Posted tagged ‘music’

Quotable Quotes

November 18, 2010

Here are a few quotes that have made me re-evalute what it personally means to make art and be determined and successful in what I do. If you’re following us on twitter, you’ve seen a few of these before.

@RevRunWisdom “The problem with not havin a goal is, u keep runnin up & down life’s field & never score”
@relevantmag “If something comes easily and without sacrifice, it’s rarely sigificant.”
@bigsplashweb “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
anonymous: “Whatever you decide to do, do it well, finish it properly, and then you can feel free to move on.”
@magicalrealist “People just doing their Thing–whatever it is–& succeeding are 1000x more inspirational than anyone selling their guru-dom.”
@grassrootsy “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”
@grassrootsy “Dont be in such a hurry to do something poorly”
@grahamshackle “Whoever can be trusted w/ very little can also be trusted w/ much, & whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
@musicarmichael “unfortunately there’s no shortcuts to building true fans”
@robskane “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
@gapingvoid “Most super-talented original thinkers I know are pretty modest. The wannabes, generally less so.”

@joyike “There’s a huge rat race to “make it” as a musician. Instead of competing with others, start competing with yourself.  Do better than you did last year and you’ll be on the right track.”


Do You Have Any Tips on Successfully Booking Shows?

August 23, 2010

Via Linota

THE ARTIST: Via Linota Lancaster, PA
THE QUESTION: My  CD release party is coming up and I’m going to need to start playing as many shows as possible to get the word out. I noticed you are booking a lot of stuff. Just thought I might write and ask if you had any suggestions for being successful on booking shows. If you have a minute to give me a few tips i would really appreciate it.

THE ANSWER: Congrats on the new CD! That question has so many answers.  I highly recommend checking out this former post: 5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show. But here are some newer thoughts on that matter that are maybe a little easier to digest.

1. Get other artists opinions on a venue before booking to see if it will be a good fit for you.

2. Decide what type of environment your music best fits. Are you cool with being background music (i.e. a bar)? Or do you want to play for listening audiences (i.e. listening rooms)?  Or both? I’ve personally decided that I don’t want to do background music shows anymore. They’re a waste of my time and they don’t help me build my fanbase b/c no one is listening. Just a thought. However, background music-type shows often pay the bills…so i wouldn’t write them off.

3. Always have an email sign-up sheet at EVERY show. Pass it around and get new subscribers as often as possible. This will give you the opp to stay connected with the people who like your music. If you’ve missed the opportunity to connect with them, you’ve lost a potentially long-term fan. See Mailing Lists & Social Networking.

4. Read your local city paper and find out what events are taking place. See if they need local music. You’ll be surprised at what you find out by reading the local paper, visit other musicians websites, and subscribing to community calendars. See Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go.

5. Play at local farmers market, gallery opening and anything that could benefit from music. Even if it’s not their original game plan to have music, ask them if they’d be open to the idea. Never underestimate the power of suggestion.

6. House shows are great…espec since Fall is around the corner. See House Shows – Small Crowd, Big Return.

This website also has tons of other posts on everything from booking tours to deciding what type of venues are best for you. Ch-ch-check it out 🙂

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Pursuing Music as a College Student

August 9, 2010

We’re only a few weeks away from the start of Fall Semester, so its about time to start thinking college booking.  I was hanging with a friend of mine, Ife Kehinde, a few months back and we were talking about how to score college gigs while living as a student. The following thoughts will apply to both students and non-students.

cafeteria Tour!
Your college probably has a few cafeterias…and probably at least one that also serves as a lounge . Look into performing during peak cafeteria hours – i.e. lunchtime  and dinner. You’ll have a built-in crowd, and some people who will listen actively (though many will listen passively).  Don’t limit yourself to just your campus. Hit up all the local colleges in the area. Who knows, the school might even pay you for this, but if anything its a sure fan builder.

Weekend Tours
Can’t play on weekdays? Book  your Fridays and Saturday regionally. Book in town or out of town…but just book!
Take advantage of 3-day weekends, and if you can’t go home for a holiday, stay in town and play somewhere. Allison Weiss has been doing this for the last few years. She actually just graduated from college and is now a free bird. But if she can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can.

Start an Open Mic on Campus
You could easily hold it in your dorm building’s lounge, but if you wanna do it up, get official permission from the appropriate faculty member(s) and make it a school sponsored activity. If its legit you’ll be able to list it on the school’s activity calendar, promote it better, etc. You could alternatively start an open mic thats near campus but not on official campus property (i.e. a nearby coffee shop). In that way, non-students will also be able to attend. If you’re a non-student, start up something like this. The college kids will love you for it!

Not 21?
So you want to play gigs but all the legitimate venues are 21 and over? Hmmmm…there’s not much you can do about this until you hit that 21 mark.  In the meantime, look into coffee shops.  Coffee shops can really make for good gigs when you find the right one. See:  “Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig“. Just because you’re not playing “real” venues doesn’t mean you can’t make a name for yourself. Thats’ completely false.

Know what’s happening at your school!
At your average large college, there are tons of on-campus events taking place on a monthly basis.  Read your school paper. Find out whats happening. Is Habitat for Humanity doing a benefit concert? Contact their student leader and ask if they need a band. Is one of the school’s Fraternities having a party next weekend? Go play!
Is Student Government bringing in a famous artist for homecoming? Ask if they need an opener. Be shameless about asking. The worst they can say is “No.”

Dorm Parties
Just like a house show. Send a Facebook invite to everyone on your floor or slip little fliers underneath their door and invite them to come to your building’s lounge for some late night music. Tell them to bring food and a friend. This could turn into something really fun! Make sure its a “dry” party b/c you’re sure to be kicked out of your dorm if its not.

Check back here over the next week for a few posts on pursuing college gigs – ideas for students and non-students.

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Coffeeshop or Club? Pros and Cons of “Nightlife” Booking

June 7, 2010

Do you prefer to play clubs, lounges, official music venues? Here are some thoughts on the pros and cons of booking these types of venues (vs. coffeeshops and non-traditional spaces). If you are a new aspiring musician, you might pick up a few things below and make an informed decision on the the type of avenue you intend to pursue.

Read, and let me know if you agree or don’t agree with the following. Post your additional pros/cons. I’ll also be doing some followup posts on how to make the most of a show depending on the venue you choose.

PRO:  Quality sound.
There’s nothing worse than playing a venue with a crappy sound system. You won’t have to worry about this in clubs and most official spots. And as you know, good sound makes all the difference.  In many other spaces, chances are you’ll have to provide the sound and someone to run it…which actually isn’t a bad thing, if you know what to do.

PRO: A familiar name
When you hear the name “World Cafe”, most East Coast Musicians know that this is Philly’s most prestigious venue. To say you’re playing at World Cafe carries alot of weight.  You’ll probably even get more people out to your show because it’s a fimiliar venue, people know where it is, and you don’t have to sell the idea of having them come hear you in a venue they’ve never heard of.

PRO: No surprises
Its fairly easy to find a cities established venues and to know what to expect. But its  much harder to come across the best coffeeshops and alternative spaces in town.. And not just any coffeeshop/spaces, but ones that have the appropriate space/vibe for live music.

CON: Rules
You’re limited. Clubs have rules for everything – door policies, ticket sales,  drink minimums, and sometimes who you can spit a bill with. These things ultimately make a gig less fun for everyone involved. Chances are, if you had your own rules, you’d have an easier time playing by them. And this is exactly the reason why low maintenance venues are often the place to pitch your tent.

CON: Little Return for Lotta Work
Have you ever spent weeks promoting a show, packed out a house, and left the venue wondering why you only made $40? Venues aren’t trying to take advantage of you. Or are they? It sure feels like it.  Well they need to make money. But at the same time it seems like you did all the work. Ya, the venue might have a good name, and might be a great addition to your resume, but do you feel a bit cheated? Figure it out for yourself. Most artists go into a gig knowing they won’t make money. And sometimes (as stated above), simply having a great show, with a packed house and good sound, is better than making a profit. Read more:
An Interview with Joe Squared – Things Every Venue Wishes You Knew

CON: Harder to Book
You can spend weeks  booking and waiting for clubs to get back to you but coffeeshops are easy, accessible and usually much more laid back in their booking process. Not to mention that a coffeehouse will give you more control over the gig itself.

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Resolutions that Remain – Making Moves in Your Music

December 28, 2009

“Goals that are products of dreams are worth pursuing”

It’s the last week of the year.  Yea, official “New Year Resolutions” are highly overrated but goals are not. Take some time this week to really think about your life and your music.

Evaluate: Where were you last year and how far have you come?
I was hanging with a friend the other day. He said the holidays are a time of reflection. Each Christmas you see the same people – the same family and friends. The only difference is that you’re all 1 year older and you all have hopefully come just a little further in the pursuit of your purpose – whether that’s being a good dad, an accomplished businesswoman, or a successful musician. What have you done since last year?

Where do you want to see yourself this time next year?
Now, flash forward? This is a huge question. Where do you want to be next?  Where will you actually be? Can these two things be the same? Be realistic. Set achievable goals but don’t be afraid to dream a little.  Goals that are products of dreams are worth pursuing.

In what area of your music do you want to get better?
Pick that one thing that you really wanna focus on for the new year. LicensingTouringDeveloping Your Band? Social Networking? Then pick a few smaller areas that you would also like to give some attention.

Make plans and tell someone about it. Your goals become more tangible and more realistic when they actually exist in time and space. Not just thoughts. Your friends, family, and fans will hold you accountable when they know what you’re striving for. They will also try to help you.  I can’t stress how important this is.

Got a few good resolutions? Share your thoughts and ideas with others on the Grassrootsy facebook page.

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Copyrighting Your Music

July 22, 2009


Warning: the world “copywrite” is used roughly10 million times in this blog. It might get old after a while.

Why Should You Copyright Your Music?
The #1 reason people copyright music is to protect their songs from being stolen.  Whether you’re concerned about this or not, its just one of those things you’re supposed to do.  If your music has the potential to reach hundreds or thousands of people (even if you never become famous) you should be copyrighting those songs…b/c people are shady!  If stealing and plagarism weren’t an issue, we wouldn’t  hear about media ownership lawsuits when we turn on the news. But we do.

Copyright Your Whole Project at One Time
Because you’re a musician, you’re probably broke. For this reason, consider waiting until your whole CD is recorded, printed and packaged before copyrighting.  Its so much cheaper…b/c instead of submitting songs individual (roughly $35 each),  you can submit a CD with several songs and the submission fee with still just be $35.  Whether you’re submitting a song or a CD with several songs, each submission is considered 1 project.  So obviously, you get your money’s worth when you copyright 10+ songs, their lyrics, the artwork, and the recording all in one $35 hit. Yea, this paragraph is pretty redundant, but hopefully you get the point now 🙂
p.s. Fees increase on August 1, 2009 so hurry up and do it now if you’ve been putting it off!

So How Exactly Do You Copyright Your Project?
The Library of Congress is your one-stop-shop for copywriting.  Visit  They offer a wealth of resources on their homepage, including FAQs, current copyrighting fees, and comical video shorts about why copyrighting doesn’t have to be so confusing.

Why Does Copyrighting Always Seems Like Such a Hassle?
Keep in mind that the Library of Congress receives thousands (maybe even millions) of submissions every year.  They recieve copyright requests for music, art, books…everything!  For this reason, there’s alot of reading and many instructions to follow when copyrighting your project. Just be meticulous and follow the rules.  Also opt for online filing.  Its easier and cheaper. But you will ultimately need to mail in a hard copy of your CD so they can keep it on file.

Copyrighting was a personal hassle for me  when it came to filling out details for each song (i.e. who wrote it, who recorded, names of musicians who played on each song, who actually owns the song, who actually owns the recording of the song.).  If I remember correctly, they asked for this information. I also think you are able to skip these data fields if you don’t wish to answer.  It’s been over a year since I’ve filed, so I’ll appreciate it if someone can post a comment and confirm if this is true.

Lastly, here’s a great article by titled The not-so-secret world of copyrighting your music.


If you have tips/advice about Copyrighting and or want to offer additional information, please post a comment.  Copyrighting always seems to confuse musicians.
And thanks to Pittsburgh group C.Joy for inquiring about copyrighting. It’s the reason why this specific post exists.  Don’t forget to send in your questions. They’ll probably get answered.

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The Negatives & Positives of Information Overload

June 3, 2009


Its overwhelming!  The amount of information, resources, social networking sites on the internet is overwhelming.  An independent artist has thousands opportunities and avenues to get their music out there.  If you’re interested in a few of these, check out the following recent recent blogs.

Positive: If one thing doesn’t work, try another
Just because 1 band is using purevolume, doesn’t mean you have to.  Mimicking is great but it doesn’t always gaurantee that what works for another artist will work for you.  If you aren’t seeing results from a resources you’ve utilized, there are 10 more to take its place. Inform yourself on what’s out there and invest time into seeing results. Check out “An Interview with The Lost Sea” to see what Sean Atkins did to direct his myspace fans to his ReverbNation account. His efforts got his band #1 ranking on ReverbNation.

Positive: You Can do What the labels can ( with less money)

The grassroots movement is huge in every industry (especially films and  music).   Take advantage of your ability to make things viral. Just like a virus, you want your information to infectious – to spread via social networking, which is the new word of mouth.  It may take longer than it would with a label, but you can spread your music incredibly far if you work at it.  Check out Thinking Outside the Box – Thinking like a Record Label for some concrete ideas. 

Negative: Anyone can put out a CD
The bar has certainly been raised. In just 5 years, myspace has proven that anyone can make a CD, maintain a website, and promote themselves.  A&R reps are keeping their eyes & ears open for new music (which is a good thing), but the bar has been raised.  There’s so much good music, but there’s also a whole lotta crap!  So unless you stand out and prove yourself, you’ll fall into the pot with everyone else.

Negative: It’s Time Consuming
Its hard to find the best avenue for you that takes the least amount of energy. Some people have an easier time promoting on myspace, some facebook, some purevolume…etc.  Decide whether you want to be on all the major sites or if you want to pick only a handful and concentrate your efforst on pushing those.  There are advantages to each approach.  I personally know I’ll go crazy if I try to add another social networking site to my to-do list.

Please comment, and let readers know what networking websites and resources have worked  best for you.
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