European friendly crossfire

Microsoft Office Word 2010 opens whence I comfortably sit down to write this column. Over my workspace I have got a Portuguese traditional coffee mug made of clay which reads “Portugal – Serra da Estrela”, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal. Coffee is freshly made and smelling terrific l, a smooth aroma that quickly invades the entire room. Portuguese coffee has an essence that I enjoy as much as the flavor which keeps me awake until 05:00 AM.

But I don’t sit here to advocate about Portuguese coffee neither our touristic highlights, after all I am not a tourist guide, I am however, an interpreter, a metal affectionate who led one of Europe’s most prolific and highly acclaimed metal presences to surface in the past sixteen months of activity together with a very tight and devoted team of coworkers that on a daily basis do their best to push it toward the highest standards of today’s music industry.

Looking back, I cannot believe we have been around for so long and are still able to captivate, assemble, gather, and accept our own fellowship while other portals older than ours have been around for nearly a decade and have not accomplished much to improve, develop or evolve constantly as much as we are able to do so. But I presume that anyone else in one way or another is doing their best, even if the “best” they can come up with might not certainly be the very “best” for their local scene.

I am perfectly aware that no matter how polite, honest, straightforward and conscious I might be writing this editorial there will always be someone that will get it in an offensive manner or try to twist my words into their own. It has happened before and will happen again no matter what. Truth be told that regardless of any misconceptions, I couldn’t care less if that “someone” points a finger toward “another”, because people do that all the time in our backs, however, when we are right there in front of them the reaction seems to be about praising. Hypocrites? Certainly.

Colombian scene is no different when it comes to jealously, hypocritical remarks and backstabbing, however when compared to the Croatian, Slovenian and Mexican scene the total lack of professionalism is remarkable! I am not by any means referring to bands at all, as far as I am concerned, Colombian bands have embraced us as a team with a presence in their country and personally, I have been reached by many band members on Facebook that just came on to drop a “hello and welcome”, “we will be waiting for you”, “you have our support!” There were even musicians that I had the opportunity of chatting with for hours (just a few weeks back I had a four hours chat with a musician from Medellin) about their local scene and the European scene by exchanging insights about both ways of working, promoting and so on by sharing general advices and tips that they were totally unaware of the advantages of being promoted outside Spanish spoken gecko-locations.

Colombian press neglects the fact that proper promotion should be carried out in English as they somehow, are strictly closed-minded to the International scene — and to the best of their comprehension only — wide promotion should always be done in the native language, therefore in Spanish. In a way it makes sense for them mostly, obviously by far not for the International press. You see, being European and into the metal scene for more than two decades now, if someone a few months back approached me asking to name a few Colombian acts I would just answer Neurosis, and that would be all. In two decades into the metal scene and I would just mention one band from Colombia as the rest would be totally unknown. Why is that? Mostly because the band were or still are signed to an International label, or most likely because their information probably reached my hands years ago in English.

Nowadays my perspective is totally different, I know around fifty acts from Colombia but not through the media press, rather from other sources, because if I was to know acts by reading Colombian media sources, I would get to know more about Dimmu Borgir, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus, Immortal, and read information regarding Satyricon in full length pages while on the other hand when it comes to any Colombian acts, I would obtain a two paragraphs long talk about them. This not to mention that the information would be incomplete and inaccurate, and there would not be any information on how to reach them either. I do not know about you, but if I use any translator to transcript an article from any Colombian portal to English, it will return to me with a nonsense elaborated mess full of misspellings and grammar errors. For me, since I know how to write and speak in Portuguese, Spanish is not that hard but for most International press they just discard the information regarding the act as they would not be able to understand it, not even after translating. The result would be the same, a total blackout over the Colombian metal scene. Another thing that really confuses me is the fact that many, if not all, Colombian press sources use the term “underground” in their names, however, one out of ten acts they publish are Colombian, as for the rest are known and well established acts with a solid reputation, signed to major labels which does not “fit” by all means under the underground flag at all. You cannot call such act as Dimmu Borgir underground when they show up all over the press, play live on TV Shows with Orchestras and get a cachet from Colombian promoters so big it would be possible to buy a very nice car in Europe! You can however, call local Colombian acts underground, which are totally neglected by the local media press when it comes to covering their shows, or when they release a CD and throw a release party and none of the local media press shows up to cover the event, simply because “they are local, therefore not important.” However, if it was Satyricon the whole local press would rush to be there, them and eighty other people they would skip in for free by using their “status” as leverage. For me, and most of us as being “outcasts,” we often find it amusing the way “proper and professional Colombian press” handles the things there, I mean, full support to International bands and some for local if they are friends or the portals somehow can obtain something from them, if not and in most cases, discard!

I have been told many times by Colombian friends that I am more than welcome and that acts are actually looking forward to have us in the field doing our work, I have also been asked to allow Colombian “fans” (I am smiling right now because a few weeks back we became aware that we have in fact, a legion of Colombian fans) to print our “shield” (recently we have added two dragons to the shield to represent Colombia) on t-shirts! I had to decline however because our designs are copyrighted and we are coming up soon with our own merchandise, affordable to Colombian “fans” as well.

People talk about us in bars, pubs, they email us, they show up in our live chat and tune in to our radio, they also ask for songs, email us promotional material, spread our links and “Like” our Facebook pages like crazy! We have become a phenomenon amid the Colombian scene and tend to be embraced by everyone, except for the local media press.

Speaking of the local Colombian media press, if I can call them that… They do not quite see us as a good thing as we are obtaining attention that they often do not share or are willing to share because they fear to be usurped from their long-conquered “throne” or “status.”

There is a lot of territorial standby positioning to defend their “kingdom” by complicating everything to us, but when it comes to the local scene, they do not even bother to support it which for me turns everything into an enigma. We are European, everyone knows that and are perfectly aware, however, that we are! We will remain European and we have not got any plans to register in Colombia. How so? Simple, first of all we can make contracts anywhere we want, hire and dismiss whatever and whoever as long as it follows the European legislation. Secondly, there is no intentions whatsoever to register as a Colombian company because we will always work for the “outside” as we have always been doing so far which does not imply that we cannot work with the local scene; damn sure we can and we will, the main difference is that we will be working with the scene at a European level, meaning that we will be throwing the Colombian scene toward the European, American and International scenes faster and wider than any other Colombian media press can. They, the media press, have not done much for the local scene for years neither do I believe they can do it now as it has been proven to me many times that they do not even know how to work with International companies. They are unable to organize for instance; a full press release package that we can use to promote because they are used to working with other Colombian agencies, therefore, whence we receive one we have to reach them back and ask for the “missing parts” of the package.

There was a Colombian press media manager that said me something like;

You cannot talk about the Colombian scene and the way the press works because you are not in the country.

To which I replied;

To assume that would be a mistake, I am not in the country (you will have to wait until July, dear) but Æ has active Colombian members in the country. Plus, I have seen Æ posts on groups, pages and profiles from other Colombian press agencies on Facebook been deleted over and over again while we keep the ones they post in our pages as a matter of mutual support (something that lacks in Colombian press). The same “manager” forgot to mention that we have reached her (in Spanish) via email a couple of times to co-work and never got a reply.

The territorial fight reaches the point of stupidity when our official Facebook profile is reported and shut down minutes after we change our timeline photo displaying our support to the Bogota Festival and we get hacked a couple hours after. Today, one of our pages has also been reported and the images taken off. Honestly I do not mind the reporting or shutting down the pages as no matter how hard someone from Colombia tries to shut down our works, they cannot shut down our dedicated servers therefore our site will always be running and if it comes to a point I believe things are getting a bit out of control, I can backfire and cause permanent damages to entire structures. Facebook is just an extension to our promotion, an extension which on a daily basis shares over three thousand links targeting our site. Speaking of which, I have said once on my Facebook profile that we are the number one site in Colombia when it comes to Colombian visitors on a daily basis.

Our statistics sheet displays seven days of data and it is impossible to “alter” as CloudFlare’s Analytic System is provided in flash (if you are a developer you know this, if not, keep your mouth shut!). We had thirty-eight thousand six hundred eighty-seven pageviews! We have a steady and growing audience of three thousand nine hundred fifty-three Colombian daily visitors. Statistics from Colombian portals such as UnderColombia (has roughly one hundred visitors per week by the way) which was considered as the top portal from Colombia. We have in fact the highest audience and flux of visitors from any other Colombian metal portal (if you have a proof that says otherwise, be free to let me know). Our site is hosted on dedicated servers and not on a single shared hosting account because we have so much traffic that only a good Cloud environment is capable to keep up with all the accesses we have. Our radio station stream is hosted and streamed from another server so that we can keep up the streaming online even if the site crashes or is offline due to maintenance operations. We are also getting re-enlisted on iTunes (we are, as far as I know, the only Colombian radio on iTunes). Besides being the number one Colombian site (our social media profiles all states that our country is Colombia and our city as Bogotá for the simple fact I will be running the team and the site from Colombia from July forward), it is also the only portal that none of the technical web development agencies in Colombia could handle without hiring a full team of IT’s to be on top of it, as it’s (as all that was not enough) the world’s most advanced metal site you will ever find in today’s Internet.

To wrap things up (rest assured that I will develop these matters on future editorials) we have covered Immortal, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir, and many other in the United States, also Krisiun, Malevolent Creation, Vader and all acts in Hellfest Open Air and not even once we had to provide a promoter some kind of statistics. They know us and they know our work and they know the “power” of our reach. Promoters in the International scene feel “honored” to have us covering shows for them because they know that by exposing their shows in our pages, we open the doors for them with more events, we actually make their life a lot easier to hire acts that they use us as a reference. In Colombia, promoters ask us everything that they do not even bother to ask Colombian portals with teams sometimes going up to five people plus eighty friends. In Colombia as in anywhere else, our team to cover events is composed of a reporter and a photographer, only! You do not see us hanging at the bar or getting extra tickets “for a couple friends”, you see us working and the following day you see the proof of our work.

As for now, that is all I have to say regarding this matter.

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