In a time of bedroom production and twitter promotion, where bands can be made and broken in the flash of a viral marketing campaign, many might be forgiven for bemoaning the loss of community. Sharing a YouTube link online is, sadly, an experience somewhat removed from the friendly forking over of a self-curated mix tape. For any band going about real-world music-making, in particular, it can be a daunting proposition to work out where the real people begin and end, and find the right people who can shape and swell your art into something more.
One group of music fans in New York City, meanwhile, have tasked themselves with putting the “us” back into “music.” Their aim is, at heart, to create a stronger sense of community among NYC’s music industry and music fans. Such efforts are centred on monthly meetings held across the city, dubbed by attendees as “New York’s biggest music networking nights,” which welcomes all comers looking to make more personal connections in the music industry. Regular visitors include producers, engineers, agents, talent scouts and jobbing musicians looking for a new project. Mini listening parties, track swaps and a shared drink are all expected during any given evening. “The goal of the Noise Collective,” reads it website, “is to bring people together in a social environment with the common thread of music.”
It also accommodates guides for more specific issues for journeyman music-makers, written by the industry’s decision makers. A recent article penned by Leigh Henrich, director of licensing at NYC-based independent record label Razor & Tie, gives readers four tips for making their tunes perfect for synching with TV, ads or film, for example.
This month’s event, which is set to be held on January 15, will see the Noise Collective take over two floors of the Idle Hands Bar in NYC’s East Village with the same precepts in mind. The first spotlight guests of the year include David Galea and Tim Borror, both booking agents at The Agency Group, along with AEG Live’s Casey McCabe and Adam Wesier. THE BOMBER JACKET spoke with Jason Desiderio and Andrew West, two of Noise Collective NY’s oldest hands and organizers, to find out more about their next event and the ethos behind their merry group.
TBJ: How did Noise Collective start out?
Jason Desiderio: Noise Collective began as an idea among a group of friends who work in different but complementary jobs in the music industry. The objective was to create a sense of community in what is often a vast and intimidating New York music scene. In order to be successful, we had to ensure that all aspects of the industry were represented in the planning of the event. In doing so, we were able to attract a diverse community of people who represented a variety of careers.
What’s your personal interest in the idea?
Andrew West: I remember getting dinner with Damon (another co-founder) about a year and a half ago and discussing how he wanted to bring everyone involved in music together under one roof. To me, it was perfect: I’ve always want to meet as many people in my field as possible–bands, industry folks, engineers, et cetera. Sometimes it’s hard for people to network and Noise Collective makes it a bit easier to connect with people who share the same passion as you. Although I wasn’t an official member until the summer of 2013, I’ve seen Noise Collective grow since the start. I’ve met a ton of great people through Noise Collective and I feel as if that’s the interest for a lot of people.
JD: Being a recording engineer and a musician, my personal interest in the event is to expand upon my network of people. In just the first year, I’ve handed out hundreds of business cards and built dozens of invaluable working relationships. It’s a great feeling to know that you’re giving others opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
How have things changed since your first meet-up in 2013?
AW: At the very beginning, it was a great event for music lovers and it still is. We now have a fully functional website with interviews, advice, various music columns, etc. Most importantly, a lot more people know about our event. We have become the biggest free monthly music mixer in NYC.
JD: It’s become more fine-tuned. We discovered what people want more of, and what they could do without. By far, the best addition to our event has been our rotating cast of spotlight guests: heavy hitters in the music industry that anyone attending the event has the chance to sit down with for a one-on-one conversation. We’ve had everyone from booking agents at The Agency Group to A&R reps at major labels, such as Atlantic and Island Records. It gives musicians and aspiring music industry professionals an opportunity to ask for advice through questions such as, “What’s my next step?” or, “What can I do differently to make myself more appealing to someone in your position?” Early on, we decided that this would be much more effective than the typical public address speeches you see at standard networking events. Since the conversation is semi-private, the Spotlight Guest can give pointed advice tailored to each individual.
What’s going to be different in 2014?
JD: There are always new people to reach out to with bands forming every day and we won’t be satisfied until every single one of these bands thinks of Noise Collective as their first and most useful resource. We’re also going to focus on bringing in companies that bands can use to further advance their careers. There are so many useful music tech companies, for one, that we’re really excited to introduce to our community.
In addition to the main event, we launched a brand new songwriting workshop last month that will be in full swing for 2014. It allows people to play a live or recorded song in front of A&R representatives and peers to discuss and critique each other in an encouraging, constructive environment.
AW: We are adding a lot more content to our website, and social media sites. We are expanding past just a monthly event. Our hopes are to have various one-off shows, showcases, parties, and so on.
Are you looking to expand the idea beyond NYC?
JD: With the runaway success that we’ve had in NYC, we’re definitely looking to bring this sense of community to other cities around the country and globally. We also feel it will be indispensable to all of the transplants out there looking to meet the necessary people to be successful in their newfound city.
AW: There are hundreds of cities smaller than NYC that would benefit greatly if they had a place they could go every month and talk about new ideas, new music, new technology, and catch up on life.
Who are your top Noise Collective artist picks for the New Year?
JD: Ahhh, that’s a really difficult one. I was turned on to so much incredible new music this past year through our playlist song submissions and exchanging music with people in person at the events. Some of our biggest supporters and stand-out artists have been Streets of Laredo, Belle Mare, Great Caesar, Lily & The Parlour Tricks, Kiirstin Marilyn, and The Ugly Club, among many others.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard given at one your events?
AW: Brian from The Dresden Dolls said something along the lines of, “Don’t let anyone get in the way of your dreams and what you believe in.” It’s true. All it takes is one “yes.” Even if you have heard “no” a thousand times, keep going.
And the most unexpected?
AW: To serve free tacos. Maybe that will take us to the next level?
Do you think some of the sociality in music and sharing it is lost nowadays?
AW: Yes and no. It’s always fun sharing music with your friends and new people while you are in the same room, but it’s also intimidating for some. That being said, it’s always nice meeting new bands and artists who are super excited about a new song and want to share it right at that moment.
JD: The process of discovering music has changed now that we have the internet, but I don’t think it’s affected the sociality in music. Swapping links is like planting seeds. I find that I can focus better on the music I’m listening to when I’m alone. If the music leaves a good enough impression, I share it with my friends. We listen to new music when we’re at work or hanging out. If the music is great, we’ll go see the band live. It’s the circle of life!
Details of this month’s meeting:
Date: January 15, 2014
Time: 8 – 11 p.m.
Venue: Idle Hands Bar (Both Floors), 25 Avenue B, New York, New York 10009
Directions: A short walk from the F Train (2 Av) and the J,M Trains (Delancy, Essex)