Position Available: Rock Star
Applications Now Being Accepted June 27th, 2000
Gary: What the hell are you doing with that antique reel to reel tape deck plugged in to my Mac!
Randy: Relax there buddy. I'm just using your machine to turn some of my old garage band tapes into MP3s for the web.
Gary: Well why didn't you use your Mac?
Randy: Because, dude, the 8-track is hooked up to my Mac.
Gary: Oh, I see. Ask a stupid question
Randy: Okay, uh, why the tutu and swim fins?
Gary: It's just a saying. I didn't really want a question.
Randy: I know. But seriously, why the tutu and fins?
Gary: I uh just never you mind uh so what are you going to do with your music once you have ripped them into MP3s?
Randy: Well, my eccentric friend, I am going to start exploring the vast web-wide frontier of MP3 music sites.
Gary: It's about time we started digging into some of this kind of entertainment. Our readers probably think all we do is sit in this cave and play video games on our Macs.
Randy: And they would pretty much be right. But we are trying to crawl out into the daylight and rejoin the human race.
Gary: Even if it is only from the safety of our monitors.
Randy: I'm sure a lot of our readers have already checked out some tunes in the MP3 format.
Gary: Thanks to the beauty of the QuickTime movie player every Mac user already has a great MP3 player built into their Macintosh.
Randy: How sweet it is. And for the real audiophiles out there, there's plenty of other stand-alone MP3 players that offer lots of great high-end features QuickTime's movie player doesn't have.
Gary: The players range in features and prices from free and basic to fancy and moderately expensive.
Randy: For the "I'll be dammed if I'm gonna pay for anything, ever!" crowd, you can check out players like QuickAmp. First and foremost, it's free. It's has an integrated search engine, supports simple skins, and can convert files. If you want to go for a good basic freeware player Quickamp is a good place to start.
Gary: If you want to wake to the mellow sounds of your MP3 in the morning you can use the free MP3 Alarm Clock from Mike Margolis. You can have up to 14 different alarms set to spin your favorite MP3 tracks stir you from sleep.
Randy: Hey Gary, that means you could use it to wake you from both your daily naps without having to ever reset it during the week! And if you folks out there don't sleep as much as Gary and don't need the alarms, you can grab the "very basic" GrayAMP from Digital Thought.
Gary: If you want some cool features like the ability to hook into the Napster music sharing system with your MP3 player you can shell out $24.95 for MP3 Rage from Chaotic Software.
Randy: And finally if you want the deluxe package to spin and rip your MP3 riffs there are some great high-end players. Gary and I both use the superb SoundJam MP from Casady and Greene. This player package cost around $40 and has a full feature MP3 converter, supports skins, comes with a skin converter to import skins from other players, has a full function equalizer, has an awesome plugin system that lets you watch mesmerizing light shows while your music plays.
Randy: And lets not forget about taking your MP3s with you. The Rio 500 from Diamond MultiMedia Systems, Inc. lets you plug into your USB port on your Mac and bring your jams on the road. But you will have to shell out about $250 to have this little toy.
Gary: Or for around $199 you can drop the McPiper MP3 portable player into your pocket. Like the Rio it supports up to two hours of music playback and has a built in mic for voice recording as well.
Randy: Once you have decided on your playback method, whether it's on your desktop or to-go you will need to get some tunes to jam out to.
Gary: Of course you can convert your CD music into MP3 tracks with the encoders that come with most MP3 player packages, but the real fun is in checking out all the new music that unsigned artist are cranking out.
Randy: Or if you are an aspiring musician you can join the revolution on-line and post your own creations to the world. No recording contract necessary!
Gary: Thanks to the Internet, the rules of the music industry are changing. The MP3 revolution has left the fat cats of the recording industry shaking like a first night convict, holding their torn pants around their ankles, asking where their strangle hold on the industry went.
Randy: Yikes! I don't know if I'd go that far into the prison imagery, but I love the fact that the MP3 scene has finally let the music fans and recording artist of the world "stick it to the man."
Gary: More prison jokes eh?
Randy: No. I just was trying to Oh never mind dammit. Let's just move on to the MP3 web sites.
Gary: No problem, how's about we cover the just listening MP3 sites first?
Randy: Sure thing. For those folks who just want to get straight to the music without downloading tunes check out Soundbreak. Using Real Player through your browser Soundbreak streams live DJs spinning tunes around the clock. Just one click and your jammin' to fresh new tunes. Be forewarned much of Soundbreak's site is about trying to sell your commercial crap, but the streaming radio is cool.
Gary: Another source for downloading tunes is EMusic. Like Soundbreak this site is a bit too commercial but you can grab tons of new and well-known tunes in the MP3 format.
Randy: Probably the best known MP3 web site out there right now is MP3.com. They have an extensive database of signed and unsigned artist music all categorized by genera and ranked by download popularity.
Gary: In a day and age where radio has fallen into complete mindless control of the big record companies, outlets like MP3.com allow undiscovered artist to get their music out to the public without having to grovel at the feet of these visionless record labels.
Randy: While not every song out there is a winner there are some real gems out there. You may just find your new favorite artist of all time. And what really makes sites like MP3.com powerful is that all the rankings are decided by the listeners, not some seventy year old executive who think Kenny G is rock and roll.
Gary: And if you're an up and coming artist yourself MP3.com can give you just the venue to showcase yourself or your band. MP3.com gives each artist a free web page where you can upload as many of your own tunes as you like. The page can contain photos and bios of your band and you can get daily reports of how well your music is doing in the rankings.
Randy: This is a cool feature. You can track exactly how many times each day your song has been downloaded or streamed, how many times your MP3.com web page has been accesses and how much "pay for play" cash your have coming for you tunes.
Gary: That's right, you heard "cash". MP3.com has a unique "pay for play" feature. Besides allowing listeners to jam to the music on-line they can also have their favorite songs pressed to a custom mix CD which they will mail directly to the listener. Each time one of your songs is requested to be presses to a disc your get paid.
Randy: And MP3.com will even sell your entire album on their site at no cost to the artist. They burn the CD per request and then split the profits with the artist. A very cool deal, indeed.
Gary: But what if you crave more than just a dribble of money for your hard wrought tunes? What if you want to break in to the commercial market through the web?
Randy: Then check out Garageband.com. This site is co-founded by Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads and a power-packed lineup of recording industry heavy-hitters It is designed to launch new artist into the commercial recording industry by offering a monthly prize of a $250,000 recording contract to the band who tops their charts at the end of every month.
Gary: Garageband.com has a slightly different take on the new artist music. Unlike MP3.com who allows you to upload as many of your original tunes as you care to, Garageband.com makes you barter for your upload space. For each song you upload you are required to first complete 20 reviews of randomly chosen music from their current database of songs.
Randy: But here's the clever part, your reviews are how the winners of each monthly recording contract contest are chosen. You directly decide who gets to the top of the charts each month. Cool eh? I found it quite addictive. After I found a song I really liked, I kept watching it's ranking over the month to see if the artist was going to win.
Gary: Beside offering you a chance to share you music Garageband.com allows you to trade feedback with other bands on the site and use all kinds of promotional tools to get you band into the spotlight.
Randy: And that's why I have been busy here converting all my old tapes into MP3s. I bringing back the band.
Gary: Great there, Elwood. Just what is this band you are shamelessly trying to plug here.
Gary: Hmmm, what absurdly appropriate name for you. I think it's far better than your last "band" name.
Randy: " The Chum Buckets" was a great name!
Gary: Now when I think about the music you guys played, that name seems absurdly appropriate as well. Is this new group as retarded and silly as your last band?
Randy: Even more so! But don't look down your nose at me. I've seen you involved in some pretty freaky projects as well.
Gary: I don't think so. My performance efforts are based on serious theater.
Randy: Then what's that van doing outside with full of guys in gorilla suits and tutus waving for you?
Gary: That is my supporting cast for tonight's production. I must go.
Randy: Okay, Hamlet well you enjoy your "serious" theater there. I'll just stay here and groove to some new MP3s. And I hope you readers will too. See you next week.
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .