Cablevision Seeks Good Garage Bands

New York— Cablevision Systems Corp. CEO Jim Dolan makes no secret of the fact he'd like to be a rock musician. Now he's taking his passion for music one step further.

Last Tuesday, Dolan appeared at a branch of Cablevision-owned retailer The Wiz here to unveil a major initiative to find and promote local music talent in the MSO's metropolitan New York City service area.

Rock musician Little Steven — also known as Steven Van Zandt, the actor who plays Silvio Dante in Home Box Office's The Sopranos
— helped promote the retailer's contest, called the Cavestomp Garage Rock Band search.

Would-be rock stars can enter the contest at the stores or online at Little Steven, a member of Bruce Springsteen's legendary E Street Band, and other celebrities will help to select 20 finalists.

Winning bands will be included in a compilation CD to be sold at The Wiz, with proceeds going to a yet-to-be-named charity. The musicians will also likely appear on Metro TV's new music show, The Daily Beat.

"New York is the entertainment capital of the world, where you would expect something like this to start," Dolan said.

To qualify, the bands cannot be signed with a major record label, and the recordings should not use electronic enhancements such as digital synthesizers.

Cablevision has helped to foster artistic talent in the past, Dolan noted. As the owner of IFC, the company has a history of backing filmmakers that don't have big bucks behind them.

The Daily Beat
premiered on Metro TV on June 25 and features remotes from music venues around New York City.

Little Steven is helping to reunite good garage bands from the '60s and '70s and is taking them on tour. The Wiz is a tour sponsor, and its stores recently began carrying CDs from some of the lesser-known artists.

"You can be the most fabulous musician in the world and never be recognized," Dolan said. "That's changing today, with things like the Internet."

Cablevision may help foster those kinds of changes after it rolls out its digital-cable boxes. Dolan predicted the company would add a music download function to its digital-cable service sometime in the first or second quarter of next year.

Dolan said that Cablevision is on track to launch digital cable on Sept. 28, with The Wiz taking center stage as the place for customers to see the technology.

Primary digital boxes will be leased to subscribers. But Dolan said Cablevision was still determining whether peripheral products, including Internet-protocol telephony hardware and additional set-top boxes, would be sold or leased. In either case, those products would have a physical presence at retail, Dolan said.

Cablevision's local music plans will tie in its other properties, including Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden.