Where Are People Discussing the Music You Like?

Copyright (c) 1995-1998, Brian Edmonds

$Revision: 1.14 $, $Date: 1998/10/15 04:19:02 $

This FAQ is intended to aid people in locating network resources where musical discussion is taking place that they want to be part of. It is maintained by Brian Edmonds <brian@gweep.ca>; please send all additions, comments and corrections to this address. Please distribute this FAQ freely via any electronic medium, so long as the version header and copyright notice are left intact.

The full name (above) looks good, but is a bit unwieldy, so I'm just going to refer to this as the Finding Musical Information (FMI) FAQ until someone comes up with a snappier name/acronym.

The FMI FAQ is available in the following locations:


Mailing Lists

There are hundreds of music related mailing lists on the net. To find the one you want, check the List of Music Mailing Lists (LoMML), which is maintained by Mitchel Waas. It can be retrieved from

The LoMML includes subscription addresses, where you can send mail requesting be added to (and later removed from) the list, and also the address of the maintainer of the list, who you should contact if you have trouble subscribing, or encounter any other problems with the list.

Usenet News Groups

For those still in the Information Dark Ages, Usenet News (or just news) is a worldwide system for distributing information and discussion, which is divided into a few thousand categories, or newsgroups. Introductory information on Usenet can be found in any of the following locations (this is also posted every two weeks to news.announce.newusers):

The two primary areas on Usenet where musical discussion can be found are the rec.music and alt.music hierarchies, as well as a some in alt.rock-n-roll (an in-joke with alt.sex and alt.drugs). If you're going to subscribe to any music newsgroups, then rec.music.info is an excellent place to start. It is a moderated group which carries mostly FAQs, information on mailing lists, and other musical resources.

The rec.music hierarchy is part of the ``Big-8'', and as such group names are centrally controlled. Big-8 groups are generally widely available, and if your site carries news at all, you stand a good chance of having these already. For a current list of all Big-8 groups, including those under rec.music, look in the newsgroup news.lists for postings titled ``List of Active Newsgroups'', or send email to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with the following lines in the body:
send usenet/news.lists/List_of_Active_Newsgroups,_Part_I
send usenet/news.lists/List_of_Active_Newsgroups,_Part_II

In contrast, the alt hierarchy is largely an exercise in anarchy and compromise. Anyone can send a creation message for a new group, but there is little guarantee that many news admins will act on it, so getting access to alt.music groups at your site can potentially be an exercise in patience and diplomacy. For a current list of alt.music groups, check out any of the following resource (this list is also posted montly to rec.music.info):

Internet Relay Chat

I have used Internet Relay Chat (IRC) only a few times in my life, but it is very popular with many people. I need someone with experience in IRC to write this section for me. Keep it short by referencing existing FAQs wherever possible.

Until this actually happens, please refer to the IRC FAQ, which is available at the following locations:

World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (WWW) is a global hypertext system initially developed at CERN. You use a client such as Mosaic, Netscape, or lynx to access any of thousands of databases of text, sound, pictures, and even movies from around the world. The web is oriented much more towards information distribution than discussion, but the amount of data available is potentially overwhelming. For more information, check out any of the following locations:

Lists of musical resources on the web are available from the following sites:

For information on setting up your own web based information, read the Web Guide, available from the sites given at the start of this section.

What if I couldn't find anything?

Well, you can always give up now, as this is where it starts to get potentially tricky and time consuming. Alternatively, you can try and start a discussion on one of the more general musical forums, such as the Usenet newsgroup rec.music.misc.

Or, if you're a real go-getter, you can create the resource yourself, and contribute your bit to the explosion of network resources. Please be sure that no existing forum already covers the area you're interested in, as needless duplication of coverage tends to fragment discussion, and usually ends up frustrating people.

Generally, the best place to start is to create a mailing list. If you don't know how to do this yourself, or lack the resources, then you should approach whoever provides you with your net connection and ask them if they can also provide you with a mailing list. For a guide on how to start a mailing list, see one of the following:

Mailing lists are great, as they can reach almost everyone on the net -- all you need to participate is email. The next step up in difficulty is to create a Usenet newsgroup. In order to create a newsgroup, your topic should be international in interest, and have sufficiently wide popularity that a mailing list server could not reasonably handle the number of subscribers and/or postings. Of course, the best way to demonstrate such popularity is to run a mailing list that has grown too big to manage.

Once you're confident of popular support, you can issue a Request For Discussion (RFD) for a rec.music group. RFDs must be crossposted to news.groups and news.announce.newgroups, and may also be crossposted to relevant newsgroups and/or mailing lists. They will appear after they have been approved by the moderator of news.announce.newgroups, and discussion should flow into a Call For Votes (CFV), and your group will pass or fail as the vote dictates. Before attempting this process, you should read the group creation guidelines, which are posted regularly in news.announce.newusers, and can also be obtained by sending mail to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with the following two lines in the body of the message:
send usenet/news.groups/How_to_Create_a_New_Usenet_Newsgroup
send usenet/news.groups/Usenet_Newsgroup_Creation_Companion

Another option is to create a newsgroup in the alt.music hierarchy. The alt hierarchy procedures are much less structured than the Big-8 groups, but it also suffers from poorer distribution as a result. New alt groups are proposed in the group alt.config, and you should read the alt creation guide before attempting this. The guide is available from the following sources:

If you're going to take the responsibility for sending your own control message to create an alt group, please read the FAQ referenced below. It will explain what should and should not be included in a newgroup control message.

But this subject deserves a newsgroup!

Sorry, but there is no charter of rights for newsgroups. No individual, group or idea has an inherent right to a newsgroup either in alt or the Big-8. There may be some hierarchy which explicity states otherwise, but I haven't seen it. Your newsgroup will be considered for creation after it has been shown that the proposed subject fulfils the following four criteria:

Your topic must be reasonably expected to still be interesting in five years. A new band which has just released one or two records is not considered to be a good risk in this category.
Your topic must be of worldwide interest. I doubt that enough readers in Norway, or even Rhode Island are sufficiently interested in an Athens, Georgia garage band that it would make sense to send them news on it. Investigate local hierarchies in this case.
There must not already be a group somewhere in the Big-8 or alt which covers your topic. Except in the case that,
There is such a group, but it is very busy (at least a hundred new posts every day) and postings on your topic represent a sizable portion (at least a quarter) of the existing discussion.

In the Big-8 the news.announce.newgroups moderator and group-advice mailing list cooperate to ensure that these criteria are fulfilled, and the ``voting'' process attempts to ensure there are at least one hundred people interested in participating in a new group before it is created.

Things are more loosely organized in alt, and it is largely up to each group proponent to determine for him or herself if a proposed group is appropriate before proposing it. After the proposal is made it will likely become clear in the discussion on alt.config if your decision was ill-informed. Consider any advice you receive carefully, as many of these people have a great deal of experience on how the newsgroup creation process works.

If you're turned down on a newsgroup proposal, but think your proposal has been misjudged, your best appeal is hard numbers. Start a mailing list, and get the hundreds of subscribers that you know are out there. Once you have this means to organize them all, go back and propose a Big-8 group again and be ready to provide your subscriber list as proof of widespread interest. Once the proposal goes to a vote, the yes votes from the members of your mailing list should be able to pass it easily.


The following people helped out in the creation of this FAQ, either consciously, or through information previously provided in other locations.

David Barr <barr@pop.psu.edu>
Jonathan Grobe <grobe@ins.infonet.net>
Kevin Hughes <kevinh@pulua.hcc.hawaii.edu>
Mandar M. Mirashi <mmmirash@mailhost.ecn.uoknor.edu>
Aliza R. Panitz <buglady@bronze.lcs.mit.edu>
Mitchel Waas <mwaas@shadow.net>
Myra Wong <mkwong@ucsd.edu>

Brian Edmonds, October 14, 1998