Volume 96, Issue 88
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

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Indie bands get a New Rotation

By Jessica Burgess
Gazette Staff

Many music lovers believe that the record industry is in its dying days, and that the new home of music is on the Internet – where music no longer has a physical format, can somehow escape copyright laws and is not limited by small broadcast ranges. The beauty of the Internet is that it allows everyone to have a voice – a new playing field where indie artists have just as much reach as those in the mainstream.

NewRotation.com, a new indie Internet radio station based in Toronto, has seized this opportunity. Jason Denicolais and Jamie Messum, two of the co-founders of NewRotation, speak about their new company, the indie scene and the future of music.

Where and when was the brainchild for NewRotation conceived?

Jamie: The summer of 2002. We knew a lot of great independent music and were frustrated that it wasn't being heard. We were both indie musicians and had frustrations of our own. We quit our full-time jobs, started working on it in September and the site officially launched in mid-December.

How does the Web site work? Is there a selection process?

Jason: We have a review group that meets once a month and listens to the submissions we've got. We listen to the music without press packs, without seeing the CDs or anything. We usually reject about half – in a lot of cases, the music is just badly recorded.

How are you guys able to make money from your business? Are you afraid of corporate influences that will come with advertising?

Jamie: We don't [make money].

Jason: We're at 20,000 hits in two months. We need to get more hits before we start getting some big name advertising.

Jamie: You won't hear a Pizza Pizza commercial – that's what people are sick of. When we advertise, we want to keep it to visuals so it doesn't get in the way of the music.

How many bands are currently on NewRotation?

Jamie: Over 40 right now. Every month we're adding new bands and new songs. We're adding a lot of really good hip-hop right now. The Toronto hip-hop scene is really underrated – we didn't realize how good the scene was until we started playing it on the station.

What are the problems with traditional radio and what are you trying to change?

Jason: There are advantages to both. Right now the advantage of standard radio is that you can listen to it while driving, or walking around. Our advantage is that you can get a multimedia experience – you can get info on the scene while you're listening to the scene.

Jamie: You can listen to Internet radio anywhere in the world. To me that seems like a no-brainer. People are very attached to old technologies, but I think that we're at the beginning of something that will become the standard.

Why haven't the major record companies embraced the Internet?

Jamie: Because they can't control it. The record companies are mad because they can't screw over the artist and consumers anymore. A lot of bands still have this record deal mentality – if you've got a record deal all your problems are solved. The record companies can solve your problems, but they can also put you in debt.

How can London artists get on your site?

Jason: There's a contact page on our site for artists. We'll ask them to mail us discs, the disc will go to the review group and, if it gets selected, we'll contact them.

Do you believe that music wants to be free?

Jamie: I believe it. The average artist doesn't make money off CD sales – record companies do. Even if they do make money, they spend it paying back the record company. I think there's got to be more of an emphasis on the live scene. As much as the Internet can offer, it still can't [provide] a live music experience.


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