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It used to be if you wanted to find out the latest news about your favorite band, you read Rolling Stone and talked your local record store owner. Now all you have to do is punch up their URL.
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by Tim McMahan

Sign o' the times: Driving down Farnum St. in Omaha last week I saw a filthy mini-van with this message rubbed through the dirt:

Everyone's on the Internet these days, in the office, at home, at school. The damn World Wide Web has permeated our lives. And just about everyone has a website, too. The Internet has become as everyday a part of doing business as having a telephone, a corporate American Express, and business cards (with your e-mail address included, of course). Even those rebellious rock bands all have websites and other music-related Internet-based reference areas to keep their crazed fans ahead of their every move.

It's all been a boon for journalist, especially music critics, who are always scratching for information about an obscure indie band moments before (or usually long past) a deadline. With that said, here's a brief guide to music reference websites on the Internet, both nationally and locally. One caveat applies before you go surfing: The Internet is notorious for being full of lies, especially fan-based websites. If something seems like bullshit, it probably is.

The ultimate search engine (that's tech-talk for "directory") for bands and performers from around the world. UBL, which stands for Ultimate Band List, contains information on literally thousands of bands. A typical band's UBL listing includes a list of all fan websites, an artist biography, related artists, a listening room that contains RealAudio soundclips, and, of course, a link to the UBL store where you can purchase a copy of the band's latest release. UBL listings for larger bands, such as 311, also contain links to lyrics, guitar tabs, news groups, even mailing lists websites.

UBL is supported entirely by its users. That means anyone can place a band in the UBL search engine in a matter of moments. And because both surfing and posting is free, just about every band is doing it. The first place to go on the World Wide Web when researching a band.






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Where UBL is a great place to find band websites, Yahoo and AltaVista are two of the best sources for locating articles about specific bands. Yahoo is probably the most well known search engine on the 'net, but it's not the best. Yahoo demands that those who submit webpages fill out a detailed form that's about as pleasant as a tax return. After submission, it could take literally months before Yahoo actually places the webpage in their directory (if they choose to accept it at all). This slows things down considerably, and hence, few are willing to undergo the tooth-extraction-like process. For general band searches, instead try:

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The best engine for general web searches because submitting websites to their directory is mindlessly simple. The drawback, however, is that because it's so easy, people submit every article known to man. For example, there are more 400 webpages listed for the band 311 alone, and many of them are old and outdated. Still, if you're looking for articles about obscure indie bands, this is the search engine of choice.

Trying to find out where KISS is playing next or, better yet, what cool bands are headed to town? The Pollstar Concert Hotwire lists performances by artist, city and venue. The current listing for Omaha shows 51 performances for venues as diverse as the Cog Factory, Mancuso, Sokol Hall and the Anchor Inn. (By the way, KISS' next performance is Feb. 26 at Hartwall Arena in Helinski, Finland).

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The most well-maintained listing of Omaha band websites, e-mail addresses and performance information. The website is the brainchild of Pat O'Reilly, step-father of 311 bass player P-Nut (real name, Aaron). O'Reilly says before 311 made it big, there was no quick way to get the word out to fans about shows on short-notice except by taping fliers to telephone poles. The website is his solution. Launched last August, Omahabands provides the music community with a directory of band websites for (unsigned) bands residing within 100 miles of Omaha. Also included are a show calendar listing, other music-related links, a message board, and music fans' home pages. One of the most respected and used music websites in the Omaha area.


Bandwidth Zero Project

Launched a few months ago, Bandwidth Zero is an Internet jukebox that contains RealAudio files of music from Omaha area bands. Website proprietor Joe Kinney does the encoding and bands merely have to provide a CD or tape. Anyone with a RealAudio player (free software that can be downloaded from the BZP site) can listen to the recordings. Among the bands included in the BZP Jukebox are Albino Death Wheel, Ravine, Echo Farm, EKG, Grasshopper Takeover, Buzzo, Creatures of Habit, Stacka Dimes, Row 8 Plot 30, Episode, Richard Schultz and Joe Galaxy.

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SLAM Omaha

Hosted by, SLAM stands for Support Local Art/Music. Hence, the website promotes local art as well as music. Pages include a calendar of current art and music events, as well as band, artist and gallery website listings, current music releases, and photos taken at recent events. Entries can be submitted for free.

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Record Labels

Both Caulfield   and Saddle Creek Records websites include the latest information about their stable of artists, as well as purchasing info. Both 'sites also include "sound" pages where you can listen to RealAudio recordings of their bands. But perhaps the most interesting areas are the websites' "webboards" that allow users to post messages about music, bands, just about anything. Here's where you can find the scoop, or the latest lies, about local bands.

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The Cog Factory   has one of the best venue websites in the city, with up-to-date schedules of all upcoming shows, online reviews, a photo gallery and other assorted news.

Lincoln's Zoo Bar   includes a calendar of upcoming shows, links, and photos. Unfortunately, the site doesn't appear to have been updated recently.

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Originally printed in The Reader February 11, 1999.

Copyright 1999 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.




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