By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Good Times' Seelig acknowledges HGMN's value but feels the lack of exclusivity has begun to dilute it. "Homegrown Music Network is a big group that invites bands to join them, so it's kind of like a club, but it's more like a network of bands they think are in this genre. It's useful, but as they keep expanding, it's not the most special thing to be a part of anymore."
Crumpton contends that not just anyone can become a member. "We're very selective about who we invite. A band can't just send in a check and be a member. They have to submit their material, their music goes through an evaluation process with our staff. We also evaluate other aspects, like are they touring full-time, do they have organization behind them, management or someone on their team getting the job done? We also look at how much effort they're putting into their marketing and promotion, if they have a Web site or not. We're looking for well-rounded bands who have gone beyond being part-time bands, that are doing it as a full-time career."
Focusing much more on venues and live performance is Jambase.com, located in Mill Valley and run by Ted Kartzman and Andy Gadiel. Originally based in Chicago, the duo were dot-com whiz kids who headed for San Francisco during the boom. They were hired to launch Musicfans.com, and launched their own Jambase.com in their spare time. As Musicfans.com fizzled, their project caught fire. Gadiel was running the Phish band site and at one point had 160,000 members. They saw an opportunity and grabbed it.
"We positioned it as a real community hub," says Kartzman. "If you like this band, tell other people about it. If you see a concert out there that you would go to, add the show. We have 300 people adding shows on any given day. We have 6,000 bands in the database."
The continuous input of information is useful to agents as well as fans. Seelig notes that he uses the site to check competition when routing tours for his clients. Kartzman claims, "We started to really sell this direct-
marketing concept and our ability to reach our members. Our membership was growing like crazy, up to 150,000. When you add in the direct-marketing element -- sending e-mails based on region for specific bands or promoters -- that's when we really turned into a product and started developing clients."
The membership is available to Jambase's clients. "We have an e-mail list of about 40,000 people that has a ZIP code attached to everybody," Kartzman explains. "People will be touring in New York, and we'll send an
e-mail to our 4,000 people that live within 75 miles of New York, or our 3,000 people that live within 75 miles of Boston." Further, the troops are about to be mobilized. "When people register for Jambase, they get the ability to check the box that says they'd be willing to help promote shows in their area. I've got 8,000 kids ready to do that." Surfing and posting on Jambase is free, but advertising and direct e-mail promotions cost depending on the placement or size.
THAT THE JAMBAND PHENOMENON THRIVES OWES to a fan base that numbers into the hundreds of thousands of listeners who strategically use the Web as their walkie-talkie. "Within the jam-groove scene," figures Budnick, "I think we've realized the promise of the Web in terms of community. The scene is a reaction to the prefabricated music of the late 1990s, people looking for something that was a little bit different from artists doing the same show night after night. As more and more people became interested in it, young musicians became interested in it."
"The one thing that kind of jells the whole scene together is the fans," says Crumpton. "The fans themselves are open-minded to new forms of music and improvisational-based music. They like going to see that live."
"I don't think this community embraces Top 40 pop acts," concludes Kartzman. "I think they kind of resent it, because our musicians are really talented, they're not getting any MTV play, they're not getting any major-label play, but they're still selling out shows across the country. 'Jamband' defines the type of listener more than it does the type of band. We've had a DJ Logic feature -- a guy who's the centerpiece of his band playing turntables, but he's improvising and scratching every night, and he's got a slammin' band behind him. He totally fits into the community, and the kids just ate it up."