In the summer of 2016, New York City lost a beloved and influential hub of independent music culture. Other Music--located on East 4th Street between Broadway and Lafayette in the heart of Manhattan's East Village neighborhood--was more than just a store that sold CDs, records, tapes and magazines. It was a place where bands were formed, record labels were born and careers were launched. And it was THE place where a generation of New Yorkers at the dawn of the Internet age went to discover groundbreaking music by artists who would go on to become household names and underground icons: Animal Collective, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, the Strokes, Interpol, TV On The Radio, Anohni (formerly Antony And The Johnsons), William Basinski, and countless others. This documentary will chronicle the 20 year history and legacy of Other Music, and explore how the spirit of independent record stores can be preserved as physical retail spaces for music continue to disappear.
The Other Music Story
The founders of Other Music met when they worked together in the newly opened music section of Kim’s Underground, a dry cleaners-turned-video store in downtown Manhattan, in 1992. They were voracious music fans who made it their mission to introduce customers to unusual and unheard music outside the mainstream. As the ultra-curated inventory at Kim's grew a devoted customer base, they realized that it was plausible for them to break away from a small area in the back of a video store and start their own business.
In December of 1995, Other Music -- a name that truly captures the spirit of the store -- opened in the East Village, directly opposite the mammoth Tower Records NYC flagship store. Because the area was already frequented by record shoppers, word quickly spread about Other Music's eclectic selection. They became known for carrying new music that was different, exciting, and often impossible to find elsewhere.
Over the years, the store established itself as a destination for music lovers from around the world. Its philosophy of hiring only the most passionate and knowledgeable music lovers made Other Music a place where customers could come hang out and talk about music, art, or life in general. Over the years the store became a hub for creative people of all kinds. It was a place for musicians, painters, film makers, photographers, actors, etc., to meet and find out what was new, where the good shows were in the city and where the good parties were. It was a community that supported and promoted creative ventures of all forms. It was also a place where unsigned bands and tiny undistributed record labels could bring their CDs and find a champion in Other Music that would help their music find an audience in New York City and beyond.
The Film So Far
In May of 2016, after 20 years of being in business, Other Music's owners announced that the store would close for good in 6 weeks. The outpouring of love and support from thousands of customers and the incessant media coverage is a testament to how many people’s lives were touched by the store.
As the news of Other Music closing started to sink in, we realized that someone needed to tell the story of the community that was created at Other Music. We started filming within days of the announcement of the store closing, and continued production for their remaining time in business. The store's closing brought people who loved it back to visit, and we were able to shoot interviews with current and past staff members, as well as many beloved long-time and notable customers.
The store owners celebrated its history by hosting a New Orleans-style second line parade, and organizing a sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom, with performances from Yo La Tengo with Yoko Ono, Sharon Van Etten, Bill Callahan, and many others. We filmed this amazing closing day parade and the farewell concert. We were able to accrue well over 100 hours of footage in the initial production phase.
Over the years the store hosted countless in-store performances by hundreds of artists including Neutral Milk Hotel, the Breeders, DJ Shadow, Teenage Fanclub, Blonde Redhead, Broken Social Scene, the National, Mouse On Mars, Tindersticks, Atari Teenage Riot and Elliott Smith. The acoustics and small size of the room lent a unique intimacy to the performances. Many of these performances were filmed, and we will be digitizing them from the original source tapes for use in the documentary.
As more and more record stores are closing everywhere, the communities that have built up around stores like Other Music are slowly dissipating and migrating to online forums. Nowadays most people are streaming music online rather than purchasing it digitally to download, much less going to a store to buy physical media. As the music industry continues to move in that direction and community hubs like Other Music struggle to remain in existence, we think it is important to document what spaces like these have meant to people in the past and how their spirit can live on in an increasingly digital world.
Media coverage of Other Music's closure in 2016:
We've put together some truly amazing rewards that we're excited to offer as incentives for backing this project. Here are just a few of them:
Physical reward items will be mailed no later than November 2017. Digital rewards will be fulfilled as soon as they're ready for backers. Anticipated delivery dates are November 2017 for the "Live At Other Music" video mixtape and the Employee Manual PDF, and November 2019 for the digital screener of the completed documentary.
What's The Plan?
This film is a labor of love for us. So far we've made it almost entirely out of our own pockets and with the help of friends and volunteers who love Other Music. And now we need your help to raise the funding necessary to begin work with an experienced documentary editor and hire additional team members--such as a DP, an archival researcher, an animator, a visual effects artists, a music supervisor, and a lawyer-- to help us finish this film and share it with the world.
$70,000 is not the full anticipated budget for this film. But it's enough money to get the film to a rough cut edit that we can use to raise finishing funds, seek distribution and apply to film festivals.
Our goal is to finish the film in time for a festival premiere 2019. As a backer you'll be continually updated on our progress. And you'll be among the first to know when and where the film will premiere.
Who We Are
Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller are a married couple and directing/producing team who met in New York City and recently relocated to Los Angeles. As directors they've helmed music videos for artists including Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Aimee Mann, Martin Courtney (Real Estate) and Leverage Models Feat. Sharon Van Etten. Puloma and Rob have also produced numerous music videos alongside director Tom Scharpling (The Best Show, Scharpling & Wurster) for artists such as The New Pornographers, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Titus Andronicus, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie, The Postal Service) and Kurt Vile. Rob & Puloma directed and produced the first season of the standup comedy series Night Train With Wyatt Cenac for NBC's Seeso platform. And they are two of the filmmakers behind the Kickstarter-supported feature-length soul music documentary Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows.
"When we first heard Other Music was closing, we were devastated. We both have a deep connection to the store. Rob is an ex-staff member, and Puloma was a longtime customer and a friend to many people at the store. Other Music was a place where we both learned a lot about music, were introduced to New York City culture, and gained a second family in a daunting new city. Through our ties to Other Music we met each other, got married, and became filmmaking partners. We are so honored to be able to tell the story of a place that was so special to us and to our life in New York City, as it was to so many other people around the world. We hope to make a film that captures the spirit of Other Music and helps to further cement its legacy as one of New York City's most important musical landmarks."
FOR PRESS INQUIRIES CONTACT DANIEL GILL AT FORCE FIELD PR.
Risks and challenges
We anticipate facing many challenges along the way to the finish line, and we will lean on our past filmmaking experience to thoughtfully handle setbacks as they arise. We have learned that the greatest challenge for independent filmmakers is to ensure that a film is noticed and is able to rise above the huge volume of film and video entertainment that is being produced in the current media landscape. We want this film to be seen by audiences far and wide, not strictly by the community of people who already know and love Other Music. Your support and word-of-mouth will be integral to ensuring that this project will reach as wide an audience as possible. We need your help, so please spread the word about this project whether it be "IRL" or online via social media.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter