Just in case you weren't aware I made a change on the contact page that might effect anyone wanting to make a submission to Ambient Visions in terms of review material. Up until a few months ago I had been forced to use a satellite broadband service provided by Hughes Net formerly the company know as DirecWay aka DirecTV. Now I have no problem with DirecTV as that service is comparable to most cable offerings other than the fact that it disappears during inclement weather events but their broadband leaves a lot to be desired and I would only recommend it to someone if there were absolutely no other choice and you are not a person who likes to actually use the internet as it was intended. Hughes net is only an option for someone who wants to surf the web and not really do anything while they are out there because if you use it even moderately to say watch the news, stream a few CD's or news casts off CNN or heaven forbid to watch a TV program off one of the major networks that are available on their websites you will run smack up against the "Fair Access Policy" that is in place to ensure that everyone gets to use the service equally. Of course where the concept of the "average" user came from I don't know because I am not what you would call a heavy downloader but I still ran up again the "Policy" several times during my forced stay as one of their customers.
After spending lots of money for the equipment and even more for the monthly service fee I still got only poor service and limitations on how much bandwidth I could use on any given day from Hughes. Oh and did I mention that the penalty for viloating this "Fair Access Policy" is to be kicked back down in speed to 56K or lower depending on how much of a violation that you incurred? And this time period may be as long as 24 hours depending on how much of a violation was incurred. They have modified their plans since I first started but expensive is still expensive and with Netflix memberships offering instant delivery of movies via their website having an ISP like Hughes makes no sense whatsover if you have any other choices available to you. All of that is to say that I now have a high speed internet connection through EMBARQ and the difference has been eye opening. From the first moment that I started surfing and downloading with this new DSL service it has been a wonderful experience and I would never go back to the experiece that was a poor excuse for broadband offered up to those of us who are over a barrel in terms of options for broadband service providers at premium prices.
For those who are interested in saving money and yet still promoting their music they now have the option of offering Ambient Visions a link to a download site for the complete CD rather than spending money on the physical product, postage, promotional paperwork and mailing supplies. This would not have been possible via Hughes net's joke of a broadband service but now it has become a reality via the true broadband connection that I have to the internet through DSL. All you need do to let me know about what you have for download is to drop me an e-mail via the editor at ambientvisions dot com address and I'll be sure to check it out. I know there are those out there who still want to hold that physical product in their hands and pop it into their CD players but I'm thinking the writing is on the wall and eventually will see the physical product suffer the same fate as the LP and the 8-track tape. Not that there aren't still folks out there who use these formats it is just they are no longer a viable option for the majority of people. Things change and having started in the music business when 8-tracks and LP's were still ruling the roost I can say that I have seen a lot of changes in the intervening years. It is jolting at first, sort of like the shift from LP' to the shiny disc format, but after awhile you wonder how you ever got along with the way things used to be. I'm sure that the same will eventually be said for the music file delivery system as opposed to the physical CD systems of delivery. See ya next time.
Wow, where did 2007 go? Seems like just yesterday I was sitting in a deep freeze during the winter of 2006-07 and wondering when that would be over and now here I am in 2007-08 looking back and wondering where the year went. If you are a regular reader of Ambient Visions you know that next year will be the 10th anniversary of AV and we will have been on the web for 10 years. In real life 10 years is quite along time but in internet time it is almost an eternity. Not that it has felt like an eternity mind you because the time has flown by and seems like no time at all has passed since I picked up that first ambient CD and thought to myself this stuff is actually quite good. And even though that was not the birth of Ambient Visions it certainly put me on the path to some great music over the past 17 years and as evidenced by the constant flow of new music that shows up here on a regular basis ambient music still has a lot to say.
I just wanted to take a moment at the beginning of this our 9th year on the web and say a big thank you to all of the artists out there who have provided the ambient music community with so much great music during 2007 and to offer you all the encouragement that I can muster for continuing on faithfully along your musical path and reaching for ever new heights of creativity during 2008. I'm sure there are times during any kind of solitary creative venture such as writing music or books that it feels like the whole process is just for you and in many ways that is true but I'm here to say that those of us out here who keep an eye out for the latest releases from their favorite artists do appreciate you efforts. Though you may never actually hear about it from most of your "fans" your music does reach out and touch many of us with the emotions that are poured into it during all those solitary hours of work that no one will ever see except maybe your spouse or maybe the ever faithful pet who sits by your side and watches.
I felt what better way to start off 2008 than by someone telling you the artist that your work matters and that in ways that you may never know your music goes out into the world and touches listeners in ways that only they will understand. That is something to be proud of and should give you a warm feeling inside even as you have to go back to your day job because it still doesn't quite pay the bills. Perhaps that will change in time for a lucky few artists and perhaps the music will always be a means of personal expression but never quite reachithe level of your day job in terms of money and security.
I spend some time over on a news list that is dedicated to the music of Happy Rhodes called ecto. There are some of the most dedicated fans of someone's music on that list that I have ever seen regardless of the genre we are talking about. The release of a CD by Happy is an event and the people on the list line up to buy a copy of her latest CD to make sure that she continues to put out the music that they love so much. They show up at any performance that she does if they are anywhere within driving distance to where the concert is going to be held. The funny thing is that Happy is very much like an ambient artist in the sense that she still holds down a day job, she isn't recognized much beyond the niche genre that she occupies and will probably never be another Madonna or Tori Amos but she has some very loyal fans who will support her to the end.
I say all of that to say this. If you like an artist and enjoy their work and want to see them continue to put out music on a regular basis then support them by buying their CD's. Become like the ecto folk and get out there and sing the praises of their latest release in any forum that it is appropriate to do so. Promote your favorite artist by writing reviews and posting them on sites that publish reviews or on lists that allow posting of reviews. Buy extra copies of CD's that you really like and give them as gifts. Folks over on the ecto list even went so far as to buy up copies of Happy's latest release in hopes of submitting them for airplay to certain radio and TV outlets to make sure she was receiving the maximum exposure in the marketplace for her music. You get the picture. Say thank you to the artist of your choice in as many ways as you can to ensure that they continue to make the music you so much enjoy.
So welcome to 2008. Now what are you doing sitting here still reading this column for? Get out there and help your favorite musician make enough money off their last release so that they can put out the next great release. See ya next time true believers.
Michael Foster, editor