Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

Want to see a really "outlaw" way to promote a movie that's indie in a major way?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Indie in a Major way - Full Service.

One of the things at the heart of the Outlaw Gang is spreading the love of good music and good musicians who know what goal oriented outside the box promotion is.

So, Austin's Full Service did a "Takeover Tour" last year where they followed the 311 / Snoop Dogg tour. They had a plan. Follow the tour and set up in the parking lot (no permission from venue) and play a set for the people showing up for the show. The idea? gain new fans and get noticed. They printed up thousands of CD demos to give out... made a mobile takeover unit.. and brought along a video crew for a documentary. They weren't messing around.

They began by having a press conference.

They did a lot of promo and press. They recorded their takeovers on video (below) and kept a diary of the journey.

Here's a Youtube video they did from the Atlanta Takeover:

Some shows went well.. some were shut down.. but they tracked the progess and learned a lot. Also....Word got back to 311's folks... and when 311 came through again they invited Full Service to open for them 3 nights (Springfield, Tulsa, and Austin). Not in the parking lot... but ON STAGE.

THEN... after it was all said and done. They had caught the ear of 311.. they opened for them in Austin on stage at Austin Music Hall... they got a lot of press. What did they do next?

They headed back out the did another takeover.
VIDEO: Full Service properly executes a takeover in the parking lot of the Austin Music Hall outside the Matisyahu & Les Claypool 6/9/09. It net them free tickets to the show. Here they are performing "Don't Deny" off of 2008's The Dig.

They continue to make moves that keep fans entertained and when they get on stage they impress most who see them. They are a perfect example of a band that is Indie in a Major Way.

Here's a Full Service short... when they were preparing for a September show at Stubbs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Business of Music – The Problems of Promotion

Here's a column I wrote for the fine folks of Sparrowheart Music and Media. It should appear there soon.

The Business of Music – The Problems of Promotion

By Sean Claes

I began writing entertainment around 1996 when I moved from Laredo to San Marcos, Texas to finish up college. Since then I’ve written for several magazines, Websites, and newspapers. I began contributing to INsite Magazine in 2003, became Managing Editor in 2005 and together with my wife bought it in 2008.

Why the bio? Well, lets just say I’ve been approached by more musicians than a Roppolo's Pizzeria on a Sixth Street Saturday night. Some have their stuff together, some don’t. And others just think they are the stuff.

I’ve put together a column talking about some of the problems I’ve seen bands go through when they are in their promotional gear. I separated it into three topics – Promoting your music, live show, and your band. Hope you get some benefit from this.

CD-less CD Release Show
This one is simple, but it seems many bands have had this happen to them. DO NOT SCHEDULE YOUR CD RELEASE SHOT UNTIL YOUR CDS ARE IN YOUR HANDS. I learned this one the hard way. INsite put a CD out in 2007 called This Is INsite Austin Music. The night before the show, the 1,000 CDs came back from being printed and the design firm that was personally assembling them one by one spent an entire night putting ‘em together. We just made it. We were lucky. I’ve been at a CD release show where there was no actual CD yet. Don’t be that band. Have the CD in your hands before booking the show.

It’s Not Personal, But It Should Be
OK, your CD came in. Now you’ve got a list of media folks you need to send it to. When you send a CD in the mail to someone hoping on a review, how about putting a little personal note in there? Media folks get buckets of CDs in the mail. If you knew how many CD’s I sort through each week to pick the ones I decide to actually put in my CD player, you may be stunned. I know for me, when I get something from the band that is actually hand written, I’ll give the CD a spin. I wont always like what I hear, but I’ll take a chance. That’s the entire reason to send a CD to media folks... so they give you a listen.

At Least They Spelled Your Name Right
So you finally got the CD into the hands of someone who is willing to review it. When that review is printed they compare your music to the sounds of two dogs have sex and then falling into a meat grinder. Ouch (on many levels). You march right over and want to give that reviewer a piece of your mind. DON’T. Consider this. If what they said was so wrong, people will see through it. There are a bunch of CD reviewers who think they need to bash something in order to make it in print. The other side is, perhaps the person just flat didn’t like it. He/she is entitled to his/her opinion. All I know is, YOU will come out looking like a whiny little baby if you try and put the reviewer in their place. Suck it up and move on.

How Do They Know?
Tell people when you have a gig. Make sure you use all of the electronic medias (Website, e-mail, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace...etc) to get the word out. But, don’t underestimate the power of “traditional” media. Print (newspaper, magazine), Radio, and Television are three options. These will cost money, but you can likely work deals with someone. For instance my magazine, INsite, has a special rate for local bands. I don’t want to turn this into a promo for the magazine, so if you want to know more, hit me up.

Then there’s always good old-fashioned posters and flyers. I like to tell the story of one of my favorite cock-rock bands, SINIS. They promoted their first show at Flamingo Cantina by handing out ten thousand flyers. They figured if they handed out that many flyers, they could get a couple hundred through the door. It worked. It was a sell out.

The point is, your efforts will be rewarded. The more people who know about you, the more chances that you’ll have more butts through the door next time you play.

Bring your merch to the show - Getting people to a show is the hardest part, but only half the effort. Now you want them to remember you in the morning. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into a show where a band I know has a CD/T-shirts/swag decided not to bring their merchandise. This is foolish on two levels.
1. Chances are, you’re not going to make much money at the door... so selling merch is where its it.
2. Every time you miss an opportunity to have someone walk away from a show with something of yours they can listen to, share, or wear, it’s a good thing.

Thank You Austin!
NEVER piss off the sound guy and ALWAYS thank the venue and bands who have played before you and who will be playing after. You earn your reputation as a live band. Austin is a HUGE music town. People learn quickly which bands are cocky little pricks who don’t draw a crowd and get into fights... and which bands rip it up onstage and know how to conduct themselves. But most of all, NEVER piss off the sound guy. He has the job to make you sound good. If you sound good, people might like your tunes... if they like your tunes, they might buy a CD... and come to another show... with more friends. Get it?

The Next Stevie Ray Vaughan?
In the last 10 or so years that I’ve been a entertainment writer I’ve come across no less than 25 guitarists that were touted as the next Stevie Ray Vaughan. You can play grooves that would make the entire fanbase of the immortal Stevie Ray Vaughan smile... but you’ll never be him... nor should you want to be. It’s got to the point that I won’t listen to a CD that claims that anymore.

It’s almost as bad as calling a band the “best kept secret” in town. You aren’t the next anyone... and if your band is a secret, you aren’t promoting well enough. Get on it.

Never Underestimate Who Your Audience May Be.
So you work at a deli to make ends meet before you hit it big with music. Mention your band to as many people as possible every day. The lady picking up a tuna sandwich might just be your future biggest fan, or the owner of a big club, or a magazine for that matter. Don’t judge a book by its cover either. She may not look like she’d be into your music, but if I walked into a room, nobody would peg me as a fan of New York’s Every Time I Die or Austin’s Grupo Fantasma but they are two of my top choices in those genres.

Another example? My wife walked into a UPS Store in San Marcos a few years back and Randy Rogers happened to be working there (This is a year or so before the Randy Rogers Band signed a major record deal and he was just beginning to play regularly at Cheatham Street Warehouse). He casually mentioned to her that he was in a band. She mentioned her husband was a music writer. I ended up reviewing his 2003 release ( for INsite Magazine as I was a contributor.

Being a genuine nice guy net him two lifelong fans and a CD review in an Austin magazine. Be that guy for your band.

Following Up
When you promote your band, make sure to hold every part of it accountable. What efforts resulted in paid tickets through the door? Did the $3 off at the door cards get used? Did the radio personality you tried to get the CD to actually receive it? Did the Marketing Director? Follow up.

There have been entirely too many bands that I’ve never even heard of and I’ve gotten a CD in the mail. No pre-contact. No follow up. Usually I don’t listen to them. Same is the case of the bands I see when I’m out at clubs. A lot of bands have a CD they’d love for me to review. Smart bands hand me a CD at the club. Smarter bands hand me a CD, and ask for my contact information. The smartest bands, get me a CD, get my contact information and follow up to see how I liked the CD.

If you are trying to make it in the music business, you need to treat it like a business. Make a plan. Make some goals. Give yourself a deadline. Make it happen. When you hit the stage or write the music or practice.. that’s all about the music. Don’t let business mess with that. But in the same breath, don’t let the stereotype of being a “musician” keep you from being in business.

Music + business = Music Business.

Sean Claes rocks like Slayer. Questions? Compliments? Free t-shirts (he wears XL)? Contact him at

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gunz ablazing....

I am proud to have friends like Sean Claes. I am also proud of the work that DIY bands, artists, and others do who we support. In particular, this blog and the comrades that have been embraced over the years have given life to a much needed internet based talk radio show to support the hard work these kats put into their craft. Like anything, it will take time to develop but we have the inner makings of something phenomenal.

Not much else to say, been awhile since I posted. So, check it out and let me know what you think! You know where I hide.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Indie in a MAJOR way.

We have the FREEDOM to Love Music and Love Life. Little history tid-bit at the end and, yes, I know, I know.... us Outlaws keep harping on this "INDIE in a MAJOR way" slogan with events like The Backwoods Bash, Dfest, Texas Rockfest, and all the other independent concert and festivals, especially in Middle America - the last untapped talent pool in the good ole US of A. It's hard to fall for the gimmicks of corporate America when I see hard working kats like Full Service, Gorrilla Marketing, and these street performers in Boston today - seen below. This being the 4th of July makes me really thankful for the freedom we have in this country to be like our forefathers and "snub our noses at the man."

I watched these two kids today make LORD KNOWS HOW MUCH MONEY in just a few hours, just doing what they enjoy. No permits. No contracts. No regulations. Just a nice space to go and "get it." Amazing.

Although I wonder somedays if all this work that Matt Jostes and I do with the Backwoods Bash is worth it. I know Sean probably wonders about Texas Rockfest and all the free support he gives to independent musicians, entertainers, and artists..... but the reality of hardwork, FREEDOM, and persistence reassure me that we are on the right path.

So, if you are an independent artist, musician, or entertainer.... please take a minute to thank a veteran and those who support your cause to setup shop and do what you do. You can support our freedom fighters and colleagues without supporting the BS politics of global monetization in the name of democracy or whatever cause can be dreamed up....

HISTORY LESSON: Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? You can read the version for the full factual scoop but this will give you good perspective of the point I'm trying to make.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

  • Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his Ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
  • Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
  • Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
  • At the battle of Yorktown , Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
  • Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
  • John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't. So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free!

I hope everyone has a safe and eventful 4th of July. PEACE..... and, remember, DO YOU! Coz Imma do me..... wooo-weee.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Bands of Middle America

Without a doubt, some of the best bands are tucked away and undiscovered in Middle America. I have been consumed with my day job, writing a book, and planning for the Backwoods Bash so I'm taking a little break to share some thoughts and experiences as we kick off the 2nd Annual Backwoods Bash.

As the music business struggles as an industry, there seems to be a surge and influx of rising "indie" or independent bands because more and more artists are taking matters into their own hands and seeking out opportunities rather than waiting on a hand out from a major label. Since we are not as influenced as the east or west coasts, our music tends to have stronger arrangements, interesting melodies, underlying tones, and vocals that you will not hear on radio in most cases.

Due to the disconnect with music politics, our artists and producers in Middle America tend to operate without the stresses and confines offered by elitists perpetuating a structured business model. The thriving independent music scene in Austin is proof of what is emerging throughout the rest of Middle America. Austin, Texas has set a standard as the "Indie Music Capitol of the World" and it seems to be spreading - little by little.

Look out major labels....... Middle America is on the rise. And, the Outlaw Entertainment Group is "INDIE in a MAJOR WAY."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Road To The Bash - Austin, May 3

INsite Magazine has organized a special "Road To The Bash" concert and raffle, featuring the 4 bands from Austin who will play Backwoods Bash 2009. The purpose of the gig is to help the bands raise money to pay for the gas to Mannford. The raffle is for the same and it'll feature some sweet band swag.

Here's the info:
Sunday May 3, 2009 @ Red Eyed Fly

Backwoods Bash - Road To The Bash


With over a 100 shows under their belt, including playing festivals such as Bayfest and South By South West, Chartreuse brings their experimental sound to the Backwoods Bash.

The Banner Year

Returning to the Backwoods Bash Music Festival for the second year, The Banner Year will sure not disappoint. These aggressive, yet accessible, road warriors from Austin create a unique sound and experience with their mixture of alternative, pop-punk and independent rock style.

Will Evans Project

The Will Evans Project is Exciting, and charged with Soul. WEP writes and creates music that fuses blues, rock, soul, and improvisation, but most importantly, their onstage chemistry is the catalyst that forms a musical journey that is truly unique.

Michael Gibson

This classically trained and accomplished pianist brings his progressive music and songwriting to the Backwoods Bash in 2009.

Do a concert a favor... click this photo... download this flyer full-size and you'll have a letter-sized page with 8 copies of the show information. Cut it up.. keep one and hand 7 out to anyone who will take one. Thanks!
Road To The Bash 8-pack

If you know someone in Austin... please pass this information on. Word of mouth from you good people is what we count on. It's the Backwoods Bash way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Backwoods Bash 2009 - Band Entry Deadline Nears

This one has Outlaw Gang written all over it.

The Backwoods BashMusic Festival 2009 will be held Memorial Day Weekend in Mannford Oklahoma (just outside Tulsa).

This is a concert that was conceived by Trevor Lane, Matt Jostes, Damien Hartzell and Sean Claes. It's a benefit concert wrapped around 3-days of camping , and it's a great time. In 2008 we had about 20 bands, all indie. If you're a touring indie band, have an album ... and may be near (or can form a tour around) Tulsa (Mannford) Oklahoma during Memorial Day Weekend, please apply. We'll also put out a Compilation CD of bands playing the show.

We are accepting band applicants until January 31. Click image below to go to the site.

Here's some shots from Backwoods Bash 2008

If you'd like to support us by sponsoring, or by being a vendor, click the applicable link. Thanks.

Happy 2009.