Sweatshop’s back (sort of); HN’s ‘How to Get Covered’ overtime; The Renderers, Vegetable Deluxe tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
When The Sweatshop announced it was closing its doors, I was told that a new owner was taking over the venue who had no interest in continuing the gallery’s live performances that were held in the garage out back.
Whoever told me that was wrong.
Last week the folks who run Petshop, the gallery right next door to Sweatshop at 2725 N 62nd Street, announced that “Starting Oct. 1, the Sweatshop space at 2727 will become one with the Petshop space at 2725, all under the name Petshop.”
In addition, the newly merged gallery will continue to book live music. From the Petshop statement:
“Although the well-associated name Sweatshop will be leaving, Petshop will continue to honor the name’s legacy and role in the local and national music and art scenes. Local musician and artist, Nick Holden will be taking over the music calendar for Petshop, with plans to curate shows for the space. Expect the return of live music to the space starting on Benson First Friday Nov. 6. Details TBA. For booking inquiries, please email email@example.com
“Sam Parker and partner Chris Aponick, of Perpetual Nerves, have also been long-time contributors on the music side of the space, most notably for their role in organizing Sweatfest (July 2015). They will continue to book music for the space, working through Holden.”
Aponick confirmed the above. It’s great news as Sweatshop has become a go-to venue for all-ages “house show”-type indie and punk shows featuring notable national touring bands.
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A week or so ago, Andrew Stellmon of Hear Nebraska reached out via email asking for an interview on the topic of what bands and musicians need to do to get covered in the press. The article went online last Thursday and includes comments from Kevin Coffey of the Omaha World-Herald, Caroline Borolla of press agent Riot Act Media and local music manager Emily Engles, who in addition to managing Rock Paper Dynamite and Matt Cox (among others) also is the President of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards Board of Directors.
Check out the story here. It became pretty obvious after reading the story and seeing who else was interviewed that I blew the assignment. I thought the article was targeting bands trying to get national press, not local bands trying to get local press — in that instance, everything will work, from press releases to sending Soundcloud links, etc.
Anyway, as result, a lot of (actually most) of what I sent Stellmon didn’t make it into the article, but being a completest and because I hate seeing anything I’ve written go unread, here are the comments I sent Stellmon, for the record:
Q: Why is it important for the press and musicians/bands to understand their relationship with each other?
Lazy-i: Not sure I understand the question. I’m not sure it is important from the standpoint of a musician as an artist or the standpoint of a journalist trying to get a story. The way they act toward each other is how they define their relationship.
Q: For an aspiring musician/band, what comprises an effective approach to seeking coverage?
Lazy-i: Depends on what the musician/band is trying to accomplish. If the goal is to create art, the musician will continue to create art regardless of the coverage s/he receives. If you believe in your music — and you’re making quality music — the press will find you.
Q: When approaching a media outlet for coverage, especially by email, what are three things that a band should include in its communication? Alternatively, if you receive communication from a band seeking coverage, what three things do you look for in an email, etc?
Lazy-i: The answers to both questions are likely the same. I don’t have time to listen to all the Soundcloud/Bandcamp links that I receive via email. However, if the band sends me a complete download of their recording, I’m more apt to listen to it because I can add it to my iTunes for listening wherever I’m at. If the band sends me a CD in the mail, I’m even more likely to listen to it; and if they send me a vinyl copy of their record I feel almost obligated to listen to it and comment.
These days time permits me to only listen to submissions from local bands I’m already familiar with or national bands that are either signed to a known label or are associated with a band that’s I’ve heard of or is signed to a known label. If I’ve never heard of the band or its label, the odds of me listening to or even finishing reading their email is remote.
An exception is made for touring bands that are playing at venues that I like or respect and that book the style of music I listen to. Clubs like The Waiting Room, Reverb, Slowdown, O’Leaver’s, MAS, Sweatshop (now defunct) are prime examples. I’m apt to listen to the music just to see if it’s something I might want to cover.
Q: Is there anything else you would add?
Lazy-i: On one hand, technology has made it easy and cheap for bands to record and distribute their music. On the other hand, because almost anyone can record their own music on a laptop and upload it to a website, there literally are thousands of people trying to get their music heard and written about. That glut of online music is making it nearly impossible for bands to get their music heard beyond their circle of friends and family. Just like it’s always been, the only way to break through is by touring and live performances because no one has time to listen to all the anonymous music being uploaded to Soundcloud/Bandcamp/Youtube, especially in an era when all music is virtually free via Spotify/Apple Music.
That being said, because of the enormous glut of available music, the role of the music critic has never been more important. Sure, anyone can listen to anything online at any time virtually for free, but that doesn’t mean they have the TIME to listen to it. Critics help listeners decide what they should spend their time listening to.
An addendum to the above: Just this past weekend I discussed this very topic with a couple musicians who have toured nationally at some point in their careers, and they agreed that –despite the advent of technology — touring is the only effective way to get your music heard by an audience outside of your community. It’s common sense.
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There’s another big show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The Renderers will be in the house. The band from Christchurch, New Zealand, was formed in 1989 by Maryrose Crook and her husband Brian (of The Terminals). They have released records on Flying Nun Records, Merge Records, Ajax Records, Siltbreeze Records, among others. Simon Joyner has toured with The Renderers. As Joe Biden would say, this is a big fucking deal. Hopefully Ian will have the tapes rolling, as I’d love to see this band represented in Live at O’Leaver’s. Headlining the show is a reunion of The Subtropics. Also on the bill is Vegetable Deluxe, a new project by ex-Brimstone Howl guitarist Nick Waggoner. $5, 9:30 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.