Music, before and after technology

Back before the internet, we had been there. In 1987 sitting on the floor of my living room, I spent hours and hours combing through the Spanish language magazines trying to translate articles so that I could write a monthly newsletter. At one time, I had hopes of being a journalist, maybe even the next Cameron Crowe, teenage music beat writer for the Rolling Stone. I worked on a typewriter and also an Apple II, then an Apple SE computer. I printed out page layouts then cut and pasted photos from magazines as well as promotional photos that were given to me by the record labels. After that, I took the pages to my local printer and photocopied them. With that box full of paper, I collated, stapled, folded, addressed, stamped and mailed all by hand.

And the next month, I did it again. I continued this process for four years. And each month of those four years, the quantities continued to grow. Latin music fans in the US and in Mexico sent cash in the mail and for $2.00-$3.00 a month, they got something that was put together with such love and devotion that they didn’t care it was photocopied photos.

During that time, I could almost count the number of artists I focused on with my hands. Menudo was at the forefront with people like Timbiriche, Flans, Tatiana, and Fandango a close second. Mostly, I wrote about artists I liked and occasionally, I threw in an article based on a press conference I attended about bands I did not know at the time like Miguel Mateos and Duncan Dhu. It was hard to get information back in the 80’s if the artist wasn’t popular enough to be in magazines such as Eres, TV Y Novelas, Ritmo, etc… I was relegated to Top 40 artists.

During the 90’s as the internet began and we were dialing into AOL, I toyed with the idea of bringing my love for Latin pop music back alive. Message boards were big, and we were able to get more and more news. There was also a lot more music coming out of Mexico and surrounding countries that made the selection artists I could cover grow. Teen pop was running hot and there was an abundance of new magazines to get each month. I tried a couple of different ways to bring the orginal “Estrellas Del Momento” back to life, but failed each time due to lack of followers and support. There is only so much you can do in an AOL forum.

Now with the open internet, and the world is connected, you would think that coming back alive should be easy. It is actually a lot harder. The internet has opened up a world of unlimited music from all Latin American countries and you have both major artists and indie artists that are out there promoting their works. Music isn’t about finding it in your local record store, we have digital music for purchase and for streaming.

It used to be that I would browse the genres at my local store and purchase a vinyl, cassette, or CD in order to listen to it and hope that I liked it. Now, I can listen to whole albums on Spotify or Apple Music without having to purchase it. This makes reviewing music cheaper and easier. Yes, cheaper… Easier? That depends on what you think is easy. With only about an hour or two a day, sometimes less…now I have to decide what to listen to and what to review.

I currently follow 648 artists (both indie and major) and that means my feed is going crazy during the day, plus 376 artists are followed on Spotify. There is no easy way to keep track of every artist, nor to see if any of these artists have new music out or even tell if there is any great news to write about. The internet made the concept so overwhelming that one person can not do it all. I even had help for a while and we could not keep up. Something that was supposed to be out of love can easily become a full-time job that no one is paying me to do.

I once made $2.00 for each newsletter I mailed out and at one time, I was sending out about 1000 a month. While you think $2000 a month was good, that had to cover photocopying, mailing, and supplies… and that didn’t include the magazines and music I had to purchase since the internet didn’t exist. Now, in order to just handle all the new music for the year, it would take me all day every day with no money coming in because no one pays to surf my website. Yes, really no money going out either…but how can you be on top of everything while continuing to work a full-time job. You can’t.

No, I am not complaining because some of the best music I listen to now I have found via this website. This website is a labor of love and sometimes, there are days and months when I can’t post. Half the time, I spend looking for the best thing to write about that I don’t have the time when I do find something. I wish life was simpler with the technology of today, because my reach is so much farther that ever. When I was posting regularly, I had about 200 visitors a day, which is about 6000 a month. My followers continue to grow, and grow faster when I am consistently posting reviews. And if I had the time and resources to do this full time, I know that this website could totally rock.

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