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Shaking Through 'incubator' makes music people can see

Weathervane Music is not a record label. It's an ecosystem, according to founder and executive director Brian McTear. The recording industry as we knew it a decade ago is gone, and that's probably a good thing, because artists rarely benefited from a top heavy system which rewarded executives while creating a kind of indentured servitude for musicians.

Weathervane's non-profit Shaking Through project sprouted from the idea of growing a musician's career from the ground up. Now in its second year and funded by a two-year, $50,000 grant from WXPN, Shaking Through takes the budding musician out of the garage and into a high end studio, complete with a seasoned producer who is redefined as a curator. In 2010, Shaking Through created 10 song and video packages; so far in 2011, six episodes have been released.

While plenty of things were wrong about the old system, some aspects were pretty great. A sharp editorial ear. State of the art recording studios. High production value music videos. "Everyone can make recordings in their bedrooms," says McTear. "We were trying to come up with a way to provide holistic grass roots support." McTear recasts the Kensington-based Shaking Through as a new music incubator.

Reserving the best qualities of the old industry while adding a millennial spin, "Shaking Through shows the birth of a song by an emerging artist," explains McTear, providing a transformational, collaborative production experience. Bands are selected by guest curators, who are respected members of the music community. Recent curators include WXPN's Bruce Warren; Ben Swanson, co-founder of the indie label Secretly Canadian; the Pelly Twins, sisters who DJ and blog about music; and Peter Silberman of the band The Antlers. Some curators participate in the 2-3 day sessions, which have an estimated value of about $10,000, far beyond the reach of emerging artists.

McTear, who also runs the for-profit Miner Street Studios, says the project is totally unique from all other music and video series on the web because Shaking Through sessions produce brand new material. Each month, Shaking Through creates a song and accompanying music video shot during production. The audience has a chance to go behind the scenes, get to know each artist, and lift the curtain on a previously invisible process.

McTear points to the success of Shaking Through artist Sharon Van Etten, who was recently signed to the Jagjaguwar label. Other emerging artists who've been shaken through include Strapping Field Hands, Reading Rainbow and Hezekiah Jones.

The future of Shaking Through depends on funding and other revenue streams. While McTear is in renewal talks now with WXPN, he is seeking additional sponsorship. He adds that music and video licensing could prove profitable over time.

Source: Brian McTear, Shaking Through
Writer: Sue Spolan
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