Visitors to the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World can be a little overwhelmed by the lengthy list of artists that call Austin home. But a new customized microsite developed for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, a gateway for tourists to all things Austin, will allow visitors to familiarize themselves with the Austin music scene from anywhere in the world.
“Many visitors have heard about Austin’s music scene, but they don’t know where to begin to experience it,” says Rose Reyes, director of music marketing for the ACVB. “Now any band that signs on to sell their music at AustinTexas.org can connect with visitors before they arrive. This allows visitors to find out which bands they’d like to see, learn their music—and maybe even sing along when they get here.”
A little bit MySpace, a little bit Amazon.com, the site will serve up Austin music based on the visitor’s selected preferences and will give them a taste of the music variety in Austin. Visitors to the site will also be able to purchase song downloads and merchandise from Austin musicians, as well as the new line of official “Live Music Capital of the World” merchandise. The new site is meant to be seamless so that visitors to AustinTexas.org looking to explore Austin music will not even know that they have left except for the web address.
Did you hear the joke about the two bassists? The punchline is anything but funny. They just signed a two-year deal with the ACVB to highlight one of the most important tourist aspects of our city—live music. The microsite is produced by Austin-based retail and blog site Double Stereo, a company merged from cdFuse.com in 2009 that allows record labels and independent artists to upload information and musical content for users to stream or download, connect with one another, sell merchandise and publish show dates. Double Stereo co-founders Sal Silva III and Erik Schaeffer, both former bass guitar players for touring bands, have been in the music industry for more than 10 years and definitely take their business very seriously.
They see partnering with ACVB as a win-win-win deal. “Double Stereo has the database of musicians and [the ACVB site] has the traffic from visitors who want to know what Austin music is all about,” explained Silva. AustinTexas.org receives approximately 120,000 to 150,000 unique visitors a month.
The retail model of Double Stereo is based on consignment, where the site will get a percentage of merchandise sold by musicians, as well as the Live Music Capital of the World branded merchandise.
The third win is for Austin musicians. Silva and Schaeffer, although not currently in bands, still have friends who play around Austin, and they are passionate about supporting not just them but all independent artists. Currently, Double Stereo hosts over 2,000 artists representing over 40 countries.
A better chance to be heard
At the Opa! coffee and wine bar on South Congress, where the interview was conducted, there was a young man singing and playing guitar inside. Asked how local artists will benefit from this deal, Silva used the musician as an example: “The guy jamming behind us may or may not be on our site. If he is on our site, he will also be on AustinTexas.org and possibly have an extra gazillion people listening; it’s a better chance for him to get heard, listened to, and his music purchased.”
Schaeffer, the self-described geek of the operation, explained how the site is free and customizable for bands. In order to be included on the microsite, bands must join Double Stereo and list Austin as their hometown. Once signed up, they can upload bios, band photos, videos, songs for free or purchase, sell merchandise and even post their Twitter feeds.
The database uses open tags for searching, meaning that the artists can type in whatever tags they think best describe their music. Instead of the classic genre divisions of alternative, country or punk, musicians can use tags such as “Smashing Pumpkins,” “Wilco” or “Blink-182” so that visitors who like those well-known bands can find Austin bands with a similar sound.
The microsite will launch Sept. 3 with a party at Club DeVille, located at 900 Red River St. Festivities will take place from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring live music by Hard Proof Afrobeat and Bus Stop Stallions. Food will be available from Austin-based restaurant Frank, and Southside Sanctuary will be selling merchandise.
The ACVB has been doing a lot of outreach to get musicians to sign up before the launch. With more than 2,000 bands in Austin, they have their work cut out for them. They have more than 300 signed up now and hope to encourage more musicians to join the site at the launch party itself.
This first-of-its-kind deal for a convention and visitors’ bureau is part of the ACVB’s continuing efforts to promote the city’s music scene. Earlier this year, the ACVB, which serves as the gateway to Austin Music, released Austin Music Vol. 9, which included a CD of tracks by 14 Austin musicians, along with a guide to the city’s music districts and venues, all of which is now available online at the AustinTexas.org website. The ACVB also assists companies and conventions with booking Austin musicians for special events.