Boston’s Hidden Musical Talents

Perry Eaton is a co-founder of Allston Pudding, a Boston music website that won Best Music Blog at the 2011 Boston Music Awards, has been nominated again for the same title for 2012 and Eaton has a standing relationship with The Bowery Presents, all at the age of 23. After growing up in Boston and attending local Boston shows all his life, it is a perfect job for him. Because who knows Boston music better than a kid who has been surrounded by it all his life?

But writing was never his first choice. “I always wanted to be in a really good band,” Eaton said, but it never happened due to a “lack of exerting myself and not finding the right people. So I decided to just write about music instead.” But he has certainly made a name for himself in Boston as a music writer. Besides his website, Allston Pudding, his pieces are featured in the popular Boston magazine, The Phoenix.

Allston Pudding is mainly a local Boston-based music website created by Perry and two of his friends from Boston University. Eaton, Daniel Schiffer and Jarrett Carr decided to move in together while they were undergraduates together at BU and “it was just a situation where we were halfway through school, I didn’t have a major and weren’t involved in anything,” Eaton said. “All we liked doing was going to shows on weekends.” Eaton calls himself the “journey man” when referring to his undergrad days at BU. He said, “I had like six different majors.” So, to combat their feelings of disorientation, they decided to start Allston Pudding.

With such a diverse and talented group of three men, they didn’t need any start up money. “It worked out well,” Perry said. “The three of us have different skills: I was the writer, Carr did the graphic design and he built website, Schiffer is the marketer and he takes a PR/ marketing angle to kind of get it to people.” They combined skills and only had to use a little money from their own pockets, Eaton said, and in the end they saved a ton of money from not having to pay to attend shows anymore because they are now considered press.

“I had a blog before,” Eaton recalled. “In high school not enough of my friends were into music,” so “when I was 15 I did a stupid blog called Perry’s Picks.” As a result, he said, his “friends started listening to the music and it was awesome.” The free shows and interviews were the biggest perks for Eaton, who added, “It was a lot easier than I had imagined.”

But it’s not only the free stuff they care about. It’s easy to tell Eaton is also really proud of helping out local bands. “It’s good,” he said, “because were giving a lot of bands publicity who wouldn’t get publicity otherwise.” One of the goals for Allston Pudding is to actually see how they can get Boston bands out of Boston, which they think they can help with by expanding their website to national coverage. “The three of us have always talked about expanding to other cities,” said Carr. “Two years ago that seemed quite farfetched, but with the end of school coming up for me, it doesn’t seem so unrealistic.”

Having connections with The Bowery Presents is also incredibly helpful for accomplishing this. Eaton was lucky enough to intern with the company that runs music venues their first year in Boston. “The Bowery is helping us out in various ways,” Eaton said. Among other things, the company helps eaton, Carr and Schiffer get into shows by cutting out the red tape, which means Allston Pudding contributors can go to more shows.

Eaton expressed a somewhat reciprocal relationship between Allston Pudding and The Bowery Presents saying Allston Pudding helps The Bowery with booking and promoting shows, while Allston Pudding receives some advertising money in return. Eaton admits it’s only a small amount but expresses nothing but gratitude for everything The Bowery Presents has done for them as a growing music website.

Carr also expresses how much they owe to social media. “I’ll be one of the first to admit that Allston Pudding probably wouldn’t exist without the online community that sites like Facebook and Twitter have helped garner,” said Carr. “It’s great because social media has developed businesses into communities in which the user is now able to contribute to.” Eaton, who controls the Facebook page, said they mostly just repost the things they post on the website, but the information is easier to share on Facebook where they have accumulated 2,123 likes.

Allston Pudding is also on Twitter, with 1,597 followers, Instagram and Tumblr, but Schiffer controls all of those according to Eaton. “Up until recently, social media marketing is the only outward marketing we’ve done,” said Schiffer, “now we’re doing outreach to student groups, throwing events, and working with other organizations but I suspect that social media will remain one of our main marketing focuses for a while.” Schiffer also contributes their online success to their demographic, which they happen to be part of as well.

While national expansion may be in Allston Pudding’s future, for right now they are going through a big redesign which Carr, “the design extraordinaire” as Eaton called him, is working on. “Since I developed the site from scratch there are always little things to change here and there,” said Carr. He also works on all of the website design for Allston Pudding, created their logo, and the design that’s featured on the Allston Pudding sweatshirts. Surprisingly, the sweatshirts they sell on bring in a good percentage of the money they earn from the website, but it isn’t much Eaton said.

They each hold a side job on top of running Allston Pudding. Eaton works at the YMCA in Newtown helping underprivileged teens, Schiffer has a part-time marketing job and Carr is still in school at North Carolina State for one more year.

Despite their other responsibilities, it seems they will continue to dabble in many things in order to expand the website further. “We’ve recently been into throwing shows, which have been a lot of fun and seem to have a pretty immediate effect on the community,” said Carr. According to Eaton, they are also working on putting together a New Year’s show.

Berklee American Roots Music Program SlideshowCafe 939

Fans Disliked That MIA was…M.I.A.

The persuasive abilities of fans astounds me! After being bombarded on twitter, MIA, the artist who gave everyone the middle finger at the Super Bowl last year, sent out a new song via e-mail. Now here is an incentive to bother every musician out there for new music! This is also incentive to become a fan of every artist you want to hear new music from! Maybe you could be the next fan who receives an exclusive track by email.

But this spawns an entire new way for musicians to interact with their fans. If all fans need to do is harass their idols on twitter for new material, the people who are actually paid to do that by agencies could potentially be entirely cut out of the picture…maybe? Or maybe this will encourage artists to produce more work. In any case, its pretty revolutionary to have an artist emailing fans new music before it’s even leaked on the website. But then again, MIA isn’t the most conventional.