Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DON'T DO IT YOURSELF (DIY)

Research says that telling someone NOT to do something is a sure fire way to get action. And by the way.... I kinda mean what was said in the subject line - kinda. You should always "do it yourself" if you're an indie band, but ALWAYS MAKE SURE TO HAVE TWO SETS OF PROFESSIONAL EYES on anything going to the public or masses so that you're not "doing it alone."

As the major record labels continue to merge or consolidate and share resources, it's clear that a good "Do It Yourself" indie band can outpace the majors, if they have a plan and let the experts help them.

Having a plan and letting the experts do their job is THE OUTLAW way. Keep going against the grain and building your record sales, one fan at a time!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

SXSW Week in Austin, Texas

Note: the following article was written by Manny Escamilla of 956 Entertainment. It's got some good points. It was originally published on his MySpace Blog. - myspace.com/metalmanny01.

--------------------------------
SXSW Week in Austin, Texas

As most of you know, the deadline for SXSW submission was November 17th. Good luck to those bands that had an opportunity to submitted. For those bands who are not familiar with SXSW (are you living under a rock?), this is the largest music festival in the country. Held in Austin, Texas annually during March (18th - 22nd), the festival draws industry reps from across the US and overseas. The vast array of industry folks include major and indie label reps, management firms, booking agencies, gear/energy drink/liquor/clothing sponsors, media reps (radio, internet & print media), studio reps, producers, promoters, etc. Basically, if they are directly or indirectly related to the music industry, you will most likely find them in Austin that particular week. Since the majority of the music industry has migrated to this event, its an excellent opportunity for bands and solo artists to network and promote themselves.

For those bands who did not submit for SXSW, your best bet to showcase your material during this event will be through independent festivals. While these festivals are not associated with SXSW, they run concurrently with SXSW. Moreover, many of these promoters also use cool venues along the 6th Street/downtown area to showcase their talent, where the largest draws are concentrated.

Keep in mind that if your band is accepted to a SXSW sanctioned-event, you will not be able to participate in ANY of these indie festivals. Seems unfair, but SXSW prohibits bands from partaking in a 'competitor' event.

Some quick suggestions for bands to prepare for SXSW week:

- Take lots of studio-quality demos to hand out - make sure these copies are professionally-produced with all your contact info clearly noted.

- Ensure your band has an updated EPK (sonicbids.com is a good choice) for quick reference. I do NOT recommend handing out bulky hard copies, as it makes it difficult for industry reps to carry all these material. I favor handing out our business cards, then following with an EPK the following week.

- Book hotels in advance - If you are going to need a hotel, make sure to book NOW. The city and surrounding area sells quickly.

- Bring lots of business cards to hand out. You can order 250 FREE from Vistaprint.com

- If you secure a showcase (whether it's a SXSW or indie show), make sure to promote your show! Show up at least a day early and flyer your show, invite industry reps to your show, etc. Showcases are hard to come by, so make the most out of your opportunity!

- Even if you do not have a showcase, make an effort to have some presence in Austin during this week. Networking with other artists and industry reps is equally important. You may be surprised who you meet!

In the coming days, I will follow up to this BLOG and recommend some cool indie festivals to those bands eager to secure a showcase. So, keep your eyes posted here!

DISCLAIMER: I am not associated with SXSW in any shape or form; however, i've been attending this festival for over 10 years now and am simply sharing some of the things i've picked up along the way!
(Again... to follow his blogs... join his MySpace - myspace.com/metalmanny01)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ariel Publicity - They Are On The Right Track...

If you are an independent artist out there trying to make it, do yourself a favor and get familiar with Ariel Publicity.

I'm not saying hire them... although if you did, I have a great belief that you'd be better off.... But that's your choice. Tke advantage of their free advice. They have a damned good blog. - http://arielpublicity.com/blog/.

Good stuff.
It's the Outlaw Way.

Here's a link to thier intro - Cyber PR

AND... here's the link to sign up for their bi-weekly e-zine.

I've never met Ariel.. only seen her stuff through being subscribed to her E-Zine. But, if you're looking at self-promotion, she's got some great tips.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ready for Backwoods Bash 2009?

The Backwoods Bash Music Festival 2009 (May 22-25, 2009) will once again be hosted by Thundermoon Ranch & Paintball in Mannford, OK. It is located about 20 minutes west of Tulsa near Keystone Lake.


Backwoods Bash 2009
@Thundermoon Ranch & Paintball
33440 W. 51 St. South
Mannford, OK 74044


WANTED: INDEPENDENT BANDS & MUSICIANS

Backwoods Bash 2009 is now accepting submissions from bands/musicians to perform at Backwoods Bash Music Festival 2009!

Artists

In order to perform at the Festival, you must be able to supply the following:

- 2 songs of professional quality to be included on the 2009 Backwoods Bash Compilation CD

- Link to your band's website and / or MySpace page

- High Res. photo of band (300 dpi: jpg or tif)

- Equipment list / Special needs

- Short bio of band


Click below to inquire or apply:

2009 Backwoods Bash Music Festival Performance Application/Agreement

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at info@backwoodsbash.com



The Backwoods Bash Music Festival is all about being good. Leave your stresses and worries at the gate and enjoy three days of camping and good independent music from Middle America. The Memorial Day Weekend festival (May 22-25, 2009) is set on a beautiful landscape overlooking Mannford Lake at Thundermoon Ranch, just 20 minutes west of Tulsa.

Your presence not only supports real independent music, but it benefits two great foundations, the TC Lane Foundation and Vertical Life Youth Initiatives. The Backwoods Bash Music Festival is a great weekend of music for people from every walk of life. So grab your tent, your cooler and your friends and family and join us for three days of good music, good people and good times.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The T-Shirt Company Designers Charge YOU for using

Let's have a little clarity.
There's a designer who is creating the artwork for your band's t-shirt. This designer is also going to "do you the favor" of finding a t-shirt printing company who can print your 1-color, 1-sided shirts art the "low low cost" of just $7 a shirt..maybe $6. 2-sided at about $9-$10. Then there's shipping and handling...set-up charges...and other things you have to consider.

Don't take that designers word for it. Make sure you make the agreement that you will purchase the design..all of the files and everything that is associated with it... and find your own printer.

Then go here:
Def-Star:




It's where this designer will likely go... and make some extra money off of you.

20 shirts for $100 = $5 a shirt.
No shipping... no set-up charges... no extra costs.
Def-Star. It's what DIY folks in the know use.

Now you know too. Tell 'em Sean Claes with INsite Magazine sent ya. Why? Well.. I get a few bonus shirts every time someone drops my name... and I could use some new shirts.

Heck.. if you send me your band t-shirt (XL) I'll likely wear it. I like to promote smart DIY bands. Just shoot me a message on INsite's MySpace and I'll get you the address.

That's the Outlaw way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A few words to read.. from Austin's 93.3 DJ, Duce

While out there in Internetland, I came across an Austin DJ's MySpace Blog and his words are Outlaw-like... so I thought I'd share his thoughts on how an artist can and should promote. The DJ is from Hot 93.3FM in Ausitn. His name is Duce.

The following is directly posted from his MySpace page.
We agree Duce. Hope we get to meet you at some point.
-----------------
Duce:
Okay, so I wrote a blog before about how artist's can better themselves on getting closer to reaching that goal of becoming a superstar. Here I go again. I hope you listen.

1. Be an full time artist. What I mean is this, don't be an artist only when it's cool. Like when SXSW comes around or Texas Relays. If you want to make it, you have to be out there all year. Not just when a big event is going on.

2. Have product. If you haven't put out a cd or mixtape or single, please do ASAP. It just looks good to have physical product to show people. It just makes you look like your serious.

3. Have representation. And I do not mean your homeboy that has your back. I mean someone who's deal is to represent you in a professional manner. At the end of the day this is a business and the majority people that you are going to deal with are professional older people who don't have time for games.

4. Control your crew. I CAN'T STAND "FRIENDS" OF ARTIST'S. These are the people who just might be your friends, girlfriends, cousins, etc. But they can get annoying if they are trying to: A. Expect to be important cause they know you. B. Be the annoying mascot. It's one thing to be down, but it's another thing to be over zealous.

5. Know when your cd is in the hands of the radio station. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. You record a song, then have all your homeboys call the radio station and request it. DO NOT DO THIS. For two reasons, a. if they radio doesn't have your song, they obviously can't play it., b. if A LOT of people are calling for something that no one has never heard of, it looks pretty obvious as to what is going on and you may annoy a dj who won't want to deal with you in the future.

6. Don't waste a dj's time. If you set up a meeting with a dj or programmer, once again be professional. Arrive on time. And if you say you are going to do something, do it. For example, I'll call next week to follow up, etc. If you don't, it will be noticed.

7. Don't think you are special because you are local. Just because you are local doesn't mean you are not still in competition with Snoop Dogg, Soulja Boy and every other major label artist out there. What should inspire you is the fact that since you're local you make yourself more known to them in your market. Use that to your advantage.

8. Use the internet to your advantage. The world is smaller than it ever has been. You can find fans anywhere. Use YouTube, Myspace, and chat rooms to your utmost advantage. Think about it. If you get enough fans on your own, you can make a living by selling cd's on your own website worldwide.

Now let all that marinate.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You Heard It Here First - Viral WOM.

As we labored over our first concert, The Backwoods Bash, I have been debating the topic of my next article. Then, I received an email from a newsletter from...... well, this is where it gets tricky and the reason for this blog. Let me digress by saying, "We are about to experience a world of 'Viral WOM' but like any virus you can mostlikely be traced back to the "source."

Yes, "Viral WOM" is a very calculated and strategic new term of art (and a little bit of science)!

It seems some folks like what we write about here, and then try to kipe the ideas as their own, put them in newsletters, and present it at a conference or tell their other professional friends. I must say that mimicry is the HIGHEST form of flattery because my "date stamp" predates yours - at least give credit where credit is due. Be infectious.

What is "Viral WOM" you may ask? Well, let me tell you what it isn't. According to my google search before writing this article, "Viral WOM" is not:
  1. Viral / WOM
  2. Viral, WOM
  3. viral/wom or
  4. viral, WOM.
"Viral WOM" is exactly what it appears to be and is not found in a google search prior to now. Viral WOM is data driven, strategic, analytic, yet flexible and adaptable. In other words, your WOM must be viral and infectious like STD-M.

Now that I'm done busting the balls of the idea hijackers, let me speak plain English and give you some more ideas and examples, especially for your upcoming conferences and non-profit "educational foundation." Remember, you have to value every relationship that you build in this industry, if you're going to stick around for the "long haul." Thus, you have to be very realistic, sensible, and strategic about those relationships and how you are going to maintain those connections. Folks, a marriage is said to be a "full time job" (although I would assert it's that plus overtime) and all of your professional connections need some level of attention, too. Then, let's throw children into the mix because they have the world's largest spending power. So, now we are talking about alot of "grass roots" efforts and energy like running a triathalon or clubbing all night, but spread out over time. Ha!

Now, time for some REAL life examples. These are "Viral WOM" examples that are INDIE in a MAJOR WAY: Fancorp.com, CapitolStreetTeam.com, RunnersMusicGroup.com, SeanClaes.com, Musiclovr.com, FullServiceMusic.com

ENJOY.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Backwoods Bash - It's an Outlaw Gang Affair

We practice what we preach.
See you this weekend!


BE GOOD with Backwoods Bash This Weekend
Family Friendly Memorial Day Weekend Event


Austin, TX – It’s finally here. Good music. Good People. Good times. The first ever Backwoods Bash will be this weekend (May 23 - 26) at Thundermoon Ranch and Paintball on Mannford Lake in Oklahoma. This is a completely grassroots family friendly event for the people and by the people. This year’s theme – Be Good.

Come out and help support the charities (TC Lane "Make a Difference" Foundation and Vertical Life Youth Initiatives) and have a Memorial Day Weekend that will go down in HISTORY

That’s right…Backwoods Bash 2008 will be held at the Thundermoon Ranch & Paintball in Mannford, OK, just 15 minutes from Downtown Tulsa and close to Keystone Lake. For directions from 8 different directions, please visit:
http://backwoodsbash.musiclovr.com/backwoodsbash/maps/

Camping is encouraged. There will be a food vendor during part of the weekend, but please plan to bring coolers/grills/snacks/beverages for yourself. This is real camping… people who are planning on camping…bring your own shelter.

Some of the activities to be experienced over the weekend include volleyball, horseshoes, and FREE paintball admission and equipment rental and air at Thundermoon’s “The Castle” – just purchase the paint balls). There will also be event t-shirts available for purchase as well as jewelry, glowsticks, and other items.

Below you will find a snapshot of some of the planned events:

Friday May 23, 2008
Gates open @ 3pm ($5/car for one day or $15/weekend)
Entrance gates close at 10pm

Music Starts @ 7pm
7:00 Cosmic Rush (http://www.myspace.com/thecosmicrush)
8:00 Day Dreamer (http://www.myspace.com/daydreamertunes)
9:00 Damn the Man
10:00 Tech Tonic (http://www.myspace.com/techtonica)
11:00 Super Jam with Will Porter (http://www.myspace.com/willporter)


Saturday, May 24, 2008
Gates open @9am
Entrance gates close at 10pm

Music Starts @ Noon
Noon - Will Porter (http://www.myspace.com/willporter)
1:00PM - Greg Schroeder (http://www.myspace.com/gregschroeder)
2:00PM - Joel Wade (http://www.myspace.com/jwadeband)
3:00PM - Steve Liddell (http://www.myspace.com/steveliddell)
4:00PM – ValerieStar (http://www.myspace.com/valeriestar2006)
5:00PM - Cannonball Sunday (http://www.myspace.com/cannonballsunday)
6:00PM - The Banner Year (http://www.myspace.com/thebanneryear)
7:00PM - Somewhat Lucky (http://www.myspace.com/somewhatluckyband)
8:00PM - Full Service (http://www.fullservicemusic.com)
9:00PM – Ghosts (http://www.myspace.com/ghosts2002)


Sunday, May 25, 2008
9am - Noon Revival – Service and Gospel Singers:
An informal service will be held.
There will also be a gospel choir performing.

2pm Arts & Crafts Festival


Monday, May 26, 2008
Break camp, clean up, and Be Good.

Sponsors of Backwoods Bash 2008 include: American Abstract & Tile, Blue House Media, Box Photography, Creative Concepts, Creek Nation Casino, INsite Austin Entertainment Magazine, MusicLovr, Musick School, Outlaw Entertainment, Rockstar Energy Drink, Thundermoon Ranch, Tom C. Lane & Associates, Up Late with Ben Sumner, and Wade’s RV.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Backwoods Bash - Line-up and Album Release

You know what... this is our blog and we can promote our stuff too.... so...

How does 20 songs from independent bands who were hand-picked to play the First Ever Backwoods Bash in Oklahoma for only $5 sound to you ?

How about if I told you I helped select the bands?
The bands are playing for free.
The concert benefits charity.
The sales from the digital downloads will go to the bands for their gas money to and from the show.

Would you buy it then?

OK... what if I assure you the music is good... or next time I see you, you can ask for the $5 back?

Here's the skinny:
Each band has also donated music for an Album Backwoods Bash 2008 – Good Music. Good People. Good Times that was released on Cdbaby.com on Tuesday, May 5, 2008. For the next 90 days, this 20-song album will be available for a $5 digital download. "We want to make sure everyone has a chance to listen to these great bands. Most of money raised from the downloads will go right back to the bands in order to pay for their gas and expenses," Trevor Lane said. "These guys are coming from as far away as Dallas and Austin on their own dime."

Fine folks everywhere will be downloading the album by visiting http://cdbaby.com/cd/backwoodsbash2008 and clicking on the "add MP3 to cart" button.



The Official Line-up for the 2008 Backwoods Bash
Noon - Will Porter (http://www.myspace.com/willporter)
1:00PM - Greg Schroeder (http://www.myspace.com/gregschroeder)
2:00PM - Joel Wade (http://www.myspace.com/jwadeband)
3:00PM - Steve Liddell (http://www.myspace.com/steveliddell)
4:00PM – ValerieStar (http://www.myspace.com/valeriestar2006)
5:00PM - Cannonball Sunday (http://www.myspace.com/cannonballsunday)
6:00PM - The Banner Year (http://www.myspace.com/thebanneryear)
7:00PM - Somewhat Lucky (http://www.myspace.com/somewhatluckyband)
8:00PM - Full Service (http://www.fullservicemusic.com)
9:00PM – Ghosts (http://www.myspace.com/ghosts2002)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Does High School Talent REALLY EXIST?

The element of young talent these days is amazing - especially in light of technology. I hope to be posting some video footage as we work on production of the album for the winners of the CSU and TCC High School Talent Show! The participants were brave, daring, and amazing at times. It made me really wonder if its possible for a bunch of young talent to REALLY have what it takes to make something of themselves. Time will tell with this event, but rest assured that radio, TV, and other local media and corporate sponsors believe in this thing.

Let me introduce a couple of great guys to our local scene, Ben Sumner and Pastor Mike Hill. Nuf said.... these guys know music and understand the importance of news worthy opportunities. They have been quick and kind to sponsor a high school based talent show coordinated and organized by young students (Citizen Student Union or CSU). With commercials on the local TV network, Ben Sumer helped to couple the talent contest with an educational element filled with cash prizes, giveaways, a live DJ, and information about scholarships.

What do you think? Can a group of undeveloped youngsters pull it off?????

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BackwoodsBash.com

BackwoodsBash.com

Indiefest?

It seems the vibe of original and LIVE music with a dose of camping is VERY MUCH alive! I'm not going to promote or plug one event over another - just wanted to simply point out that these events are popping up. As we go greener and greener to beyond recycling..... I put money on the "Green Outdoor Festivals." It seems others are feeling the vibe, especially in places like Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.

It will be interesting to see what websites pop up with a "festival tour circuit" of these types of events. Time will tell.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Viral Marketing - YouTube.

This may be the biggest waste of your day... but watch this video.




Annoyed yet?
Think I wasted your time?
This thing worked better for Flea Market Montgomery than anyone could have expected.


Now.. here's the deal. over 2 million people have seen this. And that's just this version on this page... if you click to look... there's probably about 1 million more clicks from others.

Family Force 5 saw it... and visited them:


And people have mocked great movies with it:


What do YOU have to shamelessly promote yourself and your music?

Monday, March 31, 2008

This article was cut and pasted from MusiciansAtlas.com.

Earth Day Marketing In 10 Easy Steps

I was recently at a workshop led by Environmental Lifestyle Expert Danny Seo - a best-selling author & media personality. The room was filled with industry and corporate representatives, product consumers and music fans. Obviously these people were interested in learning how they can live a more eco-friendly existence and chances are, your fans are interested as well.

While every day should be considered Earth Day, April 22nd is the official date when the media and your fans will be hyper-aware of green initiatives and activities. Do your part by adding some eco- friendly promotions to your marketing plan & up coming gigs and you can help save the planet and grow your fan base.

What’s your issue? Global Climate change is driven by deforestation, air pollution, corporate control of resources, agribusiness, etc. It’s all connected, and there are Environmental Organizations that can help promote your efforts. Choose your issue, and become an Environmental advocate starting this Earth Day.

Here are some things you can do:

* 1) Ask local environmental groups to have a table at your event. It’s easy: just Google non-profits in whatever city you plan to be in. Give them a quick call and ask if they’d like to set up an earth day table. They’ll be thrilled for the opportunity! It’s a chance for them to spread the word, recruit new volunteers, and maybe even new members. For you: they will promote your concert because they want people to come and learn about their issue.
* 2) Register your event at Earthday.net, and go there to find out what’s already going on in your city.
* 3) Ask your fans to pay an extra $.25 or $.50 per ticket and let them know that it will be donated to an Environmental Group.
* 4) Carbon offsets—ask you fans to offset their carbon emissions by going to Native Energy. Offset your own carbon emissions while you’re there, and include that in your press release!
* 5) Ask your fans to sign an Earth Day pledge to become more eco- friendly. Have them include their email & text address so you can keep in touch with them about important Green initiatives & support each other’s efforts.
* 6) Get eco-creative with your swag. Give away compact fluorescent bulbs—they are highly efficient and use one fourth as much electricity.
* 7) Multimedia—show a short video at your concert or on your website. A lot Environmental Groups these days have short, powerful videos that let people quickly know about the problems and solutions. This is an easy way to get a strong message out to a lot of people, and ask people to take action. Check out Youtube for some short videos that you can put on your website from Dogwood Alliance or Gulf Restoration Network.
* 8) Solar panels—rent solar panels to power the stage for a day! Check out Big Frog Mountain or Sustainable Waves for more information on solar stages.
* 9) Organize a call-in day—calling decision makers is one of the most powerful ways to make change. We know that when we make a phone call to an elected official or to a Corporate Executive that they are listening. It takes a minute—you can hand out fliers and ask everyone to call before they leave!
* 10) Press—let the press know about your efforts! A little media can go a long way and many media outlets are hungry for Earth day stories. Draft up a short press release, and send it around to local media stations and to local, regional and national publications. People will be psyched to hear about your efforts. Who knows, maybe you’ll inspire some others to do the same.

Starting this Earth Day, you can educate and promote social action, and change the world one gig at a time. To find out more check out Dogwood Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, or check out the Business Ethics Network website for a list of Corporate-sponsored campaigns.

Stay tuned: Next month I’ll be writing about environmentally friendly musicians, what they’re doing and how you can get in the mix. If you’re already doing something Green, let me know and maybe I’ll write about you!

Eva Hernandez
Organizing Director
Dogwood Alliance, 828-251-2525 x13

Source:MusiciansAtlas.com.

Friday, March 14, 2008

See a camera... JUMP IN FRONT OF IT!

Just so you know I'm not all talk when it comes to advice on promoting your product or band... I did my own little free advertising push on Wednesday night in the middle of 6th Street in Austin, Texas.

If you know music.. you know there's a band or 10,000 in Austin, Texas every third week in March. A few thousand are playing a festival... and about 8,000 are playing free shows in every nook and cranny of the city.

Well, as Managing Editor of INsite Magazine I was out there personally handing out the March 2008 issue, featuring the FREE Texas Rockfest, rock band Vallejo, punk-hop band Spin Alley, columns from local radio personalities Jason Dick and Chuck Loesch, and much more. If you're not in Austin to pick up a copy at one of over 300 locations for free... download your own copy in PDF format by clicking these fantastic words.

I saw a video camera crew that had some official-looking credentials filming... and I jumped in front of their camera. It happened to be folks from Austin's Door Number 3 filming for their blog - Advertising Anarchy. I made the video (Note the opening picture is the magazine) on their Wednesday, March 12, 2008 blog.

Now, here's a word to the wise. If you are going to bogart a camera crew... don't be an ass. Have something to say. Make sure you are pitching your product or band in a way that sounds interesting to them. Yes.. it's about you... but it's about what YOU can do for THEM not the other way around. Oh.. and always find out who they are... follow up... thank them for their time... and offer any additional information. 

Here's the YouTube Video. I'm at about the 1 minute mark.
Yeah... I rock like Slayer.





Where will I be tonight? Texas Rockfest at 7:30p.m. to see Mike Truth and the Replacement Killers at the Guitar Hero III stage on 7th and Trinity for starters. If you see me stop by and say hello.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SXSW 2008 - Festival isn't always about signing bands

This is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in the Austin American Statesman in March 2008. Access the original story online here : http://www.austin360.com/music/content/music/stories/2008/03/0312sxsw.html

SXSW 2008
Festival isn't always about signing bands
From the casual fans to music industry players, there's something for everyone.

By Joe Gross
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The biggest myth about the South by Southwest Music Festival and Conference refuses to die, and it's this: SXSW is the place bands go to get discovered and the place labels go to sign bands.

Like many myths, there's an element of truth to this, but SXSW has never been just about record companies, major or otherwise, or any one thing at all.

The tens of thousands of people descending on Austin for the start of today's music festival include bands showcasing their latest songs; label representatives showcasing their latest bands; managers, booking agents and publicists looking for new clients; and fans looking for the next big thing.

If SXSW is about anything, it's about building and maintaining relationships in the music industry. Or as SXSW Director Roland Swenson puts it: "Our approach has always been to help artists find ways to control their destiny."

The myth about SXSW as a vehicle for stardom is almost as old as the fest itself, now in its 21st year.

"I think that started in the early 1990s," Swenson said. In the wake of Nirvana's success in 1991 and 1992, "there was a massive expansion of major labels. They were paying big money for almost anyone."

Thousands of rock bands ended up signed to major labels that didn't develop them.

"Obviously, this sort of signing binge was a huge anomaly," Swenson said.

The Internet has made discovering a band by randomly walking into a club all but obsolete. Even the idea of the unsigned band is up for grabs.

Casey Monahan, director of the Texas Music Office, said when bands talk to him about music business infrastructure and what they need, some of the first things he asks are, "Do you have a good Web site? Do you have a good server? Are you able to sell your own product?" The office serves as a promotion and information clearinghouse for the state's music industry.

With so many more ways for bands to make their music public — MySpace and Facebook pages, blogs and band Web sites from which fans can buy tracks are just a few examples — the very necessity of record labels is in doubt. Being signed might not even be a goal for a lot of bands today.

Austin band White Denim, one of the 1,700 bands selected to play SXSW, has forsworn traditional domestic record labels in exchange for the freedom of self-releasing its music.

"We don't work with labels because they talk about timing, and when you (should) release a record, and (at) what level you put this certain type of promotion," White Denim drummer Josh Block said. The band is self-releasing its debut album on vinyl and working out deals for digital distribution. There are no plans for a domestic CD release, although Block said, "We have no idea how to release music in Europe" and are talking with European labels. (Look for more on White Denim in Thursday's XL.)

"There's so much more information even from our Web site (sxsw.com)," Swenson said. "You see a band's photo; you find a link to their Web site; you can hear their music streaming. None of that was around in 1987."

Then, to hear an unsigned band, you usually had to be right in front of it. Not anymore.

Labels, especially the independents, shop showcase acts at SXSW and still rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, but those can be accompanied by a MySpace page or file transfer of a demo. The buzz of blog hype can become deafening to those obligated to pay attention. YouTube can provide live clips. It's rare that industry folks come to SXSW without any idea of the acts they want to see.

With 1,700 acts playing at least one show apiece, festival attendees are faced with a serious time crunch. "I'm not in a position to say, 'Let's take Thursday night and wander around,' " said Matthew Johnson, general manager of the San Francisco-based Birdman Records. "I will stick my head in the door of a club, but bands should never count on a random encounter."

Adam Shore, who co-administers the label Vice, does two things at SXSW without fail: He makes sure his bands play as often as possible, and he uses the popular "Vice Saves Texas" day party to build relationships. Vice is sponsoring parties throughout the festival at venues such as Stubb's, Kenny Dorham's Backyard, the Longbranch and the Victory Grill.

"There are bands that I like and bands I want to work with and bands I want to meet, so I book them for our events," Shore said. "It's a chance for our whole company to see them and make some decisions."

Shore cracks the whip on his own bands so tastemakers such as music journalists and bloggers have as many opportunities as possible to see Vice Records bands. "There's a tremendous amount of competition for time at SXSW, so if you want to launch artists, they have to play a lot," Shore said. "I don't think any of our bands are playing fewer than five times each."

But what about folks who aren't associated with a record label?

SXSW is a live music festival, so booking agents are often watching a band the closest, gauging crowd reaction, seeing whether the band can deliver on stage. They're the ones most likely to be swayed by a powerful live show or a crowd going wild.

"Over the years, I've definitely picked up a couple of brand-new bands," said Kevin French, who runs the Portland, Ore., booking agency Big Shot Touring. "I think seeing White Rabbits last year at SXSW sealed our decision to sign them," he said, although French already had a relationship with the act. Big Shot Touring is sponsoring its own SXSW showcase, featuring White Rabbits, Langhorne Slim, Bobby Bare Jr. and Austin's White Denim.

Dan Kasin, who owns Dan Kasin Management in San Francisco, manages bands including Two Gallants, Dave Dondero and Minipop, all of which are playing SXSW this week. And, yes, he's shopping for clients.

He said managers look for three types of acts: "a band that has a buzz with some potential and attention, a band that no one else has heard of that requires you to work your ass off, and somebody who maybe has a track record and they just never had management or maybe they just recently fired their manager."

Although Kasin is bringing a schedule with him like everyone else, he's also an advocate of the "hanging around" theory of band exposure. "You go to see a band you intend to see and you end up hanging around talking and something comes on afterwards," he said.

"A lot of people doubt the effectiveness of SXSW in breaking new bands, but I disagree," Kasin said. Word of mouth is still the coin of the realm at SXSW. "I ran into (BBC Radio One DJ) Steve Lamacq on the street and wanted to get him to come (see Minipop). Turned out he had them circled on his calendar. He said he listens to all the MP3s South by Southwest posts before he comes to town. It's really inspiring for a manager to hear that people at his level still do that."

Bands attending SXSW need to know what they want and what they need. SXSW might not be the best place to establish relationships, but it's still an ideal arena to develop them positively or negatively, which at least moves everyone forward.

"I'm just as likely to say, 'I'm no longer interested in a band I've just seen' as I am to say, 'I want to take this relationship further,' " said Phil Waldorf, co-owner of the Austin-based Dead Oceans Records. "But you can't make that step if you have no prior knowledge of the band." In other words, bands shouldn't expect a revelation from a businessperson out of the blue at SXSW.

"I just saw South by Southwest as a way for bands needing a tool to move another step up the ladder to have access to those tools," Swenson said. "I've never thought it was helpful to say South by Southwest is this or that. It's a media promotional event, it's an industry schmooze fest, and it's a chance to see a lot of bands. But mostly I think of it as a meeting of the tribe, a chance for everybody in this odd world to hang out."

jgross@statesman.com; 912-5926

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How to be a real band!

Take a look at Timbaland's new deal to verify what The Outlaws have said in this blog. According to yahoo.com, he celebrating a new move in releasing music. To quote the website, "The magazine co-sponsored the party with Verizon Wireless to celebrate Timbaland's deal with the carrier to create a mobile album and content for the network." A mobile album??? That's right!

I find this funny after having a heated debate with someone about what makes a real band. The antagonist said, "You must have a CD in stores, you must have a gold or platinum album, you must have a sharp-looking website with your own dot com, and you must be known and/or searchable on the web." Some of this I agree with..... Some of this is pure delusion.

Some of the comments made by the antagonist like having a CD in stores is debatable. I see where he's going and what I believe he wanted to say is that having a CD in multiple terra based stores adds credibility to a product. However, I must say that there are plenty of indie artists in the world that are making a killing on the internet with music sales. It's sad to say, but "video really has killed the radio star." TV and mass media have distorted the real world of music in such a way that it has children dreaming of "bling." I know this because of my ongoing work with a variety of diverse children.

The cold harsh reality is that hard work pays off, and you have to be selling your music every chance you get - even if its at your church or local flea market. In this day and age of the digital domain, its easier to get your name and music out to the WORLD.

As Sean Claes repeatedly says about the music business in this day and age, "Lead. Follow. Or Die." Thats The Outlaw way so guess what we are doing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lead, Follow, or Die

2008 is going to be an amazing year for music in America. But, you have to have the ability to change with the direction of the wind. It seems the money-making opportunities for mass-produced music is changing face as well. People are buying less hard-copy music and going more in a digital market. Electronic Press kits (EPK), digital downloads (mp3), and free videos (YouTube), and fan sites (MySpace orFacebook) are taking (or have taken) a forefront.

So how does a band make money in today's climate? The way your musical forefathers did. Promotion, promotion, promotion.

Lead
Create a concert series where you are the main band.. and you find 3-4 supporting bands for which to assure 200+ people at a show. The need for genre-specific bands is not as important as bands who can put asses in the seats. A band that is doing this well is an Austin band by the name of She Craves. They have adopted a model in their hometown that they favor larger venues (Stubbs, Emo's, and The Parish Room) and they assemble a cast of bands who each are charged with promoting, and bringing their fans out in droves. They have also developed relationships with local media and make things happen where, perhaps, they never would have.

Follow
Large festivals are popping up all over the United States and they ALWAYS need bands. I "discovered" a band by the name of Egypt Central when they opened Ozzfest in 2007. I got their CD in the mail last week... along with the CDs of about 20 other bands. Guess which one I popped into my CD player?

Look around your area... smaller festivals and radio shows abound. Hell. Even The Outlaw Gang are getting into the game here... We're putting on the Backwoods Bash on May 24, 2008.

Warning - by following, you likely won't see any instant $$ or fame.. but you'll be remembered long after you played. You may have enough merch sales to make the gig worthwhile as well.

Another idea? Join an online community where you can video-broadcast yourself all over the world. I discovered Operator11 last year, and if they are able to debug their system... it will be a gold mine for musicians. Austin has another one called Flapdaddy that can also, with a little work, be amazing.

Die
Of course, you could do nothing... sit in your room and complain about how music has changed and left you behind. You'd be right... Change your course directly and you may just have something there... that is IF you want to be playing music in front of more the 3 people in the future.

Happy New Year. How happy will it be? Well... how that all depends on how hard do you want to work.