Musicgroups in the net - a big trend!


The importance of music groups for sceners is increasing steadily. The reasons for this trend are clear and simple: On the one hand the musicians who publish their songs through those music groups have great problems to get paid deals with a professional recording label, but they can be sure that their songs will be leeched and heard by many people, provided that this music group is well-known. This is also a way to get one's own name better known, but is that enough in order to establish oneself so that the headhunters of the recording companies become interested?? One should highly doubt that, but not everybody's seeking for a deal and much money to earn. Many also simply want to find a platform for their hobby and track their songs for fun. On the other hand: Their music is for free this way, they won't earn a single buck for all the efforts they've spent on tracking. Good for us who can access many great works for free, but not so cool for the musicians...

Quality or Quantity??

It depends on the label itself, the quality of songs being slammed around on the Net is highly variable, from great down to poor. But some labels such as Tokyo Dawn Records, Mono, UpRough, Disciples of Ageema and many others grant for good stuff!! Some of these labels are already semi-professional and obviously their goal is to enter the world of professional music business sooner or later.

It could not be better, could it? The only thing you have to do is to visit their site, inform yourself if the musicstyle they offer fits your needs, and then you simply target your browser to leech their latest works. And what they want us to download is mostly better than what is played in the regular charts. Not to forget that, compared to playing MP3 songs from the charts, collecting those modules is legal, as there's no copyright for this type of freeware.

Discussing if track XY or group YZ is good or not surely doesn't make sense. Music is like painting, modelling etc., a sort of art - and art is always a question of taste. It's up to your own taste if you like a certain musicstyle or not.

Just browse a bit through the list of links from SCENET, try a few tracks, follow some links and you'll soon be satisfied!

On the SCENET homepage you can also find a lot more sites dealing with computer-made music. Most of them offer nice pieces to listen to.

PC rocks?? Nope, not here!!

Most composing tools on the PC like FastTracker look rather poor even if you compare them with a stone-old version of Protracker coded in 1992 or 93!! If you try to compare them with the latest version of PT or even with the multichannel editor Digibooster, they cannot compete in any way!!! Especially because most of them are plain DOS programs with all their disadvantages, as they can't offer any GUI. The programmers' original goal apparently was to create a Protracker clone for the PC. And yes, for many musicians who don't know the real thing, these programs work well, but the option to use up to 32 channels alone cannot wipe out the fact that these are really poor applications. It's really time for a new generation of tracking programs on the PC working with a graphical user interface and all the options a modern program like DigiBooster offers. The other possibility would be to switch on the lonesome Amiga (or emulator) in order to try out how things work on our platform.

But back to the MusicScene ...

I spoke with the leader of one of the obviously best labels on the Net, Tokyo Dawn Records. The German Assign of TDR chatted a lot with me about the pros and contras of the new MP3 trend and many other things. Note: This interview is a translation of an article used in the one and only existing commercial Amiga papermag in Germany, Amiga Plus. I wanted to wait so long (one year) before publishing it here in order not to cause any troubles with the copyright or with the editor in chief.

Ghandy: At the beginning, as typical for my interviews, please introduce yourself to the public with your name, age, job, hobbies etc.

Assign: Marc Wallowy is my name, I'm 21 years old and currently doing my civil service here in Heidelberg and soon I'll start studying media engineering. Besides, I'm earning little money as a programmer, taking care of Tokyo Dawn Records, my commercial records, my bandprojects (Jungle/Triphop) etc. etc.

Ghandy: How did you start making music on your computer?

Assign: I've seen it all on C64 but for myself it began when the WhackerTracker was released. That's a difference to many other musicians who started using their Amiga with 4 channels very early - some of them are still working with it.

Ghandy: The list of MusicGroups in the net is endless. What does a new crew have to do in order to be part of this circle??

Assign: Actually there aren't any rules. Every musician decides for himself which style to use and in which format to release his tunes (.mod, .xm, .it, mp3 etc.). There's no pressure, there's total freedom - you can do what you want and what you like to do as you don't have to make sure that your record is sold well like you have to if you make professional music. You don't need any money as a starting capital and no endless discussions with people from the management of the record company. Of course there are methods to gain people's interest: a good homepage-design, the right keywords in the search engines, and mp3 versions of every tracked song, as surprisingly those mp3s are downloaded much more often than the original .xm/.it tunes, which are several light-years shorter! But in the end everything's dealing with the music, if your music isn't interesting or good enough, anything else won't help you.

Ghandy: Could you please introduce us a bit into the music Scene?

Assign: Mono211, League of Kaos, Disciples of Ageema, Cope, Rebound, etc. - there are many groups which are worth mentioning, they all help us step forward in our movement. Not the competition between us is important, neither is it honour or even things like sex, drugs & rock'n roll; it's music, music and music, that's our motivation to go on.

Ghandy: How did the foundation of TDR take place and what people are members of this crew?

Assign: We had known each other for a while because of scene-parties and the Internet. The respect was already there, the idea to found a group of our time had been rushing through our brains for a longer time, and then, in September 1997, it finally happened. Honestly it was more like a pool of musicians who were friends and not a label with a 100% fixed concept. Our staff has changed during the time a bit but most things are today like they were in the beginning. Until today we've rejected each commercial offer we've received!!! Our members live in different countries of Europe, everybody has his own personal signature, his style, but last but not least in TDR everything's about Breakbeats (TripHop, HipHop and mostly Drum'n'Bass). Most members don't have their origin in the trackerscene, they had already been active on the Amiga some years ago.

Ghandy: What do you think about the highly discussed MP3s in demos and MP3 compos at parties??

Assign: On the one hand many people work with Trackers or SoftSynths, on the other hand there are those who work with Cubase VST or prefer MIDI, which means essence instead of form. (Note from the editor [Ghandy]: You listen to their works but you don't know how they created them or from where they might have stolen them. This cannot happen with songs tracked with PT, Impulse Tracker or FastTracker.)

I absolutely don't agree with the basic idea behind music-compos in general. How can you judge things like Music or Arts with objective criteria? And most of all - WHY should one do that?? After all most compos are dominated by unnecessary rivalry and cheating. (Note from the editor [Ghandy]: It's the same misery at every party, musician A goes to Scener B and asks him: "Hey, vote for me." Or "If you vote for my production, I'll vote for yours", etc.)

When it comes to MP3s in demos, I think they don't belong there. They are at the wrong place in the same way as animations are. But maybe I'm simply a bit too "oldschool" .. hehe.

Ghandy: Be sure, we like your attitude!!

Ghandy of Darkage^Gods^Hugi

Comments on Ghandyís article

As I read Ghandyís article about the music scene I figured I, as a musician, had to state my point of view and comment on a few things. First let me correct a thing here. Ghandy said: "Not to forget that, compared to playing MP3 songs from the charts, collecting those modules is legal, as there's no copyright for this type of freeware." All music IS copyrighted (unless the opposite is stated). If you decide to distribute your music for free, thatís up to you. But you own the music. If someone else is making money of your music without your knowledge and approval, you have the right to sue him/her. The problem is you have to prove the music is yours, and that you made it first. And thatís the tricky bit.

NowÖ thereís too much music on the Internet. Yes. Too much. Thereís no way in HELL you can keep track of everything. Thereís only a slim chance the ďmassesĒ will ever hear your work. Just take me as an example. How many of you have heard songs by me, apart from the ones that have been featured in Hugi? Not many, still I have a pretty well established name. Even if very few of you have heard my non-Hugiwork there are a lot of musicians who hardly no one listens to. And thatís very frustrating. And thatís in my experience the first reason for joining or forming a group. To have some steady listeners who give you feedback. Itís not as "easy" as Ghandy makes it sound to join a well-known group and people will leech your music. If youíre not really, and I mean REALLY good at what you do, thereís no chance youíll be accepted into an established group. Thatís why so many groups are formed. Because itís hard to get attention as a musician these days, and frankly itís because thereíre ďtoo many musiciansĒ!

If you take a look at the charts youíll see the same names as you did five years ago, which kind of proves that itís only the really good and big musicians we remember.

Shit and crap

When I was the most active I've been (about a year ago) I downloaded so much music I thought my modem would blow up. And even I, as a very dedicated member of the musicscene/demoscene, didnít keep very good track of the names the musicians had. Because I couldnít! It would be like memorizing random words in a dictionary and associating each with a different person. Itís hell. I had my favourites which I checked out regularly, and many of them were the ones on the charts as they were the established ones. They were the easiest ones to find, and you knew youíd get quality music. Something you canít say about many trackers. The web is flooded with low quality bullshit, which for a long time made me hesitate to download new artists (as 50% was absolute rubbish). Thatís why I started to stick to party compos and artists I knew. Which is kind of sad, as you miss a lot of good music that way. But at the same time you donít want to filter out all the shit to get to the good stuff. Iím not interested in hearing a 13-year-old kid's FiRsT MoDuLe EvErRrRrR!!!!!!!!! For god's sake, please! Compare your music to what can be considered average, and donít spread it in public unless it can qualify as that. If you want feedback, ask friends or people you meet on IRC. Also ask them to be honest, and donít get pissed off if they say itís shite. Ask them what to change to make it less shitty.

Talking about tracker GUIs

I canít really understand what Ghandy means when he says the looks of PT on Amiga are better than FT. Itís a matter of taste, but personally I prefer FT. And Iíve worked a lot with PT as well, itís all about what youíre used to. Thatís why Iím not changing to IT, because I find the GUI terrible. Even if IT is a better program than FT, I still prefer FT.

I can agree with Ghandy that a music program that is older than any operating system anyone is using on PC these days (and it was coded long before many of us even had pubic hair) is scary. But that only shows how superb the program was when it was first released. Still we cannot live in the past. Even a tracker has to move on some time. But until I find a program that suits me better, Iíll stick to FT. No matter how old it is, it still does what itís supposed to: produce cheap and small music.

As a final touch to the article Iím going to answer the same questions as Assign did.

Ghandy: At the beginning, as typical for my interviews, please introduce yourself to the public with your name, age, job, hobbies etc.

Makke: My real name is Marcus Nilsson, Iím 20 years old and I live in Sweden. Right now Iím in the army (until December 8th, 2000), and Iím also just about to move out from my parents. After the army I will study and hopefully become a computer engineer. When Iím not in the army or hanging around with my friends (which nowadays is what I do most of the time) I sit in front of the computer doing nothing, making music or writing.

Ghandy: How did you start making music on your computer?

Makke: I got a copy of FT for Amiga sometime in Ď93/í94 by my good friend Wolk. I played around for a few years and didnít become very active in the scene up until late Ď97. Iíve always been interested in music.

Ghandy: The list of MusicGroups in the net is endless. What does a new crew have to do in order to be part of this circle??

Makke: Getting established in a small circle of people first. Get a bunch of ďsteady listenersĒ and do not ďexpandĒ too fast. You donít want to push your stuff on people, and when they finally download it, itís crap. They wonít download any of your stuff again. What I mean is, donít get lots of people to download your music unless youíre sure itís something theyíll listen to more than once.

Ghandy: Could you please introduce us a bit into the music Scene?

Makke: Check out The Good Stuff. Sites like that are a good start. That way youíll be sure to get high quality music.

Ghandy: How did the foundation of TDR take place and what people are members of this crew?

Makke: I donít have the slightest idea and at least not meÖ

Ghandy: What do you think about the highly discussed MP3s in demos and MP3 compos at parties??

Makke: I used to think these things really sucked, but Iíve changed my mind a bit. I still think modules are to be preferred. But as I myself have released a few songs in MP3 I know the ďgood sidesĒ of MP3ís (youíre able to mix the track better, add ďrealĒ reverbs etc.). The most disturbing thing with music in demos these days is the use of commercial music. My idea of a demo-production is to do everything yourself, a true ďin house productionĒ. Itís even more disturbing when itís the elite groups who do these kinds of rip-off. The ones who really shouldnít have to do that. I read an interview with Made somewhereÖ was it in Static Line or was it in Orange Juice? Donít really remember. He said something about there being too few good musicians in the scene, and that no one could produce music professional enough. Bullshit. You just have to look. And even if you get an idea for a demo from a commercial track you can ask a musician to make something similar and in the same style, and then make the demo from that song.