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.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Return to Fiction: Novels vs Short Stories

A Christmas present to myself: I will give myself the gift of fulfilling an early dream. I am going to get serious about publishing my short stories, those already written, and new ones I'm writing now.

I've had a book published and a few poems, but why did I stop there? Too busy doing marketing work for clients, and fooling around with electronic music, I suppose. Of course, both those activities shall remain in force, full steam ahead.

Happily though, after reading a lot of James Thurber's The Thurber Carnival, Mark Twain's Essays and Sketches and Who Is Mark Twain?, and Norman Mailer's The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing, I found a new and intense motivation to publish all the short stories rotting in cardboard boxes or squirreled away in my brain.

I have been a writer, and fan, of micro stories, extremely brief fiction, known as "sudden fiction", for most of my life. James Joyce's Araby is one of my favorites. I have several volumes of hardbound books containing famous short stories. I'm going to start reading them again.

Part of this renewed interest in short essays and short tales is due to my blogging work. I've noticed that my reading of James Thurber, in particular, has improved my blog writing for clients, and this synergy has me excited.

I find it curious that I often love an author's essays, but shun his or her famous works. Mark Twain, for example. I may have read Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court when I was a kid, but there's no way I'd read them now. Too long. Too much authentic dialect that's virtually unreadable. Some authors are more interesting to me when they're discussing writing in general, than when they're actually writing novels.

It's brief, succinct, quickly-told tales that catch my eye, capture my fancy, and hold my interest. It's not that I have a short attention span, for I can read an entire book by Jacques Derrida or Theodor Adorno with no problem, though I may not comprehend their deeper ideas completely.

A tale must begin with a bang! A shock! A headless man who is more attractive than ever to women! Something bizarre or challenging, a slamming of consciousness that turns your world upside down or casts you down forthright to the floor in utter astonishment.

I believe you can judge a story from it's first few sentences or paragraphs. If the beginning startles or intrigues you, right off the bat, then it's probably going to hold your attention and satisfy you.

I especially like short stories that end up going places you would never guess from the opening statements, works that deviate from expectations, like Mark Twain's "Conversations with Satan" which seems very disrespectful to the Arch Fiend, by virtue of it quickly digressing into a passionate discussion of cigars and how nobody can really tell a good (expensive) one from a bad (cheap) one, except by the box or wrapper it's in.

I've never understood why it would take 400 pages to tell a story. Not that much, of earth-skaking significance, happens to most people in real life to warrant a 400 page reporting of it. Try writing a summary of your life. I'll bet you can do it in under 50 pages.

So why should a novel, even a narrative detailing someone's life history, or the story of several generations of a family, take so many pages?

As I've stated, most of what happens to a person is filler, boring, of no narrative merit, completely void of entertainment or educational value.

Of course, some writers, probably because they are not good in plot construction or dialogue, fill their novels with tedious descriptions of environments, locations, clothing, and other matters of little consequence, even from a symbolic viewpoint.

I know what I like and I know that I don't like novels, especially novels with convoluted plots involving a cast of more than 5 or 6 major characters. A story should be something you can get through without a spending a lot of time and going through a lot of trouble, in my opinion.

"Now who is this person, is that the hero's father, or his university professor, or a step-uncle?" I find myself asking, then flipping back to find where that character is first mentioned. You do that enough times, and you start to get really weary. You begin to wonder why the author can't just cut through all these perfunctory personalities and mundane details -- and jump ahead to the main action or the point the author's trying to make.

Perhaps authors are insecure. Maybe they fill their novels with characters and prolix descriptions to make the novels seem more substantial, or serious, or intricate. To me, it's just a bewildering maze that taxes my patience and burdens my memory powers with unnecessary clutter.

Big fat novels! They're too intrusive, they become an all-consuming escape from reality.

I don't want to escape reality, just to enter something more complicated and tiresome than my own life experience. I'll take a short break from reality, by way of a short story or a little poem, but I'm not interested in devoting a huge amount of attention and memory to a bloated narrative full of characters that you must memorize.

Long novel narratives waste large portions of your valuable time and energy as you ponder people that don't exist and events that never happened.

Whereas, as short story doesn't overwhelm your imagination or replace your own reality, at least not for very long. You dip into it, you swim around a bit within it, then you're out again, often with a moral or a lesson or a better sense of how life works. No big commitment, no long list of characters and their complex relationships with each other.

As a general rule, I will not purchase a thick, long novel. I limit myself to collections of short stories and if I buy a novel, it has to be short, with few descriptive details, actions that are quickly communicated, and lots of dialogue and psycho-philosophical remarks.

I note that the artist and writer Tom McCarthy has a new novel, with the short title C,  in the bookstores. I almost bought it yesterday. I will probably purchase it later, but I'd much rather have a collection of his essays on avant garde art, if such a book exists, which I sadly doubt.

Rainer Maria Rilke's The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge is a fairly short novel that I greatly enjoyed, even though is said to have no plot, and seems to be a collection of impressionistic essays and dream-like sketches of a person attempting to find coherence in a fragmented world. The Amazon reviews are quite to the point.

Alain Robbe-Grillet's Djinn is a really short novel and is surrealistically phenomenal, though a recent Artforum article on Robbe-Grillet didn't even mention it. I think it's one of the best novels (or novellas)  ever written.

There are exception to my Short Novel rule.

The Bible, for example. I have always wished it was ten times longer, and had books in it that were written by women. "The Gospel of Martha" or "Psalms of Deborah" or "Prophecies of the Female Prophets" would be great.

As a side tangent, I am one who rejects the Danvers Statement, evangelical patriarchy, and male domination, since these concepts are clearly non-biblical distortions of carefully selected proof-texts. Male supremacists often condone or ignore wife battering, exploitation of females, incest, and psychological abuse of women.

Example: a woman told her pastor that her husband was violently abusing her. The pastor then told the husband that his wife was gossiping about him. Such a perversion of male roles and church leadership is more common than one would like to think.

Marcel Proust's multi-volume Remembrance of Things Past, Dostoevsky's The Idiot, and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged stand out as exceptionally well-written long novels that are worth slugging through.

But enough of aesthetic theorizing and the vanity of self-revelation!

It's time to get back to my fiction writing. I am venturing forth, once again, into the Literary Realm.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Misery Bear Christmas VIDEO

BBC Comedy "Misery Bear's Christmas"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Most Annoying Website Mistake You Can Make

Since I have encountered this problem a lot lately, I declare it to be the #1 Most Annoying Website Mistake.

Using light gray text on a white background.

Why on earth would anybody do that? Don't you want users to read your text? What do you hope to accomplish by making the text so faint it's nearly illegible?

Here's an example of what I see on websites and blogs quite often:

I am making my web text nearly invisible, so you have to squint and strain to see it and I don't care what you think about it because it's my right to design things any way I want to!!!!! Ha ha ha ha ha.

Do you get my point now?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making TV Commercials Go Viral Via Embed Code

Heineken "Walk In Fridge Ad"

Have you ever seen a commercial on TV, and thought it was brilliant? Hilarious? Classy? Instructive?

We all have favorite commercials, even though we may generally resent having programs interrupted by them. Sometimes the television commercials are even better than the sitcoms, new shows, or movies we're watching.

Then again, we all have commercials we absolutely hate. To me, almost all automobile TV commercials are despicable or boring. My main complaint is that car commercials often show people driving at super high speeds, bordering on recklessly, with no other traffic or pedestrians around. This is both unethical and unrealistic.

For example, I like the Capital One TV commercials featuring the Vikings.

I also like the Geico caveman commercials, but I find the gecko commercials extremely stupid and annoying. Sometimes I wish the Geico caveman would catch the Geico gecko, roast it, and eat it. Just kidding, but I'm not the only one who gets a bit passionate about certain TV commercials.


Well, if people are really enthusiastic about a TV commercial, even if it's just because it's really funny, there's a missed opportunity for corporations. If corporate websites posted their TV commercials in an archive, and provided code to enable fans to embed their commercials in their blogs, think of how that could help promote the brand.

Even though they're laughing, people are still thinking about your product and brand, if the commercial makes it clear what's being advertised and uses humor correctly to highlight a product benefit or differentiation from competing brands.

You'd think that businesses would love to have people embedding their TV commercials in their blogs. That's FREE advertising, unpaid distribution of marketing material. If the blogger is influential, the company's credibility and good will would increase a lot also.

Companies could put the embed code right into the frame of the video, so people who visit a blog and view the commercial could also embed that video in their own blog. I think you now see the viral potential available here.

So why don't corporations post their TV commercial videos on their websites?

Why don't they post their TV commercials on YouTube?

Why don't they provide video embed code for their TV commercials?

I have pondered this for years, and only today did I realize this would be a good thing to blog about.

I have found some websites that post TV commercials and provide video embed code. Check out the Computer Associates "Caesar" commercial posted at Clipland.

TBS gets it.

They sponsor a TV commercial archives website called Very Funny Ads, and under Share This Ad, they provide video embed code, along with ways to promote a video on Twitter, Facebook, and other social bookmark and networking sites.

When will companies wake up and do the same on their corporate and ecommerce websites?

Pepsi "Kung Fu Ad"

New World Order commercial starring Helen Thomas, George Bush Jr. & Sr., etc. (no embed code available).