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Shuffle: Metal Rockers Help Local Bands Get Fans Beyond Their Hometowns

photo of Dan Beck from Facemaker
Facemaker drummer Dan Beck said the band earned a national following by going to other cities and opening for their local bands.

An Akron heavy metal band that broke onto the national scene in the early 2000's is trying to help other local bands get out of their parents’ basements and into other cities.

'You can basically set up a tour across the country sitting at your desk at home.'

Facemaker learned all the do's and don’ts of earning a following. Drummer Dan Beck, his brother Mike Beck, and guitarist Greg “Bird” Michalec applied what they learned to create a band networking site called OurStompinGrounds.com.

“We got beat up a lot in the industry,” said drummer Dan Beck.

At first, Facemaker had a hard time earning a reputation in other cities. Dan said concert organizers in other cities typically aren’t interested in local bands from somewhere else because they don’t draw crowds and don’t make money.

Greg "Bird" Michalec of Facemaker is part of the trio who started OurStompinGrounds.com

According to Dan, Facemaker was able to build a national reputation by physically visiting other cities and opening for other bands. 

OurStompinGrounds takes that networking process and moved it online. A band can get its start in another city by connecting with a local group and opening for them.

Focusing on the music, avoiding crooks
Co-founder Mike Beck said streamlining the way bands network helps bands focus on what’s really important: their music.

“We want bands to enjoy making music and get out there and make more music."

“Plus, let’s be honest, the business side of the music industry is no fun. It really stinks,” Dan said. 

OurStompinGrounds — a free service — is also a way to protect bands from people who are just out to make money under the guise of helping bands raise their profile. Facemaker had to deal with its share of “crooks” who didn’t deliver.

“Money up front for stuff, pay-to-play. We don’t want other bands to have to do that,” Mike said.

'Let's be honest, the business side of the music industry is no fun.'

Beyond social media
Mike acknowledges Facebook can be a great networking tool on its own. But he said social media is already so inundated with bands that it’s hard for new groups to stand out. Even OurStominGrounds has to find ways to get the word out about its service.

The site’s main feature is called a show swap, which lets bands search for gigs by geography and genre. A band performing in Kent, for example, can use the site to announce it has spots for opening acts. Then, a band in Pennsylvania looking to expand its reach into Ohio can request a spot. According to Mike, a band can set up a whole national tour from their desk at home.

“There’s no feeling like stepping out on a stage in front of 1,000 people and they’re all screaming for you,” Mike said. “And you can make that happen with the right tools and the right drive and effort.”