Gorilla vs. Bear vs. Dallas music
If you haven't heard, MP3 blogs are the new MTV. Just ask Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Thanks to word-of-mouth buzz initiated by taste-making music blogs such as Said the Gramophone and Stereogum, the Brooklyn-based band went from toiling in obscurity to selling out shows across the country essentially overnight. And get this: The band sold more than 40,000 copies of its self-titled debut with no record deal and with little promotion from traditional media.
And CYHSY's case is no fluke: Indie artists such as the Arctic Monkeys, Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, M.I.A. and a host of others have ridden the wave of blogosphere hype to critical and commercial success, with little to no effort and minimal cost on their part.
Austin's burgeoning music scene and the bands that are contributing to its success know what the deal is, and they have their collective finger firmly on the pulse of the MP3 blogosphere. On the strength of buzz generated in part by blogs, young Austin bands such as Voxtrot and SOUND team have packed venues on both coasts. Hell, SOUND team just signed with Capitol, and Voxtrot's Raised by Wolves EP currently sits firmly in the top 20 of online indie-rock megastore Insound.com's bestseller list. I've spoken with members of both bands, and they credit much of that success to the way they've been embraced and celebrated by MP3 bloggers around the world.
So, why in the world have Dallas bands almost completely ignored this increasingly influential medium and, in turn, gotten no love from the blogosphere? Is it because our local scene isn't generating any relevant music or because most local bands are content with being "local bands"? Or is it simply that our local bands are unaware of this phenomenally effective promotional vehicle and are too lazy or unmotivated to get a clue?
As an MP3 blogger, I'd have to go with the latter. I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 e-mails and 10 packages a week from bands, labels and promo companies, with nary a Dallas band among them. And I live in these bands'� backyard, so you'd be safe to assume that no one that blogs outside of Dallas is hearing our bands either. By nature, blogs are a viral way of spreading the word; once the material is out there, it'll spread like wildfire, provided it's any good. But if the seed is never planted, so to speak, don't expect it to grow.
To be fair, some North Texas bands are coming around: Bosque Brown, Midlake, The Happy Bullets and a few others have received a fair amount of blog coverage, and I'm pretty sure there isn't a band in all of North Texas that doesn't have a Myspace profile. Veteran Dallas band Sorta is going so far as giving away its entire record via the massively popular networking site, which I'm willing to bet will prove a huge step in the right direction. At the very least, it hints at the fact that they're ready to be heard outside the local scene, and the Internet is a very powerful volume knob. --Chris Cantalini
Cantalini runs the superior Dallas-based MP3 blog Gorilla vs. Bear.