David Kalikhman and Julia Senerth were two co-workers-turned-friends who bonded over their anger after missing one too many shows. They took issue with confusing site design and the sheer volume of events on music listing Web sites.
The madness of it all, they felt, was derailing even the savviest listener.
“We were incensed,” Kalikman said, “first by our inability to hear about presales ahead of time and then just to [not] know what’s going on.”
The research scientist duo decided to combine forces with a Web programmer, Alex Sleighter, and turned all that pent-up musical frustration into a site that aims to make sure no good show gets lost in the cyber fray: DCDecibel.
As event listing sites go, DCDecibel is disarmingly simple: A black-and-white list format showcases handpicked music events, locations and prices for each show in the District. There’s a “Just Announced” tab visitors can monitor to make sure they’re not missing out on the latest, plus a simple search function. The trio credits a TED talk (see below), “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” as an inspiration, and the DCDecibel mission is as clear as the site’s presentation: “We do this not only because we love live music, but because we believe things can be more intuitive, elegant, and useful.”
Their site clears another obstacle: The time it takes for newcomers to map out D.C.’s music scene.
“I missed out on shows at places like Iota Club & Cafe, Sixth and I and DAR Constitution Hall because I didn’t know they existed,” Senerth, who confesses that she’s been compulsively making lists about bands on her own time for awhile, wrote in an e-mail.
One drawback: It takes a lot of time (and only one available human brain) to hand-curate all of Washington’s music listings — between 20 and 30 hours a week for Senerth. And deciding which acts to include or exclude requires editorial decision-making.
“We generally decide on whether to put the smaller, local acts on based on their Web presence,” Senerth said.
And it (literally) sounds like everything that makes it onto DCDecibel goes through a vetting process: Senerth listens to every band as she fills the site.
“I’ll have to get a another job to afford all of the shows I’ve ended up going to after researching them for the site.”
(Hat tip to Elizabeth Flock.)