Chris Aque, a 17-year-old high school senior in Chicago, is big on the new band Tilly and the Wall. Tilly is the first group to be signed by new indie label Team Love, which was co-founded by Conor Oberst of the band Bright Eyes and Nate Krenkel, and offers free downloads as a way to promote its bands. Aque loves music and talking about the bands he likes with other music fans online at sites including the social networking service LiveJournal.
He also publishes online reviews of shows he has seen (here's his review of Tilly and the Wall, which he caught with another band, Rilo Kiley, in Chicago). Aque recently discussed with BusinessWeek Internet Editor Heather Green how he discovered Tilly, why he likes them, and he supports them and their indie label. Edited excerpts follow:
Q: How did you learn about Tilly and the Wall?
A: I first heard about Tilly when they went on tour with Bright Eyes last summer. I couldn't get into the show because I was underage, but the name stuck. A month or so later, my friend told me to listen to them, and by November or so, I couldn't stop listening to the songs from their initial EP, Woo!, which all are streamed on their Web site.
So after I got their self-titled 7-inch vinyl and after seeing them with Rilo Kiley in January, they no doubt turned into my favorite band. Even though they have their album free for download, I ended up buying the album both on CD and vinyl.
Q: So why do you like posting about them online?
A: It's really interesting to see the community of fans that Tilly and the Wall has built. It's quite unlike the fan base other bands have. There's something about Tilly that really stands out and brings in fans who all have the same love and devotion for them.
Q: Why would you buy the album if you could just download the songs online?
A: I feel very strongly about supporting the bands I like. So for a band like Tilly and the Wall, there's no question in my mind that I'm going to end up buying everything they release just because they released it. But also, for a label like Team Love, I feel so strongly about what they're doing. They've taken two amazing artists (both Tilly and Willy Mason, and also Team Rigge who I have yet to hear), and have risked all their profit by practically giving away their albums.
However, I think that is such an amazing place for music to be and in fact very similar to the world of two-dimensional art. Sure, you could take a picture of an art piece and enjoy it all the same, but there's something about honoring the artist by contributing to them.
That's what I feel I'm doing with Team Love artists. I give so they can give back. And sure, if that means buying two copies of the same record in different formats, so be it.
Q: Do people you talk to about Tilly know about them before you mention them?
A: People don't usually have any idea Tilly and the Wall exists, but once I get finished talking to them, they definitely do. For such a small band, it's difficult to come across immediate success, but because all their fans are so loving, the word is spreading so fast.
I've told at least five people to check their album out on the Team Love site, and I'm sure other people have heard me talking about them and done the same. My friends generally respect my taste in music, and because I'm such a music nerd, to feel as strongly about any one band means a lot.