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If the children of local musicians go shoeless because college kids can swap unauthorized song clips over the Internet, it won’t be Dave Wood’s fault. Webhead Wood, in fact, is putting his tech expertise to better ends, harnessing the ether to help sell the products of local musicians.
Through his CD-selling Web site, www.zptdudamusic.com (say it fast), Wood makes available blues, jazz, roots-rock, and R&B releases by local artists including the Nighthawks, guitar legend Danny Gatton, Tom Principato, and Marge Calhoun. And, out of a broader obsession, he also details the national surf-rock and instrumental-music scene, from its well-known proponents such as Los Straitjackets to the more obscure Bambi Molesters.
By springing for high-tech conveniences such as online credit-card processing and MP3 samples of recordings, Wood makes it easy to stay up-to-date with both the local and surf-rock cultures. But distinguishing his outfit from many would-be imitators is his willingness to pay the artists and smaller labels for their records prior to selling them.
Wood pours the limited income he makes from the sales back into the site, and says that, as he can afford to, he will expand the selection of releases he stocks.
Most places that stock such records will sell only on consignment, which can often translate to the label or artist’s getting eight of the 10 copies of a new CD back from the seller if they don’t move soon enough.
“I buy them directly and pay the artists up front,” Wood says. “It’s part of the site’s ethos because, through acquaintances, I’ve heard the horror stories of what it takes to get a record sold by Tower on consignment: getting paid, finding the person who can pay you, getting the CDs returned to you.”
Of course, with underground art of any kind, success usually means something a little different to local music promoters than it does to BMG or Sony. To Wood and the artists he supports, it means selling an additional five or 10 copies of a new surf-rock release or helping to ensure that local performers such as Cathy Ponton King play to a full house of fans.
“In essence, I am betting that these releases will sell with my own money. It takes a leap of faith,” Wood says. —P. Mitchell Prothero