Putting together a compilation CD of music and accompanying release party is not as easy as it looks. You'd think it would be as simple as asking for some music, burning some discs and handing them out, but much more goes into the series than that.
On Nov. 4, at the Neighborhood Theatre, Creative Loafing will release Vol. 5 in the Jeff Hahne's Homebrew series. The upcoming CD will feature music by Appalucia, Aqualads, Babyshaker, Bakalao Stars, The Bear Romantic, The Catch Fire, Cement Stars, The Hot Gates, Lucky Five, Pullman Strike, Side By Side, Small Talk Industries, Super Ape, Temperance League and 25 Minutes to Go.
How did the idea begin and how does it all come together? Here's a look into the process:
THE BEGINNING: I came up with the idea for the Homebrew series five years ago after I became music editor at CL. I've always noticed the struggle musicians have in getting their music out to the public. Many people refuse to pay a $5 cover for a band they've never heard before, let alone $10 for a CD. I decided the best way to help out local musicians while promoting the music scene is to help get music out for free. If bands would offer one of their songs for a compilation, we get sponsors to cover expenses, have the discs made at a local printer and then hand them out for free around town.
THE MUSIC: Once I had the idea, the next step was getting the music together. I wanted to try to keep it diverse in sound and genre. Bands are limited to those within a 30-mile radius of Charlotte. I've gotten roughly 50 submissions for each CD, which are narrowed down by sound quality — fuzzy four-track recordings won't work — and then by the quality of the song itself.
Once I determine who to feature on the CD, I notify the bands and get a music release form signed so I can legally have the CDs made. In the meantime, an art designer works on the cover art, sales reps sell sponsorship of the CD, a venue is secured for the release party, a date is set for getting the disc to the printer and picking up the finished product and a local sound engineer gets the music for mastering.
For all five of the releases, Rob Tavaglione at Catalyst Recording has worked to give the CD the best sound quality possible. He makes sure all of the songs play at an even level and that the quality stays as consistent as possible. He gives me an initial copy to hear and make any changes before I receive a final master copy to send to the printing company.
THE PARTY: In the fall of 2007, the first Homebrew CD launched via a release party at The Evening Muse. Roughly 100 people came out. Our last two parties were held at the Neighborhood Theatre and drew 430 and 650 people. It's not as easy as simply throwing a party though. I reach out to all of the bands on the CD to ask who is available to perform at a free concert. Once I have the bands, artwork and date, I give that information to the venue, have posters made up and start promoting the show.
In addition, I contact the bands to find out their individual stage plots (where equipment is placed on stage), coordinate a backline — it's easier to have bands share drums, amps and some equipment to make transitions faster — and decide on the order and length of time each band will play. Of course, calming my nerves as I host an event in front of hundreds of people is an entirely different problem to tackle.
So, that's a quick rundown of some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into each Homebrew CD and release party. I have to thank the sponsors — this year they are Neighborhood Theatre, Rock University and Buffalo Exchange — for helping us provide an outlet where people can hear talented local bands for free. The Neighborhood Theatre also works with us to put on a free concert on a gallery crawl night so more people can stop in to hear some great music. And of course, we thank the bands who offer their music for free — previously mentioned — and who are willing/available to perform for free — Lucky 5, Temperance League, The Bear Romantic, Cement Stars and Side By Side. See you on Nov. 4!