The judgment of strangers is a beautiful, a painful thing. Self-publishing over the internet is teaching this eternal truth - previously reserved for the relatively small number of people able to get their stuff printed by someone else, or rich or reckless enough to pay for their own printing costs - to many millions of people with nothing more than an idea and a laptop.
I recently spoofed a nice photo illustration of the Swiss writer Robert Walser from some French guy's MySpace page. On his page I noticed a Play List with a number of songs posted on it. I thought, "I want more than one song on my MySpace page." So I followed the link and started to build my own Play List.
Somewhere in my search, the fateful combination of vanity and curiosity took hold, and I decided to search for my old band, Eleanor Roosevelt. After all, though I had been searching for famous bands (XTC, The Replacements, The Soft Boys), I had mostly been finding their stuff on citizen critic music blogs. So I thought maybe somebody out there in the me-o-sphere had uploaded a cherished E.R. track for their friends to share (and judge).
I got one "hit," as they say on the crime shows. It was a music blog on a radio station's site out in New Jersey, WFMU. The call letters rang a bell. When I went to check out the site, I remembered why.
John Minkoff, who has been shouldering what we impolitely call the "shit work" quotient of our declining rock musical amibitions, had been in touch with the DJ at WFMU who posted this blog. As a pledge-drive schwag idea, she ran a "make it or break" competition on her blog, where listeners voted yay or nay on songs she collected from the MySpage pages of bands that had delcared themselves friends of WFMU.
We made it! Actually, since her competition was dubbed "Dump it or pump it?" I guess we pumped it, or the people pumped us. As a result, our song ("Gravy," which can be still be heard on that there MySpace page) was edited onto a mixtape that the DJ then gave away as freebies to people who pledged to the station's fund drive through her show.
(You can tell that I am no longer the band's shit worker, because I do not know the DJ's name or show. Not for me, these trifling promotional details. I just kick back and wait for the royalty checks to roll in. Still waiting ...)
Now that I have found the "Dump it or pump it?" page where we were pumped, the killing fields where we vanquished our opposition to advance onto the freebie schwag CD, I wonder how many people actually pumped us.
Granted, many may have voted silently, with no other comment, no "exit poll," if you will - but there are only three comments on the page. Two of those three comments mention our band (actually, a'hem, label) or our song. Given that our song was competing in a field of nine, it does seem striking that two-thirds of those exit-polled (67 percent, rounding up, since up looks good, in this case) had something to say about us. There was a "buzz."
However, the buzz was only half encouraging. Less Lee Moore says, "I'm really digging the Skuntry Music [name of our MySpace page and, a'hem, label]. I'm adding them as friends."
Bless you, Less Lee Moore! Less Lee is definitely more, in our book! On our blog! Our friend!
However, Patrick is not down with the Skuntry Music. Not at all.
"Golly gee-willickers, an Americana band from St. Louis," Patrick blogs, and then leaves a dot dot dot, an ellpsis, for dramatic purpose: " ... imagine that. DUMPED!"
Cool WFMU graphic from what seems to be the station's FaceBook page.