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Improving Your Community: The Perils Of Pre-sales

As more bands emerge every day and venues continue to close, opportunities to play better shows become fewer. In addition, the overhead costs of running shows have seemed to increase along with the risk of low turnouts. As a result, an increasing number of promoters are turning to a new business plan. Anyone who has been in a new/local band within the past 5 years or so has probably encountered the rising phenomenon of pre-sales.

Here’s how it works. Bands who want to play a show are asked by the promoter to sell a certain amount of tickets before the show to ensure their spot on the bill. Rules change for different promoters, depending on how lenient or strict they are. Sometimes, the pre-sale requirement is just a suggestion with no consequences if the requested amount is not sold. But often, the promoter expects a certain amount of money from the band regardless of whether or not they can sell all of the tickets. If the band does not pre-sell their share, they run the risk of having to pay to play or drop from the show.

From a business perspective, this makes perfect sense to a promoter. By getting bands to pre-sell tickets, you can guarantee attendance, thus covering certain venue costs and eliminating some of the risk involved with putting on a show. However, too many promoters are taking advantage of and abusing this system because it allows them to work less while the bands are required to work more for the same pay or even none at all.

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Improving Your Community: 3 Ways To Build A Local Following

Most bands who are just starting out often ask themselves the same question: “How do we build a local following?” And a good majority of experienced musicians would respond succinctly with, “Just play as many shows as possible,” which is certainly good advice. But an artist doesn’t just want fans. An artist wants a community, people who can get behind the music and the message.  This is the artist’s challenge. Luckily, there are some strategies that can really help get the locals on board (assuming the music doesn’t totally suck). Here are three good ways for you, the artist, to build a local following:

1.) Make a lot of friends (particularly within your genre/scene)
Okay, I know this seems like a crude piece of advice, but whoever tells you that being a musician is not a popularity contest is wrong if your goal is to have more fans. Even if you weren’t the most popular kid in high school, it helps to be outgoing. Seems obvious, but if you’re not already a charismatic socialite, this can be a challenge. Generally, every artist’s first few shows are attended by supportive friends. Later on, you may have some work friends, classmates, or even family members who come to a show every once in a while. However, if you get in with a certain crowd that you know is into your type of music, they will back you 100 percent.  This will provide you with an organic foundation for your fanbase since these people know you not just as musicians but as friends, and they can vouch for you when inviting other friends to come to your shows. Ultimately, the more friends you have that are into your music, the more personal your connection to your fanbase.  I know you like to think your music can speak for itself (and perhaps it can), but it helps to have some loyal comrades to help promote you. Consider it a sort of “street team.” Networking is just as much about social activity as it is about business. So stop playing video games, get off Facebook, and go meet some real people! Go to parties! Go to shows! Be present.

2.) Befriend other local bands with loyal fans
Don’t have many friends? Have trouble meeting new people? Well then one of the best things you can do is form strong ties with other local bands within your scene who already have somewhat of a strong, loyal following. Hang out, play shows together, sing on each other’s songs—before you know it, their fans will become your fans too. People love seeing bands work together; it’s all part of developing a musical community. The music scene is not just about one band, and it’s certainly not about rivalry. It’s about the whole movement, and the more you act like a team player, the more likely you are to gain real respect. In order to keep these types of connections going, always be sure to return favors and do what you can to help your fellow bands whenever possible. Too often connections are lost and bridges burned simply due to lack of reciprocation. Become a part of the collective musical effort, and your fans will do the same.

3.) Book and run your own shows with other locals
This is a path that more bands should be take advantage of, but don’t because of the extra work involved in booking your own shows. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, be sure to talk to the right venues and the right people as you play “promoter.” Band-run shows are the best for everyone involved. There’s no middle man taking a cut of ticket sales, so all of the money (if any) goes back to the bands. When you are in charge, the show runs the way you want it to. One of the main advantages here is that both bands and fans will be more inclined to come to you for information and opportunities in the future. Bands are more likely to want to work with you because you hold a valuable key to the scene. This is a great way to make connections on a higher level, a level that shows how responsible and proactive you are (assuming you do a good job). When you start consistently booking solid shows, you and your band will be recognized as true team players in the community, making fans more inclined to support your work and spread the word. People love supporting a DIY effort

These are just a few ways in which you can easily build a community around your music. It has nothing to do with being a “rock star” and everything to do with being a hard-working, responsible, and dependable individual. People can see right through superficiality, so the best thing you can do is be true to yourself and to others, and lend a helping hand to your local music scene. If you do, others will respond with appreciation and respect. Now get out there and make some moves!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Live Wired [Review]: Childish Gambino 11/2

You may know Donald Glover from NBC’s comedy Community, where the Georgia native plays college student Troy Barnes. Last week Live Wired got to experience this actor’s musical side. Glover is currently on tour with his rap side project Childish Gambino in anticipation of his full-length album Camp, which comes out on November 15th. The writer, actor, comedian and rapper has been all over the place in the past year: from hosting the MTVU Woodie Awards to playing at Bonnaroo. This time around, he’s touring the country and selling out venues like House of Blues.

The crowd went wild from the second Donald Glover came on the stage and everyone was at full energy for the rest of the show even though the performance was simple. There was a live band and a small movie screen for graphics, but there was nothing extravagant. Honestly, not much else was needed because his stage presence is so big that he brings enough intensity to his performances. Having seen Glover do stand-up comedy in the past, it was fascinating to see the difference in he acts on stage when it comes music. There’s no doubt that, as hilarious as he is, he’s in the process of getting huge with his music.

He chose to perform one of his most popular songs towards the beginning of the set: “Freaks and Geeks”. The track, from an EP he released earlier this year, has a memorable beat and witty lyrics that gave the audience the chance to rap along with him. The crowd also got a kick out of Childish Gambino sampling John Legend’s cover of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”, as it turned into a giant sing-along followed by Glover rapping his own verse. We were also treated to some new Childish Gambino material which was exciting for fans who have been anticipating the new album. “You See Me” is incredibly catchy—the always-clever lyrics were displayed on the screen on stage so everyone could join in by the end. On the other hand, most of the crowd already knew “Bonfire”, the first single from the album and the best performance of the night.

Wanna see what you missed? Check out Glover’s free-styling talents over Meek Mill’s ‘Ima Boss” after the jump!

Continue reading ‘Live Wired [Review]: Childish Gambino 11/2′

How To Write In To The OS Staff: DOs and DON’Ts

It happens to the best of us. Every once in a while, you might run into a feature you don’t recognize, discover a bug on the site or simply have a query you need answered, so you write into our Community team. Since we get dozens of these emails a day, we’ve decided to make your (and our) lives easier. Here’s a quick list of DOs and DON’Ts when writing into our staff:

Do:

Karl Everest

- Do introduce yourself to us. All your messages are read and responded by a (human) member of our Community team, not a lifeless, automated robot. We enjoy the interaction we get with you!

- Do turn off the caps lock. It doesn’t make your message any higher on the priority list and NOT ONLY DO WE FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING AT US, BUT IT GETS TIRESOME TO READ EVERYTHING CAPITALIZED.

Do give us as much information as you can. Stating “I have a problem with my account” will only prompt us to ask “what is your problem?” We want to avoid the extra step and make our service to you that much faster. The more details we have, the better we’ll be able to help you and the quicker your problem will be solved.

- Do write in with your suggestions, ideas and feedback! We really appreciate your opinions on the site, and we take any and all submissions seriously. After all, this site is all about you. (PS: it always makes our days brighter when we get a message from a happy/satisfied user for no particular reason!)

Don’t:

- Don’t threaten us! We’re here to help—all we want is to make your OurStage experience better.

- Don’t send the same message five different times to every OurStage email address you can find. If you send it to the appropriate email address, your question will filter in through the proper channels and be answered much more swiftly.

- When we ask you to clarify, don’t send us the same info you sent the first time. Even though we’re certified mind readers, we can’t do it through the Internet.

- Please don’t stalk us if you’re unsatisfied with our level of support, but feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare or sign up for our Newsletter to know exactly what we’re up to 24/7.

As a closing note: we’re not robots, we don’t kill or eat babies, we’re not involved in a “larger music industry conspiracy” and we’re not out to get you. Music is our passion, and we do hope we’re helping your love for it grow.

Generation DIY: Talk Shop Concert Promotion

OSBlog02_GenDIY_MASTER_01“ ‘Less Rock, More Talk’ – You Got the Show, Now How Do You Get People There?” was the tagline for the second installation of “Talk Shop” hosted by Kevin Hoskins (The Middle East), Shred (Team Shred Productions), and Steve Theo (Pirate Promotions) with an appearance by Josh Smith (Talent Buyer from Mass Concerts). I was able to catch this panel discussion on January 19, 2010 at the Middle East venue located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since Generation DYI has already covered online promotions, as well as street promotion, let’s talk about another topic from the panel: how to market live concerts. After establishing an online presence, it’s time to spread your music through live interaction; a.k.a. booking gigs. The “Talk Shop” panel showcased different ways to promote your band and upcoming shows through online social platforms, street promotion and media (basically everything we’ve discussed but with more detail on how to bring heads to a show rather than a Web site).

With the basics in mind, the most important aspect of promoting a concert is creating a flyer or equivalent hand out promotional tool that illustrates all the details. And, just like writing songs, the first 10 seconds are the most crucial for captivating your audience. So, be sure to showcase your band name across the top then the venue, and really sell yourself because in the end YOU ARE A BUSINESS. Generate a nice, clean flyer that can be printed (and look nice) in both color and black and white. The nicer the flyer looks, the more eyes will be forced to focus on it and read what you have to say. Shred of Team Shred Productions goes into more detail on the audio track of the panel discussion posted below.

In addition to the flyer, direct some attention towards media outlets (local newspapers, magazines etc.) as well as local radio stations that would promote a local show and venue. This is a great way to get easy access to a large database of readers/listeners but it can be the most costly, so be cautious when considering this approach. Find new ways to connect your Web site to your social networking outlets and other means of promotion like a mailing list. Many bands have found unique ways of getting fans to sign up for their mailing list (regional) which is one of the best ways to get the message out to different areas.

And while social networking is a great way to promote both your band and shows, being able to put a face to your name and music goes a long with fans. Reach out and create relationships. We are not here to make a single sale but a long-term customer who will come back and support you throughout your growth. Another point that came up in the discussion was finding ways to connect with other local artists/bands to create what Kevin Hoskins called a “micro scene”. Networking with other bands is key in this day and age. Creating friendships gives you the chance to expose yourselves to each other’s fanbase and can create a strong community within your scene.

Check out other key points from the panel speakers as well as other local Boston bands in the audio file below. This audio clip was cut down from an hour and a half discussion to about ten to fifteen minutes so if you are interested in attaining the full audio clip you can always get in touch with me and I’ll be sure to get you a copy. Enjoy!

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