I picked the name back in 1996, but still haven't come up with a formal meaning for it. Here are some candidates:
Back in 1996 when I threw together the first version of the UNME pages, I never dreamed that DIY music making and online listening would explode like it has. Now there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of songs that we can download from home brew musicians just like us! Yeah, it's exciting, but it's also intimidating...
Now that the "schoolyard" of the Internet has turned into the hectic city center we see today, how can we get the personal attention we need? How can we find an audience, feedback, and advice? How can we find some musical buddies, and musical mentors, that will keep us inspired, learning, and happy?
For me, I think the answer is to move away from the masses of people and commerce, away from the spaghetti, away from the huge mp3.com, SoundClick, IUMA, and Riffage sites with thousands of artists, thousands of listeners, and dozens of idea-thieves ready to pounce... for a while, at least.
I like the idea of finding some small but vital little town (but still within driving distance of the city), and settling down for a while. Finding some friends, some tutors and tutees, a sense of productive community.... that's what would make me happy.
So that's the motivation behind UNME.
To be honest, I don't really know what UNME is, or will be. That's why this site sat untouched from 1996 to 2000, and then again from 2000 to 2005. However, I'll take a stab at (re)stating the initial intent of the site.
UNME is a musician's writing group. You submit your songs, critique other people's songs, and talk about your gear and techniques.
Yeah, I know, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of similar sites, most of them much slicker and better maintained than UNME. On the larger sites, you'll get more exposure, more presentational control, and a feeling that you are stepping towards the "Big Time".
On the other hand, the big sites don't give you much personal attention. You're just one among thousands of other artists. Unless you want to spend gobs of time promoting your music, you'll probably end up feeling anonymous. If anything, it bruises the ego a little bit to post songs on a big site and then go ignored.
Okay, forget the critique idea. We already have GarageBand.com for that. Also, after writing a few dozen reviews for GarageBand.com, I'm no longer enthusiastic about focusing on other people's music. I'd much rather talk about my self-centered issues such as:
I already talk about my own music on my Tripecac site, so I don't need UNME for that. However, I still would like a place to discuss gear and strategies.
Why not use an existing forum?
Good question! For technological problems or other issues that could benefit from a quick response, I turn to the Cakewalk forum (or another super-popular forum) where I can get lots of eyeballs on my questions. Those forums tend to be much more responsive than UNME, which gets maybe one viewer every six months.
UNME seems better suited for long-term, hard-to-answer questions. It's a good place for ongoing "deep thoughts" and self-centered issues, like "how can I get someone to review all 500+ Tripecac songs?" Chin-scratchers that benefit from prolonged thinking rather than quick answers.
So why not use a blog?
Hmm. Yeah. Well. Hmm. Good point. If I don't expect responses, and don't really want to talk about other people's issues, why not simply blog all my deep thoughts? Hmmm.
Well, sometimes blogging is fine. Like right now, what I'm typing is kinda bloggish. It's a stream of casual, semi-focused thoughts. Very conversational. So, yeah, maybe the more ponderous music-related issues would fit well on a blog.
What about gear?
I don't think my gear notes would work on either a blog or a discussion forum. For gear, I want an easy-to-navigate collection of well-named pages that can refer easily to each other and contain lots of non-bloggy visuals like tables, diagrams, and instructions. I'd also like my [gear] pages to have permanent, search-engine friendly urls (like /gear/triton-and-sonar-sysx/) so that they attract visitors based on keywords.
Blogs seem to work okay with search engines, but they don't seem edit-friendly. Blogs are usually write-once affairs. Your posts are sorted by date and you almost never refine them. No one expects a blogger to edit old posts. So, blogs don't work well with what I had in mind for gear.
The gear pages need to be static, which means a conventional web site rather than a blog or a forum. That, I think, is a need that UNME can fill.
I also like the idea of having links to other musicians' sites, plus profiles and some mp3s of their music. It'd be sort of like a record label, with no money involved (at least not initially), and no work involved either, except updating the site.
So there are my rough, "bloggy" thoughts on what UNME should be. You can probably tell that I still don't have a clear idea. Oh well! I'll probably write another update in a few months. Until then, see ya!
UNME is designed to be small. Ideally, we'll have less than a dozen artists on here, and will become familiar with each other's music, habits, and personality. We'll be able to give each other useful advice, encouragement (when it's merited), and a sense of having an audience.
What UNME won't do, at least initially, is help you "sell" your music. The big sites are better for that. UNME is more for getting feedback.
I'd love it if I could "use" UNME to get advice on my latest song or album, and if other people could "use" it similarly. Everyone would be using UNME to serve themselves, but we'd be helping each other in the process. It needs to be genuinely symbiotic.
I plan to gradually add features that make UNME easier and more useful to use. I want tools for uploading, reviewing, categorizing, and analyzing songs. I'll need to have a better definition of purpose for UNME before I invest a lot of time in it, though.
For now, we'll need to take the "low-tech" approach, which is to treat the forum as the focal point of the site. You can use it to post your critiques, questions, and tips. If we get a post or two a week on here, I'll be happy!
UNME is aimed at casual, DIY musicians. I love the idea of having a bunch of "bedroom bands" on here. Ideally, they'll all use Sonar, a Triton, a Pod Pro, and will only make jazz/rock/reggae, just like me!!! :)
Seriously, though, the site is open to everyone. Anyone who hasn't released a horde of CDs, hasn't had a million gigs, hasn't really made any money off of his or her music is welcome to contribute songs, and everyone is welcome to contribute critiques.
Of course, if you're already "professional" and have thousands of fans, you're also welcome to drop in with a new song or two, as long as you stick around to evaluate some of the other people as well!
The key here is helping people, and accepting help from others. You provide feedback for each other's songs, feedback that comes from fellow musicians and music collectors, people who are interested and knowledgeable!
Blaa, blaa, blaa... Short answer: anyone.
Next to each artist's name is a contact link. Use it to send a private message to the artist, or, better yet, use the forum so that everyone can benefit from the effort you put into your review!
These days, mp3 is the most popular format, so let's use it. To get your song on the site, you can either:
For now, you'll have to email me. If I start getting lots of submissions, I can spend some time making submissions easier.