By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
But lost in the controversy and the publicity over Napster, MyMP3.com and various other Internet music ventures attempting to cash in on the vogue for MP3s are the tens of thousands of music sites on the Web most computer-equipped Americans can actually use without interminable download headaches. Foremost is streaming audio, be it through RealPlayer or the competing Windows Media format. Adopted by over 40 percent of Web users, streaming allows those with even the diciest of Net connections to hear music in real time. It has been widely adopted by commercial sites such as Amazon.com as well as by Web broadcasters (Internet radio, for lack of a newer, better term).
Started in September 1999, Dublab is among the most conceptually interesting Web stations, not least because of its paradoxically eclectic narrowcasting. Where much larger entities like AOL‘s Spinner.com or Viacom’s Radio.Son icnet.com offer near infinite choice, their most appealing features are also their most unfortunate -- with endless a choice and customization of what you‘re listening to (dozens of channels including Top Country vs. Alt. Country vs. Classic Country; Quality Rock vs. Classic Rock vs. Modern Rock), you too will select your way into a cul-de-sac.
”We’ll be going from very, very few choices to almost infinite choices,“ explains Buck. ”And that‘s going to raise a lot of issues as far as how people choose what they want to listen to or how they can digest all this information. Dividing it up into these micro-categories like Smooth Easy Country Jazz is one of the first steps toward getting there. But I know I’ll go to see the Sugarhill Gang on the Santa Monica Pier, and then I‘ll go to a Phish concert the next night. I believe that true music lovers listen to all types of different music or can at least appreciate them.“
”Dublab is positive music that spans all times and genres,“ says McNeill. ”On my show you’re going to hear Belle & Sebastian followed by Miles Davis followed by 4Hero followed by Gang Starr followed by Burning Spear. What I‘ve related it all to is new roots music -- it might be from totally different eras, but it still has connections. Our goal is to educate listeners while pushing them forward into new music that’s just bubbling up.“
With 40 DJs in the lineup, five of whom are residents with daily shows, Dublab offers as much as 100 hours per week of seamless, beat-matched mixes that, while on the surface are aggressively heterodox, in execution often make perfect sense, sonically and historically, pointing out the way genre has blurred to the extreme. Dublab has a robust lineup for what is essentially a radio station being bankrolled, so far, by Buck‘s parents. Right now the station is looking for sponsors, but only ones that might appeal to its listeners’ tastes: MacIntosh, Adidas, Sony Playstation. McNeill explains, ”We‘re not going to say, ’Okay, let‘s have Chevron sponsor us, they’ve got millions of dollars,‘ because, you know, fuck Chevron.“
Buck complains that they’ve had a hard time with venture capitalists in part because Dublab isn‘t looking for enough money; its operating budget is more along the lines of $200,000 a year, rather than the millions of up-in-smoke capital that has, oddly, been taken as a forecast for success among new economy pundits. Yet Dublab’s audience, built up entirely by word of mouth, could place it in the thick of Arbitron‘s new Internet-radio ratings.
”Honestly, it’s easier than people think,“ says McNeill. ”I think too many Web sites have fallen into this idea that you need to have a ton of money, you need to spend a lot of money, and you need to have a lot of employees to be worthwhile, and that‘s bullshit. These companies have no proven product yet are spending millions of dollars each month and have 70 people working for them. We might be only six people, but this is what we want to do.
“We put in a lot of time. We’re here all the time, and we know what we‘re doing.”