Hugi Magazine 32: Say It With Flowers

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Nectarine: "Demoscene-related" (Written By Ciaran)

I'm concerned about one of Nectarine's policies that has come into being recently.

You can read about the policy in this news item. Basically, it reads that there would no longer be music from "non-demoscene related" artists, and that there would also be a blacklist of those artists to prevent any more of their songs getting onto Nectarine until they somehow have a demoscene connection.

It sounds like a reasonable policy at first, but who defines what "demoscene-related" actually means? What does it mean? Does it mean someone who's been to a demoparty? How about someone who's never been to a demoparty in their life, but has done their own tracked music for some time? How about someone who's interested in the demoscene - possibly because of Nectarine?

It's not well-defined at all, which essentially means it boils down to "You're related to the demoscene if we say you are". And to me, that seems to be totally the wrong way to go about it. Is it fair to say that someone who's been following the scene for some time, and is tracking music just like anybody else, would be denied the possibility of his tunes being distributed from the very site which might have gotten him interested in the first place?

Let's pretend, for a moment, that this policy extended to other scene products, as well. While I'm at it, let me give a quick rundown of myself.

I was first exposed to tracking a long time ago, on the Acorn Archimedes. On one of the main Acorn magazines at the time, Acorn User, there was a MOD player (although I can't remember the name), along with a MOD that I later came to understand was "Loader" by Dr. Awesome. It was nice, and made awesome music, but I didn't really have any music to play on it. So for the most part, I didn't give it a lot of thought.

Fast forward a few years, and now I have a PC. At some point, I discovered MultiTracker by Renaissance. I had lots of fun playing around with that, but I wasn't very good at it. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on your point of view), most of my "tunes" from that era have been lost. A select few have remained by virtue of having been copied to another computer because they were the best of the bunch, and to be honest, they're still pretty rubbish. I had no way of sharing my tunes with others at the time, and that's something for which you should probably be very thankful. :)

I've been very interested in the scene ever since I knew it existed, however. In the years since my MultiTracker days, I've moved on and used many different trackers - FT2, ModPlug Tracker, and then SoundTracker on Linux. My tunes got better, but for the most part still not release-worthy.

Fast forward to today:

* Nowadays I do a lot of Commodore 64 (SID) music, although still using a tracker - in this case, GoatTracker from Covert Bitops.

* When it was still alive, I used to be the editor for the scene mag Static Line, alongside Ben Collver.

* I won the tUM*o4 C64 compo with my SID cover of "Knulla Kuk!" by Moby (now El Mobo).

* I am a member of Smash Designs, and I did the music for both the loader and the main part of SD's C64 invtro for tUM*o4, a C64 version of FR-08 from Farbrausch.

* I've had a lot of positive feedback about the tunes I've posted on Nectarine - the lowest average rating any of my tunes has is 3.32.

The only one of these that I had been involved in before uploading my first tune to Nectarine was becoming the editor of Static Line. Now, I'm sure that under the new policy, being the editor of a scene mag would count as being demoscene-related. Cool, okay.

But here's something to think about; how did I become the editor of the mag in the first place?

Answer: I was really interested in the demoscene. I may not have had anything I could really show for myself, but I was ready and willing to step up to the plate, because I felt I could do it.

If Coplan had had Nectarine's policy of proving that somebody is demoscene-related, I may well never have got in. And if Nectarine had the policy, I probably wouldn't have got into Nectarine, either. Which means I'd never have been able to get wide distribution of my music, I wouldn't have had comments about them from all sorts of people, I wouldn't have been invited to join Smash Designs, and thus I wouldn't have gone to my first demoparty as a result... etc, etc.

In short, the policy would have been the cause of losing a scener. It may not sound like much, but that's only one story. There would be hundreds like me.

"So what?", you say. "Static Line didn't have that policy. You'd have been okay to get into Nectarine." That may well be true, but it's also patently hypocritical. Nectarine would be relying on other people to help people prove they're demoscene-related, instead of playing its part to help people get into the scene.

In the comments in that news item I linked to above, many opinions are voiced, including those of a few admins who are totally against the action, and who in fact never even knew of the fact that this would happen. That's not good. What does it say about Nectarine when not even the admins know what's going on? But I digress; that isn't the main point of this article.

In the end, I'm concerned that this new policy is a step in the wrong direction for Nectarine, and that it could well be alienating some of the scene's potential assets, either now or in the future.

- Ciaran.

Reply from doh / Dreamdealers:

The motivation for the current removal is that Nectarine is not a free music distribution portal, but has always intended to be a "DEMOSCENE history or collective memory related RADIO". Our intention was not that it'd be a way for beginner musicians to reach the demoscene; the web is enough for that... So we have to set limits what types of music we accept, but oppositely to what you wrote we don't simply remove non-demoscene artists from the playlist. This is a very wrong interpretation.

Nectarine is a radio for demosceners, meaning we also broadcast old gametunes which have not necessarily been made by sceners, and some other stuff that admins or sceners may like (in admin's opinion), or actually do like (according to the votes). Before admins could filter uploaded tunes, we used to have music from members of tracker communities, commercial music, loads of remixes, etc. getting uploaded. I have even discussed with authors who didn't have a clue about what the demoscene is... Now we are just cleaning up the stuff which should never have entered the playlist.

But, we remain open minded! Just like we are accepting some non-demoscene stuff from unknown guys if it's really good (read "admins think so"), stuff that has got good ratings from our listeners will be kept. Unfortunately, due to a mistake, the first removal of tunes (5 or 6 authors) has been fully done, and a few goodies may have been lost... There are only about 20 remaining authors to be removed from the playlist. As we did last time, we will submit a list to the community to make sure we are not removing scene related people.

Speaking of that, our notion of being a scener is really open! One just has to provide a clue of demoscene involvement (having gone to a party, having released some prod, and even less: if we discuss with the composer, he looks cool, he shows real interest in the demoscene and his composition is technically mature, we will welcome his music as it has already happened in the past.)

The complete removal will concern less than 150 of the 18000+ tunes actually in the playlist, so, as a conclusion, we are doing this for the satisfaction to have a coherent playlist, not for a server capacity matter. All this is done in our spare time for fun! And we do what we want... ;)


doh / Dreamdealers, Nectarine main admin.