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Bands upload to increase exposure

YouTube has democratized video, providing free online access to millions of videos uploaded by users as big as television networks like NBC, as small as can be imagined and any one in between.

Sleeping in Gethsemane

YouTube has democratized video, providing free online access to millions of videos uploaded by users as big as television networks like NBC, as small as can be imagined and any one in between.

Only a year old in December - the month after Google bought the Web site for more than $1.6 billion - the beauty of the simple-to-use video-sharing service is that it's not just what you get to watch. It's who you can get to watch you.

About a dozen area bands are taking advantage of the latter, posting clips on the site in hopes that they can attract more listeners and hook the ones they already have.

"You'd be remiss not to do it if you have a band in this day and age," says Tony Mangnall, who plays guitar for the Fargo-based metal band Nex.

Bands have plenty of competition on YouTube. Every day, about 100 million videos are viewed and another 65,000 uploaded, according to the company. It's a vast repository of amateur recordings, random televised clips and obscurity of all stripes.


Just searching under the keyword Fargo can demonstrate that. Two of the most prevalent series of videos are, inexplicably, taped wrestling matches from the junior nationals and the past and present end-of-the-day sign-offs of area television stations.

But musicians in area bands who've posted clips - a collection ranging from high-school jazz to hardcore punk - say the online videos of their live performances do cut through the clutter to reach people.

They're not necessarily meant to convert new fans. The online videos provide somebody who digs a local act a place to get something beyond the songs offered on their Myspace page.

"It's mostly after the fact," says Ian Johnson, guitarist for Quick to Fall, a Christian pop punk band from Fargo.

Johnson says views of the band's YouTube video and Myspace page spike the day after a show.

It can do more than bolster a fan base, though. Charlie Wang, vocalist for hardcore band Any Day, credits his band's YouTube video with helping it get a show in Winnipeg in April. The nearly 22-minute clip was posted by a fan from the city.

"I'm not even sure of his real name. I think it's Kevin," he says.

When the guy whose name might be Kevin was raving about Any Day back up north, he had video proof of their kinetic live show to which to point. Wang thinks it helped secure the Canadian gig.


Fred Frenzel, singer for Christopher Walken Overdrive, says the band gets a shoutout from time to time on its Myspace from far-flung fans.

"It's a little unexpected at times because we're just a small band," he says. But it doesn't surprise him because he's done the same for bands from Finland and New Jersey.

With seven clips - one for each of its six originals and a cover of the theme song for "Metalocalypse," a Cartoon Network show - Nex appears to have more YouTube clips posted than any other Fargo act.

The band's been together for a little more than a year, and Mangnall said its Web presence was part of the plan from the start.

"We knew that we wanted to use the Internet to promote ourselves," he says. They've even brought a friend on as a co-manager responsible for finding new networking and file-sharing sites Nex can hit.

"There's hundreds of places you can do this," he says.

The responses to the videos have been positive but mostly limited to what Mangnall admits is a pretty small circle of fans. Still, he's encouraged.

"The do-it-yourselfers now have almost complete control. The only thing they lack is the money," he says. "You can do it by sheer force of Internet advertising. It's happened before, and hopefully, with us, it'll happen again."


Lots of people agree with Mangnall. Many commentators believe the recording industry will be eclipsed by the power bands are granted by connecting directly to a global fan base.

Even on a smaller scale, Johnson says he's seen the dynamic at work for Quick to Fall. A friend recorded their YouTube video and their Myspace account has seen their songs played 15,000 times. Passing out printed flyers just doesn't compare, he says.

"The people checking you out are doing the work for you. It's taking over promotion. We can only promote ourselves so far," he says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

"Quick to Fall" Fargo

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