Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Just Show Up: Artists Getting Your Sh*T in Line

Artists: Getting Your Sh*T in Line
by: Jim Thorpe / DVT Entertainment

With our Liberty Musicfest coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss getting your priorities together as it pertains to you as artist/brand. This is for new artists as well as active artists. Not having your things in order can result in missing crucial opportunities, connections or  new fans. Its frustrating as a booking agent/manager when you're interested in an artist but their information and music is hard to find.  So I ask: Do you really care about your music? Playing out? building a fanbase? 

I am going breakdown some requirements to consoder before you start creating music, branding, preparing for shows, social media and much more.

1. Creating Your Music:
Your music should represent who you are as an artist or band. This is your creative mind at work. The artists I see that usually stand out right off the bat are extremely talented musically. You can see the honestl of what they are doing. This goes from acoustic, hip hop to metal and everything else. This is the foundation of your music as it will continue to grow through the years. Never set boundaries. Always try to push it because there are no rules in music. Once you are satisfied with your music go into the studio and record them the best way possible depending on your budget. I highly recommend Pre-Production rehearsals, possibly with the producer/recording engineer for a 2nd ear and to potentially iron out anything that you didn't here.

2. Developing your Brand /Image:
This where a lot of artists drop the ball. You compiled a few great sounding songs. Now you really need to determine a strategy on who you are as an artist, what genre do you actually work best with, what demographic are you teying to reach, what's the look/imagery you want to portray and what story do you want to tell. when you look at major artists, they all have a story to tell that flows from the music, imagery, influences,etc. When you look at major artists you know who they are if its Lady Gaga, U2, Bruno Mars, Ghost and classic artists like Elvis, James Brown, Beatles and the always changing David Bowie. I know your saying, but that's them, well my answer is that needs to be you too if you want to achieve any level of success in the music business. Even acoustic artists like Dylan, Buckley, Sheeran have that presence.
Where do I start? I would say build it off the sound of the music along with your interests. Think outside of the box, sometimes your direction is right in front of you ..  sometimes. There are no rules!!!

Photos: Great Pro looking photos, at least 3 different shots
Graphics: Logos, Imagery,
Bio/Story: Should be about the music, vision,
Music: Solid recordings
Video: lyric video, production video. Do not recommend a live video unless its flawless.

For example, checkout local DIY band Stereotyans  , their sound is Hard Art Rock, tons of influences are heard, from rock to soul and metal but they have a cohesive sound as a band. They have a Theatrical presentation, a comic book and they have just partnered up to release their own craft beer. In short with this branding, they have immersed themselves in the Comic-Con and Cosplay worlds as well as the craft beer scene on top of the normal regional music scene. 

3. Setting up your Presence:
Setting up your presence ties directly with the branding / imagery and what you decide to put live online. The main thing is that it's your first impression to fans, booking agents, publishers, etc. So its really important to have that POP that initially grabs a new visitor. You also have to determine what sites /social media you want to maintain. In today's society Social Media is king so your presence should be consistent throughout all sites/formats. Your creating a brand for you as THE artist. Having multiple looks over different platforms might confuse people.

Personal Website

When organizing your media, have an area for all your photos & logos. This is for venues to grab your stuff for promos, flyers, posters along with press who might write about you. Nobody wants to search for media plus by setting this up, you can dictate what photos and logos to use.

4. Getting Shows and Performing:
Now that you have the above taking care of, lets get out there and play live. Hold up wait a minute! You have all you stuff in order, so its time to refine your performance. Before you consider performing out, you want to be prepared.
a) prepare a setlist if you have 10 songs and only 7 you feel good about, add a cover or two.
 - when adding covers, make sure you pick a songs that work for you, it could be new or classic. it doesn't matter just nail it.
b) work on thethe f of the set, how you want to portray the songs, transitions from one song to another, instrument changes and for heaven's sake, please don't stop your momentum right before your start your last song!!
c) work on communication withwith crowd, keep it short and simple but dead space is bad. be engaging
d) if full band, work on stage presence, lead vocals are the focus, but work as unit and try not to out do the lead vocals (see this a lot) or each other. 
b) Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse (Rehearse and Open Mic set also)

Okay lets book a show! I admit it can be a pain in the ass booking your first show; you new, nobody heard of you, no performance history and so on. First do some research on what venues are best suited for your music. Contact the booking person, usually their email is on the website, many have guidelines on their website for submitting music. Most clubs are always looking for new bands, so when you have the everything in order, bookers will take it you more seriously. if this doesn't work start doing some open-mics at these venues. You can even reach out to similar artists to see if they can add you to the bill.

5. Showtime, your first gig:
Now you have your first show! Congrats!
1st thing be PREPARED! Always communicate with the Venue/booking on the show. Usually venues will send out an advance w/ all the club rules, procedures, backline, etc. If they don't, ask these basic questions Load In Time, Backline available, Set length, ticket price, payment deal and contact at the venue. Start your promo based on the above items. Contact other performers to see if there might be a combined effort, promoting the event.
To make a good first impression try and get as many people out to your show. it really helps with future bookings. Also you obviously want as many people as possible to hear your music.
SHOWTIME: always be professional at the venue from the door, security, soundperson, bartenders, etc.(even if they aren't the nicest to you, take the high road) It goes a long way, sometimes one or more of those people could determine your rebooking. 
Be PREPARED!! Make sure all your equipment is properly working, your instruments are tuned (using a pedal, not through the PA) follow the soundpersons direction on loading on/off the stage. If they just do a line check make sure you have your levels set.
Now put on the best possible performance you can, listen there will be mistakes but just go with the flow. Nobody really will notice it or if you recover quickly its a sign of a well rehearsed act.

You just kicked ass, but that is just the beginning. The lead vocalist after the set should be in the crowd meeting people and then the rest of the band after they clear the stage. Meeting your fans after a set is the most important thing you can do. They want to feel a connection with you, this will lead to longtime fans and also grow your fanbase via word of mouth!

When everything is setup and planned out, you as an artist,  are seen as being a serious artist. People will notice the professionalism of your Brand. This will get around to other venues, they pay attention to the pulse of scene. As you grow as an artist you will follow the same routine, new songs, updated images, etc. Again keeping people engaged in what you are about. During down times of performing use your interests other than music to connect with your fans. 6,000 fans on Facebook and 6 likes per post is not adequate fan engagement.

6. Okay What't Next!
Everything went great, what's the next step? I recommend to sit down and put together realistic list of goals in a 3 month, 6 month and 1 year game plan. When doing a game plan you are mapping out your career. You want reach all your goals as planned so every 3 months you need to re look at your plan and make adjustments. Sometimes opportunities pop up which may cause you to restructure your goals. There is no set path so find out what works for you. The business side is not easy, it might be trial and error. Working hard in all aspects of  your career we guide you closer to success. Continue to grow as an band/artist - DON'T SETTLE !!!!

If you have any specific questions feel free to leave a comment and we will respond!

Past Articles that may help your guidance in your Career:

Just Show Up in 2017: Insight on your Musical Career

Food for Thought for Artists

DVT Artist Opportunities in 2018

Just Show Up The Key to Furthering your Career!

Next DVT Entertainment Event : 
the 7th Annual Liberty Musicfest