Indier Than Thou

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Todd Dulawan has an issue with the way bands are booked for the third annual San Diego Indie Music Fest scheduled for March 3, 2007.

"Most of the slots reserved are for bands that are not even from San Diego," says Dulawan. "My main beef is [the event's] affiliation with Sonicbids. Sonicbids is worse than 'pay to play'; it's more like a pay to maybe play."

Sonicbids.com facilitates promotion, booking, and A&R for bands that subscribe. For a fee (a $5 "introductory" rate for three months, $50 for a year), the service creates an electronic press kit for the band. At the band's request, Sonicbids sends electronic press kits out for promoters' consideration. Sonicbids was selected by Indie Music Fest promoters to acquire talent.

"The artist profiles on purevolume and MySpace are just as good or better than the [electronic press kits] on sonicbids.com," says Dulawan. "In order to sign up to maybe [play] one of these festivals, you have to pay an additional $10 on average just to be considered [by each promoter]; some are $5, some are $15.... Where does all the money go from the bands who don't get selected?"

Panos Panay, founder of sonicbids.com, says his service can save the artist money. The per-event fee "is roughly the cost of sending something through the mail.... This way the artists don't have to pay for postage and the promoters don't have to sift through a ton of mail."

Dulawan says, "The thing about postage is a bunch of crap. How much does it cost to send a CD in the mail? It doesn't cost anywhere near $10. It's, like, $2 and change."

Regarding the $10 fee that's being charged by Sonicbids, Panay says, "The majority of those fees go to the promoter," in this case, to the San Diego Indie Music Fest.

San Diego Indie Music Fest executive producer Alicia Champion did not respond to a request for comment.

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