Corporate America is taking an interest more and more in local-level music these days. At present, Chevy is in the midst of its second season of the Chevy Music Showcase, a mini documentary series highlighting eight local bands. Perhaps it's just a way to get into the minds of the music-loving youth, but director/ producer Tommy Smeltzer views it as "a concept of finding new ways to get art and commerce to work together."
"The primary goal with the show is to remind the larger audience out there that there is a vibrant music scene happening at the local level. We want the audience to know that this is out there as an entertainment option and it is a better experience for the buck," says Smeltzer. The videos provide a teaser for the featured band as just another way of expanding the market base for the local music scene.
This season features St. Louis artists Scarlet Tanager, Mo E All-Stars, the Bottle Rockets, the Madison Letter, Smokey Lonesome, Owen Pye, Odds Lane, and the Jeremiah Johnson Band. The Chevy Music Showcase series began on April 3 with Scarlet Tanager. The series airs every Wednesday on CBS during a commercial break in the 10 p.m. newscast. All of the spots that have aired so far can been viewed online at chevymusicshowcase.com.
Each clip is two minutes long and seeks to capture the motives and how-to's of each band. Smeltzer admits that two minutes is short to delve fully into any band's history, but sees the mini-docs as a way to open the minds of viewers.
It's easy to assume that Chevy is just trying to get into the pants of today's youth, but Smeltzer doesn't see it that way. "Let's be honest, branding is about creative relationships. We think of it in terms as more of relationship marketing. Brand loyalty lasts a long time," says Smeltzer.
Chevy only indirectly benefits from the series, compared to the amount of money going into securing a two minute television spot each week. The bands are granted greater exposure to new markets of people. "There are entire groups of people out there that you can't reach through the same outlets," says Smeltzer. "There is tangible value in the exposure and experience."
Bands are chosen through word of mouth, collaboration with featured venues and online submission. "There are a lot of factors that go into play. But we try to keep [the music] accessible and look for a professionalism standard like booking regular gigs and taking musicianship seriously as a career," says Smeltzer.
St. Louis isn't the only market. CMS also runs in Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Dallas/Forth Worth.