Community spirit: meet the Xtra Mile Street Team

09/05/2015

 


We here at Xtra Mile Recordings feel that community is paramount; we help each other, we build friendships and kinship, and we become bigger than our constituent parts. It seems a time when community is needed more than ever right now, especially after the results of the UK General Election last week which saw the Conservatives swing into power. The country is bracing itself for further funding cuts to reduce deficit, greater division between peoples (from various wage gaps to the possible exit of Scotland from the UK, and the UK from the EU) and continued maligning of those emigrating here for a better life only to find a nation of people relying on the generosity of others.

But we truly believe in the power of uniting and supporting each other, and you can be involved in this love-in. The Xtra Mile Street Team is your way to share your love for our artists, to help contribute to their success, and to become part of something bigger. If you like the sound of that — and especially after you've read this blog post — then you can find out more information on the Tumblr page and sign up directly here.

Read on to find out how Xtra Mile Street Team creator and chief Valerie Gritsch feels about community, and how her long history of supporting bands directly has supported her conviction (and led to her becoming a valuable member of the Xtra Mile Recordings as Social Media Manager). You will also read the enthusiastic quotes from some of our excellent Street Team members, who are already thoroughly involved and would like you to be too.

Join us. Let's make a difference.


Valerie Gritsch (Street Team Chief and Xtra Mile Recordings Social Media Manager)

A street team is a fan's chance to give back; at least, that’s what I always thought anyway. I joined my first one when I was 12 years old, for my favorite band. They were my world and I felt like they gave me so much, so I wanted to help them succeed as much as I could. As I got older I joined more and more, engaging friends and strangers online and off, telling them how much I loved this band or that record label. Even more than helping bands out though, because of street teams I have made close friends who share the same passions and musical tastes with me. The communities that can form around music are wonderful and exciting to be part of, as any Xtra Mile fan could attest to.

 As well as getting to feel officially brilliant, you also get a membership card!

As well as getting to feel officially brilliant, you also get a membership card!

That’s why, to me, it made sense for there to be an Xtra Mile Street Team. The label is like a family, and the fanbase is pretty much one as well. Everyone is an automatic friend, so welcoming, and so kind. They’re eager to hear new music and share what they like with those around them. They keep going out to shows, they buy the merch, and bring along their friends. It’s easy for there to be a sense of elitism around music fans, that whole “I’ve liked them longer than you” nonsense, yet I have hardly seen that in the XMR fan circles, and that speaks volumes to how special their fans are.

Those who sign up for the Xtra Mile Street Team are fans of some of our artists, and are open-minded to the rest. Every mission I send out to our reps (the “XMRMY” or “Xtra Milers”) is voluntary, so they can pick and choose what they want to do. This works out well, because if it’s a task for a band they haven’t listened to yet, the rep can check them out first to see if they like their music. Then the reps share whatever tools we supply: links, videos, flyers, etc. Our reps have also been in music videos, chosen an unsigned band to be featured on XMHC Vol 5: Smokin’ and are hosting acoustic Skiffle Parties (house shows) for our artists. We encourage our reps to share about our artists, but also to share with each other and build relationships with their fellow fans. After all, their new bestie could be a fellow street teamer on the other side of the world.

I’ve already discovered some great new bands I haven’t heard of before.
— Kathrin Wardatzky
Going to shows and seeing live music has always been my biggest passion. Since joining the Xtra Mile Street Team I have been able to give back to the artists I admire so much and help spread the word to others about the awesomeness that is Xtra Mile Recordings’ artist lineup!
— Matt Baer
[The Xtra Mile Street Team] is a really great initiative for fans! I’m far from my favorite bands (it’s not so good living in Italy when you don’t like Italian music :/ ) and it’s a way to feel nearer them...
— Ester Sellitti
The Street Team is an extraordinary thing. It connects us with other fans, and I’ve listened to music I wouldn’t have before (Cheap Girls, Against Me!, Billy The Kid, to name a few). It allows me to focus my love of music and the label into something productive - shouting about the music I love. I already loved so many musicians on the label, that I never questioned joining the Street Team. It just made sense to me. I regularly talk about the music I love anyway, so having a focus to that chattering made it more effective. Helping the musicians I love is such a satisfying feeling: knowing that I’m contributing to their success by spreading the word on their music is brilliant. I wouldn’t change the Street Team for the world and I’m so glad it’s a thing I joined.
— Sally Walker
 Swag!

Swag!

I love this and am so grateful for it, that there is some way I can still feel connected and engaged with you wonderous beauties while I’m overseas and missing so many good gigs. So, thank you for doing what you do, seriously!
— Victoria Mita
Loving the fact that I’m finding some cool new music through XMRMY!
— Charlie Pierce
Music has always been a big part of my life, and has helped me through some tough times. Being tone deaf and far too impatient to learn an instrument, I knew I would never be a musician myself but always wanted to be a part of the community that brought so much to me. Best I could do was support the bands I love by spreading the word. This used to be by way of mixed tapes for friends. Now, in the digital age, I can share the music I love through social media.

When I heard that I could be a part of the Xtra Mile Street Team, I jumped at the chance. Like the small labels I used to follow in my younger years, I knew they would not disappoint me. Now I feel like an insider; getting news on new releases and helping to discover unsigned bands and spreading the wonderful and rocking sounds of artists like Oxygen Thief, Rob Lynch, Billy The Kid, etc. I feel like I am part of a family that continues to grow as I leave my shell to talk to strangers about these great bands that I am quickly falling in love with. Thanks Xtra Mile Recordings, XMR Street Team, and Val for inviting me in.
— Traci-Ann Dis
  Traci’s homemade XMR koozie at Boston Calling festival

Traci’s homemade XMR koozie at Boston Calling festival

Being a part of the Xtra Mile Street Team is something that I knew I’d love, because I adore the label and all of the artists on it. I’m a strong believer that every single artist should get a chance to have success, and I will do everything I blinkin’ well can to help them get that opportunity! I also enjoy the idea of being part of a community like XMR where everyone seems to be kind to each other. Xtra Mile Recordings is just a lovely record label with lovely people and lovely artists. Viva la Xtra Mile :D
— Cameron Walker
I’ve never had record label loyalty before.

In fact, to be completely honest, I’ve often found that the mere mention of “The Label” conjures thoughts of evil-doers, huddling around a long, rich-mahogany table in a darkened room, laughing maniacally while plotting how to insert corporate subliminal messages into the singles of their stars. Warranted? Surely not. Unfair? Possibly.

So I was surprised to find myself at the 10th anniversary party for Xtra Mile last year. Firstly, that they would let Commonwealth riff-raff like me into any sort of formal English gathering was beyond my comprehension, at that point. My expectation was that I would stand outside, breathing heavily on the glass and writing supportive messages in the condensation on the window. But then, to be welcomed in, and be able to talk to the people who have made XMR into what it is...I was blown away. Without exaggeration, it was one of the best nights in memory, which is a testament to the kindness of XMR’s staff, friends and musicians.

It fascinates me, when I think about it in any sort of detail. Xtra Mile has managed to maintain a very specific group of signees. All artists on the growing marquee are:

1. Incredibly talented and original

2. Exceedingly hardworking (with many holding down a full-time job in addition to their musical endeavours)

3. Among the kindest, most down-to-earth people I’ve had the privilege of meeting.

I don’t know if these three criteria are in their contract. Regardless, these are the members of the XMR family. It is my firm belief that they are so deserving of success, whatever that means to each individual artist, because of these three specific traits they share.

It baffles me that every person on the planet doesn’t know the music of Frank Turner, Dive Dive, The Retrospective Soundtrack Players, Ben Marwood, Oxygen Thief, etc. But instead of sitting there with a blank look on my face, the glorious Valerie Gritsch decided we should all do something about it. Through the XMR Street Team, or XMrmy, I am now part of a contingent of enthusiastic musical wing-persons. I am already completely confident in the greatness of the musicians Xtra Mile has signed. All it takes is to introduce them to the good people I know who appreciate great music. So my own family gatherings have become an exercise in me working various different names and song lyrics into conversation. My old workmates are aware of the drive to get Marwood to main stage for 2000trees 2015, and asked me to bring some of his CDs home with me after this year’s festival. My best friend and I were out to dinner last week, and she timidly interrupted my ramblings to ask “...it’s Frank Turner you go to see all the time, right?...Ok good! We listen to him all the time in the office on my iTunes.”

My point: enthusiastically spreading the word about great musicians WORKS. Wearing their awesome merchandise around town generates questions and interest. Hyping tour dates and releases might not seem like it’s effective, as it doesn’t usually get many Facebook likes or comments. But I had three friends go to the Larry and His Flask show in Toronto last year who had never heard of the band before. “I checked out that band you posted about on Facebook, by the way. Are they good live?” This is always my favourite part, see...I just smile. Let them show up and experience the mind-blowing glory first-hand.

I think about the incredible memories we’ve made, and crazy (great) stuff that has happened in the past year, and it is all thanks to Xtra Mile and friends (some of whom are now part of the XMrmy). It’s just fun! I think of the silly bear hat I made to promote Chris T-T’s ‘The Bear’ album release, the band merchandise I’ve shown off for Oxygen Thief’s fan music video, the miles travelled for various gigs in both North America and Europe...what a ride! And it’s only beginning. Tiny gestures to show support for the musicians we love.

The music industry is not dead. It’s just changing. Hard-working, talented people are still appreciated. And thanks to independent labels like Xtra Mile, good music is still being produced. But in the digital age, we need people to yell and be passionate about the artists and music they like.

Please come join us in the XMrmy! We’re so fun!
— Kelly Holman

Now's the time: contact us and get involved. Enthusiastic about our bands and music? Join in. It's more fun that way. Always always always get in touch via Facebook or Twitter @Xtra_Mile or even email us at contributions[at]xtramilerecordings[dot]com. We'll do our best to respond as soon as we can. And get in touch with fellow fans! Meet at gigs. Change your own lives. We'll gladly be facilitators. Help us out and help our artists out. What else are you going to do with your spare time?