Wired is Right on the Gimarc
It's not often you get to be six months ahead of Wired, so, please, do let me enjoy it. In the March issue, the cover story's not really a story, but a collection of bite-sized pop-culture pieces having to do with, ya know, how to snip your movies and music into teensy-tiny nuggets. It's perfect bathroom reading, in other words, except the online version comes with free downloadable They Might Be Giants ringtones (like this one, a fave), links to far-out space pics with astronomer commentary and gateways to stand-by distractions.
And among the pieces is one called "Tiny Tunes: Forget the drum solo -- Radio SASS pares songs down to the bone." Hey, lookit that. We know what Radio SASS is: It's the "Short Attention Span System," pioneered and patented by none other than George Gimarc, the Rock and Roll Alternative hisself who debuted the format on Unfair Park the first week in September, when he tried to sell his brainchild to radio-station execs who were in town for the Radio & Records Convention and the National Association of Broadcasters' annual Radio Show convention at the Anatole. And what is SASS's format again? One in which no song lasts longer than two minutes -- yeah, even "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Like I said in September, imagine your favorite song reduced to verse-chorus-verse-adios without the dickin'-around guitar solos and wankin'-off drum solos.
Well, turns out George has actually gotten somewhere with his revolutionary format, and not just in the pages of Wired. But where, that's after the jump.
I talked to George last night to mazel tov him about the Wired piece, which he hadn't seen. ("Oh, it made it in," he said, sounding very pleased.) He told me he made for Wired the two 14-minute clips on the Web site -- one of which features four songs in the SASS format, the other of which features eight songs in the regular-speed format. And he told me he didn't really care what the guitarist for Broken Social Scene had to say about SASS in the magazine. ("It's heinous," Andrew Whiteman of the wank-off band told Wired. "Music is not meant to be hook after hook." Yeah, because that'd be too awesome.)
"A lot of people hate the idea," Gimarc says, "because they don't know what it really is." (If you wanna bigger taste, head over to Gimarc's site for two full hours of previews. Sometimes you just want the meat without the fat, ya dig?)
But more important, he's cut a deal with AccuRadio, an Internet streaming radio service, to broadcast Radio SASS -- gratis, no less, for the company and the listener. The reason?
"We've had a lot of people tell us they're very interested, but nobody wants to be the first one doing it," George says. "So we cut a freebie deal with these guys so we can say, 'Well, somebody else is doing it.' We want to break the logjam. We have a lot of interest. We need to get somebody to the ballpark. And now we have Wired, which is seen by a lot of movers and shakers."
And the best thing about George's short-attention-span format? You have much more time during which to move and/or shake. --Robert Wilonsky
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.