Thursday, August 15, 2013

I thought this was a two-way street

Since my last post (ironically titled "Get Busy"") have reduced the number of live performances I've done to focus on some serious health and family issues. During this time, not one person from "the scene" in our hometown reached out to see why someone who does 2-3 shows a month minimum has done 2-3 shows in a year. I understand that people are busy, but I find it odd. I started to wonder if I would notice if someone else had done the same, would I notice? We're all very caught up in our own thing and I'm just as guilty. 

I also have taken note that in my time in the scene, there have been less than 10 times another performer or band has invited me or my band(s) to play a show. I am consistently reaching out to other bands and performers to perform together on events that I have worked for. I have even passed along shows that I couldn't do or wouldn't be appropriate on. I have given many people great advice on the music business or their first show. 

I wondered, "Should one get mad about this?" The answer is clearly "No". I have always given to "the scene" without asking for anything in return. I shouldn't start now. 

I'm going to start going out to shows again. Supporting those who have the courage to perform and entertain their fellow humans. 

Keep doing what you do. Get really good at doing it. Strive to always get better.

As always, we welcome your feedback

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Get Busy!

I just noticed that I haven't published a blog in some time. Reason? I've been busy. SUPER busy. At one point this year I was writing, rehearsing and performing with 5 different acts. In addition to my regular commercial songwriting venture and co-writing with other artists for future releases.

How does this "save the music scene"? you ask. I believe every scene needs to have workaholics to drive and inspire others to work and play hard. Also, to collaborate and create new music and experiences for themselves and those they work with. I believe one of the things that really drove the Seattle music scene explosion in the 90's (ie grunge) was there were a lot of locals writing outside their set bands or groups. This is true support of the scene from within.

Go see your local bands. Share with your friends and fans when you find something exciting. The average citizen looks to their musician friends to be up on the latest and greatest music coming from the forefront. If you really like a singer (guitarist, drummer, whatever) see if you can connect. Just to jam or write together. You will take away something. Guaranteed.

As always, we welcome your feedback

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don't complain if you don't want to work for it.

It is best practices to pick and choose the gigs you take and we encourage that. One of the many criteria would be location, travel, setup, amenities and of course, pay. Recently, I was told about a series of paying gigs at a corporate restaurant. They were looking to have some live entertainment and willing to risk it with unknown (to them) talent.

I put the word out by phone calls, text and social media which was met with a smattering of response. I found this to be very disheartening as the general consensus in the scene of my hometown (Sacramento, CA) is that there is not enough support for local talent and certainly not enough paying gigs.

I played the first in the series of shows and as performers didn't follow up, I keep getting the open spots. Don't get me wrong, I love money. But, I hate to see good opportunity for the entire scene slip away.

So, please don't complain about the lack of a scene if you don't want to work for it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How much is too much? Overbooking

This is another older topic that somehow dropped off the blog, but is also good to revisit. Many artists don't seem to know the appropriate amount of times to be playing live to maximize their impact on an area. New bands and artists feel they need to get out as much as possible. And, it's not just new artists now, everyone around seems to be playing far too often in too small an area, even if there is nothing in it for them financially or otherwise, but for "exposure"

Well, I'm here to tell you, exposure is over rated.

Here's how to maximize your performances.

You'll need to take into account how big your area is. We are based in Sacramento, California with almost half a million people in the city and surrounding areas. How many of those people are into the type of music that you perform? More importantly, how many will come out? Take note when an artist or group similar to yours is playing the area in which you live. See how big a venue they perform in. This can be done on any scale. For example, the last AC/DC tour did not hit Sacramento but in Oakland instead? Why? To maximize the impact. Continuing with our example. Are there any local bands who sound stylistically similar? How big a venue do they play and how many people come out?

The simple fact of the matter is LESS IS MORE. Assuming you are great performers, singers and songwriters already the next part is getting in front of audiences and having them fall in love with you.

AC/DC only comes around once every few years. Because if they were here every weekend, we would eventually get tired of seeing them and the audience would drop. That can and WILL happen to you if you play too often.

The ABSENCE between performances only serves to build anticipation for the next time. The frequency we have found to be most effective is:

Once every 6-8 weeks within 50 miles.

So, if you play a specific venue this week, schedule the next appearance for 6-8 weeks later in that area. It doesn't have to be the same venue. But nothing within 50 square miles for another 6-8 weeks.

I know what you're wondering. How am I/ we supposed to build our following? The easy answer is play outside that area. Go beyond the 50 miles. Before you do, remember it is probably easier in your home town as you can start with friends and family and build from there. On a side note, many venues have restrictions similar to this in their performance agreements. Be sure to check while booking what the policy is on booking the area and time surrounding your appearance there.

If you can build an audience in your own home town first, you can start to "show swap" with artists from other regions. You let them play for your fans and they do the same.

All the while you can continue to do things to reach out and get more people interested with all the social media sites, emails, phone calls, letters...

As always, we welcome any and all feedback

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Being seen on the scene

This title was the first blog I ever posted but somehow it is now gone. I will do my best to remember everything.

If you want to get further ahead in your own music scene locally, nationally or internationally you have to do one thing for sure. Be seen on the scene.
Look at big stars like KISS or Ozzy. You always see them making news somehow. Just because you are starting out doesn't mean you can't do it at your level. You have to get out there if anyone is to know who you are:

Go to shows:
Yes, I know gas is expensive and shows are sometimes too. Start with places that you want to play and with artists that you want to play with. Go to these shows, make friends with the door person, the bartender, sound person, the artists on the bill and most importantly, the fans. Bring some fliers with you. Even if you don't have a show to promote, bring a flier with a website address that someone can check out your music, pics and what you're all about. After a short while of doing this over and over at the same places, you may not have to pay to get in. Especially, if you've worked this into a booking for yourself.

Find the taste makers:
In every scene there are people that hold more sway to: Public opinion, show bookings, press and the like. It is politics, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Learn your scene. Become professionally associated with the bookers, writers, bloggers and photographers of your scene.

Be professional

You won't like everything you see or hear and you don't have to. It is best not to criticize another artist as you might be talking to the booker who really likes them, their sister or perhaps one the artist themselves without realizing. If someone does ask you an opinion on music, be constructive and positive. Again, no point in being negative at all.

Networking is not being online blasting out messages every 5 minutes. No, that will get you less fans and people wanting to work with you as they tend to ignore after some time. True networking is in the follow up. If you meet someone, send them a quick thank you within 24 hours. Follow up one week later. If you don't get a response, try one more week later and if it still doesn't work make an effort to see them in person again. Face to face is usually better than not.

Be professional:

Yes, I said that once earlier but this is where many, many traps lay. Everyone gets frustrated and being an artist seems to make one more sensitive. Do NOT be negative in your public persona. No one needs to know that you and your guitar player haven't talked in a few days or that you're not happy with the last demo or performance. Find positive things to say about your art. Better yet, inquire what the other party has going in their life and be genuinely interested.
There is a saying you get one chance for a first impression. Use it wisely.

As always, we welcome your feedback

Friday, April 29, 2011

How to get bookings

Recently, we were asked a question on our facebook page -"Whats the best way to book shows nowadays? Everyone seems to be doing it online. I'm trying to book for July, but no one gets back to the messages. Not like it used to be."

You're right. In the "old days" venues or booking agents would call the artists or vice-versa. Email came along and changed the game. Now, you could track the correspondence with written proof and a delivery time stamp.

Online sites like myspace and now facebook ingrained themselves in a way that many people
correspond using them. If you are using facebook to book shows, you should only look back a few months in time to the demise of myspace.

Email is still the choice for premier venues, booking agents and people doing serious business. In many states, the law may not cover social media messages as legitimate and binding contracts. We feel it is okay to advance a show in any way you like: phone call, email or messages on a social media site. When it comes to business, however, such as the actual agreement we feel email is the way to go.

Now to the question about why someone may not get back to you. In most cases you can get the response you want by providing the right information to the right people.

Choose the right venue: If you go online and see a venue that books mostly teenage hard-core bands and you are an adult singer/songwriter type. This may not be the right venue for you. Skip it and look for the right place.

Start small: If you or your group are just starting out, it's best to set your goals high for the long term and set smaller goals to get there. Instead of the 800 person venue, see if you can pack a coffee shop first. Once you can get people to come out, build until you reach another level. It looks awesome when people are wall to wall and not so much when they are not.

Always be honest and professional: There's no need to say you'll draw 200 people and 2 show up. It makes you look like a fibber or haven't done the work. Probably both are true. Being professional means being courteous. Say "please" and "thank you". This, will get you a long ways in the entertainment business.

These are the primary reasons you won't get a response. There is always "you (or your songs) are not good enough". As we said in a previous post called No Disclaimers,
you shouldn't have excuses. If the vocalist is sick the day of recording, don't record. Make sure you have everything PERFECT as it can be.

Have something to sell. Make your shows special events.

If you follow all these and still can't get people to return calls or emails, write to us. We'll see if we can give you some specific pointers.

As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quantity and Quality

Being able to stay active in your local music scene requires quantity and quality. Clubs, venues and their respective agents are only going to invite you to perform if you can bring people out. They are only going to bring you back if you can keep it consistent. It often seems as if the 'business' of music overlooks the one thing most artists are striving for. Quality.
When looking at models for doing things, we suggest looking at other areas not in your field. Songwriting and performing can be looked at as athletic activity. Both require some 'natural' inclination and ability. To become truly outstanding, both require many years of development to be at the very top of the field.
So, how does one balance the two? The very same ways that we already spoke about. Take the time to put together what you consider quality material. Need half an hour to play a first show? Write an hour and a half. Then pick the very best. If there is a way to video your practice, do so. Check out how the songs sound and compare them to your role models. If you love AC/DC, compare it to them. Metallica, Slayer, Jackson 5 or what have you. Also practice how you will interact on stage. Watch the video together and give constructive criticism.
Have merchandise ready for your first show. If you want to have lights or scrims or props, try to have them going as well. The old adage "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression" is never more true.
Your budget may keep you from doing the last few things but we suggest not being in a rush to do anything when it comes to your band. Imagine coming out of the gate with all guns blazing. Excellent merch, a killer stage show and great songs. These are the things that will get you coming back if you don't have an audience yet. These are the things that will build your future audience.