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  •  The EvO:R Street Journal

    The EvO:R Street Journal
    Editorial statement
    Dedicated to the culture, business and interests of the indie artist. EVJ delivers controversial points of view, hard-news commentary, Industry Insites, artistic prose and photography and welcomes responses (pro or con), feedback and topic suggestions from readers. If you would like to submit an opinionated article, inspired poem, photo or essay to EVJ, forward all copy to Editor ESJ and put To the Editor in the subject field.

    Who the f*** do you think you are?
    An essay

    By Frank Cotolo

    The World Wide Web has spawned a plethora of free-agent musicians (FAMs) who are trying to take advantage of an arena never before available to them. At on-line music distribution sites (OMDs) and per their own web sites, a countless number of music-pushers are writing, producing and distributing their own songs, attempting to sell their CDs and shamelessly promoting themselves through their own devices.

    You know this, you are probably one of these FAMs.

    CD Baby recently reported having over 30,000 individual FAMs with CDs for sale. It is not going out on a limb to forecast that this number has only scratched the surface of those yet to enter the picture. Sans any judgement about talent, all of these FAMs are "virtually" shouting, "Here I am, look it's me!" to a potential millions of people.

    You know this, you are probably one of these FAMs.

    The FAMs at EvO:R and many other music communities and OMDs are just few faint molecules in this endless organism. Still, the driving need for self-promotion in this crowded arena has created an ugly element that goes on ad nauseam. It's anything but subtle and continually damaging to what the concept of community means.

    Everyone has gone nuts. Everyone is starting to believe the mush that comes from their in-house publicity arms. What is worse is that none of it is working. There is no substantial audience or buying public; there are no true fans; there is no actual market for the volume of product being offered. Still, the individual acts bombard message boards, web sites, review sites and communities with fodder about their products, shouting, "Here I am, look it's me!"

    There are more announcements than anyone cares to read; there are more links than anyone cares to click; there are more acts and songs than any one cares to care about. But still, the acts shout, "Here I am, look it's me!" And nine out of ten times they are heard only by other acts, most whom are shouting the same thing. The din is deafening; the music can hardly be heard above it.

    When I began my Ampcast talk broadcasts I believed that web-based acts would be interested in some of the issues that no other outlet, except the EvO:R Street Journal, put on the table. The program would be a mirror, reflecting the hardcore reality of the self-centered and misguided behavior of web-based acts. It would offer alternatives to this behavior, as well as it would be a voice to campaign for the freedom that allows their presence at all (as the major companies plot to take over the territory).

    I did not expect the majority of this monstrous bulk of acts to be attracted to the concept of the program. Indeed, most of what I still talk about on the program is threatening to FAMs. Topics demand that FAMs face the hard issues, the self-indulgence and the lack of audience. Topics insist that the needs of the many have now exceeded the needs of the few. But more and more acts shout "Here I am, look it's me!" Because these topics flirt with personal judgement, too many of the people who should be listening, do so, taking it all as some kind of attack and misinterpreting the values. What could I expect from those who feel it is all about them? Nothing.

    Since, of course, "Here I am, look it's me!" is the common battle cry, many indies feel I do my program with the same ego-based motivations.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    My program is a spin off of how I address the new arena and my actions have always been community-motivated, a rare and distinct feature in a FAM, I sadly admit. The evidence of this has all been documented.

    At EvO:R I have contributed more than any member, doing interviews, helping create and maintain the EvO:R Street Journal, performing internet broadcasts on Live365, appearing and hosting live shows for EvO:R and putting the promotion of the many ahead of the promotion of the few.

    All of this blossomed into a major opportunity when the owners of recognized that a seasoned voice could help boost community standards and bridge a surviving OMD and major music communities. And so when the Ampcast program was created, it was done so as a unique springboard for building indie strengths by addressing real issues, not the pulp that bogus indie newsletters are made of.

    A year has passed since the inception of the Ampcast program and I continue to perform for the greater purposes of FAM community. But, although the program has reached syndicated proportions, the initial group of FAMs, that broad base of acts affected by every issue my Ampcast program addresses, simply refuse to see the scope of what community can do for them or how they can benefit from more participation and less self-promotion.

    Everything you do not want to hear, which is everything you should hear if you want to face the facts of being a FAM, is generated at Cotolo Chronicles. And that voice speaking is not mine as much as it is that voice inside of you screaming to get out and slap you senseless until you realize this arena will crumble if you do not stop thinking only of yourself.

    Being a member of any community does not, in itself, qualify as a contribution.

    At EvO:R proper, members don't ask what they can do as much as they ask what can be done for them. Too many EvO:R members use the community as a billboard instead of a headquarters for presenting the talents of all involved. As Charlie Harrelson continues to juggle his own life's tasks with the better interests of EvO:R, it is safe to say that if he backed off and I stopped my contributions and ex-member Daniel ceased to offer ideas (an ex-member doing more than a member?) EvO:R would collapse like a wet cardboard box. Mr. Harrelson continues at his own expense to open up the community for the community's sake. If he does anything wrong, it is to offer too much for too little to too many acts that have no intention of doing anything other than shouting, "Here I am, look it's me!"

    Not to mention the money that it costs to keep EvO:R going. Have any of you ever sent a donation? Or do you feel that your presence is the gift? Get real.

    I offer here what may read like a bitter treatise but I have no intention of taking my ball and going home. I am an active player and will continue to be one no matter the volume of the audience-for my broadcast of music campaigns, I am convinced, continue to speak for the needs of the many. For the sake of community, I will persist in proposing unpopular opinions to those who have gotten into this arena in the first place because all they wanted was a glimpse of fame, fortune and the right to masturbate freely in public. Those acts (I will never address them as artists, since the artist is an individual who recognizes the masses, the enemy and the causes) need not support these efforts or their benefits, in the long run, for EvO:R and all FAMs. But down the road there will be a price to pay and great disappointment as their bubbles burst from the sharp points of reality.

    This is not about networking, per se, to coin a common and overused term. This is about understanding the value of what the new arena offers and how to make the most of it so that there actually is an audience, a buying public and true fans. This is about looking at the new world with new eyes and listening with new ears; this is not about imitating the heroes that are now embedded in the enemy's camp and creating the false impression that you are one of them.

    This is about a struggle, one where the strength of numbers could win over the strength of the dollar. This is about you and better serves you without the shouting, "Here I am, look it's me!"

    Do yourself a favor. Sit down and write a bad review of your performance, CD or material. Recognize your weaknesses as a greater public might, and level the fantasies. Put yourself in your own place just to know what it is like to be a professional-one who can take the slams and criticism, not absorb the gratuitous and self-serving reviews of peers. Then, make a pact with yourself to participate and contribute to promote the greater need.

    Find a way.
    Find the time.
    Or be buried in the graveyard of mediocrity
  • Read the readers comments about this article

  • About Frank Cotolo
    Few, if any, internet-based performers are as prolific or versatile as Frank Cotolo. Soon he will celebrate his 40th anniversary as a professional creative entity (PCE to you). After almost four decades, he continues to produce material as a songwriter, author, poet, lyricist and an award-winning journalist at a breakneck pace because, he says, "somebody has to do it."

    His many incarnations over the decades have astounded reviewers, spiritualists, quick-change artists and certainly other performers. While most internet-based artists are struggling to complete their next track, Cotolo pulls CDs out of his hat, often changing voices and styles quicker than a rat can scale a palm tree.

    He is now an embedded member of the radio team with cotolo chronicles, a weekly talk show that breaks ground in internet radio broadcasting. Every Thursday at 9 p.m., EST, Cotolo continues his love-hate relationship with the entertainment business, with comments, praises, pontifications and insubordinate monologues.... By the way...He also is the editor of the award winning EvO:R Street Journal!


    ESJ is looking for writers/poets for our next issues. All work is appreciated and will be published (with the exception of articles containing racism, bigotry or other demeaning topics) Also, this is a PG-13 rating and will be censored if you do not edit it. Please e-mail The EvO:R Street Journal.
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