This afternoon at 2 at the World Cafe Live, the Weathervane Music Organization and WXPN (88.5-FM) are holding a press conference to announce Shaking Through, a partnership that plans to select, assist and promote somewhere between 15 and 20 independent acts over the next two years.
Excellent Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten (that's her), who's the first Weathervane artist of 2010, will play a short acoustic set. And Daniel Smith of South Jersey's avant-indie family band Danielson, who, along with Dr. Dog's Scott McMicken, is a 2010 Weathervane curator, will also be on hand.
So what's a Weathervane? It's a Fishtown-based non-profit founded by justifiably well-regarded producer and studio owner Brian McTear, who operates Miner Street Recordings with Amy Morrissey. The central question behind Weathervane, McTear explained over coffee earlier this month at the Rocket Cat Cafe, is that "with everything falling apart in the music industry, who's going to help artists figure out what the next step is?"
McTear's track record as an indie producer of note is long and impressive - as Miner Street has moved from West Chester to Manayunk to Fishtown over the last decade, he's worked with Matt Pond PA, the Bigger Lovers, Mazarin, Pepi Ginsberg and She-Haw, among plenty of others - and his answer to the "what's the next step?" question was to work up a new "holistic" music industry model where "musicians make music and people who enjoy that music support it so that it can continue to be made."
The Weathervane concept is to build a community of music lovers who will support - i.e., give cash - to fund the making of pop music of bankably dependable quality, sort of like you would pony up to support the Philadelphia Art Museum, of the zoo, or WXPN. The bands who benefit are chosen by a committee that includes McTear, Kristin Thomson of the Future of Music Coalition, Blood Feathers' producer Quentin Stoltzfus and XPN's Bruce Warren - who benefit get to record a song at Miner Street and produce an HD quality video, plus a behind the scenes "making of" clip that can serve as a career kick-starting calling card.
Last year, the series kicked off with Philly bands BC Camplight and East Hundred, among others, and it will continue on an almost monthly basis this year with Van Etten, Chicago's Sonoi and Philadelphia's Strapping
Field Hands as the first three artists. Video clips of the various acts are gathered at WeathervaneMusic.org, and McTear says the non-profit is working up a subscription model "where people can enjoy the music for free online" while V.I.P. subscribers would get access to premium web content and other perks like concert tickets.
Warren, who's XPN's Program Director, says Shaking Through fits in with the radio stations other community outreach collaborations, like with Musicians On Call and the Philadelphia Mural Arts program. The non-profit radio station can help the non-profit music incubator organization "cut through the noise" and find an audience, he says, and the collaboration also aims to help develop indie bands that can find an on air home at XPN or within its indie-centric Y-Rock niche programming.
Weathervane "is a start up non-profit, but they have a track record of producing these types of projects and are doing them well," Warren says. "We were very impressed with them." He added that XPN will be making a financial investment to help offset Weathervane's production expenses, and intends to "introduce Shaking Through artists to our audience of highly passionate music lovers."
The Weathervane/Shaking Through artist content will be featured on both the XPN and Weathervane sites. To get a sense of what kind of music they're talking about, check out the Van Etten, Danielson and BC Camplight clips below. Van Etten goes on at 2:45 p.m. at the World Cafe Live today. The whole news conference/performance will be streaming here.
Previously: Charlotte Gainsbourg Clips