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[whitespace] UltraVibe.com gives local bands exposure on the web

Campbell--What happens when a dotcom company places more value on its artistic soul than its bank account, and fuels its beliefs by giving away its product for free? In most cases, the answer would be crash and burn. But sometimes an idea and the people behind it are so original and genuine that beating the odds seems a sure bet.

Tucked away in one of the many rented offices at the Campbell Community Center is an infant company called UltraVibe.com. Initially located in Los Gatos, it moved to Campbell for the better facilities available at the center. It is from these headquarters that the group of six very dynamic people has developed a unique niche in the entertainment industry. It offers unsigned and independent label artists "a platform to display downloadable MP3s and streamable videos for the world to preview."

Paul Finck the president/CEO of UltraVibe, explains, "We are not like a Napster or MP3.com. We don't want to be confused with that at all. Those people are, through whatever the loophole is, providing a place for people to pirate music. We actually have the artist's permission for people to have free downloads and provide streamline video that we have taped for them. We feel strongly that if you want a piece of the music industry you need to add something instead of trying to steal what these people have worked so hard to develop."

The philosophy of adding something is a very powerful component of UltraVibe's character. It's what makes UltraVibe different and why it stays focused on connecting at "the street level." Finck says, "We want to spread the word through the bottom up. Everyone else [major record labels and marketing agencies] are working from the top down. "

UltraVibe works with very specific genres of music, Alternative, punk, reggae and hip-hop. Their groups play the club scene, expressing a sound and experience that rarely makes it to mainstream radio. UltraVibe wants to bring that experience to the masses by sending their videographers into the clubs and recording the bands' performances. These live prerecorded shows are then streamed from their website.

UltraVibe puts on several showcases a month at The Usual and the Cactus Club in downtown San Jose. Artists are prebooked for each performance, signing paperwork, that allows UltraVibe to record their shows. This free service gives the artist a doorway into the digital world, that is one of UltraVibe's objectives: to promote the little guy.

Open expression and artist respect are key issues for everyone at UltraVibe. It's an attitude that comes with having so many friends in the music industry and understanding what a struggling band goes through. Finck and Tony Deale, UltraVibe's Music Director, are part of a hip-hop band called Major Liegue, that performs at downtown San Jose clubs. And the manager for Major Liegue, Mark Scarpelli, also handles promotions at UltraVibe.

Scarpelli says, "UltraVibe turns out to be like a big family. Major Liegue has people here and UltraVibe has people here and everything kind of conglomerates together. But what makes UltraVibe unique is the energy and entrepreneurialism that goes on here."

Since their launch in February 1999, the company's name recognition has grown. In September at the four day SoFA (South First Street Area Clubs) Festival, UltraVibe took the whole event digital with an army of videographers recording performances on five stages eight hours a day. All the content will be compressed into files and loaded onto their website for viewing.

Jill Pauli, the company's VP/CFO who's been involved in the club scene for over six years, says, "Our long-term goal is to offer our services nationwide but there is no better place then Silicon Valley to launch digital music, a label and website."

Starting a record label is one of UltraVibe's future goals. Says Pauli: "When we launch our record label it's going to be a record label of the future. It's not going to be like all these record labels that want every bit out of the artist. We are out there for the artist, not just for ourselves."

It's that attitude that has alternative rock groups, such as Krenshaw, working with UltraVibe to bring them more exposure. Because of the enormous amount of time UltraVibe spends in the clubs recording and listening to new groups Scarpelli says they see something different and just know when a "band has a lot of good sound."

Good sound, staying on the edge and discovering new content is what makes UltraVibe's digital music fresh and exciting. UltraVibe's webmaster Marcos Barrera, who some co-workers claim lives in the UltraVibe office, says, "We want to get it to the point were people see an ad for UltraVibe bands and without knowing any of the bands, show up because the UltraVibe name means it's a good show."

Finding the new bands that put on good shows is Tony Deale's crusade. He is either out at the clubs, talking on the phones, or in the studios, letting people know what UltraVibe's about. He feels that things are starting to pick up speed and that "the bomb is about to go off" with all the area clubs letting them put on shows to promote local groups. He enjoys the satisfaction of seeing some of these groups that have put in so much hard work finally have something happen.

Adds Finck: "We aren't looking for huge gratification for ourselves. Any gratification comes from people living their dreams and this is a dream of ours to run a company that helps rock something and adds so much to the music industry."

For more information about UltraVibe, call 408.871.2270, or visit www.ultravibe.com.
Moryt Milo

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Web extra to the October 12-18, 2000 issue of Metro.

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