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PERPETUAL CHANGE — Internet Radio Part 2

| Mar 16, 2009
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This is the second of a series on the use of Internet Radio by GLBT artists, and what transgender artists can expect to encounter. Part 1 of the series was posted here as the January 2009 installment, and featured an interview with Ethan St. Pierre, a well known activist and broadcaster.

This time around, the focus will be from the viewpoint of the artist. Two outstanding musicians in the greater GLBT community – Robert Urban and Nick Granato – have agreed to share their experience with the medium of Internet Radio. Although neither artist is transgender, they are both important allies and supporters of our community.

Robert Urban (featured here in January 2006), is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and published author from New York City. He has his own production company called Urban Productions, and has released several CDs. He has won numerous awards, most notably Song Of The Year and Poetry Literary Achievement from the Stonewall Society.

Nick Granato

Nick Granato

Nick Granato (a personal friend of mine, really, from my days in Nashville, Tennessee), has been in the music business since the age of 15. He has had hundreds of songs published and recorded, has worked with major music publishing firms, and has won numerous awards. As a performer, he has released three CDs since 2003. He won the Stonewall Society’s Pride In The Arts Award in 2007, receiving the Artist Of The Year prize and also won CD Of The Year (for his release “Outside The Lines”.)

While both men have long years of experience in the music business, they each take a somewhat different view of Internet Radio.

“I’ve had quite a lot of involvement with Internet Radio,” Urban said. “I guess partly because I’ve been around for a while. I was releasing my own CDs during Internet Radio’s experimental beginnings. I think it’s pervasiveness is now considerable and still on the rise.”

“Internet Radio has become more competitive, and unfortunately less professional,” Granato said. “Anyone can start up a…station and a lot of them sound like it.

“I think Internet Radio is a tool, one element among many. MySpace and YouTube are very powerful. Internet Radio is still in its baby stages; too much to choose from. You only can corner a small fraction of a small fraction.”

Being established artists, both men have had airplay on traditional radio. They both share the view that both radio formats are nonetheless beneficial.

“I’ve been a guest on several different radio shows on Sirius Radio,” Urban said. “Sirius has, I think, the largest listening audience of any Internet Radio company. (Ed Note: Sirius is know mostly as a satellite radio service but you can listen to it with on computers and other devices connected to the Web if you have the right app, and a Sirius subscription.)

Robert Urban

Robert Urban

“I have also had my music aired on many ‘progressive rock’ Internet Radio stations. ‘Prog rock’ has quite a fan base niche all over the world-we’re a somewhat nerdy bunch-and thus our music helped pioneer Internet Radio use.”

“I’ve got to say that both traditional radio and Internet Radio have helped me,” Granato said. “I believe in getting heard as much as you can, so Internet Radio is a great tool to garner new fans, and to get your music out there. If people can’t hear it, then why put it out?”

Changes from traditional radio’s use as a broadcast medium also mirrors several other ongoing changes within the music industry. Given the seemingly ever-evolving technology consumers are faced with, the concept of “records” as a music delivery method is something you’d expect to find in a museum. Along with traditional radio, do traditional record companies still have a valid role to play?

“Labels will eventually figure out how to dominate (Internet Radio) as well,” Granato said. “Look what happened to MySpace. The major labels see the Internet’s potential, they just haven’t figured out how to dominate it yet, but they will try.”

“Of course record companies hate the Internet—in fact they are dying out and have become little more than distributors of music because of the Net,” Urban said in agreement. “The Internet is intangible—there is barely any actual product to sell. At least with vinyl albums there was some artwork and lyrics and decent sized photography. On the Net all one gets is mp3’s.

“So much in our current human culture is now turning inward. We more and more seem to prefer a cgi-like virtual reality over the real physical reality about us.”

Although Granato does feel that Internet Radio is beneficial “…for a niche like the GLBT community…”, he too admits that things in the music biz aren’t what they used to be. “Right now, the music industry is going through some very painful but much needed changes,” he said. “The major labels have lost their grasp because of the Internet as a whole. Some independent artists are outselling their major label counterparts.”

Okay, so that’s a good thing, right? Yes, to a degree, and of course no to the same degree. It was Marshall McLuhan who said, “The medium is the message,” which was in reference to television back in its beginning days. Is it a valid question to ask if the Internet, in all its incarnations, has also now become more important than its content, and the very artists who create that content?

“The Internet, in a totally tabloid ‘reality show’ type of way, is giving all artists their 15 minutes of fame,” Urban said. “Unfortunately, when everyone gets 15 minutes of fame, nobody is really famous anymore. Is it me, or is music-media-cgi-digital-copy-clone-Internet-video games all becoming more and more of a meaningless blur?

“This is difficult to say, but the world is changing in a weird way these days. With computers and the Internet, the very pastime of listening to music is drifting away from what it once was. For all I know, soon people won’t listen to music anymore unless it’s part of some multi-media experience tapped into by wires in our heads. Music used to be about MAKING music and experiencing real people making music. I’m not sure what ‘listening to music’ is anymore.”

For GLBT artists, and trans musicians in particular, finding and keeping an audience can be a challenge almost as daunting as “coming out” that first time. Tools such as Internet Radio are just that-tools. Granted, some tools don’t require a lot of cash to obtain or skill to use, and they can function well for a season. However, we risk the loss of human interaction when we become more enamored with the music delivery system than with the actual music.

It isn’t a new phenomenon to be wary of new technology. When phonographs and 78 rpm records were first introduced, publishers of sheet music foretold the end of their business, and the musician’s union feared that its members would be out of work because radio no longer needed live players in the studio.

It’s going to sound like a very bad pun to say this, but our community is familiar with transition, and that’s exactly what the music business is now experiencing. In some respects, it’s too early to tell which formats will be only passing fads and which will stay. The Internet is not going away any time soon, so the real question becomes, how do we as consumers, and artists, ultimately choose between allowing it to be helpful or hurtful.

For the musician, that choice could become to having to decide to be an actual musician or a technician. Use it, or be used by it. Nonetheless, a lot more music will also eventually be made available. Only time will tell how the traditional systems of the music business fare in the end. For the artist and the consumer, some interesting days are coming.

ALSO THIS MONTH…

Speaking of Robert Urban, Robert posted this on the Transgender Music Society’s discussion group, concerning Roger Mapes (a.k.a. Yolanda, who was featured here August 2001, and July 2003):

“For a gay producer, it’s always special working in the studio with openly LGBT artists. And few LGBT musical artists have encompassed as many dimensions of our LGBT rainbow community as has Roger Mapes. He is/has been at once part gay male, part gender warrior, part clown, part drag queen, part bear, part spiritual

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert

minister, part radical faerie, part rock band frontman-and an activist for so many worthly LGBT related humanitarian/social/political/spiritual causes. The new rock album’s production is grand, expansive, and as multi-faceted as is Roger himself…think The Beatles All You Need Is Love phase (if The Beatles had come from Roger’s southern rock…Muscle Shoals, Alabama instead of Liverpool, England. We invite you to listen to to 3 pre-release singles from the new album, Nice Girl, We Are Angels, and our ocver of Bobby Gentry’s classic , Ode To Billie Jo, at http://www.talentplace.net/rogermapes/

American Idol front-runner Adam lambert is family. Not a surprise, but the fans and detractors of the show have been all over the photos of Adam in drag and with his S.O. This is probably going to be a good test of whether or not people actually pay attention to an Idol contestant’s talent, rather than his or her personal life. We’ll see….

For information on Robert Urban, visit his website, the Yahoo Gay Guitarists group,  or Robert’s MySpace page.

Info on Nick Granato can be found at his website.

Both are incredible musicians and strong supporters of the trans music community.

Also, some Internet Radio stations and programs of note: Sirius OutQ, LOGO,  AfterElton (Internet Magazine),  Rainbow Radio, Mike Scott’s QMO Radio, Vennessa’s Fetish Apocalypse, Homoradio,  Joanne Lynn’s WKJCE TLGB Radio, Megaclectic’s Qnation.fm, and Edge Radio with Viz and Cole.


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Category: All TGForum Posts, Music, Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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