Designing Nilamox. Rule one.

Rule 1: You only want what you can’t have. If you have it, you don’t want it.

If you lusted after some trophy for years, only to now have it sitting dusty on a shelf, well, you’re human. The potential was endless – the reality is limited. Maybe it’s sea monkeys, maybe eurorack, maybe it’s a now hated job, perhaps even a relationship you once had.

s-l300

They’re just brine shrimp!

This leads to the Limited Edition, the Chase, the Now Or Never. It seems an obvious trick but tell people too bad you missed out and watch the boo hoo. Make something easy to get and … crickets. Because easy to get means ‘maybe I’ll get it later’.

(Plenty of boo hoo over Severed Heads right now. ‘Maybe I’ll get it later’. Nup.)

But moving on – let’s develop something positive out of this.

I’ve previously made things that were very limited, not through spite but simply because they were difficult to make. That gave the illusion of success, but really, it’s neurotic marketing – if it’s marketing at all. Nilamox will never be Taylor Swift, but it should hold its little head up high. It deserves to succeed at a reasonable level. On the other hand, how many of us have unsold stock under the bed? C’mon … hands up … I thought so.

Limitation needs to be designed.

Somebody has explained this before better than I can, but this is my take. The audience is a continuum between don’t give a shit and having your babies. For convenience I’m going to divide them into four groups.

  • AT THE DOOR they are looking in and aware that you have something going on. They might stop and look in for the 5 seconds of a Facebook video. Most will move on.
  • INSIDE they see some entertainment value in what you are doing but not invested. Might watch a few videos and steal as much as they can of your work. Hell, might even pay $1 for something.
  • SWIMMING they like what you do and have a few of your things. You are one of many things they like and part of a vibe that they enjoy. If you ask for a big purchase they’ll likely smile and say no thanks.
  • DIVING they’re into it. You come up with some luxury items and they’ll pre-order. Get ready to sign it. You are the best thing that ever happened and need to have an unlisted number in case they track you down for your pelt.

Yeah it sounds like a public swimming pool, I don’t know how that happened.

Sevcom took care of the SWIMMERS and DIVERS. It was not very good at the other groups, possibly because it grew up inside larger record companies who did that part, or it never felt confident about getting people in the door. Sevcom believed the praise the DIVERS gave and made mistakes. Nilamox is supposed to be a fresh approach, with new ways of entertaining people. That won’t work if the refresh is targeted to a small part of the audience – we have to get people through the door to become a new kind of diver.

Every person that encounters Nilamox has to feel like their trophy is somewhere further inside. AT THE DOOR needs to feel like they are diving just that little bit.

Jesus-Knock-on-the-Door

“I’m giving this shit 5 seconds. Impress me Nilamox!”

Let’s look at a concrete example. One of the ambitions of Nilamox is a “Teleport” project to broadcast music around the world with accompanying 3D visuals. At the highest level that would need great audience commitment – VR or AR display, high speed connection, financial contributions. The DIVER is there, but AT THE DOOR is not going to make that commitment in 5 seconds. They need to be shown something quickly, for free, but with the potential that the trophy is within their reach. “Teleport” has to scale drastically – but how?

Another project involves a game world, a kind of screwed up Disneyland where you’re going to have a really strange time. That’s being made in Unity, and again it needs people to dive in to be a success. Can we make it an experience for the 5 seconds audience and the people just inside? Can they learn to dive into something that’s not a standard live show?

Here’s Rule 2: People like people more than anything else.

The band may be great, the sound clear, the lights intelligent – but we’re there to be part of the crowd. The other site might be well designed, the tools excellent – but we’re on Facebook because that’s the crowd. You might not even like the people you meet; you might feel worse for having been there, but damn you’ll go back because people.

Being at the show with the crowd while wearing a AAA pass is the best.

lanyard

A long time ago in the Multiuser Dungeons you would strive to be high status character – a level 10 Wizard or some such, on the Apple Support Community you strive to be the arrogant RTFM Level 10 guy, on Facebook you need 5000 friends. To be with other people and own that lanyard is the best trophy of all.

The sad reality is that gamification is the key to getting our DOORS to DIVERS. The same thing as Fly Buys and Mileage Points is how we’re going to get the people into the pool. The design of this gamification is crucial, difficult, it must reward the guest with real happiness. You can see that none of this can be done simply and quickly. Sometimes I doubt it can be done at all.

Where are we?

  • Designing the realms. Of course, the sound and vision have to be priority. Why do this at all if it going to be dull? What is the beauty? What is the threat?
  • Scaffolding the realms. If you know what the DIVE looks like, then can you make a DOOR? If you have a DOOR, then what could be the DIVE?
  • Society how? Are we a crowd, or CB radio or a MUD or Instagram?
  • The technology. HTML5, Unity, lions and tigers oh my.
  • How will we eat? You can’t box an experience can you? It’s not an LP or a cassette. Do we have to sell books like Dungeons and Dragons? Have you been in a shop that sells glossy magazines recently? It’s wonderful.
  • Every day the fear and the impulse to just give up and fall backwards like the rest of the aging, shrinking scene.

The End of the World is Coming!

  • What’s happening? Severed Heads will disband after performing in Chicago on September 21st 2019. The 2019 USA shows are the last in this band format.
  • What comes next? Stewart will continue to work in his own band Klaus. Tom will be starting a new label/group called Nilamox*.
  • What about the other band members? There are no other band members, the Internet falsely shows people that have long departed.
  • Why is this happening? It’s the 40th anniversary of the band’s foundation and time to close the loop. We’ve always sought new ideas and practice and have spent enough time (nearly a decade) paying respect to the past.
  • Will the old material still be available? Yes. Deep catalogue will be managed much as it is now – it is not abandoned. Sevcom will be structured as a museum.
  • Is this temporary? We have both professional and personal reasons why we cannot continue in our current format. This is a response to reality. Reality would have to change significantly (for example Hell freeze over).
USA Tour show dates

Last time to see!

Now for the details.

At the end of the 20th Century the band was ahead of the wave. Online with Fidonet since 1992, the web since 94, first with MP3s, downloads, CD-ROMs and all that. But by 98, our mainstream support went with the collapse of music labels. Despite DIY, the band was dead in the water by 2008. Our remnant audience was small and, in some ways, antagonistic to our future development. I had the opportunity to get a real paying academic position. This blog starts in that era, so you can read about it if you like. Severed Heads closed shop.

Soon after we were encouraged to perform the old songs for the Sydney Festival, and have since that time taken our ‘deep catalogue’ all around Australia, Europe and North America multiple times. We’ve enjoyed playing these shows. The music is good, the videos are good, the audience is a lovely audience (unlike the Beatles we don’t want to take you home). But on the occasion of our 40th birthday (the Ear Bitten album was recorded in late 1979) we would like to wrap it up.

You have every right to be sceptical – haven’t we been here before? Severed Heads has been dead for quite a long time now – even when resurrected for live shows and the occasional artefact. With a few exceptions the live shows have been old music – reheated in various clever ways, but still from the previous century. Stewart has his own band to work on. I’m really interested in music that wouldn’t do well on stage but might work as part of an installation or video piece. I’d like to keep making music and performing, but maybe not Dead Eyes Opened for the umpteenth time.

Our goal in these zombie years was to cross over to major festivals, galleries, high-end creative events. There’s been some excellent occasions – for example the performance and acetate cutting of Beautiful Arabic Surface, releasing the HH computer game on the ABC website for the Adelaide Festival – but not consistent enough to prove that objective will be met.  We may assemble the band temporarily only when a high-level or artistically significant event is available. That is, we’ll save it for cool gigs.

Aligned with that – we are getting older and can’t be lugging heavy cases up and down the planet much longer. We either get a bunch of roadies or downplay the travels.

And aligned with this – it’s the most stupid band name ever.

Comparing 2020 to the 1900’s I can’t see a place for our small technological group to advance. Community is Facebook. Music is Spotify. Video is YouTube. All these are lowest common denominator, infested by celebrity influencers and blowhards. Something For Everybody was never our place, and maybe it needs us to step outside and be nobody again.

Thank you!

nilamox

Progress Report 2017

2017 tours.

At the end of 2017 we can report delivering live shows across North America – 5 shows in Canada and 10 in the United States. Also shows in Australia – the Sydney Opera House as part of a group show for Vivid, at the Melbourne Art Centre for Supersense, and two shows for Metropolis Touring.

We enjoyed bringing what we now call our ‘traditional show’ to audiences, but realise that this is more about repairing lost time than making progress. There’s no shame in the moment to be a traveling museum, but of course we would like to do better.

For this reason, it is very unlikely that we’ll be taking any tours in 2018, but are open to large bribes etc.

Teleplay.

2018 will mostly be dedicated to developing new presentation system under the work name “Teleplay”. This is envisaged as a system which narrowcasts an 3D animated audiovisual ‘world’ over the net from a performative source to delivery point. Teleplay is a virtual stage on which are placed individual ambisonic sound sources and animation elements. The result can be flattened to be on a screen, seen in VR, or recorded on a virtual surround camera to make VR videos in real time.

Evidences – My previous work “Snowglobe” was part of the long learning process to this result. Another game coded named “Pretzel” is underway to help define some of the artistry. Some ambisonic music produced by the audio system has already been made available.

Current work on Teleplay includes: motion capture (hardware is in testing), MIDI sequencing of visual effects (demos working), virtual camera capture (some issues), audio staging (demos working).

Music releases.

We had some discussion about changing to a subscription service, but no decision was made. It would require that we have a bank of new releases available and so that’s been the priority. Touring is often disruptive of composing, and it’s going to be good to take a break. Here’s some individual status updates.

  • Aversion 2 (rock music simulation) is ready musically, pending improved artwork to go in the cases. We think it needs a bit more work in the presentation.
  • Music Server 3D (ambisonic muzak) is a large project which will be broken up into three stages: Volumes 1&2, 3&4 which are all going on YouTube as real time ambisonic video. Binaural versions will be on Bandcamp free. Volume 5 needs revision. Volume 6 will be a paid item on Bandcamp.
  • Barbara UFO (cinematic soundscapes) will be the last of the Barbara Island series which are only released every four years, now looks like mid/late 2018.
  • Publicist (Tom Ellard pop music) is moving along nicely and should be out early 2018. Seeing as I started it in 2015, well, yeah.

Identity and SVH.

I recently went on YouTube and saw entire Severed Heads albums posted up on there with ads, which really was a grand scale ‘fuck you’. I’ve been really tolerant of ‘fan uploads’ but I’ve had enough. At the time of writing I’ve issued nearly 100 take downs. I’m posting lots of videos on YouTube even though the resultant quality is inferior to Vimeo. People don’t care and I have ceased to care about their opinions.

As well as taking back control of ‘Severed Heads’ I’ve committed to finally making a decision about it. Previous attempts haven’t worked because people are so dedicated to their childhood that they can’t tolerate any hard change. So here’s the deal.

Anything up to the break in 2008 is us wearing our Severed Heads stage costumes. “Arabic Surface” and “Donut” are credited to them as well, but from now on the credit will simply be SVH Sevcom (Sevcom because people argued about it so let it be). If people say Severed Heads that’s fine, but it will not be written on the tin. Sevcom continues to be the label. It’s amusingly like KFC and Kentucky Fried Chicken, but we face a similar problem in wanting to do more than just chicken, and yet having a lot of past from which to escape. It’ll take time, but I think the difference of SVH for the new and Severed Heads for the old might be healthy.

Thanks for listening!

kfc

WE HAD FAIL

Update installed!

UPDATE ON FAIL – MOST FAIL IS SCOOPED UP – CEASE LAMENTING

Update: pulling all the entries back out of the WP database succeeded and so we are now good to go. I’ll have to refind some images. No major drama.

Unfortunately something spinning at a great speed decided to collide with itself and send data into the multiverse. This took down both tomellard.com and sevcom.com for a short while. All of the static pages were back again later that morning Australian time. Unfortunately both the blogs have some structural damage that is more tricky to figure out. The articles are intact in the database – I can see them all. But the published structure is messed up and links don’t work and all that jazz. It’s going to take a bit of time to rebuild this one.

But the scanning goes on!

YouTube can kiss my ass. UPDATE: Who the hell are IODA?

Dear TomEllard,

Your video, Dead Eyes Opened Sydney January 2010, may have content that is owned or licensed by IODA.

No action is required on your part; however, if you’re interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

Sincerely,
– The YouTube Team

 

Dear YouTube.

The composer of the music, the recording artist, the maker of the video and the person that posted it ARE OBVIOUSLY THE SAME PERSON.

You idiots.

You have a million people uploading shit they stole from where ever. So instead, you send out a pissy insulting form letter to somebody that contributes their own work. A form letter that offers 4 tiny boxes where I am allowed to reply that hey, I have no idea who IODA is, why they should be able to do this, what it has to do with the fact I am promoting my own goddamn work on your site.

And it’s the SECOND time you’ve done this. You haven’t even dealt with my first dispute yet.

I am going to try walking and calming down, but the temptation is to go somewhere else because hey, you really are the exact opposite of everything worthwhile.

Tom Ellard, a person that makes shit that you monetize.

UPDATE:

Through my own efforts I find that IODA is a US based distributor of my music. They have a non exclusive sub-license, which is kind of like having a franchise in that territory. It doesn’t give them any exclusive rights – certainly they don’t own the synchronization rights of my music, and that’s exactly what YouTube’s automated system can’t understand. It’s twigged a match between the soundtrack of these videos and their licensed material. Being automated it starts a process which is inflexible and stupid to any nuances in the situation.

Somebody at IODA has countered my claim that they don’t own my videos: at least that’s the probable reason why the dispute robot has rejected my disputation. But no one has actually emailed another person to ask, hey is this TomEllard account ‘official’?

It is (as always) up to the artist to start fixing the mess that the companies have created ‘on their behalf’. This begins with human communication; I have started that. It involves pressure; I have damaged the videos on YouTube with an annotation and an audio swap. This may help the companies involved to feel a small amount of monetary and PR displeasure, the only sensation that they can feel. I have provided an alternative venue on Vimeo. I always wanted to do that, so this is as good a time as ever.

As soon as somebody notices that their robots have screwed up, I will be happy to put things back as they were. In the meanwhile they can ‘own’ a web page that explains just how dumb they are.

ADMIN speaks to you

ADMIN here, with some updates.

  • Finally updated Cutline theme to 1.4. and fixed the widget support so we have some custom layout.
  • Thus, recent comments are listed with links to your own WordPress blogs if any.
  • Also a tag cloud so you can see what a moaning old shit tte really is.
  • Removed dead blogroll links and added some updates.

Upcoming changes to www.tomellard.com; we are going to update, removing old TABLEs and chairs. There will be occasional odd moments throughout January.

{www.sevcom.com is not going to upgrade because a thousand whining geriatrics will have heart attacks if anything changes ever.}

Currently not able to update, or read mail.

Well somebody thought the last post wasn’t funny.

Due to a suicide pact between two machines here and something going on in Seattle I currently cannot log in to my sites, nor can I read mail sent to me at sevcom.com

If you really need to contact me please use Ozemail or (if you really have to) UNSW Mail.

Put a penny in the slot and the gas is back on. Hot showers!

Sevcom closes CD shop.

Advert: the Live To Air is happening.

It’s been a ride. Since 1998 sevcom has sold CDs online. We were one of the first – a raggedy thing run on slave labour and Stephen M Jones’ idealism. If ever Stephen or myself were to look at the numbers it would have been shut down years ago. But we did it anyway.

13 years later I’m beaten. Done in. Worn out.

We started when blank CDs reached 11 AUD dollars each. A sale of 12 USD meant we made around 2 dollars after postage. That margin grew and I was able to buy a few more burners and try out some fun stuff like transparent film and metal cases. It paid a bit better than a gig but thank God for my day job. Sometimes I pretended I wasn’t subsidising it. Those damn metal cases…

While CDs got cheaper the postage, paper and ink have steadily increased. In recent years a blank disc was around 50c, but the postage on each disc ended up about $5-6. That was OK while the exchange rate was about 60c US for 1 AUD but as the US started to slip into oblivion people bought less and expected to pay a lot less for it. Europe too has little time for music while staving off economic collapse. The final straw was Homeland Security charging 9 dollars to inspect packages. (USA: Plenty of money for weapons, no money for wages.)

And I don’t have the time any more to make these things. The time it takes to make a batch of discs is not viable as my treadmill of bills and debts get faster.

The number of online stores is cancerous and they are locked in a price war that we cannot beat. So we join. BandCamp is alright; it’s not independence, but that was lost a long time ago. Just join the rest. Move along citizen.

I like CDs. Uncompressed sound and a pretty cover. But we are becoming too poor to own real things. I say again – the 20th century was about creating cheap mass produced goods for all. The theme of the 21st century will be the divide between the physical rich and the virtual poor – bespoke items for the wealthy (vinyl in boxes!) MP3s and ePub books for you. A window for them and a screen saver for you. We fought it, but the law won.

If you want any physical items from me, you had best do it soon. I am not making any more and have a small inventory.

I’d like to thank all the people that put up with my lousy service, slow delivery, bent metal boxes, CAT HAIRS!!!1!! and packages that went missing. We were never Amazon.

Oh and ‘Jesus’ – the guy that ordered everything and then reversed the credit card as soon as they arrived, fuck you. A big fuck off also to all the MP3 blogs that uploaded my stuff. You talk like revolutionaries, but you are actually the traitors.