Ideally the work of bands begins and ends with music, whether it’s in the studio or sharing the stage at venues like Port City Music Hall. But the truth for many bands in Maine is that the work goes further, since promotion, booking and album art don’t just materialize out of thin air.
Sure they could call on their management team to get the production end done… but how many local bands can do that?
Enter Factory Portland, the newest entry into Maine’s support network for musicians. Created by Stephen Quirk and Megan Dougherty, Factory Portland wants to take on the behind-the-scenes work for bands, from website design and jump-starting promotion to photography and wrangling social networks like Facebook and MySpace.
“Most of the musicians in Portland aren’t doing this full time, so really it’s about any help I can offer,” Quirk told me over e-mail. “I consider myself a music fan before anything else.”
That probably has something to do with Factory Portland’s launch event being a party and musical showcase. On July 23 Factory Portland’s launch at SPACE Gallery in Portland will feature The No. 9, The Red F, Jose Ayerve (of Spouse), T.J. Metcalfe (of Cosades and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) and a reunion show from Bullyclub.
Mark McDonough, a member of Bullyclub, is Quirk’s older brother and is partly responsible for getting him into the band aid game. ”He’s always been in one band or another, and I think I’ve photographed all of them,” Quirk said.
Aside from his connections to the local music scene, Quirk knows a thing or two about photography and technology. He got a degree in photography from the Maine College of Art, where he now works in the tech department.
But Factory Portland will go beyond show photos and publicity art — at least that’s what they hope. Along with Dougherty, a graduate of the Stern School of Business at New York University, Quirk wants to make a connection with bands to find out their specific needs, whether it’s finding a service to print CDs or coordinating shows and events. The group is already working with acts such as Gully, Spouse and Elli Gray, among others.
(As for the name, Quirk said: “I had lists of names I threw out and settled on Factory Portland as an homage to both Andy Warhol’s Factory and Tony Wilson’s Factory Records.”)
It’s not easy getting off the ground and making a name for a band in Portland, Quirk said. Since many musicians have other full- or part-time jobs, there’s often a need for help growing a following or even producing music, he said.
One aspect of Factory Portland that has the potential to break big is the online music database: a repository of musicians, side projects and bands past and present. Factory Portland’s database could become the one-stop tool to playing six degrees of separation on musicians and creating a clear picture of the web that connects so many local bands.
At the moment more than 378 artists are listed in the Factory Portland database, but more can be added through a submission form on the website.
Just as there is an ever expanding number of bands in Maine, there also seems to be a growing support network. From independent labels such as Peapod Recordings to music blogs like Hillytown and [dog] and [pony] as well as groups like the Portland Music Foundation, there are plenty of avenues for bands to get help. Quirk says it’s a testament to the music scene, that so many love it and what to see it succeed.
“I never feel like it’s a competition — we all have the same goal of sharing the great music coming out of Portland,” he said. “In general there’s a creative atmosphere in the city; whether it’s restaurants, visual artists or music.”