Jan 26th, 2011 :: BY Double You :: POSTED IN Sound :: Articles

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This is a State of the Union address to the higher states of future culture, sonic warrior tribes of the West Coast and the world at large. WE are all much more than we appear to be. We CAN do big!

Fairly inspired by Obama’s speech to the Nation last night. Whether you believe in the game of human management or not, anyone who rallies people to achieve more in the name of humanities betterment is a-okay in my book.

But what about our “state of the union?” This bedroom producer, artists in secret, that toil away in silicon isolation to show up at clubs and parties across this globe at the stroke of midnight to lay out the jams like starlight de-cloaking in power rhythms for the cult of the open minded. How’s it going “out there” and are “we” surviving and feeling fulfilled with our collective efforts?

For myself, in early December of 2010, I stone cold stopped posting music reviews and features on I AM A LASER. I burnt myself out with all my efforts to support new music while at the same time neglecting to support myself. It’s a shame that no one donates money or that labels or artists can’t think to hire you to do all this promotion. So if all the artists who want reviews don’t/can’t contribute for my services, I can’t really play. I want to pay the rent and eat and have clothes on my back so my recent efforts have been placed on finding stable income via a j-o-b. Once that’s settles, I may come back to this.

Though…something has to change on a larger scale for all involved. Mainly because we all are changing. Social technologies, mobile applications and the lack of time juggling all that is coming at us is dramatically shifting how we experience and consume music. This is nothing new, as per the last decade, but this environment of media is just about to turn a big corner -and that is where I and I AM A LASER want to play.

Recently I have been in dialog with other blog owners such as Syd at Grounded.tv and John at Bwomp Beats as to their current experiences running similar websites/media blogs. There is a growing consensus among us that the game needs to change. As with the exponential democratization of access to tools of creation -there is just toooooooo much music to review. As we are all unpaid to do this, it basically requires a staff of at least three full time people to get a grasp the wave that is about to hit.

What’s going to hit? The day we wake up to the reality that everyone is a producer, artist, DJ, etc and that there is NO AUDIENCE LEFT. What do you do then when all the people who were once sitting in the chairs of the theater get up and hop onto the stage and proclaim -all at the same time, that they are “what’s up” and that they have something to share/sell/proclaim/innovate. Total white noise in a blinding big bang flash. Perhaps this is the singularity effect that Einstein sought after with all his might.

As John from Bwomp wrote to me: “So the question becomes; how do we deliver content in a world that has too much already?” We are all at a crazy culture intersection for sure. Everyone is both a consumer and content creator. Be it a simple Tumblr account, a Soundcloud page, or Twitter account, everyone wants an audience, followers, in which to shake their thing in front of. My hit on this is that Blog culture is dying. Period. The signs are here. What’s happening is that through mobile devices we are turning into a “real -time” experience. Reading is a casualty of this. Even clicking on a link is going the way of the Dinosaur.

Though it is still true, that in the age of information, you need filters to get through all this content. Be that taste makers, experts, algorithms, keywords, or celebrities that point to and curate the best of the best out there. The cream must rise to the top.

Also, where is our economy? This scene relies too much upon favors and freebies. In a chance to be heard artists are continually giving their music away for free. How is that good? Another question arises: Paid Content. When, at what point in the experience, can we all charge? It must be answered or else there is no business model and that automatically makes us a charity organization.

One possible answer is that this could be subsidized by a coalition of independent record labels so users never have to pay or, at some point, the culture must pull out their wallets and support the infrastructure of the “cutting-edge.” We have a tax system in the United States. That’s how roads, and all the other things we take for granted (and assume is our natural right as US citizens), get built and supported. So where is the income in this scene? I’m not talking about getting rich. I’m talking about basic survival and living needs being met. Otherwise all of us will starve in fantasy land.

This is a big topic and what I aim to have a conversation with you. Put down the rampant ambition for a second and tell me what’s going on for you as a: Blog owner, music producer, DJ, clothing designer, visual artists, VJ, record label owner, promoter, agent. and more. Are you keeping up? Are you supporting yourself? Are you still excited? Why?

12 comments

download music:
 1 

As with the exponential democratization of access to tools of creation -there is just toooooooo much music to review..There is a growing consensus among us that the game needs to change. As we are all unpaid to do this, it basically requires a staff of at least three full time people to get a grasp the wave that is about to hit?

January 29th, 2011 at 3:31 am
c47 iz a dj:
 2 

It’s the hustle that we do to be a part of this culture, which defines us. As a dj, it’s the hustle to be liked and the hustle to access the wealth, the emotions and minds of fans friends and family. It’s not the act of hustling, which make the human experience a drag but the state of mind and the emotional energy placed within this hustling.
I have decided that to be a pure sonic warrior in one of the many tribes of the West Coast and the world at large. I must be humble and not fear the current changes in the environment of media and how it affects me as we turn this big corner. We cannot fathom what is happening but we can act on faith that it will provide some mechanisms to feed and cloth and shelter us. I want to play in this brave new world. I want to be a leader within my west coast tribe. I haven’t starved yet and I don’t think I will. I must continue to give freely and do my share to make the party bumping. I’m going to let go of this old social paradigm of the capitalist hustle. And in brace the new one and know that is going to be free and all users can share in its creation and content.

January 31st, 2011 at 3:40 am
VJFaceless:
 3 

As a VJ I’m very excited for the future. I know a few DJs around here who are “jealous”because I can get into almost any gig, due to the fact that there are very few VJs. Visuals WILL be present at every event in the future; it’s just too easy and too dope not to. With projections mapping, holographic displays and other technologies becoming available the game will change and only some will evolve.

It’s all about the community. If you don’t have support from the ground up it will all fall. As long as I have support where I live and can play weekly I’m fine. If you take out the whole “money” idea, of course I’d do it for free every time. As long as my community supported me and everyone else with energy, a place to live and food. But getting rid of money is a whole new topic.

Keep writing Mr. Laser. Your community is here.

January 31st, 2011 at 11:41 am
klafka:
 4 

The thought of record labels and artists directly subsidizing bloggers turns a blog from a review to an advertisement and defeats the purpose of bloggers. Although it’s true many bloggers may as well just be advertisers for record labels but are we to merely abdicate all integrity in the name of money?

We are also living in a post-piracy world. Artists can either choose to give away their music, reach a larger audience and thus sell merch and command higher booking fees or they can choose to sell their music and much more likely never be heard of by most people. Copyright has only existed for a bit over 100 years the time where people had complete control over their music has passed.

I frankly would rather live in a world where people only blogged, made music, made art because they deeply passionately cared about it at the expense of fucking everything else, regardless of if they could live off their art or not. What I see that sickens me much more than people not being paid for their art are “artists” engaged in some sort of minimax strategy to capture a fanbase as wide as possible to vault them, typically unsuccessfully, into money.

I’d rather every artist work a day job and be true to themselves than have them achieve great success by creating empty soulless works of technical proficiency.

February 6th, 2011 at 1:47 pm
 5 

Klafka – I agree with you about bloggers being subsidized could turn into a payola situation with no taste involved. A blog is here to be the voice of its writers likes and dislikes, not paychecks.

Where I have been playing an amateurs game is that I have not asked for some sort of mutual exchange, a community driven approach to what gets covered. I have spent hour after hour, for free, doing work on the behalf of others promotions, many times without the artists even tweeitng or facebooking the post, in a method that does not “pay” me back for my time. Doing it just for love when you can’t pay the rent is a fools game (for me at least).

So, as you suggest, and as I have written, day job it is. Though I do want to come up with a formula where by the community gives equally where it also takes.

February 9th, 2011 at 11:23 am
Eric:
 6 

Wondered why so quiet. You have done good with this.

February 11th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
masta-de-gumbo:
 7 

It sounds like the music and scene your’e trying to promote is suffering from the ol’ over saturation. Even if it’s all of a certain quality, there’s so many people out there trying to do it that it’s blunting demand. The fact that this has happened is not new, yet the speed of which it has taken place is the result of the times we live in. And the fact that the community you’re reaching out to and supporting does not give back is just an example of their immaturity, laziness en masse, and naivete of everyone involved. People do need to eat, live and support themselves and their loved ones, and if the music itself can’t sustain, then one of two things need to happen: either the people change or the music changes.

ok.

That said, I believe that the most effective way we can break through and move forward with what we’re doing is integrate something that helps us, as bloggers, musicians etc, stand out from the pack. Be open to radical change, a radical shift in our sound, the way things are done etc. Just as great artists we look up to who do make a living with their art seem to completely stand alone in their approach, aesthetic and sound world, it’s our responsibility to do things differently for ourselves yet again. Most people are not creative enough or smart enough or original enough to do this – they’re more than happy to imitate, and modern software / tools / tricknology makes it ever easier to do so, but with so many imitators biting each other and de-valuing the music we care about, we’ve been given an opportunity for someone to burst forth and change the game yet again. Is that gonna be you?

April 13th, 2011 at 8:16 am
masta-de-gumbo:
 8 

also, at a certain point, it’s healthy to say “No.” It’s good to say no to gigs or opportunities that don’t pay or don’t pay enough. It’s good to feel like you’re actually worth something and you don’t need to do things for free anymore. It’s good to value your work. you may not make your money directly through your art, but you know that if there’s demand for what you do, you can leverage that demand by asking for a raise, firstly and foremost, from yourself.

you taking a step back from this blog is your first step towards saying “no, i will not do this for free right now.” You’ve basically said ‘no’ to your readers and that commands respect from everyone involved. if the demand is there, as it seems to be, perhaps your followers will wise-up to your talents and collectively move to support your tireless efforts.

If they don’t, they were never really your fans in the first place and were in it just for the free stuff. At this point, you’ve proven yourself to them, and many people beyond, and they aren’t worth your time. The real fans will show real love and will support you with real money. These fans may be patrons, entities who actually have money to support you with, or some other organization you don’t see coming, but true talent does end up finding a home, as long as the creator keeps on it and is open for new approaches and opportunities to where their craft leads them.

-g

April 13th, 2011 at 8:25 am
Miles Airon:
 9 

I was just directed here by a friend during a conversation concerning similar subject matter, so while i would not yet call myself a “fan” of this blog, I do see the importance of this type of media, and do appreciate that these things are out there being talked/blogged about. Thank you sir, for your time and efforts. Im 33, a 16yr Dj (House, Techno, Hip/trip Hop, Dn’B, Breaks, Bass) from the NW. I’ve recently been finding more time and success in the studio working on productions, as well as performing live sets w/ Ableton. I’ also do a bit of graphic design work and produce/claborate on local events. Unfortunately my musical endeavors have never really paid me back even as much as I put into them, monetarily. The payoff has always been in the experience I can share with my audience and the gratitude expressed for it. I have always been lucky enough to find other ways to support myself while finding time to pursue music.
So here’s my take…

1. Before the start of the recording industry a bit more than 100 years ago, the the primary way a musical artist got paid was through performance. Obviously, since the dawn of the phonograph, artists have been increasingly and primarily paid based on their studio recorded works. At this point, with the change in media and access, and the saturation those things bring, artists are struggling to be paid through sales of their recorded material. Ok so it’s pushing back toward the pre recording industry standard of musical artists being paid for live performance.
2. As far as electronic music goes, before the popular advent of the ableton live set, most performers of electronic music were Dj’s, with a very small % of performances being done live on electronic instruments outside of the turntable/cdj. With Dj’s thriving off of the recording industry’s material, they occupy both the position of consumer and artist. However, this assumes that the Dj is of the caliber to create something new and artistic out of existing material, which is not the case for many types of “Dj”. “Dj” styles range widely from radio/wedding drop mixing to live creation of epic sonic masterpieces, from loud consumer playback to artistic genius, from the pop word to the UNDERGROUND. Key distinction here being that in the popular world the Dj is a glorified, well programed cd player, where as in the underground the Dj is an artist. In the world where the Dj is an actual artist you have a creative space where multiple entities energies flow into an end product that is the Dj’s masterful live mix of other producers material. Unfortunately this is not the mass marketing world of pop culture and money. What dominates in the real world of pop culture and money? The Dj as a consumer playback machine, of course.
3. As technology advances, enter the Ableton Dj, it unfortunately only seems to get worse. There are a small percentage of artists out there actually using the technology to create new things in new ways but the overwhelming majority seem to underusing it to the point of uselessness. I mean “performance” after “performance” of not mixed, drop mixed, horribly phrased, horribly eq’d, music that could be blended into something amazing in the hands of a proper performance artist. At best the excuse is that the “performer” produced all of the music that they played. Ok, but is that really performance art? Sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s not. Unless of course you were advertised as a dancer. Studio musicians are not performing artists unless they are creating something live for an audience. I really don’t think talking between tracks, drop mixing, or even making short, poor mixes qualify as art in todays world of technology. ITunes does all of that, sans hyping the ego, all on its own. Again, unfortunately, the dominating trend here is a dumbing down of the concept and possibilities of live interactive performance art. The worst part is it’s infiltrating the underground. The counterculture world, where art is born, is taking on the characteristics and values of commercial pop culture rather than forcing positive change in it. Producers are more concerned with how they can get paid, by “performing”, than how they can best influence people with their music, by possibly putting it in the hands of a capable performer, or even taking the time to learn there chops and do something interesting live.

So we start with a world of electronic music where, generally, true performing artists get paid less than mainstream/pop culture hype machines. As technology advances, the underground world of artistic development, in the realm of performance, is being diluted. Then we add in the shift toward musical artists being payed for live performance. Now we have an environment where the people making the cutting edge artistic music in the studio are posing as performers, so that they can make the available music money. The problem is that before the recording industry, music wasn’t about money, in the underground it’s never been about money, now that the industry is changing… MUSIC IS STILL NOT ABOUT MONEY! (not to be confused with musicians shouldn’t make money ;-) To much music money feeds the wrong people in the wrong ways for the wrong things leaving true artists and contributors to sing the blues.
What we’re are experiencing here is a situation where all audiences and attached culture are suffering from lack of a quality musical experience. A live, shared musical experience, as humans have had the benefit of since first banging the drum or even telling a story. This void is generated by the lack of any proper or reasonable organization of systems to combat the overrun of the artistic underground by pop, fame, money culture. We must push to use our technology for promotion of healthy culture rather than let it be used for making us dumber, more broke, and less human.

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