Independent bands have always had a tough time of it getting the word out, getting noticed, achieving some kind of critical mass upon which to build a career. The Internet is an excellent outlet and resourse, but certainly hasn’t been the miracle that many thought it would be. So how about network TV for a little exposure and cash?
- The basic rule of Marketing 101, “Find people who’d like your product and jam it in their faces,” still applies, but the actual work can seem pointless: For the average band, it’s all about posting fliers, writing e-mails, sending demos into a toilet-like void, and possibly that rare, lucky break that gets you some attention.
A Boston-based indie rock trio, Choo Choo La Rouge, have been playing around town for a couple years– part quirky/indie and part roots-rock, with solid riffs and strong lyrics. They don’t have a label, a full-length album or a publicist, but they recently scored a coup by landing on national television: Two of their songs have been used on Dawson’s Creek! In front of millions! And they got paid!
….Choo Choo La Rouge sent a demo of home studio recordings to the show, through a friend of a friend. “The guy was nice and searched through the two CDs worth of stuff that we gave him, and found the one song that was poppy enough for the show,” explained the band’s bassist and de facto engineer, Chris Lynch. The first song they licensed was “Say It Twice”. The band found out a week before the episode aired: They received a basic one-page contract giving Dawson’s the right to use the song on the first show and reruns, and (for an additional fee) when the episode hits DVD. The pay ran $1,000 if the song played for under a minute, and $1,500 if they used more.
….None of the bands– there were a total of ten– gets mentioned in the credits, except for No Doubt, who get another big plug at the end of the episode. However, the Dawson’s Creek Music website lists each song, with the band’s name, a link to their site, and a description of where the music appeared. For example, Nemochrome’s “My Cloud” is used in this scene: “CJ and Jen talking when Jen finds out he slept with Audrey.”
….On some level, indie rock means never having to say you’re in “show business.” So maybe in the long run this no big deal for Choo Choo La Rouge, nothing more than a random payoff. Or it could be a useful step: the kind of weird recognition that can trickle down and win over a few people who could win a few more. Who knows? With something like the Dawson’s incident, anybody might get a kick out of it: A future groupie, a guy who runs a label– or hey, maybe someone who picks the music for car commercials. [Pitchfork]
Well, no critical mass yet, but way better than nothing. Imagine what a good publicist could do with this.