london - davey winder
"Sexier than Sleeper, Cuter than The Cardigans, Groovier than Garbage," says a flyer from Odyssey Management about their band, Clockwork Lemons. But then they would say that, wouldn't they? Especially seeing as Odyssey Management's Seb Lee-Delisle plays bass and takes care of the programming side of things for the band. Oh, and he's also something of a desktop design wizard, another skill that's being exploited in the arduous task of landing that elusive record deal.
But it's not just Seb and Co. who reckon that the Lemons have got what it takes. Last year they swept past 600 other bands to reach the final five acts in the 1996 Loot/Mean Fiddler Awards for new artists. The distinguished judging panel who must have liked what they heard included George Michael, members of Dodgy, and the A&R top dog at Virgin Records.
So why haven't they got that deal yet? I guess it's all down to getting a high enough profile and putting your faces before the right people, which is where Seb, desktop computing, and now the Web enter the equation. The band started their own mailing list (no, not the Internet type, but it's only a matter of time), and now have more than 300 fans, each of whom gets a copy of the band-produced monthly color fanzine "Lemon Juice." Seb uses his graphics skills to good effect in packing this tiny 12-page zine with info and fun.
This limited but encouraging success has led to the next big step forward -- a step onto the Web. Seb is currently putting the final touches to the official Clockwork Lemons website. Once it's up and running, not only will you be able to get all that fanzine information online, but there will also be soundclips to listen to as well.
Back at my virtual home, CIX, the Lemons already have a thriving conference. It's not simply a publicity stunt; it goes beyond that -- in fact it has become something of a community in itself. I'd liken it more to being able to chat with a band in the bar after a gig than anything else. Take this snippet of conversation, for example:
Conference member: "With a decent bass player behind her, that girlie singer could sound great."
Band member: "Naaah, no one ever even notices the bass. In fact, on the track in question I couldn't be bothered to play the bass, and instead recorded a 50Hz mains hum. No one noticed."
You see: these guys are nothing if not savvy. And savvy is how I'd sum up their attitude towards the site as well. "We've also got a couple of fans making unofficial ones, so we get a bold listing in Yahoo."
So what are the band up to at the moment, out there in the real world of the struggling artist? "We're currently planning a couple of summer video shoots for our new singles, "Ode to Enid" and "Peeping Jane." Seb tells me. "For the vids, we've got two upcoming directors involved, and the shoots will be worth about £20,000 each. But of course we're getting them for nothing." See? savvy.
So do yourself a favour: get over to the website and have a look. If you're a music fan, give the Clockwork Lemons a listen. If you're a big US agent, get some e-mail off to email@example.com and talk deals -- who knows? You may end up with the next Oasis on your hands.
It's great to see how musicians are using the Net these days, and I don't mean the big names either. I mean the bands who don't have massive publicity and marketing budgets -- heck, don't have any budget most of the time. The Net gives them the chance to showcase their songs using soundclips, and to get their image across in the way they want without interference from corporate-label bods. A potential global audience for just a pocket full of loose change and a few hours' work: not bad. With technology advancing as quickly as it is, how long before we'll all be able to get all the music we want, at a price we can accept, over the Net? And when that happens, where will the big labels be?
Is also another thing is taking into accounting...if is being online, is taking away experience of purchasing album. Is changing beyond recognising. Is ending of "cover art" as is knowing. Could being birth of new era in purchasing music, but is certain death of everything is knowing in old. Ivan Ivanovich
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