The Rapidian

New website offers helping hand to local musicians

Listen to the Mitten, a new website created by Jacob Pauwels that helps local musicians get their music to the community.
Pistolbrides play at Pyramid Scheme

Pistolbrides play at Pyramid Scheme /Jacob Pauwels

Underwriting support from:

Local Bands of Note

Skies Revolt - an indie rock that is gaining national attention.

Ghost Heart - an indie rock band that uses a multitude of unique instruments creating thier own unique sound.

Crane Wives - an accessible energetic indie folk band that uses 3 part harmonies and an ecclectic use of instruments. 

Jacob Pauwels, LTTM creator, playing some tunes.

Jacob Pauwels, LTTM creator, playing some tunes. /Sierra Emery

Darin Zarzecki of All at Sea

Darin Zarzecki of All at Sea /Jacob Pauwels

For local bands, a helping hand is always beneficial when first starting out. One Grand Rapids musician is on a mission to provide Michigan bands with that helping hand.  

Jacob Pauwels of Grand Rapids is the creator of Listen to the Mitten, a new website that seeks to help the local music scene.

Pauwels says, "the goal of the website is to promote local music through a variety of media." He uses album reviews, videos that he himself shoots, pictures, and show listings to help spread the word on local music in not just Grand Rapids, but the rest of Michigan as well.

Listen to the Mitten offers musicians many options to help generate awareness. For no cost, bands can send in their albums and have them reviewed on the website. 

Albums aren’t just the only thing that Listen to the Mitten reviews; they will also review live shows and venues. Reviewing the venues themselves lets musicians see how well establishments treat their performers. Pauwels says this is "not to defame venues, but rather to push them to be better."

Pauwels, a Television and Digital Media Production graduate from Ferris State, also uses his skills of photography and film to shoot professional photos and videos that musicians can use to promote themselves.

“Live videos filmed really well were never a thing when I was in high school bands,” says Darin Zarzecki, a local musician who has benefited from Listen to the Mitten. “It’s helped out a lot. It’s really great for press kits.”

The look and feel of the site is also very helpful to musicians. Many musicians compliment the professional, high quality, simple design. “It’s very catchy, easy to navigate and appealing,” says Zarzecki. Having high quality videos and pictures give bands a better chance at being taken seriously. 

Listen to the Mitten will also cover any new CD releases by bands and any news that may pertain to the Michigan music scene. This includes posting any show slots available for bands looking for shows.

Not only musicians can benefit from Listen to the Mitten. Pauwels also wants the community to get involved in the local music scene through the website.

“People can check out our website to see which shows are best for them,” says Pauwels. “When people start paying attention to the local music scene, it makes it more accessible.” 

More people being involved also means big benefits for the local economy. Local bars and venues could see an increase in traffic thanks to new local music fans.

Companies can now benefit from Listen to the Mitten as well through advertising. Pauwels and his web developer, Charles Bleisch, have recently opened up advertising on the website. Having largely relied on donations up until this point, opening up advertising is a mutually beneficial relationship.

“The website is good for advertisers because it offers a niche target audience,” says Pauwels. “It makes it possible to reach people who are directly in the music scene.” 

That music scene is a unique scene in itself. Over the past few years Grand Rapids has been growing as a cultural point for the arts making it the perfect place for aspiring musicians.

“I’ve been reading articles on how leaders in the indie music scene are starting to look at Grand Rapids as the next Seattle or Portland,” says Pauwels. “There’s just so much talent here.”

He believes that Grand Rapids has something for everyone when it comes to the music scene. “I think what people first kind of default to in Grand Rapids is the indie-folk scene, but honestly, the more and more I dive into the local music scene, the more I discover that there’s just so much going on here.”

Pauwels hopes that with all this talent he can inspire people as well. He hopes that “[Listen to the Mitten] encourages bands to just do it.”

For more information on Listen to the Mitten and Pauwel's band, Jake Down, listen to his episode of The Rapidian's own West Michigan Indie Podcast.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.