It was a little over two years ago. Stephanie Williams, a Science Channel employee, had just attended a concert at the Rock & Roll Hotel. At the time, she was working on a personal project, building a website that could host her own music podcast, when things suddenly took an interesting turn. While at the Rock & Roll venue, she had fallen in love with a local band called Drop Electric, but, to her surprise, she learned that the band wasn’t being featured in any media publications. “After seeing that show, I realized where the direction of [my project] needed to go,” Williams said. So, instead of hosting her own podcast, Williams’ new website would have a new focus: featuring local D.C. music.
Enter 2014. Williams’ website, D.C. Music Download, now receives over 5,000 hits per week and is the District’s most-read local music publication. It has featured dozens of up-and-coming D.C. musicians and helped kick off the careers of bands such as GEMS and U.S. Royalty. This Saturday, DCMC will be celebrating its two-year anniversary in style, hosting the largest local music showcase ever held at the 9:30 Club. To boot, a portion of the of the show’s profits will be donated to Girls Rock! D.C., a nonprofit organization that aims to empower young women through the power of music.
We got in touch with Williams to get the latest dish on DCMC, the upcoming 9:30 Club showcase and all things local music. Here’s what she had to say:
4E: Two years ago, you were at the Science Channel when this idea came to you. How did you handle building a blog and maintaining a full time job?
SW: The secret is that I don’t really sleep! For the amount of hours I put into DCMD, the website is almost like a full-time job, but I love doing it so much that I usually don’t even realize how much time I’ve invested into it. Usually after my day job I would spend the rest of the night working on my own stuff and editing the staff’s assignments until the early hours of the morning. If I didn’t get all of my stuff done the night before, I would take my lunch breaks to catch up by answering emails and doing interviews with the short amount of time I had.
4E: Did you ever think that your website would ever reach this level of success?
SW: When I started the website, I had no idea whether the idea would catch on or not. At the time DCMD launched, there weren’t very many blogs like us out there, so I couldn’t set a benchmark on how the site would do. I honestly had no future plans with the website except to live in the moment and highlight bands I thought were interesting. I only purchased my domain for a few months since I really had no idea if the idea would stick or not.
4E: How does it feel to be the starting place for several D.C. bands receiving national attention?
SW: As time went on, I was honestly shocked by how many people were following us on social media. When we first launched, we didn’t get any coverage about it and we had no advertising behind the site. It’s amazing how much word-of-mouth attention we’ve gotten over the last few years.
4E: Have more local bands reached out to the site to build their careers?
SW: The most interesting thing is that on top of all the local submissions we get, we also get a ton of out-of-town bands wanting to post music on the site. It surprises me when I hear from bands overseas looking to post music on DCMD, and I’m always thinking: How the heck did you find out about our local blog? It is pretty flattering!
4E: Your upcoming Girls Rock! D.C. benefit is going to bring a large local showcase to the 9:30 Club. How does it feel to host a showcase at such a prominent venue?
SW: It’s not very often that an all-local lineup performs at 9:30 Club (particularly on a coveted weekend timeslot), so this is going to be a huge moment for the music community. The 9:30 Club is as good as it gets; it’s a legendary venue and to even have the opportunity to host a show there is surreal. Having Girls Rock! D.C. attend in addition to my four favorite bands being at the venue is going to be such a special moment.
4E: The Girls Rock! D.C. camp programs and music education initiatives seem line up with DCMC quite nicely! Is that why you decided to donate the show’s to Girls Rock! D.C.?
SW: I’ve been a huge fan of Girls Rock! and its mission for a very long time. When I was thinking of possible organizations that DCMD could help benefit, Girls Rock! immediately came into my mind. It’s refreshing to find an organization that provides music education to young women in the way that Girls Rock! has.
For more about Girls Rock! D.C., click here!
4E: You’re ending your first two years with quite the showcase and celebration. What’s next?
D.C. Music Download’s Two Year Anniversary Show is happening this Saturday, Jan. 25, at the 9:30 Club and will be emceed by D.C. comedian Jamel Johnson. Headliner Raise Your City (who inspired DCMC over two years ago) will be joined by local acts Drop Electric (who also inspired DCMC over two years ago), Young Rapids, The Sea Life, The Raised By Wolves and DJ Ryan Ulbrich and Van O. Tickets are $16 and doors open at 8 p.m. For all the information about the showcase, click here.