Posted tagged ‘iLike’

An Interview with JD Eicher & The Goodnights

November 11, 2009
JD Eicher & The Goodnights
You can usually tell when an artist or a band takes themselves seriously…because it shows, not only in how they perform, but also in how they represent themselves.  JD Eicher & The Goodnights fit the profile.  They’re a pop/rock group with members based out of Youngstown, Ohio and and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’ve had a chance to split a few shows with them in the last few months and had a good feeling this post would show up sooner than later.

Frontman JD Eicher took the time to answer a few questions about about what it takes to be an independent, the pros and cons of joining NACA,  day-to-day responsibilities, and social networking.

1.) How long have JD Eicher & The Goodnights been together?
We’re into our third year of playing together.  I started out as a solo act two years prior to our forming.

2.) Several months back, Grassrootsy  did a write-up on what it takes to start a band. What do you feel is the biggest challenge when it comes to maintaining a band? And do you guys split up responsibilities?
Probably the biggest challenge is making stuff work with everyone’s schedule.  For example, we’ve never been able to lock in a definite rehearsal time.  We pretty much go week by week.

As far as responsibilities go, being an independent band can get surprisingly overwhelming very quickly.  There are a lot of responsibilities that seem to pass under the radar until you’re actually doing this full-time.  Our full band is a five-piece, so we do try to spread out some of the work, but it’s hard to always keep everything going.  For example, I’m kind of the stand-in “manager” for the time being, and I handle most correspondence, planning, and large-scale booking.   Dan is our graphic designer and does a lot of booking as well. And Ryan manages the mailing list, which can get pretty time-consuming.  Obviously it’s more involved than that, but you get the idea

3.) Your website is extremely well done, not to mention your merch setup at shows.  Grassrootsy talks alot about Image. Do you feel that people (fans and bookers) take you more seriously because you take yourself seriously?
Definitely.  It’s unfortunate that image plays such a big role, but it does.  We certainly invested some time and money into our merch selection and set-up, and a professional-looking website is really important.  Branding is imperative for original artists, and these elements certainly play a role.

This is a good time to plug our keyboardist, Dan Prokop, who designed our website!  In addition to playing in the band, he is also a freelance designer, and he’s always looking for clients:; 412-874-6979.  This business is all about networking, right?

4.) What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better?
Tough one. Not sure that there is just one thing, so I’m gonna cheat on this answer and say that the single most important thing an artist can do for promotion is to embrace all the tools available.  Have a Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, mailing list, profile, etc.  Push your stuff to local media, hang up flyers where you’re playing, etc.  Gone are the days when a popular Myspace was all you needed.  You never know where you’re next fan is coming from, so you really can’t afford to put all your eggs in one basket.
Have multiple baskets.

5.) I know that you’ve tried NACA before. Indie artists often have reservations about joining NACA because its a huge financial investment. Give us your honest thoughts on joining NACA and attending a conference.
I do think it’s a valuable resource for artists, but it is a huge, up-front investment…and by the time you’re done, it costs way more than you originally thought it would.  That being said, there are musicians that make their entire living from NACA bookings, and that is possible – it seems like it takes a few years to really get rolling, though.  Colleges also seem to favor solo-acoustic pop artists.  Solo acts are less-expensive, and pop acts are more universal by definition.  It’s also important to be a showcasing artist in order to lock in a large number of gigs.  The artists who perform at NACA always do better because the students get to see/hear them.  It’s not impossible to book if you don’t showcase, though.

All this being said, I think NACA is a useful tool.  A lot of artists complain about the money and politics behind it all, and that may all be true, but it’s one of the few opportunities where you can get face time with hundreds of talent buyers at one time. I just finished my last conference, and it looks like I will be able to make back the money I spent and maybe net a small profit, but I won’t know for sure until I’ve locked up my pending gigs.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

6.) JD, you’re a full-time musician. Tell us what your day-to-day is like.
Incredible.  I’m usually wind-surfing, buying guitars, or hanging out with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Not. It’s actually incredibly mundane   I spend most of my time in front of a spreadsheet managing contacts and calling venues.  I feel like I’m more of an accountant than a musician sometimes, but it’s worth it.  I do it all because I love to write and play music.  It’s just really important to stay on top of things, so whether I’m booking like a maniac or answering interview questions for an awesome blog, I’m always investing a full workday.  My hope is that, eventually, something will give.  For those few hours on stage each week, it all makes sense.

JD Eicher & The Goodnights Online:



Incredible Resources You’ve Never Heard About #5

September 10, 2009


Over the past few years, several music-related websites have increased in popularity due to the fact that they put every-day people in charge of the decision-making.  Sites like iLike  allow users to vote their favorite artists into the limelight.  It’s much like the blog phenomenon that took place 5 years ago; everyday bloggers became the go-to source for reviews on books, movies, and music…whereas 10 years ago, only official review sites were thought to be credible.

That said, here are a few resources that are taking the place of traditional music review sites.

TheSixtyOne describes itself as a website that “makes music culture more democratic: artists upload their work for review, but rather than allow a stuffy suit in a boardroom to decide what’s good, thousands of listeners do.”

TheSixtyOne is one of the sites that will gain much popularity in the coming year.  It’s a great thing when a bunch of random music lovers and makers, like yourself, can determine what everyone hears…as opposed to pop radio stations that play the “Top 10”, five times a day. TheSixtyOne organizes submitted music according to “top songs”, “hot right now”, “recently posted”, and “creative commons”.   Your song rises in ranking depending on how many times a listener votes for it.  Users can also create social groups to talk about specific genres and types of songs.  Based on user picks, TheSixtyOne also acts as a radio station, playing the top songs.

I did a  quick search on this site and realized that Grassrootsy has never mentioned Ourstage – one of the primary “fans decide” resources out there.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ourstage and have even had a few close friends get on the “Top 10” chart of their specific genre. So assuming that some readers are unfamiliar with the site, here’s a quick look.

Ourstage is often described as a community talent contest. Visitors vote on music in genres ranging from hip-hop, folk, gospel, hard rock, singer/songwriter, and some 30+ others.  Ourstage calls each primary category a “channel”. Each month, the top 10 songs in each channel go head-to-head for $100.  The winner from each channel competes for $5,000. Ourstage runs many other contests but to get an idea of how it works, visit their contest page.

Artists can also create a fan page, for fans to join.  I know its sounds like another myspace or facebook, but its a great way to keep your voters interested in your music and keep the communication going long after the voting is done. It’ll aslo give you a committed group of people that will probably vote for you when you enter a song into a future contest.

The wonderful thing about Ourstage is that you’re not likely to be familiar with any of the artists on the website. It has gained a strong reputation for being a place to experience fresh, new, underground and undiscovered music.


If you’re familiar with any other similar democratice resources out there, please post below. Grassrootsy thrives on new information.

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Creating Content – Giving People Something to Talk About #2

February 5, 2009
Matt Wertz

Matt Wertz

To read the first part of this blog, visit Creating Content #1. Here are some additional ways to create content for your website(s).

I used to be extremely skeptically of using widgets on my page but everyone is using them these days and they are such a great way to simply beef up your page(s). What’s a widget?  I’ts basically a small representation of something bigger.  For example, if you have a photo album on Photobucket, Photobucket will create a slideshow box that will fit compactly on your myspace (or anywhere else for that matter). This is a widget. 

Check out Matt Wertz’s myspace page.  He uses widgets by iLike, Flektor (to create a poll), Slide (to show of his pics in a slideshow).  Alot of artists are using Eventful.  If web surfers click on the famous “demand it” button, that lets an artist know that fans want them to visit their city.  It’s a helpful tool that will likely encourage to travel outside of your comfort zone.

 The fact that major signed artists are also using these applications, gives them more credibility.  The only problem?  Well, its not the ideal situation to have another company’s name or logo on your information but sometimes its the easiest route…especially if you don’t have much html knowledge to alter code.

Realistic expectations

Getting reviews is a huge part of getting your name out there…because its always flattering when someone else is doing the talking for you. I talked about this yesterday in Creating Content #1.  But because so many musicians are trying to get their music heard by some major magazine why not try for a small magazine. Put down People Magazine and go for something small. Even if the smaller mag only get 100 readers a month, who cares!  Chances are they will have a more personal touch.  They’ll probably get back to you within a day or two and they’ll probably spit out a review 10x faster than the average major publication.  BeatCrave is a really great start-up publication with a really professional look.  Just b/c a zine is in its growing phase, doesn’t mean it’ll be tacky, unreliable, or not worth persuing.

I’ve also found that in working with newbies, they are willing to support you in a way that established media will not.  Newbies will link to your website even if you don’t advertise with them.  Newbies will allow you to do special promotions (like a contest) with their readers.

More on realistic expectations
Also look into underdog online podcasts and smaller scale media opportunities like local community TV, and even radio on the AM dial.  Be willing to do the “insignificant” things b/c they will open doors.  Chances are, if you’re doing something on TV or radio, they’ll be able to give you your DVD footage or LIVE audio for use on your website(s).


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