From Earth Orbit: Introduction

Welcome to From Earth Orbit, a newly launched blog organized around my activities in the electronic music scene. My intention is to pick up where I left off with my old blog, Ektoplazm, which evolved into a music distribution portal and record label group in 2008. Prior to that I had been sharing my mixes, local Toronto-area event listings, record reviews, intriguing quotations, and opinion pieces about various aspects of the music industry. After Ektoplazm became more known for distributing original music I began to obscure most of the more personal content on the site, and eventually removed almost all of it. I kept several of my DJ mixes online but even those began to feel somewhat out of place amongst all the Creative Commons-licensed music. In the mid-2010s I started using services like Mixcloud to host my mixes, declining to promote my work as Basilisk on my own homepage, with only a few exceptions for projects directly related to Ektoplazm’s new direction. I also gave up on blogging about electronic music culture apart from the odd post on Facebook, but I’d rather not exclusively rely on corporate-controlled social media to express myself. Evidently I needed another outlet for my work in electronic music culture—which is precisely what this blog is intended to be.

S2 Translation: An Early Work of Protein Music

One of my hobbies is musical archaeology: sifting through the archives in search of obscure, overlooked tracks from a bygone era. This virtual crate digging occasionally turns up intriguing results, including one recent find by The Shamen, a popular late 1980s/early 1990s electronica act unjustly known for some rather cheesy hit songs. Unbeknownst to me, they burst their own hype bubble at some point and started pursuing more serious musical explorations, most of which seem to have been completely overlooked and disregarded (as their fans were expecting more radio-friendly garbage and almost everyone else had already written them off).

The Making of Ektoplazm’s Greatest Trips

I prepared this post to provide some insight into the making of Ektoplazm’s Greatest Trips, a “best of” compilation highlighting some of the finest music I’ve had the pleasure of distributing via Ektoplazm, the free music portal I launched in the mid-2000s. The site grew from humble beginnings to become a major focal point for psychedelic trance culture and netlabel lovers online, with more than 50 million tracks served to music fans all over the world as of 2013. (Not familiar with the background story? Check out the beginner’s guide to Ektoplazm.)

New Music Digest: Spring 2011

The seasons turn and spring has come to Canada once again. As is my custom, I have annotated a list of thought-provoking articles about the state of the music industry. If you would like to learn a little more about what the future might hold, read on.

Everything popular is wrong: Making it in electronic music, despite democratization is a tremendously good read. A bit myopic, perhaps, but it captures the electronic music industry zeitgeist better than just about anything else I have seen.

Some Advice About Unsolicited Demos

Most label owners are overwhelmed with demos. Speaking as someone who has, at times, attempted to actually get to every demo arriving in my inbox, the vast majority are not worth looking into, and I don’t blame any label owner who ignores unsolicited demos—sorting through what might be worthwhile to release is actually a full-time job known as A&R in the industry! I happen to handle A&R for my fledgling netlabel group so I have a lot of first-hand experience reviewing unsolicited demos. My rate of release based on such demos is non-zero but it can’t be much higher than 1%, and most of that would be established veterans calling on me, not new artists.

BitTorrent Is Not a Universal Solution

One of the most common suggestions I receive from Ektoplazm visitors is to open a BitTorrent tracker for free music, ostensibly to decrease hosting costs. There are a number of problems with this suggestion, however, and given how frequently it is mentioned, I figure a full post might be helpful to explain why BitTorrent is not a universal solution.

New Music Digest: Winter 2011

Every season I try to gather up some of the more interesting music-related articles I’ve been reading to share and discuss. Much of this comes from subscribing to various “music 2.0” blogs, though I will admit to feeling uninspired by much of what I have found in the last few months. Is the movement running out of ideas? Not exactly. It is just that hype brings in traffic—and I have become rather allergic to hype! I criticize a few pieces of hype in the text below but I have also taken care to round up a number of posts containing solid advice for musicians new and old. I will start on a good note.

Finding An Audience In An Age Of Saturation is a great article about music discovery. The issue: pretty much anyone with an Internet connection has more than enough music already. How are musicians supposed to gain the attention of potential fans? Not by spamming people randomly, that’s for sure. The author provides a simple outline of what musicians need to be thinking about if they wish to earn the right to be heard.

New Music Digest: Fall 2010

Continuing my quarterly habit of rounding up some of the more informative and thought-provoking content in the new music literature…

First off, Cory Doctorow shares his views in The real cost of free, a fantastic opinion piece summarizing many of my own views about copyright, piracy, free content, and creativity. Required reading.

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

I recently had the pleasure of watching RiP: A Remix Manifesto, a documentary about culture, copyright, and creativity in the 21st century directed by Canadian filmmaker Brett Gaylor. The main focus of the film is Girl Talk, a mash-up artist, though you will also hear from Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of the Creative Commons (and a huge inspiration of mine), and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow. Copyright law might seem like a dry subject but the visual presentation of this film is positively electric—you won’t be bored!

New Music Digest: Summer 2010

Every now and then I gather up some of the more provocative or informative articles I find in my travels in order to compile a digest post such as this one. What follows is an assortment of music-related content I’ve been reading in the last couple of months.

Revealing Shakespeare’s Inner Pirate takes a close look at how culture reinvents itself with bits and pieces of the past. Copyright law, if it respects the public good, should allow for meaningful reinterpretation and outright copying of existing cultural products in order to maintain a healthy creative drive.