Tracks application gives platform to local musicians through COVID-19

February 7, 2021

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Photo by Thorne Williford | The Daily Tar Heel

Once the pandemic hit, the Chapel Hill and greater Triangle area music scene was down for the count. But now, local musicians have an opportunity to connect to audiences by applying to be featured on Tracks.

Tracks is a streaming platform for artists specifically in the Triangle area. It is a collaboration between Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture and the Chapel Hill Public Library. Now, Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture is accepting applications to be featured through Feb. 28, an extension from the previous Jan. 31 deadline.

Melissa Bartoletta, marketing and communications coordinator for Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture, discussed the reasoning behind the waylaid deadline.

“There’s some genres we’re hoping to see more submissions of, and with the pandemic and everything that happened into the new year, we had a bit of a slow start to submissions,” Bartoletta said.

She emphasized the importance of diverse genres in Chapel Hill music. To reflect that diversity, Tracks hosts a wide range of genres, from bluegrass to electronic, hip-hop to metal.

“Before the pandemic, we were hoping that when we launched it, we could host live concerts with some of the bands, but we really shifted gears and upped how many artists we ended up accepting, so we went from 50 to 70,” Bartoletta said. “We want Tracks to be a reflection of the local music ecosystem.”

Erika Libero is a curator for Tracks as well as a featured artist under the name ‘de Fontaine.’ She was brought onto the streaming service in the months leading up to social distancing orders, and will be involved as a curator along with other artists on the platform in a new curator program.

Libero believes that the driving force behind Tracks are the connections between the artists and the listener.

“It’s kind of like a local version of Spotify,” Libero said. “Because it’s so hyper local, it’s a way to engage with the local music scene, but also a way to get a snapshot of all the artistic music activity happening in the area.”

Libero believes that Tracks supports diversity in local music as well.

“As America, and as North Carolina, we are diverse,” Libero said. “By reaching out and making sure everyone is involved in this, I feel like it’s putting your foot down and saying, ‘This is who we are.’”

Another band featured on Tracks, Hard Drive, was enthusiastic about the connections made on the platform.

Hard Drive fiddle player Tatiana Hargreaves appreciates the impact Tracks has, and how it gives local artists a platform to share their work.

“The community is so important to us,” Hargreaves said. “It’s what drives us to play music.”

Artists feel that the platform is an important tool in closing the divide that exists between the band and the community because of the pandemic.

To apply to be featured, artists can visit the website and fill out the application form. Prospective bands can submit up to three songs from an album consisting of five songs or more. If selected, artists will receive $200 in compensation for licensing.

Hard Drive banjo player Aaron Tacke’s advice for interested artists was simple:

“Just go do it, don’t be scared,” Tacke said.