Are Indie Record Deals As Great As They Seem? – Part 1

Getting a deal with an indie record label may seem like that almost impossible dream. Don’t quit your day job just yet!  A good friend continued to work at a fence company in East Brunswick until he had a solid, consistent future – and he was close to Asbury Park.  It is something that you have worked for and dreamed about for so long. You have spent countless hours rehearsing, performing and improving your sound.

You really feel as though you deserve some success and an indie record deal is just the thing that could send you on your way to success. The next thing that you need is a record deal, but is an indie deal really what you want? There are definitely good and bad points about going the indie route.

What are the realities of dealing with indie music labels? It may seem like the hardest part is getting the opportunity to be heard, but what is it really like dealing with an indie record label? You need to know both sides before you make an indie music recording contract your goal.  There are many advantages to dealing with a small label.

One of the main advantages of dealing with an indie label is that you will be able to remain true to your own musical vision. Generally, everyone involved in the indie music world is doing it because they believe in musical freedom and have a great passion for music.

indie label studio photo
Photo by Incase.

If an indie music label likes what you are doing that is a great sign. It most likely means that they share your vision and won’t expect you to compromise for chart success. It is highly likely that you will be able to remain true to your own musical and artistic vision. That can mean a great deal and you definitely need to think about how valuable this is to you.

Another advantage of an indie label is their small size. The big labels are huge corporate entities and you may feel that you are just another artist in a very big pond. You can very easily feel lost if you sign with one of the big labels, but if you sign with an indie outfit this will most likely not be problem, as they deal with a limited number of artists.

Usually indie music labels are a small, close knit community. They tend to have just have a few employees. This means that you will not be part of a big corporate machine as you would be if you were working with one of the better known labels. You will be working with the same people most of the time and this can be a great experience. Of course, if you start having artistic differences with these people it can quickly turn into a rather more difficult experience! However, for the most part, indie record labels are run by people who are in it for the love of the music, so they will usually be fine for you to retain your own artistic integrity.

7 Great Indie Rock Venues in New Jersey that You Have to Experience – Part 2

4 – Wonder Bar in Asbury Park

wonder bar Asbury Park photo
Photo by KatVitulano Photos

You have to visit the Wonder Bar if you want to hear some great music in New Jersey. It is right across the street from the beach and just a great place to hang out if you want to experience a friendly dive bar. They have a wide variety of bands playing each week.

This is even the place that you can bring your four-legged friend as they are dog friendly at the Wonder Bar. They even have a “Yappy Hour” when you can bring your dogs to sit out on the patio with you and make friends. They have special areas for the large and small dogs, just like a dog park.

5 – House of Independents in Asbury Park

This is one of the real success stories of the renaissance of Asbury Park. This is a relatively new venue in the area. It may not have the history of many of the other music venues in the area, but the quality of the facility more than makes up for this. The venue is very well designed. The stage is small, but the audience can get right up close to the performers. Everyone gets a great view and the acoustics are pretty good too.

There is some seating, but most of it is standing room only. Arrive early if you want to get a seat. The seating is stadium style so that everyone gets a good view – although it may remind you of watching sport in the high school gym!

6 – The Wellmont Theater in Montclair

wellmont theater montclair photo
Photo by Montclair Film Fest

This is another great venue which is well worth visiting if you want to listen to some great indie bands playing, it is an older building with some character, but it is very well maintained. It used to be a movie theater and is a truly beautiful building. This adds to the great atmosphere in the venue.

It is a small venue so this is great for seeing the bands up close. There is seating, but the front seats have been removed for the audience to stand.

7 – Dingbatz in Clifton

dingbatz clifton photo
Photo by Ryan Vaarsi

The Dingbatz s another great small dive bar where they always have great bands playing. If you are looking for live heavy metal music this is the place to be. It is most definitely a dive bar but it is very welcoming and has friendly staff.

It is a small venue which has a really good set up – you can see the bands really up close and the acoustics are pretty good too. They have good deals and drinks specials.



7 Great Indie Rock Venues in New Jersey that You Have to Experience – Part 1


There is a lively and vibrant indie rock music scene in New Jersey.  Don’t forget to check out venues in New York and Philly!  The natives get a little tired if you keep mentioning that the best thing to come out of the New Jersey music scene is Jon Bon Jovi! Sure that is something to be proud of, but there is so much to celebrate in the music scene right now. If you want to make sure to enjoy some of the best live music venues in New Jersey, here are some places to start.

1 – Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park

asbury lanes photo
Photo by

This is the place to be on a Friday and Saturday night if you want to listen to some great live music. You may wonder about the name. It is called Asbury Lanes because for the nights it isn’t a music venue it is open as a bowling alley. This has a really friendly atmosphere and a great dance floor.

2 – The Court Tavern, New Brunswick

court tavern new brunswick photo
Photo by DanCentury

This is one of the longest established music venues in New Jersey which is still going strong. It has a history going back to 1981. It did close for a while in 2012 when it was hit with a double whammy. The Council wanted to redevelop the site, but local opposition kept it alive. The Tavern survived this battle, but found itself unable to pay its bills. It is difficult to keep a good place down, and it only closed for ten months.

The Court Tavern is very much back on its feet and has been entertaining audiences in New Brunswick ever since. The appeal of the Tavern is in its authenticity. There really aren’t many places like this left. It has a cabaret license – a rare thing in New Brunswick. This allows it to keep true to its roots and invite bands to perform at the venue with few restrictions. It has a feeling of an indie venue of the past with flyers, stickers and writing on the wall.

The Court Tavern offers a huge variety of acts and talent. The hours vary according to the time of year, but usually they are open Wednesday to Saturday.

3 – Stone Pony in Asbury Park

stone pony photo
Photo by Яick Harris

The Stone Pony is one of the best known music venues in New Jersey. It’s a great venue with an indoor and an outdoor stage. It is only a block away from the beach and very close to all the rest of the Asbury Park nightlife venues. The atmosphere is friendly and the staff are usually welcoming and helpful.

The history of this venue goes right back to 1973. It is known for helping Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen on their way to international success. Like many indie venues it has an interesting history of rise and fall. The venue was closed in 1991 after the owners filed for bankruptcy following a series of drunk driving law suits which were brought against them. It reopened again under new ownership but the 1990s were a difficult time for the venue. It reopened again in 2000 and care was taken to preserve some of the history of the venue.

As well as hosting some great music the Stone Pony is known for its involvement in the Asbury Park Festival and numerous charity events. The Stone Pony has a national profile so attracts some big names. Some feel that this has meant there is less opportunity for bands in the local scene.


Great Music Venues in New York – Part 2

Secret Project Robot

With a name like Secret Project Robot this has to be a cool place. Fortunately, it does live up to the hype of its name and is a great indie music venue in Brooklyn.

There is an outdoor area as well as an indoor stage. This is certainly a very eclectic space. Huge works of art hang from the ceiling and lots of interesting art is displayed on the walls.

The outside space is also interesting with art work, a bar and even a slide. You have to go so that you can experience one of the more eclectic bathrooms in New York – look out for the stuffed animals stuck to the walls leading to the bathroom. You can’t miss it!

The stage is pretty small but this just means that you can get up close and personal with the artists. There is room to dance and the bar serves reasonably priced drinks.

secret project robot photo
Photo by N0 Photoshop

Shea Stadium

This venue can be a little difficult to find as it is located in an industrial space off the beaten path in Brooklyn, but is well worth a visit. There is an outdoor patio which is a good place to cool off – it can get pretty crowded and hot inside.

shea stadium photo
Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

The Shea Stadium has been in Brooklyn for less than a decade but has already hosted more than 1,000 music sets. This a combined music venue and live recording studio. Every live session is recorded, creating a unique collection of the best live indie music.

If you are looking for an alternative music venue which most definitely doesn’t take itself seriously the Secret Project Robot is the place for you.

Skinny Dennis

You absolutely have to check out Skinny Dennis in Williamsburg if you are looking for a great live music venue. Definitely a dive bar with a very friendly atmosphere. They serve great coffee infused with copious amounts of alcohol! They even supply free peanuts and you are welcome to throw the shells on the floor. This is a very friendly place which hosts some great live music.

The Stone

No list of great music venues in New York would be complete without mentioning The Stone. Located in the East Village area of New York this music venue encourages the most eclectic range of talent. This is a very small venue which holds no more than about 50 people. It gets pretty hot in there, but you get a great view of the band.

The Bell House

bell house brooklyn photo
Photo by lazerCam

This is another Brooklyn music venue which is well worth visiting. This was once a warehouse but has been converted into one of the best music spaces in New York. There are two rooms. The smaller room is the bar and the larger one has a large stage and a decent sized space for the audience. The acoustics are excellent and there is always a good selection of indie bands playing.

Of course, you shouldn’t discount the venues in New Jersey, as they are often just a train ride away.



Great Music Venues in New York – Part 1

As you would expect, there are many places that you can enjoy hearing a live indie band in New York City. Here are some of our favorite places in New York.

Cake Shop

We know this is an unusual name, but it is one of the best music venues in New York City. Cake Shop has been a fixture in the Lower East Side since 2005.

Cake Shop has two levels. The main floor is a coffee shop, which is a great place to hang out if you want a quiet cup of coffee, and some peace. For somewhere called Cake Shop we would expect better cakes, but can forgive them as we are here for the other side of this place – the music venue.

The lower floor is a dive bar. The venue is a wonderfully dark basement – if you like your dive bar dingy, but friendly this is the place for you. With sticky tables and stickers on the walls this place will satisfy those of you who enjoy a traditional indie music space.

music venue photo
Photo by christian.senger

Union Hall

If you like your music venues to be small and intimate, head on over to Union Hall in Brooklyn. It is a converted warehouse with 5,000 square feet of very interesting space. It even has bocce ball and a library.

There are two floors in the venue and you will find the stage area downstairs. The upper area is a bar which has a very laid back feeling, with a mixed but generally friendly crowd. They have many performers at Union Hall including some great indie bands.

Pete’s Candy Store

This Williamsburg bar hosts a kinds of music from folk to indie. It really doesn’t look like much from the outside, but take a chance and step inside to hear some great music. It is a very small space so you do need to arrive early if you have a particular band that you want to hear.

petes candy store new york photo
Photo by Davide D’Amico

Jalopy Theatre

You definitely have to check out this outstanding music venue in Brooklyn. It is an incredibly laid back and friendly place. It is a music venue which also offers music lessons. The Jalopy is very much a community which encourages music making. They also have Jalopy Radio Station and run their own record label, Jalopy Records.

The music which is played here every night is described as “traditional roots music”. This ranges from blue grass, folk, and country, to blues and traditional world music.

The atmosphere is very much that of the old south. The venue is small and the seating makes you feel as though you are sitting on a wooden church pew. The décor is best described as eclectic with heavy velvet curtains on the stage, the church pews and school like chairs, and of course the bust of J.S Bach.

There is a bar next door to the theater so you can get food and drink there. It is very well worth a visit to the Jalopy for some great music in a very unpretentious venue which is welcoming to all.