Showing posts with label music business advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music business advice. Show all posts

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

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

How to build yourself a great band website for free.


First of all- I have done this.
As a matter of fact this entire website was built for free- exactly the way I am descrrbing it to you.

I eventually decided to purchase a domain name and pay for my own hosting which I now know was totally unnecessary. I bought the domain name for the 'easy to remember' URL (MidGaLive.com) but I didn't have to....with all of the tools and resources available, having an easy to remember domain name is not nearly as valuable as it used to be.

So let's get started.

First, go to Blogger.com and sign up. Yes. It's a Blog. Who cares? Does MidGaLive.com look like a blog? It can be a Blog about your band.
 It's free, except you'll have to have a gmail account. There are other free blog services out there...WordPress appears to be very popular, although I have no experience with it; So, for the purpose of this article I'll focus on the one Blogger.com offers.

You can make it appear any way you want, but I suggest using the templates available and just dressing it up with your own color schemes. It's VERY easy. On the 'layout' window, you can move things around or add 'widgets' these are the tools (or toys) of your site. The calendar, the Contact Form, the advertisments, the 'flyers' you want to post, etc. ...are all added here. Copy/paste/done.

Once done, you can add 'pages' which are the tabs at the top of this screen. Here are some suggestions for yours...

Bio  This can give a history of your band....how you met, your influences, your aversion to mustard sauce on your sardines, whatever. Regardless, MAKE IT INTERESTING. Stretch the truth a little. People will forgive a little stretch of the truth for the sake of entertainment.

FanOfTheWeek Reward your most active and 'fanatic' fans by giving them a shout out on a page of their own. Tell them you love them for loving you.

MerchPage You can show pics of the merch you have for sale. Show pics of your T-Shirts, your CD's, koozies, keychains, calendars, condoms, panties, coffee cups, pens, pencils, water bottles, athletic supporters, etc.. You would of course need to go ahead and order one or 2  (I use vistaprint....I get my Tshirts for $5 or less.) Sign up for a PayPal account and then go to the merchant services tab to create a 'button" for your purpose. It'll give you an "HTML code" that you can copy and paste to your page. You have to pay a very small percentage for every transaction- 2.9% plus 30 cents for each transaction. If you sold a ten dollar CD.... your take would be $9.41, not bad.
Your Bands' Merch Store? Done.

GigCalendar I got mine from Brown Bear software. It's free, but you can pay them for a  more advanced version later if you want. It's a brillliant thing to put on your website. It gives you options that you may not realize  you have.
         For one, you can make a contest among a small group to get you gigs. These people will compete with one another for a prize of your choosing. The prize could be a free concert at their house, or a lump sum of cash. The contest can be restarted as often as you like. Each person in the competition can have a color coded 'label' that shows up on the calendar telling EVERYONE who booked it....The one with the most bookings will be the winner.
        It has a hierarchy style of password protection, which means you can set it up so that several people can add gigs, but only YOU can delete them.

Oh- and it's a great way to show your fans where you are playing.

A site like this gives you easy, consistent promotion because it's always in the same place. Share the link with everyone everywhere online. You can make a QR code that links to your website and then put that pic on EVERYTHING. All your merch should have it.....All your business cards, mailers, posters.....stickers....The QR code should be everywhere. It's too easy and too effective to ignore. NOT familiar with it? Check out the tab above labeled QR Code Generator.

You can collect email addresses of your fans (if they want to give them to you). Just by adding a 'Contact Form' like the one on this page.

When you write posts, you can add your latest video, or pics from last nights gig, or a link to your Reverbnation, Facebook, Twitter......whatever.

It's a great FREE tool....and I don't understand why you had not started using it before now. If you have any difficulty.....let me know....I'll help out. Once you get it going, let me know....I'll add a link to your website from your MidGaLive.com page.

Please know that your page here on MidGaLive.com can be turned into a single page website! I can give you access to your own page and you can put anything you want on it. Merch, Links, whatever....
MidGaLive.com averages 2000 pageviews per month....and costs  you nothing.


So, if you're nervous about building one from scratch.....The offer is there....just let me know....Send me a message and say...."I want to use MidGaLive.com as a home for my bands single-page website." I can only do this for 82 more bands so, don't wait long....



Ok.....Breaks over....and your excuses are dead......Get to work.



Monday

Finding Your Niche

Have you ever heard of Joey Holiday?

If you're a trucker you probably have. He plays "Truckin' Music", and he stays within that. Listening to these songs, you can almost feel the wind in your hair and the pride of being the lion of the highway. It's Country twang, and you can almost hear the shifting of gears, while the songs set the tone for your 8 hours of  getting the job done.

Joey has found a niche that fits him.....If you don't live this lifestyle, they'd see right through you. He has found a market that is constantly out there working, while listening to music. He has a customer base that is fanatic, and growing. The fans of this music LIVE it.....and the musicians they support do too.

 This what I mean by differentiating yourself from the rest of the pack. Choose a style that fits you, so that you can be yourself, and never have a need to compromise your values (or lack thereof). But choose a way of presenting that style to focus your energy on people who will appreciate what you do, and support it.

Look at it this way......

James Taylor and Eric Clapton seem to be the choice for a certain group of listener.
Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney seem to play a style that appeals to people of a certain attitude (or 'latitude', if you will).
Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Jamey Johnson speak for a particular group of people.
If you can recognize how these examples apply, I think you will be on your way to forming a BRAND. By playing it in your style, you will not please everyone......but those that do love you will be fanatic about it.

Find out where your heart is and play there. Most may not like you, but there are a few others who will have a voracious appetite for your presentation.......

.......and isn't that what we all want?

Sunday

Wayne Minor Band

2 keyboards, guitar and drums. An unusual setup to be sure, but the Wayne Minor Band makes full use of this setup to rock the crowd.

The songwriting will remind you of Leon Russell. The execution is flawless and the arrangement is painstakingly tight and purposeful, but doesn't lose that all to elusive feel.You won't spend a moment at a Wayne Minor Band show, wondering who else is playing around town. These guys know how to craft the soundtrack of your night. Check out this live recording done by Mark Foley:
 Wayne Minor Band Live at Fountainfest

This is one of the rare bands that other bands seek out to learn from.Don't pass up an opportunity to check them out live.
 
 

Saturday

Promoting yourself

We all use Facebook as a way of advertising our shows, but we are missing out on MANY opportunities.

This site was built to help us in a variety of ways, and if we will collectively take advantage of it's benefits, we can see even more people supporting  live music!

Now before I go any further, let me point out, that at present, I have GROSSED approximately 4 dollars per month with this site. If I take my yearly domain fee out of that, I have made about 40 dollars for 2012. In June, I plan to take my wife to Outback for a plate of celebratory cheese fries with my earnings. Assuming of course, that the money keeps rolling in.

In other words, my constant attempt at promoting MidGaLive.com, has nothing to do with profit, and everything to do with promoting the music scene in Middle Ga. I would like for all of us to take part in it.

What if you could get other musicians to promote your show at the same time they promote their show? It would increase the visibilty of both ads and almost guarantee you all will have a bigger draw. A good example of this was seen recently!

This is where Lance Rodriguez has a show at Shenanigan's on the same day FailTrain is playing at Friends On The Hill. Lance will post something like.....

"Come to Shenaningan's tonight starting at 7 so that I can get you geared up for hearing FailTrain at Friends on the Hill starting at 10! Get drunk, get crunk, and experience the funk!- Lance "

It's been happening alot lately, and it should continue .......

When you list your show on the MidGaLive Music Schedule, you are promoting live music as a whole. You are drawing people to one place so that they can see the wide variety of music that is being performed. If you are on that schedule, they will, of course see your band as well.

By having your band profile on MidGaLive.com, you get the chance to promote yourself, and at the same time the Live Music Schedule will appear at the bottom of the page.You can post the article I have written for your band, as your advertisement. At the bottom of the screen, the Live Music Schedule shows all of the activity going on. Nothing attracts a crowd, like a crowd.

If you promote ALL live music, you promote the entire scene....This brings more people out to support it, which opens up more opportunities to play.

By using the color codes people will find it easier to seek out the type of music they are interested in....Which means you are making it easier for potential fans to find you.

Win/Win.

You can encourage venues to use the MidGaLive Music Schedule to promote shows as well. This gives them a chance to read about all the bands in the area, and possibly open doors for you in playing new and different clubs, which opens the doors to new and different fans. If they can see what is working for another venue, and maybe they'll try that as well.

The Eleventh Hour has been helpful to a lot of people. Many bands have a loyalty to the Eleventh Hour which makes them hesitant to promote or utilize MidGaLive.com .

Personally, the notion that MidGaLive.com is somehow competition is funny to me. There is simply no comparison. I think the Eleventh Hour does show support for the music scene, but it supports many other things also. They have done well, but they can't focus specifically on every single act while simultaneously selling advertisements for every restaurant, art studio, and massage parlor in Middle Ga.. We coexist and I believe both the Eleventh Hour and MidGaLive.com have a purpose, and we serve it well.

Use every resource you can find to promote yourself. The Eleventh Hour is a  great resource too; and I wouldn't discourage anyone from using it.

Let's work together. Promote each other and we will ALL win.

That should be everyone's goal.....Shouldn't it?

Monday

A Beginner’s Guide to Stage Sound – Part 2: Setting up your PA

So now you’ve got all of your equipment and you’re ready to test it out. That’s right… test it out. Hook everything up and run through the numbers. Don’t tell me that you just wanted to get on stage and see how it sounds. It’s very important to thoroughly familiarize yourself with your equipment before it’s time to hit the stage. Let’s start with simply getting everything in place and hooking everything up.

Inputs

Once your mixer is in place, it’s time to run your inputs. I like to start with my vocal mics then progress across the channel list until everything is hooked up. At this point, nothing is powered on, and all faders and volume knobs are bottomed out. As you position your microphones, consider your stands. Make sure they are stable and non-intrusive. Make sure your cables are long enough to comfortably reach your mixing board (Or snake) and provide some slack for adjustments if needed. Make sure your stands won’t be tripped over or bumped into during those more enthusiastic ballads.
A good Vocal microphone is cardioid, which means that they have to be sung into directly. When positioning your microphone, consider what sound sources will be aiming at the front of that mic when the singer moves his/her head. Since monitors are generally placed on the floor in front of the singer, it is a good practice to angle the microphone so it aims almost directly away from the monitors. This will be a great step to preventing feedback. And remember never to position your FOH speakers behind your microphones. If you have a guitar cabinet behind you, try getting it, or your mic, positioned in a manner where the speakers don’t aim at the front of the mic. One of the best ways is to angle the mics upward slightly. If the mic almost pointing at your mouth from below it not only blocks less of your face to the audience, but provides better cardiod isolation from your back line.
 
Instrument mics are also cardioid, but often more so than vocal microphones. If you are placing a microphone in front of a speaker cabinet, place the mic as close to the protective screen as possible, and aim it directly at the sound cone of one of the speakers (Not the center of the speaker). Boom stands and short instrument microphone stands are helpful for this application, but be mindful of cable routing and positioning to avoid snags and trips. Isolation from other instruments is important, so if you have the drums next to you, pick the speaker furthest from the drums. If you’re right next to another cabinet or the bass amp, try to get some isolation (space) between their amps and your microphone if possible.

Equalization

Now that our inputs are in place, we need to push that signal out for processing and amplification. Run the outputs from the mixer to your 2 –channel equalizer. One mono channel will be dedicated to your Mains (FOH) and the other will go to your monitors. If you plan on using multiple monitor mixes, more equalizers should be considered. Equalizers can be your best tool for accenting or brightening certain frequency ranges while suppressing others. On your monitor channel, it will be a great tool for finding feedback frequencies and suppressing them.
Though equalization takes place later, during sound check, we will discuss it a bit here. Equalizing a signal can be a lengthy process, and sometimes needs to be repeated when you visit a venue with different acoustics. Taking notes of your EQ settings can save a lot of time. (Photos using your camera phone can be a great way to archive your settings for future visits.) My favorite method is the basic sweep method. Hook up an MP3 player and play some music that matches the tone and style you want to equalize. Start with all faders centered. Starting with your lowest frequency, slowly sweep the knob up and down while listening to the effect it has on your sound. Find the spot that sounds the best and move on to the next fader. After going all the way to the highest fader, work back through from High to Low.
 
To use an equalizer to eliminate feedback, you need to find your “invasive frequencies.” There are some specialized pieces of hardware available that specifically help to find and suppress invasive frequencies, but these can be expensive additions to your PA. There are also some great equalizers that will have a light on the fader to indicate which frequency is causing your feedback. But I’ve found that I can gain similar results with a simple, free iPhone application called “Feedback Detector.” Simply hold your phone near the speaker feeding back and it will tell you the approximate frequency of the intrusive signal. Lower the corresponding faders on your EQ and you will be suppressing the likelihood of feedback.
 
Fighting feedback sometimes means deliberately causing feedback. Whenever you are doing feedback testing, be extremely careful not to overdrive your FOH speakers or monitors. Keep someone at the faders so they can mute the channels if the feedback gets too hot. If you do this in a club, let the club owners know what you are going to be doing so they don’t get concerned. Fortunately, if you don’t change your equipment, you can take note of your dangerous frequencies and apply what you’ve learned at most similar venues. You don’t necessarily need to do this every time. Once you’re pleased with your equalization, the signal can be split and amplified.

Crossovers

Crossovers take the single FOH sound signal and split it up into multiple signals. The two popular uses are called Bi-amp and Tri-amp setups. Bi-Amp setups will split the signal into a low signal and a Mid/High signal. Tri-Amp setups split it into a Low, mid, and high range. I find that many decent FOH speakers include a basic internal crossover that will split your Mid and high signals for you, so in many cases, Bi-Amping is sufficient. You can even get away with a single signal for some venue, but I am a big fan of subs, so I will advocate the added expense.
 
Crossovers will have dials which allow you to manipulate where in the frequency spectrum the split will occur, and how much of each frequency will be able to fade into or overlap into the other channel. This is another place where experimentation will be helpful. Find a cutoff frequency for your low signal (I set my PA around 20-30 Hz) and simply see how your subs perform. If you think your subs can handle more, dial it up a bit, or if you just want hard hitting lows, dial it back. I find 20-30 Hz to be a nice compromise. This is a setting that you will likely only need to do once over the life of the PA. Once you’ve found the “sweet spot,” you shouldn’t need to adjust it again, barring a major change in your band’s sound. Now your signal is ready to be amplified.

Amplifiers

Amplifiers will boost your signal so that it can drive your speakers. Some amplifiers are built right into the speakers creating “Powered” or “Active” speakers. Other amplifiers are separate from the speakers, making the speakers “Passive”. Active speakers are great for novices because the internal amplifiers are perfectly rated for the speakers they are attached to. The downside is that you will need to plug each speaker into its own power source and they also tend to be more expensive than passive speakers.
 
Amplifiers will have an output power and an impedance rating for each amplifier channel that should be carefully noted. It is very important that your amplifier is compatible with your speakers. A mismatch could result in an overdrive or frequent clipping, both of which can cause permanent damage to your equipment. There are numerous arguments about how to properly match power rating to the speakers peak and optimal RMS. I’m going to take a stab at explaining it.

Pairing Speakers and Amplifiers

Amps are rated for output power (Watts) at a certain impedance (Ohms). Simply stating that you have a 1000 watt amp may not be accurate, since the “power” will not always necessarily be consistent. As the impedance (number of Ohms)of a line changes, the power to each speaker will change with it. For example, a fairly popular amplifier, the Peavey CS-2000, delivers 1075 watts (rms) per channel @ 2 ohms, 750 watts @ 4 ohms, and 495 watts @ 8 ohms.
 
Speakers have an impedance rating in ohms, and an optimal (program) and peak power rating. The Peavey PR-15 is an 8 ohm speaker that handles 400 watts program and 800 watts of peak power. When speakers are “daisy chained” off of a single amplifier channel, the line impedance changes. How it changes depends on if the speakers are in series or parallel. If you have 2 speakers in a parallel chain (I would never advise chaining more than 2 for common applications), then your impedance is divided by 2. If they are in series, the impedances are added together. Peavey PR-15’s are connected in parallel (this information is usually labeled on the connector plate.), so the line impedance will now be 4 ohms.
 
As we can see above, the CS-2000 amplifier provides 750 watts at 4 ohms. This means that 750 watts will need to be divided amongst all of the speakers in that chain. In this case, each speaker will get 375 Watts of peak power. In this case, it falls under our program power, and not even close to our peak power. Though I’ve seen this application work, it is not healthy for the equipment. I would recommend getting a slightly more powerful amplifier. The pros say that the Amplifier should be able provide roughly 2/3 (66%) peak power to each speaker. If we have a pair of PR-15’s, we will be looking for an amplifier that can provide 66% of 800 watts, or approximately 528 Watts at 8 Ohms. Since we are hoping to use them in parallel, then we need double that, or 1056 Watts at 4 Ohms.
At first glance, it looked like the Peavey CS-2000 was a good pairing for our PR-15, but after we calculated what the output power would be, it fell short. Now, if we decided to only hook up one speaker per channel, the impedance would be 8 Ohms. So each speaker would receive 1075 Watts of peak power. This is higher than the speaker’s peak power rating. Fortunately, the CS-2000 has a dial to reduce the peak power output. A user could simply dial the knob back to the center mark, and each channel would receive half of that 1075 watts (approximately 537 Watts). This will put the peak output power almost perfectly at our 66% range.
 
What have we learned? Do your homework before deciding how to connect your speakers to your amplifier. Matching power isn’t always as straight forward as it looks.

Note about wiring – Always keep your load above 2 ohms and below 16 Ohms .Most amplifiers are not designed to handle anything more than that.
 
~Now that we are hooked up and ready to go, In the next article we will discuss performing a sound check.~

Thursday

A Beginner’s Guide to Stage Sound – Part 1: The Equipment


The first article by our resident sound man-
Tim Burris: Lead singer of the local supergroup 'FailTrain'

Introduction


So your band has been working hard to build enough material to get out gigging. You’ve finally polished off a nice set list and booked a gig at the local bar. But the bar doesn’t have a PA or sound man, so you’ve got to acquire, set up, and configure your own PA. This is an opportunity to make or break your band’s reputation since all the practice in the world won’t improve the sound of feedback or a bad mix. Great bands have stumbled due to the lack of a quality sound system or trained sound man.
PA equipment can be a relatively simple set-up or a logistical nightmare. So to keep it simple, I am going to highlight 2 basic set-ups: An all-in-one PA and a traditional mixing board and Amplifier modular PA system. We will touch on 'powered' (also known as 'active') speakers in another article.
when you see speakers referenced in this article, we are referring to 'passive' speakers.
An all-in-one system will have your mixer, equalizer, effects, and amplifier in one convenient, easy to use, piece of hardware. You simply plug your microphones into the inputs, plug your speakers into the outputs, and voila, you’ve got sound. Well, it’s not exactly that easy, but that’s the general idea. A modular PA will require a lot more individual equipment, but it allows for versatility, flexibility, and growth.

Microphones


Before you get started you have to get all of your hardware. Let’s start with inputs. You will need vocal microphones, instrument microphones, and in some cases drum microphones (which we won’t discuss here). Not just any microphone makes a good vocal microphone.
For vocal microphones, you should start by finding a microphone that is “Dynamic”, and “Cardioid.” Dynamic refers to the fact that the microphone doesn’t require any external power and that the microphone responds well to varying volumes. Cardioid is another word for unidirectional which means that it will pick up sound that is directed primarily at the front of the microphone. This is an important thing to note when we get to talking about feedback. (A couple quality vocal microphones include the Shure SM-58 and EV N/D267A.)
Instrument microphones should be dynamic and either Super-cardioid or Ultra-cardioid. This will help prevent the microphone from boosting any other sounds from the stage. How often are your guitar cabinets within just a few feet of the drums? A good instrument mic will prevent sound from bleeding over, and give the sound man good control of what is being amplified. (A quality instrument microphone is the Shure SM-57 or the Sennheiser e609)

Microphone Cables

Microphones will need cables to plug into the mixer. Here, you should get low impedance XLR microphone cables with quality connectors. I cannot stress the importance of quality connectors enough. Many great musicians have had headaches during their sound checks due to bad cable connectors. A good rule of thumb is “You get what you pay for.” Another good rule of thumb - If the XLR connector doesn’t say ‘Neutrik’ on it, don’t’ buy it. (Yes, I’m biased)

Mixer Inputs

Next, the microphones will plug into a mixer. Each microphone will be designated a channel. It is important to note, at the mixer, which microphone belongs to which channel. I like to group my vocals next to each other (1-4), and then instruments (5-6), and then drums (7-12), labeling each on a piece of masking tape. These labels will greatly assist the sound tech while they are making adjustments during your performance.

Mixer Outputs (All-In-One Mixer/Amplifier)

All-in-one mixers include everything you need in one box. They are portable, easy to set-up, and generally less expensive than traditional modular set-ups. If your mixer is an all-in-one unit, then you simply need to connect your mixer/amplifier outputs to your speakers. In this case, you will have two groups of outputs: Mains and Monitors. For simplicity sake, we will have a “Mono” output and daisy-chain our mains and daisy-chain our monitors. When considering what kind of cable to use, consider both the output type of the Mixer/amplifier and the input type of the speaker. Some use 1/4 inch connectors, while newer models are using locking “Speakon” connectors. Make sure your cables are long enough to allow you to position your mixer in a safe, comfortable position while allowing for flexibility in positioning your main speaker and monitors.
Speakers should always be inspected to make sure that they are compatible with the impedance (4 Ohm or 8 Ohm) and output power (x Watts) of the amplifier. Incompatible hardware could result in damage to your speakers or amplifier.
*Please note that connectors should never be connected or disconnected while there is power running to the PA.

Traditional Modular Mixer Amplifier Set-ups

Modular set-ups require a lot more equipment than all-in-one units, but allow for greater flexibility and growth. To get a good sound quality, reduce feedback, and protect your equipment, the following hardware will be needed: Mixer, Effects Processor, 2 channel equalizer for mains and monitors, Crossover, Amplifier for mains, subs and Monitors.



Effects Processor

The mixer will send an auxillary signal to the effects processor. This is usually sent over a ¼ inch cable. The effects processor can modify the sound by adding chorus or reverb effects, then send them back to the mixer. Most mixers let you manipulate which channels get sent to the aux and which bypass it. So you may want effects on your vocal channels, but not your instruments.

Equalizer

The equalizer lets you help dial in your sound, and also eliminate any frequencies that are feeding back. Configuring the equalizer is a time consuming process that will require a lot of experimentation, but the benefits are well worth it. The mixer’s outbound signal will go to the equalizer. The equalizer will then send the modified signal to the crossover to be split.

Crossover

The crossover will separate your signal into High frequencies and Low frequencies. This is primarily used to send the low frequencies to their own subwoofers, while sending the high frequencies to speakers and horns. By separating the signals, you take a lot of strain off of your speakers and gain greater control over how each element of your sound is presented. If you don’t plan on using a subwoofer, a crossover is not necessary, but bear in mind that your mains will have to process a lot of sound. The crossover generally receives the signal from the equalizer and passes it to the amplifiers.

Amplifiers

The amplifiers will boost the “cold” signal into a powerful, amplified signal ready to go to the speakers. This is one of the most dangerous elements of the set-up, as misconfigured or mis-wired amplifiers can result in permanent damage to your equipment. Make sure your output impedance and wattage match what your speakers are capable of handling.

Speakers - Mains (FOH)

The most important speakers in your set-up will be your mains. This is what delivers your final mix to the audience. They are also referred to as FOH (Front of House) Speakers. A rule of thumb – Never place your FOH speakers behind your performers and their mics. This is a recipe for feedback.

Speakers - Monitors

These speakers are placed on the stage and aimed at the performers so that you can hear yourself. Many All-In-One PA systems will only allow for one monitor signal. This means that you get to create a single mix of instruments and vocals and play them back to the performers. More advanced set-ups will allow for separate monitor mixes. So the guitarists can have more guitar and singer can have more vocals.

Speakers – Subs

Most All-in-one units don’t’ allow for the additional of subwoofers without some creative engineering. So these will generally be used more with modular PA systems. They will produce your deep low sounds, and when used in coordination with a good crossover, will remove the low sounds from your main FOH speakers, giving them more clear and crisp highs.

More on Cables

You will need microphone cables, speaker cables, power cables, connectors to bridge equipment, and extension cords. It is important to inspect your cables regularly and take good care of them as a single cable can be the difference between a great sounding show and a night of headaches. In general, you get what you pay for, so if there’s one place to avoid the bargain shopping, it’s on your cables.

…In our next article we’ll talk about how to use this equipment together and configure it before a performance to help control and enhance your sound.

Sunday

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 tits?

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."

Wednesday

Playing in your underwear

I love the way the "old pros" offer guidance and 'tricks of the trade' to "amateurs" and "new pros". I think we need more of that. Open mics are a great place to make that happen. If you're a pro of any stripes, it would be a good idea for ALL of us to try to advise 'newbies' through the basics of the business....Gear suggestions, tuning changes, changing the key to accomodate your voice or offer "Music Business Life Lessons".

I guess what I'm saying, is that open mics are a resource that we aren't really taking advantage of. For amateurs this is an invaluable resource to get 'plugged in' to the local music scene. 'Open Mic Nights' give amateurs access to professional grade equipment and guidance from seasoned veterans in the art of playing out in public.


For professionals, in playing open mics (and doing well), we can give the audience, a "commercial"; showing what we do, and how we do it.

It helps us build our fan base, and gives us more possible customers for our cd sales, Tshirts sales, or just more attendance at our shows.

It gives us the opportunity to learn from each other, teach each other, and engage in good, old fashioned fellowship.

As awesome as Facebook is~ It doesn't REPLACE the benefits of actual face to face interaction with our peers. It augments things for sure...and when I simply can't make it out of the house, it allows me to maintain contact with my fellow musicians.

But laying here in my underwear and creating storylines involving humorous misunderstandings and chilling revelations of angry Alpaca's, won't help me to be a better performer. I really hope to meet more of my Facebook friends in person. I want to learn from all of you.

....And to any amateur musicians sitting at home and wondering if you could be good at playing music in public.....Sure you could. Attending an open mic night could change your life.

It changed mine.

Lance Rodriguez

Lance Rodriguez is the hardest working musician in Middle Ga. these days. He plays bass for American Lesion, drums and vocals for Holocaustion, and for Crescent Moon Dogs AND he performs solo acoustic as Tooley Deviljuice.

One glance at him and you know you're looking at the real deal. In 5 minutes of conversation, you find a humble friendly man with the mind of a poet and the heart of a lion.

His music ranges from heavy metal, to soulful acoustic. He delivers it all with the conviction and passion of  a world class performer.

The first time I saw him perform, I was hosting an 'Open Mic Night' at a nice little upscale restaurant in Warner Robins. He signed up to perform a few songs with Tom Harbs; another of the great talents in Middle Ga.

I was immediately nervous.

I didn't know what to expect. I knew that they were both in a heavy metal band called "Holocaustion" which was known for heavy guitar and screaming vocals. Tom shaves his head and Lance hasn't seen a pair of scissors in years. Lance appears to be the offspring of Rob Zombie and Prince. I was so afraid that they were going to rip into some death metal and screaming....I thought I would have to cut their performance short.

Tom grabbed the microphone, and Lance started playing his acoustic....and they BLEW ME AWAY.
Tom's vocals were beautiful, and passionate. Lance's guitar playing was intricate and nice and ....You can't say this about every acoustic player out there;....His playing was musical by it's own merit. They played country/ irish folk songs, and when they finished, I went looking for the original versions of those songs online. Now I know, not to judge a book by it's cover.

Whoever he is performing with, Lance makes the audience take note and his bandmates sound better. He takes the time to promote and push the local music scene like no one else does....

With all this in mind, I consider Lance Rodriguez to be MidGa's Most Valuable Player.

Lance on facebook
Or contact Lance by email~              The138Records@yahoo.com
And Check him out on Reverbnation

Monday

theory?

Let's jump into some BASIC Music Theory.

MANY of the musicians in this area, know the chords they are supposed to play, when playing along to their favorite songs; but they don't know why, OR they don't know how to transpose the song into the key that would better suit their voice.

Here's a great example- Assuming you are in standard tuning- If I want to play "Toes" by ZBB, I could just play "Brown-Eyed Girl" and change the words. ZBB plays it in the key of "A"- (so that means putting a capo on the second fret) but it's basically the same song. (BTW-There are literally thousands of these.)
To understand what I'm getting at, let's dive in to some very basic music theory. Don't be skeered~ It's not going to hurt.

First there are only 12 notes in music. They are:

C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B and then repeats forever...
The # means 'sharp'. I will not be using it here, but that position would also be called 'flat' for the next note. For example...
C sharp is the same as D flat, G sharp is the same as A flat and so on.....

Now, there is a step pattern you need to know....

W W H W W W H
This means whole, whole, half, whole,whole,whole,half
A whole step is 2 notes, and of course, a half step is 1

So if I start this step pattern with the A note, and write down each note I land on, I will get...
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# BA B C# D E F# G#

These are all the notes in the key of A.
Everything in the key of A is done with combinations or manipulations of these notes. To make it easier to understand let's number them...

A   B  C# D E   F# G#
1    2   3   4  5   6    7

One very popular chord progression is referred to as 1 4 5. Sometimes it is written as... I IV V.
For the key of A, that chord progression will be ...A D E. You are just using combinations of the first chord, the 4th chord and then the 5th chord of that particular key.

Try to divide the other keys as well. Seriously- sit down with a sheet of paper and write them down. ~KEEP IT NEAT!~ I suggest you begin with C.
Which will look like...
 C D   E   F G   A B
  1 2   3   4  5  6  7

and then the next key you should do will be the one numbered '5'.
Which will be ...
G   A B C   D E F#
1   2   3 4   5  6 7

and next would start with D... and so on. Play around with this, and we will add to this in future posts. Go through all 12 keys until you get back to C. You will notice a really cool couple of patterns.


If you are a beginner at this whole music thing, you could certainly use some helpful tricks of the trade.

The greatest 'trick' a guitar player has in his arsenal is the lowly capo.

The capo changes the pitch of the guitar. It acts the same way the "nut" does, in that it is the point where the string stops.
If you have a guitar in standard tuning, and you play an E minor chord you will be playing something commonly drawn like this....

O 2 2 OOO The O means 'open'.

If you place the capo on the first fret, you will effectively be changing the pitch of the guitar. Play an E minor RELATIVE TO THE CAPO it will BE this...   
1 3 3 1 1 1
But Look like this...O 2 2 O O O

You'll notice that it is similar to a 'barre chord'; But, you don't have to 'barre'. The capo does that for you. And you are playing an ' Fminor' without having to learn a new chord.

What makes the capo such a wonderful trick; is that with it, you can play one chord progression in many different keys without having to learn new chords! This makes some songs easier to sing, or it may make a song sound a little different. The capo has the ability to inspire creativity, or encourage growth in your set list.

If the capo is on the 2nd fret, but your hand plays a "G" chord...you'll be playing an "A" to the rest of the worlds ear.
If the capo is on the 4th fret, but your hand plays a "G" ....you're playing a "B" to the rest of the worlds ear.

By learning theory, you will open yourself up to a ton of songs that you didn't know you could play. It will also help you put "your flavor" on old classics, or  to play songs in a key that you can sing with comfortably.

I hope this helps somebody.

Saturday

Secret to Booking- 20's Pubs and Subs

The trick to booking 20's is all in the Monday night audition....Here's how it works:
First of all- DON'T bother trying to call to book it. Teresa is the one you want to talk to, and she will not talk to you about it over the phone. So the best time to catch her is 3-6 on Mondays. Or between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesdays Thursdays and Fridays. She takes off Wednesdays (when she takes off). Any other time could still be good, but there is just a better chance of her being busy or short of time.

If you are playing somewhere else nearby, let her know and if she can slip away, she'll go to see you. She will be judging whether or not you play the music the crowd likes but also HOW you do it. She is not being critical of your talent or performance. She is judging your "fit" with her patrons.

Teresa will not book you until she has heard you play. If you are not playing anywhere nearby; she will ask you to play an 'audition gig' on a Monday night. Talk to her, book it, show up, and play your best stuff. Their crowd likes to dance and if you play the stuff that she believes their crowd will like, she will put you on the calendar for a weekend spot.

Granted , you may not be playing to a big crowd on that Monday, but at least you are being judged on your performance, and not your salesmanship. Also, What else are you doing on the average Monday night?

I like this because it puts things back into the perspective that we all want: We are paid to entertain their crowd- Although bringing a crowd is encouraged; we are NOT expected to kidnap people and drag them in.

Another plus: they pay all bands a flat fee. That's right; everyone who plays there gets paid the same thing.

 There is no bargaining or trying to sell yourself. No competing with fee. Which means the only way that you could compete with another band is by making the crowd happier, which COULD result in playing more often.

I really like this way of doing things. It puts the focus on pleasing the crowd; and I think that is VERY important. Thoughts?

Monday

Make Money With Your Hottie

Let’s face it; musicians get the hotties. If you are a musician, your girl/guy is among the most attractive in the area. The better the performer, the more attractive his/or her partner is.

Having someone you can trust in the crowd is always a plus. They will let you know when things are not right, or maybe give you a little a nudge in the right direction.
But they can also help you promote yourself better.

How? Well, I’ll need your help in filling in the blanks.
The Clap
People need a leader. They do not know it’s worth applauding until someone starts it off. That little bit of excitement coming from a good looking woman, is usually enough to get everyone else to believe that you are pretty damn good. You must be, right?
Get Her Friends Involved
Women travel in packs. So if you can get your woman to get her pack of girlfriends together, big things can happen for you. Initiating crowd response is a start, but you need them out there as your little army of fanatics.

Your woman can help out quite a lot with the promo pics. A small inexpensive digital camera doesn’t have great quality, but it will get you through if used creatively.Her friends can either get people up and moving OR help to gather a large group up to the front of the stage. Any pics that show YOU playing to a large group of ravenous fans can only help, right?
T-shirts and Toys
Tshirts have historically been a powerful promotional tool. If they are designed well, and people like your band, they’ll throw down ten bucks for it. It’s great for advertising, and you will only have to make the initial investment.

What ways are you getting YOUR mate involved?

Friday

Why don’t we all just work for free?

There is definitely, a divide among musicians regarding the subject of fees. Seasoned musicians, usually, understand this part of the business better than the newbies; so here is my attempt to inform. All you veterans feel free to straighten us all out.
Some argue the “business” side of things and try to “compete” with the more established acts by charging less. This goes directly against all business sense. Here’s why:
By undercutting the competition; you are ruining YOUR future business.
First, you don’t know what I get paid, so you will probably guess.  Now if you are trying to undercut me by guessing what I charge, you’ll likely go too low.

Then again, you could just ask the bar owner. Now, the bar owner has a vested interest in telling you that I play for less than I actually do, doesn’t he? So, he’ll know whatever my normal fee is, and subtract $50, and tell you, that he only pays THIS much. You are just DYING to play out so you’ll take it; AND THE BAR OWNER EQUATES YOU WITH THAT PRICE. While the economy is down, he may hire you often. But when the economy picks up, you won’t get called for the weekends- If he calls you at all. If you’re a full band charging the same thing I am, (as a solo act) then, in the bar owners mind you look like chumps. No talent chumps.


Now, put yourself in the bar owners shoes for a moment. If this Friday night, he has a band of no-talent chumps coming to play, WHY WOULD HE ADVERTISE? He knows that new customers are going to see this no talent band play and assume it is par for the course in this bar. He knows that those new customers won’t be back. He also knows that you NEED this gig, so he’ll make YOU ‘bring a crowd’. His logic is that, anyone you bring will like what they hear from you, so it will give those people (your friends) a favorable perception of his club. “This bar let my friend’s band play here. This bar is cool!”


Now you don’t have to believe me- But think about it- How many times have you played for ‘a little less’ and the bar owner DID NOT PROMOTE THE SHOW AT ALL? OR, if he does any advertising, he will do it the CHEAPEST WAY POSSIBLE…..He’ll put out flyers on colored paper that his 3rd grade daughter threw together before soccer practice. He probably won’t even get a free posting in the Eleventh Hour, or The Telegraph. It is because he understands that you are a ‘shade tree businessman’, and he is going to use your inexperience and your misunderstanding of business to his benefit….Which is a nice way of saying, he looks forward to taking advantage of you.
You see, if you charge less, it means there is no demand for you. Isn’t it simple logic? The supply (you) remains the same, so if the price is low then the demand MUST be. Also, he has no incentive really to promote the show: It won’t take very many of your friends to cover the cost of you. Not that it matters-He will inevitably argue that you didn’t draw enough.

 I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “Well, this is temporary. We are just doing this to build a following.” Wrong, again.

How exactly are you building a “crowd”? The only people who are going to hear you play are the bars regulars (they aren’t going to follow you ANYWHERE) and the people you bring (these fans have been around since you started). You will get to play for the occasional new person, but rarely will they return regularly.
 This is not working, is it?
Here’s an alternative….Be warned. It is a harder sell, but totally worth it.
Charge the bar more than the average band gets.
Yes, it sounds crazy, but here’s why :
The bar owner wants to be sure that the night you play is successful because he has to recoup the expense of hiring you. (You charge a lot so you must be in demand).  So he will be sure to promote it.He knows that success requires investment. This means he will tell everyone how great your band is and how people should come out to see you…Specifically, on the night you’re playing at his club.
 You need to look like someone wants you

You can do this with your promo materials, pics of your gigs on facebook, or by having a presence on Itunes or the like….Promotion is not just tshirts and koozies, but those would be a good start.( I’ll give some tips on this later, but for now just get creative) So, if you want to play to larger crowds; Raise your prices,
and invest that extra money in promotion.

Building a following
Now, we all know that some people are not loyal to one bar. The advertising will get their attention and they’ll show up. If you’re any good, they’ll stay, and if they have a good time, THEY WILL COME OUT WHEN YOU PLAY SOMEWHERE ELSE.

WHO are the most expensive acts in Middle Ga.? Now, are they expensive because they are in demand, or are they in demand because they are expensive? How did they get to be “in demand”  in the first place? We all know how hard it is to raise your price once it has been set, so this is definitely something to think about.
Booking a gig is not the same thing as selling yourself. ANYBODY can book a gig. You need to learn how to get the venues calling YOU. The only way to do that is by looking like you are in demand.

So when they ask the question- “What do you charge?” Maybe you should answer the real question…”What are you worth?”

Monday

Bringing the Crowd... Back

How do you get more people to your shows? That's easy; Marketing and Promotion. The best marketing tool you could have is your actual performance. So, what if it's not good enough?
EVERY BUSINESS THAT INTENDS TO GET BETTER, FINDS A WAY TO MEASURE IT’S PRODUCT OR SERVICE. If the product is razor blades, they will use high tech devices to measure how well the razor blades cut. If the product is customer service, then they use customer satisfaction as a measuring tool. Bars determine how well you satisfy their customers by noticing how many come out to see you play.
 There are many ways a band can grade themselves; and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for musicians to use the same measuring tool that the venues use.

Like it or not, the patrons in the bar/tavern/restaurant are the customers that you are hired to entertain. If you do not notice a lot of ‘repeat customers’ on the nights that you play, you have to look closely at your show, to determine what needs to be fixed. Find them and fix them.
Being a musician myself, and going out to see bands play, I have noticed that many musicians spend a great deal of time getting their instruments setup ‘just right’. They spend a lot of time and money on getting a good amp, and a good instrument or two, and they spend a lot of time learning to play the songs in the set list.
But when they get to the gig they come up short in a few areas; Crowd involvement and the crowds’ perception of the band.
Engaging the crowd is, in my opinion, the easiest way to get ahead in the ‘customer satisfaction’ business.
You already know how- you pull out the tired old tricks- “ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?!?!” or “How are we doing out there?!?!?”  
You also pull out the old reliable- “ We haven’t played this one in a LONG time….but we’re gonna pull this one out of the vault, just for you, cause that’s what YOU want!!! YOU'RE the best crowd we've ever seen!

And of course, “We are going to rock this place ALL NIGHT LONG! You’re not getting tired are ya!?!?!?!!!!!
These are all cliché’ and we all know it, but it’s part of the show. They are OLD tricks because they work.
Check out Paul Stanley . He was - and probably still is - the king of stage banter….
Getting the crowd to scream with you, to get them laughing, or to get them singing along; all result in increasing their heart rate. Increased heart rate will cause the release of endorphins and sweating. The result: people get happy and thirsty. Lo and behold…There’s a bartender RIGHT THERE to help them quench that thirst. Hmmm….I wonder if the consumption of alcohol will have a positive effect?… Anything you can do to get their heart rate up is going to translate into a happier crowd. This is the crowd that will return the next time you perform.
There are certainly other ways to get the crowd going-you could buy shots. You could pass out Tshirts or play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’…. again. But stage banter doesn’t cost money, or require you to sell your soul.  Use it sparingly and you’ll be packing the house in no time.
Another issue is your PA system. For God sakes man….have a little pride in yourself. Spend a little to get your sound straight. It’s totally worth it. It doesn’t matter how good you are on guitar if the crowd is not hearing that awesome tone you dialed in.
It pains me to say this, but most lead singers in Middle Ga. break the cardinal rule regarding their vocal reverb….Only use as much as you need- no more. And most importantly, TURN OFF THE REVERB WHEN YOU START TO TALK TO THE CROWD.
When you talk with the reverb on, the crowd hears muddy talking. They can’t understand half of what you’re saying, and that alone is a pain in the ass. One thing you don’t want the crowd to say to each other-“I wish he’d shut the hell up and play a song.”  If used correctly; reverb is like a perfectly executed ‘levitation illusion’ to a magician’s show. Reverb is the magic vocal secret, and no one wants you to reveal it to them. People WANT to believe you’re that gifted. (On a related note, take the bag of rice out of your pants….NO ONE wants to believe you’re THAT gifted. Really. You know who you are.)

I’ve noticed a few singers don’t use any reverb at all. On rare occasions I’d say that it’s not needed. But in an awful lot of cases; it is. Figure out a way to turn it on and off during your performances, and keep it at the minimum according to your need.

There are plenty of people out there who will give you good, honest feedback that you can use to get your show better. If you want me to do it just ask. If you’ve seen me perform you’ll know I’m much better at GIVING advice than taking it.

You might also consider enlisting the help of a professional- There are a few around town which I will add to the ‘Musicians Resource’ , But one you should talk to would be Hugh Hession. He also has a website (Making It In Music ) full of great insight. A very wise friend to have if you want to be a performer.

If nothing else- get video of your show, and use it to find your flaws. Fix them and do it again. Don’t make excuses; If it’s a turn off you don’t need it on stage.
Ok. Let’s recap. Get the crowd dancing, singing, laughing, and screaming. Make sure your music is beautiful and your speaking is clear. Get video of your performances and feedback from veterans. Rehearsal is not the same thing as practice.

Practice is where you get the SONGS right…Rehearsal is where you get the SHOW right.
Oh…..and leave the rice at home. Seriously. Your kids are going to have to eat that.

Tuesday

$10 for me to book you a gig?

Yep. Let me explain.
I have been approached by 17 different musicians on the subject of booking. Each one of them tells me that I have a knack for sales. They say that I have been missing my calling, and my calling is as a booking agent or a promoter.

I have experience in sales and I seem to remember that I was pretty good at it. The problem that I ran into with sales is how mundane the field can be. It’s a numbers game and you have to get a certain number of no’s in order to reach your goal of yes’s.

It is also important to be a fan of the product. If you believe in something, it will come out in your conversation with the potential buyer. Once they believe that you believe in your product…you’re at least half way to closing the sale.
The number one problem salesmen have is asking for the money. A salesman can deliver the best sales pitch the world has ever seen, and the potential buyer is absolutely aching to make the purchase, and suddenly the salesman gets nervous. He gets nervous because he has finally reached the moment of truth. It all comes down to this. All the preparation, all the practicing, all of the cold calls have brought him to this one defining moment- and no matter how sure the salesman is that the sale is in the bag, he will get nervous at this moment. A “no” at this point will be devastating; so he’ll do almost anything to get a yes.

Chances are; he’ll totally blow it.
He’ll likely accept less than his asking price….Or he’ll agree to less than optimum circumstances, just to relieve some of the pressure and make the product or service EVEN MORE inviting. What he doesn’t realize is that the potential customer sees these “accommodations” as evidence that the salesman believes that the product isn’t worth the asking price; so he’ll lower it and ask again. The buyer now has it in his head that the prices are too high. He thinks this because this is what the salesman sold him on.
Knowing how to close the sale, and ask for the money have always been somewhat easy for me. At least, that’s what my supervisors, customers and coworkers have always thought.

Another problem salesmen have to confront is choosing a customer who would most likely be interested in the product for sale. Obviously, if you are selling 4 wheelers, a retiree is probably not going to be your optimum target.
 In order to leverage the odds in his favor, a car salesman will set up a lot full of cars that are for sale where potential customers will COME TO HIM! He knows they need his product, so part of the work is done. This is why this MidGaLIVE Music database is such a promising idea.

Booking bands is just another type of sales job. A good Booking agent will find a venue where your style would be popular with the patrons. Don’t send Holocaustion to a country and western night at some restaurant. The fact is-Lance will be fine and he will totally entertain these people -but that is not what he had in mind when it was booked.

Another thing the booking agent has to deal with is ensuring that the band doesn’t have any underlying issues at this particular venue. If the bass players ex-wife is the bar manager, chances are pretty good that the gig is going to suck. People can be very petty sometimes. Of course. You can’t be expected to know things like this….but you can bet that the bass player knows, and when the booking agent says; “I’ve got you booked at Rivalry’s Friday night.” The band will savor cancelling the gig at the last minute.

Finally, a problem that seems to always be an issue is the date of the gig. I don’t know how many times bands have told me that a particular date is available, and then after I book the gig- “Oh, damn. I forgot about the drummer’s girlfriend’s birthday….sorry.”
So; We finally come down to my explanation. You were wanting to know how I could book you a gig and you would only have to pay me $10. How I can I do this?….You are going to help me make the sale.

STEP ONE: Tell me WHERE you want to play.

First, you are going to find a venue that you believe you will do well in. Maybe you’re a biker, and this club has a “Bike Night”. Maybe most of the bands that play at this venue play a similar type of music but your band plays it better.  Whatever. It’s totally your decision, and one that I am not qualified to make.
Step Two: Tell me WHEN you want to play there.
Tip: When you are trying to make a sale, it sometimes helps to get the potential customer to say yes to you a few times leading up to the close. The idea is that the customer is agreeing with you which establishes a positive connection to you. So when you follow it with; “You’re going to love hearing my band.” The venue manager thinks, “You know what?.... I will!”
 If I try to book your band on a night that they historically have other things going on ( such as karaoke, open mic, trivia, poker, etc.) she will have to tell me no. At that point, I will have lost momentum. It is easy enough to find out if a day’s event is pre planned: while you’re there checking out the band, ASK SOMEBODY about the other things they do besides live music.

Step Three: How much do you want to charge this venue?
There are no set rules on this sort of thing. I know that some bands charge $100 per member of the band and encourage others to go no lower. This is totally your call, but if you are playing a venue that is out of town, you don’t want me to suggest you for $400 when everyone else is getting $600. Not only is it leaving money on the table, it makes you appear to offer a lower quality service than the next guy. Also, if they think that your band is of lower quality, they are not going to spend money to promote it. THEY WILL ONLY WORK HARD TO PROMOTE BANDS THAT THEY BELIEVE ARE GOING TO BE AMAZING. Setting the right price will help you convince them that you are just that AMAZING. Ask the band that is playing, about the bars budget, or act like a non-musician and ask a waitress “So how much do bands get paid?”

Step Four: Give me $10.
I will be paid before I do any work, AND I will be paid whether you get the gig or not.
I will NOT be booking your band. I WILL, however, contact the venue and tell them I am your booking agent. I will tell them that you are available on a certain date (the one you choose) which will be 2 months in advance. I will tell them that you normally play for more, but that you would be willing to play their venue for ‘X’ dollars which happens to be a little more than what the band that played last week did it for. I will tell them that, if they are interested, they will have to call you to confirm the details.
THEN, I will tell YOU the deal and YOU will book the gig.

Now, it is possible that you will pick a venue that doesn’t cater to your style. You may choose a venue that doesn’t consistently cater live music. Or, you may choose a venue who can barely afford $250 plus bar tab while you demand $500. Normally, a booking agent will be responsible for getting these details right and he will be able to navigate around these simple issues.
I am not a booking agent. I am a salesman.
I will sell the venue on the idea of you. That is all I promise. It is up to you to make your product and service worthwhile to the customer. I just tell them all about how your band is perfect for their venue. I tell them when YOU are available, and how fortunate they are to have this opportunity. I will tell them that your band is one of the best bands in Ga. and that your frontman makes the women go crazy. I will tell them that they are going to LOVE your band and let’s go ahead and nail this thing down.

Together, we won’t book every venue we try. But we will succeed sometimes, and the more we try, the better we will get at it. The more you try to find the venues that are good for you, the better you’ll get. No one can do this with %100 success.
 But with practice, we will get good at it won’t we?
Do you want more gigs?

Do you want to play out more often?
Do you want to make more money?
$10 per phone call is cheap, isn’t it?
Ok, then, let’s get started.
Now, at this point, you are probably itching to contact me. Don't. I don't do booking. This article should have given you ALL you need to know to do it yourself. Once you do it a few times, you'll realize how expensive the offer above is.
Get to work and quit trying to find someone else to do your job for you.

Good Luck! 

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