In the second installment of our Player Profiles series we thought we’d get to know the player known as JoshTheRadioDude.  For those of you who missed our first player profile, this series is aimed at spotlighting some of the creators behind the bands on Figment.   We’ll talk to actual Figment players to see where their inspiration comes from, what tools they use to create and market their bands, and what they like/dislike on Figment.

JoshTheRadioDude has playing Figment since November of 2009.  He hasn’t created a lot of bands or released that many albums (4 in total), but everything he’s created on Figment is top notch.  His bands all have strong back stories, strong visual identities and great song titles.  Judging from his username you’ve probably already guessed that he has a background in commercial radio, but we thought we’d give you all a chance to get to know him a little better.

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself.  (You can be as vague or as specific as you want to be.)

JoshTheRadioDude:  Well, I’m a freelance web and graphic designer with many other hobbies and interests, among which are music (first and foremost), sports, writing, politics, all things media and, oddly enough, city planning.  I also have a second job during the school year as a P.A. announcer for a local private school, and I’ll tell you right now, very few things in life beat getting paid to watch sports.

FN:  How did you find Figment?

JTRD:  Through a Facebook ad for a Figment band, as a matter of fact.  Darkling, if I recall correctly.  Unlike most ads, it caught my eye, so a “good job” and thanks are due to Tim Mamba!

FN:  What attracted you to the site?

JTRD:  Being the creative person I am and loving music as I do, it just seemed like a natural fit.  Plus, I have several “fantasy” hobbies.  That city planning interest I mentioned before has resulted in numerous maps of cities that don’t exist (as well as an addiction to SimCity).  I’ve come up with ideas for countless radio stations that will never exist.  I’ve created complete non-existent universes for stories that I’ve written just to make them seem more realistic so that I know exactly what I’m writing about.  It’s a sickness, really.  But it’s how I relax, so creating fake bands and fake music is just an extension of that.

FN:  You mentioned on your profile page that you’re a former radio DJ and that you are in the process of starting two internet radio stations.  What’s it like working in radio?  Are your internet stations up and running yet?  And if so, where can we find them on the interwebs?

JTRD:  Radio is my first love!  There’s no doubt about that.  I could go on for hours and hours about my passion for it, but suffice it to say that when you’re working at a station with people who are just as passionate about it as you are, your employers included, it is the best job in the world.  Nothing gives me more joy than to be on the air, doing my show and knowing that thousands of people out there are listening to what I’m playing, are interested in what I have to say and are entertained by the way I choose to present the content.  Not because it’s about ME, but because I genuinely enjoy serving people and making them happy!  The rush I get when I turn on that microphone is like no other.  Sadly, the industry is crumbling, and finding the opportunity to do things the right way on the air is almost impossible today.  That’s partially why I’m starting up my two Internet stations.  They’re not up and running yet, but I’m getting closer to getting them online each day, and I’ll be sure to let the Figment community know ahead of time when the official launch dates will be.  One station will be a talk outlet focused on the city where I live, and the other will be a Top 40 station.

FN:  Do you think you’re experience as a DJ has had any influence on the band’s you’ve created on Figment?  And if so, how?

JTRD:  Oh, absolutely!  I think above all, my musical tastes have been shaped by the music I’ve played on the air, and that goes both ways, better AND worse.  Most of my time has been spent working in the Adult Contemporary format (aural brain death, as it were), and I try to avoid the lighter, slower stuff as much as possible as a result.  I was never a fan of softer music.  Growing up in Miami, I listened mostly to hip-hop, R&B, pop and dance music, and the opportunities I was presented with to get into the radio industry never took me down that road (which is why I’m fulfilling that dream online).  I actually started out in the Christian music format before moving to the mainstream stuff, then went BACK to Christian soft rock and Christian modern rock later on.  The more modern Christian stuff is great, I love it, but the lighter stuff, Christian or otherwise, is just not my cup of tea.  There’s a common reality among radio types: we generally don’t listen to the music we play on the air.  If you end up working at a station that plays the music you truly enjoy, you’re one of the lucky ones.  So while my tastes were already formed before I started on the air, they were even further solidified by the formats I worked in, and the bands I create on Figment are a reflection of that.

FN:  Are your bands inspired by any real bands or are they more figments of bands you would have liked to have formed yourself?

JTRD:  A little of both, actually.  <3 is based on the attitude of bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and All-American Rejects, but their formation is based somewhat on a band that some high school friends and I were talking about forming years ago.  Fitchburg Subdivision has roots in a more recent series of real-life events, though there was no talk of forming a real-life band.  The Doll House Girls are a take on girl groups like The Pussycat Dolls, Danity Kane and so forth.  Free To The Public is the one band I’ve created so far that really just came from a desire to do something different.

FN:  You mention that you are Top 40 kind of guy.  Do you think it’s harder for fake pop bands to get traction on Figment versus other types of musical genres?

JTRD:  That’s what I’ve experienced so far, yeah.  Most of the Figment community seems to be much more heavily rock-oriented.  The artists in other genres that are successful, like Zandergriff Miggs for example, seem to be the exception because they’re so unique.  And I like that, I think that’s a great challenge to have to meet, because it drives people to be more creative, to hone their talents and find out what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll be the first to admit, I’m still figuring that out.  I’m pretty new to the site, so given my relatively slow rate of putting albums out, it may be some time before I do, but it gives me something to work toward, and I appreciate that.

FN:  All of your bands have extensive back stories and a strong visual image.  What advice do you have to share with your fellow Figment players regarding the best way to go about creating a band on Figment?

JTRD:  Create, create, create.  I’m a very detail-oriented person when it comes to things that I have a passion for, so I try to go for as much realism as possible, and that generally leads me to come up with all sorts of additional ways to make a band seem like something you’d encounter in the real world.  That means back stories, a solid idea of who’s who, what each member’s musical tastes are and how that influences the band, what images reflect those influences and how they can come together to reflect the overall style of the group, what’s going to be identified with the band visually as opposed to the album and vice versa and, finally, song titles that fit both the musical style and the theme of the album if there is one.  In essence, it takes me a lot of planning to put a band together and just as much to put together an album.  If you go into detail and think everything out ahead of time instead of just grabbing an image and slapping your band’s name on top of it, you’re going to have a quality product.

FN:  Your album covers are really well done.  What tools do you use to create them?

JTRD:  Thank you!  I just use Photoshop, to tell you the truth.  What I think really goes into them to make them pop is the amount of work I put into them.  I have to start out with a specific idea of what it is I want before I begin, and I’ll find pictures or images online to get started with.  Some of them will be used, most of them won’t, at least not for the purpose I originally intended.  But once I get to a satisfactory point, I’ll put everything together.  It also helpes to have a good collection of fonts and a working knowledge of the effects in your image editor.  Just experimenting will sometimes lead me to what I’m looking for or something even better.

FN:  One of your most successful bands is Fitchburg Subdivision, who recently placed 3rd in our 2010 Figment Album Cover Design Contest and had a long run at #1 on our Hot Albums Chart.  Yet you yourself have said in comments on the blog that you were surprised by their success.  Why?
JTRD:  The cover itself was actually designed as one of those random picture / random Wikipedia article / random quotes things that floats around Facebook every once in a while.  To be entirely honest, I didn’t really put too much work into it.  Then when I realized it looked better than probably any album cover I’d ever designed before, I decided I should use it on Figment.  The track listing was what got more attention from me than the cover design, but somehow it all fit together.  What surprised me was that an album cover that just got thrown together on a whim late one night ended up becoming my best-selling album so far and skyrocketed to #1 before I even knew it!

FN:  Do you think there was something you did on the Fitchburg Subdivision that you might carry over to some of your other bands or do you think it was merely one element (album cover, song titles, back story) that led to their success?

JTRD:  I’m not sure.  I think the style of the photo I used on The Virtue Of Fools was probably the biggest selling point, but finding a picture like that again is going to be somewhat difficult, even if I take it myself.  The band’s logo got some praise from William Schaff in the album cover design contest, and I feel that was a compelling part of it as well, so I might see what I can do to play on that success.

FN:  Do you actively try to build and maintain a fan base for each of your bands on Figment?

JTRD:  I do a little promotion among my friends outside of Figment, but as for the site itself, I’ve just sort of put out what I do and let people find their way to my bands.  Part of that just has to do with the fact that I have less time than I’d like available to dedicate to such a hobby, but it’s also because I want to grow fan bases naturally instead of advertising myself, at least for now.  It gives me a better understanding of what’s working on the basis of what people actually like and enjoy as opposed to what’s selling through self-promotion.

FN:  What does it take for you to fan a band?  Buy/listen to their album?

JTRD:  Hmm… that’s a good question!  I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about it before.  I think, first of all, a band has to have a name that grabs my attention.  That’s actually the first thing I see; the band’s logo doesn’t necessarily attract my eye up front, even though I’m very much a visually-minded person when it comes to covers and such.  Genres also matter to me.  If I wouldn’t listen to it in real life, chances are I won’t buy it on Figment.  There ARE exceptions to that, however, and they’re usually because something about the band and/or album intrigues me; usually the cover or themes found in the music.

FN:  Any other players who you’d like to laud for their work?

JTRD:  TMTYTF has been a great source of support for me on the site.  He’s been a fan from almost the first day I joined up, and he’s helped promote some of my bands through the tours he’s set up.  He’s probably one of the most prolific members of the community, too.  I don’t know how he does it.  I like to joke that I have too much free time on my hands, but… geez, man, take a break!  Haha!  No, seriously, check his stuff out, it’s really enjoyable.

FN:  Have you always created fake bands?  Or is this something you thought would be fun after seeing Figment for the first time?

JTRD:  You know, come to think of it, I’ve been doing this as far back as the age of seven.  I remember my first fake band was with my next-door neighbor.  We called ourselves the Red Hot Rockers.  Not exactly creative, but what do you want from a couple of seven-year-olds?  I also recall one I came up with in high school called no ¿dea, which actually came about as a play on a joke about The Who being on stage and someone asking “who’s playing?”  The obvious response would be “yes,” and it would just devolve into a whole “Who’s On First?” routine from there.  I’ve come up with many other less memorable fake bands between and since then.

FN:  Your album covers tend to have a strong visual identity.  Do you seek out specific types of images to match the band or album content?  Or do you start with an image and create everything around that?

JTRD:  Well, as I said before, I tend to plan everything out ahead of time, so my covers are generally a compromise between the perfect image I have in my mind and what I’m able to piece together with what I can find that comes close.  In relation to the content of the album itself, the cover always has a relation to either the music or the band in terms of lyrical content or just general attitude.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

JTRD:  The Virtue Of Fools has had the most success for certain, and I’m very proud of it, but I think if I had to choose which I’m most proud of overall, it would have to be DHG’s first album, “Wanna Play?” They’re the group I’ve put the most work into so far, and even though the fan base is small and the genre isn’t exactly the most popular on the site, I’m satisfied with the result of my effort.  I think it’s likely the most realistic album I’ve created yet in terms of cover, style and content.

FN:  If someone asked you why you play Figment what would you tell them?

JTRD:  When I won third place in the album design contest and I showed my mother the copy of Record Store Days on a recent visit, she had a great summary description of the site: it’s like fantasy football for music lovers.  I love music, I’m a creative person and I enjoy competition.  Figment combines all of those factors into one amazing, very fun game!

7 Responses to “Figment Player Profile – JoshTheRadioDude”

  1. theHoseman Says:

    I really love these player profiles! There’s always a little mystery surrounding all the “players”…which is cool, and people usually give unconscious clues to their personality in the work they do, but I like getting a little insight into what makes people tick, what inspires them etc.
    JoshTheRadioDude has created some interesting and realistic bands. It’s obvious how much effort he puts in. Great to hear him talk about designing covers, rather than just “grabbing images and slapping your bands name on top”. I couldn’t agree more!
    Nice interview. Thanks Eric and JoshTheRadioDude!!

  2. Childofalma Says:

    I want more player profiles. There are so many interesting players on this site, not the least of which you, Joshtheradiodude. Good luck with your radio stations. This world needs some good radio.

  3. frizbee Says:

    Player Profiles is one of the best ideas Eric and the gang at Figment have ever had, in my opinion. I love finding out about my fellow Figment players. It sounds like Josh and I have quite a bit in common. I used to work for an internet radio station several years ago, and it was easily the best job I ever had. It was a friend of mine’s station called Headrock, which is sadly no longer up and running. The station went under back when the FCC decided to start trying to charge internet radio stations to exist. They wanted to start charging stations something like $3.00 per song, per album in the station’s rotation, and since Headrock had literally thousands of albums alone, we shut down. Luckily for future internet stations the attempt to charge them never got off the ground, but Headrock never came back.

    It’s nice to see Josh talk about actually designing his album covers and planning ahead with his bands. It seems like that’s a bit of a rarity among the Figment players. I see so many people that pump out material one right after the other, and that just seems so mass produced and void of creativity. I personally plan really far ahead to the point where I’ll release an album and already have the next 3 albums in mind.

    I wish Josh would do more with Free To The Public, I think that band has massive potential. And I totally knew that Fitchburg Subdivision was a c-d cover meme creation! The moment I saw it appear on the site, I immediately recognized that it wasn’t something that was planned. That’s not to say that it wasn’t good work, but I used to take part in the c-d cover meme for quite a long time, so it becomes easy to spot.

    Bring on more Player Profiles!

  4. TMTYTF Says:

    Good interview, I read the whole thing. Thanks JoshTheRadioDude for the kudos to me, it is appreciated. And yes, sure I log on a lot and produce a lot of stuff but I try to be as creative as possible with it. I really do plan way ahead sometimes. After Stonekrank released their 4th studio album, Smokin’, I already knew that I wanted the next album to be self-titled then followed by a white and a black album. Fun stuff. Who, oh who will be next??

  5. DarkImmortal Says:

    “Who, oh who will be next??”

    Let’s hope it’s not me TMTYTF 😛

  6. JoshTheRadioDude Says:

    No problem, TMTYTF, you deserve it! And thanks for the compliments, everyone!

    Frizbee, I do have some more plans in the works for FTTP, so stay tuned!

  7. Javdoc Says:

    Great stuff. Definitely am enjoying these profiles.

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