Archive for the ‘Interviews’ category

So What Exactly Is A Manager?

November 1, 2010

So I posted this on our Twitter feed last week and think it’s also worth posting here. Uber successful artist, Josh Ritter, decided to do an interview with his manager and stick it on his blog:   Making a Life in Music, Vol. 4: “What the Hell a Manager Does”. I love when other artists decide to share their knowledge with so I have much respect for you, Josh!

The blog is a challenging piece on what a manager does, how an artist works with a manager, and all the things you should be doing to find yourself in a healthy relationship with someone who assumes that role.  The interview includes a quick recap of Ritter’s beginnings through the eyes of his manager, friend, and dorm buddy, Darius Zelkha. It also addresses all the questions you’ve ever had, and all the questions you never thought of.  I read it word-for-word last Friday and loved it!  Thanks to Jon S. Patton of the group Midway Fair for the Grassrootsy recommendation.

An Interview with Amanda Duncan

July 14, 2010

Amanda Duncan

New Jersey artist, Amanda Duncan, is an artist who steals the show even before she gets on stage. She has a knack for grabbing the attention of music lovers because she really stands out!  She’s a a funny chick with a knack for transfering her comical personality into her online representation. Just like Allison Weiss, she’s got some wise words on social networking, online marketing, and image. Read and repeat.

1. What’s your story? How did you get into performing and touring? Are you doing this full time? Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be in the spotlight. I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer…I just didn’t know what form of entertainment. I kind of got into this whole singer/songwriter-ness by accident. For some reason when I was 17, I thought I was going to get a guitar from my aunt and uncle, but I was given a baseball signed by Wade Boggs. Haha! I was so excited to play guitar that I had to start learning so I borrowed a one and practiced every day so I could play and sing at the same time. Some horrible songs followed. Haha! But some years later I really started to hone my craft of songwriting. I’ve always felt comfortable in front of crowds. So, the performance aspect of my career has come naturally.

In all honesty, I haven’t been on too many tours. I’ve had a few stints here and there, but nothing to shake a stick at. That is all about to change with my upcoming college tour this fall. Once that happens I will be a full time musician. For years now, I have been juggling a web design business and my music career…and I’m sooooo excited that in a few months my job will solely be music!!!


2. You’ve do have quite a calendar with alot of college shows. Are you part of NACA? If so, what are you thoughts on becoming a member and going to regional showcases.  For those who aren’t part of NACA, what do you suggest is the best method for college booking & touring.
NACA (National Association of Campus Activities)! Yes, I am a part of it. Let me explain it to those who don’t know what it is. NACA is an organization that holds regional conferences for college student activity boards across the country. The conferences consist of showcases, exhibit halls and educational sessions. The showcases can be anything from singer/songwriters to magicians, bands, jugglers, comedians, etc. The exhibit hall (which is called the Market Place) is where everyone has booths and the students can walk around and get info from the various entertainers.  More on NACA.

The NACA world can be fickle. One can get easily discouraged by the push and shove of it all. It’s hard to get selected to showcase because there are hundreds of applicants. And it’s hard to get booked if you don’t showcase. Attending regional conferences without showcasing might score you a few gigs, but not enough for a full calendar year. You also have to have music that actually appeals to college students…that is probably the most important thing! Haha!

Booking your own college shows is definitely an option. You have to be super organized, motivated and have college fans. If you have college fans you are one step closer to the student activities board. I did this for a while with some success.

3. Your self promotion is spot-on! Do you have someone handling your marketing? Your songs are bitter-sweet, sentimental, yet playful all at the same time. And your marketing seems to reflects that. What are your thoughts on consistency and uniformity as an artists? I actually do all my marketing. I do my own graphic work and I come up with the ideas for my photo shoots. I have a real vision of how I want to come across to people. I want people to see me as a fun approachable artist. I think that comes through. I feel like we are all swimming in a sea full of musicians and I need to stick out at face value. People may chuckle when they see my photos and think I’m some sort of comedian/weirdo, but once they take a listen to my music they tend to get it. The marketing really comes together at my live shows when they get to see me play and listen to my ridiculous banter.

As far as consistency and uniformity goes, that is a great question. I think being consistently YOU as an artist is important, but I think being an ORIGINAL artist is what will put you above the rest. You can write songs that run the gamete as long as it’s “your sound”. Basically you have to see yourself as a brand. If I say “Pepsi” or “McDonalds” you picture their logo instantly. Obviously, those companies have spent billions of dollars on advertising…but you can do the same thing for yourself as an artist. I have a logo. It’s a lawn chair. And in the beginning, people were asking “Why the chair?” And my response would be “When people listen to my music I want them to think of summer time. And to me summer time reminds me of backyard barbeques with lawn chairs.” Now people just accept it and say “I love the chair!”

4. I see that you really make use of social networking and social networking widgets. Which network(s) do you think you’ve benefited from the most? I think it’s a combination of everything. At first I used MySpace (now apparently only dinosaurs use it). And that got me by for a long time. I use facebook to stay in touch with people and let people know what I’m up to. I am not gonna lie…I obsess over Twitter. Although, that seems to be dying out as well. As an artist, you have to keep up with the moving trends of social networking. If there is a new networking site that comes out…sign up for it right away so you can claim your artist name before anyone else of the same name gets it. If you use the account, cool…if you don’t…don’t worry about it. I keep a spreadsheet of all my accounts/usernames/passwords. There is so much to keep track of these days, but it’s all important!


5. This is a question Grassrootsy asks each of its Interviewees
: What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better? I know that there are a lot of artists who don’t want to spend time on the internet/computer. To me, this is a huge mistake. If you want to sustain a long career in music you need to spend at least 1 hour a day making sure you are keeping up with your social networking. My general rule is to respond as much as possible to the people who post stuff on my facebook wall or twitter. I think we all know what it’s like to respond to a tweet of someone we really look up to and yet they never respond to ours. I never want people to feel that way with me. And when you have interactions online make sure they are positive. No one wants to see cryptic emo messages from a musician they idolize. Post funny things, things about your music, things that will provoke people to comment.

“You have to remember music is a business! You can be a genius and write the world’s best songs, but if you make bad business decisions those songs won’t see the light of day.”

6. Any additional advice, lessons learned, or thoughts on independent musicatry (fake word), that you can pass on to readers? My biggest pet peeve is when a really talented artist doesn’t have their ducks in a row. I think the reason I’ve come as far as I have is because I am very business oriented when it comes to my career. I’m organized, not to mention I have a lot of techie skills to help me promote my music. As a musician, you need to know your strengths and your weaknesses. I’m not saying to have a complex about it. Haha! For instance…I am pretty confident in my songwriting skills, but I know I couldn’t produce my songs to their fullest potential. That is when I bring in a professional. I went through that whole phase of wanting to do EVERYTHING myself. It’s great to have that kind of motivation, but it can lead to some really bad career moves if you keep convincing yourself you are good at something you truly are not. If you aren’t organized…get management or someone to help you organize yourself. You have to remember music is a business! You can be a genius and write the world’s best songs, but if you make bad business decisions those songs won’t see the light of day. I have a whole binder separated by tabs (yes, I’m that dorky) to keep me organized. I won’t get into those crazy details, but if you want to know how I have it split up, feel free to email me.

Amanda Duncan Online:
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/amandaduncan
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Duncan/8542291310
Twitter: http://twitter.com/amandaduncan
YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/amandaduncan
Blog: http://amandaduncan.wordpress.com
iLike: http://www.ilike.com/artist/Amanda+Duncan
Reverb Nation: http://www.reverbnation.com/amandaduncan

An Interview with Joe Squared – Things Every Venue Wishes You Knew

March 3, 2010

Joe Squared - Voted Baltimore's Best Pizza

Todays interview is with Daren, booker of Baltimore’s Joe Squared and member of Disco/Pop/Hip-Hop Group, Claire Hux. Daren shares an overwhelming amount of knowledge with readers about how venues run and how to book and successfully promote your show. The below information will certainly make you re-think the way you or your band operates. It’s a long, but excellent post. Take the time to read it. Your comments are welcomed.

“Indie artists really need to learn the art of promoting themselves. It’s part of being indie.  It’s like paying your taxes, you don’t want to do it, but it’s the price you pay for a civilized society.”   ~Daren of Joe Squared

1. Tell us a little bit about Joe Squared. Joe2 is an interesting venue. It’s a high-quality pizza/salad/pasta-type restaurant and bar during the day and then becomes a music venue, bar, and lounge at night. Joe Edwardsen (founder, owner) is an amazingly ambitious and intelligent guy that decided Baltimore needed a “different kind” of pizza place (back in Nov 2005, when he opened).  They just had Dj’s at first and I was lucky enough to be one of his first customers. The band I was in practiced next door and we would go in there and get wings or chicken fingers. They only had DJ’s on Friday and Saturday. Haha. I actually remember asking him if they had any openings and he politely denied me. Fast forward to about a year later. I ended up working there as a delivery driver part-time to fund my music dream.  Since I was a dj/engineer/producer, I knew how all the gear worked and in my spare “down” time I would organize the DJ booth. I finally got a regular dj gig there. Haha!  I became attached and would yell at all the DJ’s that didn’t put everything back the right way.  Joe finally got his live music license (summer 2007), and thats when we started booking bands.  We started out with just a few bands a week with regular DJ slots.  Now we book up to 6 days a week with only one DJ night (“Dig” on Tuesdays). We’ve revamped and upgraded everything and have figured out a system hat works. Only took us 3 years. Ha! Our venue is odd because we are a restaurant first and then a venue, so we know it would be awkward to charge a cover for people who are sitting…and we have a regular “bar crowd” that we would hate to turn down. So the 15% of the bar rule (artist get %15 of sales) came about; which from my experience is a bit higher than most venues. But we really love our artists. We’ve found that blues, garage, rockabilly, bluegrass, jazz, acoustic, and rock acts have really enjoyed playing at our establishment and we get alot of those genre’s asking to play.

2. What does a venue expect from the artists it books. This might be a no-brainer, but indulge us? Alot of indie startup acts don’t know how the system works; so here is a quick rundown. We are on the lower end of the totem pole when it comes to venues. We are a step above a coffee shop but a step below a venue like Ottobar/Sonar (that deals specifically with bands). Because of that, there is no independent promoter (the middle man). When you get to higher levels, there are promoters that run tours and/or bring in big artists (Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Jay-Z).  They are all booked by promoters. It’s rare at that level that the venue is booking the act directly.. and if they do, they have an in-house promotion team. With that said, the promoter is responsible for bringing bodies through the door. It’s then the venue’s job to get those bodies to drink their alcohol. The venue makes 90% of it’s money off alcohol/drink sales (hence why all ages shows are expensive). A cover is just that: to cover the cost of the band, the lights, the sound person and the security/door people. Most riders/contracts from big bands/acts have the performer getting a guarantee and then a large percentage of the door AFTER cost. So that’s MAJOR incentive to bring more people through the door and pay that cover for the promoter and the band.

Now with lower end venues, there aren’t that many promoters running around doing small venue gigs. They just aren’t profitable for the promoter unless they are doing 10 a night. And  even then it’s a mess. So the venue really requires the band to wear 2 hats – the talent AND the promoter. This is tough because most bands are just musicians. They don’t practice their instruments for hours a day to also go out and learn how to promote, advertising, and marketing themselves…with no money involved…which makes it even harder. So because of that, alot of bands that are amazingly talented do not bring people through the door, don’t get any fans, and don’t make any money. Neither does the venue. It’s a shame and it hurts my heart. But indie artists really need to learn the art of promoting themselves. It’s part of being indie. Unless you have a rich uncle or a crazy hungry, sociable best friend or girlfriend,you have to do it yourself. It’s like paying your taxes, you don’t want to do it, but it’s the price you pay for a civilized society.

So basically, we really need you guys to bring heads through the door. We the venue can’t do that. Most venues don’t have built-in crowds that just come to every show. Most venues are “destination” venues, meaning people don’t just walk in and out of them like a bar on a busy main street. They actually go to them and stay there all night. Joe squared is awesome because from 9-11pm we have a great and slightly drunk dinner crowd and if you work it right you can increase your fan base (and money) if you play to those people. Alot of bands unfortunately don’t see that and it’s a shame. 😦

3. As someone who is constantly communicating with artists, what do you feel is the biggest shortcoming of independent artists when it comes to booking and promoting an event? Well I answered this a bit with the last answer. I’d say a huge short coming is emailing a venue and saying “we are so good, check us out… we are blah blah blah, and have done blah blah blah”. MOST VENUES DON’T CARE HOW GOOD YOU ARE! They care if you have a draw. Yes they don’t want to book trash, but an average band that brings 200 people to any given city will get booked anywhere verses an AMAZING band that brings no one. It sucks, i know. But this isn’t basketball. It’s not talent based. Music business is temperature based (how hot are you). I know i know, i sound like Ari Gold, but this is something I’ve learned – you gotta have a draw to be worth anything to anyone. The more people you can bring, the more leverage you have. You gotta give something before you take it. So when emailing venues, talk about how you can team up with a local band or two and bring 30 REAL people.  Don’t BS and lie to the venue. We have a 25% rule. Whenever a band says they will bring 50 people, we just assume it will be 12 or 13. Then we don’t usually want to do business with them again because they exaggerated their draw when we could have put on another like-minded band with a draw that could have made the night profitable for everyone. We are a business and business’s are in business to MAKE MONEY. We all love art and the scene and helping people, but capitalism means that we need money to keep the place running, and to pay the cooks, and to keep the bar tenders from quitting and working at another bar.

Also, try to be as professional, informative, and to the point as possible. When you are reaching out to a venue and “selling” your band (because that’s what you’re doing), you need to have value. Package your act well. Try to get high-quality recordings and high quality videos and pictures on your MySpace site…or other websites. I honestly spend 15 seconds on something and then decide whether I should keep listening/reading/or sifting through their page. Get GOOD press pictures, not weird low-budget ones that you took in your garage. It’s not expensive to look legit/professional… maybe a few hundred dollars. It takes money to make money.

Also, please check your email AT LEAST once a day, if not more. Email is 100% necessary. Don’t wait 2 weeks to answer a venue. Booking is a tough task and things get moved around quickly and easily. We like to book 2-3 months in advance, so you need to get back to us as soon as possible. All band members should check their emails too (so you can run it past them).  Ha! I could go on for days… but you get what im trying to say.

4. How can venues and bands (or singer/songwriters) work together to guarantee a good turnout?
I think the best way is to communicate. We try to offer the best and low-cost advertising for our bands. I wish we could do more (and we are getting better at it), but our demographic is so wide that it’s tough to hit up every possible “patron”. The best thing to do is get repeat fans. If people are jammin’ out to you in their seats or on the dance floor, give them a free download card and get an email address or something.  And be personable  – talk to them on the mic or in person. That is HUGE. So many musicians just want to play their instrument and go home. It’s not 1978. Yes it’s music business and the business is run because of the music; but with business you need money. People= money.  It’s not hard. It’s a grind, but what the hell in this world isn’t?

We are big about promoting inside of Joe Squared and Station North. Station North, the area where Joe2 is located in Baltimore, is very very destination. People rarely just “walk into” joe squared because it looks cool. So if people are there, we want them in again. We did go around the city and flyer but after a few days the flyers would be ripped down or something dumb. It became a waste of money for us. We of course do alot of online promotion and work with the local papers. Radio time is debatable. How many people listen to the radio? Facebook (is huge), twitter, etc, etc. Even though they are getting super saturated, it’s a necessary evil. I could go on about this too!

5. Any final words for the aspiring artist?
You know the saying: “talk to the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk”?  Well… I’m in an indie group and everything I’ve preached I do. It’s helped to be inside the monster and see how things work on a micro level with Joe Squared; but it’s hard… really hard.

LINK UP WITH OTHER BANDS and PROMOTERS in your area. You might get paid less, but it will make the show better, and the chance of booking another show there will be higher. And playing in front of alot of people is always better than playing in front of no one. Music is still priority, but there are so many more things that go into it. If you really want to play this indie game, you gotta play by the rules in 2010.

An Interview With Koji

January 13, 2010

My favorite way to run into the artists who get featured on Grassrootsy, is to split a show with them.  An artist’s true colors shine through their stage performance, interaction with their audience, and reflection of how much value they put on their music. I recently did a show with Andrew Koji Shiraki, a Harrisburg, PA based singer-songwriter, artist, and activist and was excited to run into yet another artist who has paved his own way through originality and hard work. Building relationships with his fans seems to be his “thing”.  Here’s what he has to say.

“Don’t waste your time with things you’re not prepared to do. Create a serious plan and execute it seriously.”

1.) What’s your story?
My journey in music began when my dad bought me my first guitar at age 11 or 12. From the start, I played in punk bands with friends from school. As time went on, I was the one friend that could not stop playing. It was in the punk-hardcore-emo DIY community that I learned my skills both as a musician and as a working professional. Through working as a youth community organizer and playing my bands “Jura” and “Koji on the Roof”, I developed a tool box which included recording, organization, marketing, and so on. This skill set served me well after graduating high school and moving on to college where I would begin playing at a professional level.

While studying at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, I joined a band called El Toro. Our record was released on Undecided/Victory Records who were part owned by Sony. My time with El Toro in our big ugly tour bus was my first brush with the industry and following a lengthy legal dispute with our label, I left the band with a serious commitment to make music on my own terms.

This current stage of my career came with several starts and stops as I took the Koji project through another incarnation as “Koji on the Roof” and “Koji & the Colormake Crew” the band before finally deciding in 2009 to pursue the project as a solo endeavor. Art is my full time job and since leaving El Toro in 2006, I’ve released several 7-inch records and CDEP’s, performed hundreds of shows across the nation and abroad, while continuing to also work as a visual artist and activist.

2.) I personally know that you are at the point where you pay someone to handle your booking, as well as pay people to travel with you and handle your merch.  How did you get to this point? Do you feel its hard to do?
It should be said that I have a unique relationship with my booking agent and team. Many of us saw the sort of merging of the independent world with the majors and I felt like I did not share the same vision as many of the members of our community held. There was this incredible bubble that occured around the independents that led to an economy that supported a lot of meaningless music that saturated and polluted the world. What we are seeing now, is a return to people working with good people and building up artists they believe in. Anyone that joins our team knows and believes that love and community are the mission. Working in this spirit is the singular reason for any success that I’ve enjoyed and maybe a little bit of luck. Any person wishing to pursue a career or life of any kind is going to find their own path, but understanding yourself and having principles is the best place to start. Was it hard for me to get to this point? My first inclination is to say “no!” but that’s only because I wake up every day happy and fulfilled.

3.) At a recent show you opted out of playing on stage (like the other artists) and actually sat within the audience. This significantly changed the atmosphere into a house show type feel. I think fans appreciated the intimate feel? Is this something you do often and how else do you create a community-like vibe at your shows.
The reason I started playing entirely unplugged or off the stage is that the shows that I first attended as a teenager did not have any stages or baracades. It just made sense that you be close to people. Whenever I feel far away, I know something must be done! On some occasions, the solution is to forgo the stage and pa system for the floor. It just occured to me a few years ago that the Clash and lot of other bands I really liked played on stage. That was a huge revelation for me. (Laughs) Community is something… We’re really lucky to have each other here and I’ve always thought music is a celebration of life, so I just try to show that through words and interactions. Be honest, be humble.

4.) What has been the most effective way for you to build your fanbase? And how do you try to maintain the connection with fans you’ve met on the road?
There are so many ways to stay in touch with fans these days that it’s hard to know which ones work! Although, it’s become quite obvious that MySpace is giving way to Facebook even for music pages. If you’ve been paying attention you know which social networking sites and tools you should be using. However, I contend that one should play to their strengths so if you’re successful at or attracted to Twitter, blogging, etc. then concentrate your energies there. Don’t waste your time with things you’re not prepared to do. Create a serious plan and execute it seriously.

5.) What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better?
Oh! The single thing that artists should do to promote themselves better is RESPECT everyone. We do not see this enough.

Koji Online: www.kojisaysaloha.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kojisaysaloha
Tumblr: www.kojisaysaloha.tumblr.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/kojisaysaloha
Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/kojisaysaloha/koji-presents-art-activism-and-the-environment

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An Interview with JD Eicher & The Goodnights

November 11, 2009
jdeicher
JD Eicher & The Goodnights
You can usually tell when an artist or a band takes themselves seriously…because it shows, not only in how they perform, but also in how they represent themselves.  JD Eicher & The Goodnights fit the profile.  They’re a pop/rock group with members based out of Youngstown, Ohio and and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’ve had a chance to split a few shows with them in the last few months and had a good feeling this post would show up sooner than later.

Frontman JD Eicher took the time to answer a few questions about about what it takes to be an independent, the pros and cons of joining NACA,  day-to-day responsibilities, and social networking.

1.) How long have JD Eicher & The Goodnights been together?
We’re into our third year of playing together.  I started out as a solo act two years prior to our forming.

2.) Several months back, Grassrootsy  did a write-up on what it takes to start a band. What do you feel is the biggest challenge when it comes to maintaining a band? And do you guys split up responsibilities?
Probably the biggest challenge is making stuff work with everyone’s schedule.  For example, we’ve never been able to lock in a definite rehearsal time.  We pretty much go week by week.

As far as responsibilities go, being an independent band can get surprisingly overwhelming very quickly.  There are a lot of responsibilities that seem to pass under the radar until you’re actually doing this full-time.  Our full band is a five-piece, so we do try to spread out some of the work, but it’s hard to always keep everything going.  For example, I’m kind of the stand-in “manager” for the time being, and I handle most correspondence, planning, and large-scale booking.   Dan is our graphic designer and does a lot of booking as well. And Ryan manages the mailing list, which can get pretty time-consuming.  Obviously it’s more involved than that, but you get the idea

3.) Your website is extremely well done, not to mention your merch setup at shows.  Grassrootsy talks alot about Image. Do you feel that people (fans and bookers) take you more seriously because you take yourself seriously?
Definitely.  It’s unfortunate that image plays such a big role, but it does.  We certainly invested some time and money into our merch selection and set-up, and a professional-looking website is really important.  Branding is imperative for original artists, and these elements certainly play a role.

This is a good time to plug our keyboardist, Dan Prokop, who designed our website!  In addition to playing in the band, he is also a freelance designer, and he’s always looking for clients:  info@danprokop.com; 412-874-6979.  This business is all about networking, right?

4.) What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better?
Tough one. Not sure that there is just one thing, so I’m gonna cheat on this answer and say that the single most important thing an artist can do for promotion is to embrace all the tools available.  Have a Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, mailing list, iLike.com profile, etc.  Push your stuff to local media, hang up flyers where you’re playing, etc.  Gone are the days when a popular Myspace was all you needed.  You never know where you’re next fan is coming from, so you really can’t afford to put all your eggs in one basket.
Have multiple baskets.

5.) I know that you’ve tried NACA before. Indie artists often have reservations about joining NACA because its a huge financial investment. Give us your honest thoughts on joining NACA and attending a conference.
I do think it’s a valuable resource for artists, but it is a huge, up-front investment…and by the time you’re done, it costs way more than you originally thought it would.  That being said, there are musicians that make their entire living from NACA bookings, and that is possible – it seems like it takes a few years to really get rolling, though.  Colleges also seem to favor solo-acoustic pop artists.  Solo acts are less-expensive, and pop acts are more universal by definition.  It’s also important to be a showcasing artist in order to lock in a large number of gigs.  The artists who perform at NACA always do better because the students get to see/hear them.  It’s not impossible to book if you don’t showcase, though.

All this being said, I think NACA is a useful tool.  A lot of artists complain about the money and politics behind it all, and that may all be true, but it’s one of the few opportunities where you can get face time with hundreds of talent buyers at one time. I just finished my last conference, and it looks like I will be able to make back the money I spent and maybe net a small profit, but I won’t know for sure until I’ve locked up my pending gigs.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

6.) JD, you’re a full-time musician. Tell us what your day-to-day is like.
Incredible.  I’m usually wind-surfing, buying guitars, or hanging out with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Not. It’s actually incredibly mundane   I spend most of my time in front of a spreadsheet managing contacts and calling venues.  I feel like I’m more of an accountant than a musician sometimes, but it’s worth it.  I do it all because I love to write and play music.  It’s just really important to stay on top of things, so whether I’m booking like a maniac or answering interview questions for an awesome blog, I’m always investing a full workday.  My hope is that, eventually, something will give.  For those few hours on stage each week, it all makes sense.


JD Eicher & The Goodnights Online:

Myspace: www.myspace.com/jdeicher
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/JD-Eicher-the-Goodnights/111051114937?ref=ts
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jdeicher
YouTube: www.youtube.com/jdeicher

Your Band Featured on Grassrootsy

September 30, 2009

 brightidea1

Grassrootsy is going to sleep until Oct 13 as I’ll be on tour with some other musicians. YAH! If you want to know more about our trip, visit www.4ontour.net.  In the meantime, here’s your opportunity to be featured on Grassrootsy.

Here’s How to be Featured – if you are a band (or solo artist)
1.) Send a few paragraphs about any innovative marketing your band is doing.  Tell  Grassrootsy readers what has worked for you and/or what has not worked for you?
2.) or Send a few paragraphs about any specific Grassrootsy posts (or tips) you/your band has applied over the last 11 months since Grassrootsy’s inception.  How have you applied them and how have they helped?
3.) Include a link to all your social networking sites: official site, myspace, facebook, youtube, twitter…etc.
4.) Include a link(s) to a few press pictures of you/your band. These MUST be quality photos. [no attachments please]
5.) Send everything to booking@joyike.com

Here’s How to be Featured – if you are a NOT a band
Many of the tips on grassrootsy have been helpful to graphic designers, photographers, music service providers, publicists, and people who are pursuing creative careers. Here’s how you all can submit.
1.) If you are a new, under-the-radar, resource that musicians should know about, give us the low-down.  This should be a pretty thorough explanation.  See this example: Incredible Resources You’ve Never Heard About #4.
2.) If you know of a band that is doing great things (on the marketing side), tell us about them. What are they doing? Why are they successful?
3.) Include a link to all your social networking sites: official site, myspace, facebook, youtube, twitter…etc.
4.) Include a link(s) to a few press pictures of you, your business, and/or the band you are promoting. These MUST be quality photos. [no attachments please]
5.) Send everything to booking@joyike.com

Also, this opportunity to submit to Grassrootsy is an open invitation.  I will hold onto all a submissions and post the good ones whenever the time is right. So always feel free to submit.
Looking forward to checking out entries.  In the meantime, there are plenty of posts on this website to keep you occupied. Enjoy.
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An Interview with Allison Weiss

September 2, 2009
Allison Weiss

Allison Weiss

The first time  I came across Allison Weiss’ myspace page, I knew she was a musician after my own heart. Grassrootsy first covered her back in July in a feature on Kickstarter.  And after reading more about Weiss, it was apparent that she is one of the hardest working independent artists you will ever come across.  I mean ever. And believe me, it will pay off! In fact she’s already scored tons of top-notch gigs and an interview with Billboard Magazine.

Grassrootsy asked her some questions about herself and her music marketing techniques.  Read on!  Read everything! (and post your thoughts below)

1.) What’s your story?
I started writing and playing music when I was in high school, but didn’t really do a lot of it until I came to college. At that point I started playing out all the time. I hit as many open mics as possible until I had gained enough exposure to land some coffee house gigs, and in time I moved up to playing clubs in my town. Eventually I reached the point I’m at now, where I play regionally every weekend and tour during my breaks from school. I’m currently a full time student and part time musician, though it feels like full time. I’m pretty much constantly thinking about writing, performing, and promoting my music. It’s second nature. It’s what I’m most passionate about. I’m working as hard as I can to get to full-time status. As soon as I finish school I plan to work as a freelance graphic designer in order to pay for my musical endeavors. I already do this now of course, I just intend to do it even more intensely.

2.) It looks like some really great opportunities have been coming your way. How did you score that interview with Billboard Magazine?
The Billboard thing was definitely amazing for me. My friend Rosie Siman has always been a huge supporter of my music, so when she befriended Billboard editor Bill Werde, she made a point to bring him out to one of my shows in New York. I guess he liked what he saw, because he ended up coming to the next one a couple months later and he only had great things to say about my performance and my music. He then set me up with an interview for the Underground section of their website. It was pretty surreal to see myself on the front page of Billboard.com. I never thought I’d be so close to the Jonas Brothers. Bill has been really awesome to me and supportive of my career. He’s also a total badass in general and I’m proud to know him.

3.) What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. When I first got started, some people criticized me for my “shameless” self-promotion techniques. Four years later, the same people are now asking for my advice. It seems pretty simple, but the most important thing is to scream your name from the rooftops. If nobody’s ever heard of you, how will they hear your music? Make sure they know you exist. Do it with honesty, charm, and style and you’ll earn the trust of people who will support you for a long time. Also: get a mailing list. Make people sign it. Announce onstage that you’re giving away a CD to someone who signs the list, pass it out into the crowd, and then announce the winner right before your last song. Those email addresses are almost as valuable as album sales, because each one is a potential attendee at your next show and a potential fan.

4.) What is your biggest frustration with your fellow musician?
Nothing bothers me more than a musician who swears off the internet. It’s a new age. Unfortunately, its about more than just writing great songs. You have to be organized and you have to be on top of things and you have to be putting yourself out there in the real world and online. There are so many opportunities for musicians on the internet, to see someone swear it off is heartbreaking. It’s so easy to use Facebook and Twitter, I don’t understand people who refuse. Plus its really fun when you get the hang of it. I enjoy social media almost as much as I enjoy writing and performing.

5.) According to the Grassrootsy Reader’s Poll, the biggest frustration among readers is trying to build their fanbase and finding a supportive music community. How do you do this?
I love people. It sounds pretty cheesy, but I live for human connection. I want to meet people and I want to know them. I don’t put barriers between myself and the people who listen to my music. Aside from really personal stuff, I pretty much talk about anything on my blog or my twitter. I think that honesty and openness allows for more of a connection between band and fan. Also, I’ve never really sat down and tried to determine who my “target market” is. I mostly just put myself out there and go with the flow. I wish there was an easy answer to this question, but I think if you’re making good music, touring, and promoting yourself, the supportive community will come in time. Overall I think it’s important to remember what it’s like to be a fan of a band and how much fun it can be to really love someone for their music. I treat my fans the way I’d like to be treated by my favorite bands. It’s the golden rule, after all.

6.) If you could suggest one tool that every artist should familiarize themselves with, what would it be? Why? (i.e. html, photoshop, video editing, other…)
Honestly, social skills. I strongly believe that if you’re going to be a DIY musician, you can’t be a mysterious hermit. You’ve gotta have the guts to be outgoing and positive and ready for adventure. There are a million people out there trying to do what we’re doing, and it’s the go-getters who will succeed. It’s scary but true, and you’ve got to be willing to jump right in and join the fight.

But if you’re looking for a real answer…nowadays it’s essential to know enough HTML to edit your own MySpace profile. It’s a terrible waste of money to pay someone else to make simple changes you could do yourself. Look up tutorials online. There are millions of them. Make yourself a cheat sheet with codes used most often and eventually you’ll learn it. Video editing is also a great skill to have and with programs like iMovie, it’s very simple to learn. If my mom can do it, so can you. Having the ability to document your own tours and experiences and put them on Youtube can be really beneficial to the promotion of your own career. The real answer to this question is “All of the above.” The more many tech things you can familiarize yourself with, the better.

Allison Weiss Online:
Official: www.allisonw.com
Myspace: www.myspace.com/allisonweiss
Twitter: www.twitter.com/allisonweiss
Facebook: www.facebook.com/allisonweiss
YouTube: www.youtube.com/amlingisrad


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