Affect’s ‘Battle of the Garage Bands’ dials it up to 11

Affect Advertising’s Battle of the Garage Bands campaign for LiftMaster dials up the traditional music promotion to a chart-topping level of professionalism.

Although it follows the path of a standard online music video popularity contest, the nine-week program takes a different route once the bands start uploading and the fans get voting.

Besides guaranteeing exposure to every group that submits a video, BOTGB will book the two most popular for a live gig at 1st Ward in Wicker Park on July 23. There, they’ll perform before a panel of judges that includes Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider, Enuff Z’nuff bassist Chip Z’Nuff and multi-platinum producer Johnny K.

After the show, the trio of celebrity rockers will determine which band will head into the studio for a recording session with Johnny K, who has helped the likes of Megadeth, Staind and 3 Doors Down sell tens of millions of albums.

“You can go online right now and find a thousand band contests,” explains Robbie Vasquez, Affect’s founder and creative director. “But I’ve designed this one in phases to resemble an authentic, unsigned band search.”

Now and then: Robbie VasquezVasquez is intimately familiar with the process. From the late 80s to the early 90s, he dedicated his life to the pursuit of rock and roll as lead vocalist for hard-rocking Chicago band Cherri Rokkett. During that time, he and the band gigged with platinum headliners like Poison, Warrant and dozens of upcoming acts in venues like the Metro in Chicago and The Whiskey in LA.

Before it all ended, Cherri Rokkett had earned, and lost, more than one record deal.

The technique he developed to promote gigs during the hair metal era makes a handy guide for reaching consumers today.

“If you’re a band guy, you know how to hustle,” he explains. “Social and digital is no different. Instead of me being at a club talking to a hundred people, I’m in front of my computer talking to millions. It’s the same stuff.”

BOTGB’s coverage extends from digital radio stations and music blogs to brick and mortar rehearsal spaces. Most of it flows from select “influencers” who engage serious musicians as a regular course of their daily lives.

Vasquez developed the process in the early 2000s and used it to reach hundreds of thousands of potential consumers through authentic, organic online and traditional influencers. The technique represents a “new model” that places less emphasis on 30-second broadcast commercials and reinforces one of his favorite mantras.

“Everything has to be honest,” he says.

It also lends credibility to Pistola Entertainment, a record label that Affect launched last summer as a natural extension of its day-to-day business.

“We’ve always used unsigned artists for work that requires music,” he explains. “Since we already have the network, why not help them get to the next level?” The original roster of two artists is on track to reach five before 2018.

The arrangement, along with Battle of the Garage Bands, makes a fitting contrast to the partnerships frequently formed by big name musical acts and multinational advertising agencies.

Or, in the words of ACDC, “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.”

To date, Battle of the Garage Bands has received 23 video submissions that, collectively, exceed 20,000 online views.