Monday, August 16, 2010

New site serves as online open mic for Chicago musician, performers worldwide

Posted by Frank

Most indie musicians today are well acquainted with social media, relying on sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to get the word out. One new site, though - TheStage.TV - has set out to take the interactive factor of social media for performers up to a new level.

Billing itself as "The World's Open Mic," the site allows performers and an audience to engage in real-time. The audience can applaud the performers, offer feedback and grant additional playing time. If an audience member really likes what they hear and see, they can subscribe and be notified whenever the performer is going to take TheStage.

All musicians need to perform on the site is a web camera/microphone, and they can take TheStage immediately or get queued-up if someone is currently performing. There's no cost to use the site and performers who rank in top positions can even earn money.

Melrose Park-based musician Dave Smith has become a dedicated member of, quickly gaining fans and a top ranking with over 500 performances on the site to date. Dave, who goes by "Anekretia" for the online performances, took the time to answer a few questions about his experiences as a Web-based musician and how he thinks can benefit indie artists:

WCR: Dave, how and when did you find out about and become involved in the site?

DS: For more than a few years I have traversed the Internet on a daily basis looking for things like this - chat rooms, websites and forums that had places for a person like me to collaborate with others. This particular website came up in a conversation with a friend of my girlfriend, and when we went and saw his video archive of his performance, we joined immediately. We instantly found an addictive home there.

How has your experience with the website been unique from other websites you've used in the past to get your music out there? has surpassed all of my previous experiences in more than a few ways such as instant video uploads to YouTube, which is a perfect way to archive a song idea quickly from any location. A person can do many things here - sing songs, do comedy, beat box sounds, drumming videos - it really is endless as long as it's PG material. This is the perfect environment to deal with stage fright issues, or even test out some new idea in sound.

What type of music do you perform on the website - originals, covers, both? What style of music do you focus on?

I have focused on cover songs - is a cover friendly environment - with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC licensing allowing someone like me to sing whatever they please. I have even been known to take requests via the chat room that watches. My focus is usually directed to whatever gets more cheers, time and subscribers. recently announced they will have genre-specific live channels (blues, progressive rock, electronic, country, etc.) and for someone like me who plays different styles, that's a huge benefit.

Did you have experience performing live in front of audiences before using TheStage?

I played many venues in California before I moved to Chicago, and once opened for a well-known metal band and an audience of 50,000 people in San Francisco. Those days are long gone, but I have found solace in sites such as and to curb the desire to tour and make it big.

Gina - gina401965 on - is the love of my life. Gina and I met on 3,500 miles apart. We are both Internet musicians, we've performed live for nearly three years now in virtual reality platforms for a decent amount of money per show, and have both grown to adore this site and some new fans as well from all over the world. Second Life is and has been our main venue in places around the world, and now we have become a main attraction on as well. We hope to see anyone there - drop in, make a request, just hang out, give time, cheer, and subscribe.

What effect has the website had on the way you approach performing your music? has encouraged me to sing far more than usual, but I have also found a home there for my guitar solo improvisational material, so it allows me to express myself however I wish, really. This site has also been a blessing in the financial department - there is a top 20 list and if you are on it you win money, with the amount depending on placement.

Overall, what do you think TheStage has to offer indie musicians? has tripled my YouTube subscribers and brought me new fans from around the world, and there is a small amount of pay for staying in the leaderboard as mentioned above. Those reasons are enough as it is, but is also a growing and improving environment. They are trailblazing new ideas and are pioneers in the field as it is now. Other sites have already tried to latch on to the idea, but has the real deal and first place of its kind with this type of artist-fan interaction. The typical musician, indie artist, or band, unless they are on world tour, cannot afford to miss doing this a few times, at least for the kicks.

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