School of Indie Rock
By MELENA Z. RYZIK
Published: September 4, 2005
The predawn gig at CBGB may still be a prerequisite, but aspiring rockers and established musicians now have a more academic avenue for mastering club and career strategy: Indie Night School, a series of panel talks on topics that include booking a show, finding a label and getting reviewed. It's sort of like getting an M.B.A. - a master's of band administration.
Arts & Leisure (September 4, 2005)
"I have experience organizing academic conferences, so I just used that model and overlayed it on music," said the founder, Tom Sean, a doctoral student in modern Chinese history at Columbia and the singer-songwriter-guitarist for the Black Spoons, a Brooklyn-based band. Mr. Sean, 26, came up with the idea for the school in late May; the first of five sold-out sessions was held at Pianos, a club on the Lower East Side, earlier this summer. (Information about the next session, scheduled for Sept. 28, is at theblackspoons.com; podcasts of previous events are available at iconocastic.com).
At the most recent gathering, on the subject of management, the panelists - or faculty, in Mr. Sean's parlance - included Tom Sarig, manager of Blonde Redhead, and Brandon Schmidt, manager of Interpol; they fielded questions like "What does a manager do exactly?" (Short answer: everything.)
Camille Acey, 24, a booking agent from Brooklyn and regular Indie Night School student, said: "It's like church for me. Half the time, I know these things, but it's good to get rejuvenated at what you do." Networking opportunities abound at the sessions: at the last event, Mr. Schmidt accepted one CD, two show invitations and a handful of e-mail addresses. And those opportunities will only increase in the spring, when the Black Spoons will take the program on a tour that includes Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Chapel Hill, N.C., and is sponsored by Ascap, the performing-rights organization.
Until then, even the dean of Indie Night School is finding he has a lot to learn. "After it's done, I like to kind of retire and make sure that everyone has a chance to talk to the speakers," Mr. Sean said. "And I never end up giving our CD to any of them." </a>