Live From Music City with Michael Lee Firkins

Michael Lee Firkins - Yep

“Live From Music City,” a radio show on blog talk radio (www.blogtalkradio.com/live-from-music-city), welcomes guitarist and musician extraordinaire Michael Lee Firkins who will talk about his brand new release “Yep” and will share about how to tackle the issues an independent musician must face on a daily basis on “Live From Music City.”

Date: Nov 26th, 2013

Time: 5:00pm CST

Length 30 Min

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lfmcradio/2013/11/26/live-from-music-city-with-michael-lee-firkins

Facebook E-vite: https://www.facebook.com/events/255939404553669/

 

Practice? Yeah Right…

The Lowry Agency

I can’t tell you how many bands I have been a part of or worked where people would show up for rehearsal and someone (usually more than one) hadn’t practiced the material to be gone over in our rehearsal time. This is extremely bad when it is music that has been played for years within the band and the members can’t remember their parts or are just involved in to many other projects to take one seriously enough for it to be viable. In my experience it tends to be the same people over and over again. Always with some excuse whether it be work, family etc… but mostly it’s just people who don’t have the drive and discipline to take it serious. They would rather watch their favorite shows on T.V. or go out partying with their friends. This is a major problem within a band and needs to be dealt with immediately.

This Meme popped on my Facebook stream yesterday and it is of course an ageless problem within the entertainment community especially music. I consider it one of the major roadblocks for entertainers to overcome in order to have a decent shot at making it in the business. It is extremely important to deal with this sort of behavior immediately. How can a band or entertainer make it if the people involved are dead set on making it happen. That means putting forth every effort to be prepared. I for the life of me can’t figure out why so many musicians struggle with being professional or understand how completely critical it is for them to be prepared at all times for anything that might pop up. I quit trying to help bands get booked because they were never ready for a last minute gig. Their set lists weren’t done because they only knew so many songs and what was usually the reason? Someone in the band wasn’t learning the material or just didn’t think it was necessary to have a nice set list to draw from.

This eats away at the core of a band. People start to get irritated with each other and stop trusting each other. People will start to develop a “why should I bother” attitude because they get tired of working harder than everyone else but the people who keep letting the band down, expect to be equal partners and get paid the same while doing almost none of the work or having the work ethic it takes to succeed. This is about the most disrespectful behavior you can have in a band. Many of the other members are sacrificing time with family, friends or other things they love to have a real shot at it, but there is always some asshat that just doesn’t get it.

This isn’t a business that pays you for showing up. This is a business that pays you for hard work, work ethic, being prepared and having the ability to act at a moments notice if you are needed to fulfill a last minute opening. This also plays into people working with you. I make it abundantly clear from the get go before working withy any artist that we won’t work bust our ass for an artist that isn’t busting theirs. If this is a problem, they get cut. How can you expect anyone to bust their ass and do all the grunt work you don’t want to do, when you can’t even do the one thing you are brought into do. Learn your songs and put on the best show possible. You can’t do that if you spend all your rehearsal time learning songs that should have already been learned before the rehearsal at home. Rehearsals are for working on song structure, correcting small mistakes, developing set lists and most importantly performance. NOT LEARNING SONGS!

This of course is not a new revelation by any stretch of the imagination but yet things never change. The business is constantly changing, but musicians don’t. Same old story, same old song and dance. It’s a new business kids, gone are the deals, the money and now the people willing to working for nothing to bust their ass for a bunch of lazy musicians. Get with the program or get out.

To all bands and entertainers out there. Deal with this now or you will get absolutely nowhere. If it is a repetitive problem, fire them. Find band members that are willing to give 100% to make it happen or prepare to sit in anonymity for a very long time if not forever.

Good luck!

Miley Cyrus and the Ultimate Double Standard

There has been such shock and outrage over Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMA’s that is beyond extreme. Why? What did she do that hasn’t been done a million times before? This isn’t because of what she did, it’s because she is Hannah Montana and people just can’t let go of that even years after she quit being that character. She has a responsibility to her audience! Uhm…. no she doesn’t. It’s a character. It’s not who SHE is. Miley is an artist and whether you like it or not, she is going to change, push boundaries and do things people don’t like. That is what being an artist is all about.

How many times have we seen this? Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, now we laugh and think that was nothing. But when it happened it was just like this outrage. Now Elvis is the King of Rock N’ Roll and the greatest American music icon ever. Jim Morrison pulled his junk out on stage, was constantly a raging drug and alcohol abuser and now he is a rock legend. Often you hear things like what a great artist he was and how he pushed boundaries. He was revolutionary. BS. He was just a druggie wanna be poet who happened to be a rock star in a free love movement and drug induced coma America was going through. Madonna? Holy crap remember all the controversy she caused do to her nude photos, sexuality and religious statements? Now a musical icon with a ton of respect from woman about how she furthered women’s rights and helped made women stronger and able to stand up for themselves. The list goes on and on about people who shocked and pushed boundaries musically. Lady Gaga? Alice Cooper? Kiss? Nothing but controversy when they came out. Now they are revered musical artists that people look up to and respect.

Miley? Not so much. Look, Miley did exactly what rock n’ roll is all about. Pushing boundaries, disregarding the establishment, chaos and controversy. That is what makes rock n’ roll great. That is what most people love rock n’ roll for. Did she picked an audience with kids in it? Yes she did. Was that wrong most likely depending on your moral character. However, most kids were in bed when it aired and she followed in the footsteps of those before her by picking a time and place to create the most shock value. That was extremely rock n’ roll. She is a rock star, that is what she does.

This will all blow ever one day and 15 years or so down the road most will probably talk about this in a completely different light, just like Elvis, Morrison, Madonna and all the others that achieved this level of outrage in the past for their artistic expression.

Whether or not we/you liked the performance is irrelevant. The backlash against Miley is a complete double standard as a woman performer as most men would totally get away with this behavior with out a second thought, can anyone say Axel Rose, Sebastian Back, Gene Simmons? What about when Slayer first came out with all the Devil worshipping stuff? Now they are a legend in Death Metal.

Furthermore each time we talk about this, it keeps it viral and all the shocked parents are just putting it out there more for the kids to see and making it more cool.

Choose people. Either you want your rock stars or you don’t. It is amazing how many other artists can justify their actions to artist expression but Miley can’t. Serious, serious double standard.

We all know sex sells, we all saw the women in the video of the song that was sung who were topless, where was the outrage there? A married man performed this with Miley and no one is saying a thing about that. Where is the outrage there? Double standard.

Time to grow up America. Whether we like it or not, Miley did exactly what rock n’ roll is all about. That is what makes it great and controversial at the same time. However, holding her to a different standard is not fair to her. It is her life, her choice to perform how she wants. If you don’t like it, turn it off and don’t talk about it. Otherwise you are just helping to make it go viral and do exactly what she planned. Making her a rock star and giving her all the press and attention she wanted. Her impact is now much, much bigger.

Miley Cyrus has as much right to perform and express her art just as much as Elvis, Michael Jackson, Jim Morrison, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Alice Cooper or any other shock artist. If you disagree then maybe you just don’t understand rock n’ roll.

Successful People, What They Got That You Don’t

Title got your attention right? Good. In this ever changing landscape that is the entertainment industry, you have to decide what success means to you and go for it. You have to learn to be happy with what you have achieved and as long as you have given it everything that you have, you have to be okay with the results. What does this mean?

Let’s look at an Olympic level athlete for example. Most American Olympic level athletes are no different than entertainers. They make no money from their profession. Very few athletes make any money and have work a regular job, scrimp, save and try to find endorsement dollars just like any entertainer. The great old United States of America does’t pay for or provide anything for it’s athlete’s like most other countries so it is completely upon the athletes to make do with what they have. They have to become the very best at what they do in the same harsh environment that any entertainer does. They have no money, huge bills to pay for coaches, fees, travel etc… We are talking at least tens of thousands every year just to train and compete only a few times a year to achieve the world wide platform they are looking to get to.

The difference is Olympic level athletes are completely and utterly dedicated to achieving their goals. They get up at ungodly hours, put their bodies through absolute hell training 6 to 8 hours a day usually at minimum, work, have families and all the issues in life everyone else has. They have to pay someone a fee to coach them. They have to pay for all their gear, all their costs just like any entertainer does. “Their families tell them many times, why don’t you just give this up and focus on a career? There is no money in this.” However, you never hear them complain about it. You don’t hear them whining about how hard it is or how no one pays them for being the best at what they do. Ever. Yet every entertainer, most of which are not even close to the best at what they do always complain about not being paid while bringing nothing special to the table.

You see, the special people have a dream. A goal they know is almost impossible to achieve as so very few ever do. They accept it, plan for it and actually put the plan into motion to achieve their end goal. Every day of their lives. No exceptions, no excuses. They put their bodies, families and careers through hell for that 15 minutes of standing on a podium, hearing their national anthem and knowing at least for that little bit of time, they are the very best at what they do and that is all they need.

Almost every entertainer I have met isn’t like this. They whine and complain how no one takes them serious. They say things like “if only I could get some to….” In other words, they want other people to do the real work. The booking, the planing, the social media, the PR…. everything and pay them almost nothing for it. Heck most don’t even know what they average pay is anymore, they still think it’s 1985.  This is the most infuriating thing about the entertainment business.

You see for years the entertainers complained about other people making all the money, but the reality is, they were doing all the hard work. They did the work no one else wanted to do and usually fronted all the money. Now we live in a different dynamic. The money isn’t there any more. The entertainers got what they wanted, control of their careers. But that comes with actually having to adapt and learning how to run a business. Doing the things they bitched about having to pay so much money to have other people do. Just like any other business. You have to pay people to work for you and you pay a much higher price for experts in their field. Entertainers haven’t adapted to this new dynamic yet. They still think that people will work extremely hard for no or very little money which I am afraid isn’t going to happen.

You see, entertainers first of all need to do what they love just for the love of it just like the athletes do. Secondly, they have to dedicate themselves to the process of achieving your dreams just like the athletes do. What does this mean? It means getting your ass out of bed early and working. It means, put your money in your dreams not in your local bar or vice of choice. It means figuring out a way to pay for all the help you are going to need because you know you can’t do it on your own and quit hoping that someone is just going to “discover” you. That doesn’t ever happen normally especially now. The entertainment business is like any sports field, only about 2% of the people actually make it to the top. The rest have to learn to be happy with what they did achieve.

So this is my question to all you entertainers out there because in my experience your actions don’t match up with your words. How serious are you? Are you serious enough about your career and goals to dedicate your self with the focus it takes an Olympic level athlete? Or are you just another person with dreams but not the drive to actually back up your words?

Think about this before you pester people for help, before you tell everyone that you are the next big thing and if they would only just take a chance on you that you would prove it. Because, reality says 98% of you aren’t that dedicated to your dreams and goals. Which percentage do you want to belong in?

I wish you the best and I hope this lights a fire! To do anything in life takes and immense amount of work, money, trial and error but most importantly drive. Without this, you have no chance at making it.

Look at your goals and career like your are training for that gold medal and make it happen. You are the only one that can and no one else will put that kind of effort to back you, if you won’t do if for yourself.

Good Luck!

DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints CD Review

DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints

DeLana Stevens has been a Nashville staple for years now and unfortunately Nashville isn’t really a rock town because they are sitting on one of the best voices I have heard in this town easily. I wrote an article on her live performance for Metalholic Magazine a year ago here: http://metalholic.com/delana-stevens-and-the-beggar-saints-tune-up-nashville/. Miss Stevens is simply one of the most underrated performers in Nashville period. Not only can she sing with the best of them but she is a better performer than almost all of them when it comes to actually emoting and connecting with the audience. When DeLana Stevens sings you feel it. Everywhere. This is the kind of vocalist that shakes your soul and brings feelings up out of you that make you want to blush at the minimum.

Her new CD “DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints” is a tour de force of smokey, sexy vocals on a bed of rock guitar and hook laden songs that most bands wish they could write and pull off. A song by DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints means a song that is for the song only. Nothing out of place. Nothing distracting. Just pure solid rock and roll with tinge of souther rock or country hear and there. There isn’t a week on track on this CD and makes you scratch your head in wonder WTF is going on with people to let this artist sit here while others with questionable ability become millionaires.

I don’t know DeLana’s story or how her career has gone, but I know this. She deserves a lot more than what she is getting press and attention wise. This is an artist with serious vocal chops and ability with a smart band behind her that support her musically like they should. If you are looking for an artist to get behind with drive, actual talent and great hit potential songs than this is the one. To say otherwise is completely foolish.

To write a proper review for this CD is almost impossible and would be incredibly long as I truly love every song and it is hit after hit. Let me just say, if you don’t buy this, you are missing something big.

Track 1 – Drown: A mid tempo rocker opened with a finger picked distorted guitar and and from the first line you already know this song is going to be good. A nice pre-chorus build that draws you straight into a great chorus. A very strong opening track that lays down the law and announces DeLana is here to rock you out of your boots.

Track 2 – Forbidden: The new single track opens with a slinky little guitar line with arpeggiated chords setting a nice tone from the start. The layers are nicely done here with plenty of space for the song to breathe. Another incredibly strong track that pulls you in a different direction but still rocks and has your ears orgasming at DeLana’s seductive voice. It’s almost like she is right there singing in your ear. Chills…….

Track 3 – Leave on the Lights: This track starts slower but yet somehow the intensity from DeLana’s vocals are always there. It’s like she is singing into your soul. Another strong effort and deeply engaging song.

Track 4 – Sidewalk Prophet: Big power chord opening with a shift to another slinky guitar line. A sexy, fun song that I am sure will lead to lots of dirty dancing on the floor.

Track 5 – Fantasy: a slow burner that opens with DeLana harmonizing with herself. A powerful song with a huge chorus and shows DeLana’s ability to keep that intensity in her vocals no matter where the song takes her.

Track 6 – Bohemian Grove: Another mid to slow tempo burn. A nice use of rhythm in both the music and vocal lines.

Track 7 – Damaged: Slow, a bit sad and real. DeLana brings out the things we want to say but never want to be vulnerable enough to do so.

Track 8 – I Got Even: A completely different feel for the intro. Slow, chordal as well as ringing open strings with DeLana’s vocals echoed. Jumps right into a up tempo, in your face chorus.

Track 9 – Nobody: A up beat song, one of my favorites actually. Great hook with a fun groove and breakdown section that sets up the return of the big chorus.

Track 10 – Give a Little: This is a raucous raise your beer party party song. A decent hook and an upbeat end to the CD with a “play” on words to be heard not told.

I don’t have the details  of the CD as to who wrote the songs or who produced it but it is all top notch. Whom ever wrote the songs are very talented and the production is great. The band is I am sure much more capable than they show because they play only what is necessary for the song. There are bright spots for them but it’s all only to enhance the song and never a showmanship this. Complete musical maturity in the songwriting and playing. You never feel like you are listening to the same song on this CD like with so many artists. The writing is so well done and the hooks so completely their own and different, each song is it’s own experience and always for the better.

This is rock and roll at it’s best. Stripped down, sexy as hell and leaving space for the music and vocals to tug at your soul. I don’t like to compare one artist to another or say they are like so and so because it’s an injustice the artist I am reviewing. DeLana Stevens is the simply the best rock artist in Nashville. Her vocals can stand with anybody you can think of and her presence is big enough to tower above everything going on around her. It is her show and she owns it. More artists should learn this ability.

There is nothing packaged, corporate about this band. What you see is what you get and it’s everything we loved about the huge acts of the 70’s with today’s twist and possibly a better singer. Certainly one better than we are used to hearing today.

This CD is up there with The Winery Dogs, Maragold, Steve Lukather as one of the best CD’s of the year. 10 out of 10 stars emphatically!

Get a free copy of the song “Forbidden” here: http://www.delanastevens.net/ and hear for yourself your next favorite artist.

The Lowry Agency is in no way associated with DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints. All statements are my opinion and mine alone.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/delanastevensband?ref=br_tf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeLanaStevens

EverAfter Debut CD “A Beautiful Lie” Review by David Lowry

 

EverAfter

 

 

EverAfter is a band out of New Jersey founded by former Heaven’s Edge guitarist Reggie Wu and Jim Drneck of Cinderella and Tangier. The project was released on August 1st, 2013 after a hiccup in the recording process and having to replace two members. Bass player Buddy Cash and vocalist Christopher Thomas stepped up to the plate to help make sure the project got completed. What you get is a solid modern hard rock debut from veteran players that should be a decent catalyst into opening up tour date possibilities and beginning that ever allusive fan base bands are always striving for.

Guitarist Wu was probably one of the 80’s most underrated and melodic players that just happened to hit at the time of the great demise that was grunge rock. I was very excited to hear this effort as I have always been a fan of Wu’s playing and melodic sensibility and phrasing.  That guitar parts for the most part shine on this CD so I am definitely not let down here and the rhythm section is solid and provides a great back bone to songs through out.

While this is a solid effort on the part of Ever/After I am a little let down by the vocals on the slow parts. I am just not sold on the songs then and it feels strained and forced. Possibly a slight lack of control, like the singer has never really sang like that before and wasn’t totally comfortable with it. Admittedly I know nothing about Christopher Thomas as a vocalist so I could be way off. The production was a bit weak in spots for my taste but that is just my critical ear I am sure. It has a mix of polish and being a bit raw in spots somehow and I am still waiting for my ear to really grasp it.

Don’t get me wrong there are some hot spots on this CD and Wu and company have put together some well crafted pop/rock songs. There are hooks, nice layers and plenty of songs to crank up and dance to especially for the ladies.

The first song “Breakin’ Me” is a modern rock take with a slight punk feel that has a nice hook and might be where the vocals shine the most. Nothing is over done here and it’s laid out pretty nice with a little chaotic bridge to bring some weight to the lyrics.

The second track “Starin’ At The Gun” is another upbeat track with a good hook and a bit more flash from the mighty Wu on the git fiddle. A solid rocker but there are spots I feel the vocalist could of hit better.

Track 3 is “Can’t Stop Love” with an acoustic guitar opening and maybe the strongest statement from vocalist Christopher Thomas. This is definitely his high point on the CD and probably my favorite track on the CD. Nice hook, great parts and finally a vocal that sells it. There is a female back ground vocalist which is another bright spot. She has some nice lines and is a much better singer technically with great chops and a nice tone to her voice. Somebody should snap her up quick.

Track 7 “Best of Me” is another rocker that has a great feel and hook. A bit of a more melodic feel and slightly darker. This track shows Ever/After where they fit best. Rocking hard and letting the vocalist do what makes him shine the best, providing that rock growl with confidence.

EverAfter is a rock band with a lot of potential to make very good rock CD’s and with a bit more polish this CD could be even better. “A Beautiful Lie” has a lot of different feels in the songs which is nice and shows a good amount of not only instrumental maturity but songwriting maturity as well. When the let go and rock they shine brightly and could really be at the forefront of helping to bring rock back to the forefront of the music industry with some hard work and a better producer to bring out the best in the vocals.

I am giving this 7 out of 10 stars for some great hooks, solid radio ready songs and a solid rocking first effort.

The Winery Dogs CD Review by David Lowry

The Winery Dogs

 

To call The Winery Dogs a supergroup would be a injustice in my mind. Sometimes supergroups are set up to sell CD’s not that is a bad thing and certainly not all did that with that intention in mind, but sometimes it just seems like a ploy and most don’t last very long. Even though The Winery Dogs consist of three of the most world renowned musicians especially in the rock world, this doesn’t feel anything like a super group. The three piece power trio of bass legend Billy Sheehan, world renown drummer Mike Portnoy, and guitar virtuoso Richie Kotzen who is also the ridiculously talented singer brings us the biggest wall of sound sings King’s X burst on the scene back in the 1980’s. If for some reason you are not familiar with these musicians, just click on their names to view their website and history. You won’t find a more accomplished 3 piece on the planet.

Anyone who knows me knows that these three musicians are probably my top three favorite in the world so when I heard they were coming together to put out a CD I was excited beyond belief to say the least. Anyone who knows me also knows that my favorite musician in the world is Richie Kotzen and it is about time the world finally hear him on a platform that show cases more than just his guitar playing which is what he has long been considered one of the best players in the world. Richie Kotzen’s vocalizations are reminiscent of the Philadelphia soul last really heard by Daryl Hall. If you ever go back through Richie’s solo catalog and listen, you will be amazed at how this guy has remained under the radar for so long. Having interviewed Richie twice on my radio show “Live From Music City,” I can tell you this guy is as humble as they come and more talented than just about everyone who thinks they are God’s gift to music.  Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy are no stranger to the musical limelight as they are widely interviewed for their well known virtuosity and have transcended their instruments in the mainstream to become household names in the music world.

The Winery Dogs are a classic rock trio that brings back the art of songwriting, melodies and bursts of virtuosity at just the right moments in songs which of course is a sign of musical maturity in their songwriting. Musicians like this could easily blow are minds with their virtuosity as it is specifically what all three are know for, but The Winery Dogs aren’t about that. This is rock at it finest level and one of the most poignant examples of how to be  incredibly creative, have a completely unique sound, using virtuoso talent and musical knowledge to showcase all of it and put out one of the best rock CD’s in years let alone 2013.

The first single  and track “Elevate” is an up tempo rocker with an incredibly hooky chorus that captures you right away with it’s charm and attitude. Richie and Billy have doubled instrumental lines that add something that in today’s rock that you don’t really hear anymore as well a very cool break down section again another lost art in todays rock songwriting. The versus are a nice contrast to the chorus as they have a slow, bluesy, slightly darker feel before bursting into the chorus which brings the song up to another level. Great rock song and great feel with of course amazing playing and a smoking melodic guitar solo by Richie.

The second single and also track “Desire” is another smoking rocker that opens with Richie vamping chords and then settles into a sexy groove pushed by just the bass and drums. The chorus drives the song into a new gear and rings with a simple catchiness that keeps you singing the song all day long in your head. The bridge really separates the rest of the song like a bridge should followed by a break down that showcases Billy and Richie again and keeps the song very fresh. The solo is a simple statement by Richie that is melodic with a slow build to a frenzy finish.

The CD’s fourth track “I’m No Angel” is my personal favorite on the CD and starts with a very sexy bluesy guitar line and by Richie that sets a mood that really allows the lyrics to stand out. The broody feel of the verse is highlighted by an up lifting pre-chorus and chorus. The way that the band highlights the parts of their songs with their melodic lines and creativity really shine in this song. Richie’s voice brings a haunted quality to the lyrics that make this song so relatable to many of us I am sure. Richie’s solo’s are melodic, phrased beautifully and as always tell a story within the story itself.

The sleeper track is “We Are One” a blistering rocker that strikes out on its own and screams single! The CD closes out with two ballads “The Dying” and “Regret.” Both songs are beautiful, haunting and show incredible depth in the songwriting.

Bottom line: This CD is what every musician who is serious about songwriting and learning to play should aspire to. Being able to play your instrument only allows you be more creative, add colors, textures, melodies and lines to enhance each songs “experience” for the listeners. Being able to create soundscapes should be the goal of every musician. The songwriting is top notch and this CD should not only reinforce the musical abilities of these musicians but showcase their songwriting in a new way that garners respect from the public as a whole. The Winery Dogs allow Richie to stand out and radiate his immense talent and this should solidify him as one the best all around musicians in music today as he does all the lead vocals, guitars and keys on this CD. He singing is among the best in rock today and let this be a statement to the world at how incredibly talented this man is. Take note world, this is simply one of the top 3 rock CD’s of 2013 besides Steve Lukather‘s “Transition” and Maragold ‘s (featuring guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and new vocal powerhouse Meghan Krauss) sef-titled CD . No where on the planet will you find a more talented, musical and gifted band than this. Go buy this now or forever miss out on one the best CD to come out in years.

Find out more about The Winery Dogs here:

www.thewinerydogs.com

https://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs

https://twitter.com/TheWineryDogs

 

 

 

 

Promoters Need to Promote More…. WTF?

One of the great lies I hear from bands that haven’t made in the music business is that promoters don’t promote enough for their shows. Really? A PROMOTER whom by title and definitions job it is to promote isn’t promoting enough? I call a serious BS to this excuse that musicians use to not be accountable for their poor numbers. I have yet to meet either as a musician or a business person a promoter that didn’t promote. We are talking 30 years of playing or working in the business and I have never seen this. Even the small promoters work their fingers to the bone, pay the bands with what little came in and always go home with nothing while the bands bitch and complain and pretty much did no promotion what so ever.

It is my contention that most musicians don’t know what promotion truly is and wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it and they have no idea what is going on in the background. Is this harsh? Yes, but it is my experience dealing with musicians.

So let’s get this out of the way early. Yes, there are exceptions where maybe a promoter is new or doesn’t know what they are doing or maybe doesn’t have a budget but this is not what you normally deal with. Even still people who are promoting an event are usually very excited about their event and will promote it the hilt to the best of their ability which I can not say about musicians. Yes there are a few musicians out there that get it, but the majority don’t and they make excuses as to why they there are no people at their shows.

First and foremost, promoters are not in the business of losing money. Promoters are in the business of making money. They aren’t into taking chances and throwing away hard earned dollars by throwing an event and not promoting it. That is just plain stupid and not even close to reality. If you as a musician have met a promoter that is into throwing money away and you worked with them, then that is your fault for making a bad business decision. Hopefully you have learned form it and know what questions to ask next time.

As far as promoters taking advantage of local bands again a load of BS. If you are a local band, and you were lucky enough to get a spot on an event that has money behind it, you are already getting more than you are worth in advertising and promotion alone. It builds your brand, your credibility and if you actually drew in the minimum of 30 paid tickets you should be drawing in, then you will be remembered and brought in again and again as long as your work your butt off and keep brining in numbers. This does lead to getting paid and much better opportunities for you. If you are a local band opening for a A level or B level band, you are getting paid by getting in front of the audience that paid to see the headliner not you. This is a crowd that would never normally come see you. Understand the opportunity that it is, the opportunity you couldn’t normally afford to pay for yourself and make the most of it.

I can’t tell you how many times I stood in front of Bridgestone arena during a big concert by myself handing out promo cards while not one of the band members helped or how many times I was out ever day hanging posters and no help from the bands. 3 times I had a tiny bit of help hanging posters from 1 musician who did one small area of town with me and 2 others where a model and a friend helped me to 2 square blocks. Everything else was me every day hanging posters and hitting a previous area again every third day. The bands always had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help.

Promoters have their events listed on all the known event websites. They get their events in all the local entertainment rags. They set up radio interviews and advertising. They do email blasts over and over again. They have social media accounts that they promote on. They hang posters all over town over and over again because posters are always pulled down. This more promotion per event then most bands will do in a year for themselves let alone for just one event. What do musicians do? Maybe a couple Facebook posts or tweets and call that promotion.

In a perfect world, each event will be promoted to the hilt by the promoter, venue and bands. Will this happen? Maybe, maybe not. The reality is this. Each musician or band is responsible for their success and the success of each event no matter what anyone else does. You can never rely on someone else’s promotion for your business. YOU have to kill it each and every time. YOU cannot let excuses creep into your thought process. People pay to see bands that are good, the pay to see an experience. If they aren’t paying to see you, it’s not because of a lack of promotion by the venue or promoter. It’s because you aren’t giving them what they want yet. They don’t see anything worth paying for. YOU as a band have to learn how to separate people from their money. YOU have to learn how the become the EVENT that makes them put other things off and come see you instead of a movie or handing with friends.

As a promoter we have to do the same thing however, promoters learn quickly usually and bands seem to languish in poor work ethic and lack of creativity.

Bottom line is this. YOU have to toot your own horn and not expect anyone else to. YOU have to learn the skills to make this happen. YOU have to have a band that is dedicated to putting together a strategy to promote effectively. This means everyone in the band has to participate and quit using the “that just isn’t my thing” excuse. If you are in a band and you find that you don’t have the drive or the time to make this happen, then it is time re-evaluate your business and maybe step aside or just be comfortable with being a local band. There is nothing wrong with that. Getting up and playing music for any number of people is it’s own reward.

The music business isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago. There is very little money it, especially for bands that haven’t made it. Musicians wanted control of their careers so they could make more money and not get screwed. Well guess what, you got it. Now it is all your responsibility. The real work, the hard work is now up to you and you live and die by the sword.

Now you know why, bands had contracts that paid other people so much. They were the ones making you successful. They did all the hard work, the grunt work. They were the ones taking the risk and fronting the money so you could be a rock star.

Time to make a decision. Either you want it and will do everything as a unit possible to make it or you won’t, but quit blaming others for what you are not willing to do for yourself.

To all the bands that are doing it, keep it up! Never give up! Take the reigns of your business and do your best to dictate your success!

Good luck!

Why Aren’t People Coming to Your Shows?

The entertainment business is incredibly tough to be in. We all think we are amazing talents and think we should be paid for all of our hard work and what it takes to put on a show of any kind but that isn’t the reality. The reality is it’s hard to separate people from their hard earned income and with all the entertainment being thrown at them from every angle now days, it’s very hard to capture their attention.

This is why is so incredibly critical that word of mouth spreads about your show the entice people to your future shows. It almost always takes lots and lots of shows before you start to see the crowds you want but there is a strategy to doing it and most importantly, it has to be an experience they will remember and always talk about.

The other day, Dana White of the promotions company UFC came out and said “If you want to get paid, you don’t want people doing the wave during your fight.You want them talking about you on Monday and Tuesday and that isn’t going to happen if they aren’t paying attention to your fight” (paraphrased.) This is completely true of any form of entertainment. If you can’t get people to talk about how completely amazing your show or performance was, you are not giving the audience the experience they are paying for and hence, you don’t deserve to get paid no matter how hard you worked nor should you expect them to. This isn’t an hourly paying gig based on the hours you put in. Lot’s of people work hard (most likely in the wrong areas) but may not be talented enough, visionary enough or a good enough producer to put on the entertainment experience of a life time.

This is the truth. Hard work doesn’t determine getting paid. Buying gear doesn’t determine getting paid. Nothing determines getting paid other than your show putting butts in seats no matter how hard you work or talented you are. This can be a very long and arduous process for any entertainer but it is usually the most common road. Time, effort, talent and an amazing amount of patience are absolutely necessary in the entertainment business. If you aren’t giving the public something that makes them want to part with their money, then you have no one to blame but yourself. You don’t deserve to get paid just for showing up.

Along with talent, planning, intense amounts of practice and the vision to make your dream happen and to also deliver something the public finds value in comes the actual real work that most entertainers don’t want to do and hope others will do for them before they are big enough for anyone to want to. The promotion, booking and business end of things. Somehow the entertainers have to be able to do all of this. It’s obviously very hard and if it was easy, every one would be doing it but they aren’t. However it can be done and there are plenty of examples in the business to prove it. It comes down to will, determination and talent not only to perform but design a show that will provide and experience, not just another so-so show that the public usually gets. They deserve much better than average if they are going to spend money on a ticket plus any other expenses such as drinks, dinner, parking or babysitting etc.

I would estimate that about 95% of what entertainers are putting out there in their performances or shows is completely average or below, yet all I see are entertainers demanding that they should get paid. Paid for what? Mediocrity? I won’t pay you for that. When you send in your material and tell me how amazing you are then that is what I expect. If you aren’t that, if you don’t deliver on your words of your live show, if you don’t put butts in seats or increase your crowd on average over time, then you simply are not as good as you say you are. That is reality. That doesn’t mean give up though. It means you need to re-evaluate your show. Take the time to make adjustments, improve in the areas that need it and learn to put on the show that people wan’t to see. If you don’t, you can’t complain about people not wanting to pay ticket prices. You aren’t providing the value to make it worth the price to them.

You want to sell tickets? Provide the experience that people can’t stop talking about. This means the most well rehearsed, professional dedicated performance you can deliver and it must keep getting better. Until then, you will be mired in mediocrity and low ticket sales and letting the business jade you for your perceived slights. No one owes you a living. In this business, talent, hard work, creativity and vision are all you have. Bring it or go home. Don’t complain about people not coming to your shows when you aren’t giving the very best for them to see.

This is the reality that haunts us all. You and me alike.

Good luck!

Thoughts after the ASTRA Toy & Game Convention in Nashville, TN.

Monday morning I was on Facebook to see if Mayfair Games had posted my review of Star Trek Catan which they did because (thank you) they understand social media much better than just about all the rest of the of the board game publishing companies and I noticed in their social media posting that they were at an ASTRA Toy & Game Convention in Nashville just one block away from the Starbucks I was sitting at working so I jumped online and registered and high-tailed it down there to check out what was going on!

It was a great event with lots of fun toys and board games which is of course what I was interested in and a great energy with very friendly vendors, store owners, reps and staff. Granted most of the product is aimed at children but some of the games were amazing no matter what the target market was and real credit is due to the designers on their originality and the ability to put together games that allowed for different levels of playability at the same time so any age can play the challenge will better fit each player without the parent or adult having to throw a game for the children to win. There was some great solo player games, a few original party games that looked like a blast, one being Donkey from Cleveland Kids and Spontuneous from Spontuneous Games Inc. It was amazing to see so many great educational, fun toys and games. Things have come a long way since I was a kid.

As mention earlier Mayfair Games had a booth there demoing Catan Jr. which is my daughters favorite board game and a game more for adults called Five Points that looked very interesting. Asmodee Games had a presence there as well for both kids games like Timeline, another of my daughters favorites and 7 Wonders which is a great gateway game for the older crowd. I’ll have reviews of many of these games out soon so stay tuned for that.

Like any sales convention, you can tell who is experienced by their booth personality and who isn’t. There were a handful of people who didn’t try engage anyone as they walked by and others that were all about demoing their product which is the whole reason they are there. Creating interested and sales is the whole point of the convention. There were some very talented sales people there and that was fun to watch!

I spent many hours talking to reps and publishers and for the most part across the board whether it be through my normal connections or just talking with this crowd, many really don’t understand or utilize social media to even a 10th of its potential. Sure many of them have witter accounts and Facebook pages but most publishers just post once a day whatever the product that day is and they never engage their fans, reviewers or anyone. Social media is about engagement. This industry has got to learn to embrace this medium and utilize it before board games become passe again. All these companies have a marketing person who might have to do it all, but that is no excuse. Mayfair Games is great about posting their reviews (thank you from all of us reviewers,) Catalyst Game Labs is the best that I have come across so far that understand social media in this industry with email blog updates that are constantly engaging and interesting, Twitter posts with replies to their followers, constant Facebook updates and most of it isn’t a sales push, it’s an attempt to engage their customer base.

Learning to use social media properly is critical to any business today. If the manpower isn’t available, there are of course options like interns to help run it, but there just isn’t any excuse any more. Social media has been around to long to not have put a plan in place. Remember, it’s not about how many likes are on a Facebook page, it’s about how many people are talking about you and engaging with you. I can’t wait for the day with publishers engage with their customers and help blow the door of our favorite hobby.