• Set Change Over

    When rock stars stroll out on stage there isn’t an eye in the crowd that isn’t glued on them, and when they ask their audience to scream with them, there isn’t a soul that doesn’t scream ‘til their throats bleed.  One thing that all musicians have in common is a larger-than-life stage presence. Another thing is that no stage performance happens without the artists and their team adhering to the general rules pertaining to set changeovers. Everyone’s time is of equal value; the promoters, the venue owners, and your fellow artists, included. In this article we will offer several tips that will help you to master the art of the “set changeover”.

    1. Preparation: As noted in our recent article, “Event Promo Checklist” (http://musicadvice101.com/eventpromochecklist/), if the band is not already familiar with the venue, a thorough walk-through of the venue and a meeting with the sound tech is recommended as part of the preparation for an efficient set changeover and a great show. The band should have as much information as possible in advance; i.e. stage diagram, direction the stage faces, pre-staging area, load-in area, etc. Having a stage plot for your band’s set up to share with the sound tech and venue manager can be a valuable tool in getting set up quickly.

    2. Organization: Every band should be ready at least 15 minutes before their set time. Make sure band members are not hanging out at the bar, in the parking lot, or in the bathroom.

    Sarge Tip

     

    Before going on stage make sure all instruments are tuned and have all outboard gear pre-wired and functioning. Also, be sure to change out all batteries.

    It is a wise idea for the drummer to have as much of the drum kit assembled as possible in the pre-staging area. The drummer should get all gear on stage first. If any of the band members have extra equipment or if the band has their own props or lighting, make sure there are extra hands to help.

    Sarge Tip

     

    Sometimes the backline is provided or is rented. If so, do not assume all is working properly. Make sure you allow time to test the equipment.

    3. Pre-wire all equipment and outboard gear, so they can be plugged into one outlet. This not only saves time, but it eliminates loose wires and gives the artists more room to move around on stage.

    Do not overload outlets, most are 20 amp. Know how many amps your equipment requires. This is especially important if you have additional lighting. Be sure to check with the sound tech before adding equipment that may be unnecessary. You definitely don’t want to be popping breakers in the middle of you set.

    Sarge Tip

     

    It also saves a lot of time if you have used the restroom, applied your make up and have your drinks ready and waiting for set up along with your equipment.

    4. Have a game plan for moving everything off the stage in a timely manner so you don’t hold up the band behind you. Make it a habit to show your professionalism and courtesy by offering to assist the band before and after you in moving their gear.

    Toward the end of your set invite your fans to meet you at your merch table after you have finished striking your equipment. This will encourage them not to rush the stage to talk with you, and it also feels more like a personal invitation to meet you and buy some merch.

    5. So now that you have mastered the art of the changeover, you’ve got more time for the critical sound check, and more time to pay attention to the sound guy, leading up to a lot better set all the way around.

    Compiled by Rose’s Damned Opinion

  • Event Promo Checklist

    It’s pretty disheartening to know how good your music is and you still end up playing to an empty house. So we’ve compiled a “Must Do” list for both the promoter and the band to maximize attention and get the people out to see you. And if looking at these lists looks like a lot of work, you’re right! It takes a lot of time and energy to let the world know who your band is and why people should not miss your next show.

    For the Promoter:

    1. Establish the show date with the venue making sure that your date is not conflicting with other shows or events around town that may pull your crowd away.

    2. Ensure that venue fits the band’s needs; i.e. stage requirements, lighting, sound, etc.

    3. Do a thorough walk through with the venue manager. Get the specifics on load-in / load-out, parking for the band’s vehicle(s), the location for the band’s merch table, stage dimensions, available power sources for stage, and merch table. Also, know if there is a green room for the band and if wi-fi is available.

    Sarge Tip

    Take an outlet tester and check every outlet in the venue. This will ensure that you have the correct power sources, and avoid possible equipment damage from plugging into broken sockets. Always check breaker boxes. Make sure you have enough power!

    4. Negotiate the terms with the venue; including any guaranteed dollar amount for the band, who handles the door person, does the venue have their own sound tech, are any food /beverages included for the band (if not, find out what food places are nearby). A written venue agreement is the best way to avoid complications and misunderstandings for all parties.

    5. Check out the venue’s website, Facebook, and any sources they have for promoting the shows. Scout for sponsorship opportunities for your event.

    6. Talk with the other bands to learn how they are promoting the show.

    7. Get your promotion in order by reaching out on your social media pages. Use them to promote the date, and follow up on all inquiries and comments. Get good flyers prepared and have them posted in strategic locations and at the venue itself. Do a newsletter announcing the show. Utilize e-zines and online calendars to get the word out.

    8. Make contact with local ticket outlets like music stores and Ticketfly.

    9. Team up with non-profit organizations if it fits your event. A benefit for a local charity organization can be very helpful in promoting the event.

    10. Do a promo video for YouTube. Use it in your online promotions.

    Sarge Tip

    About two weeks in advance, make contact with the venue again to be sure that they have not double-booked or forgotten to book your date.

    For the Band:

    1. A performance agreement for the band is a good idea. If the terms are in writing between you and the promoter there is be no room for misunderstandings from either side.

    2. Be mindful of your Blackout dates. Do not over saturate one area by playing too often in the same places.

    3. Be sure the entire band is informed of show dates, venue, and location. All band members need to be aware and active in promoting the show.

    4. Get your show booked far enough ahead of the date to utilize any and all promotional opportunities; social media, interviews, reviews, flyers, and word of mouth advertising. Organize press and media outlets. Read Music 101 Article on Cultivating Press for the Media.

    5. The band should also do a walk-through of any venue they have not played before. While the promoter should have already visited with the venue manager, this is your music; be responsible for knowing the stage, lighting, sound and available power sources.

    Sarge Tip

    During your walk through, think about the lighting in terms of fans taking pictures with cameras and cell phones.These days everything is shared instantly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and you want the pictures to look good!

    6. Find out in no uncertain terms if there are comp tickets for family & friends, and exactly how many.Know how many people you are allowed to invite and avoid embarrassment to yourself, your band, the promoter, and the buddy who didn’t bring enough cash to pay the cover.

    7. Utilize some of those comp tickets to offer some kind of press pass for potential reviewers, blog writers, photographers, magazine and radio people. The more of those folks at the show, the more coverage you will get afterward. It’s important to know who they are and follow up with them.

    8. Pay attention to the other bands that are booked for the show, and make contact with them. If they have played the venue before, they may have some valuable insight about the place that the venue manager may have left out during the walk-through. Ask the other bands what they are getting out of doing a show here.

    Sarge Tip

    Promote, Promote, Promote! Make sure people know you are playing and get them excited about the show! Coordinate a contest in conjunction with the show….where the winner must be present at the show to claim their prize.

    9. Make the show a happening by promoting a birthday, anniversary, EP release, holiday, or other event that draws a crowd. Arrange a flyer for your band; remember to include sponsors, promotor, and the other bands. Get their logos. Be sure the promoter has these materials as well. Organize your street team to drop flyers in the weeks before the show.

    10. Create an event page on Facebook, make sure it is in line with the show. It needs to be as good or better than the promoter’s event page. The page must include show date, times, age restrictions, and other artists with web links for all bands on the bill. Select an official administrator for the page. The administrator is responsible for answering all messages, texts and posts generated on the page, in addition to keeping the page updated with the most current information on the show.

    Sarge Tip

    Do Talk to Strangers! Respond to all e-mails, comments, phone calls, etc. within a few days before the show.

    11. Take advantage of networking at the venue in the weeks before the show. Get a feel for the crowd that the venue itself attracts. Introduce yourself with flyers and pre-sale tickets.

    12. Organize a photo and video shoot for the event.

    Sarge Tip

    Pictures are worth a thousand words, but sound is sooooo much better. Do a video for YouTube, your event page, band page, and anywhere else you can post it.

    Compiled by Rose’s Damned Opinion

  • Planning a Tour Budget

    So, let’s say you’ve got shows booked in several different cities, maybe even different nearby states…. What to do now? What is it going to cost? Planning the budget for taking your show on the road can be a daunting task; but we’ve gathered some information and good solid ideas for you to consider before hitting the highway…

    1. Transportation: Obviously you need wheels to get where you’re going. The ultimate is to have one vehicle to carry the band and all the gear. If your band is fortunate enough to already own a tour vehicle… that’s great. However, most new unsigned bands don’t have the perfect tour vehicle yet and will need to consider the expense of renting a vehicle and/or trailer.

    Sarge Tip

    Be as certain as possible that the vehicle is in good repair. Have the vehicle serviced by a good mechanic before you travel. A major motor vehicle melt-down when you’re on the road and don’t have the time or cash to fix it, can put a screeching halt on the entire tour!

    2. AAA: AAA Is a good investment for about $95.00 per year. Having a AAA card will definitely help get you back on the road if you have a flat, run out of gas, or any number of crazy unexpected little things that can happen when traveling.

    3. Insurance: Definitely be sure the vehicle’s insurance is paid and covers any potential incidents. Your instruments and gear are another story. A separate policy is advised to insure against loss, damage or theft of your equipment. Contact your insurance provider for more information on exactly what is and is not covered by the vehicle’s insurance. http://rockrevoltmagazine.com/band-aid-101-musical-instrument-gear-insurance

    Sarge Tip

    Make sure your designated driver is paying attention to the road and speed limits. Tickets are expensive!.

    4. Fuel and Mileage: Calculate your mileage and fuel costs ahead to make sure you know how much it’s going to cost you to get from point A to point B, C, D, and home again. With gas prices averaging around $3.00 per gallon, this is a hefty part of the tour budget. Using a fuel /mileage calculator site like http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ will help a lot in your planning.

    5. Tolls: Check and re-check your route…. Are there toll roads involved? While they may be the most fuel saving routes, do not forget to have toll money available. Toll cards like E-Pass or Sunpass can aslo be extremely beneficial when traveling.

    Sarge Tip

    Plan your route… carefully. Map it out so you can calculate mileage, fuel costs, toll expenses, as well as the nearest accommodations to each venue..

    6. Food: Hopefully the agreement with the venue includes some food and beverage for the band. If not, you still need to eat. Typically, the cash needed for food is about $20.00 per day, per person. We suggest packing some non-perishable groceries to take with you and finding out what’s available near the venue and hotel ahead of time.

    7. Accommodations: Chances are, you won’t have family or friends in every city that can put the band up for the night, so hotel frequent stay plans can help you save some dollars on room rates. Most hotel/motel chains have them. You just need your manager or one band member to sign up and be responsible for the reservations. Make reservations in advance so you know how much you’re spending and where you’re going to crash after the show. It’s great if you can get the frequent traveler card with a hotel chain that offers free breakfast!

    8. Parking: Check in to possible parking fees for each venue, or hotel parking lot. This can be an overlooked and unexpected expense that can really add up.

    Sarge Tip

    Consider the safety of the vehicle. Park in a well-lit area, preferably right outside of the room or at least within view from the room.If you are towing a trailer with a roll up door, park it against wall if possible..

    9. Venues: Do as much advance research on the venue as possible. You will want to know if Wi-fi is available, occupancy, stage dimensions, noise ordinances, sound technicians, and what equipment does each venue already have, and if there’s a green room for the band. Check out their websites and Facebook pages for pictures and comments. Make contact with the other bands playing, they may have good information for you and become great contacts later on.

    10. Merchandise: Don’t carry all of your merchandise with you. Leave some of it at home. If you need more while on the road, you can have someone from the home base send it out to you. Set up your merch table at each venue early.It let’s people know you are making your way along the tour by selling your stuff. And don’t be the first to take your table down at the end of the show.

    Sarge Tip

    Check out our Music Advice 101 article on Merch Sales: http://musicadvice101.com/merch-table-sales .

    Compiled by Rose’s DamnedOpinion

  • The Job of a Manager for an Unsigned Band

    In general, the band manager’s job is to take care of the business side of things allowing the artists’ to create and perform their music. The duties of the manager for an “unsigned” band vary depending on the stage of the artists’ career. Typical responsibilities include promoting the band and marketing materials like EP’s and assuring distribution to the proper press and media outlets. But, a manager may wear many other hats working for the band in a multitude of ways.

    Sarge Tip

    Whether signed to a record label or not, you need to have a written contract outlining the responsibilities and role the manager will play in your career. A formal agreement will keep miscommunications and surprises from happening later.

    1. Financial Management.
    The manager is responsible for handling the financial affairs of the band they represent; this may include everything from ensuring correct payment is received from the venue to paying the bills for promotional materials and hotel rooms. Another large portion of the financial management aspect is to actively pursue funding opportunities for their artists, such as a kick starter or fundraising for tours.

    2. Networking.
    This is nearly a 24/7 responsibility of a good manager. They should always be on the lookout for networking opportunities to meet new contacts and introduce their band to a broader listener base. In one word the manager is the mouthpiece of the band and an integral part of the band’s success.

    Sarge Tip

    The manager should have business cards and press kits with them at all times as well as have their “elevator pitch” prepared.

    3. Promotion.
    A manager should be an active participant in exploring potential promotional opportunities as well as determining the best activities for the band to participate in. Should they play a “free” show or be booked for a fundraising event? Should they stick with playing only events booked by a well-known local promoter?

    Sarge Tip

    In some situations, the band manager’s role is to oversee and delegate promotional tasks to the band members or others in their camp. For example, the lead singer may have the duty of keeping up with Facebook, the bass player may be in charge of distributing flyers, etc.

    4. Booking Gigs.
    The manager can help reduce pressure on the artists by ensuring that they are getting in to the right venues at the right time. For instance, booking venues where they are ready and able to play, and with shows that suit the genre of their music. Over-playing in the same place to the same crowd should be avoided. The manager should play a large part in getting the band good exposure in as large an area as they can penetrate. However, the band manager is not always the one to book the dates in conjunction with a large tour. Most large tours with headlining national acts have touring managers and promoters taking care of the dates and bookings. In this case, the band manager is only in charge of the needs of their own band.

    5. Negotiating.
    Acting as a liaison between the band and the venue and / or the promoters; some of the manager’s responsibilities may be to ensure that the band is playing for a fair percentage of the door revenue or a guaranteed flat rate for the show; and that there is water, beverages, or food provided; as well as proper recognition on the flyers and advertising pieces for the event(s).
    The manager is also responsible for signing all performance agreements on the band’s behalf.

    6. Coordinating / Scheduling.
      A manager should be the glue that holds the band together, staying in contact with each member and scheduling rehearsals and studio time that make sense for everyone.  Solidifying load-in and load-out times, making sure everyone and all equipment arrive on time for every show.  Scheduling promotional photo shoots and other public appearances is also an important part of the coordinating duties. Like a show or rehearsal, this will include making sure everyone can get to the location. The manager will probably also have a say in the photographer being hired for the shoot, as well as the overall look and theme of the shots.

    7. Technical Assistance.
    Depending on their own background, some managers have more skill and knowledge than others in this area. But every manager needs to have a full understanding of their band’s technical requirements. At times, this may require them to be in contact pre-show with the venue, the sound and lighting technicians, etc.

    8. Media.
    While social media has taken the world by storm, and most artists have their own pages with thousands of opportunities for self-promotion. The manager should definitely oversee all media outlets to ensure that the right message is being sent out across the internet, radio and publications relating to the music scene. A manager should always be working to get the band featured in local print media, online magazines, and radio stations; maintaining social media sites and keeping the fans updated about the shows is a very important task of a manager.

    Sarge Tip

    In some cases, the manager works directly with a publicist who is hired to handle all media relations.

    9. Coach.
    Although it is business, a supportive manager can make a huge difference to band members when a little life coaching is needed to keep them on the right track; the manager needs to be prepared to take on the role of counselor and therapist when needed.
    A manager must possess the skills to handle everything from diffusing quarrels between band members; to step in when band members need help to overcome drug and alcohol addictions; to give support during personal family crisis; or to be a shoulder during a bad break-up with a girl friend or boyfriend. Other coaching roles include always seeking out new outlets to get the music out there, like Spotify, Sound Cloud and I-Tunes. And also to give coaching advice on the band’s stage presence ensuring that they look as good as they sound, and are projecting the correct image to suit the band’s style.

    10. Send out demos to labels.
    When the time is right, and the music is ready, one of the most important jobs a manager does is to get those demos out to radio personalities and record labels. This will help increase the probability that the demo will actually get a listen! When assisting with the business side of an emerging band, the first priority of the manager is to get the band heard by the masses.

    Sarge Tip

    With a band manager… you get what you pay for. While it might be financially easier to have a family member or buddy in charge; they may not have the skills and know-how to take you outside your own backyard. At some point, you will need to hire a professional manager

    Compiled by Rose’s DamnedOpinion

  • The Different Types of Record Deals

     

    Every musician dreams of the day they are offered a record deal. It’s the golden ticket to a life of fame, fortune, and luxury, right? Well, not always, but getting a record deal is an important step in advancing your music career. However, It’s important to know, that there are many different types of deals out there, and the key is finding the one that best fit’s with your current needs and long-term goals. Here are a few of the most common record deals that you see being offered today.

    1.The Major Label Deal- This is the big one! A major label gives you a lot of money up front (known as an advance), to cover all the cost of creating an awesome album. The major labels have all the tools to promote your album and make you the next superstar. Be careful though, these major labels don’t have much patience. If your album doesn’t do well they won’t hesitate to drop your contract.

    Sarge Tip

    It’s important to know that all royalties you earn from album sales will go towards paying back the advance, until you’ve paid the label back fully. So be sure to spend your advance money wisely!.

    2. The Independent Label Deal- This deal is very similar to the major label deal. The difference is that independent labels are smaller so they give their artist less advance money than a major label would. The good thing about and indie label is that they work very closely with the artist and you will have more creative control over your albums. There are tons of indie labels out there, and the chances of getting a deal with one is much higher than trying to get signed by a major label.

    Sarge Tip

    Just because you’re signed to an independent label, don’t think you can’t still make it big. If Adele, Taylor Swift, and Macklemore can become stars while signed to an indie label you certainly can too! .

    3.The distribution Deal- Also known as a P&D Deal (pressing and distribution), this deal is most common for artists who have had success on their own and want to stay independent. You agree to let a record label help you manufacture, distribute, and promote your album, and in return the label gets a percentage of the sales profits (normally around 25%). Remember, that in this type of deal you don’t get an advance so you’ll have to come up with the money to produce, record, and market the album yourself.

    4. 360 Deals- Also known as equity deals, participation deal, or multiple rights deal, this is the most common deal artists are offered today. In a 360 deal the label makes money not just from music sales, but from almost everything the artist does. The label gets a portion of profits generated from touring, merchandise, books, movie/TV appearances, basically anything the artist makes money from, the label gets a piece of it. This seems like a bad deal for the artists, but it does give the label even more incentive to support your career and to push you to make lots of money in every way possible.

    Sarge Tip

    Everything in a record agreement can be negotiated, depending on how much you bring to the table, and how bad the label wants to sign you. Lastly, before you sign anything make sure you have an entertainment attorney look it over first!.

    Compiled by Ernest Sallee

  • Copyrights

    Sarge_jokersPAYattention Your band is a business and the product is your music. Protecting both from being used by other parties who could make money on your creativity and hard work is a serious part of the business. Registering for a copyright on your music provides protection from having it used by others without your permission.

    1.What is a copyright anyway?
    A copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for the original works of authors and artists, giving them the rights to their published and unpublished music and other intellectual works. What that means is that as the creators and writers of their original music, a band can keep exclusive rights to their work, including how and where it is distributed, who can distribute it, and who they allow to use it for other purposes. For more details on the purpose of the copyright, see http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf.

    2. Who started the idea of the copyright?
    Actually the first copyright laws were passed in England way back in 1710 with the Statute of Anne. The statute was created to encourage writers to continue their literary contributions by protecting them from others who would steal their works for their own financial gain. England had the good sense to see that by protecting the author’s rights, these talented people would be able to make a living as writers and contribute more works to society.

    Sarge Tip

    If you are interested in the history of the copyright process, check out this link for more info: http://www.copyrighthistory.com/anne.html.

    3.How does a copyright happen?
    Here’s the easy part; you actually have a copyright as soon as you or your band documents original work. The means of documentation can be as simple as writing down the lyrics on a napkin, recording the music in the garage, or the combination of both. Registering your copyright is what proves ownership of the material.

     Here’s where it gets tricky; determining who actually owns the songs. Are they owned by the band as a single entity? Are they owned by the individual contributing band members? Is the recording owned by the producer? What about the sound engineer and the session musicians can they claim ownership in the creative process?


    Sarge Tip

    The band members need to have some conversation and agreement early on in the creative process to decide who will have ownership of the songs. Understand that there are typically two types of copyright that may apply; one for the original music and one for the sound recording. In this article, we are generally referring to sound recordings..

    4. Get prepared for the copyright process


    1. The band determines amongst themselves the ownership (author) of the songs and the recordings.

    2. Establish the “creation” date with the recording process. A “creation” date will be required for your copyright applications.

    3. Be sure to have two master copies for submission to the U.S. Copyright Office. Keep the original master in a safe, secure location. Do not send the original with your copyright application documents.

    Sarge Tip

    Do NOT rely on the “Poor Man’s Copyright”. This is the method that some people believe is as good as actually registering with the U.S. Copyright Office; whereby you mail a copy of the CD to yourself. Remember you already have a copyright once you document your music, but the formal registration is what proves you have the copyright and gives you statutory benefit in case of a dispute.

    5. How to register for a copyright:


    1. The most common way is to register on line at http://www.copyright.gov/.

    2. Complete the Form SR, which can be used to register one song or the entire CD

    3. Pay the registration fee of $35.00

    4. Submit two copies of the recording

    5. Be patient; generally the processing time is 3 to 5 months

    6. Use the copyright symbol, i.e. “copyright © 2002 John Doe”. You do not have to wait until the registration is confirmed by the Copyright Office

    7. Store Copyright paper work in a safe, secure location with your master copy of the recording.

    Read more about the process here: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2013/05/how-to-copyright-your-music/
    If you are serious about your music, and of course you are or you wouldn’t have read this far; you don’t want to wait until your music takes off making money and then find that there are a multitude of entities that can claim rights to the creation of the music and subsequent album sales.  Please note, this article should not be taken as legal advice. This is meant to give you the basics on why copyrighting is so relevant to your band and some resources to find out more about it. We recommend that you seek professional legal counsel before entering into the copyright process.

    Compiled by Rose’s DamnedOpinion