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Project: online music audiozine

Filed in: music, projects, Web, Sun, Aug 15 2004 22:54 PT

This is all just coming together, but here’s another trial balloon for y’all. I’m working on a music review audiozine in the coming weeks, and I need content to get rolling.

Someone, perhaps Elvis Costello in 1983, said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” I hate reading music reviews for a number of reasons, not the least of which being you don’t know jack about the actual tracks without deciphering pseudo-academic deconstructions and artistic shout-outs. Just a minute flipping through the tunes at the local record store does more for me than any 2000 words in Rolling Stone.

There’s more to it for me than just hating music writing. Lots of bloggers and other illuminati have been complaining lately about the lack of multimedia content being produced by everyday users. One notable entry is from Jon Udell, who urges bloggers to create and propagate audio and video content. Dozens of free tools exist to produce an audio show that, while failing to wow people with $50,000 studios, is good enough technology for the rest of us.

The artists can’t like the current situation, either. There are sites all over hell’s half-acre where unsigned musicians can put up their music and hope to get some buzz around it, but more often than not, they’re just more noise in the echo chamber. The greatest Web success story is probably Jason Mraz, who got a boost by Yahoo a couple years back and ended up on a major label. But that’s almost literally a one-in-a-million shot. It’s a given that you’re probably not going to make any money as an indie act on the Web, but lots of performers would be happy simply knowing that they’re being heard. And since this is a worldwide Web, there exists an ocean of new music we listeners can be exposed to — including entire genres that are huge in one part of the world, and completely unheard of elsewhere.

This is what people who pay $3000 to go to a future-of-the-Web conference are told is an “inflection point.”

I will be producing a show… let’s say once a month, for the time being. I will review only complete albums available in their entirety, in MP3, Ogg, FLAC or Shorten formats, on the Web. My audiozine will be available for download in MP3 format, or as HTML with links to clips inline. (And, of course, RSS and Atom. This isn’t just a low-budget music site, it’s my low-budget music site.) All types of music will be eligible for review. (Yes, including country. Yes, including rap.) I will point to the content owner’s download sites, and where to buy a hard copy or make a donation.

This is a call to all you garage bands and GarageBand junkies, to everybody who thought MP3.com was just a little too light on useful information, to everybody who knows there’s good music out there and wants some poor schmuck to sample it all for them. Post your band or album links here, or email them to mcmay at bestkungfu.com. I will review five to ten for the first issue, and then we’ll just see how it goes from there.

I’ll start you all out with my favorite local electropop group of the moment, United State of Electronica. (They’re Seattle’s answer to Daft Punk.) Their entire debut album, U.S.E., is available for download from the Mannheim Worldwide label’s Web site. The tracks are 192kbps MP3s. Not bad for nothing. Track 2, “Emerald City”, is a little confection that leads me to well up a bit at just how swell it is to live here. Have at it.

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