Instructions for creating your own Poor Music Tape!

Poor Music: An Interactive Guerilla Art Project

  1. Come up with a concept for the tape. Imagine some kind of home recording situation that you might be able to mimic and distort through your own talents. We suggest you choose a project that might conceivably have come from, say, the early 1980’s at the very latest. There’s something about the perceived time distance that makes things all the more interesting for the listener, especially if you sneak in a few subtle things that may sound “ahead of their time.” Also, remember that even though the project is called “Poor Music,” you can record any kind of sound you want.
  2. Record the music/sound/speech. The key here is to make it somewhat quirky, but not so quirky that you let on right away that this might not be “for real.” You want to keep your audience guessing, so you can’t get TOO weird or slickly produced. This can be an interesting artistic challenge in and of itself (and at the very least will allow you to create a tape pretty quickly, since you won’t be laboring over creating something “perfect”). We also suggest that you try to fill a tape completely, or at least one full side. This will ensure that the listener has to endure the whole thing in order to be rewarded with the announcement at the end. You need to give them lots of time to get sucked into the deceit before they’re let off the hook. (We realize that the vast majority of listeners will never get that far, but that just makes it all the more rewarding for those that do.) Once you’ve created your tape, download this .mp3 of the official Poor Music Announcement and record it at the very end of the tape. We’d like to keep this aspect of the series as consistent as possible, so that there’s something really specific tying the tapes together. So please use the announcement we’ve recorded.
  3. Dub the tape off onto as many used cassettes as you want, from one copy to…? It’s best to use old tapes that you’ve actually bought at the thrift stores yourself. In any event, try to use tapes that look like they were made in the 1970’s or early 80’s.
  4. Write your description/title on the tape, preferably with a fake date on it. It’s better to write descriptions rather than titles (it makes the recording seem much less of a formal effort), and the more legible-but-rough-hewn you can make it look, the better. You can write the same thing on each tape (one copy for each thrift store) or you can write variations on a theme, with each tape having a unique title. Just make sure not to write “This is a Poor Music Tape” or anything like that on it.
  5. Make the rounds of your local thrift stores and deposit the tapes in the used cassette bins. It’s best to personally place the tapes in the bins, as opposed to officially donating the tapes, because then you can position them strategically so that they catch the eye of anyone who looks into the bin (at least until someone disturbs them). Whatever you do, just don’t put two copies of the same tape in the same store!
  6. AFTER you’ve ACTUALLY deposited the tapes in the thrifts, email pea with the vital info on your tape- ie, the title, the artist, a description of the recording, how many tapes were made, and the city in which you live. Don’t bother listing all the thrifts you’ve deposited tapes in, though- that should be secret! We’ll post the info on the website so that anyone who may end up here can identify your tape and learn about others. It would also be cool if you’d mail us a copy of your tape for our archives. Pea’s mailing address is:

    Pea Hicks
    2722 Ridge View Dr.
    San Diego, CA

  7. If you like, you can go back after a few days and check to see if your tapes are still there or not. Also, keep an eye on the website to see if anyone has posted comments about your tape.
  8. Of course, We encourage you to repeat the whole process as many times as you want!
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