Electric Connections--Coming out of a drunken blackout at Burt's one night, I found myself in a conversation with Tommy Mansfield about what it takes to survive the music business as an underground act. Tommy is the rhythm section of Colorado Springs' glam-punk trio The Mansfields, which had just played an all-ages show that night at the Cell Theatre. They try to book all-ages shows as often as they can, he explained, regardless of what the turnout is like. I mean, have you heard of them? Probably not. Anyway, here's the kicker: The Mansfields have toured the United States and headlined in Europe--twice. And they booked it all entirely through myspace.com.
I don't think anyone could have predicted just how powerful a tool MySpace has become as a musician's resource. Still, the Rupert Murdoch-owned website has developed some creepy licensing agreements that could swindle ownership rights away from artists who upload their work onto the site. (See "Thin Line," May 18-24). In light of its shadowy corporate interests, should you swear off MySpace completely?
I'm looking at it this way: I try to buy New Mexico products from local vendors. By and large, I support local musicians and artists at locally owned venues. Why should I look at the Internet any differently?
I say, surf locally, think globally. How the hell do I propose you do that? Pool your resources. Keep yourself informed on local forum- and event-driven websites like www.rocksquawk.com and www.burque.info, and make sure you take advantage of two new state- and city-sponsored resource sites.
First, the Albuquerque Music Office website just launched a few weeks ago at www.cabq.gov/music. (For the sake of full disclosure, I'm on the Albuquerque Music Advisory Board which has a part in the website.) At the moment, the site is pretty stripped down, but it's functional and an encouraging step in the right direction from the city. Its two main draws are a news and events page, which features bigger, upcoming city-sponsored events (you won't be able to post your gig at the Blue Dragon there, for example), and a music business directory for the Greater Albuquerque area. The directory is useful for musicians seeking services like photography or finding a record label, but not for finding other musicians or self-promotion.
Celebrating its first anniversary is www.newmexicomusic.org, which is a state-run, glossy and highly interactive site. New Mexico Music Commissioner Nancy Laughlin admits to being somewhat of a technical dud, so she's taken extra precautions to make the site user-friendly.
Two directories are broken down into music-related business contacts and an artist database, which is searchable by music style or name. True to Nancy’s word, it's easy to post information about your group or business. Musicians can even upload sample mp3s and photos onto their listing.
The rest of the site is loaded down with upcoming events, music news and other helpful services. The commission is also attempting to work as a free referral network for New Mexico's burgeoning film industry, linking local musicians with projects. If you need help finding local talent for your movie, Nancy says to call the commission at (505) 827-6454.