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


  1. I intend to submit a track. I'll offer to do some mastering, but if experienced people want to do it, they should take priority.

  2. Putting together this is a great idea - the situation in Japan is getting worse by the day.

    I also intend to submit a track - I would imagine you would have quite a lot of submissions.

    Another option would be to decide on the number of Volumes (CD's) once the summission date has passed. Obviously, this would mean more work with artwork, mastering, etc but you may get more money raised.

    Danny Spacecat

  3. Warfreak - Thus far, I haven't received many offers for mastering yet, so I may take you up on it.

    Hey Danny - that's a great idea. I'm going to consider that thoroughly.

  4. Just submitted a track, hope you like it!

    Your doing a great thing.

    Kristopher Fisher