I keep hearing there’s no music scene at Yale — that there are not enough concerts, that Yale bands go unnoticed, that the few events that actually happen are always semi-empty. In short, that no one really cares about music here.
Maybe on a similar astral plane, one day on the spring of 2008, Michael Waxman ’10 founded yalemusicscene.org, YMS, a self-proclaimed website slash production team whose purpose is to promote the music culture at Yale—or to create one, if I prove my point.
Waxman left Yale after two semesters to start a new company in California. That failed, so he came back last January to do something “without the responsibility of a real company,” as he said on a recent phone interview.
At the beginning, it was just a hobby, “a way to channel some of my artsy energy,” Waxman said. “To relax in an inconsequential sort of way.”
But the hobby quickly became something more serious as the number of visits to his URL increased daily.
“It was pretty-looking,” he said, “but it didn’t have the capacity for dynamic content.”
Updating the site was difficult, so even if the people that visited liked the design, they didn’t really have a reason to come back.
Consequently, Waxman switched to blogspot, an easier, though less cool, platform. A mere blog wasn’t pretty enough, however, and just before last summer, he put together the current Web site.
Waxman calls it a “feature blog.” I call it a “fancy blog,” mainly because there are no features yet. But don’t get me wrong; it’s very nicely structured. All links are very accessible, it’s easy to navigate and frequently updated.
The layout is very simple. There is a lot of black, giving it the air of a relaxed underground club. The font is either blue or white, which only makes sense. And I like the buttons on the top of the page: news, shows, MP3s, reviews (some from scene), bands and info.
The bulk of YMS’ content is mainly announcements for events organized by Waxman and his production team, as well as advertisement for Volume and WYBC parties.
There is still room for improvement. While there are descriptions of 20 Yale bands, there are only 12 songs available on the MP3 section. This, in spite of the “15 upcoming YMS releases.” That’s a bit sad.
Oh, and I hate typos.
In any case, the point of the Web site, Waxman’s ideal, is to improve the music scene at Yale.
“The goal is to make concerts, open mics, and this sort of event,” he said. “The Web site should do the advertising.”
Last week at Blue State Coffee, 15 performers participated in an open mic organized by YMS. Tomorrow, “The Stars Be Mute,” a Yale band, will play at the organization’s usual venue, the TD Basement.
In an attempt to define YMS, Waxman said that yalemusicscene.org was a unique organization in the music community at Yale. “But we do have a long way to go,” he added.
I decided to ask some people if they knew about Yale Music Scene, or yalemusicscene.org. Out of 16 people that replied, 14 gave me creative equivalents of “No.” One said: “I don’t have any cash.” And another said: “Yes. Just go down Elm and turn left on College, it should be on College and Wall.”
Jam sessions in TD Basement don’t really account for a music scene. There is no place to go. No periodic event. No band that is known to people just because they’re good and you’ve heard about them, not because they are your neighbors.
“I’m a music lover,” Waxman said. “I just wish there was more of a musical vibe at this place.”
Then keep working, M-Boy.