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Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm Back Baby!! Summary...

Well, it has certainly been a while... what... a whole 6 months since I have updated this blog!! Those readers that remain - thank you for your patience ;) I have since been inspired to continue. Thank you to one reader, Austin, for his lovely emails.

Ok, there's not a lot to summarise over the last 6 months. Suffice to say we have since moved to the capital city, Wellington - which has one of the most vibrant music scenes in New Zealand. We moved here a couple of months ago as I knew it was going to go nowhere if we stayed in Hamilton. It's way too small for starters and a lot of negative vibes, if you've read this blog since I started it, then you'll know exactly what I mean. If not, have a gander over the previous posts - I'm sure you'll find it interesting.

Now as for the last post - regarding funding - we put in that song as advised, and what do you know! Declined! Interesting... to say the least. "Charlie" seemed to think funding wouldn't be a problem now.

Well I guess I have come to realise that there is the 'music scene' and then there's the 'music industry'. The music scene is playing live, making fans, getting your music out there and meeting other musicians. The music industry is more getting to those 'in the know', catching the eye of the movers and shakers in the industry, coming across as serious about what you are doing and where you are going.

So, since moving down to Wellington, I have decided that it's imperative to get into the music industry. I have taken some time to meet with a few key people to help us on our path, and been given some great help and advice.

At one of these meetings, I was told that people think it's hard to break into the New Zealand music industry, but in fact, it really is quite simple. So I will be using the contacts I was given at that meeting as soon as I can.

Unfortunately, it's too late to get into the summer festivals this time round. Summer in NZ runs from December to March - so it's usually all organised prior to December. However, our plan is to get the band playing some gigs live (there are some wicked venues here in Wellington for live bands) build up the following - and in 6 months time, the organisers of festivals will be coming to us! :)

At the end of the day, it's all about having a damn good product. If you have the product, and it's that good, you will get noticed. It's inevitable. Oh sure, you can get by and 'make it' on other quirks (be it the look you have, the show you put on, or simply an amazingly charismatic stage presence), but if you want a surefire way - make sure you have damn good songs!

Oh, and suffice to say: practice, practice, practice.
No good having damn good songs but your drummer misses a beat, your bass player gets it wrong, or your vocalist forgets a line.

More on that tomorrow ;)

This band has the product. It has a great vocalist and lead guitarist, but alas, I don't see the level of commitment needed from the other musicians. But I'll talk about that shortly :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Next Step: Funding

I must admit, here in New Zealand, we are pretty lucky. I'm not sure if other countries have anything similar (would love to hear if you do). We have this government department in New Zealand called 'New Zealand On Air' (NZOA) where musicians and bands can apply for funding for creating music videos (and other things including new recordings, albums etc). The whole point is to fund music videos for broadcast on music television shows and music television channels and in turn increase the number of local songs played on commercial radio. So to be eligible for Music Video Funding, the submitted song must exhibit potential for radio and television airplay.

Up until now, whenever we applied to NZOA for funding, we always got turned down - saying the music wasn't "commercial enough". Well, after the 'showcase' for 'Charlie' a month ago, Charlie told me that we should find it easier to get funding now. Apparently he had a word with the top guy there who was very impressed with what he had to say and also with the amount of views the band have received on YouTube.

So now, applications for funding for a music video close in about 2 weeks time, so I will be getting that off first thing Monday morning - will let you know how we get on with that!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Promotion Is The Start - But 'Connecting' Is The Key

Let me give you a scenario: You're out on the town with your mates, checking out a couple of original bands. The first band comes on, they play an hour of cool rocking songs, they finish and head back off the stage. The second band comes on, they also play an hour of some cool songs, they finish up, they come off stage and go mingling with the crowd - one of the members comes up to you, introduces himself, asks if you're having a good night, did you enjoy the music etc.

Tell me something: a week later - which band are you going to remember? The one that went on stage, did their thing and left again; or the one that went on stage, played their songs and then came down and chatted to you? Well, for me, it's definitely the latter. There's something about being approached by someone that's just been on stage and now they are giving their sole attention to you. It makes you feel special and that your opinion matters. Suffice to say, it's one thing to go out and play, but it's quite another to gain, connect with and keep a fan.

You see, promoting your band isn't just about getting people to hear your music and like it. It's also about connecting with those people and keeping them coming back for more. Your fans are going to be your bread and butter... treat them right, look after them, and they will help you promote your band more than you could ever hope. Because one form of promotion that beats all others, is word of mouth. Each of those fans, going and telling each of their friends about you - is the end result you want.

I was reading a while back how Billy Corgan (formerly Smashing Pumpkins)
spends as much as an hour a day on the his MySpace site exchanging messages with his fans. He says "For me, it is a way to connect with my fans on a one-on-one basis in a way that I wasn't able to do before. It's much closer to the feedback that I would get from someone on the street".

So, remember, promotion starts the process - but gaining and connecting with fans is the goal.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Free Downloads To Promote? Or Not...

While the internet does have it's major disadvantages, it's been suggested to me from a couple of people, ways of counteracting the imbalance. The main suggestion regarding giving music away for free.

I'm not for that idea, like I said in my previous post, I think that music is worth something because the artist puts so much into creating and recording it. The suggestion that has been made: record one more track than what you need, don't include it on the album and give it away free. (Thanks to Danny and Richard - both had the same thoughts).

Now doesn't that make more sense?! And as suggested, you call it a 'b-side' demo. You are then a) giving away a track that isn't on the album anyway, it's a track that is created for the sole purpose of giving away; b) it's kind of like a taster for people then... they hear it and think "wow, if this is what is considered b-side then I gotta hear the album". People are going to want to hear more!

I think it's a great idea! And have decided that this is what will happen with the band that I manage. Their second album is due out at the end of the year - so one more song will be recorded for the sole purpose of giving away as a free download. It was also suggested to me that this particular song being given away be a cover song. It just so happens that this band do a killer version of "Somebody Told Me" (by the Killers). The boys aren't too keen on doing a cover, but we'll see what becomes. Either way, be it one of their own or a cover, the free download is sure to grab attention if it's quality material. And from a professional band, what more would you expect.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beware: The Internet's Dark Side

Yes, the internet has a down side for bands and musicians. Over time, I have thought of the internet as a wicked promotion tool for getting your music out there. I still think that it is, however, it has its down side.

Online is a really hard market to be honest, because it's all too easy for people to sit and listen to your music whenever they want. Sure they love it - but something needs to happen to make them go that step further and PURCHASE it. But then, why are they going to purchase it when they can log on, listen to their favourite tunes whenever they want without having to part with a cent?

Perfect example, is that earlier today the band got an email that said "ooh I LOVE your music, I have favourited it, and come on every day JUST so I can listen to it, can't wait to hear more!".

Now, that kind of annoys me (remember, I am thinking as a manager/promoter/business person - not as a musician). I'm sitting here thinking to myself - well, these guys have spent a lot of time and money creating and recording these songs and you're too cheap to do anything but favourite it and listen for free!

Seriously, how is that supposed to motivate a musician? I know there are a ton of musicians out there that won't agree with me, and that don't give a damn about the money. That's fine if you don't wish music to be your fulltime career. But if you DO want it to be your fulltime career then you need to treat it like a business, because that's what it is. If you ran a different type of business and provided services for free, or gave away products - I can tell you now, that business wouldn't last very long.

I think musicians deserve to be paid for their efforts and contributions to the artistic community. But I also think that there are too many platforms that allow the exploitation of musicians and what they create. For example: MySpace - do you know the developers make millions of dollars??! What do the artists that provide the music for the community get? ZIP.

It's made me think twice about the internet and exactly how much music to have available. If you're a big, well-known band that can afford to tour - then it's a different story, I think having your songs up for people to listen to can only aid your cause, because if you're touring, chances are you will gain new fans who will pay to come to your shows. But when you're a band that is just starting out and trying to get known, can you expect to make money online from it and tour? That, my friend, is my million dollar question.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Time To Organise A Tour: Where To Begin?

I briefly mentioned it in my last post, but with the band's second album due out at the end of the year, it's time to think about organising a tour - at least of the North Island. Even though the end of the year is 6 months away, the time to start getting it sorted is right now.

Wow, it's going to be a lot of work - a lot of promotion, a lot of organising and a lot of learning. I think that the promotion is going to be the hardest part - how do you market a band in a brand new city? Or rather, half a dozen cities they have never played in. The best thing I can think of there is that it's important to try and get to a couple of those cities and play before the tour. Even if it's just once - just to get the name out there.

I don't know how big a part the internet could play with this - but I think it's a factor in promoting. Try and build the fan base online at least - let's face it, if they hear the music, love it then they might just be keen on coming to a live show.

Over the next 2 days we are going to be compiling a list of the cities/towns we want to visit, after that it's a matter of researching which particular venues would be most suitable. I have been thinking about how we can incorporate our plan - of how to sell out a show - into this tour, so that we end up with packed out venues and no loss of money. The only problem with that is getting those tickets "sold" before the show. Have a read here so that you know what I'm talking about. Will keep you updated as I go.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Merchandise: Extra Income Source

I have spent a lot of time over the past few days working on the online merchandise store for the band's website. I have never really been a big believer in things like that - hence haven't organised this sooner. However, after reading a couple of articles online (I'm always researching and learning from the internet!), I have come to think it's a rather huge income stream opportunity that I've been missing out on.

I was reading an article that said "
For many touring bands the sale of merch is what allows them to eat. Superstar acts can sell as much as $5 per head in merch. Think about that for a moment. If you’re Bon Jovi and you’re playing a stadium that holds 50,000 people and you sell $5 in merch per person, you’ve just made an additional $250,000! OK, you’re not as big as Bon Jovi (yet), but the same kinds of economics can work for you".

Let's just think about it - for a start, if someone buys a t-shirt at a gig, it's generally on impulse. It's something they can take away and reminds them of the wicked night they had, or they may just buy it because it looks pretty damn funky. Either way, for you - it's a sale. At least have the possibility of this income stream by looking into it - even if for now, it's just online.

The best thing about online shops is that they are (generally) free to set up, upload your designs (or some sites have designs you're able to use), set your commission (how much you want to make on it) and link to your shop from your website! How easy is that! You don't need to be a graphic designer and you don't need to know HTML!! (However, any knowledge you have on those subjects certainly helps!). Now, the sites I have tried are: Spreadshirt and CafePress. I have gone with Spreadshirt for several reasons - 1) their items were cheaper, 2) larger product range, 3) more payment options (credit card, money order or paypal), Cafepress had only credit card; and finally 4) I can really customise it (including adding my own header) to make it look and feel like the band's website - with cafepress, you can only customise it that much if you pay a monthly fee. Don't be put off Cafepress though, it's still a great place - and the customer service is brilliant.

So... second album is up and coming [check], website updated [check], merchandise store open [check], must be time to start organising a tour...? It's June now, album release is due for near the end of the year... yep, it's about time to get on to that! How the hell do you put together a tour? Well... stick around... we can all learn together. I will log here every step we make, and fill you in on how each step goes. What a ride!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Playing Devil's Advocate

I got an interesting phone call this morning. You might remember that I was one of the main organisers of a local outdoor music event here - the other organiser being our (ex) sound man. If you haven't read about that drama, you can catch up on it here. I think I left out a lot of the info on the business side of things though - but long story short, it's an event that he had put on himself the two years previously and it was very mediocre. It didn't get any commercial radio support and there were no well-known bands headlining, and the audience attendance was around about 800 max. Earlier this year we put the event on together - I contacted the commercial radio stations and built a good relationship with them, they sponsored the event and turned up on the day, we had one of the biggest bands in NZ headlining it and the turnout was an awesome 3,000 approx! Much better than the event over the previous couple of years. But at the end of the day, I got no recognition for my input and services and his company took all the credit. My company was listed as a 'sponsor', when in the beginning it was agreed that the event would be held "in association" with my company.

Anyways, our ex sound guy called me this morning - I hadn't heard from him since we decided to stop using him a couple of months ago - and asked if I would like to be involved in the event again next year. I have initially said yes, but am thinking twice about it as there's a few pro's and con's.

I think it's great to put a big successful event like that on your CV (especially organising it 2 years in a row), it's also good to remain as involved in your local music scene as possible - especially with having big bands headlining, it's always great to meet them and you never know what contacts you might make out of it. So those are the pro's.

The con's at this stage, really revolve around the drama of last time. However, I'm pretty sure if I make it known up front that I want my company to have more recognition for this, then maybe it won't be so bad. The band I manage won't be playing this time - which means it will take time away from my work with them. Let's face it, putting on a big event like this takes a lot of your time up. And the band are looking to have their album finished and ready for release by the end of the year... sooo... album release AND major outdoor event to organise. Is it possible? Or am I better to concentrate on one thing at a time?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Your Personality Type

Today is the day I have finally set some serious time aside to work on the marketing plan. I have so many idea's and things that I have started, but not carried on, because I get another great idea and start working on that... therefore, I end up with a lot of great idea's but none of them seem to end up getting finished!

It's actually part of my personality type apparently, if you know anything about them, I am an ENFP. Check out what your personality type is by clicking here. It's a great way to discover and understand different aspects of your personality and it may help you organise yourself a little better like it has for me.

Carl Jung's theory of psychological types says each person is "wired" with different tendencies and preferences. Some of us are extraverted while others are introverted, some are "thinkers" while others are "feelers", and so on. When reading about your personality type, it's like reading a biography of yourself.

I think being aware of your personality type is a big help when you're working on projects as it will help you to recognise what motivates you. So I think it's definitely something worth checking out.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Being On The Same Page

It's a hard industry already without managing a band that just aren't 'on the same page'. I have been trying to organise a photo session with a local photographer that is willing to offer her services for free as she loves the band and is happy to help us out. We desperately need some promo photo's of the guys as a trio.

The only problem is, that I have the lead singer who is always ready and motivated to get things done but the other two band members just aren't the same. I have been trying to organise the photo shoot - but the bassist hasn't returned texts, calls or emails regarding when he will come over for it (he lives about an hour away). After a week of trying to organise a time - he sent a text saying that he doesn't know when he can get over (no, he doesn't work fulltime). So I am left, having to contact this photographer and tell her that, at this stage, I can't sort out a time or date - but will as soon as I can. I hate mucking people around - but it's also the fact that I find it hard to promote a band with no really good promo shots!

So, that really annoys me at the moment. I just feel that we are not all on the same page. The lead singer and I are moving to another city - it's an hour away from where we are now, but how are they going to practice on a regular basis? Or if we end up organising gigs on a regular basis - how will that work? Now you're probably thinking "it's only an hour away, what's the problem". Ok, the problem is that our drummer (lead singer's brother) doesn't have the money to drive to that city on a regular basis. He works fulltime and could easily transfer to that city - but he won't. He has no ties or commitments where he currently lives... and there is no reason he couldn't move. The move we are making will only benefit the band as it's the biggest city in New Zealand... but I'm starting to think there's a lack of commitment from the drummer and bassist. Let's face it - to get anywhere in this industry take solid hard work, time and commitment. If you don't put in all those three ingredients, then you're wasting your time.

I'm starting to wonder if starting afresh in a new city isn't the only thing that should start afresh. How about a new band too?!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Theory: How To Sell Out A Show

I am back, and have been chatting with the lead singer about playing live and the options we have. He came up with this great idea - now, from everything I have heard, in theory it looks like it could work and it could work well. Important to note, that we haven't tried it yet obviously, but it's definitely got potential. Check it out and see what you think:

How To Sell Out A Show

  • Firstly, print 600 tickets (or maximum capacity of venue) that will cost $5 to purchase.
  • You then get people along by going out and selling them a ticket however, not many people will be interested in buying a ticket to see a band they have never heard of. So you then offer them a ticket (or a couple of tickets) for free. Be sure to tell them "look, there's only 40 tickets left, how bout I give you tickets for you and a couple of mates free!". This way (although you don't have only 40 tickets left) you are giving that person the idea that it's going to be a great night out because a) it's nearly sold out already; and b) they are getting in free! This will encourage and make it successful before it actually is. And let's face it, people love to get something for nothing. But ensure that you are only giving these tickets to people that are really keen to go.
  • An added idea for getting the tickets out to people is to pass on 50 or so to local radio stations to give away, and possibly other media outlets. The whole point of this is to make the even look successful before it actually is! If people think a venue is selling out - it encourages them to go... they don't want to miss out.
  • You then get the venue to pay you $350 (if not more) for costs (based on getting half those tickets/heads along). Let's face it - they will be on the make with a (near) full bar, and you shouldn't have to fork out money and let the show cost you. So the venue gets full, sells drinks and makes more money on the bar, and you (the band) gets an audience, thus gaining exposure and starting your following.
  • On the night, put a $5 door charge on for extra's who didn't get a ticket. If the venue is pumping, but you're not at capacity - you will always get people off the street wanting to join the party.
  • Now I suggest you do this as a once off to help build a profile in each city.
  • No advertising is needed as tickets are given away to get the numbers along. However, posters can be put up though for general awareness, also get it into all the local gig guides - including local radio.
Hope this helps - I happen to think it's got great potential for a band just starting out! A big ups to the lead singer for this idea... I think he has a hidden talent for marketing!! haha

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Well I thought I would follow up with where I'm at today. I have to say, it's not much better than yesterday unfortunately. My way of thinking right now seems pretty narrow and I am trying to broaden that. I have had a discussion with the lead singer of the band this morning and we both have very different views on this - but I do understand where he's coming from.

Basically, he is saying that unless we have a major marketing campaign backing us, then playing live is pointless - nobody knows you, nobody is going to pay to see you. Let's face it - that's how the big guys do it - saturate the airwaves with your tracks. However, major campaign = money, and that is something we just don't have at this stage after investing in the studio gear to record these albums. I, on the other hand think that playing live is where it's at. I'm not saying it's as good as a major marketing campaign, but I think it's the next best thing. The part that I am not sure about is this - no matter how much you promote a gig, how can you expect people to come along and pay $5 to come and see a band that they have never heard of before? Simple: you can't. Therefore, you need it to be free entry. Now, if it's free entry - then how do you cover costs?? i.e promoting, PA (if the venue doesn't supply) etc.

Is it just a matter of playing live and letting it cost you money until you build up a small fan base in that area? Or is there a better, smarter alternative to this? Do you get other bands involved and make a night of it? What if there is no other band that would be willing to play for free? Let's face it, if you're a band that is doing really well locally, and have a fan base, then you're probably past playing shows without getting some reward. Especially if you're that good.

These are all just things that I'm focusing on right now and that are going through my head. I have a couple of idea's that may or may not work, they need work but as soon as I get them in order I will let you know. But I think all these points I have bought up are valid points - especially when it comes to getting attendance at gigs. I think that's a major factor. Then again - there's always the way that Bon Jovi did it, Jon said that at their first gig they played to about 5 people, the next gig at that same place, they played to about 10 people. After that, it started to grow... until they ended up selling out. My question is, that was 20-30 years ago - is that still the way now? Or, again, is there a better, smarter way.

Not Every Day Is A Good Day

The past few days have been very hard. I have been trying to keep focussed and get a marketing plan sorted out. But to be honest, I have found it all very draining. I believe in this with a passion - I know I have one of the hottest bands in New Zealand under me, but my lack of experience in marketing is really starting to show and it's taking it's toll on me - emotionally.

I have been thinking about this next post. I thought about writing one on "how to grow your local fan base", but then I remembered what this blog is all about - and that is: keeping it real. Why write about how to grow a local fan base when I haven't accomplished it yet?! Why search the internet and gather all the information I can find, come up with my own idea's and tell you all about it when I haven't tried it out myself? That's not keeping it real.

So please bear with me in this post as I'm not going through an easy time. I find it very frustrating and I'm just not sure what to do about it or where to go. The hardest part I'm finding is that I bare this all on my own shoulders. It's my sole responsibility and I guess it's wearing me down. I think if I had a person at my side working on it all with me - that could motivate me when I needed it (like now) or inspire me and vice versa then it'd be much easier to keep my head above water.

But sadly at this time, with all the crap we are enduring here locally (yes it still goes on - I heard the band's song that did really well on YouTube was played by one of the local bands at their gig and posted onto YouTube - making full mockery of the band I manage), not only all that, but all the problems with having to pay to play (will explain this in my next post) at venues and needing to organise other bands to play with... well, I'm starting to lose motivation.

But.... I will get through this.... somehow. I will brainstorm over the next 12 hours and let you know what I come up with. I think I need some "me" time to sit where it's quiet and think. I wrote this post to keep you up to date and just let you know where I'm at, and that I haven't forgotten my blog! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How To Contact The Industry Bigwigs

Well I must be doing something right here. Over the past couple of weeks, whenever I contact the 'movers & shakers' in the industry (be it management companies, major record labels or even the bigger indie labels), I seem to get replied to now! Yes that does come as a surprise, because I have been managing this band seriously for a year and previously when I would contact any one of those “types”, I always got the brush off or no reply at all!

A month or so ago I contacted the major US indie label Wind-Up Records. Now, a place like that – they have no contact details on their website, and don’t accept unsolicited CD’s. But it just goes to show, if you know who to contact, are polite, use the correct etiquette and get straight to the point, then a response is more likely. By the way – it is no good being an artist or a band member and trying to contact people like this, ensure you get a representative or look at finding someone to manage your band and do it for you. Anyways, Wind-Up Records replied to me and asked me to send a copy of the album over so they could check it out. Turned out that it wasn’t something they were interested in taking further (unfortunately), but have asked me to keep in touch and send them anything else that I think might interest them. WOOT! BONUS for me! What a great contact to have!!

Yesterday I contacted a couple of well-known band managers here in New Zealand and I heard back from one of them today, which was great. He replied "you're doing a great job with your promo" and gave a few suggestions, which was really helpful. I was happy with that and it was great to hear back from someone like that and receive their advice. Once again, it’s great to have a contact like that. So like my previous post – it’s really all about contacting the destination and asking for directions.

Just three things that I really want to point out, that are so important and will make all the difference if you receive a reply or not – 1) Find out who is the correct person to deal with; 2) Be friendly and polite, and get straight to the point; and 3) Do not contact them if you are a band member – get a management company to represent you – or you are wasting your time.

If this helps even one person out there then it is worth it. Once again, I will keep you updated as I go and you’ll be hearing all the success stories here (there have been a few already - including receiving over 300,000 views in the first 5 days of appearing on YouTube) and the failures as well… along with all the drama’s I encounter along the way! There’s already been way too much of that though – with sabotage from a soundman, a local music forum causing trouble, a reviewer that went to great lengths to bring us down, and a bass player that ditched us 6 days before a big showcase!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Call The Destination, And Ask For Directions

Ok, so here's where I'm at. At this stage, I manage the band (for the past year on a serious level - before that, I had managed them as a covers band for about 3 years - which was a whole lot easier to get them gigs!) - and I do it solely on my own. I have set up my own management company and do everything - from their web design, to promotion, to organising shows and events and to maintaining their online presence. Yep it all keeps me very busy. I don't have band management "experience", so to speak - but having looked after them for about 4 years now, I feel that that alone is experience enough, and much of it now is learning as I go.

Because of the lack of contacts in the industry that I had (I have made a few over the past year), I have always been open to handing over the management reigns to someone more 'in the know' - someone that has the experience and the contacts to take this band a lot further. Because, at the end of the day, that is what they deserve and the industry really is a 'who you know' industry. But to be honest, it would be sad to lose management of them - because it's kept me so busy and it's really become my life ambition to get these guys the opportunities to become successful.

I spend pretty much every hour of the day on the internet - honestly, this job is a fulltime job. There is always something to do or someone to contact. I have recently spent a bit of time contacting a couple of the more well-known band managers here in New Zealand, as I feel that even if they don't take the band on - they can offer me some helpful advice or suggestions. I was once told "call the destination and ask for directions". Define your goal (your final destination) - then contact someone who's there, and ask how to get there.

Know a magazine you think you should be in? Call their main number, ask for the editorial department, and ask someone in editorial if they could recommend their three favorite publicists. Write down the publicists' names, and thank the nice editorial person for their time. (Don't waste their time asking for the publicists' contact info. You can find that on the web.) Then call each publicist, and try to get their attention.

Know a radio station you should be on? Call them and ask for the music director. Ask if they could recommend a few good radio promoters. Call the radio promoters they recommend, and try to get their attention.

There was an artist manager of a small unsigned act in the US, who over the course of a year, met with the managers of U2, REM, and other top acts. She asked them for their advice, coming from the top, and got great suggestions that she's used with big results.

So that's what I've been focussing on lately, and I must say that I'm pretty happy with the outcome. I will fill you in over the next few posts and keep you updated with things I learn and the results.

The Networking Phenomenon! Get On Board!

A few months ago, I came across some info on I bookmarked the page and it's something I have been meaning to get back to and read properly. I hadn't done that - until today. I now wish I'd done it sooner as I like to keep up to date with all networking sites and opportunities.

Twitter seems to have become quite a phenomenon over the past 12 months, with articles written about it in Time magazine. Yet I hadn't heard much about it here in New Zealand as yet. We seem to be a bit behind it all down here! lol But I looked it over after reading some helpful info, and I have joined. I think it's a cool application - feel free to "follow me" on Twitter here. In short, Twitter is "a communications gateway that asks the question: “What are you doing now?” Users can answer and hear their friends’ answers via SMS, via IM, or on a webpage. Updates have to be under 140 characters. Think somewhere between IRC and IM and that’s Twitter".

I think it's important to have a strong online presence. I don't join every online networking site I come across - but I have added the band's profile to many. The most useful ones I have found, and work regularly, have been YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. There are many more I have joined, and keep up to date - but don't use on a regular basis, but they are still worth checking out. These are: Mog, Soundclick, IAC Music.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Importance Of People Loving You!

We are currently looking at moving out of this area and up to the biggest city in New Zealand. I think, for the genre this band caters to, and the much larger population, that they will be more in their element. Not only that, but there is a much larger range of live music venues - and that's a massive bonus.

Which brings me to my next point. The biggest thing I have learned over the past week is how important large local fanbase is. If you can grow your local following to a reasonable size of loyal fans, then any shows you put on are going to be a blast - and you know you won't have to worry about costs. Let's face it - if you have just 500 fans that are willing to spend $5 to see you play live, that's $2,500! With that money you can put on one hell of a show! Not only that, but if you have the great songs - then it will just get better and better. Doing that is what makes the big guys sit up and take notice!

I won't go into detail on how we will go about growing our fanbase just yet - I will do a full post on that real soon - and let you know what my idea's are. So keep following our journey, find out how it all goes... I will keep you fully updated!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Focus On The Positive - It Will Motivate You

So it's back to the grindstone for me and almost back to square one. I say "almost" because it's how I feel, but reality is that "Charlie" has allowed us to namedrop him which is a really great thing and it gives us that bit of credibility. So I guess all is not lost and at the end of the day, it's all more credible info for the presskit. Slowly, the presskit has been built up with info from credible sources, reviews - both album and live shows, photo's, press clippings etc.

Well, the latest... yep, there always seems to be something going on! lol Remember all the drama with that forum? (If not, you can check out the drama here). Well it never seems to end. Funnily enough, there was a link to an album review from that forum to the band's website. The post was titled the name of the album, and reading through the half dozen or so comments, one has to wonder what sort of lives these people lead. I see one person made the comment "Is it still 2007?" - so I think even some of them are completely over it! Either way, the thread seems to have dried up now, but it's not like it worries me anymore.

I have much to think about and plans to make. Earlier today, I received a review on the showcase. It made for inspiring reading and I was so glad to read an individual's unbiassed opinion and the fact that they were blown away by the performance. That's the kind of thing that keeps me motivated and reminds me why I'm in this game. It's the reason I know that I manage a band that is, (for lack of a better word) special.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where To Now?

So... the showcase that we had been looking forward to for the past two months has been and gone. Over the past few days, I have felt very disappointed and frustrated with how I felt it all went. I have felt let down and was almost ready to throw in the towel, give it all up, and seek a 9 to 5 job that my family would consider 'normal'.

But then... I read the rave reviews the album has received... I see the emails STILL coming in asking when the boys are touring their country... and I hear the potential songs for the next album they are currently working on....! All of that keeps me going - I know that I have a rock band here that needs to be heard. A band that people are going to love - and that people do already love! I just need to get it out there. I always knew it was never going to be an easy ride...!

First thing I had to do was adjust my attitude. So I had some expectations that weren't met?! That's life. That's the nature of the industry - get over it! Move onwards and upwards. Half the reason I felt so down was because the showcase had been our latest goal - now we had achieved that, but I had set no other goal to work to towards achieving. Yes, we all know "goals" are important - if you don't have a goal in mind then that's something you need to sort out. Let's face it - goals motivate you, they challenge you, they keep you moving forward - always have one (or two!).

So, at this stage, I'm currently putting together a marketing plan. With everything that has happened, I figure that concentrating on their local fanbase here in New Zealand is one of the most important stages of that plan. Hence, that is my focus right now.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

He Who Has The Power... Speak!

* Note from this point on, I will use the psydoneum of 'Charlie' for the VIP.

Okay, so it'd been 5 days since the 'showcase' and we hadn't heard anything from Charlie. I thought I would take the opportunity to email him and thank him for organising the show. I also wanted his advice on whether to take up that Canadian PR company on their offer ($799 for promotion via radio in 3 countries for 4-6 weeks - NB: not guaranteed airplay).

So I emailed a thank you note to him and his business partner saying that I'm not sure exactly where we go from here and asked what they thought of the PR offer from that company. I heard back from him later in the day saying "you're welcome" and that he was disappointed no record or radio people turned up. He said the next step is for the guys to start working on being a trio and for the lead singer/guitarist to work on featuring his guitar playing early on in the show - and eliminate the covers. He continued on to say "keep working on the next album and take it from there". Funnily enough he didn't mention anything in regards to my question re the PR Company.

I caught up with the lead singer later on who said that he, too, had emailed Charlie - just wanting to say a personal thank you. He had received a reply saying "that's fine, I think you need to lift your act now and play to your strengths - feature your guitar playing right off - even if it's only to make fans sit up and take notice. Your songs are great, the trio is strong - look how Silverchair have done, it's different - you can do it! Go well and good luck!"

So... with those emails, I figure it's the end of the road with 'Charlie' unfortunately. But I might be wrong - I'm only assuming and probably reading too much between the lines. At the end of the show last Thursday, Charlie did mention that if he were younger, he'd take them on himself - but he doesn't manage bands anymore. He said that he would always be able to help me with the business side of it though.

I guess it's now just a matter of plugging away at it ourselves and seeing what becomes.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Saga Of The Showcase - My Summary

Ok, if there was ever a time for me to have a b**** and moan about the 'showcase' then this is the post for it. When you look up a web definition of a showcase you get this:

"A 15 minute live performance on stage with full technical support (lights, sound)"

A setting in which something can be displayed to best effect"
Well, neither of those descriptions even remotely depicts the 'showcase' this band played! For a start, they did their own sound - hired and set up their own PA (after which, the lead singer was exhausted - if you've ever set up a PA on your own, you will know how he felt! I guess it was just lucky that they had 4 hours to relax before they played). There was lighting there - but it was just random par cans that did their own thing - no lighting tech.

As for the second description
"A setting in which something can be displayed to best effect" - my personal thoughts are that the venue really was the wrong sort of place for this kind of band (I will go more into that shortly). Not only that, but hell, it was a Thursday night! If you're going to play in a venue where no-one knows your music, it needs to be a Friday night when everybody is out on the town, and at a venue in the city that has a reputation for being busy - no matter what's on that night.

Now, the reason I think the venue was simply the wrong choice is for several reasons, but the main one being that it's wrong for this kind of band. Bare in mind, that these guys have been "likened" to Bon Jovi (I don't like to label them, but to set this example, I need to). Remember that I was told that if the band played too loud and didn't turn it down then we wouldn't get paid? Well, can you imagine a great rock band, like Bon Jovi, playing in a little bar and being told not to be "too loud"????! Course not! For a start, a 'little bar' in the suburbs isn't exactly a great place for a rock band like Bon Jovi! Give them a stage in a decent club in the city anytime... would be intimate - but they could still pull off a show I'm sure! haha Anyways, hopefully I have put my point across ok... that this band I manage is a rock band - not hard rock, not alternative or screamy rock - just great melodic rock - but no rock band can be expected to play quietly! So I think that was a bit ridiculous.

Basically, I'm fairly disappointed. I think I expected more organisation on the VIP's part. To me, it was just a gig the guys played. Nothing flash. Ended up costing us. Made nothing from it. Don't seem to have got anything from it. However, apparently we will find it a lot easier to get funding now (our VIP spoke with the top guy at NZ On Air) - so that's a huge bonus IF that is the case. Apparently the guy at NZOA was most impressed with the number of hits on YouTube. Either way, I will most certainly let you know if we get through as we will be applying for funding of a music video in the next round that closes on July 4.

At the end of the day it was an experience and was good to see the guys in their element as a 3-piece. So our ex-bassist can stick it where the sun don't shine, because we pulled it off without him! Woo hoo!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Show Must Go On

[...cont...] As predicted, the venue was fairly quiet when the guys kicked off their show, and as it progressed it came down to only being friends, family and the crew watching (yes... just sitting there... watching). The VIP who had set this up stayed until the end, of course, and had only good things to say about them. He was really happy that the other bass player had left and that they were now a 3-piece. He said he prefers it that way and because they have a strong drummer, there's no need for another guitarist.

He was disappointed that no radio or record label execs had turned up and also the fact that the venue hadn't been very busy. He seemed to think the venue hadn't done their part in promoting the event. I had sent half a dozen or so posters to them weeks earlier and, admittedly, I did not see them up around the venue anywhere. But from my own experience, I would never rely solely on a venue for promotion of any event. I do as much as I possibly can myself - both online and offline.

My next post will be my own personal summary of the night; but as for our VIP, at the end of the night, he seemed happy with how it all went. He did have a few points of advice for the boys - which they have all wisely taken on board. One of those points was for the bass player to experiment with sounds, possibly a 6-string bass. Another was for the lead singer (who's also lead guitarist) to really feature his guitar playing - he was overwhelmed by the skill of his guitar playing and said that if he really features that early in the set, then it will appeal to the guys in the audience and keep them there, whereas the singing appeals to the girls.

That was about it for the night - after that it was all pack down, pack up and travel home! It was one long night - and even though it wasn't that busy, the guys still had a blast doing their thing. I was so proud of them - they really pulled it off! My summary of the night will be in the next post. Watch out for it soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day Of The Showcase (Part 2)

[...cont...] So with sound check all finished, it was time to sit down and relax. Because the lead singer now does their sound (due to all that drama), he had set the PA up and organised everything so was pretty shattered and ready for a good meal and a rest. It was another 4 hours until they hit the stage so it was a good time to sit down and hang out with all our friends that had come to support the guys.

As 10pm rolled round, the main VIP that had organised the show turned up. As always, it was great to see him and chat about everything. I also noted a couple of other VIP's including The White Stripes international tour manager. Unfortunately at that time there was no sign of radio reps or record label execs.

The young couple arrived back with an awesome looking canvas banner!! We hung that up on the back wall behind the drum kit and the stage looked stunning!

The venue manager then came up and asked the guys not to start until 10.30pm as the restaurant below them still had patrons. Fair enough. But bare in mind it was a Thursday night and kicking off a show at 10.30pm seemed a little late to me - especially since everyone works the next day. Not only that, but the venue itself is quite a drive from the suburbs - it's not exactly in the city, so I knew we wouldn't get many people wander in off the street.

Predictably the venue became less busy by 10.30pm and I could foresee this was going to be a hard gig for the guys. You see, when you have a packed out venue with people dancing etc, the band feeds off the audience and it really fires up the show (if you're in a band, you will know what I mean). But when you have a couple of dozen people just sitting down... watching... it becomes quite a draining show. I'm not in a band, but I have been around long enough to see both sides of that coin.... [ be cont...]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day Of The Showcase (Part 1)

I was emailed earlier this week by the venue manager and told that if the band play "too loud" and don't turn it down if asked, then we won't be getting paid. I felt like writing back and saying "you do realise this is a rock band?! It isn't an acoustic trio...! How the #*#@!% do you make a rock band play "not loud"??!" I was starting to wonder if maybe this wasn't the right type of venue. To be honest, it put a real dampener on the show and now I had a lead singer (also doing their sound) who was now trying to focus on getting a great sound - but not too loud!

Anyway, Thursday morning we picked up the PA at 8.30am, loaded the van with everything else and hit the road at 12.30pm. It all seemed to be going to plan, we were right on schedule and had everything we needed (I credit the lists we made - lists are great!!).

We arrived up in Auckland at about 2.30pm and started unloading the van and getting the PA set up. By 5pm the guys were ready for sound check - although we couldn't do a thorough one unfortunately as the venue was already receiving complaints about the noise! Crazy!

After sound check, we were approached by a young couple who asked if we had a banner for the band. We had silver backing and 'drop' banners on the side with the band name - but no backdrop as such. They told me they had their own print company and would love to print off a massive 3m x 1.2m banner for the back of the stage! Not only that, but they would do it free of charge! Full colour, anything we wanted! What a fantastic offer and I was so grateful for it. They surprised me even further by leaving right then to design one up and print off - all for the show tonight! [ be cont...]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Wheels Are A-Turning...!

Good things are a-happening here right now! Showcase is tomorrow night and already great things are happening.

The lead singer has had two interviews with major commercial radio stations today!! One had been set up a while ago as it's currently New Zealand Music Month, and the other was hooked up via phone through the VIP that has organised the showcase! That station will also playlist the band's first single in a sort of 'homegrown' type segment - that is specifically for the really good unsigned bands. This is a major break for us - commercial radio is really hard to break into, even those homegrown segments - as it really is a 'who you know' industry.

So all is good in our world right now. There is more to add - and will tell you all about it in about 2 days time. I won't post tomorrow (Thursday 22nd) but will be back Friday and will tell you how it all went and also the latest on the drama that's developing with that forum... once again unfortunately.

See ya!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gimme More.... (No, not Britney!)

Putting the subject of the showcase aside for this post, I thought it was about time to point out a very valid point that one might easily overlook in these particular circumstances.

This point: Never stop creating.

That's the beauty of having someone like me, a manager, to look after the business side of things - it allows the artist to keep on creating and do what they are good at. Because let's face it - if you are going to get anywhere in the music industry, you need to realise that there is more to it than just playing great songs! There's sooo much more to it! Yes, us managers are actually worth our 10%!! haha

So, back to it. Gimme more...!! No, not Britney Spears (though I must admit, I quite like a couple of her latest songs!) - but more songs, more riffs! Keep up those skills, keep creating new melodies, lyrics, riffs etc. Really work it and make each song better than the one before.

The artist I manage has been working on their second album - which I must say, is even better than the first! The tracks are absolutely awesome and I am very much looking forward to seeing that album go places! Strong hooks and good riffy feels! Lovin' it! I think they are on to a real winner with that one! And that's only 4 of the songs.

Basically, the idea is, to get about 20 or so tracks recorded as demo's - then we'll have a little party, check out the tracks and see if we can whittle it down to about 11 or 12 tracks to go on that second album. So good things abound...!

Counting down to showcase... 3 days to go! After the past week's drama, we want nothing else to go wrong! Lead singer is complaining he feels like he's coming down with something - I have dosed him up on Vitamin C & Echinaecia!!! So hopefully (fingers crossed) that stops any possible bug in it's tracks!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "It is not the hours we put in on the job, it is what we put into the hours that counts"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Slow Recovery... But Game On!

Well after the drama that was yesterday, we have found a solution and that should fit for the upcoming showcase on Thursday. Our rhythm guitarist has opted to play bass for the showcase - and it just so happens that he was originally bought into the band as bassist - so he had previously learned the bass line.

Still a shame that all this has happened because it now means a lot of work over the next 5 days for him to get up to scratch with bass. So... now heading into this showcase as a 3-piece, but I guess it could have been worse.

All's well that ends well. Actually, not quite, I don't want to speak too soon. However, in saying that, I am confident I have 3 great guys in this band that are all on the same page. They have all played in various bands together for years so are familiar with each other's style. I'm 90% confident that all will flow now... and I think this will be successful. Let's not forget - all the drama will make great video footage for the documentary!! haha

Just goes to show, that when things happen and stand in your way - don't let them. There's always a way around it. Our ex-bassist thought he could stop this showcase happening. It didn't work - we have worked around it. Just goes to show that no-one is indispensable. Always, always stay strong, positive and focussed on the end result - don't cave in because things aren't going your way..... don't be a quitter.

We didn't quit. Even when things looked their worst. I pray that I might be able to share some good news with you soon. And I hope that this might serve as an inspiration to many other musicians out there.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Don’t waste time calculating your chances of success and failure. Just fix your aim and begin"

Friday, May 16, 2008

Burned From The Inside...

Only 6 days to the showcase and all is going swimmingly! The band are all fully rehearsed and ready to put on their best show yet - even if the bass player has missed the last two rehearsals (for seemingly valid reasons).

Maybe I should say that all was going swimmingly. That is, until the we got a text earlier today from the bass player asking if he could meet up for a 'chat'. You know that when you get something like that then it's serious. We figured he wanted out, and that was fine - he's the kind of guy that would honour his commitments already made, so we knew that he wouldn't leave us in the lurch.

Well that couldn't have been further from the truth. He came around with his mind made up. He wanted out and he wanted out now; i.e. no, he wouldn't be playing at the showcase. Now, remember, this showcase is in 6 days from today!! And now we have no bass player?! What the hell?! This is their biggest opportunity yet and he's really dumping us in it.

Why? Well, his reasons are the fact that they aren't getting paid for it (well, they are, but that payment will cover the costs of hiring the PA). On top of that, we are all putting in for transport to get up there - all in one van with the gear. Basically this particular bass player is jaded by the commercialism of the industry and said to our singer "look, your songs are too good for this - you don't need these people, you can do it on your own, you're way too good for that". To which our answer is "it's a foot in the door! It's an opportunity we wouldn't otherwise have, we have to do this!".

But like I said, he came here with his mind made up already and there was nothing we could do. Am I angry? Ahh.. you have no idea! Any bass players out there that are so damn good you can learn an album in the next 5 days?????

Will let you know how we get on... this is just such a blow for us...

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Strategy #1

I want to share with you a great promotional strategy that originally came from Derek Sivers. I think it's an awesome idea and something we will be putting to use in this showcase:


Secret trick to get people in the audience to sign your mailing list AND be part of your inside club.

1. At every show you do, from now on, bring a camera and a notebook.

2. About halfway through your show, when everyone is having fun, take pictures of the audience, from the stage. Tell them to smile, make a face, hold up their beer, whatever.

3. Afterwards, pass around the notebook and say, "Please write down your email address in this notebook, and in a few days, I'll email you, telling you where you can see YOUR goofy picture on my website."

4. At the end of the night, before bed, write up a journal/diary/memoir of that show. Scan and upload all their pictures onto a page of your website. Dedicate a page of your site about that show, with the diary, photos, and a little link on that page that says, "If you were at this show, please introduce yourself!" - so people can contact you.

5. Email everyone that was there that night. Of course EVERYone will go look at your site. How could they not? People are infinitely more interested in themselves than they are in you.

6. Stay in touch with them all!

(p.s. The other hidden idea in this is to make every show a Real Event. A Big Deal. Something worth documenting. This will get you out of the habit of thinking of it as "just another gig." Because for many of your fans, it's not. It's the most fun they've had all month.)

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Planning For A Showcase

With the showcase being only one week away, a suggestion was made by a good friend of ours (aka top roadie) to video the events leading up to it. For instance, rehearsals, packing the gear, organising transport etc along with the actual show - or at least, parts of it. With the idea of it all being collated together and used to create a documentary of the event.

I think it's a great idea and has a bit of merit! Always great to have the live footage - even if we take the audio out and throw the studio version of the song onto it. So am just putting down my thoughts on what we can include in it. I'm thinking an interview with the band will be a good base for it - and have bits and pieces of the recorded events spread throughout it.

Also, don't forget these sort of things make great promotional tools! No doubt some parts will end up on YouTube and the like. Also good to keep some parts of these things and make them available for fans only - i.e. those that have signed up to the newsletter on your website. You do have a small form where they can sign up to a newsletter, right?! If not, get one - now! (More on that later). But basically, fans love to get up close and personal with the artist - so if you give them unseen behind the scenes footage, they will love you for it.

So, on that note, if you have a big event coming up - or any event/gig etc, video some backstage footage, or behind the scenes stuff - great way to keep the fans coming back for more.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Any Publicity Is Good Publicity... Right?

Well... yes... I happen to agree with that one. There are some great ways to go about it - and although there have been some very interesting attempts, here's one I thought I might pass on - the title alone made me laugh: "How To Get Publicity For Your Forgotten Band - Sue Stupid Pop Star", check the article out at Music Snobbery here.

So you can give publicity a go via the alternative route (as above), or go the professional route (as I will explain below). I must admit though, I am tempted to take that route above! haha

Anyways, I received the advice a while back to get in touch with a good PR person as soon as the album was done. At that stage, after investing a lot in buying our own studio and then recording the band, the funds simply weren't available to look into the PR side of things thoroughly.

Having put that off for nearly a year, I have decided that now is the time to look into that seriously. I was recently contacted by a Canadian PR company who love the album and that have the contacts and experience to get my artist some well-deserved exposure. I am considering it - but it might just be smart to wait until after the showcase next week.

But put it this way, PR is one of the most important (if not THE most important) aspect in music. You may have one great album, but it's no good if no-one knows about you! Getting an excellent PR person (that has the brains and the reputation) behind you could make all the difference!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Go for it now. The future is promised to no one"

Breaking Into Commercial Radio

Okey dokey, here's a bit of the good news! It is possible to receive airplay and get playlisted with the commercial radio stations - it has happened to several bands - and not just in New Zealand. But one good example that I would like to share, which you may or may not already know the story of, is the story behind New Zealand band, Blindspott.

Originally typecast as too heavy for radio, the Blindspott eventually earned radio airplay through radio stations being overwhelmed with fans requesting to hear them. And, as they say, the rest is history — a major label bidding war, two number one albums, triple platinum sales, a number one airplay single, sold-out tours, and overseas adventures in South East Asia, Japan, America and Australia.

Certainly goes to show that it's all about getting the music to the people - winning them over one by one. Nurture your fans, look after them - they will become your best asset! Just like I mentioned in a previous blog - you need to treat every single fan like they are number one! Because you never know who they are or how they can help you! Just look at what happened with our YouTube video - all because we replied to a comment and let that person know we appreciated him taking the time to check it out.

There are many stories to success that are similar to the one of Blindspott. However, it's important to note that, though it may sound fairly easy, reality is, it's a lot of hard work. Playing live, connecting with fans, keeping up to date with comments, emails, playing more gigs, organising new gigs etc - all of it is solid hard work - it's not easy. But when you get to that stage and all your fans behind you wanting to hear you on the radio - that's what makes it all worth it.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "If life throws you a curve ball, hit a grand slam off of it"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's Not What You Know, But Who You Know

As I have mentioned on here several times, it's not what you know but who you know. Especially in a country as small as New Zealand.

This is probably common knowledge and expands further than just New Zealand. But at the end of the day - unless you are one of the movers and shakers within the music industry, or are good friends with them, then you are not going to get heard - at least, not on commercial radio. It's as simple as that. Actually, that's probably why we often listen to the radio and think "how the hell did that band manage to get on there?!". Come on... we've all thought that.

I have the perfect example of such a corruptive industry: at the 2007 New Zealand Music Awards, The Mint Chicks were the winners in five categories. In each of those same categories, New Zealand band Opshop were also nominated. Now, here's where it gets interesting - Opshop won the 'People's Choice' Award (i.e a category where the general public vote for their favourite band). What's even MORE interesting, is that The Mint Chicks were not even a finalist in that category!! Go figure!

Need I say more?! I think not.

Sounds all pretty depressing right? Fear not, for I believe there is a way to break through all this crap and get to the commercial audience. It has been done before... and I'll tell you how in the next post.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Who Is Right: Consumer Or Industry?

One thing I don't understand is why there is so much controversy over what is deemed suitable for airplay. There's so much argument over what is considered 'commercial' or 'mainstream' - but let's face it, that's what your music needs to be to even have a chance at getting airplay!

Some people describe commercial music as 'music that is designed for public consumption, usually not brilliant music'. But here's my take on "commercial" music: I think it's music that would be popular to the wider audience. Yes it could be construed as anything from pop to soft rock, but even go as far as hard rock. As long as it remains melodic with strong hooks and appealing to the masses - I think you could be considered commercial. So, when I describe something as "commercial", please understand that this is what I mean.

One would think that any music with a following and a tonne of feedback, including great reviews/comments and inquiries as to tours etc could be deemed as 'commercial' music and suitable for airplay?

The band I manage are considered 'Arena Rock' and could be described as brilliant music designed with a soul that people have latched on to en mass - hence, they more than deserve airplay as that will only broaden their fan base. Yet, when approaching radio programmers, I'm told that it's "cheesy". Trust me, you can't get any more "cheesy" than some of what's on the radio these days! I have stopped short of saying that to them. haha

I guess my point here is that - I gotta wonder why radio programmers think the way they do. If you run a radio station - don't you want to appeal to the majority? Therefore, when a band comes along that shows that they have the whole package - including a fan base and great songs that are loved by those that have heard them, then why don't they get really excited about that?

I know, I know, it all comes down to the politics games. But at the end of the day - what kind of business are you running when you don't stay true to the music?!

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining...

After all the negativity you start to wonder if it's all really worth it. I struggled many times with that - many times! However, every time I listened to the album, or replied to all the positive comments via social networking sites, or received emails from all those wanting to know when the guys are going to tour - that's what kept me going. It's all that that reminded me exactly what I had sitting right in the palm of my hand. At the end of the day - that is what it's all about: getting the music to the people. And as long as I kept that in mind, I knew I could carry on and do this.

A lot of my time is spent emailing. Emailing music industry 'movers & shakers', newspapers, magazines - online and offline, potential contacts, promoters, radio stations etc. On opening my email one morning, I had a very welcome surprise. One of the biggest VIPs in the music industry here in NZ wanted more information on this band!

I was very quick to reply of course and I ended up posting him a copy of the album upon his request. Consequently he loved what he heard, couldn't speak highly enough of it and wondered why it wasn't on the radio yet. He as also impressed with the 300,000+ views one of the tracks had received on YouTube.

We set up a meeting with him, the lead singer and I a couple of weeks later. Throughout that meeting we discussed all sorts including the state of the music industry at this stage and also the importance of owning your own material - it gives you so much more leverage! Which, at this vital stage, my artist has retained all rights to his music. He mentioned that he'd like to set up a showcase, to ensure that what is heard on the album can be pulled off in a live environment. In doing so, he would like to invite some music industry execs and other VIPs to come along and check them out.

We haven't yet had this showcase, and have no idea if this will open any doors for us or not, but it's one hell of an opportunity to break into an industry that will otherwise shut you out and show no mercy.

The showcase is scheduled for two weeks from now. I will still be posting every day, so be sure to stay tuned and find out how it all goes!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom"

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Devil Rears It's Ugly Head... (Part 2)

..[.. cont from part 1..] Hotmail eventually gave me access to the account and after looking into what this guy had been doing - it turned out that it was the SAME person that had emailed us from his REAL address stating that the music "rocked"! Not only that, it also turned out that it definitely WAS the person that reviewed the album!! And now I had the indisputable evidence!

I thought it was about time to contact the editor of the main local paper that had offered to have our album reviewed. I figured he needed to know what his "reviewers" were up to. After emails back and forth, I sent through the proof I had from the Hotmail account and the editor was furious to see the truth! He assured me that this guy would no longer be reviewing for him as he was not interested with anyone that carried on in such a childish vindictive manner. I was happy enough with that.

The next day I heard back from the editor, only to hear that he had contacted the reviewer who was "most upset with what had transpired" and that his email account had been "hacked" and that person had contributed to the hate campaign that had started through the forum we originally tried to participate in!

I knew right when I heard that, it wasn't true. It didn't ring true and it was just a convenient excuse. As if to prove my theory correct - I received an email from the reviewer that same day stating he wasn't "sorry" for anything and that he will be keeping a very close eye on this bands career and doing whatever he can to bring them down.

I didn't bother with a reply and yes I thought about forwarding it on to the editor, but in the end I didn't bother. I knew by then that the editor was one of the people involved in that forum and therefore didn’t trust him. We had to disassociate ourselves from anything like that, move on and focus on our goals.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Life gives you only what you accept"

Devil Rears It's Ugly Head... (Part 1)

Ok, so we had a few problems with other local muso's just not digging what this band does. And that's all good. It doesn't bother me that other musician's don't dig it. In fact, it wouldn't bother me if the public didn't dig it - let's get real, Bon Jovi might have 80,000 fans in New Zealand that love them!! But they'll also have 80,000 people that hate them, and probably another 80,000 that really just don't give a damn.

Every band will have their share of haters and those that don't care for it, so it didn't bother me too much that there were half a dozen muso's that visited and ran that local forum that hated the band I manage.

Anyways, I sent out the press release after that forum saga just letting them know about this bands album release etc. The next day I received an email from the main local newspaper's music editor asking if I would send a copy of the album in to them - he would pass it on to one of his reviewers to check out and review.

Of course I saw no problem with this because, even if you didn't dig the music, you could still hear the calibre of musicianship in it, so I sent him a copy. A week later, I received an email suggesting that they shouldn't print the review as it was so bad that it wouldn't do the band any justice with their first review being so bad.

That same day we received some emails from a guy (locally) stating how he thought the music "rocked" and how great it was. However, we thought nothing of it because we have received many of those emails - albeit many are generally international. So we wrote back to him - as we reply to every email/message we get.

We ALSO received that same day, an email from a Hotmail account that was in the name of the band I manage!!! I knew that we hadn't created a Hotmail account, so read it and it was one of the worst hate-mails you have probably ever seen! Ok, that's cool, didn't bother me. Just left it. But then we got more... and more!! All over the next day or two and he assured us he would "contact every reviewer I know in the North Island" to ensure the band don't get a good review. After reading them, it was pretty easy to see that he was the one that had reviewed the album.

I then decided to contact Hotmail to let them know what was going on - as I didn't know if this person was contacting others in the name of this band. And that was the only thing that really worried me…. [.. continue here..]

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Other people can stop you temporarily. You're the only one who can do it permanently"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

When People Love To Hate You

Ok, assuming you all have a local live music scene - how good is it? I'm talking about your particular city/town (not the whole country). Seriously, I'd love to hear about it - how involved are you? Are you mates with the other bands? Do you work together and put on events/shows? Because that’s what I want out of a live music scene locally.

I'll now share with you the beginnings of much drama and tall poppy syndrome that the band I manage have suffered.

When the guys finished their album and it was all mastered and ready for release, I was given a suggestion to check out the local music forums. Thus thinking this was a great idea, I googled music forums in our area.

I came across a site that was based in our area, and had some of the local bands involved in the forums. They had the usual posting area's that you see on forums (i.e gigs, music, bands, general chat etc). So after looking round the site a bit I signed up and in the 'music' section created a post letting people know that this band had a single coming out with the album following shortly after. It also mentioned that this band had already received 73,000 views on YouTube and if you would like to be kept up to date, visit the artist website and sign up to the newsletter.

So, anything wrong with what I wrote? I would have thought not. It was a local forum, local muso's, I thought the support would be great! I couldn't have been more wrong. It started from there and hasn't stopped since. After that first post, they attacked the band's music, insulted them personally and then all these pseudonym's started popping up in the name of this band!! They all started arguing with each other and it's about that time that we stepped right back from the situation and broke the ties. It was crazy to watch, and almost laughable. However, we did not wish to associate with such types and have not been back to that "forum" since.

This is the perfect example of a clique – there were ringleaders involved and it could almost constitute internet bullying - they ridiculed the band and the whole situation became larger than life with different pseudonyms impersonating the band and rumours flying within their circles.

A real hate for the band had developed... simply because they were viable - and very good at what they do. Leagues above the muso's on that forum - and they knew it... the beginnings of Tall Poppy Syndrome made itself known.

That's all? No.. not by a long shot. More coming...

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Pay no attention to critics. No one ever erected a statue of a critic"

Repercussions Of Tall Poppy Syndrome

Ok, so back to the whole Tall Poppy Syndrome and how it's effected us thus far. For a start, one of the repercussions of Tall Poppy is that it has revealed different cliques in our town.

After the drama that happened with our sound man, I have since realised that he is involved in that clique - hence the reason at both festivals, his mates' bands had a nice big sound, but when the band I manage came on - there always seemed a 'problem' and the mix was never as good.

The troubling thing is, the main clique around here is a bunch of musicians that are fully against anything commercial or mainstream - and do not want to see anyone succeed. Unfortunately, this leads to ostracisation of those outside the clique and leaves them subject to insults and bullying. Ok, you're thinking, we're all adults here, so they can't do much damage. Right? Wrong.

Unfortunately for us, it turns out that this clique of musicians here in our town pretty much run the live music scene - they work at CD stores, within the local media, at the student union offices for local techs and uni's, are in with venues. These muso's have gone to a couple of extreme lengths to make our lives a misery...

I will get to how and why in the next post... stay with me for it!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Ideas won't work until you do"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Gripe With MySpace Musicians!

Ok, I'm going to interrupt my usual blog entries with a gripe that has really been bugging me! And it's happened again today!!

As you know from my previous blogs, I have the band I manage involved in several of the popular social networking sites. MySpace is one of the most 'musician-friendly' ones, and it certainly serves it's purpose. But one thing is really getting on my nerves!

We get a tonne of friend requests from bands, and that is all good - on EVERY friend request the guys get, I go and comment on that persons page, just to say thanks, good to meet you, whatever. The general public always respond... but bands don't!

I don't get it, I think it's really rude! Ok, I know that when you 'add a friend' on MySpace (especially from a band), they are not REALLY friends - it's just basically a networking tactic, and I'm all good with that. But how hard is it to comment back and show a little interest? Who knows, you could network with some great bands and you never know what opportunities could arise from that...!

Instead, it's like they add you simply to add another number to their friend count and make themselves look popular.. is there much point to that if you never communicate in any other way?!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "You are in this world to create history either for yourself or for this world. The choice lies with you"

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Ever heard of the 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'?
Basically, it is slang for the tendency to criticise highly successful people (i.e tall poppies), and 'cut them down'.

New Zealand has a terrible case of tall poppy syndrome with people constantly being knocked down, simply for letting themselves shine. People are criticised by their peers for merely striving to achieve the best, yet society wonders why a lot of young people settle for mere mediocrity in their chosen field.

In December last year, I sent a copy of the band's album to a VIP in the New Zealand music industry. He absolutely loved it and he met with myself and the singer to have a chat. He wisely advised us to watch out for 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' here in New Zealand. At the time I didn't greatly understand that point he made, but I took the advice on board anyway.

I guess the main point here is that when you have something good, something that has the potential to be very successful - you have to watch out. There are people that will try and cut you down (generally those that are in the same industry, i.e in this case - the local struggling musician circle), that don't want to see you succeed - because it shows that they are not as good.

When that happens, you need to be at your strongest. Don't let it get to you - recognise it for what it is - jealousy. Let it be your motivator. That is exactly how I am now. I have a point to prove, but not only that - I know that this band is that good. I'm not biased - but I do know what it takes to 'make it' and it's also proven from the email, comments and response we receive from the general public. We also have the support from very prominent NZ music figure (more on that later). Whatever happens, stay strong, keep focussed on your goals, keep your live show polished and finally - keep writing great songs!

Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer - you will see that in this case, there are people that have gone to great lengths to try and bring this band down... stay tuned and I will tell you what happened...

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: " If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln