Friday

The economy is bad....So you want to be a musician?......Good Luck with that.

If you're out of work, or struggling to pay the bills, I would suggest that you NOT try music as a back up plan. There are MANY musician's that are doing this as their sole means of support, and they ain't exactly living like kings.The music industry is full of very talented people, with amazing songs, who are completely unknown. The sad truth is that the odds are against you finding success here.

Oh, you're still reading? OK you've been warned. Since you are the stubborn , "can do anything" kind; I'll use this post to give you some tips on getting started.

You will most likely start off playing small bars, clubs and restaurants. Go to the venue of choice and ask for the person who does the booking. Introduce yourself and ask him what he needs to book you. Give it to him. Be friendly. Not that hard is it? Wait, there's more.
Most smaller clubs don't ask for Electronic Press Kits. Most don't ask for Demo's. I'll discuss these in detail later. They will take you at your word and allow you to get up there and prove or disprove yourself.

Many of the ones that do ask for these things, are probably not interested in booking you anyway, so put something good together, send it in, and move on.

Keep in mind that if a club books you, they are doing it for one reason and one reason only. They believe that you might bring people to buy their products. If your presence at the club does not bring people in, why should they book YOU over their best friends' cousin, or that chick with the big boobs?

Most musicians will get support from family and hopefully, a few friends, when they first start out. This is an encouraging start, but many times new performers rely too heavily on it.

Here is how to build your crowd:

Make contacts and MAKE CONTACT.

You have to make friends, and lots of them. Ask questions. Keep your opinions to yourself until you find out what their's is, and then preach their gospel to them. Train yourself to remember names.This business is about relationships, and the more relationships you have, the more people you will draw to your show, and that is how you get more shows. If alot of people like you, you are ahead of the game.

You'll notice that I haven't made any mention regarding the music you play. That is because it DOES NOT MATTER. People are social creatures and they just want to surround themselves with friends. Do what you do, and enjoy yourself. Being an amazing guitar player is a great skill to have. Unfortunately, there are thousands of amazing guitar players in the area where you live.

Do not try to compete head to head!
Music is very subjective, so you will need to set yourself apart with your format, if you can. Put a Hip Hop beat on country songs. Play heavy metal songs as country ballads. This is called 'branding'. You have GOT to stand out.You could try any number of gimmicks; hot girls surrounding the stage, buy drinks for the crowd, give away t shirts, whatever works, but the number one rule is:

Do NOT compete with your fee!
Ask around, to find out what the local scene has decided is the minimum fee; and do NOT go below it. When you cut the fee below your competition to get the gig, you will get the gig almost every time! You will also piss off every musician in the area because you are driving the price down, and soon, you will have someone undercut you, and they will have someone undercut them... until everyone is playing for free. This brings the quality of the entertainment down, increases competition, and forces you to get another job just to buy gas. I thought you wanted to make a living doing this?!?

Become familiar with the music stores and the people working there.
Some music stores seem to treat the musician as a friend more so than others. You'll want to encourage relationship building like that, so if they work for your business give it to them. Some music stores, believe it or not, treat you like the next hustle.They will tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to spend your money. One thing you do not need is a bunch of extra crap lying around. Which leads me to:


Save all the money you can. Don't get duped into buying things you don't need.
The trick to surviving anything is by keeping multiple use items on hand. In a pinch, you have something very portable that can satisfy your immediate need. There is nothing that can take care of problems as well as cold, hard, cash. Cash is the ultimate multipurpose tool. Emergencies happen, of course, but 99 % of the time, you will be just fine if you can pay your way. Money cannot buy happiness, but being broke and hungry will make you sad. It sucks to buy 3 full cases of strings, and then find you have no money for gas or to eat, because your gig was cancelled. Trust me, I ve been there.. On a related note...

Take every freebie you can find.
Fast food joints allow you to get your own napkins. I keep the console of my truck full of 'em. They are useful for so many things. All freebies are good. I used to live on the free condiment packets that came with the hot dog special at a certain truck stop in Madison. "3 hot dogs for a dollar" and they had a rack of packets of ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. They also had little packets of onions and relish! When I bought 3 hotdogs, I also walked out the door with 2 bags full of condiments.



Ok, get to work. Start figuring out your format and set list. Book gigs. Make friends. Save your money. Be aggressive. "It's a long way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll."

What is Mid Ga Live?

I'm glad you asked.

MidGaLive is now a brick and mortar live music venue for all of you fresh local bands who need a place to gig....But it didn't start off that way.... 

I started MidGaLive.com a few years ago as my way of promoting the Middle Ga music scene...I had written articles on every musical act I knew of in the Middle Ga area (163 and counting).  We had decided to film and interview local bands to further get them some notoriety. We wrote articles to help bands learn how to book themselves, setup a PA system, how to price themselves and how to promote their band. I even had a very successful Alpaca  marketing campaign. People still send me pics of Alpacas wearing wigs. MidGaLive.com was very popular and we were doing quite well with viewership.

Sadly, I accidentally let the domain lapse and some Calvin Klein distributor out of Germany bought it (you can't make this stuff up). I sent letters to the new registered owners. I even spent a great deal of time using Google to translate some of my letters into German in the hopes that I could buy it back from them. Nothing.

So I waited. I don't know how to go about checking when the domain is up for renewal. I just kept checking domain registering sites to see if it was available and sending my letters to Germany. Sometimes I tried to translate them to German, sometimes I just left them in my Southern English.  Unknown to me at the time but those letters were going to an Alpaca farm. Apparently the farmers threw my letters out and the animals on the farm saw those letters daily. One of the Alpacas was apparently pretty excited to get correspondence from some stranger in a language she didn't even understand. I'm sure she just translated it herself into the words she wanted desperately to hear from her mysterious secret admirer. She got the letters and thought they were correspondences in code from secret agents overseas. I didn't know they were going to the wrong place. I just kept writing. I probably sent more than 30 letters begging to get MIDGALIVE.com back.

This went on for 4 years.

FINALLY, The domain was available to purchase and I was able to get it back with all of my pageviews intact. <WHEW>

So let me just say I am sorry to all the bands that used my website to promote themselves. I let you down. You directed people to a glowing article about you from a great online magazine-and they ended up shopping for skinny jeans through a German department store website. Please forgive me. Just remember, you're not the only ones who suffered....

 I am still getting racy photos from an Alpaca farm in Germany.







 





Saturday

Why does my band keep failing?


Having trouble getting success with your band? Yeah, I don't doubt it. There is ALOT of competition out there.

A great many of the bands out there playing are not as good as you, but they bring a crowd -so they'll get booked LONG before you and 3 times as often.


Of course sound quality is important, but without a crowd, your sound doesn't matter. Here are a few tips to help you build that crowd.

1. Always make the effort to make your crowd feel special. This means take the time to LISTEN to them when they are talking to you. They believe that you are worth the cover charge and are excited to have your attention. Listen to what they have to say and engage in true conversation with them. It goes a long way.


2. We musicians are a strange lot...we are arrogant and uncompromising, but often we need reassurance that our direction is right. We can get that from an outside source or build it in ourselves but having supreme confidence is like a poker player having an extra card.
Not Confident? GET confident.


3. Whatever you do....COMMIT to it. Don't go in tentative and apologetic. There is nothing worse than some middle-aged guy half-heartedly wandering his way through a Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, or Adele song. You're thinking of singing "Let it Go"? BELT it out. Some people might hate it, but at least they will respect the courage you had to give it your all. When I sing "Baby, One More Time" I give it all I've got. If passion pays the bills....my bills are paid: and everyone in the room knows it.

4. Stop compromising on the members you choose for your band. Wait for someone you gel with. Like a car, a band NEEDS a destination, guidance, and motion. If you ain't steering, why are you surprised when you end up in a ditch? TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR BAND. Lead, guide and direct it. Sometimes that comes from a mutual understanding of 'common sense'. Sometimes someone has to step up and say, "NO. We need to spend more time promoting THIS show than trying to find another one next month.". Drive your snowmobile-It's cold out there.

5.  I'll also add, wait until you're ready before you get out there. You got a gig coming up? Are you at your peak performance wise? No? GET AT YOUR PEAK. You can't afford to put on a shitty show.
Don't know if you're ready? Then you're not. Stop booking gigs and go back to the garage. You're screwing up the music scene with your out of key, off time, amateurish demeanor. GET IT RIGHT. Then get out there and kick butt.

6. BRING a crowd. Nothing attracts a crowd, like a crowd. Promote. Advertise. Be consistent with your logo. Offer incentives to your followers. Know that your niche helps you target your customer. Know your niche. Dress for your niche. Name your band for your niche. Let your niche dictate your bands 'personality'. Your niche should be painfully evident in every ad, post, pic, comment or interview you do. YOUR crowd will be able to find you, and they will be more dedicated to you than the ones just looking for something to do. A RABID following of 20 is 10 times better than a "doesn't care" crowd of 100.

Now ......Quit whining and get to work.

The 'Working' Parts (part 1)

All successful musical acts have found  a way to do more than just perform songs on stage. There's Booking, Promotion, Legal concerns and Marketing Strategies....and that's just for starters. 

Most local bands ignore these pieces of the business, or they stumble along blindly hoping to stay 'small time' so as not to call attention to copyright infringement, or licensing violations. Their marketing strategies are usually non-existent, and their best promotion ideas involve an event invitation on FB and a flyer they'll hang up on the venue door. These acts are doomed to play local bars forever.....If this is you....welcome to the 99.9%

In this article I plan to list the jobs that are involved with a successful band. Sometimes, one person deals with several of these responsibilities...and some responsibilities are completely ignored.
I'll miss some I'm sure. PLEASE comment and I'll add yours as well.

Performer- Yeah, I know: this is obviously YOU....(you little bad ass.)

Sound Technician- That's the guy who gets your sound right. It may involve setting the microphones in the right positions to receive sound from your amps or instruments and deliver them to the PA speakers. This guy would also be the one who selects the right microphone, speakers, or equipment for the application at hand. Pushing sliders around and applying reverb and compression is only a small part of this persons job.....(when he's a professional anyway).

Electronics Repair Tech - When things go bad, as they inevitably do, this person has the ability to bring that which is dead, back to life. When a tube blows during a performance, this guy can have you up and running before the next set. Bad connection on your guitar's 5 way switch? Good as new in 5 minutes. Did you set your acoustic down with the cable plugged in and now there's a horrible 'popping sound' every time you move? Yeah. This is the guy that turns 'spilled beer and bad habits' into 'not a problem'.

Part 2

Monday

Alpacas? Local Musician tries an Ad Campaign


Local musician Chris Neal has launched his ad campaign "Alpacas Unite!" The goal of course, is to entertain, and to garner more support for his shows. Following, is the time line of the 'dramedy':


As an alert of an upcoming 'gig' Chris Neal posted-

ALLRIGHT!!! Tuesday night I'll be playing again at Applebee's on Russell Pkwy!!!!

Kelly can't make it ('cause our Alpaca kicked her in the throat during the milkin') but I've made her some liquified potato salad so she won't starve and the party is ON!


Later that afternoon, Chris' wife Kelly was overrun with calls and emails, asking about her condition and the Dr.s prognosis. Remember, THIS WAS A JOKE!! People were genuinely concerned and Chris' dry sense of humor went right over their heads.

The next day Chris Neal posted the following in response to the overwhelming concern that people had for Kelly's well-being....


OK. Kelly has been approached by several people regarding the alleged Alpaca attack. I want to take this time to make it abundantly clear, that Kelly was NOT in fact attacked by an Alpaca, and No, we do not own any.
I want to apologize for the confusion I have caused and to anyone else who has started fundraising programs; to you we deeply apologize and thank you for your concern.

I WILL be performing at Applebee's on Russell Parkway tomorrow night (8/02) and I DO start at 9 and play until 12. That part was not a vicious lie.

  I also want to apologize to any victims of Alpaca violence for trivializing their pain and also to any Alpacas who have been hurt by the untoward accusation of being a violent group. I have friends who are Alpacas so obviously, I am not prejudiced.



It was at this point that Chris Neal seized the opportunity to start a promotional campaign.



As the story goes, some Alpacas were offended by Chris Neal's remarks, believing his apology was insincere, and insulted that the public so readily accepted the notion that an Alpaca could be so violent. In response they issued this press release:

From the Associated Press:
Alpacas for American Acceptance Official Press Release:
We have heard Chris Neal's 'apology' for his baseless accusations...To reiterate: No one affiliated with our organization kicked Chris Neal's wife in the throat. Chris Neal's accusations were horrific and insensitive, and although we are usually non violent, we hope he burns in hell for his lies. This is exactly the sort of thing that causes people to live in fear of Alpacas. His actions were reprehensible, and we would like to further note that "Mr. Neal", or whatever his name is, can have his shirt back. We will no longer be participants in promoting his so-called 'entertainment'.






Several popular local musicians have jumped into the conversation/debate/campaign, and have shown support for both sides, namely, Tim Burris (singer for the hugely successful rock band 'FailTrain') who responded with a post:

Do you own an Alpaca? Do you know any Alpacas that have been victims of brutal hate crimes by middle Georgia musicians? If you, or any Alpaca owning friends have seen signs of depression, withdrawal, or evidence of over milking, call the law offices of Burris and Burris today. We specialize in Alpaca civil rights, and noise ordinance disputes. We'll see to it that justice is done.

This message paid for by Alpacas for American acceptance.









Lance Rodriguez (another well respected local musician) further responded, showing his support for the Alpacas with-


The profiling and slander of Alpacas is a rampant problem in todays society. Please do your part to advocate Alpaca rights. Donate to your local D.A.D (Douchebags for Alpacan Diplomacy) chapter today.



'The Alpacas ( Allen and Alexis)' started a Facebook page, and as their first post, introduced themselves with....


Hi! We are Allen and Alexis Alpaca. We look forward to chatting with you all! We would love to offer you relationship advice, and discuss important topics of the day.
 

Allen: I drive a light blue smart car and I like Nickye Minaj....She's hot!
My wife and I love karaoke, Nickelback, and Honey boo boo!
Alexis: I've got a thing for Justin Timberlake, but he doesn't even no I'm alive<sigh>

But the one thing we are currently very disappointed with is the Local Music scene in Middle Ga..... ESPECIALLY, Chris Neal. He is the absolute worst. His off hand comments and arrogance have caused the local Alpaca community to struggle with even more prejudice than ever before.

Aside form helping you with your relationship problems, Our number one goal is to put Chris Neal out of business!

Thanks for the friendship!!!
Allen and Alexis



They have further posted comments regarding Chris Neal and his performances....


Caught the "chris neal show' ... He doesn't know ANY john denver.What a tool.


and...


He played a lot of 'popular songs' but I was hoping for some 'deepcuts', I asked for Glen Campbell, he played Glen Danzig.

Hey loser! It's not the same thing!

And 'they' have also posted:



Chris Neal will be 'performing' at Applebee's on Russell Parkway.....It's a really nice restaurant, but if you go...SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR ALPACAS!!!! When he finishes a song, don't applaude. Don't give him tips, and request songs like Brown eyed girl, or Sweet Home Alabama.
We don't want to boycott any music venues, we just want Chris Neal, and other musicians like him, to FAIL MISERABLY!!!
This way...they'll replace him with karaoke!
We LOVE karaoke!

Now, THIS should be humorous to all local musicians, because it is common to play to an unresponsive crowd. With this sortof statement from the Alpacas, it could be assumed that an unresponsive crowd is simply showing support for the Alpaca Unite Movement.

It is also a genius move by the 'Alpacas' to make it appear that they have more support than they do in reality. Wait...Reality?.....Oh yes, back to reality....

It's a well crafted, multi-layered ad campaign which is destined to shake the cobwebs off the local music scene, and hopefully, will spark interest in the marketing aspects that many local musicians have neglected.

Really looking forward to watching this unfold.
  I hope you are too.





Josh Graff

From a recent press release:

 “Josh Graff is a real bluesman!” -Joseph Palmer, owner of The Hangar Bar and Grill

On Friday, June 1 the walls of The Hummingbird Stage and Tap Room will be reverberating with the sound of traditional blues guitar. Josh Graff has been making a name for himself in the Macon, GA area for nearly fifteen years now, and says, “I finally feel like I’ve found myself.”, and where better than where it all began. The twenty six year old guitarist/singer/songwriter has gone full circle, playing everything from blues, R&B, gospel, country, pop, and rock, to hip-hop all over the country from coffee shops, bars, churches, frat houses, festivals, and music venues, to opening shows for Blues Traveler, Huey Lewis and the News, Kansas, and .38 Special.

Josh Graff spent his early teens playing blues guitar and sitting in with bands like Stillwater and The Wall. By the time he had graduated high school, Graff had released three independent albums of mostly original music, and gained a local following doing solo acoustic shows. Then came the creation of Josh Graff & Co., which played relentlessly all across the southeast, and in 2006, recorded an EP in Atlanta, GA with Grammy Award Winning producer/singer/songwriter/musician Clay Cook (Zac Brown Band, John Mayer, Sugarland, Shawn Mullins, Marshall Tucker Band). After a few years together, Josh Graff & Co. went their separate ways and Graff found himself moving to Atlanta, GA to play guitar in Ben Deignan and Suburban Soul. Two years later you could find Graff on stage every Sunday playing guitar at a local church. Still not feeling as though he was doing what he knew he was here to do, Josh Graff found himself at a crossroads.

In early 2012 Josh Graff decided go back to his roots, and be true to himself, as a blues guitarist, doing something he has always wanted to do, put an all-blues band together. Graff throws a few original tunes into an eclectic mixture of traditional blues covers from Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, JB Lenoir, Otis Rush, Freddie and B.B. King, to name a few. With his ever-evolving and rotating backing band of A list musicians, Graff and his band keep the house rockin’ and the good times rollin’ all night.

The first time I met Josh, he sat in with a friend of ours to play lead. Josh proceeded to rip his guitar apart. He played behind his head, behind his back, he walked out to the crowd and stepped up on the fireplace. He really got the crowd going, and when he walked away, many thought the show was over.
In many ways, it was.
I'm bringing this to light, because it appears that Josh is trying to downplay his amazing stage presence. Does he play the blues? Yes, very well; but he is a professional showman waiting to scorch the venue with searing licks AND attitude.

Sunday

The Swayze's








 


A powerhouse rockabilly quartet with attitude to match!

These guys are destined to be the go-to power band for any college party in the southeast. Imagine The Stray Cats meets Johnny Cash in a drunken fistfight and you have....

The Swayze's...."named after the greatest damned american actor to ever grace the silver screen".

No argument here.

For Booking: contact
Michael at 478-952-3842

Wednesday

The Working Parts ( part 2)

Business Manager- What are the short term goals that carry you to your longterm goal? How closely are you meeting them? What is the overall strategy regarding the branding of your band? What demographic will your band appeal to, and how can you best engage them? What cover songs should you perform live? Where will you spend the night when you play a gig out of town? The Business Manager has his mind on all of these things and is the person who sits down with the Booking Agent, Promoter, Marketing Specialist, Lawyer, and Poll Data Analyst. When he makes sure that all of you are on the same page and working toward the same goal, you have made a significant step forward. The most important person in your band is your Business Manager, so get a good one.

Booking Agent- "Finds you the gigs!" Yes, but again, it goes further than that. A good Booking Agent knows your strengths and weaknesses and will put you in the venues that can propel your career. It's not just about finding work....It's about finding the work that helps you find MORE work....which turns into making more money per gig and playing to larger, more anxious crowds.

Promoter- The Promoter, obviously promotes your shows for you. He'll know how to focus your promotional efforts on your target demographic. This is your money he's working with, so don't waste time with someone who is just good at a putting together a blog page for you and who MIGHT share your Event Invitation. < wink, wink......nudge, nudge>.


Part 3

The Working Parts (part 3)


Entertainment Lawyer- Keeps you out of legal trouble and keeps you from being manipulated by unsavory characters. This might include the contracts you sign with the promoters, booking agents, or the venues. This would also include the contract you would have used to hire your Business Manager in the first place.

Poll Data Analyst- This one might not seem very relevant but hear me out. All business that deal heavily with public opinion, use poll data. Polls are taken VERY often and they tend to show trends developing or fading. Now, I am NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD FOLLOW trends....However, you will. You might not do it on purpose....or you might LEAD a trend, but it is always good to know if a certain demographic is spending more money in that genre or style of performance than another. This is how you target your promotional material. It is also the key to developing/adjusting your marketing strategy to get the most out of your time.

"If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars."- Sam Phillips

Knowing who would love the product and who had the money to spend on it made all the difference in the lives of Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, and a two-bit carnival hustler named 'Colonel' Tom Parker. So, The Poll Data analyst is the guy that tells you who's spending the money, what they like, and how they communicate. He provides the info that the Marketing Specialist works from.



Part 4

The Working Parts (part 4)

Publicist- Sort of bridges the gap between the Marketing Specialist and the Promoter. This person gets the word out there about what you do and how you do it. You need publicity and although promoters get your shows heard about, and your Marketing Specialist focuses on inspiring a particular group to take action; the Publicist gets you publicity. Many times he uses your private life to call attention to your professional one. Publicists encourage those in the entertainment industry to do things that call attention to themselves....One type of publicist may encourage you to start a charitable foundation....and then be sure it is leaked to the media. Another type may encourage you to do a music video of your latest song completely nude or wear a dress made of meat. to the Grammy's red carpet. Good or bad....you've been talked about and that job is done.

Marketing Specialist- Works with poll data to focus your music toward the most appropriate audience. This way your efforts are more focused- making them more efficient and successful. This is where 'branding' comes in and is the hub from which much of the decisions regarding your band will come from. Just playing a large, varied setlist of songs means that when they describe you to a friend they will say..."He plays a lot of good songs of different styles and we had fun"

HOWEVER; If all you play are songs by Tom Petty and Johnny Cash, then the name of your band will likely be 'Petty Cash' and one of your gimmicks will be giving out 2 dollar bills to everyone in the front row, or the girl who gets up and dances to your favorite song, or as change when someone buys your merch or pays the cover. People who LOVE Johnny Cash and Tom Petty will be there and to them, your song selection has already passed inspection-without even playing a note. The crowd will be waiting anxiously for the next song they can sing along to or the next trivia question they can answer. You will make a connection that lasts and your next show will be even more successful.
Branding is important. and the Marketing Specialist will help you get it right.

Stylist- Who dresses the band? Yeah, I know, it's weird trying to dress a certain way. Your stage and beyond clothing choices should reflect the public's perception of your 'style'. You probably think that each member of the band should just dress in whatever makes them comfortable. BUT, if that was 'how it's done' then how would KISS, DEVO, The Ramone's, The Beatles, The Blues Brothers, Metallica, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Stray Cats, etc. have communicated to you what type of music they played with a picture?

I know there are more (especially when it comes to putting together an album, for example), but I think this is a good start. How much time have you put into considering which member of your band is currently dealing with one or more of these responsibilities? Who is in your band BECAUSE they are good at one of these responsibilities?

Anyway.......Food for thought and discussion, I guess.

Sunday

Sister Sandoz





Trino Prados- Bassist

Russ Hearst- Guitar, 
Back Up Vocals

Russell Bell- Guitar


Eric Moore- Percussion

Becky Sandoz Carlisle- Vocalist









 The '90s called. They want grunge to come back! 6L6 is a refreshing cover band specializing in the new oldies!

Sister Sandoz will rock you like you keep begging to be rocked!!
They cover many of the alternative songs from the 90s & today, & have a few '80s faves in the mix. If you wanna hear System of a Down, Nirvana, No Doubt, the Ramones, Joan Jett, & Jackyl in the same show, then 6L6 is your new favorite band!

Call Becky at 
478-951-1085
for Booking!

The economy is bad....So you want to be a musician?......Good Luck with that.

If you're out of work, or struggling to pay the bills, I would suggest that you NOT try music as a back up plan. There are MANY musician...