Words by Adam Quinn
The corporate-ruled, profit-driven, artist-ignored music industry burnt to the ground and the Internet was the match lighting the fire. Out of these ashes opportunities are growing for musicians to connect with their fans in ways before unknown. Hyper-connected online communities create new opportunities and present unique resources for bands striving to make a living off of their music.
Weathervane Music Organization cultivates such opportunities for musical artists. Their mission states this desire to generate opportunities explicitly: “…[better] society by creating community, opportunities and resources that support and advance the careers of working independent musicians.” Founder, Brian McTear shared with Tri State Indie the history of his organization, Weathervane’s opportunities for musicians and what he hopes to be the future for career musicians.
Weathervane stems from an idea McTear entertained back in 2002 for an artist’s retreat. A producer by trade, McTear saw first-hand what musicians go through to make it in the industry and he saw the growing need to aid musicians in their efforts to make a living.
Over the course of time, the idea congealed and grew into a tangible pursuit. In 2008 McTear pulled the trigger with the help of high-school buddy, musician, and non-profit fundraiser, Bill Robertson. Plans quickly changed, however, when the economy tanked and proposed funding was not available.
Brian recalls the struggles of that time: “We worked for four months on this business plan based on the idea we’d be working with a large budget…we literally had to throw it in the trash.”
Rather than discouraging Brian and Bill, the new challenge of limited funding directed Weathervane down the path of ingenuity and inventiveness. 2009 marked the launch of what would eventually become “Shaking Through,” Weathervane’s premier project, co-sponsored with Philadelphia’s WXPN. “Shaking Through” provides musicians — each project begins by choosing a new curator who then chooses the musicians — with a professional recording session, a video-shoot, and exposure through Weathervane, WXPN, and other online outlets.
McTear said he believed that each year he felt a greater need to provide something for these musicians, who often experience a sub-standard of living. McTear also attributed the recession’s pressure to making careful and conscientious decisions for Weathervane: “we got off on the right foot because we had to be that much more thoughtful about [Weathervane].”
Today, Weathervane continues to experience success in fulfilling their mission of assisting and supporting musicians. In addition to Shaking Through, Weathervane is currently developing “Weathervane Private Studio Concerts” Series, which will feature “Shaking Through” artists in intimate studio shows at Minor Street Recording, the home base for Weathervane’s recordings.
In the future, Brian has a vision to have a “Weathervane Audio and Video Share.” Brian hopes to develop this project to offer Weathervane’s raw content for the public to download, rework, remix, or remaster with their own creative touch. Brian’s ultimate goal for this project is to foster an online creative community focused on sharing the craft of music and musical production.
What Brian is doing with Weathervane not only helps musicians share their work but also takes steps towards healing a music industry, which focuses heavily on profit and less on the artists’ musical craft. Weathervane grants musicians the opportunity to create music while maintaining an appropriate standard of living. Brian puts it best: “Music is a real career for people, it is not just some silly adolescent dream.”
In the long-term Brian eventually sees a shift in the societal value of music. “I hope one day, after we fix the cultural attitudes towards the importance of music, to actually create real, sustainable careers for artists,” what Brian sees as a musicians’ middle class. Although he admits he still wants to be a rock star, his ultimate goal is creating this sustainable lifestyle for not only musicians but for all artists.
Keep up to date with Weathervane’s monthly series “Shaking Through” to see the latest featured artist. Also, check out the Weathervane’s archives for all past “Shaking Through” projects and keep posted on Weathervane Private Studio Sessions here.