As an artist and promoter of art, I really love what I'm finding on the web these days. A whole bunch of artists are getting their stuff "out there." I wrote in an earlier column about how the web makes a worldwide audience available to writers and poets, but webvantages are also available to purveyors of art forms other than the written word.
Have you ever been to MP3.com? MP3 is an audio file format that allows for much higher fidelity sound than the old .wav or .au formats, but with comparable file size. Before you go there, first stop off at http://www.winamp.com and download WinAmp. Or if you are Mac-inclined go get MacAmp. At MP3.com you'll find a treasure trove of music. And most of it is by bands you've never heard of, though there is a song by The Other Ones (The Grateful Dead cash cow milks on), George Clinton, and a few other familiar names. But mp3.com is mainly a platform for newly formed or up-n-coming groups -- anybody who ain't got a contract yet. You can download the songs for free; some artists have 7 or 8 available. If you don't want to wait for the download (1 minute of music takes roughly 1 meg of HD space) to see if you like it, you can stream it in lower quality through RealPlayer. Then download it if you really like it. The artist usually has a CD for sale if you really like it.
I've found a couple of bands that strike my fancy with a billy club. The Fire Ants sound almost like the The Monkees but their pop rock is very pleasing and makes my shoulders swing while I'm sitting at the computer. Ashcan School is a Seattle group with a captivating sound reminiscent of the Doors/Hendrix/Pearl Jam. But then, there are of course bands like this one. With a free and open medium you have to put up with those whose perceptions are radically different from yours -- or if you prefer -- the dorks. There is music for every taste from classical to heavy metal. As my collection grows, it's like having a jukebox on my desktop. I can pop open WinAmp and listen to any of the songs I have or any series of them. There are also MP3 servers, or internet radio stations, like email@example.com, but they would require another column to describe.
Publishing music on the web is now much like publishing poetry here. Anybody can post an MP3 file to their website. No additional server support is necessary, as is the case with RealPlayer.
I am also pleased to discover ifilm.net. Ifilm.net allows independent filmmakers to get their stuff "out there." You will find films that vary in length from 5 minutes to 50 minutes. The quality of the motion picture through my connection (lucky to get over 31K) challenges my attention, but the technology will improve. Cable connects get the full pleasure. If you haven't gotten RealPlayer, which you need for the video, well you know what to do.
Musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, as well as writers are finding that they can bypass the corporate publishers and distributors, which before were so infuriatingly necessary if an artist wanted his/her work to be experienced. That's all an artist really wants anyway. All they really want is to get their stuff "out there," so people can see it -- or hear it, or read it...
You've heard the phrase, "All a true artist wants is his bread and his art." There have always been many more artists who do it purely for self-discovery and love of the art, than those who make a living at it. 99% of them, like myself, work a day job to feed their face, and feed their soul through creativity in the evening. The web allows this multitude of quiet creators to transmit their work such that their friends and family can see it, and allow others to stumble upon it. It's those stumblers that make it special. Your friends will always be nice about your work. It's that guy or gal who lands at your site, sees your stuff, and takes a few minutes to write you an email saying that they like it. That makes it worth learning HTML and renting webspace. And hey, you never know, you might end up marrying them.
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