Wednesday, July 17

Blog and roll


Otherwise unknown bands are going online for exposure in lieu of traditional methods

In years past, a new wave crooner such as Baby Dayliner on his
first national tour might have been sponsored by left-leaning radio
stations such as KCRW.

Instead, when Dayliner (a.k.a. Ethan Marunas) brings his one-man
show to the Troubadour on Oct. 12 in support of fellow New Yorkers,
The National, he’ll be promoted by word-of-blog.

Despite regular headlining gigs at the Mercury Lounge in his
native New York City, Marunas can attribute some of his emergent
national popularity to the music blog Music (For Robots), which is
presenting his national tour.

“It’s uncharted territory,” said Mark Willett,
a chief contributor to Music (For Robots) who organizes the
blog’s Los Angeles segment. “This is (Baby
Dayliner’s) first national tour and also the first national
tour that we are presenting. I figure, you always see tours by
major companies ““ a cigarette brand tour or a beer brand
tour. … We just thought a music blog tour would help get our name
out there and raise some awareness for some cool and different
bands.”

Amid the ever-growing slew of new music, blogs such as
Willett’s have become a fundamental haven not only for the
readers seeking a means to filter through the aural onslaught, but
also for the bands themselves.

For an artist such as Baby Dayliner, with his innovative and
often downright strange mix of solo cabaret, hip-hop and
electro-pop, it is often difficult to accumulate much publicity in
traditional media outlets.

“The format for (my shows) is just comprised of one person
““ me. So I had this idea for a long time that it just
wouldn’t work on the road,” Marunas said. “And
not because the rest of the states aren’t necessarily
forward-thinking but because … it takes people a long time to get
acclimated to this sort of new concept without them thinking that
I’m trying to pull the world over.”

The solution for Baby Dayliner, as well as many current
independent musicians, lies in the vast potential of the music (or
MP3) blog.

With their ability to cross national, international and, most
importantly, mainstream borders, popular music blogs such as Music
(For Robots), Stereogum, Gorilla vs. Bear and Soul Sides have made
their way onto many a music aficionado’s bookmark bar.

There, they offer information, MP3s and personal opinions to an
eager audience of readers, while also providing the necessary
exposure to promising but often overlooked new artists. Music (For
Robots) and Soul Sides have even curated compilation albums of
their favorite artists.

“There are some bands that just may not necessarily appeal
right away to Rolling Stone or MTV or something like that. We can
write about whatever because we’re not pigeon-holed,”
Willett said.

“(Some artists) just need a promotional outlet that is
also kind of immediate. When I got (“˜Critics Pass
Away,’ Baby Dayliner’s latest album) from Brassland, I
listened to it and said, “˜I can write something about this
today,’ without having to worry about whether … our
subscription base is gonna be interested.”

Besides the immediacy of the publicity, independent artists are
increasingly gravitating toward music blogs over large-scale
publicity projects because blogs operate on a more personal level,
offering a symbiotic promotion of both the band and the blog,
without the stake of profits or reputation looming over both.

“It’s very laid back. (Music (For Robots) has) a
great reputation for being a fair and interesting blog site, but
the guys are just fans too. They felt like they could do a bit of
publicity for us because … they like us. There’s really not
a lot of ego involved,” Marunas said.

“It just seems to work,” said Chris Cantalini of
Gorilla vs. Bear, a Dallas-based music blog that has in the past
put on shows for bands including Ratatat and Tapes ‘n
Tapes.

“We never really see it as a symbiotic thing, but
it’s definitely seemed to work out that way. The main benefit
is having a chance to bring bands that I love out to … play shows
when they might have otherwise skipped us.”

Doing everything from giving people an opportunity to kill time
at work to offering an increasing number of blog-sponsored tours
and concerts, blogs have become a panacea for the independently
inclined music culture by providing information on who to listen to
while simultaneously bringing them to a city near you, even if, in
the case of Baby Dayliner, that consists of a man with a pompadour
in a shiny button-down suit.

“I think a band like Baby Dayliner, yeah, is pretty weird
but we’re … still bringing (him) out here. We’re able
to take the risk because there’s nothing at stake. It’s
all just music,” Willett said.

“Honestly, we don’t know how long people are going
to be reading this site and how long we’re going to hold our
credibility, so for right now, it’s just like, “˜Why
not? Let’s just see how this works out.’”

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