Verizon and MySpace; proving ground for Bronx musician
by Jon Minners
Although MySpace.com has received some negative feedback in recent months due to the questionable content found on some members’ pages within the mega-popular website, the popular Internet hub has unquestionably become a destination point for independent bands trying to get a break in the music industry.
Through a special contest Calling All Bands, MySpace.com teamed with Verizon Wireless in search of a band that they would feature in a song, music video, ring tone and ring back tone on Verizon’s increasingly growing V Cast membership that showcases mainstream entertainment to wireless users in a unique format. While only one band won, others used the competition as a springboard to success. One such artist calls the Bronx his home.
Franco Anthony, 28, has lived in the Bronx most of his life, including the present time. The Allerton Avenue resident was one of 15 semi-finalists in the contest that saw more than 4,500 bands enter across all music genres. With millions of subscribers having the opportunity to hear his music, Anthony may not have won the contest, but he did take home a prize even more valuable than the exposure he received – the creation of a road that could take him to superstardom.
“Only people with MySpace accounts could vote and I didn’t make the top five, but regardless, I sparked a guy’s interest in Canada,” noted Anthony about Rachid Wehb, a producer who has been producing, remixing and writing for some of the biggest names in pop music since 1996. His productions have helped give newcomers their first hits and veterans their Grammy recognition. “He was working with a female artist in New York and he heard me talk about the competition,” continued Anthony. “I played a song for him and he invited me to work with him in Canada.”
Traveling to Canada, Anthony recorded five songs and later this month will travel there once more for a photo shoot and to record one more song necessary to shop a CD around to major record labels in hope of landing a deal. “I would call my music soul R&B, but this producer pushed me to add more of a rock pop edge to my sound; more of a Z100 mainstream sound that will really help me get my music out there,” said Anthony, who calls Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Sublime some of his influences. Anthony is doing a cover song of the group Vanilla Fudge’s You Keep Me Hangin' On, complete with its hard edge rock vibe from the 1970’s, unlike a later remake.
And as Anthony shops around for a label, he is one step closer to a dream that began at the age of eight when he was inspired after watching Buddy Rich and his big band perform. Anthony became a drummer immediately and growing up he became a part of several bands that failed for a number of reasons. At the age of 16, Anthony taught himself guitar and bass and then recorded himself performing as a one-man band at the age of 17. The very next year, the budding musician had his sights set on success when he recorded an eight-song LP called Check the Mental, which garnered some success in Long Island. Now 10 years later, he’s ready to do it all over again, but with a grander vision and a more realistic approach.
And when that big day comes, Anthony knows whom to thank. “I really have to thank my parents, because growing up, music was a huge part of their lives,” he said. “While my mother was home during the day, she would be blasting anything from the Commodores and Earth, Wind and Fire to Les Miserables; and when my father got home, he would listen to Boston, Foghat, Aerosmith and The Rockets. So, growing up, I was fortunate to be listening to such good music everyday.”
And MySpace.com is certainly high on Anthony’s list. “It’s a great way to get your music out there,” he said. “It was because of MySpace.com that I was searching through profiles and found out about the contest. I made the deadline just in time. Now, I am using MySpace to attract friends and inform them about upcoming shows. It is a big help. I thank them for the opportunity I have received.”
Anthony looks forward to representing the Bronx when he does make it to the big time. “I think anything from the Bronx is always good,” he said. “I love where I live. I have lived in all areas of New York and nothing beats it. I would be proud to say that I was a product of the Bronx.”
For more information on Franco Anthony’s future shows and to listen to samples of his music, go to http://www.myspace.com/thefam2.