music morsels The Band Mates Network November 2007


Jason Spooner

ARTIST NAME: Jason Spooner
MUSICAL GENRE: Pop singer/songwriter
CDS SOLD: 3000 of the current CD release
FAN BASE: over 3000

MM: When did you decide to start doing music?

JS: The whole songwriter thing happened for me because of my dad and his collection of 8-track tapes in the 70’s. He had this amazing collection of music by people like Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Paul Simon, all those master songwriters, as well as having some great soul music. So I had an early exposure to pretty strong music by anybody’s standards.

MM: When did you take music seriously and start getting more into it professionally?

JS: I started learning guitar when I was in high school, and then I started playing around in coffee houses around New England. The cool thing about New England is it is sort of an epicenter for folk and singer/songwriters. I started doing all the coffee houses and open mics when I was fourteen years old. At first, I wasn’t real serious about it, but I did hope that it would organically grow into something. I mainly wanted to get some performance time under my belt. I started first with just covers until I finally found the courage to do some originals live. It just took shape from there and I started writing more and more, and started enjoying what I was doing more.

MM: What else did you do in the early days just to let people know you were there?

JS: I did record a couple homemade demos and got some music out that way. Then I played in some bands in college. I don’t know how musically groundbreaking any of those projects were, but it did keep me playing and rehearsing. After college, I moved to Maine and really decided I wanted to take this more seriously. I started doing more writing when I lived up in this lake house here, and really planted the seeds for doing this more professionally. I got the songs together and decided I needed to be in a city where there were more resources available for musicians. So I moved to Portland and started gigging in bars, coffee houses, colleges, wherever I could. I did that from the late 90’s into the early 2000’s. Then in 2002 or so, I hooked up with a drummer and a bassist, and I had originally veered away from a band for a while because of drama and having to balance different schedules and personalities. But the more I played with these guys, I felt like I was growing more as a musician with them. So that was the beginning of me performing with a band rather than just solo.

MM: When you put out your first album, what did you do to market it?

JS: The first CD was just after I formed the band, and we hadn’t even really played the original tunes yet. So the music felt almost more like a solo record with a band sort of casually involved. Even though it was not really the early days of internet, you didn’t have avenues like Myspace and Sonic Bids like you do now. Everything was still in the larval stage, but I utilized the net as much as I could to get the word out.  Other than that, most of it was doing as many shows and as much self-promotion as I could. I didn’t really know much about doing radio promotion or publicity at the time, but it was just what I could spawn on my own. It was more of a localized effort, but it gave me something to build on.

MM: Did you approach recording and marketing your latest CD differently?

JS: Absolutely. After five solid years of touring and performing as an ensemble, we tackled that record in a completely different way, First we had a band sound that we really wanted to marquee for the record so we walked into the studio with a very good idea of the sound we wanted for the record and the types of songs we wanted to have on it. The big difference this time around is we took the time to do it better, and we did preproduction as well. It came to fruition much more clearly and I really felt I made the record I wanted to make. In terms of the promotion, I also tackled that in a completely different way. I have a much more seasoned sense of what is involved. I hired a publicist when it came out, and then I brought in Triple-A (radio) promoters out of the Northeast and the Midwest who are getting adds for us, and also a college promoter. I feel that I tackled things from a more informed perspective. Every indie musician has to realize at some point that just like any business when you are in the startup mode, you do everything yourself. When you get to a point where you start growing and progressing in a positive way, then you need to start delegating responsibilities by bringing people in for your team. I feel I am at the point right now where I believe in the record enough where I need to invest in the resources I need to obtain a more advanced form of visibility. It’s getting out there in a positive way.

MM: What is the feedback you get from your fans about what they like most about your music?

JS: One thing we hear is people really like the songwriting. The writing process took a couple years where I had the time to really dig into and harvest whatever I had available to write the record. People also like the musicianship in the band and what I think we bring to the table as a trio is that we have always been able to do a lot with a little. We are a fairly stripped down trio, but we have always been able to do a lot with a minimalist set up, and people seem to notice the energy and the amount of sound that we are creating for three guys. I think it also shows the level of commitment we have and you need to have that with any type of art to keep it interesting. They also seem to think we give 110 percent. You see some bands perform and they act like you should be the one who is grateful to see them. With me, I feel like I have the greatest job in the world and I feel completely honored to be doing it.  

MM: What sort of level of success would you like to see and what do you feel it will take to get there?

JS: The music business is an education and it is fairly complex. One thing is we like to play, and we like to play often. I would rather be a band performing than try to create an illusion of being at a certain level and then not playing out that much. So we have always had the ideal that we would rather be playing than not. No matter where we are playing, we give as good a show as possible, whether it is at a big folk festival in front of several thousand people like we did this summer, or in a club in front of less than a hundred people. That consistency really goes a long way with the fans, and helps to create loyalty. To reach any level of success, we need to just stay on course. You have to truly believe that your music deserves to be on the air as much as anyone else, and that your live shows are just as good. I would like to be able to tour around with some regularity and play to interested audiences in different markets. A good methodology is to think incrementally about your career. Taking it realistically and slowly and build a foundation that is not going to be top heavy where you try to climb five rungs at a time to get to the top of the ladder. You have to know what you have to offer and know what your place is.
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