• 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

  • Successful Presales

    Like it or not, every band is responsible to help bring the crowd to the show; however, not every band participates in presale shows.  For those who do, understand that the presales help support the expenses that may include venue rental, sound technician, door person, security; pre show production costs like flyers, ticket printing, fees for advertising and promotion, ads in local publications and radio, booking fees, insurance costs, production costs for staging, equipment rentals, labor, port-o-lets, perimeter fencing, city permits, photographers; and post show costs including video editing, attorney fees, licensing for cover music, and any additional production costs. 

    1. Know Your Sales Goals: Be sure you know up front (and don’t be shy about asking) just how many tickets your band is expected to sell to fulfill your commitment to the show. Work out the details among your bandmates, set goals for each member to achieve on a weekly basis, and an overall total. Keep in mind that it gets easier to sell tickets closer to the show date, but don’t let that keep you from selling from the start.

    And it may hurt, but be honest in assessing the number of tickets you can actually sell at this stage of your band’s career. Do not commit to selling more tickets (just to get booked) than you can realistically sell. New bands often have to buy their way into a show by bringing in a set number of people; and the promoter will expect that you can bring in the number of people that you say you can. It’s just bad all the way around if you promise what you cannot deliver.

    Don’t be afraid to ask the promoter for tools to help you sell your tickets. They should be happy to provide you with fliers or other materials to assist you in getting tickets sold.

    2. Facebook Marketing: Encourage online sales and use all social media outlets available to you. Event pages on Facebook, promote it on your own Facebook page, blog about it on the band’s website, and Tweet it to the world. Just be sure to always include your contact information; email, telephone numbers, etc. Find out how many they need? Encourage them to bring friends by offering a special for multiple ticket purchases. And don’t forget to ask to be added to the official event page so you can send invitations from there.

    3. E Mail Marketing: Send direct messages to the fans that come out to your shows. You want them to come back and bring more people with them. The personal touch makes them feel appreciated for the time and money they spend to see you. Send them an email, text, or personal facebook message. This definitely helps you build that loyal fan base…. People want to be appreciated for their loyalty to you and your music. 

    Sarge Tip

    For tips on creating a good email list, check out our article “ Build an E-Mail List” – http://musicadvice101.com/buildanemaillist/.

    4. In Person: Reach out to family, friends, and everyone else you know. DO talk to strangers! Talk about your show! Offer tickets to people you encounter at school, work, parties, and people around your neighborhood. 

    Go check out the venue one weekend in advance. Mingle with the crowd that night. Convince them to come back again the next weekend for your show. Offer them a special price or a premium price that includes a free CD or merchandise item if they purchase tickets on the spot. People are more likely to buy while they are having a good time.
    Go to open mic nights and other shows in the area to show your support for other local artists. Networking at other people’s shows is cool as long as you are also supporting their music. Talk to the other bands and invite them out to your show as your guest.

    5. Make it Easy for People to Pay and Receive Them

    Have the option to accept credit cards. Use a reader or app on your phone to make it easy for them to pay on the spot. Pay Pal is another good way to make it easy for them to purchase. Do some research on Eventbrite or Ticketfly; using an outside source can help people buy online a lot easier.

    Remember it is your responsibility to get the tickets to them! It’s true that mailing the tickets to everyone who pre purchases will take a little time and some money for postage; but, snail mail still makes people feel special. And you have the opportunity to include something extra in the envelope; flyers for your next show, a postcard picture promoting your album, maybe even a drink ticket to be redeemed at the bar the night of the show. Be creative with what you can do to promote future shows within that envelope that you are taking the time to mail out.

    Another way to get the tickets out to the people ahead of the show; is to call arrange a meeting place to pick up tickets. Make it a mini-event at a centrally located coffee shop, music store, or pizza place. Your fans will appreciate the face time with the band. It’s a way to get tickets delivered to a number of people at one time and it makes them feel like a part of something bigger than just one show. Work with the shop ahead of time; give them the opportunity to offer something to the folks that gather to pick up their tickets. They may want to have some kind of special or discount coupons ready for them.

    6. Make it Fun, Give Them A Reason to Want to Purchase in Advance

    Make it about the crowd, not just about seeing your band. Find out if anyone has a birthday or special event coming up. Promise (and deliver) a birthday song, or VIP seating/area, bring a cake with their name on it. If you make it a party for them, they will bring friends and people that don’t know your band yet giving you the opportunity to reach new ears.

    Sarge Tip

    Utilize Facebook to find out your friends birthdays, anniversaries, or other occasions that can be turned into a happening at the show.

    Offer VIP passes that have extra value to them… sometimes a limo ride to and from the show, dinner or drinks with the band, autographed CD or t-shirt.
    Make it an event. Connect with a non-profit organization or a fundraiser; whereby a percentage of each ticket sold goes to the cause. This also opens up the conversation when you are talking to people at school, work, etc. about your upcoming show. Connecting with a non-profit or fundraiser can also be really good promo for the band. Often, the organization will send out newsletters, Facebook messages, website ads, etc. promoting your upcoming event.

    Connect with the sponsors… they may possibly foot the bill and pay for the tickets, then you can offer them for free.

    If you are the one producing the show, align with a financial sponsor who may assist in footing the bill for tickets and in exchange you will put them on your website, social media blasts, Facebook and any where else they may be promoted.

    Keep an eye on what other bands are doing. Learn what is working for them to sell and distribute their tickets.

    http://www.thundertix.com/ticket-trends/how-to-sell-presale-tickets-metallicas-orion-music-and-more/
    http://www.grassrootsy.com/2011/03/09/how-do-i-get-my-fans-to-buy-pre-sale-tickets/

    Compiled by Rose’s DamnedOpinion

  • Raising Social Media Awareness

    Statistics say that social media is increasingly influential to promote your music. Being active in social media increases traffic to your website and builds relationships with current and potential listeners of your music. It also increases more visibility on search engines and is a great way to reach a fan base or potential customers.

    1. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumbler etc. are all examples of excellent, ever expanding, platforms for advertising and e-mail marketing.

    Sarge Tip

    By following some simple tricks you can raise awareness of your band’s music and get fans engaged without having to pay the social media sites.

    2. Increase Sharing: If, you want to people share your post, make “public” so that your followers can share or retweet it if they like the post. In addition to that, pictures are very alluring for social media shares. Sites like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Pinterest, usually focus on photos. It’s a fact that people are more likely to share interesting photos than just words without a visual.

    3. Know what is trending: Connecting with current events or topics that your followers might be interested in is a great way to create interesting posts and create a buzz on social media pages. Following other people and re-tweeting their posts on Twitter are also good methods to boost your posts. Also, talking about music, movies, or sports will help to engage more readers.

    Sarge Tip

    Know your followers! Avoid controversial or political issues that could cross lines or offend someone

    4. Focus on what you post: Studies say that photos on Facebook or on other social media receive more engagement than other average posts. Sharing photos of events and fun moments will engage more followers. Give a shout-out now and then to your fans as well. Share some content posted by your fans such as fan art, photos of them at your show, etc. For example, a famous coffee shop recently featured a photo by of one of their customers. Make sure the content you post pertains to your band. Avoid posting things on your fan page which are personal. And always avoid posting negative comments about people, places or other bands. Focus on your upcoming shows, CD releases, and merchandise.

    Sarge Tip

    Link your Facebook posts with Instagram and twitter to extend your reach and impact.

    5. Focus when you post: Posting content on social media has particular times to reach peaks. Study says usually Facebook posts peak around 3pm EST. Frequent posting, like once or twice a day gets more engagement. Keeping in mind the best times to post is always a good idea. And make it a habit to keep an eye on the analytics of social media providers.

    6. Blogging: Writing blogs about your music and sharing it on your social media networks influences people. Great content; including samples of your music and videos enhances your online influence.This enhanced marketing approach is an effective strategy to expose your project to new people.

    7. ReverbNation and SoundCloud:
    Using ReverbNation and SoundCloud is a necessity for musicians. You can post your music on those sites and connect them with other social networking sites like Facebook, Google Hang-Out to reach more people. Another way to enhance your profile is by taking advantage of free mailing lists that are available to everyone.

    Sarge Tip

    Using the Sound Cloud app on smart phones is a great way to carry your music in your pocket.

    8. Get creative! Host a “like” party. Get your fans and followers involved. Have them bring their laptops or tablets. Enjoy snacks and drinks while watching bad “B” movies! Encourage everyone to log in and start “liking” pages and posts to help raise awareness!

    Compiled by Nazia Adnin

  • 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

  • Managing Your Band’s Website

    An unsigned band’s website is not quite like a standard small business website where its main keywords are products or services and is the first point of contact for a customer. The band’s main keyword is usually their name and the band’s website is often the second point of contact for the fan, the first point of contact might be a flyer.The differences between a small business website and an unsigned band’s website, highlights the need for an additional promotional effort on behalf of the unsigned band.

    1. Check your site for optimization: Loads fast, looks good, all links work, is useful, is interesting, has purpose, stands out, is interactive, offers easy mailing list sign-up, has a clear privacy policy, CDs are easy to buy/download, has updated newsletters, and has clear navigation.

    2. Your URL should be the band’s name or at least relevant to the band.

    3. Does your HTML coding contain a <DOCTYPE>, <title>, <description>, <keywords>, <content-type>, and <author> META Tag?

    Sarge Tip

    Keep it simple, Stupid! Get rid of: Microsoft’s smart quotes, frames and bollocks JavaScript, loose ampersands and double quotes.

    4. Make sure everything is up to date. Regularly update any news, pictures, show dates, and other changing information on your page.

    5. Make sure spelling and grammar is correct throughout page.

    6. Keep things interesting and appropriate for the audience you are reaching out to with your site.

    7. Create a clear security privacy policy. It’s a revenue helper.

    8. Make sure your site is easily found on top search engines.

    9. Your site should give a special access to your fans that social media sites don’t do. You should have a bio, band updates, mailing list sign-up, song streaming/downloading, calendar with upcoming shows, pictures/videos, merch ordering, etc.

    Sarge Tip

    All downloads, streaming, and online shopping should be as easy and user-friendly as possible for those visiting your site.

     

    Compiled by Chris Erwin

  • Build An Email List

    Email blasts can be a very valuable tool that a band/artist can use to keep their fans updated with pertinent information such as upcoming shows, promotions, or just to say “hey.” But how do you begin to gather these email addresses in the first place? Have no fear! There are a ton of ways! Below are 27 easy tips you can use to grab this marketing info.

    1. Put an offer on the back of your business cards to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

    2. Tradeshows – Bring a clipboard or sign-up book with you to tradeshows and ask for permission to send email to those who sign up.

    3. Include a newsletter sign-up link in your signature of all of your emails.

    4.  Send an opt-in email to your address book asking them to join your list.

    5. Join your local chamber of commerce, email the member list (if it’s opt-in) about your services with a link to sign up to your newsletter.

    6. Host your own event – Art galleries, retail shops, consultants (lunch & learn) can all host an event or party and request attendees to sign up.

    7. Offer a birthday club where you give something special to people who sign up.

    8. Incentivize your employees and street team – Give them $ for collecting VALID email addresses.

    9. Giving something for free like a song download. Make visitors sign up to your opt-in form before you let them download it.

    10. Referrals – Ask you customers and fans to refer you, and in exchange you’ll give them a discount or incentive.

    11. Bouncebacks – Get them back! – Send a postcard or call them asking for their updated email address.

    12. Trade newsletter space with a neighboring business or bands, include a link for their opt-in form and ask them to include yours in their newsletter.

    13. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Make sure you optimize your site for your keywords. You need to be at the top of the natural search when people are looking for your products or services.

    14. Giveaways – Send people something physical and ask for their email address as well as their postal address.

    15. Do you have a postal list without emails? Send them a direct mail offer they can only get if they sign up to your email list.

    16. Include opt-in forms on every page on your site.

    17. Popup windows – When someone attempts to leave your site, pop up a window and ask for the email address.

    18. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in your emails just in case your recipient wants to forward your content to someone they think will find it interesting.

    19. Include a forward-to-a-friend on every page of your site.

    20. Offer a community – Use social media platforms to host them.

    21. Offer “Email only” discounts and don’t use those offers anywhere but email.

    22. Telemarketing and phone networking – If you’ve got people on the phone, don’t hang up until you ask if you can add them to your newsletter.

    23. Put a fishbowl on your merch booth or the local music store and do a weekly prize giveaway of your product – then announce it to your newsletter. Add everyone who put their card in on to your newsletter list.

    24. Include an opt-in form inside your emails for those people who get your email forwarded to them.

    25. Use Facebook – Host your own group and invite people to it, then post new links often. From time to time, post a link to sign up for your newsletter.

    26. Use Facebook and Twitter – Post the hosted link from your newsletter into Linked Items to spread the word.

    27. Use Facebook – Include an opt-in form on your Facebook Fan page.

    Sarge Tip

    For a great email marketing tool, check out MailChimp.com.

    Now get out there and make some connections!

     

    Compiled by Chris Erwin