Category: Editorial

Thanksgiving Message from Tony Z, Netmix reaches 20K stream mark

On this Thanksgiving Day, Netmix celebrates delivery of over 20,000 net radio streams broadcast to over 51 countries. This accomplishment is hightlighted by the fact that I’ve haven’t spent a penny on promotion or marketing. My day job as VP of Music at StarStyle.com and my classes at NYU are taking up most of my time. I wish I could devote more time to the site, but there simply isn’t enough time in the day. Nor do I have the resources to hire people to help. So, I just keep it my little side hobby that I love to work on. When school’s over in a year or so, then I’ll have a bit more time to dedicate to it. By that time, StarStyle will be a huge success and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have all the time in the world to work on Netmix!

It’s neat to be able to contribute to the world in some meaningful way, without it becoming super-commercialized. Investors and a board of directors, ha! I’ve been there and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Today, Netmix is simply just me, my computer and some music. Music that I really hope you enjoy, because I select and purchase every track, either for the general radio broadcast or my 8 pm to 11 pm mix show, from Beatport.com. Not only am I supporting dance music by funding and broadcasting the latest underground house tracks using Live365, but I’m also BUYING the music as well, which is extremely important. If we don’t buy our dance music from indy dance labels, the genre cannot afford to grow and it stays the bastard child of the music industry.

Speaking of growth, Netmix Radio is growing by word-of-mouth, every day, across the web. It’s stimulated by the Internet’s powerful ability give a single individual a voice that can touch so many across great distances, without doing anything but posting compelling content. I think keeping the blog updated and setting up outsposts on LinkedIn.com, MySpace.com, Facebook.com (I have an edu address because I’m enrolled at NYU), Bebo.com, and Friendster.com also contribute to the pool of users finding Netmix today.

In January of 2001, as the dust was finally settling from the dotcom crash, I thought the days of Netmix were gone forever. Selfish ego’s and people turning their backs on one another–grasping for straws–was the order of the day. I hestitate to compare the events of 9/11 to the dotcom crash, as one was incredibly devestating for the horrible deaths that fateful day, while the other drained millions from the accounts of those who were swindled on false promise. I’ll always believe 9/11 was the single worst event I have ever seen. However, in both instances one can find a single common thread: the decision of the few to be morally bankrupt and the utter disregard for the consequences of their actions.

2-years ago, I decided to start bringing Netmix back to life. Initially, I saw the blog phenomenon rising online, and always trying to stay one step ahead, I decided to scout out some sites, like Blogger.com, where I could wax philisophic on the ongoing trials and tribulations of the dance music industry. After learning a bit about Bloggers interface, I really want to control my words and my tools. I then found WordPress, the blog content management system, which allows me to dynamicallly post, take comments, etc… All with only limited knowledge of PHP and MySql.

I learned how to install the tool myself. I also figured out how to create the header you see above in Photoshop. Adapting a pre-existing theme with the new header, and voila! The new Netmix.com/Wordpress was launched. Today, I think there are over 200 posts. The most famous post, or infamous post, dependin gon your persecpive, is the one exposing the trouble with BurnLounge.com. I’ve received and commented a total of over 80 posts to that piece. A must read, for sure.

After a year and a half of writing, I decided I really wanted to get back into DJing. I really missed the ability to express my mood and feelings with music. I missed being able to stretch out creatively using music and not typing keystrokes into a computer. Having gone through a few incredibly difficult and tumultuous personal situations, DJing was a way to soothe my soul. I felt I’d lost my edge somehow, somewhere along the way. Was I still interested in DJing? I wasn’t so sure anymore. I couldn’t believe the wounds brought me to that point.

I thought to myself, “damn-it…I love creating my mix-shows…it’s part of who I am.” At the time, I knew buying new vinyl every week was out of the question. My financial situation and the cost of new import vinul just weren’t seeing eye-to-eye. Beatport had recently launched, creating a new marketplace for independent dance music. So, I began to experiment with TraktorDJ. I started playing with a demo version on my iMac. After a few days, I had pretty much mastered the art of segueing records as I would with traditional turntables. I purchased the full version, along with an M-Audio Audiophile firewire interface, and I put together my first mix.

I thought, okay, “I can post this mix as an mp3, which is technically illegal, or I can sign-up for a Live365 Pro Broadcaster account and pay royalties to the artists,” which most dance music web sites definitely don’t do. I thought, it’s better to invest in myself and be in compliance, than to not be and therefore not be taken seriously by the industry. Live365 also has a great tracking mechanism to track the artists that are being played, which helps to generate payments to those artists through SoundExchange.

After registering for a Pro account with Live365, I uploaded my new mixes and tracks; programming a blend of dance music, with some hip hop spun by my man, Madsol Desar. As the mix shows started to gain some traction, WBLS DJ, Rich Lamotte, hooked me up with the Netmix drops (those things you hear that say, “You’re listening to Netmix. com; on the Internet”), which I started interspercing throughout my April mix. I really appreciate what Rich did for Netmix. His support means the world to me. Thanks, Rich!

A year later, and Netmix Radio is going strong. My Live365 fees are increasing. It’s getting a little burdensome, which means I think I have to start making some money soon. We’re taking Netmix mobile soon, and I’m working on a new business outline that will help the company secure early stage funding for some ideas that we have on tap.

So, I have a lot to be thankful for this year. First, I’m thankful to my girlfriend, Missy, for believing in me and accepting Netmix as an integral part of who I am. I’m also thankful for my friends and family who were so supportive when my dog, Jasmine, passed on. I really appreciate the beautiful and heartfelt comments.

I’m also thankful to EMW President Lincoln Brown and CEO Ashley Heather for believing in my music and Internet industry skills and abilities. We’ve taken StarStyle Music from just a sketch on a piece of paper to signing Universal Music Group as a partner. There are some very exciting things that I can’t talk about today, but I’ll let you know very soon, once we’ve secured the content and gotten it in the door.

I’m thankful for my friends who know me so well. They know what Netmix has meant to me and never once said to me that I shouldn’t pursue my dreams. And, I’m thankful to my family. Skeptical at first, 12-years ago, but today, they can see that I’ve lived my dreams and made a life for myself that no one could have imagined…except me, of course, lol. I want to spend a special thanks to former Columbia Records VP of Dance Music, David Jurman for guiding me and helping realize my potential.

Finally, I want to thank all the fans and friends of Netmix along the way. It’s been a great ride so far, and I know we’ll keep on kickin’it for years to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tony Z.

Netmix Update: Busy, busy busy as a bee!

Okay, so many of you must wonder why I haven’t been posting for the past few weeks. It’s not because I don’t want to. And, it’s defintely not because I don’t have anything to talk about. As a matter of fact, I have a ton of stuff going on and it’s been so hectic, everytime I sit down to put my thoughts to keyboard then push out to the world via this blog, something comes up. The phone rings (incessantly), I’m answering a hundred emails, I’m trying valiantly to read all the newsletters I’m getting from one hundred plus music, media, telecom and marketing sources and StarStyle Music is taking up an extraordinary amount of time. As it should, because it is my job, lol.

So, over the past few weeks, I’ve:

Finished my finals at NYU for the Spring ’06 semester, which I’ve concluded with two “A’s”. One in Digital Media Management I and the other in Wireless Communications. That brings my GPA up to 3.561 as I enter my Junior year. Who woulda thought?

Found a new apartment in Yonkers, NY, right on the Hudson River with beautiful water views. Sadly, I’m ending my time in Brooklyn. I’ve spent 6 tumultuous years here and I’m ready for a change of pace. Will be relocating today, actually. I’m looking forward to the new place. Once I’m settled in, I’ll drop a new mix show for June. Downloaded the tracks from Beatport already. Just waiting to get settled in the new space before I take you through another three-hour house music excursion.

Went to Boston of Memorial Day with my girlfriend, Missy and my dog, Jasmine. Stayed at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, just north of the Longfellow Bridge, which spans the Charles River. The hotel is dog-friendly, with the entire 7th floor reserved for people bringing their pets. The service was outstanding. They even watched my dog behind the front-desk for two hours while Missy and I enjoyed dinner at the Cheescake Factory restaurant. It was good to be back in Beantown, but Missy wasn’t feelin’ all the BoSox merchandise, being from New York and all.

I absolutely recommend the Hotel Marlowe. Phenomenal place to stay. Since it’s connected to the Cambridgeside Galleria, you have both shopping and a lovely little park and water canal to enjoy behind the mall and hotel. We think Jasmine loved it too!
I’ve also been slammed getting the Music section of StarStyle ready for launch from the StarStyle.com web site. The week before last, I worked five 14-hour days in order to keep the project on track. Between developers in India, our web master in London, a Flash expert in London and our Flash programmer here in New York, content people in New York and LA and managing the biz dev side of things, the effort put forth by all has been tremendous as we ready our application for launch and subsequent worldwide press announcement next Tuesday, June 6th.

I’m so excited about this project. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and as Eminem says, “You’d better blow, cause you only got one shot…” Well, this is my shot…and I’m definitely blowin’ hard. It’s very exciting to work on something that will change the face of how artists are promoted and how they market themselves and monetize not only their music, but also their lifestyles through music videos. I can’t say much more, but stay tuned because I’ll post the press announcement here on launch day next week.
Besides all that, I’ve been working on a web site for Michael Levitton, an artist on Smith Street Records. I’ve got a little more work to do on it. Add some cgi news scripts and modify the CSS for the bulletin board system, then I’ll be able to launch it. Hoping to get it up an running next weekend. Stay tuned.

That’s all folks. I’ll keep you posted with more details as they come.

Tony Z.

Netmix Milestone: 5,000 Streams Served

Today, Netmix Radio hit the 5,000 mark in terms of number of streams served to our listeners since I re-launched the streaming radio station in October! This is very exciting for me; to bring Netmix back from the brink of extinction 3-years ago and grow listenership again on a grass-roots level. I relaunched the site with this blog last spring and added the online radio component in October.

This morning, I looked at the totals and they were under 5,000, but when I got back from dinner tonight, the number jumped to 5,107 streaming over 1,800 hours of programming. I know this is a far cry from what some other sites are serving today, but it’s a new and exciting start for Netmix and my personal goal of bringing the web site back to international prominence since the dotcom crash in 2000.

Funny, someone said to me a few months ago that I should just sell the domain and get out of it, questioning whether Netmix is relevant any longer. I guess the proof is in the pudding. Without any advertising and little promotion to speak of (just some MySpace and Friendster postings), writing my blog and programming the station have given a new life to the Netmix domain, and instilled in me the belief that Netmix still is relevant after all these years, and will be relevant for a long time to come.

I want to thank all my friends, family and listeners for their support during difficult times. Many of those who know me, have seen me go through so much since I originally launched Netmix in Boston, and then moved the web site to New York City in September of 1996. It’s been a long-arduous journey, but one that I do not regret. There have been many people who have been very supportive of my efforts over the last 10-years. My number one and two supporters have been my Dad and my Mom and their respective spouses. And the rest of my family have never questioned what I do, although they wonder if I have a screw loose putting myself through so much.

I also have my mentor, David Jurman, to thank as well. Since the day we met at a Boston Record Pool meeting in the early 90’s, he’s been my best teacher and my biggest industry supporter. In fact, we had dinner tonight and he suggested I begin to market myself as a techno-pioneer! Thanks for the suggestion, Dave! LOL. Maybe, I’ll do just that.

I can’t forget to thank my girlfriend, Missy, for putting up with my late nights at the computer. Don’t worry babe, I’ll be off in a minute!

Goodnight, my friends!

Tony Z.

Thanks Jet Blue! (8 hours later…)

Jet Blue Thank You ScreenAfter a weary 8-hour flight from JFK to Long Beach, CA with a lay-over in Salt Lake City for refueling due to strong headwinds, I spent a few hours running around looking for a car charger for my 1st Generation iPod. Little did I know that companies like Belkin and XtremeMac don’t support older players, like my trusty 1st generation, 20GB unit, which has never given me a problem.

Luckily, I found a solution at Radio Shack, because I definitely didn’t want to make the 3.5 to 4-hour drive to Vegas through the Mojave desert in my favorite new rental vehicle, the Kia Sorrento, without my tunes playing through my new Griffin iTrip FM wireless transmitter.

Fortunately, I found a Radio Shack in a strip mall about 20 miles outside of Long Beach off CA-22 East, where I picked up a charger and adapter that work perfectly with my unit. After a pit stop to pack up on low-carb snacks and water for my drive through the desert, I made my way up over the mountains, passing Death Valley (yikes!) along the way.

As the setting sun blanketed the mountain range around me with a warm orange glow, I cranked up the sounds of Terry Lee Brown, Jr. and headed North along US route 15 through Barstow, to an elevation of about 4,000 feet. By that time, it was quite dark and I didn’t see much of the desert. Just the shadows of the mountains to my left and complete blackness where there were long expanses of nothing but tumbleweed and higway.

I thought the road was going to be very lightly travelled and a bit more rural, but emergency call boxes dotted the highway every few miles or so and traffic was pretty heavy at times. Of course, high up in the mountains the exits for small, rural towns were spaced out, but I didn’t feel as if the drive were a dangerous one to make, even by yourself. And with the speed limit at 70 MPH out here, you can push a little and make the trip a bit shorter.

As I made my way down into the Las Vegas area, I pulled over on the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the milliions of stars that dotted the sky. Living in New York City, you don’t get a chance to see the stars from that vantage point all to often.

Route 15 North into Las VegasI also took this photo, which I thought was cool, which shows the traffic snaking down through the desert, past the first set of casino’s about 40 or so miles from downtown Las Vegas and “the strip.”

This morning, I’m on a conference call with the home office and then it’s off to MAGIC for the first day of this massive fashion trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Time permitting, I may head to Project Show at the Sands as well. But with 5,000 brands presenting, MAGIC is where I’ll be most of the day.

I’ll also be blogging from both shows, so stay tuned for more posts later on today and tomorrow.

Netmix: 10 Years Later

If you were to search the Network Solutions WHOIS records database, you would learn the domain name this blog falls under, Netmix.com, was registered 10-years ago today. Scroll half-way down the page and the text simply says, “Record created on 13-Dec-1995."

10-years forward, an eternity measure in Internet time. Netmix is, for all intensive purposes, still alive and kicking. Sitting back in my chair, I ponder the time passed and am simply amazed that 10-years has gone by and throughout, I’ve tried my best to support dance music and DJ culture form a place, not of greed, but of love and commitment to the craft and industry I knew I wanted to work in since I was 12-years-old.

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Random Thoughts…

Since this is a blog, and I can write just about anything I damn well please, I'll take a little break from the DJ world for a minute and just write about what's been going on lately. I gotta fill this space with something...it's getting a little stale.

It's been quite a whirlwind past few weeks for me. After the last posting about Armand Van Helden at Avalon, I took a little break from writing and producing the mix shows to finish up some school work for my classes at NYU just before the Thanksgiving break.

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Madsol, Herby F. and DJ Tap Live on Netmix.com

Check it out now...Madsol-Desar with Herby F. and DJ Tap is Live on Netmix this morning. Even though he's in the middle of moving, Madsol found the time to get some of his friends down here from Boston to co-host the radio show today. JussListenToTheRadio is on right now til 12 noon!

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My Top 10 DJ Web Site Picks for November

I've been doing a lot of surfing of DJ and dance music culture Web sites lately. I guess I got the buzz again. It's been a long time coming.

I haven't done much talking about Web sites here, so I thought I'd better put together a preliminary Top 10 DJ sites I'm feeling pretty good about. These are robust, content driven sites that have really transcended the early days of static HTML pages. They are self-sufficient, running on open-source platforms in .asp, .jsp or .php/mySql.

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Speaking at Rockland Community College

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