Robert Urban talks about Internet Radio

Interview by DeGroff of magazine

October, 2008


Dear Robert,  

First off, let me say thanks for taking the time to do yet another interview with me.  I've seen a lot posted about Internet Radio and I've started reading a bit on the subject.  My computer doesn't always want to cooperate so I don't listen to much in the way of radio, but this is an entirely new category of the market, so I wanted to write something about it. With your overall experience, I thought your input would help a great deal.


1.   I know that you have your own production company, Urban Productions, and basically your label is under that imprint, correct?  Because you are your own record company, how much involvement have you had with Internet Radio?


URBAN PRODUCTIONS is the name of my business, yes. It covers my recording studio, my own indie label, all music I professionally compose/produce/arrange/realize, etc.


I've had quite a lot of involvement with internet radio – I guess partly because I've been around for a while. I was releasing my own cds during internet radio's experimental beginnings, its formative years and its eventual ascendancy with listening audiences. I think its pervasiveness is now considerable and still on the rise.


2.  What stations have you been played on?   What type of feedback/response have you gotten?


I've been a guest on several different radio shows on Sirius Radio - including host Larry Flick's "Sirius OutQ" talk show and host JEREMY HOVIES "Sirius OutQ" music show. Alternatively, I wrote feature profile articles on various Sirius Radio's LGBT radio show hosts for MTV LOGO's internet magazine.


Sirius has I think the largest listening audience of any internet radio company. I was quite impressed with their awesome headquarters in NYC - with the glassed-in recording/live music broadcast studio (built esp to record and/or air guest-artist performances). I bumped into quite a few celebs in those halls. I recall during one of my appearances on Jeremy Hovies' late night LGBT music show, we received several emails and phone calls from all points across the U.S. I particularly recall a gay trucker who was out alone on the road in Oregon, and listening to us in NYC, who called in. That was kinda cool.


I've been a repeat guest on Len Rogers' RAINBOW WORLD RADIO for This has been a combined talk/interview and music format. On one "themed" show, Len interviewed me on the subject of religion and my own "religious" inclinations. And aired my "anti-religious" songs. Alternatively, I have created/recorded musical station identification "ID" commercials for several music radio shows on Rainbow Radio. I have produced quite a few "station IDs" for internet radio shows. (e.g. - my voice over rock music: "This is rock artist Robert Urban and you are listening to RAINBOW WORLD RADIO")


I've also been on: Mike Scott's QMO Radio; Vennessa's FETISH APOCALYPSE radio show; HOMORADIO's "This Way Out" show (land or internet? or both? - i dunno); Joanne Lynn's WKJCE TLGB Radio; Megaclectic's "" radio show; Viz's

show on QNation FM.


I have also had my music aired on many "progressive rock" internet radio stations. "Prog rock" has quite a fan base niche all over the world – we're a somewhat nerdy bunch - and thus our music helped pioneer internet radio use. Many "prog" internet radio stations exist in many countries – including former Soviet Union republics and also the far east.


In a way, the playlist of mp3s for our songs that we musical artists all put up on our myspace pages (mine is function as a kind of internet radio show – right?


3.  Traditional record companies have seen the market completely change over the last several years, and it's largely due to the Internet.  How big a role do you feel Internet Radio is going to play in how the public is offered music?  Do you think record companies feel threatened by Internet Radio?   Since you have your own label, has it affected you in any way?


I think the internet itself is huge – in all areas of our lives – not just music. I'm not sure how huge internet "radio" per se, is or will become.


In my own personal leisure time - I dont' listen to music on my computer that much. I guess I'm old-school – I prefer the stereo in the living room when I really want to have a serious music listening experience. The computer is ok for music when I'm working and have to download or figure out the chords to something or send something, etc. – those kind of listenings. But others may be different and listen much more on their terminals or i-pod-like devices, etc.


I think since everyone can now quickly bat around mp3s to each other; and everyone can quickly download a custom made i-pod playlist for personal listening; and since we can now "remix" and/or tamper with any audio out there – it seems that people more and more create their own music listening situations, instead of settling for what a radio show happens to offer (be it internet or land type radio).


Music listening (like everything else in the human world) is becoming increasingly inner, solipsistic, private, and detached. People don't go out so much any more to hear live music. They don't go out that much more – period. People stay home and are swallowed by their video games & television & their computer screens. In past eras such as the boom-box fad, music was broadcast out for all to hear. Now, the head-set has replaced the boom-box.


So much in our current human culture is now turning inward – as we more and more seem to prefer a cgi-like virtual reality over the real physical reality about us. It's a sorry situation but it seems to be our fate.


Of course record companies hate the internet – in fact, they are dying out – and have become little more than distributors of music – because of the net. The internet is intangible – there is barely any actual product to sell – at least with vinyl albums there was some artwork and lyrics and decent sized photography.

On the net all one gets is mp3s.


As for my own recording studio, I do notice that clients more and more do not go one to make actual cds of the music we record. Instead, they only air it and sell it as digital downloads on the internet.


In sum – somehow land radio conjures up people listening to radio together – like at the beach or parties or in the car ,etc. Somehow – internet music listening conjures up an "alone" kind of listening – and I'm not sure if people turn to internet RADIO for this – when they can easily just create their own custom radio-like playlists for themselves.


4.  Have you had any negative experiences in dealing with Internet Radio?


LOL – you mean other than fighting with radio hosts? Seriously – none that I can think of. Sometimes I worry about how crappy my music might sound if its being aired on an intenet radio show that airs mp3s at a low bit rate – or that many listeners have lousy speakers at their terminals, etc.


5.  Would you recommend the use of Internet Radio to other artists?  What overall advice would you give to other artists in this regard?


Ugh! – If I was to advise musical artists in this world – it would be to destroy all computers everywhere – but alas, we're beyond that point – so my advice is - you might as well get into it cuz it's here to stay. And artists need to be more and more "video" friendly – as YOU TUBE is also here to stay.


It does help to be able to instantly send your music to others – instead of having to use the postal mail.


6.    Anything you'd like to say in closing that I might not have asked?


The internet, in a totally tabloid,"reality" show type way – is giving all artists their 15 minutes of fame. Unfortunately, when everyone gets 15 minutes of fame, nobody is really famous anymore. Is it me – or is music-media-cgi-digital-copy-clone-internet-video games all becoming more and more of a

meaningless blur?


This is difficult to say, but the world is changing in a weird way these days – with computers and the internet – the very pastime of listening to music is drifting away from what it once was. For all I know, soon people won't listen to music anymore unless it's part of some multi-media experience tapped into by wires in our heads. Music used to be about MAKING music and experiencing real people making music. I'm not sure what "listening to music" is anymore.


   Robert, once again, thanks for your time and your support of the trans music community.  Please keep me informed about what's happening in your world, and I'll always include something in my column.






ROBERT URBAN - Singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, music producer & published literary writer is also owner/operator of Manhattan-based Urban Productions recording studio. Robert is accompanist, guest soloist, session musician, producer, arranger, sound engineer, private music teacher & mentor for a variety of musical artists & arts organizations. He has composed scores & soundtracks for numerous professional dance, theater & film productions. In addition to his own 4 solo cd releases, Robert's work (esp. as guitarist) can be heard on the recordings of many other musical artists. He supports the NYC area LGBT arts community thru producing & hosting his Urban Productions BOLDLY Presents live-in-concert series (now in its 8th year). Robert is proud founder of Gay Guitarists Worldwide and creator of its popular monthly "featured LGBT player" musicians review/interview series. Robert is a contributing writer to MTV/LOGO's & LGBT arts & entertainment magazines. He is the author of the poetry book Abominations and a contributing poet to various literary/poetry journals. Robert has produced live poetry events and/or read his poetry at NY area poetry events such as the NYC Bowery Bar's QUEER INK; NYC Telephone Bar's WE THREE PRODUCTIONS poetry series; Babylon, NY Pisces Cafe RAINBOW READING and the annual NYC FRESH FRUIT FESTIVAL. In recent years, Robert's various arts achievement awards include Musician of the Year, Outstanding Performer of the Year and Outstanding CD of the Year awards from OUTMUSIC; Song of the Year and Poetry Literary Achievement awards from THE STONEWALL SOCIETY; Best Performance, Best Spirit and Best Event awards from the NYC FRESH FRUIT FESTIVAL.

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