Monday, February 28, 2011

Musical Instrument Sales Videos

Emu Emulator II Sound Library Demo by JMP Synth

This video selling the Emu Emulator II synthesizer shows only the musical instrument spinning around, as music comes out of it.

This is one of the best ways to market a musical instrument, and many other products: show it in action, doing something valuable, with no loud mouthed sales pitches or paid revues by alleged experts.

Everybody Be Quiet Now and Let the Product Do Its Thing is how one could describe this style of marketing. It can be provocative and productive. Consider how you could implement this Silent Salesman approach in your field of business or art.

It would only seem obvious that a video that's trying to sell a musical instrument, especially an electronic musical instrument, could feature the instrument playing itself, or seeming to do so, with no human or machine intervention, wailing away like a drunken banshee or a nomadic ascetic, so all you care about, all you see and hear, is the instrument and the music it produces.

Let the musician imagine himself or herself behind the musical instrument, replacing the vacuum created by the absence of human presence. Watch the sounds occur with no pressing of keys, no sliding levers, no knobs twirling, no hands-on experience. It as though the music came from deep within the unit, from its soul, radiating through the physical shell,

Remove the bungling human world and let it revolve around itself for a while, in the meantime, the product steps forward, untethered, non-aligned, simply performing what it does best, solving a problem or generating a desired result, meeting a need or creating a demand, all by itself, autonomous, contracting a deal between itself and the customer, with no fake customer seen enjoying it, who is just a trained actor who pretends to like something because he's being paid to act this way, a glaringly, almost blindingly empty spot, a non-presence with a powerful magnetism that lures you into substituting yourself for the vacancy -- nearly effortlessly churning out the desired result that comes from this union of man and machine.

Emu Emulator II Demo - Part 2

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Definitions of Basic Music Composition Terms

As a genre-hopping composer of contemporary style serious music, advanced or academic music, what is uncomfortably referred to as modern classical music, computer music, and electronic music, I find myself in the uneasy position of having to explain what contemporary, serious, music, noise, sound, and other terms are and how to use them in speech and writing.

Sound is a mental event that coincides with a disturbance of the air and is perceived by our aural receptors when it's in a certain range of values. In other words, sound is something that is heard and the occasion of labeling something "a sound" comes to us from that portion of the sky that is at the height of our heads, or, in the complex and little understood phenomenon of mentally replaying a song, seemingly from the head itself, that is, in the memory.

Simply put, however, sound is a thought that originates in the idea that forms in the mind in the form of words and sensations as movement occurs in the eardrum. If you don't notice a sound, because you're asleep or dead or concentrating on something else, then, for you, there is no sound, and only retrospectively will you be aware of it, if ever.

If you're reading a book at home, with no TV or radio, and suddenly a neighbor revs up a chainsaw to cut some fireplace wood, and you hear it, and you think to yourself, "That's annoying. Now I can't focus on the narrative of this novel", that's sound. You can think of all forms of sound, from Beethoven to bullfrogs  croaking, as That Which Interrupts Silence. But silence is more than the absence or a severe muffling of sounds, it's the slowing down and pacification of thought.

Now we know what sound is, so what is music?

Music, according to musicians, is a category of sound events that is intended to entertain, inspire, enhance surroundings, commemorate an event, or motivate others on some level. Music, according to record companies, is a category of sound events that earns money. Music, according to the average person, is a category of sound events that complies with what that person considers to be musical (for example, a person might say that the Beatles made music, but Xenakis did not, because they don't like Xenakis).

All these theories are wrong.

Music is whatever a composer or musician says it is.

If a composer produces a song, but can't get it right, and erases it and starts all over again, that composition was not music, it was a rejected trial project. Only the work that the composer is proud of, and designates as perfect enough for his or her legacy, and possibly public consumption, therefore, is music.

Many even in the art world get this wrong.

They can be heard muttering that music is whatever other people call music, in other words, if other people don't consider your work music, then it isn't, it needs to be verified and substantiated by critical consensus. If other composers and music reviewers refer to you as a composer, you are one, and if they don't, you're not. Ah, but this is the herd mentality definition of music, which we leave to one side now as we continue the discussion.

Even if you don't like it, or it doesn't sound like any music you've ever heard, or it sounds too simple, or too complex, or too harsh, or too disjointed, regardless, if the one creating the sounds calls it music, then it's music. There can be no other way to define the term music and remain logically consistent and conform to common sense.

Music, as a term used in a limited, colloquial sense by the masses, originally indicated a field of sounds that are regarded, by somebody, as pleasant or necessary. Aesthetic differentiations ensued, conventions arose, schools of compositional technique quarreled, and music as a descriptive label began splitting off into porously delineated zones: traditional, kitsch, classical, orthodox, popular, military, film soundtrack, game arcade, religious, avant garde, experimental, rock, country, folk, jazz, tribal, industrial, and anti-music, to name but a few.

A bird chirping might be categorized as pleasant. A soldier's bugle blast, war drumming, funeral dirge, wedding march, or courtly fanfare might be considered necessary, with the possibility of also being pleasant, but the main idea is the communication of a wake up call, warning, triumph, entrance of a dignitary, or other critical business.

To this list we moderns could include the micro melodies made by a computer when logging off and logging on, a car when the headlights lights are left on and the door is being shut, a microwave when it's finished cooking, traffic lights switching colors, and other utilitarian tones.

What happens when music fails in whatever mission it has been assigned? It can be called bad music, but most might say it was not music at all, not pleasant enough to rise to the level of music, or not effective in achieving its pragmatic intent.

Noise is sound that for various reasons someone decides is even worse than bad music. Though it may have a rhythm, noise rarely has a discernable melody, and is the non-melodious, that which irritates, startles, rubs one the wrong way, is avoided by most musicians, or used only as a gimmick, and is usually too loud or too alien to ones milieu. In other words, the vast majority of sound in the universe.

Sound was not divided into Noise and Music until humans came along. Prior to that, all sounds, from wolves howling to bullfrogs croaking and cicadas buzzing, was on an equal footing. The rock stars were the creatures who had the best songs and thus intimidated the competitors, threatened intruders, and attracted higher quality mates. This principle, in an unnatural and warped form, continues in human music, but it's often the worst musicians who, by manipulating the market in an extra-musical manner, get all the attention, money, and fans.

Contemporary music means the sonic material being produced today. This type of music, being current and relevant, is of much greater importance, in every way, than music of the past or future, and deserves far more appreciation, analysis, and radio play.

Serious music is material created for artistic appreciation and intellectual evaluation, in contrast to pop music which is designed to elicit emotional responses, is transferable to usage in product advertising jingles, and is often opposed to sober and principled analysis.

After listening to serious music, one asks "So what do you think?" rather than "So how do you feel?" It is manufactured with the intent to provoke the organ of reason and critique, not the glands of visceral reflex. It tends to make you perceive and ponder, not dance or sing along.

In some cases, what is transferable from serious music is the mental processing that engendered the composition, the mathematical rules or stochastic attributes, and by listening to complex, abstract, non-euphoric, non-orgiastic, cerebral music, one may gain an incremental increase in intelligence and creativity.

Finally, there is unknown music, sonic happenings that are too distant, too small, too large, or too far off the audible spectrum for humans to hear and discuss in online forums. The sound of amoebas splitting and galaxies colliding fall into this category that currently at any rate remains off limits.

Monday, February 21, 2011

SEO Tips in InterBusiness Issues

This month's issue of InterBusiness Issues, a publication of Peoria Magazines, deals with healthcare reform. I'm pleased to have an article included in this issue, since healthcare is such a hot topic right now.

My article on SEO is on page 27, as linked below. Check out all my articles on web technology and social networking for business.

InterBusiness Issues (February 2011)

"SEO Tips to Increase Your Website Traffic"

My previous articles:

InterBusiness Issues (October 2010)

"12 Tips for Creating Business Blog Content"

InterBusiness Issues (September 2008)

"Web Usability Testing"

InterBusiness Issues (November 2007)

"Business Blogs as Marketing Tools"

InterBusiness Issues (October 2007)

"Social Networking Tips for Business"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Attracting Followers for Your Social Networks

Many business owners know that people are aggregating, flocking together, around shared interests, and using social media to do so. What often seems mysterious is how to generate interest in a company's blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.

"I have a blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page, but how do I increase the number of fans?" is a common question.

The wrong answer is: pay a spamming service to drive lots of unqualified, random visitors to your social networks. You'll get big numbers, but they won't convert to sales, they won't become loyal customers because they're not in the market for your products.

The right answer is:
content and interaction.

Before addressing the issue of actively pursuing people to add to your social network, in this post we'll focus on the right attitude to have and the content strategy required.

If people are driven to your social network, then see nothing but arrogant assertions, sales hype, and no mingling with people on a personal level, no matter how many hits you get, people will not stay. They'll shun you and move on to more interesting, compassionate, and authentic people to friend, fan, and follow.


Give people what they want, according to your expertise. In other words, your blog posts, Twitter tweets, and Facebook updates must be valuable. How do you provide value? By knowing what they're interested in and what they need.

You own a business. Your customers and potential clients have needs. You have two ways to benefit a customer: your products and your professional insights.

You can't just push products and discount coupons. If you're totally sales-oriented, the members of the online community will perceive you as spammy, nothing but hype, and maybe even a greedy person.

People don't join social networks to buy things or to receive non-stop sales messages. People join social networks to socialize. Of course, they appreciate a bargain. They like to discover affordable solutions to their problems. Sometimes they might have questions that need an answer. But they don't like aggressive, relentless marketing.

Social media is used to connect with friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, classmates, club members, and, in some cases, experts they respect and companies they like.

If you present yourself as representing a company, being the CEO, Owner, Marketing Coordinator, Customer Service, or Social Media Specialist, you need to bring the company's unique features to the forefront, while altruistically (non-commercially) helping them understand your products and industry better.

This means talking about aspects of your business, without always pushing a product or boasting about your company and your highly trained personnel. You want to be perceived as someone who, because you own or manage a business, are full of good ideas about solving problems people encounter, in the area of your expertise.

Another key strategy for content is to pay attention to what people are already talking about on social media, or events and issues that are getting a lot of mainstream media coverage. If there's some angle or spin you can put on a topic, that showcases your expertise, and relates to your business, do a post about it. Take that news item and handle it from your unique perspective.

You can also use social media to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Help people know what to look for when shopping for a provider. Guide them to the right product for their needs. Compare different types of products. Just by being a warm, friendly, responsive person in social media is a key difference that brings you a competitive advantage.


Social media is not about buying and selling stuff.

Social media is about connecting, which means caring and sharing. You don't follow a person or a business if you don't care about them. You have to have some amount of interest, even if it's just curiosity or for old time's sake, to add someone to your Twitter feed or Facebook update stream.

Caring and sharing.

You must show that you care about people, if you want more followers, fans, and friends for your social media. Display your caring, benevolent, friendly demeanor by getting involved with people in your online community.

On social networks, people complain, ask questions, request help, solicit the opinions of others on a topic, discuss news events, rave about TV shows and movies, make fun of celebrities, provide recipes, make recommendations, announce life changes, flirt, and seek others with similar interests, beliefs, and lifestyles.

Now, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Read their updates, tweets, and blog posts. Look at their photos. Watch their videos. Laugh (LOL) at their jokes. Post comments on their blogs and status updates. If you know them personally, tease them playfully, have fun with their confessions and gripes.

React to their content. Be funny sometimes, be serious most of the time, but always remain neutral and professional. You won't want to flirt, or attack someone's belief, mock competitors, or argue about politics. Aside from those basic taboos, just about any other kind of mature interaction is acceptable.

In fact, to portray yourself as an ordinary person, and not a vending machine trying to sell as much product as possible, lighten up. Tell a joke. Link to a comical YouTube video, especially if it deals with your industry or area of expertise.

Once people see that you're a person first, a business owner second, they'll warm up to you. They'll pay more attention to your content updates. They may even visit your store or place of business, possibly for the first time. You may be able to convert them to loyal paying customers, who will then spread positive buzz about you, both online and offline.

Never, and I mean never, ignore a question or request that comes to you from a social network.

Everyone will see that you don't care, if you let a question or request sit there, unanswered, rotting away. People will notice your lack of response, if it's in the publicly displayed section, like status updates. They'll come to the conclusion that you just want to deliver your own messages and sales hype, without really connecting with customers.

Reply as quickly, completely, and cordially as you can. This answering a question or fulfilling a request is a great opportunity to prove you are a caring member of the online community.

Take another example. A person on your social network has not contacted you directly, but has said, in passing, that they don't understand something, or they're having trouble with something, that relates to your business and expertise.

Jump in there, unasked, and voluntarily make a recommendation or offer a solution, even if it doesn't necessarily involve purchasing your products. Share a tip, a link to a tutorial, or some practical advice from a seasoned pro.

CARING and SHARING is the Key.

There are a lot of valid methods for increasing the numbers of people who fan, friend, and follow you on social networks.

But a good mix of content and interaction, based on a philosophy of caring and sharing, is the firm foundation that all the other techniques revolve around. No methodology will succeed in the long haul if you neglect these two vital issues.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Str8 Sounds as worlds spin around me VIDEO

Str8 Sounds "As Worlds Spin Around Me".

From "Vanish" CD. Images courtesy of NASA.

Friday, February 18, 2011

End of Gender and Demographics in Marketing VIDEO

Johanna Blakley "Social Media and the End of Gender / Demographics"

How social media, and increasing female dominance of it, are defining the contents of the global village and changing the way advertising and marketing thinks about consumers. By increasingly dominating social networks, the entire media landscape may become more feminine / feminist.

People don't aggregate according to age, income & gender. They aggregate around shared interests. If you're selling something, the fact that a person is male, female, rich, middle class, white, black, young, old, single, married, divorced, etc. is of no importance, or of greatly diminished importance (depending on the product).

The main driver of sales is shared interests and perceived value related to that interest, not some marketing model of the typical consumer. Stereotypes, psychographics, and demographic categories are steadily seen to be archaic and of diminished value to marketing and sales. What, then, is the role of the media company vis a vis social networks?

Even though it's important to know various psychographic and demographic statistics about your customer base and overall market, and to use this information to help formulate marketing campaigns, the primary consideration should be shared interests and how to accommodate these interests in a universal manner, appealing to all ages, genders, incomes, etc.

This agrees with common sense when you consider how, as people of all types get online and share their interests, these interests will naturally become untethered from specific ethnic, geographical, racial, gender, age, religion, income, and other characteristics, circulating freely, irrespective of statistical categories, resulting in the interests becoming more homogenous and universal.

Thus, to think organic food, for example, is of interest primarily to upper income, highly educated, environmentalist, or female gender categories may be increasingly less true, as more people share this interest in their social networks and expose people of different categories to organic food and natural lifestyles.

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter Water FILM

Winter Water, a film by Steven E. Streight, is from "I Dreamed a Dreaming Swan" DVD compilation of black and white films.

Turbulence swirls in the trickling stream as its music sparkles with bubbling joy.

Color stills of film prior to greyscale processing:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Str8 Sounds sky flute

Now we're displeased to announce the unfortunate emergence of this project by Str8 Sounds entitled "Sky Flute".

Here are songs from this album.

Offering and Symbol by str8sounds

I got some courage to look into the flute.
Then I picked up my loot.
What would I spend today?

Going back down into the dirt,
down where all the stickers hurt.
Back down into the dirt, with ascetism flirt.

Never listen to the radio or recorded music
of any sort on headphones.

Spikes, clicks, and other sound glitches
can occur at any point.

Extremely high pitched tones
and very low pitch bass
can kill, drive insane, destroy ears.
Why composers use such sounds
is unknown to me.

All music see, of every type
and every degree,
should be played initially,
and almost, after that, eternally,
only in an extreme emergency,
and then at the lowest possible volume,
so you can barely hear it,
and at the furthest distance you can get from it.

Listen to music at the lowest possible volume,
so you can barely hear it,
and at the furthest distance you can get from it.

It's important to follow these instructions
with no exceptions to avoid sensory catastrophe.

Sky Flute by str8sounds

You were on a different root.
Now you're climbing through the roof.
Hungrier for some truth.
Tired of always getting the boot.
Enter heaven new recruit.
It's a sky flute.
God has no substitute.
God has no substitute.
You were on a different root.
Now you're climbing through the roof.
Hungrier for some truth.
Listen. It's the sky flute.
It glistens.
You are hungrier for some truth.
Now you're climbing through the roof.
You are hungrier for some truth.
It's the sky flute.
There exists no substitute for the sky flute.