10 Music Writers Walk Into A Bar, Decide Bands Should Get Off Their Lazy Asses

Categories: Only In Houston

It was Matthew Wettergreen's idea. Wettergreen, who co-hosts KTRU's local-music/news show Revelry Report and is the mastermind behind BandCamp, had a vision of getting a group of Houston-based music writers from all kinds of media together to address the question of how we could better serve the music community. It's been a hot topic of discussion lately, with Wettergreen publishing how-to guides for bands on his blog and journalists like Rocks Off's Craig Hlavaty, Sara Cress of the Houston Chronicle/29-95.com and yours truly weighing in on ways for bands to get more media notice. If we must join forces, we'll do it for good, not evil.

So Wednesday night, a dozen or so of us met for drinks and discourse at Cecil's Pub. In attendance were Anna Garza (Free Press Houston), Joe Mathlete (29-95), Andrew Dansby (Houston Chronicle), Jeremy Hart (Space City Rock), David Cobb (Houston Calling), Hlavaty, Cress, Wettergreen, Marc Brubaker (Houstonist.com) and David Sadof (Houston Music Examiner). Below, some topics of discussion:

  • Personally, my biggest stress factor when covering Houston bands is that, in spite of popular opinion, there really is a lot going on in Houston on any given night. And I can't be everywhere. To stay abreast of local music news I subscribe to some 30-plus Houston-based music blogs, several dozen more Texas music blogs and hundreds of people on Twitter. And even then, I can't read or catch everything.
  • Joe Mathlete, who has the unique perspective of both being in a band and being a music writer, said he felt writers should make more of an effort to seek out new bands and not wait for the bands to find them.
  • Cress said the relationship has to be symbiotic. "I've been paying attention to (certain bands) for 4 years and they haven't made any attempt to contact me.
  • Andrew Dansby, who has also written for Rolling Stone, said a lot of local bands are young and don't yet have or understand the need for a relationship with the local press.
  • Dansby also said that local media is the best place to aim for publicity. The collapse of mass-media markets are leading towards a more regional news focus, similar to the 1950s and '60s, when bands would achieve local fame before national fame. "I think that shift would be healthy."
  • Wettergreen said he witnesses a lot of apathetic behavior at his BandCamp meetings. Bands will come and listen to his tips (and tips from writers like Hlavaty) but then won't act on them. "I get the feeling they want to be spoon-fed success. You're wasting your time if you're coming here but not doing anything," he said.
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