With lots of new internet music mediums to choose from, it's refreshing to see some mighty fine material being presented from an oz group. Almost a year old, straightup.com.au is delivering the goods with great shows representing the diversity of the australian (and some o/s) talent and it shows with 30,000 listeners now tuning in. We caught up with Blair aka Brother B from Melbourne online radio station straightup.com.au for a little chat.
When and how did Straight Up begin?
The idea had been brewing since I studied electronic design in the late 90s, but Australia did not have the broadband to puruse it. It really came into fruition when I was with my girl in Laos at the start of 2005, we were floating down this river (we had been canoeing up stream all morning) and I was talking about how disappointed I was working in the world of internet and music only for money and how I needed to use my skills to create something that would give back to the community without having to be a money making thing. Straightup Australia's first internet radio station was born and launched 9 months later in November of 2005.
How many shows do you currently have on air?
We currently have 18 regular shows as well as regular guest contritbutors and we run around and record the occassional live show as well.
Are there style constraints?
This is what I love about straightup. The only style constraints are the ones that DJs place on themselves. I don't believe in telling cats what to play; that is totally their thing. Once they have a show it is their arena to play what they will.
Melbourne is renowned for it's eclectic community radio, did you feel that electronic genres were unrepresented on the airwaves here?
I still do feel that electronic genres are underrepresented, but not much more so than any other city in the world. In fact Melbourne is quite simply the luckiest city in the world when it comes to community radio with senders like RRR and PBS, KISS and others. I am hoping that Straightup simply adds to the mix and gives to the world of music as well as being able to represent to a larger listening public but being uniquely Australian at the same time. The idea of straightup is not simply just to represent electronic music though, but all kinds of tunes :)
What are the objectives for Straight up?
Quite simply to keep growing and representing. In the last 10 months of being "on air" we now have over 30,000 listeners a month. We are redoing the site as we speak actually. We are going to come out with a new face in the next month or so with an emphasis on record reviews, interviews, event news and a few other treats. And of course we are about to add another few radio shows as well, such as Sista BB is joining us next month along with some other news in the pipe. Plus a big one for all of us is we are starting up the Straightup Sound System to start performing live DJ shows around the festivals over summer. It is one rocking little party DJ combo basically constisting of a few of us and will be playing a lot of the jazzy/funk crossover stuff we are into, specialising in big sets of dance tunes from all floors. This is for us the next logical move as we have been asked to put together a tour for next European summer festival season, so this should be fun and get me away from the computer for a while.
The big we are really chasing at the moment is to find a regular night in Melbourne and Sydney to host the Sound System monthly.
Podcasts are going crazy, there are more music dedicated sites all the
time, file sharing is rampant, there are quite a few online music stores
selling digital content and fast thinking artists are selling mp3s on their
own websites. Considering all this, how do you think the internet is
redefining contemporary music? And how do you see it playing out in the
Whew big question. i think primarily as far as redefining contemporary music the internet is not the medium for that, it is simply a transfer mechanism, the only difference between buying online and buying out of catalogues of old days is the speed of the medium. Instead of waiting for three weeks for a piece of vinyl to arrive in your post box you get a mp3 file in lightning speed. No I think the real redefining of music has come about through the prodution techniques being so readily available and affordable. The amount of music now produced in someone's home is mind blowing and the net is the medium to get it out there. As to podcasting and, what we are doing, streaming, well this for me is the most natural extension of having huge amounts of bandwidth piping into many offices and homes around the western world now.
Podcasting for me is still a grey area due to the Australian govts archaic media laws forbidding mixed music to be podcast and only allowing interviews etc.
The future is bright I say. At straightup alone we are aware of the amount of people logging on and just plugging the computer into the stereo. Record shops will not be replaced for a long time, particularly specialist stores but I see that in a generation or so most purchases of music will be made over the net, but not just music. TV shows and films are already online in an unbelievably large scale and that will have a massive impact on how we view all forms of media in the future. I could ramble for hours on this subject.
Bottom line is though nothing can extinguish the live experience!!
Any new syndications in the pipeline?
Well actually yes. But not in the radio show area, we are trying to keep all regular shows exclusive to straightup. The syndications are with monofunk.net ( a German nu-jazz/soul site) to do regular guest swaps between the two stations; and I am currently talking to an FM station about a few things.
Check it out at: www.straightup.com.au