'One of the things you learn when you grow up in New Orleans is that local artists are incredible and this and that, and they give them all these accolades, but they've never really cashed in commercially the way the Seattle movement happened, or some of the other movements around the country," he says. He hopes that using Voodoo's brand recognition " its Web site gets more than a million hits a day between September and November " will help give underdogs a leg up.
'If you're sitting in New Orleans like Rotary Downs, who's as good as any band out there right now, you're playing on an antiquated model. How do I get to New York, how do I get to L.A., how do I get some asshole in a suit to agree that I'm good," he says, pointing out that a digital-only, pay what-you-wish album like the one recently released by Radiohead is well and good for an act of that stature, but the Rotary Downs of the world might need a little help. The site will also be a meritocracy, he says. The featured artist space on the front page " usually purchased by major labels " will feature acts that are driving the most traffic on their own.
'If you're driving sales and click-throughs on the site, you bump up to the featured artist spot," he says. 'It's not a novel idea, but the time is right for it."
In previous years, Voodoo has experimented with interactive tricks and treats as part of the festival. Probably one of the most memorable was last year's text-message game, which let fans text message secret codes for a chance at winning prizes like dinner with Duran Duran. (This year, because the two biggest headliners " Rage Against The Machine and Smashing Pumpkins, reunion bands on somewhat shaky interpersonal ground " declined to participate, they won't be repeating the game.) The interactive map, which let users post and read stories about New Orleans music history by clicking on a map of the city, is still viewable on Billboard.com. This year, Voodoo is overseeing the filming of two documentaries at the show: one on the history of the Congo Square drumbeat and one on the underground rock scene in the Bywater.
Rehage draws a parallel between Voodoo and other festivals less than 10 years old, which he considers still in their infancy, like Coachella and Bonnaroo, who he said are all using new media to define themselves for an audience that expects it.
'From my office's side, they'd probably like to set up the stages and do the festival and then go away," he said. 'From my side, it's a way to make it interesting, tie a bunch of concepts together and see what works and what doesn't work. It's not about getting a picture or a T-shirt from a festival anymore. It's about going home and downloading it and sharing it with your community, virtually."