Wednesday, March 30, 2011

State of the Project, Day 17 - Deadlines!

This post is going to be quite short - I think it's best that I just get to the point.

There are only 48(-ish) hours left to submit your music piece! Click that link or the 'How to Help - Musicians' page for all of the guidelines and specifics.

We need your artistic talent! We need cover art for two CDs and would like to have enough for three. Full detail are in that link or in the 'How to Help - Artists' page.

So what are you waiting for? Upload your files, click send, and be a part of the effort! This is, after all, a project of collaboration. Without your support, we couldn't have even made it this far - and with your contributions, we can make this huge. I know from what we've received so far that there is immense talent in the netlabel community. Now's the time to show it!

Kevin Stephens

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

State of the Project, Day 16 - The Sun Will Rise

Thank you to everyone who submitted and voted on a name for this compilation. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, the votes have been counted and the most popular choice is The Sun Will Rise. Here's a look at the final tally, counting all tweets, facebook comments, blog comments, and e-mails.

The Sun Will Rise - 9
Waves for Waves - 4
QuakeAid - 3
希望の光 3
希望 - 2
Inter-Netlabel Compilation for Japanese Relief - 2
Inter-Netlabel Relief for Japan - 1

The "formal" title will be The Sun Will Rise: An Inter-Netlabel Compilation for Japanese Relief, and will be written as such on the album art, but emphasis will be placed on The Sun Will Rise. In fact, from now on, that's pretty much the only name that I will call this project. You'll notice that the blog title, Twitter page, and Facebook page have all been changed to reflect this new name. I should note that the nature of the project has not in any way changed; everything is being run the same as before, just under a new name.

I'll be making another announcement on the Facebook page and on Twitter regarding the full details on cover art submissions shortly. As one competition ends, another begins! UPDATE: Submission guidelines are in!

Kevin Stephens

Monday, March 28, 2011

Naming Competition - Vote!

UPDATE: The voting time has been extended to end at 4:00PM PST. This is because, due to an oversight, I forgot to include the suggestion that got this whole competition going! If you want to change your vote to QuakeAid from a previous vote, please say so - just mention that you have already voted and that you now prefer QuakeAid.

Voting time! Here's the list of names that have been submitted.

QuakeAid - @SimonLeBoggit
The Sun Will Rise - Skrow!Media
The Light of the Eyes is as a Comet - @JesseSomfay
Every Wave Eventually Rolls Back - @Le_Berger
希望の光 (Kibou no Hikari)  (English: The Light of Hope) - @msrando
希望 (Kibou) (English: Hope) - @msrando
Waves for Waves - Thomas Park
Inter-Netlabel Compilation for Japanese Relief
Inter-Netlabel Relief for Japan

Submit your vote via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or by commenting on this post. Voting ends tomorrow, March 29th, at 12:01PM PST.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

State of the Project, Day 14 - Name the Comp!

I'll start with some great news. Twitter user @JesseSomfay suggested a non-profit alternative to JustGiving: GlobalGiving. I have created a tentative page as part of researching into it, but I will not be posting the link to that page until I know more about the website. At present, it looks like it is the best option, but it is too soon to commit to using it. Nonetheless, I am excited about what it has to offer. If you have any thoughts on this (GlobalGiving or options for donation methods in general), please let me know!

The Naming Competition (details here and here)
I've been receiving some excellent suggestions over the past couple of days, and I'm looking forward to seeing how many more we can get before time's up. So, the part that everyone has been waiting for...

The Names (as of 6:30PM PST March 27th) (in no particular order)
The Light of the Eyes is as a Comet - @JesseSomfay
Every Wave Eventually Rolls Back - @Le_Berger
希望の光 (Kibou no Hikari)  (English: The Light of Hope) - @msrando
希望 (Kibou) (English: Hope) - @msrando
Waves for Waves - Thomas Park

Voting will begin tomorrow at 12:01 PM PST. I hope to see more suggestions in the meantime, and be sure to stop back by to have your say in what this compilation will named!

Lastly, the evaluator and masterer positions are closed. I'll update the 'About' page to include the complete list of people in these positions. It's no exaggeration to say that we have some absolutely exceptional talent on board for this project - both in these positions and in the submissions that we've been receiving. Keep up the effort!

Kevin Stephens

Saturday, March 26, 2011

State of the Project, Day 13 - The Search Continues

I am a bit disappointed to say that, after doing a bit of research, JustGiving does not seem to be the best route for donations. It is an easy-to-use service, and pretty much all of the money does go to charities, but they are a private for-profit company. While this is not inherently wrong, it is at odds with the philosophy of the netlabel movement and, to an extent, Creative Commons. If anyone is aware of a similar service, please send me an e-mail or post a comment here/on Facebook/tweet @internetlabel. I'm also still looking for someone who can manage the donations aspect and take charge of this entire area of the project - while I am able to do it myself (and am doing so now), I am certain that the project would benefit from having someone dedicated entirely to that aspect.

The naming competition is still on! The last day to suggest a title for the compilation itself is Monday the 28th, 12:00PM PST. Following that, voting will occur from 12:01PM PST on the same day to 12:00PM PST the following day (Tuesday the 29th). So get your suggestions in! I'll be posting all current submissions in tomorrow's State of the Project, and on Monday, I will post every one - and voting will commence! This will be followed by a two-day call for cover art submissions.

Today is the last day to submit an application to be a reviewer or masterer for the compilation. Full details are in the 'Urgent Needs' section.

I hope to see a torrent of e-mails and messages from everyone reading this. This relief effort can't happen without your involvement!

Kevin Stephens

Friday, March 25, 2011

State of the Project, Day 12 - Names, Names, Names

Yesterday's call for a donations coordinator yielded a great comment on the blog from Warfreak2. He recommended a website/service called JustGiving, and after a cursory investigation, it appears to be almost precisely what this project could use. If you have any experience with JustGiving, please comment, tweet, e-mail, use smoke signals, etc. I am still interested in having an individual coordinating the donations aspect of this project, but it seems to be a bit less urgent than before.

So, with much fanfare, I would like to announce a new competition of sorts. Please send in suggestions for naming this compilation! Right now, the name for the project - Inter-Netlabel Compilation for Japanese Relief, often shortened to Inter-Netlabel Relief for Japan - is fine for the project in general, but they're something of a mouthful. I received an e-mail that suggested that the project could use something succinct and easy to remember, something that could be easily shared. I'm not that great with naming things like this, so I've decided to take submissions and have a public vote in the same manner as the logo competition.

I've also updated the 'About' page to include all of the current evaluators and will continue to flesh it out over the course of the project.

Keep the submissions coming in - the deadline is still a ways off, but that's no reason to wait! The evaluators are busy with the music as is, but let's see if we can keep them busier!

Kevin Stephens

Thursday, March 24, 2011

State of the Project, Day 11 - Call to a Really Awesome Person

Today is marked by the addition of the to-be-spectacular 'About' page. Thus far, it only contains minimal information, but over the next few days, I'll be adding info about everyone involved with the project.

So - I'm putting out a call to someone who would like to manage the donations portion of this project. Due to the important nature of this part of the project, I feel that it is exceptionally important that it be figured out sooner than later. Due to a variety of commitments and the unforeseen difficulty of negotiating this with PayPal, it would be preferable that someone who has more experience take over this aspect of the project. Please send me an e-mail if you're interested and, if possible, an example of similar work that you have done in the past. I'll be posting this blurb in the Urgent Needs section.

I also have some plans for something similar to the logo competition that I will be announcing tomorrow.

Thanks as always.

Kevin Stephens

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

State of the Project, Day 10

I'd like to address some concerns that were brought to my attention on the Facebook page the other day. I was informed that there have been some blog posts elsewhere that refer to this project that are less than clear. One of them was not explicit in mentioning that it was simply copying my initial post, rather than making the post itself. Another tied me to a netlabel that I am completely unfamiliar with. So, to be clear...

All official information about this project will be and has been posted exclusively to this blog, the Twitter account, and the Facebook page. In the spirit of even greater disclosure, I will be adding an "About" section to this page that will contain information about myself and, pending each person's approval, every other contributor (which, at present, are the submission evaluators and those who have offered to master for the project).

I still need help with contacting PayPal. If you are able to be a liaison for the project in discussing details on getting donation buttons that donate to charities rather than a specific account, please send me an e-mail. I am even considering trying to find someone to be a general "donations coordinator" of sorts. I'll say more about it tomorrow.

If you know of a way to help promote this project, by all means, do so or let me know about your ideas! We've had a lot of interest in this project, but I'm certain that we can generate more - and it will take your help.

Never hesitate to contact me with your questions, comments, submissions, or anything at all, really. I respond to every e-mail personally on a daily basis.

As always, thank you for reading and for every last bit of help.

Kevin Stephens

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

State of the Project, Day 9

Alright! After a few days of computer issues, everything is finally back to normal on my end. I'm continuing to receive submissions at a steady pace, and while I don't have time to listen to every piece that comes in, I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've heard so far and have heard exceptionally positive things from the evaluators.

I'm having a lot of trouble getting in touch with PayPal - they haven't responded to my e-mails, and for some reason, I can't get them to verify my phone number. I could really use someone's help in trying to contact PayPal about donations. As I described in previous posts, I would like to be able to post buttons that allow people to directly donate to charities through PayPal. If you are able to assist in this manner, I'll be glad to discuss all of the details through e-mail or another form of correspondence.

I can't tell you how excited I am to say that I have received a most generous offer for this project. If anyone lives in the Chicago area and would like to record a song for this project in a studio, please send me an e-mail. There is an individual who owns a studio who has offered to allow artists to record in his studio for free (or at a major discount, depending on how much time is required). I'll be glad to put you contact with him.

I currently have three or four reviewers on board (still corresponding with one) and two people available to master with two others as backup if necessary. I'm still looking for one more reviewer and one more masterer, though I'm not sure that there will be three CDs for people to master.

As always, thank you for your help and your kindness. I'm so excited to see this project coming together so well.

Kevin Stephens

Friday, March 18, 2011

State of the Project, Day 5 - A Quick Update

Today's State of the Project won't be very long.

Submissions are continuing to come in at a steady rate, and I'm still trying to get things worked out with PayPal. If things don't speed up with that, I'm going to begin looking for some other solutions. As I mentioned in the last post, I would like to be able to allow people to donate directly to charities rather than forcing the money to pass through unnecessary channels.

We have two people on board for evaluation thus far, and a couple of people who are willing to help if no one else steps up to do so. Check out the Urgent Needs! section to see what we need in this regard. Additionally, we still need people to take up the mantle of mastering. Two people have said that they can help if necessary, but that they would like to be backups.

Tomorrow will not see a State of the Project update. At least, not unless there's some major news or a new need that pops up. Keep up with the great submissions, too. The quality of the works that we have received thus far is exceptional. This compilation is going to be incredible.

And as always, thank you for your dedication, support, and effort. Every last thing helps - both for this project and for Japan.

Kevin Stephens

Thursday, March 17, 2011

State of the Project, Day 4 - New Logo!

New logo by Kevin Nelson (Aeroshell) (CC BY-NC-SA)

I am excited to announce that the new logo has been selected. Thank you to every person who contributed a vote through Twitter, e-mail, and comments on this blog. I haven't taken a complete tally, but the vote was almost unanimous. Congratulations and a huge thank you to Kevin Nelson!

Today's State of the Project is marked by some major improvements to the blog. First, it should be a lot more attractive now. Second, information on helping out with the project and guidelines on submissions should be much easier to locate with the list of pages at the top of the blog. Please check out the Urgent Needs! section to see the most important things that require your help. Also, updates have been made regarding art submissions - check them out by clicking the How to Help - Artists tab.

Also, as I had mentioned would be the case in the last State of the Project, I have decided on what to do about deadlines. The new deadline for submissions is April 1st, 12:00 PM PST. This will allow us to release the compilation much earlier (April 8th) - and therefore generate donations to charities sooner.

I am currently still working on getting buttons from PayPal that would direct all donations directly to charities, bypassing any sort of middle man. I'm hoping it works out, because I am sure it would help make the entire process easier and serve to be reassuring to donators. It would also greatly free up options as to where the album could be released, as the buttons could be placed pretty much anywhere.

I deeply appreciate all of the kind words, beautiful submissions, and generous promotions of this effort. This is coming together better than I could have imagined. It shows what we can all do when we have a cause to unite us - and what an important cause this is.

Thank you.

Kevin Stephens

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Logo Designs

Alright! Here's where all of the submitted logos will be posted. I'll be posting submissions for part of today and all of the ones received by 12:00PM PST tomorrow (March 17th). Be sure to come back and vote on your favorite at that time by leaving a comment here.

Submissions by JamFlavored

Submissions by Aeroshell

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

State of the Project, Day 2 - A Call to Artists and Music Reviewers

Day 2 is here, and it looks like the initial surge of interest is starting to slow down a little bit. While I'm slightly relieved that I may not have to spend the entire duration of this project listening to submissions non-stop, I'm hoping that we can figure out ways to sustain interest in this. If you know of any websites where you could imagine seeing a post/article about this compilation, please e-mail them to let them know about it and e-mail me as well so that I can try to contact them. And don't feel like it needs to be limited to sites about the netlabel scene. There are plenty of people around the world who would surely be interested in this project - if they could just hear about it.

In yesterday's State of the Project update, I mentioned pushing the deadline forward due to the volume of submissions that I have been receiving and the urgency of generating donations to the relief effort. I will have an official decision in tomorrow's State of the Project update - right now, I am thinking that the submission deadlines for all creative works will be pushed up to April 1st so that the compilation can be released on April 8th while completely removing deadlines for netlabels to make it something that anyone can join, even after it has been released. In addition to the two reasons I mentioned above, I feel that it is important to take advantage of everyone's current eagerness to help Japan. People are already seeking ways to donate, and there's only so much money that anyone can give away - particularly with the current global economic situation.

There are specific things that I need help with. If you've been to the Twitter page or the Facebook page, then you have probably seen the logo that I hacked together. This project could really use a more attractive logo. I would like to do this quickly, and I'm thinking that the best option would be to take submissions today and tomorrow, and I'll manage a post on the blog that contains every submission so that we can get a vote going. If there isn't a sufficient number of votes (at least 20), then I will select the logo myself. If you want to submit a logo design for this project, please send an e-mail with a link to the image (please, no attachments) and the name that you would like for it to be attributed to. Images must be 2000x2000 pixels. Please submit it in a common format. Having a vector version of the image on hand would be totally awesome, too. By submitting your work, you are verifying that it is an entirely original product, and you agree to allow your submission posted on this website. If your image is selected, it will be distributed with a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (you will still retain full rights to it, though). All works for the logo must be submitted by 12:00PM (yes, I mean noon, not midnight) Pacific Standard Time on March 17th. Voting will begin at that time, and will continue until 12:00PM PST the following day (March 18th). I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful submissions. Submission deadline is past - take a look at them and vote!

So, now that the immediate needs for art have been addressed, here's what I'm thinking will need to be addressed longterm. I'll start by explaining my current stance on how to release the compilation (which was discussed at greater length in yesterday's State of the Project update). I received some feedback in the comments saying that limiting the number of songs for the compilation would be desirable. I'm really torn on this one - it feels wrong to tell people that their songs didn't make the cut for a charitable work, particularly when we are not limited by the medium of distribution. Part of what makes the netlabel scene so awesome is that we don't have the restrictions of physical media. On the other hand, I understand that we need to make this compilation desirable, not just ideological. It will be difficult to generate broad interest in a 5+ hour compilation, both inside the netlabel scene and (especially) outside of it. So I've whittled it down to a couple of choices - although, if I receive a lot of feedback, I'm always willing to change things around.

  • A two-CD (there really must be something better to call this!) compilation, amounting to approximately two hours of music.
  • A three-CD compilation, divided into three "styles." Right now, I'm thinking the styles would be divided into... 
    • "beat-oriented electronic" (such as house, trance, hip-hop, DnB, dubstep, etc.)
    •  "non-beat oriented electronic and composition" (such as ambient, drone, soundscape/field recording, noise, traditional (classical) composition, etc.)
    • "other" (folk, rock, pop, metal, etc.) - though obviously we'd find something better to call it.
Either of these methods would change things pretty fundamentally. 

First, video-based projects would be much, much more difficult to accomplish; since no song would be guaranteed to be on the compilation until after the submission period ended, it would be an awful lot of effort to either submit a song with a video or to scramble to create a video before the release date once the selected submissions have been announced. I could really use suggestions about this part.

Second, being selective about tracks would mean that I would need more people to help select songs. Right now, I'm the only one going through submissions. Ideally, I would have 5 people who have professional/semi-professional experience reviewing music and who have a broad knowledge and understanding of different styles of music. These individuals would not be allowed to submit a song for the compilation, or they would have to recuse themselves from judging their own songs. This rules me out, since I'm submitting a song (and honestly, I don't feel that I have enough experience to have a totally valid opinion regarding selection). If you are interested in filling one of these positions, please send me an e-mail with links to reviews that you have written and review websites/publications that you have managed/worked for. Applications are due by 12:00PM PST on March 20th. I will announce who's been selected to the positions by 6:00PM PST the following day. These positions will be a fair amount of work. You will receive every song that has been submitted and will be expected to rate the vast majority of them by two days after the submission deadline is over, which is when the choices will be whittled down to the final selection and subsequently announced.

The third problem: if this is going to be a two or three CD release, these will need to be mastered - in less than a week. Anyone who has mastered an album before probably just had a heart attack from reading that. Mastering is very, very hard work. But that shouldn't scare you off - this will be an excellent challenge to really show off what you can do in a short time when you need to (and anyone who has mastered an album before probably just closed this blog post because they've probably heard that line one-too-many times). But really, this would be incredibly helpful - and don't despair, as I'm hoping that we can get one person to master each CD. Full details on this subject will be in tomorrow's State of the Project update.

Now, general art requirements! Took me an awful while to get to this, but here it is. We will need cover art, front and back, for every CD of the release. If you have any ideas, please, send them! The same rules as for the logo apply here. I am considering assembling another panel of judges to review submissions, but I have not decided on that yet. Full details on this subject will also be in tomorrow's State of the Project update.

The question that I have received most is, "How can I help?" Well, for one, submitting creative works is definitely not the only option. Posting the completed compilation on a netlabel you run isn't, either. There are a few things that have not yet been mentioned that are incredibly helpful to this project.

First thing: Tell everyone who might at all be interested in this project about it! I really cannot overstate how helpful this is. We could publish a compilation containing some of the most incredibly music that has ever been written, but if no one knows about it, then what exactly have we accomplished? The more people that know about this, the more money we can raise for Japan.

Second thing: Give feedback! A lot of what I am doing right now is being done mostly in the dark. I have received many, many wonderful e-mails voicing support and expressing encouragement from people so far, and I am exceptionally grateful for every last word of it. It is incredibly encouraging to hear from individuals who support this specific project and the cause in general. I could also really use your suggestions and comments - even criticism! I need to know what would work better. I see this project as a collaborative effort, something where everyone can be a part of this effort to raise money for people who need it in Japan. Everything that I've mentioned in this and other posts is exceptionally useful.

Third thing: We need to make this project available in more languages! I would absolutely love to have people translating each blog post into another language, but that is an awful lot of work, particularly considering how long these keep end up being. A more immediate goal is to have people available to translate the text of the official release into as many languages as possible. If you speak fluent English and are fluent in one or more other languages and you are confident that you will have the time to invest in this, please let me know. Also, if you know anything about making a single blog available in multiple languages, please contact me to let me know about that, too.

There's also a minor update on the donation-management front. I've sent PayPal an e-mail about getting buttons for donation that would go directly to charities - if this works out, it should be an even better solution than trying to rely on Bandcamp for that aspect. If PayPal can do this, then I will make sure that they can track how much money is coming in through those buttons; and if that works, then one of the biggest hurdles will be taken care of! There would be no need for me to manage the money and get it to the charities, essentially cutting out the middle man. It would also make donating much, much more convenient for everyone. Fingers crossed!

Congratulations on making it to the end of this post. And thank you for caring enough about this to take the time out of your day to do so. Honestly, your efforts are just as (if not more) important to this project's success than mine are. Always remember that we're all in this together. This cause is our cause, and our cause is to help Japan.

Kevin Stephens

Monday, March 14, 2011

State of the Project, Day 1

Let me start by saying wow. I had no idea that there would be so much interest in this project - it has been about 7 hours since the project went live, and I've already received multiple music submissions, offers to help (both general help and with artwork/graphic design), and offers from labels to post the compilation when it is complete. I cannot thank everyone enough for their support on this project. I have gone from being confident to being absolutely certain that we will all make this project a resounding success.
Now, on to the State of the Project update.

I neglected to mention the specific license that this will be released under. If you are an artist submitting music to this compilation, you agree to allow the song to be published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (although, if it is a major concern for many contributors, I reserve the right to change it to a non-derivative license). By extension, in submitting a track for the compilation, you agree that you hold the exclusive rights to your song. If you submit the song and do not have the rights, you reserve the right to withdraw your submission up until the time that the compilation is released, excepting legal circumstances that require the withdrawal of the track from the finished compilation. If you have already submitted a track to me, I will be sending out an e-mail notifying you of these changes. If you need to withdraw your submission, that is perfectly alright - there is no need to get into a tricky legal situation. There are many ways to help out other than submitting a song. This also means that labels will be required to release the compilation under the same license. If you have already offered to distribute the compilation and this new information prevents you from releasing it, please inform me.

Since I have received such a large volume of submissions already, I am considering a few things. First, if the volume of submissions increases as the deadline nears, I worry that we could end up with at least 24 hours of music. There are a few things that I am considering as a solution, and I would love to receive feedback or suggestions.

  • Release the compilation as a single "CD" (60 or so minutes in length). This is the option I like least, as it would mean having to be highly selective in what gets released - and that rather defeats the purpose! And who am I to say what does and does not deserve to be on the compilation? On the other hand, this would make it less prohibitive for labels to distribute, as bandwidth costs could get very expensive with a very large compilation.
  • Release the compilation as a few "CDs." This would be something like 3 CDs. This is also a rather unattractive option for the same reasons as above, though it is a bit more allowing then the previous suggestion.
  • Release the compilation as a sort of core "CD or CDs" like the other two options, and have an extended compilation that includes all submissions that meet the guidelines. Not sure about this one. Thoughts?
  • Release the compilation in multiple themed "CDs" (I need to find a better word for this). What I mean by this is having an ambient collection, a noise collection, a folk collection, etc. The main problem I have with this one is forcing genres on every song for the sake of organization; as an artist myself, I often find genres to be limiting. On the other hand, this is appealing because it would allow listeners to more easily select what to listen to - it is pretty daunting to stare at an enormous list of songs without knowing what any of them will sound like.

A Call to Netlabels, Netmusicians, and Others

As everyone is no doubt aware, Japan was hit with a major natural disaster on March 11th. The country's citizens are in dire need of humanitarian aid.