Many members of Tampa’s musician collective have been able to gain enthusiastic followers, but these fans hadn’t heard them on the radio or read about them in Rolling Stone.
Instead, local artists have devised ways to market, advertise and introduce themselves within the busy Tampa Bay music scene.
Alex Fedele, a senior majoring in anthropology, is the drummer for math rock band Auto? Automatic?? – also called Auto! Automatic!! He uses Kickstarter, a fundraising platform for independent musicians, for promotion.
Available online, Kickstarter offers an opportunity for artists to increase their fan base and fund their causes. An artist can begin a “project” to set a financial goal and predict a time frame to reach it in.
Every project has a maximum time frame of 90 days – if the goal is not met, the pledged money is never charged.
The band has reached 56 percent of its $3,000 goal with 18 days remaining.
“The money would be funding our next album. It’s like a super extended pre-order – with each pledge (of $15 or more) we receive, we thank them with a CD,” Fedele said.
Anyone who donates $50 would also receive a thank you in the album’s liner notes. Anyone who donates $500 would receive a large gift package that includes having a song named after them.
Nick Pittsinger, a Tampa electronic musician who grew up playing the piano and guitar, sped up his musical career by simply slowing down a Justin Bieber song 800 percent – or eight times slower.
He uploaded the 35-minute ambient version of Bieber’s pop ballad “U Smile” onto the website Soundcloud. The creation received more than 100,000 hits by the next day.
Originating as part joke and part curious experiment, Pittsinger produced the literal overnight success using the computer program PaulStretch.
“I engineered what I did with Bieber’s song about me and my musical talents rather than Bieber,” Pittsinger said. “And that allowed me an opportunity to make the most out of my situation.”
Since releasing the song, Pittsinger has been interviewed by Entertainment Weekly and music blogs, where he has promoted his solo project Shamantis.
Bieber even recognized the song’s alteration in an Aug. 19 tweet – “this version of U SMILE is incredible to just chill out and fall asleep to. feels EPIC. gotta love music.”
Pittsinger said he has received offers from various music labels, but he has not yet decided on an exact career path.
Tampa rapper Eugene “Geno” Alexis travels independently and produces his music. After gaining confidence by reading his poetry to unknown audiences at cafs’ spoken word events, Alexis said he began seeing his lines as lyrics.
“After I had been writing poetry, I was taught by a friend how to make beats and to record myself with a computer,” he said.
Alexis said he stays busy by performing in Ybor City at Crowbar every Wednesday for their “Da Cypher” open mic night. Additionally, Alexis books gigs at the Dunedin nightclub Blur and is self-recording his upcoming release.
“Since I’ve learned to record music and have been performing, many opportunities have come my way,” he said. “Just because I’m not signed doesn’t mean I’m not garnishing the same rewards.” Unlike the independent recording routes of Auto? Automatic?? and Geno, local southern rock band Southside Serenade has been promoting themselves while searching for a record label.
After two years of performing at familiar Tampa venues like Crowbar and Jannus Landing, the band finally put its foot in the corporate door.
Southside Serenade singer and guitarist Addison Arfaras said he clearly remembers the first time the band was recognized by a major label.
“After winning the Battle of the Bands from Fox News, I contacted the president of a major label who was rumored to be there,” he said. “He contacted me back, and since we have kept in close contact.”
All four musicians, regardless of their genres, production methods and visions for the future, offered the same advice: “just get out there” and start booking shows.
“Many people are passionate about music, but hard work and positivity follows passion,” Pittsinger said.