In 2007 Jeff started interviewing local musicians for a podcast show called Boston Garage Bands. After several months and a couple dozen interviews he started hearing a similar theme. The local music scene didn't have a place that was dedicated just for them. Myspace, being the popular site at the time, was great but local music was lumped in with national acts and was lost in the shuffle and hard to find. So unless you knew what you were looking for, you would have a hard time finding new music from an unsigned artist.
In 2008 he created BostonGarageBands.com. The first Social Networking site devoted solely for original, unsigned and local musicians in MA. The artists could create and maintain their own profiles, post pictures, videos, create events and get their music heard more and connect with fans easier.
In 2009 he launched one of the first online radio stations playing music from the artists on the site 24/7 for the whole world to hear. Word spread and soon bands from all over wanted to join and in 2010, while doing an interview with Pulse Magazine, where he was named one of the Top 10 People to Watch, he expanded and changed the name of the site to New England Garage Bands. The site started making t-shirts for local artists and hosting concerts for all ages. Most shows were broadcast live on the station or recorded and posted as a podcast on the site and iTunes so fans all around the world could listen. The website/Radio Station starting gaining notoriety and for the first time an online radio station was nominated for "Station Most Supportive of Local Music" at the Worcester Music Awards three years in a row.
In late 2010 the site and radio station expanded to the whole world and rebranded it self as NEGB1. Soon bands from all over the world were creating profiles and connecting with each other, sharing ideas and setting up dates to play shows together. It was what Jeff had dreamed of since it's conception. Then in 2012 Doctors found a large lump on his thyroid and for health and personal reasons he had to walk away from it all and the site and radio station were shut down.
Over the years Jeff stayed an active part of the local music scene playing acoustic music in bars and restaurants, hosting awards shows, collaborating with musicians from all over and in 2016 his band We Are Bullethead was signed to a short lived record label deal and continue to play local shows and released their first first full length album Greatest Hits vol2 this past June. His weekly radio show Afternoon Delight can be heard on Boston Rock Radio.com Tuesdays from noon-2 starting in October and he continues to make his t-shirts that help spread the message to all to Support Local Music!!
Jeff Royds: Creator, NewEnglandGarageBands.com
By Craig Lindberg
Ask local musicians about the biggest obstacle they face and about 99% would say, “Getting our music exposed to the masses.” Talent is only part of the equation ~ it’s exposure, getting the music out there ~ that is critical to the big “C” word: Career.
Jeff Royds, 36, and his NewEnglandGarageBands.com website are now one of the most powerful forces behind that equation, and the list of bands he has already helped is, to say the least, impressive. In fact, many of us got to know NEGB as Boston Garage Bands, but due to the growing popularity of the site, Jeff decided to change the name to New England Garage Bands on Jan. 1.
The launch of NewEnglandGarageBands.com (again, at that time called BostonGarageBands.com) in April of 2007 opened up for local musicians an avenue that had previously been almost impossible to access: widespread exposure at little to no cost!
“NEGB offers local musicians the opportunity to create a profile to network for gigs, upload music and video, and access other avenues to promote their music,” states Jeff. Bands with no budgets get to have their music played 24/7 on NEGB ~ and if they become premium members, they get a web presence, their own site, email, mp3s, blogs, the works ~ and all without any annoying ads.
“As a local musician, I had always been frustrated by ‘The Industry’ and how hard it was to get a little recognition locally, never mind nationally.” One of the first contacts Jeff makes with a band is to invite them to be on his “Behind the Scenes” podcast show that can be found on the NEGB website and on the NEGB page in iTunes ~ this first interview is often what gives a band its first legitimate entry on its press kit and that starts the ball rolling for gigs, new fans, and a general buzz. And once they’re in the NEGB family, Jeff contacts them about gigs he thinks they may be right for, keeping them in the loop and sometimes even creating shows ~ called “NEGB Live” ~ specifically for his “stable” of bands. Also, he often takes on the often challenging role of liaison between club owners and musicians.
Jeff, who fronts and plays bass guitar for “Bullethead,”,a local rock band, firmly believes that local musicians are a community, and as such should look out for each other and do what they can to support and promote each other. “The site felt like something I had to do as well as wanted to do…It’s a lot of time and work, but it’s a true labor of love,” Jeff explains. This labor of love extends to doing charity work as well, as he recently organized a fundraiser to benefit diabetic research.
What does the future hold for NEGB? “We are revolutionizing the music industry.” That’s a bold statement, but Jeff is backing it up with an exciting new project: “NEGB is now making it possible for local bands to get their music on the Rock Band Network.”
Jeff recently struck a deal with Hit Play Creations of Boston to offer NEGB Premium members an amazing deal on translating their music into Rock Band readable formatting. “The Rock Band Network is going to be the next big thing in the industry,” explains Jeff. “Artists will be able to create actual ‘Rock Band’ video game ready versions of their songs, The Rock Band Network will allow the artists to upload these songs to be previewed and, if liked, downloaded and used with their own Rock Band game!” The partnership with Hit Play, who found Jeff on the strength of NEGB, will give a very significant discount to members of the NEGB network of bands for the service.
If you are a local musician looking for superior networking and resources, look no further than newenglandgaragebands.com. Big things are happening…
NOT JUST FOR GARAGE BANDS
The Noise Magazine
There have been many Internet-based radio stations in Boston over the past few years—some more successful than others. This fact doesn’t deter Jeff Royds and his quest to provide quality streamed and podcast-based local music. Despite the name of the site, Boston Garage Bands Radio does not cater solely to the garage genre—all types of rock ’n’ roll are showcased. The site offers opportunities for artists to distribute their music and their message via recorded music and band interviews, which Jeff conducts weekly at, of all places, a local pizza joint somewhere in Metro West. Jeff’s overriding interest in this venture is to help other local musicians disseminate their music to as many people as possible; he does this free of charge—a philanthropic endeavor to be sure. I met with both Jeff and his partner, Kim Slamin, to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of bostongaragebands.com.
Noise: How did you come up with this idea?
Jeff: Well, I was looking around at other websites and I couldn’t really find any that would do what I wanted. I was just starting to get back into the music scene. I was creating my own CD and just starting to get my band, Bullethead, together. This was just at the beginning of the boom of MySpace and all of the other free websites. They are great, of course. But I was looking for different ways to promote my band and for things that the other websites couldn’t do.
Noise: What were you looking for?
Jeff: I wanted to know the back-story of the band—most bands sort of interview themselves or put up a bio on their MySpace or Web page. I wanted to hear more about the bands. I listened to a podcast that was about Apple Macs and at the end of it they played a local band from somewhere around the country. I thought that the band was cool and I wished that I could find out more about them. I wanted to know what motivated them to write the song and what went into it.
Noise: That’s an interesting take on music-based sites. Do you have the technical background to start this?
Jeff: I’ve been playing music since I was 12 and I was basically a band geek. I had minimal computer experience. I started off with an Apple program called iWeb. Everything is click and drag. I thought—hey I can do that! I bought a MacBook Pro and a couple of microphones and a mixer and said, “I’m going to do this.”
Noise: What other background do you have that made you feel that you could do something like this?
Jeff: I have a background in radio. I interned at WFNX back in the ’90s. I did the overnight shift at B-106 up in New Hampshire. I worked on a Sunday morning show that is now an oldies station out in Worcester. So, I had the radio background; I mainly got out of radio because it was changing and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it. This is giving me an opportunity to do what I wanted to do with music and radio. I love talking about music and this just seemed like a good idea for me.
Noise: Kim, how did you get involved in this?
Kim: I sort of jumped aboard an idea that was already happening with Jeff.
Jeff: Kim is the reason that I didn’t do this eight months ago in a very slap-dash way. I like to rush things.
Noise: So Kim is the balance that sort of slows you down and makes you think before you just act?
Jeff: Yes, exactly.
Kim: Jeff is the creative one who likes to talk to bands and socialize. He puts that social spin on it that I don’t have the skills to do. That’s not my strong suit. Instead, I plan the meetings keep the dates straight—more of the operational side of the business, I guess. As far as creativity, it was already there. When I came on board, we re-vamped the site; we did the new design and met with the designers.
Jeff: Um, yeah, the designers. We got it off of iWeb.
Kim: [laughs] Yes, we did get it off of iWeb. As far as my background, I have more of a business background and not so much a musical one. I think we are a good team, he has the vision and I have the business background. I didn’t get into the musical creative part until I picked up the bass and started playing in Bullethead.
Noise: You obviously make a good balanced team. It’s great that you are trying to help other bands, but it does have a self-serving component. Don’t you think that there was an initial element about promoting your own band?
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. There were selfish reasons for why I started it as well.
Noise: I don’t think that anyone would expect you to be doing this for free for your health.
Jeff: [laughs] I’ve met a ton of bands off of it that I would have never met. I wanted it to be a social networking arrangement for other bands to get to know each other and be able to play shows together. Two of the bands that I have interviewed, Jake & the Jakes and Drunks Don’t Lie hooked up a show together and told me that they never would have met each other if it wasn’t for the site. It was cool for me to know that I was able to bring two bands together. Before I started the site I didn’t know any original bands because for years I was in an oldies cover band. I put it together to meet other bands.
Noise: Is this site geared to garage bands in terms of a sound or are you open to all types of bands?
Jeff: Some people sort of gave me crap for the term “garage” band—I wasn’t thinking of it as a genre specific thing. I was just thinking of most bands practicing in their garage or basement. I’m not sure that the site would have the same vibe called Boston Basement Bands. It’s for bands that are from Massachusetts and play original music. I try to keep this mostly based in rock ’n’ roll by whatever definition that you want to use. Rock has sort of been pushed to the back burner over the years.
Noise: A few Internet-based radio stations have sprung up over the years in Boston—most notably RadioBoston. Most of these have failed, mainly due to financial reasons. Is this more of an outlet for you or are you trying to be financially successful with this?
Jeff: I think that it’s more of an outlet—being financially successful would be great. I didn’t start this to make a gazillion dollars; I did it to bring attention to music—mine and other people’s. Anyone who can tolerate playing a club at 1:00 am for the sound guy and two drunks on a snowy Wednesday deserves some kind of recognition. You know, I sort of look forward to doing that and I love music and that’s the driving force. I think because I’m in the actual music scene I know what motivates people to do it and want to keep it going. If I’m on the website at any point of the day and I’m at work and I see that there are 20 people listening, I am really excited. We just officially launched it, so for anyone to be listening at this point is a bonus.
Noise: I’m sure that it’s nice to see that passion that you have be realized into something.
Jeff: I took my passion for radio —I went to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting—but I don’t want to be a gypsy and travel the country and live out of a U-Haul. I did want to be in radio and this allows me to pursue a dream out of my house. There is a lot of competition—more than ever in radio. You have traditional terrestrial radio, satellite, Internet, and HD. When I was thinking of the idea originally I was amazed at how much of a variety that was available on the Web for this sort of thing.
Noise: The good news is that there is no shortage of bands for you to interview or CD’s from local artists that want any place to get their music heard.
Jeff: The local terrestrial shows are great, but there are only a small handful of bands that they can play because they are so limited in the amount of time that they are allowed to play local music—maybe eight or ten songs in an hour-or-two show. Each band that I have on Boston Garage Bands gets played three times on a steady block and we use different songs from each band. You are virtually guaranteed to get played sometime in a 24 hour period.
Noise: What are your plans if it does take off?
Jeff: We’d like to do other states at least throughout New England. I’d like to ultimately get this established over the next five years and develop a following. If it does well, go for another station—maybe metal—which has a big following in central Massachusetts. If we could do something along those lines I think it would be good. It’s very eclectic right now, because I like different genres—we could of course segment it later.
Noise: Your shows are pre-recorded for the Web and aren’t streamed live. How do you find time to DJ and manage the site?
Jeff: I was luckily out of work for six weeks because of knee surgery.
Jeff: [laughs] Well, in this case, yes—or I wouldn’t have gotten it done. I was able to work on the site every day. If you work a little bit at a time and really focus, you can get it done. I did the Boston Garage Band commercials and got all of the music together. Since I was away from radio for so long it took me some time to get used to doing spots or ID’s. Another cool thing is that you also have more leeway on the Internet in terms of language and what you can and can’t say. I’m not saying that we swear all of the time, but it’s nice to have that freedom. If someone drops an F-bomb, it’s not the end of the world.
Noise: So at this point do you have DJ’s?
Jeff: Right now it’s just music and there are no DJ breaks. At this point I just do the spots and give quick tips on how to get more out of the website. I call it a trifecta for bands. You have an interview, a webpage, and your music is on the radio. If people are on their computer listening on iTunes, they can hear your song and see who the band is that is performing it. They can go to your page and see when you are playing out. No searching the Web to try to find out more info it’s all right there for you. I can put shows together with the bands that I have interviewed and now become friends with. It’s such a small community of musicians that we all have to stick together. Everyone is able to do so much more themselves now in terms of internet distribution that the labels don’t have the power that they once had. There is a reason why everyone has a MySpace page and an Internet site, because it works. I really just want to help promote my band and other people’s bands. I have no other ulterior motive. If we ever do get sponsors we will just put that money back into the website to make it better for everyone.