What does something that came after the Cassette revolution have to do with it?
Ok, we know the Internet didn't really get going until about 1995 and of course the potential was unfulfilled at the time. No easy downloading music then, no streaming movies, no cell phones in everyone’s pockets. Cassette Culture was pretty much wrapping up its show by then, or not long after.
We all knew some of what the future would hold. More net speed, easier and faster communications, unimaginable amounts of music and videos in our pockets, no getting lost in unfamiliar neighborhoods, the ability to find pizza and coffee and record stores in any town you visited, the answers to stupid questions in bars and parties, etc.
I don't think many of us realized the sea change and the pervasive nature that phones would come to represent at the time. Who knew that the desk top computer itself would almost be an afterthought by 2018 and that the phone was the center of the universe?
Will the phone eventually go the same direction as records, cassettes, and CDs? Man, that is tough to know but it seems that this one may hang around for a long time. Of course it may not be a “phone” that way we see it now. Maybe a watch, an attachment to our glasses…what about a brain implant?
So for our purposes in 1995 the tape scene was gone, the community essentially disbanded
(except for pockets), CDs and CDRs the new platform for musical artists. I got my own digital recorder in 2002. It was an 8 track BOSS 1180 made by Roland. It provided me with a new clarity of sound, hundreds of built in effects and the ease of burning CDs directly from it. I also got the first of many CDR dubbing decks soon too. It took some time for the cost of digital equipment to come down in price but eventually it was more or less affordable.
This was now a great way to do high quality sounding collaborations with others. This is something I have always loved and with tapes the degrading tape hiss from too many generations was not fun. Not a game changer for me but something I wished was better. The new digital set up immediately solved this. In fact, I still use the 8 track today ( in combination with Garageband on my Mac ) to record my tunes.
I was really stoked with my first digital collab album with Eric Wallack called “Disappearing Act”. This was like a dream come true….complete silence between tracks and in the places during the songs when stillness and quiet was needed. The sound also jumped from the speakers.
So as the Internet started to mature I always wondered, “why can’t the community we had during the tape scene exist now”? I mean, the equipment was better ( perhaps somewhat more expensive overall though), the ability to communicate immediately with somebody across the world, the closeness that could be had by such contact seemed unparalleled.
What happened? Why didn't we group together even before social media and have our own cliques again?
OK, some of us did but it took the rise of MySpace, Facebook and all the other sites to facilitate any kind of major groupings.
The dangers of being involved with corporate structure to this degree was on my mind, and the minds of many friends. It wasn't just that our privacy would be invaded but it just didn’t seem as personal and tactile as getting something from the post office. The ability to “like” something seemed phony and off putting.
However, was the Internet and all the possibilities just inherently superficial? Of course not.
To me, I sometimes envision the Internet as an actual highway with the looming billboards as I travel. I do see the billboards and even read them sometimes but mostly I just try to drive and get there safely and not get consumed ( quite literally ) by the information.
One theory that is bandied around is that people got more self serving with the entrepreneurial possibilities of the Internet. Anyone could reach out to the entire world and hawk their product. I don’t really know why most people did not seem to care about anybody else. To be frank though, the social media platforms that arose did allow people to communicate and develop relationships ( if you wanted ).
Perhaps some don't want to hear this but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are good things…well, at least to me. I make sure that any personal information I put out is limited though. I completely understand that it is a giant corporate business and that my info is to be mined and sold back to me. I am actually fine with that as long as they are not publishing my private messages. But, if it is info I put out there publicly what can I expect?
I don't blame some for not getting involved in this but if you expect to live in this century and not be a Luddite you’d better get on the train. Also, the ability to connect with artists is tremendous. For example, I try to send every single artist notification of radio play ( you might be surprised how few DJs do this) and if I cannot find their email address it is more than likely they are on Facebook. I have also reconnected with former colleagues, high school and work chums, and made new contacts galore.
Sure, some of the chatter seems childish and stupid. Sure, the ads can be annoying, the endless political outrages are to be expected as well as all the usual ranting. There is always a trade off with anything.
I recently started creating my own visual art work as a new hobby and social media has been a great way to share it, the very same day I create it. By the way, this is not a business and, like my own music, I GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE TO ANYBODY WHO WANTS IT.
I got into a huge blowup with a guitar guy because he and his friends claimed I was devaluing THEIR music by giving mine away for free. How dare I? Shouldn't I be thinking about how it affects them? Was I wrong to hurt them so badly?
It is fun to get feedback from all over when I record a new song. It feels good to be “liked”. You must recall that during the height of the Cassette Glory Days many of us ( including me) were ridiculous back patting cheerleaders unwilling to really dish out criticism too harshly. Sure, Carl Howard was always there to bring us back to Earth but how many others could claim his honesty and way with words?
Another great thing ( to me ) is Bandcamp and some of the other music sharing platforms. I know nothing about Spotify or Pandora so I will leave that to someone else. I do really have an aversion to the music business in general although many of the bands I now get for the show are distinctly interested in being part of it.
As I said in another post, “if it works for you, do it”. I realize that I may contradicting myself here. On one hand, I am all about exposing new artists to the world but I don't really examine their motives. And what does it mean now to be “independent” or “underground”? ( That will be the focus of my next post ).
One of the greatest resources on the entire internet is the Internet Archive, also know as archive.org. This site is run by a rich guy ( and his team) in San Francisco and the goal is to be The Smithsonian of the Internet. This site allows for ANY AMOUNT of uploading FOR FREE. I believe in what they are doing so much I make monetary donations.
From what I can tell, this is the closest thing to “permanent” the Net has to secure your files for the future.
I am in the process of uploading every album I have ever made for free download and as many radio shows as I can before I leave this planet. I will never get it all done ( because there are thousands of shows) but my recommendation is to support and use archive.org. You can stream or download for free any files posted.
OK, most of the stuff I have gone on about here is nothing new to anybody. I just thought it would be a good bookend to the previous posts I made.
What is your opinion?
Can you stomach the ills of the internet to use it for what it is good for? Does it work for you?
…Don Campau 4-21-18
My name is Don Campau and I have been involved in underground and non mainstream music and radio since 1969. I continue to be an active home taper and Cassette Culture archivist with my own site, The Living Archive.