Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Hi, this is Josh"

'Sup, Comrades?

I've been a quiet revolutionary over here...Well, that's not true, I've just been yelling in person more than blogging. My apologies. A thank you to my buddy Coben across the pond for mentioning that I've do the brits put it...Mum? (Quiet.)

I've been thinking about the business of music lately. Here's a few thoughts - I hope they help you.

I went to an open mic recently, and had a great time. What a bunch of talented folks, and supportive audience. A thought popped into my mind that made me sit up straight (I usually slouch when listen to music) and blink a few times. "Most of these people will never leave this room" (metaphorically speaking.)

Hardly an original thought, mind you, but still, it surprised me. "Why not?" I asked myself.

"Promotion!" was the answer echoed back through that strange place called Josh's brain.

People will buy a sweaty shirt for five grand if they're convinced that it's worth having - like if a famous football player wore it at a big game. Call me insecure about my music, but I think that selling is so so so important. Fortunately, I think my tunes happen to be good, and that people will genuinely enjoy listening to them and seeing them played live, so it makes the selling easier, but still...Until that label offers me a million bucks, nobody else is going to do it for me. Ever hear that quote that says "Mind your own business"? And business is in a literal sense, here, as in your company.

I'm going to be investing in some books on salesmanship, and really learn about marketing. I bet this can apply to your art as well. I'm starting to see that the promotion aspect of the industry can be just as expressive, creative, artistic, and clever as music itself.

Brilliant. Free national press coverage. It's like a swept-diminished arpeggio run at ten billion beats per minute.

Here's a few things that I've been doing when booking shows and promoting my music:

Be polite
Always be respectful on the phone, call when you say you will, remember names, and keep notes of who you talked to.

Be persistent
You're not their #1 priority, so stay on the radar screen - keeping the first point in mind, of course. And don't be annoying! A follow up call is a great way to stay in touch. "Hey, this is Josh, and I was just making sure that my press kit arrived in one piece." If the person who you're talking to can't help you, figure out who can. "Disarm the gatekeepers" (charm the secretaries) and talk to the right folks.

Realize your place
At first, I took promoter indifference very personally, and thought "oh man, they must think my music is lousy." Sometimes, yes, this has been the case. But I've found that, often, the person handling the bookings for a venue, festival, city, or especially college, is just way too busy to remember you. Do the remembering for them, and call them back. Again, you're not the #1 priority - yet. Change that! (But be polite, and non-annoying.)

Be Creative
Have cool stickers, a fun facebook page, weird gimmicks, whatever. Have people remember you and seriously, don't take yourself too seriously! This is music that we're playing!

Lastly, read this article. It rocks! And it's got me thinking so hard there's smoke coming out of my ears.

Pick up that phone, comrades! And not just you musical folks - anyone who's in business for themselves!

- Josh