Can musicpage.com become a valuable tool for ‘professional musicians’? Grant Hart, Fizzle Like a Flood tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I’m always surprised at the number of people who think I write about music for a living. I don’t. My real job — the one that pays the bills — involves managing rather large and complex websites (and no, Lazy-i.com isn’t one of them). So I know the anxiety involved in developing and launching a website. Will everything work when you go to production? Will it be able to handle the traffic?
The reason for the above caveat will become apparent in just a few paragraphs.
Last night David Codr hosted an invitation-only launch party at The Waiting Room for his new website, musicpage.com (a winner of a domain name). If you judge these sorts of events by the catering and booze, this one was a homerun. There were literally piles of food stacked on tables throughout the bar as well as a team of attractive hostesses walking around with platters of good-tasting grub.
As for the crowd, it was like stepping into a time machine set to 1995. I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in years, folks who were involved with the Omaha music scene pre-Saddle Creek, and almost no one associated with the modern day (or even pre-Creek era) indie music scene. And I wasn’t surprised. It always seemed like Codr’s former project, the Midwest Music Directory (and whatever it evolved into) was focused on bands looking for mainstream success; the kind of acts that actively seek out “agents” and managers, like Reuben Kincade or Spinal Tap’s Ian Faith. I don’t know any indie bands that have a “manager” per se. Most handle that sort of thing on their own.
On the blackened stage a huge projection screen showed a countdown clock ticking down the seconds until the official launch of musicpage.com, and at 8 p.m. sharp, the moment arrived with a wave of applause from the 100 or so people on hand. Codr proceeded to walk people through the website, which he refered to as a “community” — a community not designed for music fans, but rather for music professionals.
The site will be a database that houses profiles that include detailed contact and production specs. “For example, a band profile will list different contact tabs where their manager, agent, publicist, label or tour manager’s info is displayed as links that can take you to their profiles,” Codr told me a couple weeks ago. “Another example would be the venue profiles — we list a bunch of production specs (capacity, format, age limits, average crowd age, how many monitor mixes, lighting specs, etc.), along with the venue’s bio, booking policy, linked contacts and even suggested local press to contact.”
He also said the site will have “organizational features,” like online notes. “Users can post notes to any profile on the community,” he said. “But only the person who adds the notes can read them. So if you’re talking to someone and there is some information you want to remember for the next time you talk to that person, you just add it to the profile notes.”
Other features include gig swaps for bands, and music industry help wanted ads (musicians wanted, bands wanted, studio looking for an engineer, etc).
You can access musicpage.com right now; a lot of the basic information is accessible without a user account. “By importing all of the Music Phone Book’s data, we will be the largest online community for the music industry the day we go live,” Codr said.
But since some of the data was pulled in from their old directory, you’ll see contact info for some old ghosts like somedaynever.com, which (sadly) hasn’t been around in many, many years. One assumes that someone will go through and purge the site of this outdated data. And of course, there’s a ton of stuff missing. But hey, the site’s only been live for less than 24 hours, right?
So how does a site like this make money? Apparently through “All Access” memberships, which you can read about here, and eventually through advertising. This morning I set up an account for Lazy-i, added my profile information, uploaded my logo and submitted, then received a confirmation email. Unfortunately, when I tried to log in, I got a “500 error” which means the server crashed — these are the kinds of bumps in the road that show up whenever you launch a new website. Codr got in touch with me over lunch and explained that the dash in “Lazy-i” was fucking up the system — seems I’m always throwing a wrench into things. I’m up and running now.
The biggest pluses — the overall design is clean and easy to navigate. The “free” information holds a lot of promise not only for pros but for fans (whether they want fans in there or not). And the domain name — musicpage.com — a million dollar URL.
The biggest minus: The site isn’t optimized for smart phone use — every serious promoter/manager/club owner lives on an iPhone or Blackberry.
The biggest question: Is a site like this necessary in the Facebook age? Every band now has a website. Every venue has a website. In fact, everyone involved in the music business professionally — studios, promo agencies, etc. — has a webpage. Our friends at Google do a pretty good job of finding these sites for us. So what do we need musicpage.com for?
The answer (I think) is that Codr views musicpage not so much as a website but as a tool that lets pros leverage national (and local) contacts and information. He calls it a “community,” which implies social media connotations that I don’t see. Is there an integration point with Facebook or Twitter? Not that I’ve discovered. And these days, everyone is living on FB and Twitter. It is a natural step from Codr’s old analog Music Phonebook. If it can attract a national following, he might be onto something…
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Tonight former Husker Du drummer Grant Hart brings his solo show to The Waiting Room. Shortly after the Huskers broke up in the ’80s, Hart moved out from behind the drum set, picked up a guitar and became the frontman in Nova Mob. His last solo album, Hot Wax, was released in 2009. It’s rare that you get a chance to see a living legend; tonight’s one of those nights. Opening is Students of Crime (featuring Robert Thornton) and the long-awaited return of Fizzle Like a Flood. $10, 9 p.m.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.