Denfeld News

March 12, 2007
Duluth News Tribune

Online store promotes Duluth musicians
By Peter Passi

Northland musicians have a new way to get their work to a larger audience.

The Rock Shop, an online store at duluthrocked.com, opens the door for Northland artists to reach a global market.

“We wanted to provide a venue for Northland artists to showcase their wares,” Web site co-creator Jeff Jarvinen said.

His business partner, Tracy Lundeen, said that despite the site’s name, its offerings run the gamut of musical genres.

“We have everything from country to jazz fusion to good old rock ’n’ roll,” he said.

Lundeen said businesses such as the Electric Fetus and Barnes & Noble provide bricks-and-mortar outlets for regional musicians. “But there was nothing on the World Wide Web before we came along.”

The Rock Shop serves as an electronic consignment store. Artists can offer their recordings for sale at a self-determined price, and the site’s operators typically collect a 20 percent fee.

So far, the site supports itself financially.

“Jeff and I have probably made about enough to fill a gas tank and drive to the Twin Cities,” Lundeen said.

But he still considers the Rock Shop, which is less than six months old, a success.

“For us, this is about trying to support local music, versus trying to make a profit off it,” Lundeen said.

The site has been averaging about 300 to 400 visitors a month, and Lundeen said it has attracted attention from former Northland residents now scattered across the country and around the world.

Most of the site’s audience has discovered it independently or via word of mouth. Jarvinen said he and Lundeen lacked the resources to mount much of a marketing campaign for the site.

“It’s a real grass-roots kind of thing,” Jarvinen said.

John Heino, frontman for the Centerville All-Stars, said his group decided to use the Web site to sell its latest recording.

“It seemed like a good idea to get local music together in one place on the Web,” Heino said. “We had the option of setting up our own e-commerce site, but we decided we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel.

“It’s not a fun or easy thing to set up a secure e-commerce site,” Heino said. “And a lot of us would probably rather spend our time making music.”

Heino said the Centerville All-Stars’ Web site contains a direct link to the Rock Shop, and duluthrocked.com has links to the sites of the bands it features. He said traffic between the sites seems to be strong and mutually beneficial.

The Rock Shop offers a selection of about 30 recordings, and continues to expand.

“We’re barely off the ground, but we see the site growing substantially over the next year or two,” Jarvinen said.

Heino hopes that the site will be able to offer listeners direct music downloads, broadening the reach of local bands.

Jarvinen believes small independent bands and musicians need all the help they can get.

“It’s easier than ever to put out a recording,” he said. “But with so much out there, it’s tougher than ever to get it into people’s hands.”

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