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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

INDUSTRY HEROES PROFILE: AARON AXELSON

I guess the music industry is not that unlike any other business - there are those that are out for themselves and go the dog-eat-dog route, the ones in the middle, and then are the good guys. I wanted to start a little series on some of the ones that I consider 'heroes', the people out there doing the right thing for the right reasons, and actually helping bands.

A great place to start is LIVE 105's AARON AXELSON up in San Francisco. Here is a guy on a major commercial radio station, KITS FM, that actually has great ears as a Music Director and actually takes risks on bands that aren't being added by everyone else. When we were working with THE KILLERS in the early days, Aaron was the first station in the country to play them. I think there is a laundry list of bands that could say that very same thing, year in and year out, where Aaron picked them out of a stack (because he actually listens to the music sent his way), and stuck his neck out on the station. What he's built with the BFD Festival, that has evolved to Shoreline Amphitheatre now, is amazing, and best of all, his 'local stage' set up and contest is now an industry standard. His Sunday night specialty show, SOUNDCHECK, makes a habit of playing local bands, bands from the UK, and bands that no one else has heard of.

Aaron is also the man behind POPSCENE, the longest running indie dance rock night in San Francisco. Again, Aaron is usually way ahead of the local venues and books UK acts that in London play arenas, but are coming to the US for the first time and find themselves playing the cozy confines of 330 Rich to a rabid full house of music fans that hunger for new sounds. Seeing MUSE in Popscene is probably one of the most memorable nights of music I've seen. It's THE club night in SF for a rising band to hope to play to introduce themselves to a built in crowd of fans with great taste. Aaron and his DJ team there have given everyone a great education over the years and patrons know that even if it's a band they haven't heard of, that Aaron wouldn't book them if there wasn't something to it.

For San Francisco, and really to the West coast, Aaron is extremely influential to all the commercial DJ's and stations, for when he adds something to the Live 105 playlist, others fall in line from Seattle, to Portland to Los Angeles. He's a Bay Area guy at heart, represents Oakland proudly, and is a true music fan. He's the kind of guy you see at MOD LANG, thumbing through the imports vinyl if you walk in anytime during the week.

THE OWL recently did a great video piece on Aaron that I've included here:

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