Who are you and what do you do?
Bill: My name is Bill Israel. I’m a software developer for a company in St. Louis, and I help run Tuneage in my spare time. When not doing either of those things, I keep a slightly-more-personal blog at http://cubicle17.com/.
Okay, this is just for me, but why Linguistics?
Richard: I’ve been fascinated by language for as long as I can remember. And no one knows what it means, so I sound smarter than I am.
What made you guys get together and start a tumblelog about music?
Richard: It was Bill’s idea, he asked if I wanted to contribute.
Bill: Oddly enough, I kinda remember how it happened. It was around the time Tumblr introduced the public groups feature, and since Tumblr only allows 1 audio upload per day, a group tumblelog that lets multiple people upload 1 song seemed a good way “around” the limitation.
Richard and I have similar tastes in music, and just enough ego to think other people are interested in what we’re listening to, so it seemed liked the obvious choice.
Plus, similar to owning a coffee shop, having a music blog is always something I’ve wanted to do.
A coffee shop? Why?
Bill: To be honest, I have no idea. I’m a complete spazz for coffee and there’s always been something alluring about the typical coffeehouse atmosphere to me.
I wish I had a better reason, it’s just something I remember wanting to own as far back as 13/14…
How many people are writing for Tuneage currently? How do you pick them?
Bill: Right now there are 8 people writing for Tuneage.
Richard: We put a lot of effort into picking people we think would be “right” for Tuneage. We look at their taste in music, their writing style, things like that.
Bill: Picking contributors is definitely not just about who matches up with our tastes…a music blog with no variety would suck, so we do our best to pick people we think will bring in a different style of music. Naturally there’s overlap, but in general we think there’s pretty good variety.
What is something you wouldn’t want to see as far as music taste goes?
Bill: Well, someone whose taste matches up with mine isn’t someone I’d necessarily be interested in. I already contribute to Tuneage, so another me on staff wouldn’t be a net gain for us, really.
Richard: We like people with a fairly wide taste in music, we use their last.fm profiles to check that out. It’s also good if it’s different enough from ours that there’s some variety, too.
And no one that listens to fucking Paramore or Coldplay, or any shit like that.
Bill: Yeah, like Richard said, variety is what we’re most interested in.
Are you happy with the response from readers? Is it as successful as you expected?
Richard: Response from readers has far surpassed anything we ever expected. We’ve been active less than 4 months and have already amassed over 1,000 followers. It’s really strange how popular we seem to be.
Bill: We didn’t really have any particular expectations when we started it, it was just a way for us to post the music we’re listening to that we really like. The fact that we’re gaining readers everyday is humbling and really exciting.
How about non-Tumblr traffic?
Richard: That’s minimal, actually. The majority of our traffic comes from within Tumblr. I’m hoping we can break out of that at some point and gain a more general appeal, but it’s not something I hold too highly as a priority.
Bill: Non-Tumblr traffic has been hard to measure. Given that we didn’t expect what’s happened, we went with the plan to not burn our feed, so we have no idea about RSS subscribers. We have a rough idea of daily traffic, but the majority of our traffic so far comes from Tumblr.
Do you get permission for the music you publish?
Richard: We’ve been relying on the fact that the music we post isn’t downloadable by anyone, and so hopefully isn’t viewed as a problem. Nonetheless, we do try and stick to mp3s that are already freely available where possible. We haven’t had any problems yet.
Bill: We would, of course, gladly take down any post that someone had a problem with.
Richard: As long as they said please.
Bill: We’re trying to promote these bands, not promote stealing from them.
Have you ever heard from any of the artists or the labels of the artist who you mention on the site?
Bill: We’ve spoken to a few bands and labels, and the response so far has been resoundingly positive.
Richard: Asthmatic Kitty, in particular, have been great. They contacted us and offered to put us on their promo mailing list, they’re great.
Where do you find the music you talk about on Tuneage, I’ve never heard of most of them. Who the hell is Asthmatic Kitty?
Richard:: Asthamtic Kitty are the label that Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond, and a couple of lesser known acts are on.
Bill: It’s mostly the same for me, really. Other music blogs, a few MP3 blogs, and word of mouth, mostly. Last.fm and Pandora are great services for finding new material. And, I know it sounds cheesy, but I’ve found a lot of music just from being a part of Tuneage.
Richard: I have too, actually. Our contributors know a lot of great music that I’d never have heard of without them.
What are the future plans for Tuneage?
Bill: Well, we have a number of ideas, but we’re still sorting the good from the bad.
Richard: Top secret.
Bill: Our latest “future” idea has been our podcast, which we think is doing pretty well so far. We still have some kinks to work out, though.
Richard: The podcast has proven surprisingly popular, and we’re only 3 episodes in.
Do you have any plans to monetize Tuneage?
Bill: There are a number of ways we’ve discussed monetizing Tuneage, but so far nothing’s felt right. It’s always in the back of our minds, but for now I think we’ll stick to not-for-profit.
Tuneage, being hosted by Tumblr, doesn’t incur a lot of expenses. Okay, it doesn’t incur any expenses.
Richard: We put a lot of time and effort into Tuneage, and though it doesn’t cost us anything, it would be nice to receive a little compensation.
Bill: Yeah, Tuneage is definitely more of a timesink than I expected at first.
What is the worst album you’ve ever heard or bought?
Richard: I’ve heard a lot of bad albums; it would be impossible to pin down one that tops them all. But one album I’ve hated recently is The Bird & The Bee’s self-titled one.
Bill: Worst? That’s a lot harder to answer than I’d think….I’ve purchased some pretty dubious albums in the past, but I’m not sure I’d want to share them…I’m not sure my pride could handle it.
Richard: I’m also really not a fan of that No Age album everyone is hyping at the moment.
Bill: What’s everyone’s deal with that album? I like noise rock as much as everyone else, but that album just didn’t do it for me.
Richard: It’s just noise. Fuck it.
Okay, this one is for Richard. What artist would you like to fuck the most? Bill shouldn’t answer because he’s happily married.
Richard: I’ve had a huge boner for Zooey Deschanel for a long time. But I’ve got a soft spot for Joanna Newsom too.
Well, actually, a hard spot…
Bill: Aw, she’s precious. Crazy voice too.
Richard: And god, Katrina Kerns is amazing.
What is the last played song in your iTunes, or whatever music app?
Richard: I Don’t Feel Young, off Wye Oak’s album If Children.
Bill: Last song played for me was “O Mexico” by Dosh, but that’s because I’m listening to the album it’s on; “The Lost Take”.
What other Tumblr or music blogs do you like?
Richard: Oh, I love Daytrotter too. Their sessions are always excellent.
Pitchfork is a nice way of hearing about new music, but I try to avoid actually reading it - it’s a load of pretentious bullshit I don’t enjoy reading at all.
So, you are having a contest?
Richard: Oh yeah. We’re giving away a load of stuff some bands and labels were kind enough to give us, as a way of saying thanks to all our followers.
We’ll have people submit them to us, we’ll judge them (and probably do our best to post them all somewhere), and pick our favorite three.
Richard: And we’ve managed to get a huge list of things to give away to our favourites. Including some albums from Asthmatic Kitty’s catalogue, and Jonathan Coulton’s entire catalogue.
Rock On Bill and Richard!