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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"