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Twista seeds

New social network for IC music scene brings Twista to town

Three Iowa City teens looking to make a name for themselves in the music industry are rooting their efforts in Iowa City.

Michael Gingrich and twins Ben and Jake Leinen, all 19 and living in Iowa City, launched at the end of February a social networking site to publicize local music and events. The webpage, www.icnightlife.com, is similar to Facebook, but with an Iowa City focus.

“Really we just localized it so people can see what’s going on and connect with each other,” Ben Leinen, a Kalona native, said. “It’s just to connect people to the Iowa City scene and night life.”

A visit to www.icnightlife.com allows picture, music and event posting as well as online discussion and a chance to browse local bar specials, events and music artists.

Already at 500 site members, the group hopes to establish credibility and refresh and promote the Iowa City music scene.

Though they have experience managing local bands (they currently manage four artists) and setting up shows at popular Iowa City music venues, it wasn’t until recently that they connected with big-name artists like hip-hopper Twista (www.twista.com), whom they scheduled to perform at the Union Bar, 112 E. College St., at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Also in the works are plans to land record deals for the local artists under their management and to strengthen the hip-hop presence in Iowa City, which they say is filled with “alternative” performers.

But the job comes at a cost, one paid mostly out of their own pockets. Tuesday’s event, for example, is costing the trio around $10,000. That cost is lightened, however, by the Army, who sponsors the site and foots a portion of their expenses.

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The Leinens also attend the University of Iowa as sophomore business majors and face the challenge of balancing their entrepreneurial aspirations with academia.

“I’d say we probably do more of this stuff than actual college stuff,” Jake Leinen said of the online forum, adding that site management and music production work is a 40-hour-a-week commitment.

“We’d rather be doing music and promoting shows than going to school,” he said, “but a degree is a necessary thing.”

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