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The known ambient artists -VS- The unknown ones...

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  • The known ambient artists -VS- The unknown ones...

    You are all ambient maniacs so I’m very curious to hear your opinions about this...

    I’m listening on a regular basis ambient web radio like Soma FM Drone Zone, Bluemars, etc and also some ambient mixes & blends found on Mixcloud and I’ve noticed something. Most of those web radio channels and mixes pretty much only play well knows commercial ambient artists... Note here that when I say commercial, it’s not in a pejorative way but that they play artists that release albums on labels commercially... I have to say that a lot of time, I get a bit bored and tired of hearing the same usual suspects like Eno, Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Stars Of the Lid, Aphex Twin and so on... I’m not saying these artists are not good & the idea is not to depreciate them, on the contrary most of them are solid pillars of the ambient music. But I think it’s a pity and annoying that they keep playing the same artists over and over again while there are some A M A Z I N G not so well known ambient artists all around the web... With a little search, you can find so many amazing ones... And to tell you the truth as an ambient music obsessed lover since many years now, a lot of them are equal if not very often even BETTER than the more known ones commercially releasing stuff... To be really honest here, I was way more impressed by the last IOK-1 web album than the last Steve Roach album... (I know I’m going to get shot for saying this but whatever hahaha!) I really think lots of web oriented artists are simply underrated...

    Why lot of people lack of curiosity and thirst for finding new amazing artists? Is it because in some minds, if someone has released an album on a commercial label it means it’s better? What do you guys think?

    Last edited by Red Fog; 03-03-2013, 07:27 PM.

  • #2
    I've only recently started listening to ambient, but was not in the least bit surprised to find such good music from non-commercial artists (like on soundcloud) simply because I had already found out that there is amazingly good non-commercial music out there. I'm regular at kvr for about a year and among all the nice people there, you can find some real gems. The same thing happened when I got on AO, just following these amazing people on SC I found this incredilble world.

    I guess some people still think only commercial music is good enough.
    I think a lot of people don't know this world that we discovered, we are the lucky ones :D

    Radio is a damn good example of this reasoning. I used to listen to a radio show from a public broadcast here in Portugal (sadly the show ended last july) and the reason I loved it was because I got to discover so much new music everyday, mainly indie and electronic stuff. Mostly unknown and some even unsigned artists. But that's no more. The ones responsible for cancelling the show said it was only for a minority of the audience, still 7 months after cancelation, the show is no.4 in the top of on-demand programs in all public stations in Portugal... interesting... minority huh?

    Maybe I mixed the subjects a bit, but you get the idea...

    For instance I hadn't heard your music before, went to your SC and know I know what you do, and I can listen to your awesome stuff anytime :D ("Above The Storax Sedan Cloud" is freaking intense!!!)


    • #3
      Just guessing and thinking aloud (however you do that when typing...)


      The stations may have to license the content. Many unknowns do creative commons licensing, but with commercial artists I believe their work would fall under one fee to ASCAP or BMI or whatever entities do all that. Ease of clearing potential legal hurdles.

      The commercially successful artists are a known quantity and have proven mass appeal. Any station looking to increase listeners would most likely go for what appeals to the broadest cross-section of an audience.

      It does take time to research unknown artists. There is a ton of unknown stuff out there. Some of it is great, and others...well, thank goodness Bandcamp doesn't enforce quality controls or I'd be without. :razz:


      • #4
        Interesting question. I think, this is relevant for all of music, not only certain genres. I am with mariosprt and aoVI who already said most of what seems relevant to me. Personally, i'd look at the context of media today. Technically, radio used to be a privileged channel of communication and certain theories of mass communication focused on the "gate keeper" function of media. Selection, evaluation, etc. are among standard decisions any media outlet takes. Digitalization and networking have challenged these ways of distribution, but the so-called "democratization" promised through more easily available tools for music making and distribution is a highly ambivalent development. I believe the economy of attention that has flourished particularly on social media website has sort of reinstated the importance (but not the reach) of such "selection-making" agents. These webradios you mention seem to be caught between an old way of distributing music and new technical possibilities . Also, while these stations are probably far from commerical and handpick their music, these playlists are in all likelihood preprogrammed...and selections must be made from a pool of available music. And so on. Apart from this theoretical discussion, the question how to remedy the current situation is worthwhile. Notice the other thread concerning an ambient online webradio or podcast . Exciting ideas.


        • #5
          I agree with what had been said so far, and would like to add that there are a lot of "independent" channels too that promote lots of good and unknown artists everywhere. It's like a music revolution caused by internet which is giving voice to everyone of us, being talented or not, and at the same time the lower prices for achieving a studio. Now we get great software for few money and we can show our productions for free on new channels that didn't existed before. And at the same time we see the "old" record labels systems which "controls" the mainstream networks as they did traditionally. Maybe that's the beauty of it, to see that those new channels let us to enjoy a new world of anonymous people around the globe who does great music, and sometimes better than established artists.


          • #6
            If I had to make a quick guess, I would estimate that I probably 90% of the music I listen to is by "unknown" artists (although most of those are now "known" to me, i.e.; I have listened to a previous track by them). I have discovered most of these artists in the KVR music cafe, or here at AO. Occasionally I discover somebody new on Classic SoundCloud via a comment posted by an artist that I am following. 3 years ago my listening patterns were completely different and all of the music I listened to then was "commercially" available in record stores.

            I am constantly amazed by the quality of music being produced by these "DIY" musicians, although some of them may not be "unknown" in the accepted definition. Some of these people may be well known in other musical endeavours or under different pseudonyms, and just trying out something a little different from the regular day job.

            Whatever, the fact is, there is an LOT of great music out there, and the fact that the musicians making it are "unknown", does not imply that the quality of their music is in any way degraded relative to premium artists.

            This is also true in life. The best plasterer I ever saw was a 68 year old guy who didn't advertise and only worked rarely. His fees were very reasonable and his work was truly outstanding. He was an artist.
            Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello | Youtube


            • #7
              To be honest, I only got interested in ambient because I created an ambient piece 'by accident' while playing with plugins in reaper.

              I don't have a single 'commercial' ambient cd at home, except for some aphex twin stuff. I never heard a full album of Brian Eno, Steve Roach or all those names I encounter on ambient forums. I don't even know who Steve Roach is.:blush:

              But I like to look at bandcamp and soundcloud for ambient music of unknown artists and/or labels. People like 'S1gns of L1fe', 'Ambient Sketch Book' and 'Asteroid Anxiety' are my heroes...
              Last edited by manducator; 03-02-2013, 06:31 AM.



              • #8
                This is precisely the reason we're starting The Ambient Online Podcast and eventually, Ambient Online Radio. We have the most talented and wonderful community of ambient artists much talent and far too little exposure to the "outside world" and only within our small circle of AO and sometimes KVR. My goal is to give everyone a new platform...regardless of how bad you think your music is or if it does or doesn't fit in the "ambient" category. I'm going to be very loose on this. If you would like to have your music played on a "real" podcast just for the sole satisfaction of hearing it juxtaposed against other people's work...and potentially by people who have nothing to do with ambient online (not yet...buah ha ha ha! :maniac then this is your podcast. Created by members, for members and fans across the world.

                Details are coming together right now but within a few days I will have submission instructions and guidelines.

                Great topic guys!


                Oh yeah... p.s.

                Originally posted by manducator View Post
                People like 'S1gns of L1fe', 'Ambient Sketch Book' and 'Asteroid Anxiety' are my heroes...
                Careful what you wish for my friend... :biggrin: Just kidding!!! Thank you so much manducator. Just hearing you say that truly means a lot to me. You are awesome! I hope to continue to live up to such high standards and meet expectations. :highfive:Working hard over here!!!

                S1gns Of L1fe
                Patreon | Synphaera | exosphere | YouTube


                • #9
                  Originally posted by manducator View Post
                  But I like to look at bandcamp and soundcloud for ambient music of unknown artists and/or labels. People like 'S1gns of L1fe', 'Ambient Sketch Book' and 'Asteroid Anxiety' are my heroes...
                  Wow, thanks man, really appreciated.

                  There is definitely work out there by the unknowns that stands up to anything by the knowns. I have some great stuff by people I've downloaded off of netlabels or whatever and never been able to find out anything else about them.