Singing their way to stardom
Auditions (and just goofing around) on MySpace and YouTube vault amateur rockers into gigs with storied bands.
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"I just happened to get an e-mail one day from a gal on MySpace who had some information on how to get my music over to Tom Scholz," recalls DeCarlo.
DeCarlo didn't think anything would come of contacting Mr. Sholz, the band's founder. So he was stunned to receive an invitation to participate in a Delp tribute show. Afterward, he received a thank-you note from Scholz – "I thought I should be the one thanking them," exclaims the father of two. Then DeCarlo got something more: a request to join Boston's summer tour and sing on a new album. For DeCarlo, the gig is more than a feeling – it's an overwhelming emotion: "I still get jitters," he says.
A number of other major rock bands – including Velvet Revolver, Anthrax, and Journey – are turning to the Internet to search for replacement singers. Social-networking sites such as MySpace and YouTube are democratizing a try-out process once largely limited to the old-boy rocker network – and to the United States. By hiring unknowns, these groups have generated fresh interest in their bands and have made themselves appear more accessible to fans.
"The broader trend is that YouTube and the Internet is enabling fans to play a bigger role in the music they love," says Greg Kot, rock critic for The Chicago Tribune. "You're seeing Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead and other bands inviting fans to submit videos and remix songs. It's all part of this, 'let the fans in on the creative process, become co-conspirators – collaborators, almost.' This is kind of the extreme version of that."
In recent years, social-networking sites have allowed unknown artists to build their fan bases from scratch. Big-name musicians have used MySpace to connect with listeners. More often than not, though, that relationship resembles Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco of God and Adam: The fingers don't quite touch. So the move to hire fans as band members is something of a surprise.
Just ask Dan Nelson. The amateur rocker from Long Island contacted Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano through MySpace last year and struck up a rapport. He was invited to fill a spot in front of the microphone stand.