The New Revolutionaries: All Night Party mixes business, pleasure
Once upon a time, major record labels controlled every movement of a band's identity. But as the economics of the music industry shift, a DIY atmosphere has sprouted in their place.
With that loss of guidance comes increased freedom. Still, many bands have been left to figure out how to do everything on their own, from licensing services to mastering and recording.
That’s where the All Night Party
comes in. Formed by musicians to help other local and regional musicians navigate the convoluted industry, the ANP gives bands a one-stop shop that enables them to build successful businesses.
In many ways, the Internet, and the accessibility to music through online streaming and piracy, has taken the value out of music as a profession. The ANP is trying to give that value back.
ANP formed in 2009 after local, tenured rockers, The Sundresses, searched for a way to release their album, Barking House.
Brad Schnittger, drummer for The Sundresses, and Dave Davis, co-founder of Ultrasuede Studios on Spring Grove Avenue, decided to go ahead with the ANP as a business after they successfully launched Barking House.
The two saw potential in a market that wasn't yet tapped locally. Now, the ANP consists of Davis, Schnittger, Brian Niesz, John Curley, Monika Royal and Makenzie Place. While Davis and Schnittger play two of the main roles, they couldn't function with the expertise each member brings to the company.
"We have the perfect mix of people,” Schnittger says. “I'm a musician and can communicate on their level — ‘Bandese,’ they call it.
"Monika speaks 'Brandish,’ and communicates with the companies we license music to. Dave is sort of the mastermind that brings everything together."
The ANP tries to match local bands with local and national companies while creating lasting connections. The symbiotic bonds bring exposure to the music and community involvement to the companies.
A perfect example of ANP’s work? A Cincinnati Bell commercial that featured music from a local band, Sohio. The commercial was posted on YouTube and got thousands of views along with local praise and traction.
"Local bands have a lot of fans," Davis says. "Companies just don't realize it. It's an invaluable way to engage the local market."
But the ANP’s mission expands beyond musical matchmaking and into the complicated world of music licensing. Since music licensing deals can be very confusing, members of the ANP developed Distroli
to streamline the process. The program is currently entered in the Cincinnati Innovates contest.
Distroli helps bands navigate exactly which kind of terms they need in a licensing deal. It allows them to opt into only the services they need and maximize their revenues.
"We've done our due diligence and looked around, but we haven't found anyone that does exactly what we do," Davis says. "There are plenty of companies that burn bands for money, but we never take money out of artists’ pockets."
The ANP also brings a creative flair to promotions. For example, instead of randomly handing out download cards, they once teamed with the now-defunct North Slice Pizzeria for a Sundresses Pizza event. The more toppings customers chose for their pizzas, the more downloadable songs they got. They were literally paying for music via pizza toppings.
"It's a little gimmicky, but it makes people remember," says Royal, the ANP’s marketing director. "It was really popular."
Contrast that approach with Starbucks’ music download cards, Davis says. "For every 100 of those they print, they probably get three or four downloads," he says. "They just don't have any value or connection with the person that picks it up."
So the ANP took the idea of the download card a step further with their Midwest by Southwest tour last spring. Midwest by Southwest showcased local bands on a tour from Cincinnati to Austin, Texas.
Bands played shows along the way to South by Southwest (SXSW). Once at SXSW, all the bands played a showcase where the ANP gave attendees free earplugs they dubbed "HearPlugs." “HearPlugs” attached to a download card with a song from each band on the tour; the ANP reports 30 percent download rates.
"I've never seen download rates like that anywhere," Davis says. "It says a lot to creating something engaging."
Davis says that when people call the ANP “music promotion,” they are way off the mark. From licensing out music or mastering a record, the ANP works closely with local bands to engage customers, brands and musicians to make valuable music and products that will give value back to the music industry.
"We want to raise the musical lake around here, and hopefully every ship in it will benefit," Davis says.
"There are so many things, like the World Choir Games, bringing attention to the music scene in Cincinnati. Ultimately, that creates more opportunities for bands, brands and companies like us."
All photos by Scott Beseler