"I sent a package to you several months ago containing some music I asked you to evaluate for me. I respect your background and was hoping that you personally might allow for cutting out a spare hour to do me this favor. Since I never heard from you in this matter - even to tell me you got it but don't have time or the inclination to do me the favor - I am writing to ask the status of my package. I actually have recently been involved in two projects near and dear to me. One is a smooth jazz instrumental album. The other (and most important) is called Waveform LLC It is What it is. I am laboring under the impression that the Waveform project may be timely and have enough merit to cause interest in the industry. As I continue to live off the grid in the Ozark woods I am considered a "nobody" by the industry at large, even though I have a past and a pedigree parallel to many of the people you hold in great esteem and write articles about. At 67 years old, I have given up on the thought of being discovered due to simple demographics and location. I have a wonderful life and family, I live in paradise, I continue to record and play, and I am leaving a legacy that will live beyond my mortal lifetime. It would have been nice to be recognized for my contributions, but (as the saying goes) "It Is What It Is." This CD contains what I consider to be possibly my best work (in writing, producing, and playing) and I am going to make one final effort to get it out there for my peers to consider. I'm not asking for you to clear a path or go to bat for me. But it is only one small favor I ask. I wanted you to listen to this CD and give me your honest opinion re: it's merit."
Bob Ketchum <www.cedarcreststudio.com>
I'm glad you continue to play music and enjoy it. The slightly bitter undertone in your letter bums me out, though. I'm going to use your letter to attempt to clear up some possible misconceptions about Tape Op, our readers' recordings, and my role in all this. I hope you can understand that I'm not just picking on you, as this is a situation that constantly comes up. The magazine gets sent a lot of CDs, vinyl, and download links. That's great, and many of them come directly from readers, and some are from labels and PR folks. At the slowest flow I think we get sent about 40 items per week.
Now let me explain my life: Being the editor of Tape Op is a "part time" job, and my "office" is in a corner of my home. I'm not sure how many hours a week Tape Op takes up, but it's pretty constant, with emails to return, articles to edit, interviews to do or assign, photos to track down, business decisions to make, plus many events and conferences to attend. For nearly 18 years Tape Op has been completely overwhelming my life, and I accept and embrace that reality. I am grateful for the adventures this magazine has afforded me, and appreciate the wonderful people I have met. The lessons in recording I have learned through the mag run deep. I enjoy and love all this. But since Tape Op is theoretically a part time job, that means I also own a recording studio and make records there - something I have been doing since the beginning of the mag. So my non-Tape Op time is spent producing, recording, and mixing records; helping my studio manager with decisions and gear repairs; and constantly looking for new work. For example; I just worked eight ten-hour studio days in a row, and obviously in that time period I was not focused on Tape Op. Now I'm sitting at my desk attempting to catch up. Did I also mention the archiving jobs I take on? Or freelance writing gigs? My partner in Tape Op, John Baccigaluppi, is equally as busy with similar projects and work. We are both constantly involved in music, studios, recording, and Tape Op. This is not by any means a complaint about my life - this is what I have created and I accept it.
Usually the last piece of editorial I write or edit for each issue is the "Music Reviews" section in the back. It is the most difficult part to put together. Why? Because I have likely spent the previous two months doing all these other things listed above. If I can get a couple of short "reviews" out I'm doing good. This is why I con Jeff Slate into writing so many of these pieces! My write-ups are mostly non-critical of the sound or content of the albums, instead stating who worked on it and maybe soliciting a few quotes. If someone really forced me to examine the "recording quality" of an album, all I can think of is that I'd prefer to be at the console mixing it. That's what I do. Otherwise I'm enjoying an album for the music and not picking it apart.
So there it is. I don't have time to review and critique all the music sent my way and to personally respond about the merits or lack thereof. I don't feel my opinion would be worth a shit anyway. Tape Op is certainly not the gatekeeper to a successful career in music or recording. We are not including or excluding producers, engineers, and musicians in Tape Op's pages with some nefarious glee, like puppet masters pulling strings. I've always assumed that would be obvious. Thanks for writing and giving me an excuse to air this stuff. -Larry Crane, editor/founder