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.
One of my other major concerns is that if this gets really big and donations exceed $10,000 (a challenge, to be sure, but if this keeps growing, it could happen!), then it would almost certainly be necessary to have this project be officially sponsored by a 501(c) Not-for-Profit - or become one itself. I am personally unaware of what kind of work (and money!) that this would entail, but I am going to do some research this week. If anyone has experience or professional knowledge about this, please contact me. It may not be necessary, but it is important to be prepared for it.

I am hoping to make a State of the Project update on a daily basis, because I want everyone to be involved in this and to know what is happening with it. The next post will contain information on specific art projects that need to be completed. Please be forgiving if I am unable to respond to e-mails quickly - I am already receiving quite a few, and I am having to balance this with my personal life. I do promise that I will respond to every single e-mail, though. Except maybe hate-mail, but I'm not really expecting any.

Again, thank you to every single person who has helped - even if you've just taken the time to read about this project, you're helping make it a reality. We are going to create the most successful collaboration in the history of the netlabel scene, and in doing so, help the people of Japan in this time of crisis. 

This is our project. This is our cause.

And dammit, I'm excited!

Kevin Stephens


  1. My vote is for one or two "core" CDs and then a collection of all the submissions. In terms of press/publicity, this will be made a lot easier if there is a canonical album- or double-album-length compilation, since that's what people will expect to find.

    If you don't want the onus of selecting tracks for the core compilation, I expect you could enlist the help of some experienced music reviewers and judges, seeing as it's for a good cause. (There's probably not enough time to have a massive vote and you'd get lots of people trying to cheat anyway)

  2. I agree w/Warfreak2 that one CD is easier to digest and distribute.

    But the bigger reason to keep it to one disc, I think, is quality control. There is so much music available these days that nobody really needs MORE music regardless of the quality. What people are looking for is GOOD music.

    And if you limit yourself to 1 CD of only the very best material, you may actually get some good reviews for the disc, further helping the cause. If you get good reviews, you'll sell more CDs for the charity.

    Only if you really think there is so much awesome music that it can't fit, go to two. But think about it - have you really heard that many compilations that weren't half full of lame tracks?

    Offering the full collection of tracks as an online d/l might be reasonable. Maybe even a pay-what-you-like scenario for this part?

    If there really is a lot of great material that won't fit onto 1 or 2 discs, I do like the idea of separate discs based on genre.

  3. I feel that based on the response thus far, initiating some kind of quality control to get it down to a "core" collection at a reasonable playing time (60-120 minutes, I'd say) may be an unfortunate necessity. I do very much like the idea of offering the entirety of the submissions in genre-separated collections, as loathsome as genre pigeonholing can be. The fact does remain, though, that this allows listeners to know in advance a general aesthetic of a collection before downloading it.

  4. Thanks for the comments; this is all very helpful to me.

    Based on these comments (and they're the only ones I've received thus far), it seems like quality control and keeping it down to a reasonable amount of time are important factors. What about three CDs with a relatively broad stylistic focus and trying to keep the total time down to about 120-150 minutes or so?

    When I say broad stylistic focus, I'm thinking something like beat-oriented electronic (house, trance, dubstep, DnB, etc) / beatless-oriented electronic and other composition (ambient, drone, noise, classical, soundscape, etc.) / "other" (metal, folk, rock, pop, etc.). What do you think of the idea? What about the specific "styles"?

  5. I suppose I should mention that this is Kevin (guy managing the project) - it posts as Saffron Slumber because that's the name of my broader account.