Interview with Crown / Amiga Music Preservation

Done by EP
Translation from French by Adok


EP:

AMP is a website dedicated to the preservation of Amiga modules, please present us the members of the team, who are Curt Cool, Asle, Monty and Crown, what they are doing in their lives and how they are organized.


Crown:

Here's first a little history of each member. It is impossible for me to quantify the time spent per week on AMP because the variability is high from month to month. All of us are grown-ups who desparately run for spare-time.

Curt Cool: Frank is employed as a journalist by a Danish television channel. Logically, he has a bit less spare-time because Curt also continues to compose and to drink actively. ;) He's a loyal Amiga user and has excellent knowledge about the Amiga scene and the musicians. He's been a module collector since the first hour. I think that in 1995, 1996, he was the person who owns the most impressive mod collection.

Asle: Sylvain has gone the most original way since he started his computer activities on the Atari, PC and only later bought an Amiga 1200. Sylvain is THE specialist for modules from before 1992. He is a hard-nosed fan of Soundtracker, etc. Asle is at the origin of the second youth of ProWizard. He is certainly the oldest among us and the most regular worker on AMP. Asle has made an essential contribution recreating the AMP administration interface. An incredible work.

Monty: Just like Curt Cool, Benjamin is an acknowledged musician on Amiga. He is the regular network engineer of AMP and secondarily web developer. Monty is the first from among us to own an Amiga (around 1988 on if I recall correctly) and he started to amuse himself on BBS's very early. A bit of an original supplier, phreaker, etc. He's currently working on the forum of AMP and on a remix of mod.blitz.

Crown: I bought my Amiga in 1990 after having worked a whole summer. As far as I remember, I've always been passionate for modules. I'm used to making audio cassettes of my preferred music (I've read that Moby used to do the same). It's thanks to Meegosh of The Movement (the person who founded Assembly in Finland) that my collection of modules really started. Currently I'm working at the inclusion of the data of musicians, scanned photos, interviews, etc. I'm also actively searching for new modules.


EP:

Every project starts with an idea, how did you get the idea for AMP?


Crown:

AMP is the result of a long way. Curt Cool and myself have started by collecting the music of demos we particularly liked. It wasn't a question of really collecting modules, we were already content with ripping (extracting) the music files from certain programs and copying the music files from members of our respective groups. It is difficult for me to talk about the creation of AMP from Curt Cool's point of view because I'm not sure if his way was identical to mine (he is a real composer on Amiga). Personally, I conserved the modules on several disks as I fond it more comfortable to listen to them using Protracker. It's thanks to Meegosh of Movement that my collection really began. His hard disk was full of mods from Heatbeat, Bruno, Captain, Nugget, etc. and I copied everything onto mine. Persons like Doh, Boo and many others permitted me to enrich my knowledge about the music scene.

It is especially difficult to give a date of the real birth of the idea of AMP. I'm inclined to say that this project was born with my discovery of the sound capacities of the Amiga. I still owned various audio cassettes on which I had recorded my preferred mods. Without coming back so far in time, I think that AMP is the logical consequence of Curt Cool and me doing alone each on our own then joining forces together. I cannot imagine that one can be interested in Amiga music without trying to understand its development and the careers of different artists. The sorting of the music files by folders induced research about the groups and the old nicknames of the authors. My mod list contains a historical summary about every author. It was Curt Cool who formalized it and who created the basic structure what it is like today: Handle Real name Country ex. Handles Groups.

Thanks to the reunion of our collections and our knowledge we got a large number of data, which although highly documented, stayed relatively unknown. I think I was both at the origin of the AMP name and of the idea to put our composer base online. We were conscious that the Internet allowed at once to make our project known and to establish contact with the musicians, but also to create a perennial structure dedicated to the preservation of and the research on the music of the Amiga composers.


EP:

Organization comes after the idea, how did you organize AMP?


Crown:

It's one thing to have ideas, it's another to implement them. Neither Curt Cool nor myself had a domain name, a server and the technical knowledge to create a site. It's Dire/Eremation's merit to have created the first (HTML) version of AMP on his site Scenet. We contributed the interviews, list of composers and he made all of that available on his site in december 2000. It was a particularly rudimentary version of AMP as not a single music file was available for download. Several scanned photos were added in 2001.

AMP began to become a site appreciated by the (ex) Amiga sceners and we got a lot of encouraging mails. However certain Internet users complained about not being able to download music and that the site didn't feature a more evolved database. Monty, with whom I had been in contact for several months (thanks Solo!!!), proposed to migrate the site to a server with a true database and a real dynamic environment. The first move to PHP was in the start of the year 2002. It was truly a revolution as it was now possible to sort the musicians after their groups, etc. Moreover, all the music files were uploaded, which pleased both our team and the Internet users.

Monty took care of all the technical aspects and the development of the site, Curt Cool took care of the creation of the Ultimod CDs (selected music sorted by author) and the update of the composers base. Concerning myself, I was in charge of contacting the musicians, verifying and modifying the data as much as it was necessary, then interviewing them and uploading the interviews and the scanned photos. Just like Curt Cool I ripped mods (thanks to ExoticRipper and ProWizard) and called Asle for help when the automatized tools didn't permit us to extract them.

Version 3 of AMP was on its way but Monty had less and less time to finalize it. That explains the relative absence of evolution of the site between 2002 and 2004. Once a satisfactory result was reached the V3 was put online, but we didn't have an administration interface which would have allowed us to update the site. It's Asle's merit that he accepted to help us writing from the ground up a totally new admin interface. He started as an external collaborator, then thanks to our persuasion power (thanks to Haribo) he joined the team. He is currently one of the pillars of our structure thanks to both his technical knowledge about the Internet and about Amiga music. In addition to the four of us, we should also mention the various persons who actively contribute to the development of the site: musicians, info graphicians, sceners from all walks of life and generous hardware donators (from Germany and other countries).

Here's the current organigram:

Asle: Responsible for the admin interface creation and the structural evolution of both this interface and the site. He puts music online, corrects errors and renames music files. He checks composers base data integrity and rips music.

Crown: Does research and establishes contact with the composers: puts interviews and scanned photos online, corrects the composers base, and puts logos online. Transfers Amiga floppy disks to CD-ROM and sorts the demos, mods, packs, etc. which they contain.

Curt Cool: Created the Ultimod CD series, which implies sorting, renaming and classification of modules by author. Rips music from demos, intros, etc. Updates the composers base and meets musicians at parties.

Monty: Technical head of the site: creates source code and databases, software and hardware updates, security control, bandwidth management. Research and develops (together with Asle) new functionalities.


EP:

With AMP you wanted to achieve certain aims, which ones?


Crown:

The site Amiga Music Preservation primarily exists for being a space dedicated to the knowledge about and to the preservation of the Amiga musical creation. For this reason the site is not only a collection of modules but also tries to brings them in relation with the career of the concerned musicians by means of interviews, scanned photos and the groups base. Each of the persons involved in this project is conscious of the real historical and musical wealth represented by the artworks of more than 11,000 musicians. It's a unique registration of almost 20 years of musical creation.

We always have the ambition to structure AMP around a state or supra-state authority which makes it a site with a structure that allows searching for compositions assisted by a computer. We already contacted the IRCAM (www.ircam.fr) about this aim but unfortunately, they haven't responded to our request.

The other fundamental element is without doubt that it makes original creations, often innovative, which are partly at the origin of the contemporaneous music, available for free to everybody. We are deeply attached to the idea of gratuitousness and free diffusion that it implies. It's here that the true universality of music remains.

Finally, I think that it's a personal pleasure to discover, understand and put online what is before anything else a passion: the modules. It cannot be denied that every one of us gets great satisfaction of seeing the work recognized for which we are spending numerous hours and to learn that the musicians who believed to have lost certain of their creations forever, were touched to find them again. You've certainly understood that AMP is primarily the fruit of the getting-together of persons who have become friends and who share their immoderate passion for the Amiga.


EP:

AMP needs the support of its users for long living, could you talk us about that?


Crown:

It costs us much of spare-time, but is it really measurable if it's a passionate activity? A sponsor give us the bandwidth and the file hosting but we really need hardware (Amiga and PC) hence the presence of a paypal logo on the site. Monty has recently put in place a Google Adsense advertisement so AMP can be completely autonomous for file hosting.



EP:

You are in good position to know if there's a fruitful musical activity on Amiga at the moment, what's your point of view on that?


Crown:

It has nothing in common with the golden age of the Amiga. Currently the majority of the music on Amiga is composed using an emulator. Numerous musicians are nevertheless continuing to produce quality music on Amiga: Curt Cool, DJ Joge, etc. The fact that Buenzli stopped all tracked music competitions is a bad thing, I think.


EP:

How many modules and GB of mods have been created for Amiga according to your estimations?


Crown:

I think it's more than 1,000,000. Assuming that the average mod is 100 kb, they occupy 1 terabyte. But certainly a great number of mods is gone for ever... that's the most difficult thing to quantify.


EP:

AMP is truly a cave of wonders, can you describe it for us in short words?


Crown:

The cave is a good old Pentium 4 PC with 2 gigs of RAM, running with PHP and a MySQL database. Unfortunately I cannot say where it is located: it's the cave of Ali Baba!!! We have 80 GB of data, 30 gigas of compressed mods and currently close to 90,000 mods, composed by nearly 12,000 musicians. 54 logos and we will be happy to receive more (the first AMP logo was created by Stip / ex Zool on PC in 2002). Graphicians, send us your creations. The 20 next will be the most beautiful ones! Send a mail to crown@dascene.net. There are about 127 banners, the first one being Nectarine. I thank Hacked Amiga Music, Amiga Demoscene Archive, World of Amiga, The Mod Archive, Backstage of Amiga Demos, Amegas, Video Game Music, Exotica, World Of Cracktros, Prowizard for all Platforms and all the other banner suppliers.


EP:

AMP is primarily a site for downloading modules, how many are downloaded on average and how many people visit it per day?


Crown:

It is difficult to quantify it and it varies much from week to week. I'd say +/- 500 visits and several thousands of downloads per day. It is interesting to remark that there are more or less regular peaks. In any case, it's in constant progression.


EP:

Two years ago, I sent you 2 CDs full of modules ripped and classified by me (1.4 GB), what have you done with it?


Crown:

Concerning the path of the modules which are sent to us: They are forwarded to Curt Cool who sorts and classifies everything we receive. We compare mods versions and suppress the bad rips, etc. Afterwards he sent the mods to Asle in order to include them in AMP. In the meantime the AMP team updates the music profiles based on the info which can be found in the text of the mods. The sample texts are an inexhaustible mine of information.


EP:

I've noticed that you not only host Amiga mods: IT / S3M / XM are PC formats. Why do you also host PC tunes?


Crown:

There are several reasons:

- A large number of Amiga musicians created awesome musics on PC: 4-Mat, Jugi, Groo, etc. Therefore it is logical to make sure that all the tunes composed by old Amiga musicians on PC are also referenced and available at AMP.

- There are also numerous tunes which are attributed to musicians having no Amiga module. If we learn that they have never composed on Amiga, we will remove these musicians from the AMP database.


EP:

There are currently no real chiptunes like the ones included in the cracktros presented at http://cyberpingui.free.fr/sources.htm or http://www.crackerland.com/, will there be a category reserved for real chiptunes made with Future Composer 1.3 and 1.4 in the future?



Crown:

In fact this is not correct. The "exotic" formats (Future Composer, Deltamusic, Digital Mugician, etc.) are not necessarily chiptunes. Among others, several Protracker tunes are chiptunes (4-Mat, Monty, Wal, etc.). The attribute chiptune applies to quite a lot of tunes (smaller than 40 kb). Probably we'll add the exotic formats in a near future.


EP:

Are the visitors generous and how much money do you need to buy a new server, how much would the visitors have to donate every day until the new server would be bought?


Crown:

Ideally, every visitor should participate with a donation by a click on the advertisements, etc. The more AMP is developing, the more important becomes the number of visits. We had several propositions of hardware donations but nothing has reach us yet. Concerning Paypal, we've received less than 360 euros so far and this doesn't cover the annual costs for the site hosting, Google Adsense gives us currently 20-25 euros per month.


EP:

Talking about the future of AMP, given the success of the site, do you think of creating mirrors?


Crown:

No, because administration would be more complicated. Currently the generated traffic doesn't harm the quality of the connection. As a consequence, it is not necessary to create a mirror site.


EP:

AMP has a dynamic team, improvements and changes to satisfy the demand are on their ways, could you talk about them?


Crown:

We have a lot of projects. The most certain ones are a forum, the possibility to comment the mods, a demo database and v4 of the AMP site, etc. We will create a real community site.


Amiga Music Preservation website:
http://amp.dascene.net


EP & Crown