I sat down with Eric Weiner, the founder of The Wild Honey Pie, to talk about running his Brooklyn-based music site, managing bands, and organizing & promoting shows in New York.
After The Show: The Wild Honey Pie puts on shows. What does that process of organizing and promoting a show entail from start to finish?
Eric: A lot of times we’ll have artists come to us and say ‘we’re coming to New York at this date, we’d love for you to curate the show.’ And I’ll book the venue, I’ll book the rest of the bands, negotiate what they’re going to get paid, figure out if we can bring on some sponsors for it so we can pay them some more and get the word out in that respect, and then from there it’s just about making it an event instead of just a concert.
So we’ll work with our illustrators to make a beautiful poster, we’ll promote it on the website, email blasts, Twitter, Facebook. It started with putting together great line-ups and hoping that those bands would sell out the show, but now more than ever before we’re bringing out people to these shows and exposing them to these bands, and very carefully putting together the line-up so that we can expose each band’s fans to each other.
I really like Knitting Factory and Mercury Lounge…what are the best venues in NY for both bands and audiences?
I think Cameo Gallery has made some huge strides. It went from being a really beautiful venue that was sort of hidden, and now they’re taking some great steps and making it a staple of the NY music scene. I’ll never turn down a show at Music Hall of Williamsburg – love it. Glasslands is great…Shea Stadium is a cool DIY. Living Room is a nice show depending on who you’re seeing, and same with Rockwood – great venue.
The Wild Honey Pie has a social media presence on Vimeo, Hype Machine, Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube, Foursquare, Tumblr…Is it important to reach all those platforms, or does it fragment your audience at all?
No…I do think Vimeo and YouTube fragments it. We’ve decided that YouTube is our platform – we don’t really upload to Vimeo anymore, although I do love what they have, YouTube subscribers are more important than people who follow you on Vimeo. It’s just the way it is.
Each platform does something different, so I think it’s important to have a presence on all including SoundCloud and Spotify. Spotify for example, I think we went from 400 followers to about 1500 in a month, so that number has become increasingly important.
Are you personally spending the time to update all those different platforms?
It’s not like it’s a part of the job – it just has to be a part of your life. With our social platforms, it’s important for me to have a very personal relationship with our readers and viewers. I personally manage all the social platforms…it’s important to have that personal element; it’s a person doing it as opposed to a machine.
How do you discover new bands?
We get a lot of emails. That’s how I’ve found some of my favorite artists. Some press releases from different PR agencies. Word of mouth, Bandcamp searches, SoundCloud searches, YouTube searches. Again, part of your life. It has to kind of run through your blood that you want to go out and find these artists and that it gives you some kind of intrinsic reward.
Some people like discovering and choosing songs much more than doing licensing paperwork & contracts. What parts of your music coordinator job at MTV job did you like most?
I really enjoyed placing music. I would get the episodes without music and tell the editor ‘here’s three songs to try here, here’s three songs to try there.’ That process of taking a scene without music and giving life to it – music is another character.
Do you read Lefsetz Letter? He said recently that music curation, as opposed to music tech, is not scalable, which I thought was an interesting idea. What’s your revenue model?
There’s a lot and I think that’s a good thing for us. We do a lot of different things – it all falls under the same umbrella – management, event promotion, video production, ad revenue, merchandise. There’s a few things I can’t reveal right now just because it’s in the works that are larger revenue streams that are really exciting.
You do so much – supervision, video production, concert promotion, artist management…what are your goals for the future – do you eventually want to focus on one area?
I think it’s about continuing to build The Wild Honey Pie. It’s about continuing to work creatively with other people who do similar things to me but also artists that I love and want to support. And getting to a place where we can post an article and have a substantial positive effect on their career, because we don’t waste our time writing negative reviews. We don’t waste our time talking about any bands that we don’t love.