My journey this year has paralleled that of many musicians, in that I put forth my all in pursuit of an ideal that only exists in my mind. Not knowing what to expect has surrendered the foreground long ago. My focus and intent is on doing Louisiana’s music community justice. Being completely self-funded, Neworleansmusicians.com’s greatest challenge has been getting the word out without the benefit of an advertising budget. Just as venues often do, I rely on my members to promote their own appearances on the site, on the blog, on the podcast, and on the Youtube Channel. Word-of-mouth is more powerful than most people realize. And for someone like me, a simple mention means everything. But no matter the amount of exposure, I have always been gifted with the ability to look back on the catalog of work I have generated and be proud. To your friend or family member in a band, I know I am able to add value to their musical efforts. Bringing artists together and introducing opportunity has been the fire that fuels me.
In the back of my mind, I have always gone back and forth between the “I” and the “we”. I’ve never been one to pander to image. And I suppose one could say humility plays a role in this as well. But frequently, the impression one leaves with another can open a few doors down the road. Throughout 2023, I have found myself erasing the “we” in communications online and replacing it with “I”. I have found myself reminding… myself that I am doing these things. That I don’t have a staff. I have myself, a freelance programmer, and the occasional article contributed by those interested. Conversely, I do believe there is always a bit of “we” at play. By that, I mean the musicians, music businesses, and fans that decide to join, the people that read the articles, watch the videos, and listen to the podcasts, and all those who simply mention the site to another, make up this sector. Despite my hours on the phone, on the road to interviews, and behind this keyboard, those supporters may very well be the tipping point for this website’s success. And once again, like a musician, a little bit of blind faith comes into play. At any rate, in an effort to remain transparent as well as hold myself accountable, I have committed to publishing a “year in review” article every year. I do hope this also serves to demonstrate merit and possibly garner the interest (and membership) of more people.
In year two of being in business, I have onboarded forty-nine new members, bringing the total to one-hundred and four. New members included forty-one bands, a music label, two recording studios, an online music magazine, and four fans. Yes, a little-known feature on the site is that fans can register for free as well. Their benefits for joining include store discounts, the ability to list in the classifieds, and the ability to message bands. I published twenty-three podcast episodes, twenty-seven articles, and fifty-four videos. Instead of commercials in the middle of those podcast episodes, I pick a new member, talk about their band, and play the audience a snip of their work. The statistics I see tell me that thousands of people have been exposed to the artists in those features. Fun fact: some of the interview subjects requested the art I generated from their interview promotions. I gladly furnished them the designs and they were able to use it for their own projects. I also added to Neworleansmusicians.com’s playlists. I have professional accounts on sixteen platforms. Each contains eighteen playlists named by genre. And the number of tracks from my members that I added is literally too many to count. More often than not, I have added their whole catalog. I know that this has lead to more exposure for my members.
Aside from these advances, I also enjoyed a bit of publicity this year. I was a guest on the Getting to Know You podcast where I spoke about my life as a Captain and a president of a music network. I was also a guest on the Music of America podcast. This one was special to me because I was able to select three site members to talk about on that show. I was also able to play their music. And I know this brought them to a new and far-reaching audience. I was featured in an article in The American Press which described what Neworleansmusicians.com is doing for musicians in Louisiana. And I was also featured in CanvasRebel, an online entrepreneurial magazine. I look back on all these instances with dignity. But what stood out to me was that, in each feature, I described my mission in different ways. They all contained the same message. But all too often you see a mission statement from a company that reads the same across all fronts. Sometimes it makes me question the authenticity of those words. Regardless, my guest appearances, my articles, my videos, and my podcast have all contributed to the traffic that frequents Neworleansmusicians.com. This has been my way of bringing value to the site and its members.
The time I spent interviewing Vinnie Labella was probably the moment that I was closest to someone that had not only performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people, but had honestly revolutionized the world of thrash music. I’ll always say the interview I did with Vinnie was the worst recording of the best interview I’ve done to date. That was the day one of my lav mics decided to start shorting out. And audio editing for that podcast episode became a Macgyver act that even I am surprised I pulled off. But I felt as though we really connected. And because of that, I was able to bring the most comprehensive look at his life to my audience and his fans. In all his years touring the seven continents and sitting before countless reporters, this had never been done before. Not to mention, it was revealed that Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual, etc) was actually a member of Exhorder at one point. Which had not been known to anyone. I was the only person he agreed to talk to since his split from Exhorder three years preceding. And he was approached by many distinguished magazines to get that story. It was an important moment in music history.
I think the interview that held the most cultural importance was the one I did with Wayne Kahn. His altruistic intent for the historical audio and video he has come into possession of is reassuring. The contributions to the Smithsonian Folkways and his current plans to immortalize the chronicles of one of America’s founding families in zydeco music is commendable, to say the least. He was able to illustrate the importance of the Carrier family to my audience, regardless of their preference or unawareness of zydeco music. After publishing, I watched the statistics and social interactions on his interview closely. And I was able to connect him with a prominent music documentarian.
The interview that I believe held the most importance for the musical heritage of New Orleans would be the Chris Beary interview. Together, with Grammy Associate Director Reid Wick and a board of national and local influential members of the music community, the Louisiana Music and Heritage Experience will soon become the most important music heritage museum in the state. I was able to bring the news of this massive music museum to my audience. Also, I was able to line up one of my members, Pocket Chocolate, with Chris who then booked them for the Funky Uncle Live 8-Night Jam. They were able to share the stage with musicians like Grammy Award winner Leo Nocentelli, and both Leo and Russel Batiste.
Something else happened that I thought was really cool. Someone I interviewed in 2022 was featured in an article on Nola.com in 2023. The article contained a video segment of my interview with him. I always feature music from members in my video intros. They are often-times from a member other than the one I am interviewing. I include a full screen credit with album art for the musician whose music I use. So, as a result of that, the musician in the intro got a spot in a prominent website article just for being a member. I did observe traffic and watch-time increase on that video. So, I know his music gained exposure through that inclusion.
Looking ahead into 2024, I hope to continue to onboard musicians and music industry professionals throughout Louisiana to Neworleansmusicians.com as well as keep pace with my current rate of publications on the podcast, the Youtube Channel, and the blog. I cannot begin to explain how much I have enjoyed meeting and speaking with these people about their lives. I maintain contact with each and every one of them. Not only because of a vested interest on a personal level. But because the very crux of Neworleansmusicians.com is the network itself. It is what allows me the privilege of bringing opportunity to my members. For this coming year, I will also need to pay more attention to possible avenues of income for Neworleansmusicians.com while preserving my commitment to always keeping it free to use for everyone. One particular statistic I left out in this year-in-review is the amount of money I spent this year on Neworleansmusicians.com. It’s in the five digits. I’ve been so focused on promoting bands and generating media that I haven’t really given the importance of (at least) breaking even its due. I’ve never cared much for the act of putting a price on one’s passion. But I also never realized the digital age could deliver such hefty bills! Once again, like many musicians out there, 2023 has seen me wince at the price of pursuing one’s passion, as well as things like gasoline and Enfamil. I must admit this will not be an easy task for me. I do have a donation page, but that has been crickets. I understand what it’s like to live hand-to-mouth. So, I’ve not expected much on that front. If anyone knows of any effective grant writers or fund-raising entities that would be a fit, I’m all ears. But in the words of author and educator Marsha Sinetar, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
PS – If anyone would like to help spread the word, I have postcards and stickers. Send me your address and I’ll get those out to you for free. Thanks!
Author: David Trahan