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The Biz

Published: 2005/11/18
by Allen Ostroy

Entertainment Formula

I want to thank everyone who has been participating in this forum and sending me questions. Please keep all your music biz questions coming. Congratulations to Derek Lynch for being the first answer my question to you last month! To recap I asked, Which two consecutive days of the year, not including holidays like July 3rd and 4th are the best days to play and why? The answer is, Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving Day. This is true especially in larger cities but holds true most places. There are a few reasons for this. First, almost everyone is on vacation. Many people gather with family for at least one day, if not two days, of hanging out and eating at home or at Grandmas. By Friday people are anxious to go out and get together with friends and blow off some steam. For college students this is one of the last weekends before hunkering down for the end of semester papers and finals and they want to take full advantage of that. It’s also a weekend many have returned home and are excited to see high school friends. Second, this is also the last weekend before people really start saving for the holiday season so they don’t yet have a “saving to buy presents” mentality. Third, it’s a national consciousness to go out and spend money that weekend. That Saturday is the biggest shopping day of the year and when the big holiday sales start going out and spending money is in the air, so to speak. So to sum up: Vacation time + desire to go out + desire to spend money and not save = great weekend to entertain.

With this ground breaking formula in mind I have another question for you. Which five consecutive days of the year are the best five straight (arguably as good as Thanksgiving Weekend but I don’t think so), and why? Send your answers to allen@jambands.com.

Allen is the President & CEO of Great Bay Entertainment Group, Inc. and has been managing, booking, talent buying, and promoting bands since 1992. He has guided dozens of successful careers. His roster has included Strangefolk, Percy Hill, Reid Genauer and AOD, Moon Boot Lover, and RAQ to name a few.

Allen has been an active member of the University of New Hampshire Internship Program since 1994 and has provided hands-on opportunities for students that have helped launch careers in the music industry. In 2001, he created the Music Biz 101 Workshop and has presented it at many colleges and universities across the United States (he is available for hire through http://www.musicbizworkshops.com/ www.musicbizworkshops.com). In 2005, Allen became a feature writer on jambands.com, the leading resource for information about the jamband music community, where he continues to write a monthly Q&A column based on questions submitted in advance by musicians and industry professionals.

Hey Allen,

First of all, you have an incredibly helpful and unique discussion board with “The Biz,” truly acknowledging real-life situations and real people within the biz. Thank you for your imaginative efforts. So here’s the ?. I have plans to start independently promoting concerts in the college town that I live and go to school in. I am in the process of choosing the bars and venues in which to house these shows, and I could use some advice.

1) What factors, in a bar or venue, should matter when picking the right one for your show?

2) I believe that convenience of location might be that extra umph that will get the people out to the shows. This means that I will be dealing with those nearby college bars that simply need to open their doors and pull the Miller Lite taps in order to get people inside. What do these bars want out of putting on a concert? What will make them decide to put forth any extra efforts/money associated with setting up a concert? Basically, what makes a bar managers eyes light up?

3) Lastly, what are the differences in promoting strategy for shows meant for an audience of 100, 500, or 1000?

Thanks for everything!

From the Big Easy,

Adam

Adam

Thanks for the kind words.

1) What factors, in a bar or venue, should matter when picking the right one for your show?

I hate to be vague here but it kinda depends. Do you have production or would you like the venue to deal with that? Are you going to sell advance tickets? If so, is that something you want to handle or do you want the venue to run that through their registers? Are you going to feed the bands? So, do you need a place with a kitchen? Does the place have an entertainment license?

Ok – here is my short answer. A) The bar/venue owner and B) ambiance. You want the owner to work with you and you want the place to be a cool place (with good sound quality) to see a show. Ask yourself, "Would you like to see a show there?"

2) I believe that convenience of location might be that extra umph that will get the people out to the shows. This means that I will be dealing with those nearby college bars that simply need to open their doors and pull the Miller Lite taps in order to get people inside. What do these bars want out of putting on a concert? What will make them decide to put forth any extra efforts/money associated with setting up a concert? Basically, what makes a bar managers eyes light up?

You’re right about convenience of location. If it’s easy to get to then bonus! What makes a bar managers eyes light up? What do these bars want out of putting on a concert? Answer: MONEY, MONEY, and MONEY. If you can show that you can bring people in who will drink and not destroy the place then the bar manager and owner will love you….and they might even put a couple bucks into making life easier for you to put on the show – like investing in some production. Its been my experience, that bar owners who have owned the place for awhile don’t like to try new things. They basically do variations of things that have worked for them in the past. So if you are going to bring in music to a place that doesn’t do music you will probably be on your own and given a night that people don’t already come out – Sundays, Mondays or Wednesdays. If you can make one of these nights work then they might give you a night when there is a built in crowd to work with, but don’t hold your breath.

3) Lastly, what are the differences in promoting strategy for shows meant for an audience of 100, 500, or 1000?

Not much. Well, you don’t want to spend $4000 on advertising if you can only gross $1000 but the strategies are the same. You want everyone and their mothers talking about your show. If you only need 100 people to sell the place out and you try and get a 1000 people there and 200 people try to get in then the worst case is that you sold the place out. Use ALL the things available to you that make sense – from sidewalk chalk to table tents in the cafeteria. Promotion strategy doesn’t really change for how many people you need for your show but does change for the type of act your are promoting. For example, you wouldn’t take an ad out on jambands.com for a Boyz II Men concert.

And one last piece of advice. Start your own mailing list. If you start collecting peoples email addresses from your first show then you have yourself the beginnings of a direct marketing to your core market campaign for show two!

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Al

Dear Al,

I just ran across your website and LOVE it. I am the drummer for an all-female (and slightly older-than-usual) rockin' blues band, the Sister Wives. We are becoming pretty well known in here in Utah for our jams. My question is, how does a band get booked into the regional and festivals who are open to booking us up-and-comers? We don't have an agent — we are in it for the pure fun of it — but would like to get out and about. If you've addressed this issue previously, just point me in the right direction to your reply.

Keep up the great work, and thanks much.

Amy

P.S. www.sisterwivesband.com

Amy

A drummer huh? Nice! I checked out your site and it looks like you have a couple of festivals on the books. Festival promoters get hundreds of requests so knowing someone is going to be the best way to make it happen. The other way is to make such a stink that they come to you. Either way I have a little piece of advice if you permit me – Don't tell promoters you are "in it for the pure fun of it." If you are an up-and-comer the promoter will likely only give you a shot if they think you are serious and will grow with the festival. For example, The Gathering of the Vibes in New York started with regional up-and-comers like moe, and Strangefolk and they all grew together for the next few years from 3,000 to over 10,000 people.

With that said, some festival promoters only want up-and-comers (not many). I know with Strangefolk's Garden of Eden they typically only book local and regional acts to help them out.

Understand that promoters have a huge nut to crack at these festivals so they need acts that will draw people who will pay festival ticket prices and then have a few limited slots for acts that they want to help out and think the fans will enjoy.

Good luck and keep in touch!

Al

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