Tag Archives: Indie Artists

The Disconnect Between Musicians and Promoters Part 2


Let’s break it down a little bit so that maybe I can shed some light on what promoters are looking for in booking an opening act. First and foremost, this is definitely a “who do you know?” business. If you have the right connections or relationships, this will certainly be a lot easier for you. Some times it seems unfair but people will use people they like and trust before people they don’t. It’s your job to development this relationship and get your foot in the door.

Unfortunately most bands and artist just send an email and wait for a response and leave it at that. This shows no “real” interest in developing a relationship with a promoter or talent buyer and is pretty rote at this point in the game. Business people are looking for persistence, reliability, creativity and hard work. This is a very speculative business and so promoters are looking for artists that will make sure they deliver and help make sure the show doesn’t operate at a loss.

To get in good with a promoter, you need to try some creative ways to get noticed and get the gigs. They need to feel a sense of trust with you. Try setting up some social media campaigns early that get your fan base used to interacting with you in different types of promotional contests (These are things the promoters will see when checking you out). Then apply that to getting opening gigs. Especially when you have a opening spot already in line. Make sure you explain to your participants the seriousness of what you are asking them to do.

Let’s say you are opening for a band in your hometown. Supply the box office with a sheet of paper (with your band name on it and numbered already) and get all your fans to make sure they report to the box office they are there to see you and wouldn’t have bought tickets if you weren’t on the bill. After the show, get that paper and show it to the promoter, talent buyer or in house manager (take a pic first in case they keep it). It is essential you start building up your rep for hard work and bringing people out.

Another idea is prep your fans before the show by saying after you perform, you will be at your merch booth and want all your fans to come and bring their tickets stubs. Have them initial the front of them and take a pic of all them together. Obviously these are things you can email to promoters, put on social media (be prepared for every other band to copy you) and start building your street cred as the band to hire for the gig. This is also a great way for your fans to participate in your success and make sure they know that appreciate their help and support. You can’t do this with out them. This also helps people decide which show they want to spend their money on. One with a serious band they like where they can help or just another show where the band will show up, play, and act like they are the stars and probably bail before the concert is over.

This will also help people at the show who were on the fence about you or are maybe just showing up decide to check out your booth. Having all the people around you and the excitement they see going on while you are gathering ticket stubs will help you to get these “undecided’s” to the booth and hopefully by your CD or spend time talking to you. You are now developing new fans. You see, your time on stage isn’t the only time you are developing new fans. You job the whole time you are there is to development new fans and maximize every opportunity in front of you to do so.

As you can see, none of this is hard. It may be a bit time consuming having to interact on social media but you are supposed to be having original content to post anyway and this helps fill that hole. The idea is to be creative and PROVE you are the band to bring on board. This may take prep work as described above but this is business. You are a business. You need to start acting like one.

Good Luck!

You can also read this and some of my other articles at http://www.metalholic.com.

David Lowry is the President of The Lowry Agency, a full service artist management agency that works with musicians, speakers, entertainers, actors and models based in Nashville, TN. The Lowry Agency’s roster includes Mike Martin, Rob Balducci, Neil Zaza and Jon Finn. For more information please contact The Lowry Agency at http://www.thelowryagency.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stepping Over the Process…. is it Realistic?


First let me just say this blog is in response to what keeps coming across my email or phone conversations. This isn’t an attempt to come down on artists but an attempt at maybe setting some realistic expectations. I have been receiving a lot of phone calls from artists either out of frustration with other band members or from artists that think they can just step over the process of touring and building/rebuilding a fan base. I guess anything is possible but it’s not likely to happen even if you have had success in the past. This is not the same industry many of us grew up with and we can’t keep assuming that because 20 years ago the artists had a hit or toured the world with so and so band that people have any interest in us or care about our music at all. Artists call with no budget, no new music, no website or one that has been “in development” for years expecting that they can just go on the road and make thousands per show because 20 or more years ago they had a minor hit or two. It’s not going to happen. Current artists with hits on the radio are making $2,000 guarantees a lot of times and yet artists that haven’t had a hit since 1992 that want $8,000 or more a show. You better be a legacy act with huge hits from the past that are still played on the radio to demand that kind of money or more. I know how expensive touring is, but the money isn’t there for touring with artists with no active history or fan base that will support the necessary tour numbers for there to actually be a profit. This is when a band or artist has to suck it up and either rebuild for little money, try something completely different or maybe decide this isn’t for them anymore and do something in music that doesn’t require touring for small dollars.

For example, the first thing I am asked by anyone in a position of helping is “What do they have going on?” Many times the answer is nothing (note that when artists come to us or anyone else for help they have this notion that 3 months is an expected amount of time to make things happen), they have no new music, no tour dates, outdated photos and websites. How do you expect anyone to help you if this is your state of business and you don’t take the time to get it right before approaching anyone? The second thing is “Do they have a budget?” The answer is almost always no and people understand if times have been rough on the career but it’s amazing how many artists are not willing to put money into their own career but expect others to. If the artist doesn’t  have a budget then almost no one is willing to help and people can’t giving away their services for free. Video EPK’s cost money, photography costs money, etc… but artists are always hoping people will help them for free and then expect that things happen in a short time period. For the person that is connected like Irving Azoff and has his resources this is possible, for the rest of the “real” music world it probably isn’t. Music is a very speculative business to begin with and no one is looking to lose money on an artist no matter how much success he or she may have had in the past. As much as people love some of these artists, he or she needs to get paid as well and they can’t work for free or spend time with unrealistic artists that can’t or won’t rebuild career realistically if there is no interest in them at all.

Just because an artist may have had success in the past doesn’t mean they get a free pass of touring the bar circuit again and starting over. Yes that means rebuilding your fan base and getting paid very little most of the time. If you can’t do that then maybe playing isn’t for you anymore. I know we all have bills to pay but money is in short supply and investors want a return on investment. They don’t want to support an artist that hasn’t been on tour in 10 or more years and won’t draw 150+ people to a show. You as an artist are in the position you are in because you let yourself get there. You chose to not tour, you chose to not listen to your team or possibly choosing the wrong team. It could be a lot of different reasons for your situation and many of those may not be your fault, but it’s still your job to be realistic and make things happen with today’s current landscape, not what was possible 20 years ago when people were throwing money around like it was water.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself with unrealistic expectations. For example, if you think a major label is going to sign you, fund your tour and you’re a prog rock band, think again. No label is going to fund that tour unless you already have a huge fan base and more than likely you will just get shelved as prog rock probably isn’t there thing at this label. Most prog rock bands aren’t huge and most likely never will be. If you get a label interested in your music, at least entertain the idea and not shoot it down because you think a major is going to offer you something when you won’t even play shows because you don’t make any money on them. Do you know why you don’t make any money? Because you have absolutely NO FAN BASE at all. Who is going to fund a tour for a band with no fan base these days? Please tell me so I can call them up.

There are no shortcuts normally in this business. Take Mike Portnoy for example. One of the most popular and talented drummers in the world, who has a large fan base from his history as a musician and still he and his current project “Adrenaline Mob” are playing clubs to a couple hundred people a show. He knows he has to build this band no matter who he is and he is willing to put his money and time into it. Even someone as relevant as Mike has to work it the hard way sometimes.

If you are a musician reading this, please consider where you are at in your career. If you are in a band but won’t tour because your “cover gig” is paying more money, than back out of the band and let the band find someone hungry enough to make it happen. If you are an artist with a past but currently not where you were a long time ago, then ask yourself “how bad do I want this?” If you won’t play for smaller guarantees then you need to book yourself and stop making people’s lives difficult who are trying to help your career because you can’t be bothered with playing for smaller amounts of money. You are only as big as your last gig or chart success in the current times, not 20 years ago.

There is a process almost everyone has to go through. You are more than likely going to have to go through it as well. If you can’t or won’t, get out of the way for those that will and let your band move on with people who want it bad enough to put up with the crap of the road and bar tours.

Good luck!


The Disconnect Between Musicians and Promoters Part 1


You hear it all the time from musicians. “Why won’t they book me for an opening act?” “How come they got the spot and we didn’t?”, or “the promoter didn’t do his job” even “the promoter screwed me or didn’t know what they were doing.” etc…. This is obviously a one sided opinion, and from my experience one that is very, very misleading. Many artists have little or no experience in promoting a show, or have an idea what it costs; they just want to blame someone for things not going right, without ever looking at what they bring or don’t bring to the table.

Granted there are instances where maybe a promoter didn’t know what they were doing or maybe there were a small company with very little cash flow to do an amazing job of advertising the show, but that is a risk we all take and like all bands, promotion companies have to start somewhere and grow as well. This is why working as a team is incredibly important and any acts associated with a bill, should be doing everything in their power to work with the promoter and make the show as successful as possible.

I find this can be very frustrating, knowing how much work and money it takes to put on one single show. For a 1,500 seat venue, this can become extremely time consuming and expensive for the risk involved, and a marginal profitable return on the investment. To have a small time musician/band say that the promoter didn’t do their job is completely asinine. First of all, the musician/band probably has no idea what it really takes to make one of these shows happen, and secondly, what an opportunity it is for the band to even get a spot on this when someone else is paying for your opportunity and the big media. Most opening bands should realize by now that their job is to put butts in seats or they have no business opening a show for anyone. They should be able to bring in at least 40 to 50 people to each opening or they shouldn’t complain at all.

To put on a show of this size can run from $50,000 up to over $100,000 depending on the type of venue, marketing, guarantee etc… It takes at least 60 – 90 days worth of work, negotiations, planning and so forth to get these things going. When a band is given an opportunity to open a show, many times they don’t deliver and don’t work the opportunity for all it’s worth.

Promoting the show is so important. I am not talking about Facebook posts or the other white noise that you are putting out. I am talking about getting promotional materials, getting off your butt, and doing your job. You should be out on the streets consistently promoting and showing everyone that you are the band to hire for opening spots. Getting the promoter, venue and others to notice you is as important as performing on stage. Doing everything you can to get your fans to purchase tickets to come see you at this event, and then deliver the best show you can that night no matter what the circumstances is the ultimate goal.

Remember, the promoter doesn’t owe you anything. They gave you a shot and if you don’t deliver, it’s no ones fault but your own. Once you do the show, if you happen to deliver and get butts in the seat, then you need to learn to turn that into other opportunities.

In the next blog we will talk about ideas you can do to not only get the opening spots but to also get people to the show but also how to possibly get more out of the show than just exposing your music to a new audience.

Good luck!

You can also read this and some of my other articles at http://www.metalholic.com. http://metalholic.com/the-disconnect-between-musicians-and-promoters-part-1/


What Makes A Good Front Man?


One of the biggest and most important things in live performance is the strength of the person fronting your band. This is a major area where lots of bands trying to make it need the most help. Take a look at the most popular front men/women of all time and ask yourself, “What is it about them that the audience connects with?”

Legendary front men or women like David Lee Roth (arguably the best front man ever), Mick Jagger, David Coverdale, Anne Wilson, Paul Stanley or Steven Tyler can give you great insight into what it takes to get your band to the next level. Doing your research into the greats and implementing what you learn can help make your band “larger than life” and allow you to capture the attention of the crowd you are playing too. Not all front men are electrifying or great looking but are still incredibly successful, just look at Ozzy Osbourne. Some front men/women are quirky or odd like Mick Jagger but there are two things they all have in common, they all have a very distinct style and presence and they all live for being on that stage. They revel in it. There is no doubt in their mind that they are where they belong. This allows them to own the stage like no one else. This is critical for successfully drawing in a crowd, creating unforgettable live shows and growing your fan base. It also means they work like dogs to keep their music out their and in front of peoples faces. Depending on the genre of music you are in, the front man or woman attributes my need to vary to certain style, but one thing always is constant, they always command the stage.

Let’s take a look at a very talented front man as an example. Gary Cherone has fronted the hit rock band Extreme and the legendary Van Halen. He is also currently fronting a band called Hurtsmile with his brother Mark. Gary has a very theatrical, animated and energetic stage presence. Gary’s style isn’t for everybody but it doesn’t have to be, as a matter of fact not one front mans is. Gary owns the stage and because of that, he has been able to front two major bands, one of the biggest rock bands of all time actually. Some people may not think Gary was a good fit for Van Halen but I completely disagree. Gary did his job and he did it well. Go back with an open mind (forget David and Sammy) and watch the live videos from the Van Halen 3 tour concert clips or any Extreme show. Trust me, he wouldn’t have gotten the most coveted front man job in the world if he wasn’t very good at what he did. Gary has captured audiences for years and has a strong fan base having sold over 10 million albums and a #1 hit single with “More Than Words” in Extreme alone. He has an incredibly compelling style and if you listen to the many different genres of songs he did with Extreme or on his solo album you can see how much a of a provocative singer and front man he is.

That charisma that Gary brings to the table is high energy, raw at times very intimate with the slower songs. You can see his theatrical background (he was in “Jesus Christ Superstar”) with his over the top stage presence, which always gives the audience something to look at. He allows them to see that he is completely into and lost in his “zone” during his performance. There is no doubt as to where Gary belongs when he is on stage. You know how much he loves his job every minute of every performance. Watch closely what he does when he isn’t singing such as during guitar solos. Notice how he doesn’t distract from or sing over the other musicians but yet he either adds to the moment or keeps the energy up while waiting for his spot to sing again. Watch how Gary interacts with the crowd and keeps them involved and how he makes them feel each performance is just for them. Watch what he says at the start of the show, in between songs and the end of the night as well. Gary gives it everything he’s got every performance and isn’t worried about the people in the crowd with their arms crossed. By the time the show is over Gary has left everything on the stage and he wins them over with a very honest and real performance. He doesn’t worry about the audience members who are negative. He let’s the people who love the show spread the word. He let’s the system work for him. Gary gives the audience what they want, a real powerful, energetic and professional show. He is a thankful performer and in return, he and the band develop a devoted international fan base and Gary is able to create opportunities very few front men have been able to do.

To many times front men or women don’t really take their jobs seriously or maybe are unfamiliar with everything it really takes to “bring it” to the show. Many are just lazy about preparing for a show. Don’t let this happen to you ever. Take a cue from Firehouse front man C. J. Snare and always be professional and prepared. Treat every show like it’s the most important show you have ever done. You have to learn how to own that stage and work the crowd. You have to “flip the switch” when you get on stage and become that “rock star.” Know what city or venue you are playing in. You should know the names of the bands playing with you that night. Engage your crowd and invite them to your party. You are the host. Bring them in and entertain them. Learn to lead them especially on a night that is tough or there are not very many people in the room and there is not an “energetic” atmosphere. You have to bring the crowd that energy and get them “into” the show.

Go back and do a study of not only your favorite front men or women, but also the ones who are very successful at being that leader. Your job is to constantly improve not only your singing skills but also your stage presence, charisma and speaking skills. Don’t let genres or eras prevent you from learning from the best. You can learn as much from a classical/pop artist like Lara Fabian as you can from a rock star like Brett Michaels.

Just remember that being a great front man or woman continues when you are off the stage as well. It is a 24 hour a day job. We will dive into that next time so stay tuned.

Good Luck!