The Local Original: CL debuts its new weekly column covering all aspects of the Suncoast original music scene

Published September 29, 2010

Since we announced the launch of our “new and improved” Soundboard section in August, it’s been very encouraging to see groups all over the Suncoast rising up to do their part in support of the local original music scene. While there’s been significant movement in the camaraderie department, I haven’t seen an influx of great press photos and bios from artists, and loaded booking schedules from venues, pouring into my inbox every week like I expected. This brought me to the realization that while bands and venues would like to promote themselves and their establishments to the fullest potential, they haven’t necessarily been exposed to the best ways of making that happen.

So, in the spirit of musical community, I’ve decided to start this weekly column to provide readers with an insider’s view of what’s happening in the scene and how they can contribute to its improvement, and to give local artists and venue owners some tips on how to get the word out. I won’t be telling people what to do, but rather explaining what I and other local musicians are doing to further their careers, and also giving incite into the interactions and conversations I have with those involved in the local scene.

As a music artist and former booking agent for a venue, I am fully aware of the amount of upfront legwork and costs involved in the promotion process. Photo shoots, recording studios, websites, fliers, publicists and press kits cost time and money — two things many musicians and venues are pretty short on these days. Fortunately, social media has become a surprisingly easy and cheap way to get your music and events to potential fans.

This has been a productive week in the ongoing effort to push my music to the masses — due largely to ReverbNation.com. If you’re not on it, you better get with it. From statistics of who’s listening, to databases of potential gigs, to handy widgets that can be easily added to any website, RN has a limitless supply of largely free resources for artists and venues.

When you sign up, the site gives you a checklist taking you through the entire promotional process, resulting in an impressive professional online press kit that can be sent to anyone with the press of a button. And not only do they guide you, but they help build your fanbase. ReverbNation users have long had the ability to sync their RN profile with their MySpace page, but with the launch of Facebook’s new “My Band” application, it’s now possible to do the same with your FB fan page.

Those of us on the Suncoast are also blessed with local sites to help spread our art and gig dates. WhereWillWeGoTonight.com— which provides CL with some of the information in our Soundboard listings — is an online live music database that allows artists and venues to create profiles, and venue owners to update their live entertainment schedules at will. WWWGT charges a fee to have events featured on its website, but entering shows into the database is free. Just send an email to info@gotonight.infoasking for your WWWGT username and password, and add in your shows.

SarasotaMusicScene.com, another new local site, is focused primarily on original music. SMS also allows local artists to set up profiles, providing yet another way to get ears to your product. The folks behind the site are the same people who put together theNoise Ordinance CD compilation in February and are actively involved in promoting, attending and reviewing as many original Suncoast shows as possible. We posted our first SMS review on the CL blog last week and we plan to post many more in the future.

The rise of these sites are a promising development for local artists and venues, adding new outlets to both inform current and potential fans and interact with their musical peeps. I’ll track the progress of our vibrant Suncoast music scene every week in this column as we head into the busy season, as well as introduce other potential tactics local bands and venues can use to promote themselves. Until next week, keep rockin’ this town.

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