Read about what Atlanta's tastemakers are saying about indieATL.
Public radio listeners probably know of Tiny Desk concerts. Bands squeeze behind All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk and perform a few songs. The sessions are filmed and put online for fans to watch.
Tiny Desk is just one of many organizations that do sessions like these. Other public radio stations like KEXP and music companies like Audiotree have vast libraries of bands performing in their studios.
Atlanta has a few homegrown music sessions. Georgia State University’s indieATL just celebrated nine years of videos. A joint venture between WRAS and the Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab, the sessions feature local talent and national touring bands.
Back when indieATL started, the pool for video sessions was quite small. Matt Rowles, the Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab’s digital media coordinator who heads up the operation, saw the videos as a “digital tour bus.”
“It’s really expensive for bands to get in a van and tour the country. There’s no money in it,” Rowles said. “This was originally a way for bands to reach people in other towns. Or at least, when they did book a show, the venue will provide a link to that video, so the audience has some idea of what they are like before they see them.”
indieATL is also an educational opportunity for the Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab’s graduate students, who shoot and engineer the sessions. On average, there will be 12 people in set, working with five different cameras.
Production company Carbon Film has been putting out videos since last summer. In no reference to actual public radio, their video series is called Public Radio Sessions, and it primarily features talent from Atlanta and other Southern cities along with bands touring through the South. With a smaller crew, creators Adam Valeiras and Michael Morales shot each video in a different location.
Morales said, “We try to pick locations that fit the band, and sometimes we have our heart set on a location, but it doesn’t work out. So, if the location’s not going to highlight the band, it’s just something that falls into the background and lets them come out.”
They filmed Molly Parden and Charlie Whitten at Decatur Presbyterian Church. Sydney Eloise and the Palms were filmed atop Arabia Mountain. New York’s Diet Cig was shot inside The Ghani Hair Studio.
Valeiras and Morales hope these sessions help bands book shows and sell tickets, but the sessions also provide a historical record of the music scene.
“Because we’ve done a lot of local bands, it’s kind of like we’ve created a catalog of the scene at this current moment in time,” said Valeiras. “If the videos were ever to surface in the future, it’s something people can go through to see what Atlanta was like.”
More videos are available through Way Down In Cabbagetown’s sessions, some of which WABE featured last year. WABE has also partnered Immersive Atlanta on Liner Notes, a video series featuring Atlanta songwriters.
If you're a). a fan of sites like Daytrotter and Tiny Desk Concerts, b). in possession of a good pair of headphones or speakers, and c). in search of excellent indie music from right here in the A, you would probably enjoy the good work of indieATL. Much like the aforementioned popular music sessions sites, indieATL produces live music videos with independent musicians in Atlanta, right on the campus of Georgia State. In the past few years, the likes of Noot d'Noot, Adron, the Black Lips, Dead Confederate, Jeffrey Butzer, the Back Pockets, and many more have graced the pages of indieATL.com, all for free and all for your listening pleasure. And this weekend, they'll be breaking out the party hats for their fifth birthday celebration.
Indeed, indieATL has spent five solid years promoting local acts purely out of the goodness of their hearts (and a love for Atlanta's music and arts scene). Celebrations will occur this Saturday at Star Bar, where five indie acts (including our beloved, be-codpieced Cousin Dan) will grace the stage. Happy 5th birthday, indieATL—you might not be able to tie your shoes yet, but your motor skills are really accelerating and you're only halfway to becoming a fine young tween.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
indieATL turns 5
"On April 24, 2007, indieATL set up and shot performances by two bands, both of which, at the time, were Atlanta indie fixtures on the upswing, the Liverhearts and Celephais, playing in Georgia State University's Digital Arts & Entertainment Lab (DAEL). It was an outsourced gig of sorts; a live performance that would later be aired on GA State's 88.5/FM WRAS.
Since then the show's producer Matt Rowles has gone on to film more than 80 local and nationally touring acts, including Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, Bower Birds, Busdriver, Fiery Furnaces, Adron, Sleepy Sun, Sealions, Black Lips, War on Drugs, and a whole lot more, many of which can bee seen on YouTube. To celebrate this legacy of documenting music in Atlanta, Rowles and coordinating producer Kristy Breneman are throwing a five-year anniversary party at the Star Bar on Saturday, May 5 — Cinco de Mayo. Cousin Dan, Clan Destined, From Exile, A. Grimes, and the Great American Breakdown are all scheduled to perform, and yes it will all be caught on film.
Stay tuned, more indieATL videos are coming soon."
Atlanta Music Guide
Interview with Matt Rowles of indieATL
IndieATL, the Georgia State University arm that simultaneously schools students on video-making and supports the city’s independent music scene, has more than a few reasons to celebrate. Tonight at 529, Baby Baby, El Fossil and other local acts will aid the web only live music series in high-fiving the holiday season—but that’s not the only cause for cheer. They’ve just inked a deal with Comcast to replace the Bands on Demand series.
“It’s been a year-and-a-half of back and forth between Georgia State’s lawyers and Comcast’s lawyers,” says IndieATL head honcho Matt Rowles.
At last, they’re moving forward. What to expect? For one, the same fine quality filming and sound found in the more than 100 available IndieATL videos. Bands like Gringo Star, Carnivores, O’Brother, Royal Thunder, the Coathangers and Death on Two Wheels have all gotten the IndieATL treatment. For the On Demand offerings, however, an interview component will be added.
“But we’re not going to do it where I’m on camera. We’re going to ask [the bands] questions then all we’re going to cut to is their answers. Because I don’t want to be on camera,” Rowles laughs.
Unlike its predecessor, IndieATL’s take on Bands on Demand will be filmed at various locations. Tonight, for example, they’ll be interviewing the bands at the holiday shindig. So not only will the show push local music, it’ll also highlight some of the city’s best venues and most beloved watering holes.
And while IndieATL often snags national acts rolling through town for sessions—they’ve had Delta Spirit and Fiery Furnaces, among others—the Comcast series probably won’t feature them.
“It will mostly be focused on Atlanta and promoting Atlanta bands and Atlanta’s music scene,” he clarifies.
In 2008, when I first spoke to Rowles about IndieATL, it was very much a fledgling project. Not anymore. When Rowles polled the Facebook fan page for a wish list of 2013 sessions, responses ran upwards of 10,000.
“It was like the most interaction we’ve ever had on any of our pages whatsoever, so that’s awesome,” he elates. “And there were some really good suggestions. So we’ll probably base the [upcoming] season somewhat on audience demand.”
If that’s not an indication of how much bigger and better IndieATL’s gotten, the series’ stats surely are.
“The other thing that happened in 2012 is we crossed the million-view mark on YouTube,” adds Rowles. “It’s not Justin Bieber numbers, but that’s pretty good for Atlanta indie rock!”
IndieATL 5th Anniversary Party
"This pick isn’t so much about the lineup (although it’s a good one, no doubt) as it is about indieATL who will be celebrating its fifth anniversary this Saturday night at Star Bar. In that time, Matt Rowles and his production team at the Digital Arts Entertainment Lab at Georgia State University have recorded hundreds of live sessions from an impressive array of bands—both local and national—and their YouTube channel has garnered close to 900,00 views. Their hi-def, professional-quality videos always look and sound terrific, and they often highlight deeper cuts than just the current single. Over the past couple of years, the team has really made a commitment to documenting up-and-coming Atlanta acts, in the process bringing a tremendous amount of exposure to the local music scene. So happy anniversary, indieATL! Of the handful of organizations that are doing something unique and productive in this city, you’re absolutely one of my favorites and I look forward to many more sessions in the future."
indieATL's 5th Birthday
One of my favourite local music institutions is celebrating half a decade of producing stellar live video sessions on Cinco de Mayo at the Star Bar with a diverse and heavy-hitting lineup. This will be a really fun one.
Video Builds the Radio Star
Matt Rowles figured, at the least, the IndieATL music video series would provide graduate students in the film, video and digital imaging program some hands-on experience working on a professional shoot. He didn't expect the project, a collaboration between GSU's Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab and the university's student-run radio station, WRAS 88.5 FM, to evolve into an Internet sensation.
For the series, produced entirely by GSU staff and students, Rowles, digital media coordinator at the DAEL, teams with the staff at WRAS to bring in emerging musicians or bands to film a music video in the DAEL studio.
The concept is simple, but since the project began three years ago, it has gained serious traction online. Rowles said the videos have received more than 300,000 views on the various sites where they are hosted.
"People will take the videos and embed them into their own websites and blogs," he said. "We're averaging 800 views a day from all over the world."
The bands typically perform three or four songs for the video segment, then the mastered audio tracks are given to WRAS for radio play.
"It's a win-win for everybody," Rowles said. "For our students, it's a multi-camera shoot - they're involved in many different disciplines including multi-track recording and multi-camera editing."
Local, national and international acts have visited the DAEL studios, and the bands certainly have something to do with the project's success. The Black Lips have participated, as have other Atlanta favorites including Anna Kramer and the Selmanaires. Rowles said sometimes they're also able to work in higher profile national acts - such as Robyn Hitchcock, who was backed by R.E.M.'s Peter Buck during his IndieATL performance - that are on tour and in town for another performance. So far, they've filmed more than 35 performers.
"We also use it as a recruitment tool, and so far, we've had an increase in applicants to the master's program," Rowles said.
Steven Swigart, one of a handful of graduate students working on the project, said that it is exactly what attracted him to the program.
"It's fun, first of all, and I'm proud to be working on it," Swigart said. "I'm also getting experience with some of best equipment out there."
Rowles said the students operate professional studio, high-definition cameras using tapeless workflows - meaning the cameras record the video onto digital cards, which, Rowles said, helps to save time during post production. The DAEL also employs a "jib arm," a large boom device with a camera mount that creates the series' sweeping camera pans.
The filming process is very much like a television-style shoot, Rowles said, so it exposes the students to another form of video production.
"Working on this project also teaches us about sound production, which is also beneficial," said Swigart, who was the cinematographer for the grand prize winning commercial for the Georgia Lottery's "Powerball: Lights, Camera, Action" contest.
The grad students also get direction and encouragement from graduates of the program who come back to assist the crew during shoots.
"It's a good opportunity for us to work with recent graduates and get help or advice on our other projects," said Christopher Escobar.
For the radio station, it has been a means to increase their own music rotation as well as bolster their soon-to-be-unveiled streaming broadcast content.
"The project has worked out really well for us, and it's been really great working with Matt and his team over there," said Adam "Bomb" DeVore, general manager at WRAS - the largest student-programmed radio station in the country. "We get on-air content, and we put some songs into rotation, but most importantly, we're going to be increasing our web presence."
DeVore said the station is in the midst of finalizing their streaming broadcast feature.
Thanks to Matt Rowles, Georgia State is going viral.
indieATL, a Web-based series of live music sessions recorded at the Digital Arts Entertainment Lab studio, has reached its highest viewership yet. According to Rowles, its YouTube page now garners more than 1,200 daily hits.
The project is a collaborative effort between the DAEL and the university's esteemed radio station, WRAS 88.5 FM. National and local indie acts are featured – and many videos travel the Web like blogosphere brushfire.
As the digital media coordinator at the DAEL, Rowles said, "I wanted to do something to promote the lab. But I'm a musician, so let's do an ‘Austin City Limits' deal, but for Atlanta. That's kind of how it started."
"Austin City Limits," the Public Broadcasting System's long-running live concert series, is taped at the University of Texas at Austin. The show's hometown is a forerunning hub for indie music, but Atlanta is quickly catching up.
In the past five years, local acts like modern-day garage-rock icons The Black Lips and ambient shoe-gazers Deerhunter have been exalted to near-leadership status within the indie realm – and have revived the media's attention and city-dwellers' support for Atlanta's local indie rock scene in the process.
In the midst of such success, Rowles' timing was perfect.
"We have this large window that wraps around the side of the building," Rowles said of the recording studio located at One Park Place. "We always kept the curtains closed because it's a studio, and you know, it needs to be dark. But we had the idea of hey, let's show everybody what we're doing. We opened up the curtains, built a little stage and put bands in there."
It may sound like an oxymoron, but there's such a thing as indie giants. They're the bands signed to smaller labels that earn press from national outlets like Rolling Stone and NPR. Eventually, some of these bands get picked up for soundtracks to major motion pictures and high-budget car commercials. When those acts perform in Atlanta, IndieATL snags many of them – including Fiery Furnaces, Adam Arcuragi, Bowerbirds and Gogol Bordello, to name a few.
And though many of the local bands showcased boast strong followings (like The Black Lips and one of the metal scene's most beloved psych-metal bands, Zoroaster), IndieATL lends a helping hand to acts searching for recognition. The project simultaneously acts as a campaign for Georgia State's film and video department while aiding the dissemination of Atlanta's best fledgling musicians.
"If you look at the key word searches, most of my traffic comes from people looking for these specific national bands, like Drink Up Buttercup. The thing that helps Atlanta bands, being part of that mix, is that [their content] shows up in the related videos," Rowles explained.
Rowles admitted that, in its primitive first year in 2007, the series only churned out about four videos. Though WRAS joined the effort early on when the project was still dubbed "Entertainment Research" (a first-stage name that Rowles said became too "cumbersome"), it took IndieATL until last year to find sure footing.
Aside from the guidance of the WRAS promotions director, IndieATL has always relied on volunteers -- all of them Georgia State University students, alumni or staff. Elevated interest from charitable film and video aficionados and a strong commitment from WRAS' promotions director have helped IndieATL expand over time.
Rowles doesn't invest in traditional publicity, but sticks to Web-only promotional tools instead. With a YouTube page, blog, podcast, Twitter feed, Facebook account and Flickr album, Rowles has all of the social media bases covered.
Now in its third year, the increased consistency in production coupled with the solid WRAS relationship has planted IndieATL in a slingshot, ready to catapult into indie-world stardom.