Archive for May, 2009

Standby Red 5: Yearning For Recovery

Posted in Music with tags , , on May 29, 2009 by raingeg

Standby Red 5 is a band that summons the deepest feelings of the listener and allows for cognitive thoughts to flow clearly through the mind of the listener. The lack of lyrics and vocals is a plus because it allows the listener to play the part of the writer and the character in the song, in short, it draws you in.

Music is an incredible and unique apparatus. It starts with a performer and the yearning to communicate with the outside world. In many cases it is a group of performers communicating as one. The performer takes on the seemingly effortless, yet daunting task of bringing two parts of the body together to produce one product. What is more, if in a band, the performer joins his band mates and plays along with the music, in one accord. Standby Red 5 is a band of performers and a grand example of what music is supposed to be.

Alternative and indie music has come a long way. Though it was always innovative even when it looked simple and it was always intelligent even when it looked irrational, it, like all artistic realms has moved on, grown up and is now more of an adult. A lot of the youthful elitism that once existed, that may still linger with the old-timers of the punk, metal and indie scenes is disappearing with the rise of, ironically, new innovators and the younger artists. Walls that were put up are now being torn down by bands that approach music from the same angle as Standby Red 5. Standby exemplifies the progress made in the alternative music realm, as they experiment and pull from many areas of the alt-rock world and other areas of music in general, to put together what is good. There is no sense that Standby desires to make the listener cringe at the sound of the music, but there is also no lack of what one might call infectious edginess and finesse. The former is a desire that need not always exist within the alternative music realm in order to make the music set apart. Contrary to what some might believe beauty is not archaic.

The journey that is Standby Red 5’s new album “Yearning for Recovery” begins with a short and punchy introduction “Champion of the Deep.” You then travel to the catchy more pop based “Our Sinking Legacy,” a song that makes good use of the delay effect on the guitars and has a simple yet infectious drum beat, all in all this song will make you happy. The next stop is the ominous tale of triumph that is “Our Journey By Water” and “The Great Contention of Sea and Sky” two songs that when played back to back make a good team. “Our Journey By Water” starts off with ominous tones, but leads you to a place that eventually overcomes, sending you into the next song, which is arguably the heaviest part of the album musically. These two make for a good listen on a stormy night, because they pack the power of lightening and thunder while creating an atmosphere that pleases the ear.

“He Had The Faith” and “Noble Tealock” are catchy songs that showcase the bands good use of effects and diverse instrumentation. “A Riddle and Its Answer” begs for a little movement on the part of the listener, either clapping of the hands or stomping of the feet. The song wants you involved. At the end of the journey we find ourselves at “Iron Vessels” and “Hold Loosely…Love Strongly,” two songs that really let you know that Standby Red 5 does not believe in limiting themselves. Both songs bring an eclectic combination of instruments whether its the violin, the electric guitar and the xylophone, all while maintaining their sound, which makes for a good conclusion to this album.

All in all this is a good  solid album, coming from a good solid band. “Yearning For Recovery” does a great job of combining more pop oriented songs and heavier driving songs. The band is as musically tight live as they are on the album, but their live act is far from a mere copy of what is heard on the album, live it is even better. “Yearning For Recovery” leaves you yearning to listen to the album a second time, so that you may once again feel that desire to move, that moment of triumph or just allow your mind to be engulfed by the music, creating for you a world where your thoughts can run wild and your ear is thoroughly pleased.

Standby Red 5 MySpace

IRM: Dave Mason Interview

Posted in Technology, Top Posts with tags , , , , on May 15, 2009 by raingeg

For more great stuff go to Internet Radio Magazine DOT com

If there was one guy I’d ask about the current state of radio, internet radio and the technology that effects them both, it would be Dave Mason, so that’s exactly what I did.

Dave Mason is an 18 year veteran of talk radio and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show “Computer Talk with Dave Mason” heard Saturday’s from 1-3pm EST. Whether you have a question or just want to find out what is worth knowing in the tech world, Dr. Dave is your man.

IRM: There is a slight argument as to why radio is floundering and it comes down to technology vs. deregulation. Last week I wrote an article discrediting the idea that the fall of radio must be attributed to the deregulation that we saw during the 80’s and 90’s. I think that with the rise of the internet technology poses more of a threat to terrestrial radio than deregulation. What do you think?

DM: First, there was no deregulation. There was big change in regulation, but not deregulation. It’s important to understand that. But I’ll call it that so everybody knows what I’m talking about. There’s also a misunderstanding of deregulation that doesn’t take in to account poor decisions made by executives post deregulation. The deregulation of the end of the 20th century allowed the wrongheaded consolidation that killed quality local radio. That doesn’t mean deregulation was wrong. The national media conglomerates were wrong. Check their stock prices for the last few years. But the wrong-headedness of bureaucrat’s is often far worse. In fact it could be argued that the pent up demand artificially created by prior stiff over-regulation, lead to over-valued stations whose owners couldn’t turn down offers made by the national media companies. But the cookie-cutter strategy didn’t work and the stations weren’t strong enough to endure the “McDonalds-ization” of radio.

IRM: What other threats do you think terrestrial radio faces?

DM: Primarily the complete commoditization of inventory, and the lack of exciting local content. There is NO attention paid to nurturing talent and personalities, so we have no radio that anyone wants to hear, outside of the top 5 or 10 national hosts and a handful of large market local hosts. You cannot generate the kind of listener numbers you need by putting the oregano oil guys on all the time. Yes, the station gets a check but you drive one more nail in the coffin at the same time. People tune out and stay tuned out.

Of course the economic environment right now is deadly. Many will not survive this downturn.

There is another major negative factor that dampens excitement about radio is the cool factor. Radio doesn’t have it any more. All the stats about the effectiveness of radio can’t undo that. I don’t know if it will ever come back.

We live in the time of decentralization. Smaller station groups and smaller stations. The management that is good at VERY lean organizations with highly targeted listeners that they can identify and appeal to will be successful. Look at the fragmentation/specialization of cable TV networks. Similar dynamic in radio.

IRM: We’ve talked in private about poor radio station management, what can terrestrial radio station managers do to better radio in the 21st century?

DM: I don’t know if there is a long term answer. The best management I’ve seen by far is Good News Communication’s management (Dave Masons flagship station). From maximizing signal, to efficient, high integrity personnel, quality content and community involvement that matters, Clear Channel could learn a thing or 2 from those folks. The panic of dwindling revenue makes you do stupid things sometimes, and you have to get paid, but we quite often sabotage our best interest for the short term buck. Good News management seems to make the most rational decisions in the upside down “looking glass” world of radio today.

So what is management to do? We have the convergence of the negative response to the change in regulation in the late ’80’s, the complete lack of a farm system to develop talent and content, and the introduction of alternative distribution models, primarily the Internet. Super lean organizations, accurate audience identification, pertinent exciting content, highly effective marketing and promotion ability and effectively leveraging Internet presence are all required by Radio today.

Radio will be more polarized in content, with a few big national hosts, and a few effective local hosts. The stations that have more targeted compelling content that listeners want to hear and advertisers want to support, along with a serious Internet presence will survive.

IRM: Where do you see terrestrial radio in 10 years?

DM: Satellite is on it’s heels so I don’t think they are a major long term threat. The Internet is a big problem for radio, but can be utilized by savvy stations to add to their reach and appeal. Helps get back some of the cool factor. But it must be integrated with the radio portion rather than as an afterthought. The Internet will be the distribution model. AM/FM will be all but gone.

IRM: Do you feel like its not a matter of if terrestrial radio will die but when?

DM: Radio will die eventually, but will take years. Until then it will change dramatically. Weak shows, stations and networks will evaporate. FM will move more to talk as music continues to shrink. But radio will exist for the time being. Cellular and satellite Internet access in cars will eventually become the distribution model of choice. When that occurs, the stations and networks who have not produced an effective on-line presence will die.

IRM: Lets talk taxes. How do you feel about the governments desire to put a new tax on radio?

New taxes will kill an already weak industry. I’ve never understood the reflex of the Government types at all levels to tax what is marginal already. Comprehensive economic ignorance is the only explanation.

IRM: Talk radio is not only on AM radio these days, a lot of talk radio is moving to the FM side of the dial. Do you think talk radio will eventually move over to the FM side of the dial? If so do you think music on FM will be slowly faded out?

DM: Yes, and yes. Then on to the Internet…

IRM: Lets move on to Internet radio. Where do you see Internet radio in 10 years?

DM: Internet radio will be THE distribution model. Cellular and satellite broadcast of the Internet to computers in the car. AM/FM radios and even CD’s will go the way of the 8 track and cassette.

IRM: This is a question that is on everybody’s mind. How long will it be before we start seeing live internet radio in our cars?

DM: As mentioned in my prior answer, it’s on the way. In fact Ford is doing it now. It’s not mainstream yet because reliable, universal geographical access is not available. Give it 5 years for access and another 5 for content availability to work itself out.

IRM: You are a talk radio host, do you feel threatened by the large volume of pod casts and live web casts that are available these days?

DM: No, we are doing it. It’s a no brainer. It’s difficult to stand out in the crowd though. That’s new territory that we are all trying to get our heads around. But a host has no choice.

IRM: Pandora and Last FM, do you like/use these? How and why?
Love them personally, but haven’t seen a way to have them significantly contribute to our business model, other than giving listeners an easy way to hear our incredible bumps…

IRM: Whether you are doing a web talk show or a show on terrestrial radio advertising is a must. One issue I brought up in my article last week was the shrinking attention span of people in the 21st century. Hulu can get away with 15 second spots. Do you ever think that 60 and 30 second spots will become a thing of the past?

DM: It depends on what you’re trying to do. Video lends itself to shorter spots. I think both :30’s and :60’s will continue to be available, because of the lack of effectiveness of :15’s for some advertisers. Remember several years ago micro spots of 5 or 10 seconds were tried, but failed. You have to get the listeners attention, then tell your story. Hard to do in less that :30 seconds for many products.

I think you will have polarization in spot length. Long form spots will become more popular, as will :15’s and even :10’s.

IRM: For anyone that uses the web to distribute information social networking is a must. As a talk radio host what’s your opinion on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace? Do you use them? How and why?

DM: The Internet is still in it’s infancy, and consequently effective business use of the technology is lagging. Add the faddish nature of many of the popular services and it’s clear it has a long way to go. Clearly certain technologies, particularly the social media services can be used to good effect in business, but the details of how to do that most effectively are yet to be fully understood. Even the most successful social media companies themselves are having a hard time figuring out to monetize the millions of members they reach.

I believe you utilize the most popular social media outlets carefully. Overt commercial appeals only isolate you. Genuine personal interaction works. Understand that it is mostly a fad with questionable demographics, but great potential. It can be used to position yourself for the shakeout, so you’ll be experienced and ready to take advantage when we finally get an idea how things are going to go.

It’s easy to be distracted by all the opportunities. Choose carefully and be consistent, and personal. We’ll know more in a couple of years…

Death In The 21st Century

Posted in Humanity, Life, Technology with tags , , , on May 9, 2009 by raingeg

When I was in high school I had the unfortunate experience of having some of my fellow students die. They were not my friends but I did have a couple of classes with them. It was strange going to class the next day and knowing that they were gone forever.

The death of a young person in the 21st century is different than has been in previous years. It used to be that when someone died they were gone and there was not much left of them. You might find a personal diary or something of that sort, but that didn’t make it out into the publics hands.

Today things are quite different. With the advent of social networking sites like Twitter and FaceBook, you have status updates in which people are constantly telling others what they’re doing. “I’m going to the store” or “I’m cooking dinner.” These are just a few examples of something that someone might update about.

Then you have the aspect of a user laying everything out on the table. Their favorite music, their favorite movies, things they like to do, people they really like, people they admire and a whole host of other things that indicate that these people really are human.

All of these aspects of the social networking arena are great! But here is the interesting area that I am exploring. What happens when one of your FaceBook friends or Twitter buddies dies? Everyone that knew this person is left with a full profile of a someone that no longer exists, a self written obituary and a perfect picture of who this person really was. A page filled with memories, hundreds of pictures and conversations all documented for the whole world or at least his or her friends to see.

No longer is the mom or dad of a dead young person left with a diary or two that they can privately skim through solely for the memories, now everyone has one.

Another aspect that interests me is the usage of social media in court. What if someone’s status indicates that they are going to the store to pick up some eggs, but they don’t make it back from the store. If no one knew where this person was headed in the first place and they are found miles away in a dumpster, maybe this could assist in putting a person in the right place at the right time and lead to prosecution of a perspective criminal.

Its just interesting to me that people have the desire to constantly tell other people what they are thinking. I do this just as much as the next person, but it perplexes me. Why?  Why do I have this desire? Does anyone really care? Why do I check my FaceBook first when I get online? Why do I want everyone to know that I like Bob Dylan? All of these questions interest me.

Its not because I want to meet people that I agree with, because I don’t agree with a lot of my online friends. I will admit that it can help in finding women, but in a not so creepy way. It does connect me with people that I don’t consider my best friends and it connects me with people all over the world. I can use it to tell people about my newest article or blog post, as I did when I posted this one. And it allows for you interact or engage others on their time rather than your time, while at the same time granting you the same privilege when someone interacts with or engages you.

This way of communicating is interesting. But of all the things, the idea that we are all constantly writing our own obituaries is quite interesting.