Misplaced Music starts online radio station/store for Minnesota artists

It all starts June 19 at the Uptown Bar

They aren't trying to change the music business -- that's a world searching for new and exciting ways to redefine and repackage conventionality and conformity. The guys of Misplaced Music say they just want to offer their corner of the globe an alternative to the corporate contraption that is making it so difficult for local artists to get their music heard.

"We're not out to attack the industry. It's just not worth our effort. We're trying to do something different," said Josh Grinolds.

Grinolds, Jared Lukes and Sam Keenan created the co-operative Misplaced Music to promote Minnesota music via an Internet radio station and store and by producing live musical events around town.

The three Minneapolis musicians and friends unveil their trio of services for their peers on Saturday, June 19 at the Uptown Bar, 3018 Hennepin Ave. S., at 9 p.m. That's when they'll celebrate the birth of Misplaced with a concert by local artists A Whisper in the Noise, Romantica, Coach Said Not To, Bill Mike and Josh Aran.

Rebirth of the radio star

Though the station doesn't make its official debut until the 19th, you can tune in now by going to www.misplacedmusic.org. About 50 bands and performers are currently on the playlist, including Mel Gibson and The Pants, Jennifer Bluhm, Reticence, Stockcar Named Desire, Askeleton, Flavor, The Mood Swings, Katie McMahon, Sigcell and The Original Mark Edwards.

You probably haven't heard of all of those musicmakers -- this is exactly the situation Misplaced Music Radio (MMR) hopes to remedy.

Unlike a lot of other 'Net stations, MMR isn't going to demand payments from artists or listeners for its services. Neither is the co-op going to fill its Web site with banners for cheap Viagra or IQ-test pop-ups -- it's commercial-free.

"There's lots of other 'Net radio stations that charge bands for airplay. They'll charge 'em like a $20 a month fee to be played on the station. We're just kind of eating the cost of having a license and broadcasting -- and hoping that is seen for what it is," said Keenan.

The Internet broadcast license MMR holds allows it to play music and might even enable some local artists to receive royalties after their music is played on the station. (Those willing to hunt down and fill out the necessary paperwork will eventually get royalty checks -- though miniscule -- for having their material air on MMR.)

The station will air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Keenan said, staffed by volunteer DJs.

Lukes, Misplaced's administrator, said 'Net stations typically incur $2,000 to $5,000 in expenses per year. And while cash-strapped bands won't be asked to open their checkbooks, Lukes said Misplaced does plan to explore more innovative ways to raise funds from participating musicians. "Bands can donate a performance," Lukes said.

A selective collective

Though the station is dedicated to Minnesota musicians, it doesn't mean that anyone in the state who can play "Feelings" on a nose harp should expect to get airplay.

"We're promoting local music of artistic merit," said Grinolds, who handles public relations and copywriting chores. "Of course, that's subjective. When deciding which submission goes into the 'playable' pile and which goes into the trashbin, we're making a subjective judgment call there. And that's hard, of course, and you run the risk of elitism with that, which is not what we're trying to do. On the other hand, the benefit of that is, or at least our hope is, that people can turn on Misplaced Music Radio and hear quality music that's local. It reflects local music better than just playing anything that we get."

He and the others said they plan to play music on MMR from across the spectrum: every genre, subgenre and microgenre of rock, as well as blues, folk, reggae and ethnic music, and more.

As Program Director, Keenan will be most responsible for choosing the music. He said that when he's not particularly familiar with a genre of music, he hopes to bring in people more conversant in the style to help make the playlist-versus-trashbin decisions.

"I'm just not super into the local death metal scene," he said by way of example. "I would rather have somebody on board who is really into it to be able to judge that [genre]."

Keenan might well be more able to judge rock, jazz and hip hop since those are the genres he's currently working in when composing his own music. The married, 28-year-old father works in the operations department of Minnesota Public Radio and also produces MPR's Saturday night "Jazz Images" show.

Lukes is also married and a father. He works as a Web developer and is finishing production work on an acoustic solo album, "Reconciled."

Grinholds is the only unmarried, childless one of the three: the 23-year-old English major at the University of Minnesota is also finishing up a solo CD. He hopes to release "My Little Mayflower" on June 19 -- the same day Lukes plans to release his album and the same day as the Misplaced Music kickoff.

Buying the concept

Though the co-op is in its infancy, its three founders say they can envision a day when a wide variety of artists will have their CDs for sale in Misplaced's online store.

They say artists will be able to set their own prices and that Misplaced will only take a few cents from each sale -- whatever it costs to sell and ship the CDs.

Lukes said that if someone sells an album for $10 on the site, the artist will get $9.16.

"We're not kidding that we're not taking a cut," he said. "When we say that shipping is a fee, it's the actual fee. What does the envelope cost? What does the stamp cost?

"Beyond that, the artist will get everything."

Again, Misplaced goes against the grain: online stores typically take anywhere from a 20 to 50 percent cut.

"We know that everything we're doing appeals to the musicians in town," Lukes said. "It looks like opportunity. It looks like fun. It looks like exposure. Really, the next hurdle is the end-users finding the musicians."

Grinholds, Keenan and Lukes admit that they're idealists, but Grinholds insists that they're realists as well.

"Realists in the sense that we know that it's not going to be like we speak the words 'Misplaced Music' and everyone logs onto our Web site instantly and is in love with it and we change the face of music," he said. "We realize that people are slow to act and change happens slowly. And we know the ultimate vision we have that local music becomes viable again -- we can't do that alone."

For more information, or tickets ($10 each) to the Saturday, June 19 Misplaced Music kickoff, log on to www.misplacedmusic.org.