The Adventures of Ustad Global Loopmaster Yahoo in the 21st Century
by Matthew Montfort, who is in the story
It was 4:15 A.M., Halloween, in the year 2038. The esteemed Ustad Global Loopmaster Yahoo (UGLY) had just put the finishing touches on the new MTV-NET streaming home theater surround sound release for his latest world groove dance mix, which was going live on the MTV-NET Avatar Ball at 6 P.M.. He was really proud of this new release. He had even hired the best in the business to do the plastic surgery for his latest image.
He could afford it with his new Microsoft Music sponsorship. The free downloads of the last UGLY release had made it number one on the net music chart, and Microsoft Music was throwing money around to buy the top charting artists.
Music was free on the net. That's what consumers demanded. So the only way to make a living as an artist was to sell a high ranking download site to a corporate sponsor. And Microsoft Music was the best! Sponsorship by them guaranteed an artist a coveted channel on the Microsoft Music browser in addition to being on the Microsoft payroll. The Artist IPO alone was worth millions if it happened in a bull week on Wallstreet.com.
UGLY had arrived at this lofty position because he had a knack for knowing what the fads would be a *full week* before they happened. At the beginning of his career, he had hooked up with a young plastic surgeon who had found a new way to offer the coveted image change operations much cheaper, and UGLY had just the right image a week before it became the rage. His site was a big hit, and his in-store appearances at Borders were SRO because the buzz was that his image was *real* and not just an avatar. People wanted to touch him just to make sure. Borders was the only surviving bricks and mortar international music store because they added a *huge* surround sound holographic theater at every store just when CDs were on the way out. A brilliant stroke that made them the only place people were willing to pay for music.
UGLY had become a pioneer in the multi-national corporate world dance music movement. He changed his image race every three months, always picking the race that would be "in demand" for that period. His music used vocal samples (translated into all languages) over a knee hop groove (hip hop went out years before, and no one wanted to hear about the very retro sock hop anymore).
Yet UGLY was also feeling a little disturbed. He used technology to make music, and had no training in music at all. But he was tired of the music loops in his library. He had no idea how to create from scratch. Yet he was getting a feeling that next week the fad just *had* to have something a little different. Something *not* in his library. Problem was, no one was making new loops, because in 2020 the Microsoft Music marketing department had commissioned a study that found that the audience could only understand three different rhythms anyway. Any deviation from these three was commercial suicide.
But now UGLY needed to find someone who still could make music the old fashioned way. This was very hard to do, since music training in the schools had been outlawed a year after the National Endowment for the Arts had been dismantled by President George Bush Jr. in his second term as an act of compassionate conservatism. It was like shooting a horse with a broken leg: the fine arts were just hanging on anyway, and this ended their hopeless struggle.
The few people around 30 years later who could remember having musical careers playing real instruments were hard to find. But there was hope. The National Web Archive listing of the first sites on the net, combined with a "where is" search turned up the whereabouts of the leader of the world music group Ancient Future. He was found in a mental institution because he wouldn't quit playing music on real instruments and was deemed insane. He had found a way to play music on the plastic trays institutional food came in.
So UGLY posed as a therapist and began making daily visits to the mental institute claiming he could cure any patient of a desire to play real instruments by pretending to learn music from them.
Within three days, UGLY had a new groove that was close enough to the three approved grooves not to arouse suspicion, but different enough to be the fad for next week. UGLY was saved. He was able to stay on the charts for the next three years before his ugly little secret experiments with real instruments were found out. An illegal hand drum was found in his apartment by an ATFM (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Musical Instruments) Agent posing as a groupie. UGLY became the 21st Century's first Milli Vanilli: a fraud to virtual reality. He had been caught using a real instrument on one of his songs. His stock plummeted. He lost the Microsoft Music sponsorship, and became a cell mate of his music teacher at the mental institute.
Scalloped fretboard guitar pioneer Matthew Montfort is the leader of the world music group Ancient Future. When he is not performing on real instruments, he keeps himself busy as webmaster of ancient-future.com, giving away hundreds of free mp3 files daily and getting dosed with electromagnetic radiation, which seems to be giving him special powers to see into the future of the music business. He wrote this unfortunately prophetic story in 1999.
©1999 Matthew Montfort. All rights reserved.
© info. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org