Above the Radio Wants to Give Local Music a New Edge
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 12:09
It can be nearly impossible for new and unsigned bands to get noticed in today’s grossly saturated music industry. They might have been able to gain traction on local radio stations 15 years ago but that is hardly an option these days. At the mercy of the wild World Wide Web, the right internet exposure can make or break an artist.
Brian Peters knew there had to be a better way.
“I was tired of the stuff you hear on the radio and it being the same stuff over and over again,” Peters said. “There’s no substance to a lot of what you hear.”
With this in mind, he decided to create Above the Radio at above.fm.
“I wanted to create something to help people find stuff easier,” he said. “The goal or concept is to allow music listeners or fans to easily find music and to give exposure to independent artists.”
Above the Radio will allow unsigned musicians to affordably upload and promote their music. It will also allow listeners to discover new artists they might otherwise have never encountered.
Peters was attending audio recording school when he learned the ins and outs of the music business and how music labels are able to take advantage of artists.
“We should give a voice to the little guys who don’t have the budget to go out and advertise and help those who are creating original music,” he said.
Peters wasn’t able to find much independent music online to stream nor was he able to find much information on local music events.
“I see the music industry as a whole, the mainstream music industry, on a decline,” Peters said. “Sales have been down for a long time. More and more people are going to local shows.”
He looks to venues such as Crescent Ballroom, which have no trouble at all selling tickets with an all-local line up.
Peters, CEO of Above the Radio, and Travis Martin, CFO, have been working on their site for over a year. It will have an interactive map feature to help with music suggestions and will list other listeners online with similar music taste and display what they are listening to. These are people you may know or people you may want to be friends with.
“You can obviously promote yourself, and people coming onto the site that have never met a local musician can go on there and discover music that they never would have known is out there,” Peters said.
Peters said there are other sites similar to Above the Radio, but they require quite a bit of hustle from the artist and, realistically, people aren’t able to find much.
One of their main competitors is ReverbNation, which brands itself as, “the best tools for musicians and the best music for everyone else.”
Martin said Above the Radio is looking to give the lowest price possible so as to not compete with the costly ReverbNation.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re making a better wheel,” Martin said.
Martin said ReverbNation has a very corporate feel, as it doesn’t create a community between artists and fans. Above the Radio takes a vested interest in the bands it promotes. Martin and Peters held two contests in which the winners got their own music video.
Yus created a video for the song “Girls” with director Gordon Cowie, and Avery is currently working with Cowie on a video for “Hospital Call.”
Peters and Martin are also thinking about having a new competition where the winners receive a free photo shoot. The artists on Above the Radio might be unsigned artists, but it doesn’t mean they can’t still promote themselves.
Along the way they hope people will discover and interact with others, using visual representations as a whole new way to find music.
As of right now, Above the Radio is only interested in unsigned bands. The goal, though, is to ultimately help them get signed.
“If you like a song you can add it to a playlist, download it [or] you can purchase it,” Peters said. “You don’t have to go to a million sites and the band is getting exposure.”
Above the Radio should be ready to launch its beta site by the end of October, but musicians who sign up now will receive a free premium account.
“Our goal is to give the best we can for the lowest price we can,” Martin said.