|'Of Monsters And Men' photo by Austen Blake Marshall edited by CA Marshall|
Tips by Michael McKenna
Nor'easter Entertainment Magazine
Do you ever feel like time is passing you by? Do the fall & winter holidays sneak up on you, leaving you rushing around to buy gifts and do promotions at the last minute? Do you realize in September that it’s too late to plan that new EP? Well, it’s time to start planning ahead.
Summertime is a great season for gigs, but they’re likely already booked by now, or it’s too late to get into the better spots or outdoor events. The season also offers great opportunities for musicians who take the time to look ahead to the fall and winter. And of course, putting an end to procrastination should happen today. Before Labor Day you need to roll up your sleeves and take care of these six crucial items.
1. Plan a Black Friday release
Americans spend most of their discretionary income between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now’s the perfect time to start thinking about getting in on that with your own recording or merchandise. It doesn’t need to have a holiday theme, either; it just needs to be well done and be you.
People love giving their loved ones homegrown or homemade presents, from Vermont maple syrup to your Uncle Doug’s home-brewed beer. Your fans would love to share your work with others, so start getting something ready now to promote by Halloween and release by mid-November.
2. Contact colleges for gigs
Every college or university has some sort of activities director or full-time event planner, if not a whole office full of them. These folks generally work 12 months a year, but during the school year, they’re busy all the time with students and events, so they’re hard to reach. In the summer, every day is casual Friday for some of these professionals, and they’re able to look ahead and book shows for the upcoming school year.
You can jump on board by contacting these people now. You stand to gain well-paid gigs with appreciative audiences who are adept with social media, and at larger institutions, you could end up opening up for some major acts. So pick up the phone.
3. Go to a music festival
Do you want people to come to your shows? Go to theirs, camp out, take some friends, make yourself known to them. It might be too late to get your band onstage at the balloon fest or chili cook-off, but you can probably buy tickets at the gate. Go check out some great acts, have a good time, and, if you like the scene, network with the organizers so you can get on next year’s bill. Bring a few demos along – you never know who you might meet.
4. Play on the street
This is the season to spend a little time busking. People are outside enjoying the weather, walking around downtown, checking out the local scene. Locals and tourists can stop to listen to talented musicians because there’s no snow falling on them, and your hands won’t go numb. Playing outside on the street is the lowest pressure gig imaginable, like an open-air rehearsal, and you’ll improve your chops and your rapport with strangers.
You can also sell a surprising amount of reasonably priced merchandise. But make sure to check with city hall first; a permit is usually required (although it’s often free). Ask if a sound system is allowed!
5. Make those repairs you've been procrastinating on
Okay, what useful item in your music room is gathering dust because you’re procrastinating an easy repair? What broken amps, guitar, or stompbox just needs one cheap part or a new nine-volt battery to be back in service? Is your band vehicle out of inspection because you were too busy to replace the wiper blades?
Use the lazy days of summer to catch up on all this stuff. The winter is when farmers hang out in the barn, fixing their broken tools (and enjoying the beer they brewed in the summer). Let the summertime be that time for you and get all your stuff in tip-top shape.
6. Clean up your online presence
You’ve been avoiding it, but it’s time to do a web search on yourself and see if your social media presence is up to snuff. Change those profile pics. Customize your pages to the greatest extent available. If you’re terrible with computers, get a bandmate, significant other, or buddy to help you out. It’s 2016, and even Ozark fiddle bands have a web guru. Don’t get left behind by having a cheesy website or generic Facebook page.
All of the above items are things that I seen bands do and/or make the mistake of not doing. Don't be left behind and Don't rest on your laurels thinking that your band is the best thing out there, believe me, there are better!