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Police Radio Call
a telephone operator anser the call of every one with a regular voice with fast tone
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Submitted by:  Bloodbath
Total Downloads:  5588
Release Date:  Jun 26th, 2007
File Size:  249KB
Rating:  Excellent (5) | 15 rate(s)

Tags: call  police  radio 
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Is it really "buzz" we hear — or just static?
By Ann Powers

Tapes 'n Tapes. Beirut. TV on the Radio. Cold War Kids. Lupe Fiasco. Lily Allen. Birdmonster. Grizzly Bear. Sufjan Stevens. The Knife. Clipse. Destroyer. The Hold Steady. Joanna Newsom.

These were, by a certain measure, the most important new musicians of 2006. Heard half of them? If you're a casual or even moderately engaged pop fan, possibly not; your ears are busy with commercial radio, ringtones and music television. If you're involved in the music industry, you know the names and might have heard some music. But if you're one of those people creating that rare and ever-present commodity, "buzz," you not only know these artists — you might have touted one as "the only band that matters."

In 1979, the Clash's record label, Epic, coined that phrase to describe England's brainiest punks to American record buyers. Similar excitement has greeted the greats of pop, including the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Tupac Shakur and Kurt Cobain. When these stars touched down, the world hummed with excitement. The buzz felt real.

"Buzz overload"

Today, it's hard to know when buzz is more than just noise. In an age of accelerated connection, the buzz around every art form has intensified, but nowhere as much as in music. The growing ease of music-making and distribution resulted in 60,000 releases (that's in the U.S. alone) last year. Downloadable music multiplies that number like bunnies in spring. And pop's historical embrace of novelty and amateurism means that few heavy gates stop the flow.

The only criterion for buzz today often seems like buzz itself. "To me, 'buzz' was always about, something really great is happening, don't you want to check it out?" said Jay Babcock, editor of the Los Angeles-based magazine Arthur. "That's different than what I hear now, which is, this is going to be big, don't you want to check it out? That kind of industry-think has degraded the experience."

Babcock calls what's happening "buzz overload," but the feeling might better be dubbed "buzz vertigo": a balance disorder that makes it hard to proceed confidently through pop's ever-expanding archipelago of Web sites, blogs, magazines and podcasts. Professional rainmakers flood the mailboxes — now inboxes — of media folks, hoping something sticks. The honchos at record labels still claim that the music comes first, though sometimes they call it "the brand." Artists still crave coverage in major media outlets but sometimes feel better served by tiny user groups and Web sites. And fans still show loyalty to what they like, though it might be a sound (dubstep) or a trend (Swedish electropop) rather than one artist.

Who knows what, when

What is in flux is that imaginary portal where an artist makes the leap into public consciousness. There, where perception and reality don't quite match, time and space themselves are being messed with. In some cases, the very ground where music once emerged has been abandoned.

"You don't have to go to a record store or go out on a Tuesday night to see an opening band to get in on things," said Scott Plagenhoef, managing editor of Chicago-based, the indie-rock-leaning site that's often cited as a source of today's groundswells. "And we're not part of the music industry. The industry knows a couple of months in advance what print magazines will put on the cover. I don't think anybody knows what we're making our lead review the next day."

Digital media marketing firms focus entirely on servicing the Web. Bloggers need content, and often enjoy the recognition. "Bands such as Birdmonster, Cold War Kids and Sound Team are relentlessly marketed to bloggers, just this never-ending stream of e-mails from flacks," wrote New York-based writer Matthew Perpetua, who pioneered the MP3 blog with his Fluxblog, in an e-mail. "It's depressing that all you need to catch on among the newer MP3 blogs is to barrage them with PR e-mails."

The publicists feeding the machine don't disagree. "Are blogs really an independent medium to express a voice?" one pondered anonymously. "It's hard to know what's genuine, or what is being paid for. One of my employees was given a free phone from Virgin Mobile just as a 'gift,' because he blogs about music."

Andy Slater, president of Capitol Records, a major label that's signed several "blog buzz" artists, including OK Go and Lily Allen, said he doesn't think much has changed in 30 years. "Somebody you think is cool is telling you something's cool," he said, "and you're going somewhere to check it out."

Local scenes still matter, but instant access across all boundaries leaves little time for a reputation to percolate. "Labels turn into research companies that sign independent acts who look like they're blowing up in certain areas," said Ethiopia Habtemariam, vice president for publishing for Universal Records. "But by the time they sign these acts, it's over."

Who wants to work?

Habtemariam, whose clients include producer Polow Da Don and R&B darling Ciara, criticizes record labels for not developing the artists they sign. In truth, many buzz acts aren't novices; half on the list that begins this article are on their second, third or fourth album. Even an MTV sensation such as Ciara, Habtemariam says, must pay some dues. "Ciara toured with her last album for two years," Habtemariam said. "She was Gwen Stefani's opening act, then went out with 50 Cent and Lil Jon, and then with Bow Wow and Omarion. She was able to tour in different arenas. And now, her fan base really is that wide."

That kind of dedication is one thing buzz vertigo could endanger. When it seems like your peers are blowing up all around you, months or years of prep work can seem like prison time. Several publicists mentioned "unrealistic expectations" as a problem. "The media market may have fragmented, but bands and their managers don't know or understand that," one said. "Ten years ago, indie and punk bands did not expect mainstream coverage. Today, it's what they demand."

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