York Daily Record (PA)

Rockin' out - on the Web Local artists find a way to have their music heard through Central PA Rocks. One artist said the Web site gives his band much more exposure.

August 3, 2001
Section: 00
Page: C06
MIKE ARGENTO Daily Record staff
Caption: Central PA Rocks, found at http://stations.mp3s.com/stations/105/central_pa_rocks.html, provides a platform for local artists to have their music heard - via the Internet.

Not long ago, some guy contacted Ed Van Wicklen about getting his music on the radio. It wasn't a regular radio station that you can pick up in the car: it was a Web radio station dedicated to playing local music by local musicians.

Van Wicklen said, "Sign me up."

Van Wicklen wasn't sure who was behind the Web-based station. And he'd never heard of it. But he was willing to take a chance.

"It's another way to get my music out there," said Van Wicklen, who's played around the area for seven years and has a weekly gig at The Cove on South George Street.

He hasn't received a lot of feedback from the site yet. It's a fairly young site, with only six artists so far. But he thinks that any outlet that can get his music out to people is good. Who knows? Somebody might hear some of his songs and push the "Buy It" button on the Web site.

The Web radio station has no commercials, no overhead, and technically, it's not a radio station. It's really more like a cyber-jukebox, providing continuous music at the push of a button.

That's how Central PA Rocks (http://stations.mp3s.com/ stations/105/central_pa_rocks.html) works. It was the brainchild of Jeff Davidson, a former York resident who started the site as a means of promoting a local band.

"I was working with the guys in Cotton to promote their release a year and a half ago and I discovered mp3.com," Davidson said.

He put Cotton's music on the Web. It was a small portion of the promotional stew he used to try to get the band some sales. It hasn't contributed huge numbers as far as CD sales go. But it did spawn an idea.

Davidson discovered that mp3.com offers a service in which you can post several songs on the Web site by different artists and have them play in a rotation with one click - a Web radio station. It's sort of like loading up a CD changer and putting it on shuffle.

Currently, on Central PA Rocks, you can hear selections by Van Wicklen and Cotton, along with other bar band stalwarts, Big Tubba Mista, Hexbelt, Emily's Toy Box and the Martini Bros.

Central PA Rocks says, "Some say Central PA is the new Seattle of the East Coast! Check out a sampling of great music coming out of the area. Call your local radio station and request these tunes!"

The fact is that with many local radio stations, you could call and call and call until Verizon takes your phone away and it won't get local bands on the airwaves. Radio is programmed so heavily now, it's nearly impossible for local musicians to get music heard over the air.

That leaves the Web.

"I wish there were more things like it," Van Wicklen said. "It's a chance for people to hear music that's not being force fed to them by radio stations and record companies. It's not like turning on the 'X' and hearing programmed corporate music."

Davidson said, "If you look at it, five big record labels control 95 percent of what you hear in the radio. This gives you a way to put the music out there so people can hear it."

For some musicians, mp3.com could provide a way to the big time. Davidson said he had read about an artist that started out on mp3.com and wound up with a contract with Interscope Records.

But most musicians are realistic about it.

"The way I look at it is it puts you out there and if people find you, great," said Deuce Gibb, guitarist and lead singer for the Martini Bros. "It gives you a lot more exposure."

Gibb said the band posts songs on its own Web site and on Central PA Rocks. It's hard to say how many sales have come over the Internet, he said, because the band hasn't really tracked them.

The idea with the Internet is to give people "a tease," Gibb said.

"Hopefully, if they like what they hear, they'll push the 'Buy It!' button," he said.

Because it's more of a marketing tool, local bands don't object to having their music spread for free on the Internet - unlike their big-buck brethren who raised a ruckus over Napster and other means of trading music over the Internet.

They don't see the Internet as a way of giving away their work. Rather, they see it as a means to get their music to people.

"If I like a band, I might download a song," Van Wicklen said. "And if I like the song, I'll go out and buy the CD. It's just another way of getting my music around."

Reach Mike Argento at 771-2046 or mike@ydr.com.