Circleville, OH -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/4/2006 -- It's been a perennial problem for serious musicians trying for that one break that will turn their band from an expensive hobby into a paying proposition: Finding places to perform and getting paid enough to make it worthwhile.
"Technology has made it possible for bands and musicians to create and perfect their own distinctive sound right in their own garage, basement, or bedroom," said music industry veteran Gary LeMaster. "You can record and burn your own CD, download songs to the Internet – even create your own website to showcase your group."
What musicians have lacked, however, is an effective – and affordable – way to connect with the venues and gigs where they would most like to perform. "Traditionally, introducing yourself and your music to the right people has meant creating a press kit," said LeMaster. "And that means a well-designed brochure that showcases your talents and distinctive sound, along with a CD so they can actually hear you."
But, as LeMaster pointed out, "Hard-copy press kits with all the bells and whistles are costly to produce, and they're expensive to mail or overnight to promoters and concert venues."
The need has led to one of the newest innovations to help hungry bands and artists: The online press kit – a virtual agent, if you will – that delivers a slick audio-visual presentation on a group or individual right to the e-mail in-boxes or computer screens of the most relevant venues.
A couple of websites have already popped up that provide the service to bands and artists playing bars, night clubs, colleges, and other secular venues. Here's how it works: Musicians pay a fee to create an online press kit, which includes promotional materials and bios on the musicians, as well as audio and video demos highlighting songs or band members.
Venues searching for acts can post on the website and access the press kits to find the bands they want to book. Likewise, musicians can e-mail their electronic press kits to potential venues – or whomever else they wish. The result is a virtual marketplace for musical artists and individuals willing to pay for their services.
The service has been a boon to the secular music scene, and that success prompted LeMaster, whose own background is in gospel and contemporary Christian music, to partner with fellow Christian music veteran Brant Christopher Menswar to create Crossdogs.com, an online service that caters to independent Christian musicians. Crossdogs.com will officially launch its service on January 1st, when the site will be fully functional.
"There are tons of great Christian artists who don't have access to the marketing machinery to get their names and music into the right hands," explained LeMaster. "And there are a wealth of venues – from churches, to coffee houses, Christian colleges, concert promoters, and Christian music festivals – that are looking for these talents."
LeMaster explained that Crossdogs is designed to address the two most fundamental issues faced by Christian musicians: Finding relevant places to perform and receiving adequate reimbursement for time and travel.
"You talk to most independent Christian musicians who've paid their dues and they've all had a similar experience," said LeMaster. "They travel hundreds of miles to minister at a church, coffee house, or concert, and then play their hearts out for a meal and maybe a small offering."
LeMaster and Menswar came up with the catchy slogan, "Where Potential Meets Opportunity," to highlight how Crossdogs.com will help change that scenario. "We're convinced from what we've seen that Crossdogs will completely change how Christian musicians and bands connect with potential concert and ministry opportunities," said Menswar, who himself left a lucrative corporate position to pursue the passion and call of Christian music. "It will open nearly unlimited opportunities to many artists who've been looking for a door into Christian music ministry.
For a small annual membership fee, musicians use Crossdogs.com to create their own Electronic Dog Tag™ (EDT™), which is a user friendly, web-based press kit that includes all the elements of a traditional hard-copy press kit – plus audio and video demos, a photo album, and much more. They then e-mail the EDTs to their own list of churches and other ministry venues, eliminating the high costs of duplicating and mailing hard-copy press kits.
Crossdogs also allows members to view performance opportunities from an exclusive list of promoters, churches, festivals, and other venues, and offers them the option of submitting their EDTs to this "A List" of opportunities.
Each of the ministry venues that partners with Crossdogs receives a free listing of its available opportunity on the Crossdogs.com website. "Churches and venues end up with top-notch artists to fill their openings, as well as 50 percent of every submission fee," explained LeMaster.
"What Crossdogs is doing is very simple," he said. "We're giving a major group of independent artists and musicians access to venues they would normally have a very difficult time connecting with. And we're giving venues and churches the resources to bless these artists and ministers."
Added Menswar, "The world needs to hear God's Word in many different ways and coming from many difference sources. Money should never be an obstacle. Crossdogs enables churches to bring in quality Christian artists without the worry of going over budget. Bands and musicians find great places to play and opportunities to minister. It's a win-win format for everyone involved."
Susan Zahn, an expert in faith-based media and president of the Christian public relations firm WDC Media, predicted that Crossdogs would be the catalyst for a new wave of independent bands and recording artists breaking into mainstream Christian media. "God opens doors in many ways, and this technology equals a giant door of opportunity for a lot of folks with ministry and performance dreams," she said. "We're going to be blessed in the months and years ahead to hear some awesome sounds of worship and ministry thanks to Crossdogs.com.
To find out more about the services Crossdogs offers, visit www.crossdogs.com . The site becomes fully functional on January 1st.