"I think everything in the music business today is backwards," said Ned Brower, guitarist for the Oneonta band Spectacular Average Boys. "Even if music is the most important thing in your life, unless you're in the right circles, making music is secondary to a career. You don't see a lot of people who just play rock 'n' roll and get rich. You need to find other ways of making money, like getting into production or clothing. You need to be a businessperson as much as you're a musician."
Brower and banjo player Luke Moran, bassist Joel Shue and drummer Matt Payton formed their band in 2010. They met when they were students at Oneonta High School but played in other bands at that time.
Today, Joel and Matt both work as veterinarian technicians, and Luke does a variety of jobs in the area. The band is already very popular and performed at the Oneonta Theatre on May 12. Ned had a backlog of songs for the band to perform at the beginning of their work together, but the band's new songs have been written collaboratively. They are making plans for a summer tour to begin as soon as they have finished recording a five song EP at Oneonta's Dryhill Studios.
Goals for the Band
"We're playing some local shows now. We'll get the songs copyrighted and we'll send the EP to major labels and venues that might hire us. The Spectacular Average Boys could get on a label, and my goal is to pay as many bills as possible with it," Brower said. "One other major goal is to get our music licensed for local television. It would be good to have a local band play music for local television ads.
"It's funny how things come around in circles," he added. "I got my college degree in environmental science and biology and got a steady job at Springbrook, a resident home for developmentally disabled people. Even though I'm very happy at work, I think this is the time to try to be successful with the band.
"I love my job, but of all the bands I've been with in the past, this is the most interesting one. It's 'pop-friendly' enough to go somewhere. I'm saving vacation hours so we can go on tour. We'll probably tour in Albany and Ithaca first, where we already have a lot of fans so we'll play to a big crowd. It's very grass roots promotion."
Music, Marketing and Merchandising
"We have a small website at theaverageboys.tumblr.com. We've gotten some airtime from WONY and our performance at Bluefield's Café on Walnut Street was broadcast. We'll put our music on iTunes and we can print our own merchandise. It's scary, but more exciting than having someone else provide the merchandise. You hear all the old horror stories of bands that got (hurt) in the past. You won't get rich but you won't have some sleazy guy with gold chains telling you what to do," he said.
"So far, we've been funding things by playing the local shows and building up an account. We hope we'll be self-sufficient playing shows and selling merchandise. Anyone can make recordings and put them on iTunes tomorrow, so the necessity for major label backing is less than it might be," Brower continued. "Everything we do is based on a sense of community. It's like starting a small business. You have to be ready to support it for a few years before it will support you.
"We're not just in it for the quick buck," he added. "There's a feeling of legacy. If there's one person who heard our music and liked it, we did what we wanted to do. We left something for someone to enjoy. If I'm dead and gone in 50 years but people still hear our music, that's great."
Dr. Janet Nepkie is a member of the music industry faculty in the music department of the State University College at Oneonta. Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/musicbeat.