But, of course, podcasting comes with its own set of challenges ones that are usually only tangentially related to the music itself. The legalities of actually broadcasting a song are mind-boggling, namely because every time a song is played, royalties are due to whoever owns the rights to that tune whether that's a record label, artist or even just writer of the song. (For some interesting information, check out this link: www.peachpit.com/articles/article.asp?p=413667&seqNum=6&rl=1). One can imagine the headaches (and expenses) involved in simply securing the ability to keep things on the up and up.
GaragePunk's streams haven't really experienced these problems largely because Kopper is very careful to keep it legal. Where possible, they ask labels and artists for permission to use their music before the podcast goes live, and they also draw on music that's been posted on something called the Podsafe Music Network (music.podshow.com). Once someone is a registered podcaster at this Web site, he or she can download music that artists and labels themselves have uploaded specifically to be used in podcasts. Plus, GP's tendency to shy away from major-label music keeps it protected from unwanted scrutiny.
"Most, if not all, of the artists we feature realize the benefits of having their music included on one of our shows," Kopper says. "It's free exposure! Just like radio. And most are indeed very proud to hear their music on our shows for that reason. They realize we're not out to take advantage of them, and the shows are produced at such a low bit-rate (80 kbps mono MP3s) that it would make trying to cut a song out of one of our shows pretty worthless."
Indeed, what's refreshing about podcasts in general and GaragePunk's in particular is that they're a labor of love, collections put together by huge music fans who just want other people to hear some amazing tunes. And although GP is keeping the podcasts commercial-free for now, it's not averse to trying to make a little profit in the future but not for the reason you might think.
"Ideally we would like to figure out a way to make a little bit of money from doing this, either by selling ads or sponsorships or something," Kopper says. "Making some money from selling ads would make it possible for us to purchase podcasting licenses through ASCAP and BMI so that those artists who are represented by those groups could at least get something (as little as it is) from having their music on our shows.
"But we haven't chosen to pursue that yet. Right now we're enjoying keeping our shows commercial-free and we hope the bands understand; we haven't had one yet who doesn't! No, we make no money from doing it this way, but then again, it's not about money." Last week, I ran part one of a column (see February 22, 2007, "And the DJ-spinoff finalists are...") devoted to the GaragePunk podcast. The article detailed the nuts-and-bolts of the operation: Located at www .garagepunk.com, the aim of this online collection of "radio streams" (for lack of a better term) is to be the nation's premier destination for all of the best garage rock online old, new, underground or independent, just as long as it's good. (Or, as GP proprietor Jeff "Kopper" Kopp eloquently puts it: "It's about exposing this great music to more people through an exciting new medium, one that completely transcends traditional radio.")
The day is finally here: The RFT DJ Spinoff takes place at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester Avenue; 314-775-0775) to determine who will travel to sunny Miami, Florida, and spin at the Ultra Music Festival on Saturday, March 24. Here's more information on our four finalists. Oh, and because there's been some question about how these particular artists were chosen, all I can say is: by listening to the mixes each DJ submitted to the contest. (And I listened to every single one of them.)
Web site: www.foster303.com
Cred: Opened for Chicago legend Green Velvet last December; has played gigs in New York and London; is a staple spinner at local raves.
Style: Micro-minimal electro, water-droplet techno, midnight-hued laptop-pop.
Recommended if you like: Anything on Germany's Kompakt label; mellow, experimental IDM.
Web site: www.soulsonica.com
Cred: One of the most well-respected and well-known DJs in town, Mac's schedule boasts dates at the Upstairs Lounge, Dante's, Lucas School House, Monarch and XES and that's just for starters.
Style: Super-stylin' house music rooted in deep soul, funky jazz, screaming divas, Latin rhythms, tribal percussion and more.
Recommended if you like: Buttery grooves. Seamless beatmatching. Music that chills you out and makes you want to dance.
Web site: www.myspace.com/djslante
Cred: A promoter for local production companies B&W & Disco and Velocity, man-about-town SlantE can be found either spinning or championing artists at Dante's, the Drunken Fish and other places.
Style: Poppy, whooshing house that slowly crescendos from subtle, feel-good trancey beats to disco-riffic dance jams.
Recommended if you like: A martini-bar chic soundtrack that's not sleep-inducing. Mixes that aim to be enjoyable to listen to no more, no less.
Web site: none
Cred: Also known as Gary Sauer, DJ GXK has spun at Molly's in Soulard.
Style: Booming, larger-than-life house music fond of Technicolor big beats, über-'80s synth tricks and monstrous hooks.
Recommended if you like: Dance music whose aim is sensory overload; feeling thumping bass vibrating from your head all the way to your toes.