In recent days and weeks LL and I have been discussing via email many issues pertaining to the state of Tape Culture in the 21st Century. We both feel that instead of using large corporate Internet structures we need to re-focus our efforts toward personal decentralized grassroots efforts.
This blog was created because of my desire to rid myself of the toxic, addictive burden of Social Media (especially Facebook) and to focus on personal expressions of my life as an artist on my own personal, NON-TOXIC, advertisement-free and politics-free website.
In a recent email Lord Litter shared this quote by Edward Snowden:
Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as "surveillance companies." Their rebranding as "social media" is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.
Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 17, 2018
Cassette Culture NOW (2018)
Part 2 - a first analysis (feeding the money machine)
What the cassette culture of today totally lost is it's original anarchistic underground approach A article on todays cassette culture scene of America starts with this statement:"Cassettes are big business in the US of A."(1)
The original idea was this one: "Artists self-releasing would often copy their music in exchange for a blank tape plus self-addressed envelope...But there also existed many small 'tape labels' ... that operated in opposition to the capitalistic aim of maximizing profit".(2)
From the Bandcamp 2017 Year in Review: "2017 was another stellar year for Bandcamp, with double digit growth in every aspect of the business. Digital album sales were up 16%, tracks 33%, and merch 36%. Growth in physical sales was led by vinyl (up 54%), CDs (up 18%), and cassettes (up 41%)" Now have a guess who really earns by this development.
Many of todays aspects are almost only about slick business. All happening in sterile surroundings, that make all participants look the same. The *culture* here is defined by marketing structures owned by a few.
An important part of the original idea was this one: Darrell Draeger, member of original cassette culture band "Hermanos Guzanos" writes 2018: "Wow! It's truly amazing how much work it was. Some of the letters are two or three pages in teeny tiny writing, and a lot of these people were making this crazy ass music, and they were all nice and polite as can be most of the time.
The intercultural communication that happens with two or three pages was a driving force of the original scene Imagine the in-depth effect it had to receive such a letter with a cassette from South Africa in 1989! (Yes I received those!) Some may say that we have all this via Blogs today. Do you really think that a ongoing person to person communication can be surrogated by a Blog entry that gets replys by many like "Interesting" - "cool" - *I like*...??
The structures owned by a few took over and too much of todays *cassette culture* became a value for them. Facebook "talks" and bandcamp "sells"...and the *cassette culture* delivers according to rule.
I heard arguments like "We only use these structures, like in the original days we used the postal system to send our music into the world."
The postal system just was a tool that did'nt "dictate" anything. You could send any word and any individual created piece of art via this system - the system just transported. Facebook, Bandcamp etc define what we do, rules dictate how we look, talk, act ... and once you act according to rule they make money with you.
And above all too often there is of course the idea "Yeah I can *make it* - a million clicks are possible, if I act according to rule.
Today's cassette culture is just too much part of all that defines today's existance.
A solution? Well probably taking a giant step back is a beginning. Concentrating on producing 10 homemade copies of a cassette - each with an individual cover - and exchanging them with friends at concerts etc. - thinking in *individuality* as quality not longing for quantities.
Concentrating on a own individual homepage offering homeproducts.
Working on own networks outside the cooperation owned ones.
Well yes this is quite much work like the "two or three pages in teeny tiny writing" but Folks this is what once defined *Independence* ... and what about asking friends if they would like to take part in an exciting new adventure?! One makes the music, another one creates the website a third one corresponds - and thus becomming independent...
And then there is of course the opinion: We live today, we have to find our own way into the new reality, we have to use what we find, just ignoring reality is very unrealistic ... and I totally aggree. But why not being critical, aware and thinking - just don't say yes to anything they throw at you. I guaranteed creating an *own world* is much more exciting!
PS: All this sure also goes for all other formats, like vinyl, CD and whatever you may think of.
PPS: I just received a reminder on 20 years of CDBaby. CDBaby which was once a great idea of one Derek Sivers, who wanted to establish some independent CD selling via a new kind of internet shop. Now look what it became - Sivers sold it for millions and today's CDBaby became a money making machine juggling figures like Bandcamp. Again the question - have a guess who really makes the money here. 4$ dollars per CD - how much per Cassette?
(1) 10 Cassette Labels that Define America’s Tape Scene -
Darrell Draeger's Cassette Culture Blog
Next time I guess I'll have a thought about the "sound of 2018".