Since going live last spring, Daytrotter.com -- perhaps the Internet's most innovative and easily accessible source for free, never-before-heard independent-music downloads -- has changed the digital-music landscape forever. The premise of the site is simple: Artists traveling through the Midwest along I-80 stop off for an hour or two at Futureappletree Studio One in downtown Rock Island, Illinois; they record four unreleased or re-envisioned songs live, chat with founder and chief writer Sean Moeller, and continue on their way. All songs are then archived and available for download or stream, along with musician-penned song descriptions, exclusive interviews, reviews, art, comics and the kind of literate music exposition rarely found on the gaggle of slop sites currently clamoring for scene points and Google hits. We recently spoke with Moeller, who last month began uploading two sessions per week. With more than 500,000 hits a month and nearly 400,000 songs downloaded or streamed to date, music junkies are taking notice.
Westword: Do we really need another music blog? Justify your existence.
Sean Moeller: We don't consider what we do a blog at all. We're a magazine. There are so many blogs and so many music outlets right now that they're kind of interchangeable. I go to a billion of them a day. I love them -- they serve a good purpose. But we want to give them more. What we're doing is hopefully giving these bands even more legitimacy.
Do any of the more than eighty sessions you've recorded so far stand out as favorites?
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A big deal for us was when Will Oldham [Bonnie Prince Billy] came in. At that time we were still really young, but suddenly we had a legend coming in to do a session with us. That escalated things so much. We're pretty grateful for that dude. We heard a couple weeks later that when he was on Conan, he was in the green room telling everyone around how great Daytrotter was. That's just something you can't imagine. It was really cool that he found something worthy in us.
Do you have to deal with any red tape as far as copyright and labels are concerned?
No, not at all. We don't own anything. The bands retain all the rights to the songs. All we ask is that they put our name on it. It helps everyone out that way. A lot of bands are using the songs for B-sides and for EPs and things like that. Will is going to release his session on Drag City in March. That's really fucking incredible. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone is also releasing one of his songs on a vinyl single.
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