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.

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