred music formats...

What pathetic cavemen!

Many of us more advanced music artists despise major record labels. We are too geeky to mess with physical music formats, beyond inflicting an occasional cassette tape, DVD, or CD of our music on our family and our shrinking circles of fans and critics.

Physical product record companies are no longer in the vanguard of music innovation and excellence, if they ever really were. Cassette-only releases, flexi disks, VHS tape, micro cassettes, and low budget vinyl have been grand vehicles of the advancing musical progress, for many decades now.

What the big record companies grind out may sell a lot of copies, and win awards on commercial awards shows, but where is the real, new, unexpected, ground breaking music coming from and ending up? That's what I, and a few other outcasts, are concerned with primarily.

The genres of Str8 Sounds music include techno, ambient, electroacoustic, acousmatic, noise, electronica, computer, Dada collage, avant garde classical, blues, reggae, and rock.

My primary genre is techno, or what I call "technomorphic" in that my tunes often shift and evolve and mutate wildly within a single track.

Sometimes one song will have 3 or more sections, or in classical terms "movements", sonic episodes that have mysterious segues and sound more like an EP (extended play mini-album) than a unified single. They start in one place, go to a totally other place, and end up in a disconnected zone, in a fluidly pleasing manner.

It's pretty easy to submit your music to a net label. The hard part is selecting a song that's appropriate to the specific net label you've chosen to submit a tune to.

Chose either your most popular and publicly praised song, or one you're most proud of and is the most perfect in every way, or your most unique, unusual, innovative, idiosyncratic, or surprising and hard-to-classify song.

You want to stand out as perfect in every aspect of the recording, from singing and lyrics, to melody and beat, to overall production standards excellence. The songs you submit to net labels should be totally professional, perfect in mix, volume levels, instrumental clarity,

Search for net labels according to the genre, the type or style, that most of your music belongs to, or the genre of the track you're sending.

I have selected 6 songs to send out, depending on the specific net label:

(1) "Rogue System Overdrive" is sent to net labels that I deem to be potentially tolerant of Vocal Techno.

(2) "Close Your Eyes" or (3) "Domination System Disconnect" is sent to net labels that prefer Instrumental Techno.

(4) "Anti War Mindbot" or (5) "Conch Shell Variations" are sent to net labels that seem to be oriented to "challenging music" or political protest.

(6)  "Oscilloscopic Prana" is my submission to electroacoustic, acousmatic, and avant garde classical net labels.

Most of the techno net labels feature predominantly instrumental techno, whereas a lot of music is techno with my personally branded "talk-singing", sea shanty chanting, or vari-pitched alien voices, or robotic vocalizations.

I begin with new net labels, assuming they are the most hungry for unique, original, unusual, high quality, challenging, and technically sophisticated music.

In my experience so far, most net labels either want you to upload a song via SoundCloud or you send them a 15 MB or smaller 256 kbps or better MP3 via email. Occasionally, they'll ask for a link to a hosted MP3, but this is not common.

Some net labels urge you to provide them with a linked list of locations where you host your music, like MySpace, Last.fm, ACIDplanet, ReverbNation, WFMU Free Music Archive, GarageBand, SoundCloud, etc.

I no longer provide links to my music on various MySpace pages, because MySpace has screwed up their User Interface (UI) and the format of band pages. Most of my music project pages have vanished, apparently, and it may be due to my not upgrading to the New MySpace format, which as I said already, is complete crap.

You should listen to some of the artist releases on a net label before you submit music to it, to ensure the likelihood of compatibility.

256 kpbs , 44 kHz, 16 bit MP3s are what I send via email, and my hosted MP3s, except for ReverbNation, are either 256 kbps or 320 kbps MP3s or WAVs. On ReverbNation, I use the free service which limits your audio file size to 10 MB, which means, depending on the time duration of a tune, the songs are 120 kbps, 96 kbps, or even smaller.

I'm taking one risk. I am not submitting music that fits in nicely with the net labels other artists. I am submitting music that is in the same general style, but is clearly different and creatively original, primarily due to my lyrics, vocal style, and technomorphic dynamics.

My music will not merge seamlessly with their other offerings. It will bristle with redolent sonic shimmerings and unequaled personifications.

If generic, safe, tame, tidy music is what they want, my music may seem too polytonal, archaically complex, metaphysically convoluted, extraordinarily extroverted, intrinsically trance-busting, intrusively introspective, over-confrontational, unsoothing, annoyingly peculiar, ultra-upsetting, hyper-controversial, or down right jarring.

Give the net label something that could easily have been created by an artist already signed up to their label? Let others with less imagination do so. For myself, I shall thrust forth my most bizarre and boot stomping material, that will make some sort of magnificent and mad impression.

Rather hit them with the New...than appease them with the Known.

Time will tell if this strategy is bona fide -- or banal -- clever and brilliant -- or irretrievably detrimental.

Net labels I have timidly and cynically submitted Str8 Sounds music to include:

* Public Records (via Loopmasters)

* Biologic Records

* Memory Format

* Terminal Station

* Astor Bell (rejection, reason = "We find your style a bit too far apart from what we do here at Astor Bell.")

* Nonstop Nonsense Net Lab

* Gargan Records

* Heavy Mental

* Deep X Records

What have you got to lose?

Even if a net label hates your music, wishes they could clean their ears of it, is angry that they can't get yoru rotten tune and bad voice out of their head, and consequently despises the very ground you wriggle upon, so what?

They lose a few seconds of time, you've made a new enemy, your music has suffered a fate worse than death, your career is over, and life goes on! But you won't get anywhere by just composing interminably and fussing eternally with your music. Send it out into the world, man!

If your music is just sitting around on hosting sites, or collecting dust in stacks of CDs, or collecting mold in old cassette tapes, why not get it out there for public consumption and collegial admiration?

Don't worry about rejections. Just get your music out there. All it takes is one net label to discover and promote your music, and then it might have a better chance of catching the attention of a major influential music person who can help launch or greatly advance your career.

It can't hurt. If you are confident that your music is as perfect and unique and polished and fun to listen to as it can possibly be, then who cares if people listen to it critically? They may laugh. They may growl. They may love it.

Let your music have a fighting chance. Let it compete with other music.

May the best music win, I say, even if my own loses constantly, and even ends up hated and heckled. As long as I can stand to listen to it over 20 or 30 times without flinching or being overwhelmed with embarrassment and remorse, then the stuff is fairly good. So why not? I will shove it out the door to see if anybody will accept it and think of it as precious, thrilling, or good for when you're painting, getting ready to go out club hopping, or cleaning house.

Submit your music to net labels and start the journey from Unknown and Unwanted --- to Known and Craved.

Best wishes to all.

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