Daytrotter has been making waves for years in the indie rock community with their no-nonsense, stripped down versions of unknown or little known artists. We've written about the site on BestNewBands.com before and when I was given the opportunity to interview founder Sean Moeller, I jumped at it. As you’ll see, he is engaging, intelligent and in a way, a no nonsense guy as well. When Daytrotter started out, it seemed like nothing more than a lark or another blog, but after years of growth and interest it has become an industry staple. Here now is our interview with Sean Moeller.
Matt De Mello: What was the impetus for Daytrotter?
Sean Moeller: It was really started on a bit of a whim. The general idea was to try and do something unique, to feature and help expose truly great artists that were floating too far below people's radars. It was an idea to marry this amazingly vibrant digital world with those artists out there pounding away and old school, analog sensibilities. To move quickly and to do interesting things -- both aspects that print media was failing horribly at. Some would say, still are.
MD: As the site is starting to get more and more relevant, you sell a controlling interest to Wolfgang's Vault. Why not wait?
SM: To be very clear, I still run everything about Daytrotter. The move to bring in a partner was because we were essentially at a point where we needed to make things happen to grow the site and we wanted to work with someone who could help us do that. At that point, four years ago, we weren't sure how we were going to keep going, doing what we do.
MD: You once said "People are stubborn when it comes to poning up and not just stealing all the music they can get their hands on." Then after Wolfgang's Vault took over, Daytrotter went from a free site to a pay site why the change?
SM: Daytrotter was a free site for 5 1/2 years. It would have been great if we could have remained that way, but the advertising model was a great failure for us and we were losing all kinds of money every month -- have been for years. Every month our traffic was increasing (hence our costs were increasing dramatically) and advertising revenue was decreasing. We made a decision to offer our service and resource simply as a way to continue doing this, to continue helping the great artists that we'd been helping for almost 6 years gain more ears. Had we not done what we did, we would have died. We determined that we would see if the people who love and appreciate what we do would support this thing that we created. We are simply looking to keep the lights on so we can continue to shine them on great music. We came up with a monthly number -- $2 -- that we feel is extremely fair for what we offer. And, like I said, it was our last shot or we were gonna be history.
MD: You were a sports writer before you started Daytrotter. What's your favorite sport and who's your team?
SM: I was a cross country and track runner at the University of Iowa, so I love the sport of running a bunch, but as far as spectating, it's baseball and tough as it is, I'm a Cubs fan. University of Iowa football is my jam too.
MD: Explain the process of how getting the bands, having them come to your studio and then recording the session goes.
SM: It's really just a matter of asking. I do all of the discovery and booking so it's just really what I like. I invite bands in that I think are great. It's that simple. We have coffee and beer usually at the ready and it's just a simple process, stripped of all the stupid artifice. These recordings that we do are the songs at their most natural.
The Daytrotter Crew
MD: Who is your dream band to have on the site?
SM: Willie Nelson, Radiohead and Neil Young.
MD: You've branched out to hip-hop recently. What other genres do you want to have on the site?
SM: We already have everything on the site. We've been taping hip-hop for a while; there just aren't that many hip-hop artists who tour the country the way that indie rock bands tour the country. It's hard to get them on the roads and out of planes. I would like to have more true country/bluegrass acts in and more hip-hop and soul would be great.
MD: You've said previously that you like to read, what kind of books do you like reading & what're you currently reading?
SM: I like Bukowski, Richard Brautigan, Nathanael West, Richard Yates, Barry Hannah, Ray Bradbury, and Kurt Vonnegut, that sort of stuff. I'm currently reading "Crimes In Southern Indiana" by Frank Bill. It's great and gruesome.
MD: Interest on doing another Barnstormer tour?
SM: Hopefully we'll have another tour in the fall. That's the plan right now, I think.
MD: What would you like the site to accomplish in the future? Do you have any interest in starting a label?
SM: We just want to keep doing what we're doing -- helping great artists get exposed to music lovers -- to make great art. We have enough to think about there -- just keeping the site going. We think we're on the right path though.