Killing radio stars
In case you hadn’t noticed, the last five years have seen the music industry get completely turned around. The bands that get noticed work from the bottom up, building with word of mouth. The accessible nature of the internet means that anybody with a good idea, nominal startup funds, and some time and dedication can devise a new way to preach a new gospel.
Reno Limelight is a group of three young bucks with a new approach to documenting and promoting local bands. Moonlighting from their jobs at a local TV station, the group produces high quality video and audio recordings of bands in environments where the band feels most comfortable: in practice spaces, bedrooms, basements and house parties.
“It’s something better than a shitty-sounding recording at your friend’s bar,” says Jon Shown, Reno Limelight’s producer.
“We like to record bands in a personal setting,” says Ford Corl, the group’s audio specialist and editor. He’s currently studying recording techniques with local sound guru Tom Gordon.
Clint Sleeper is Reno Limelight’s idea man and web designer. His band Praying for Greater Portland was the subject of Reno Limelight’s debut production. Sleeper describes his two-piece band as “like, indie rock.” (Nobody ever just says “indie rock” anymore—the “like” is apparently now part of the genre.)
The footage of Praying for Greater Portland is intimate: the bespectacled Sleeper, sitting on a bed, singing wistfully and playing forlorn minor chords on an acoustic guitar.
Other acts that have been—or will soon be—shot by Reno Limelight include Ryan James, Babs Johnson Gang, Goldiehawn, Wasteland Witch, Manacle, Panic Opera and My Flag is on Fire. The videos are designed and geared for the group’s website, www.renolimelight.com. But it’s also something better for a band to post on their own website than just a 25-second clip that the bass player’s girlfriend shot with her iPhone.
The group describes its mission as a “community service,” a way of documenting local bands with decent production values.
“It’s a way to bring exposure to local bands,” says Shown. “There are a lot of bands in Reno.”
The group is currently not charging for their documentary services—beyond just travel expenses and basic production costs. You have to pay for the tape, basically.
And they’re ready to record just about anybody, regardless of genre.
“It helps if we like the music,” admits Shown. “But we’re too new to have had to film anybody we didn’t like.”
They’re ambitious about the future of the website.
“Eventually, we’d like it to be that if you want to make it as a band in Reno, you have to get something up on this website,” says Shown.
But, for now, they’re still giving it away for free. A crazy proposition that self-motivated bands should take advantage of.
“It’s a convenient way to promote your band,” says Shown. “It’s a step further than Myspace.”