Behind every music site, music magazine there is an owner that has nothing but passion for music. This can also be said about the founder of the site The Pittsburgh Music Scene. In this interview we speak with Craig Anderson and believe us, he knows the Pittsburgh Music Scene.
What was the main reason behind starting your website Thepittsburghscene.com?
Really it was because I felt the local artists deserved something like it. I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of talented and driven artists here over the last ten years or so, and in that time there’s never been that one central spot to discover who these people are and what they’re doing. That’s kind of the ongoing goal of The Pittsburgh Scene.
Do you feel the musician here in Pittsburgh get a fair shot in the industry or do you feel many major labels don’t believe there is talent in Pittsburgh?
I think the answer to that is changing pretty rapidly. If it was two or three years ago, I’d probably have to say that the city was overlooked. Wiz had been on a major label and parted ways with them, and at the time it looked like more of the same – labels didn’t want anything to do with Pittsburgh. Despite that Wiz and Rostrum made it to the top anyhow, on their own terms. It grew to the point that labels couldn’t ignore it, and now I think you’re seeing the effects of that, where suddenly it’s not impossible for the outside world to think that a talented artist could come from Pittsburgh. I really think there’s never been a better time to be an artist from this city.
When it comes to music, it’s easy to tell where the a specific sound was started. For example, in hip hop its easy to tell a east coast song from a west coast song …do u think Pittsburgh has developed its own sound?
Oh absolutely, and maybe that’s why we didn’t have a lot of label support before, because Pittsburgh kind of does its own thing musically. The rock scene owes a lot to the really blues-influenced artists of the 70’s, and the hip hop scene pulls a lot of influence from the soul/funk of that era too. You have places like ID Labs that have crafted this “Pittsburgh Sound” that blends old styles with new and its a sound very different from the industry norm. The irony is that as more Pittsburgh artists start going mainstream, I think that same “Pittsburgh Sound” is going to start being replicated in a lot of places outside of Pittsburgh.
What artist in the area do you feel should have already made it to the major leagues?
Oh man, I’m probably going to get in trouble for leaving anyone out of this… I will say I’ve been a fan of Boaz’s work for a while, and felt he’s had the potential to get big. “The Transition” was probably my favorite local release of 2011, every song on that is solid. With his recent signing to Rostrum I think it’s a perfect fit – he’s collaborated with both Wiz and Mac before, and helped get them started locally. I remember going through some photos online a few months ago and seeing a flyer for a show featuring Tha Govament (Boaz’s former group) and “introducing Wiz Khalifa”. It was pretty wild. Now it looks like the favor is being returned, and it’s great to see Pittsburgh artists helping each other out.
What kind of advise do you have for new artist starting up in Thepittsburghscene?
It’s a small scene – take advantage of that and network. You never know who will help you get your next show, introduce you to your next band member, etc. I owe any successes the site’s had to the connections I’ve made with some great people. Also, stay humble and driven. No one starts out as a rockstar. Since it’s a small scene, word travels fast. If you act like an arrogant ass, people may not want to work with you and your career may end before it ever really starts.
Is the ultimate goal of your company to become a reverbnation type of site, if not what is the goal?
I’m not sure if the goal is necessarily to become this massive juggernaut of a site. We definitely want to develop features for artists and fans that are on par with the ones on the nationally based sites, yet still keep that personal hometown feel to it. In that sense the goal is to show people that there’s some really talented people doing some really great things musically, and it’s all happening in their own back yard. If we can do that and do it as a full time job someday, that’d be a very beautiful thing.
What do you think of the overall music scene in America?
Well I have to admit that I’ve been on a pretty strict local music diet for the last few years now. I think I have two radio stations preset in my car, one for classical music and the other for catching sports games. I guess the only reason I’m even in tune at all with mainstream music at all is because some of the local artists I listen to are now at that level. Other than that… I heard Justin Bieber for the first time a few weeks ago, and yeah, I don’t really have any regrets about keeping the radio off.
Do you think it really still takes talent to make it or does it hard work mean more?
I think they’re two sides of the same coin. If you look at anyone with talent, the story behind the talent is that it took a lot of hard work to develop it. Too often people don’t try because they dismiss it as “well, they’re obviously naturally talented and I’m not.” It might look like it comes naturally, but there was probably a lot of trial and error to get from beginner to natural. You can also get to a certain talent level and then relax, and that should be a criminal offense. If you’re going to put all the effort in to honing your craft, you owe it to yourself to stay active with it, to promote it and make sure people know about it.
What are your thoughts on music piracy?
Well music piracy has fundamentally changed the landscape of the music industry forever, and I don’t think there’s any going back from that. It might end up helping more than it hurts though. While the focus has been on technology’s role as this thief of the music industry, people ignore that the same advances in technology are making recording and promoting more affordable than it has ever been. A side effect of piracy was that it exposed some major flaws with the existing way people were doing business. These new roadblocks to the traditional model have also become major opportunities for artists that are ok with venturing off the beaten path. I guess if there’s an overlying theme in everything we’re trying to do with the site, it’s this push for leveling the playing field, and it’s been getting more and more level over time.