#Nashville

Club Fantasci Live Stream From The Southern Hobby Retail Expo

David Lowry

David LowryDavid Lowry of Club Fantasci will be live streaming Sunday night November 9th, from 7:30 – 10:30 pm CST from the game night at the Southern Hobby Retail Expo.

The Southern Hobby Retail Expo is a chance for retailers to come and check out what Southern Hobby Supply has to offer in terms of distributorship, support and marketing. Don’t miss this chance to watch what Southern Hobby Supply is doing for the industry!

 

 

 

 

Live Stream of the Southern Hobby Retail Expo in Nashville, TN Nov 9th, 2015.

David Lowry of Club Fantasci/The Lowry Agency talks with publishers about their latest releases and upcoming projects.

00:30 Scott Morris – Arcane Wonders
09:18 Tony Gulloti – Greenbriar Games
21:17 Dan DiLorenzo – R&R Games
34:30 Josh – Grey Fox Games
41:47 Stephen Bounocore – Stronghold Games
52:50 Jules Vatour – Asmodee Games
1:01:40 Sara Erickson – Iello Games
1:09:40 Paul Hagan – Wizards of the Coast
1:18:00 Ryan Skinner – Cryptozoic
1:27:55 Robert Villnave – Cool Mini or Not
1:35:34 Rhea Friesen – Steve Jackson Games
1:51:20 Travis Winter – Atlas Games
2:06:08 Nathan Murrary – IDW Games
2:24:15 Charlie Agel – Privateer Press
2:33:15 Clayton Capra – Legion Supplies
2:39:49 Josh Githuns – CGE Games
2:49:54 Maureen McCardill – Fireside Games
3:00:20 Upper Deck
3:09:58 Steve Samson – Bezier Games
3:21:54 Michael Richie – Rather Dashing Games
3:28:53 Tom Vainikka – Play More Games
3:49:07 Howard Hsu – Dex Protection

 

Check out and subscribe to our Youtube Page or just following along here on this page to watch!

Thanks for your support and we hope you enjoy!

The Winery Dogs Concert Review Nashville, TN Oct 20th, 2015

The Winery Dogs

The Winery Dogs featuring three renowned musicians in Richie Kotzen (solo, Mr. Big, Poison), Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, Niacin) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob, Avenged Sevenfold, Flying Colors, Neil Morse Band, Twisted Sister) made their first tour stop to Nashville at The Wildhorse Saloon. Now to be honest, these three musicians are probably my 3 favorite musicians respective to their instruments so I had very high hopes going into this show. Their first CD was in my Top 2 for 2013 and the latest CD Hot Streak just dropped two weeks ago and is as amazing as their first if not better.

The Winery Dogs - Richie Kotzen

The Winery Dogs opened with their new single “Oblivion” which is an up-tempo burner that has a great catchy chorus and great double lines featuring Richie and Billy in unison. The song is a testament to great writing and playing as well as balanced enough to be radio worthy and capturing the ear of even the most casual listener.

The Winery Dogs – “Oblivion” Nashville, TN 10/20/15 – The Wildhorse Saloon

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The band played songs from both of their releases have a great blend of tempos even featuring Richie going solo with an acoustic on the ballad “Fire” from their new CD “Hot Streak.” Richie also played a few songs on the electric piano showing even more of his immense musical talent playing keyboards. Not to mention that Richie has one most distinctive and is a premier voice in the rock/soul music industry. He is given nowhere near the credit he deserves as a vocalist and it’s a shame. There are few that sing with the emotion that he does and he has soul oozing out his poors.

The Winery Dogs - Billy Sheehan

Things that really stand out about this band live are this. They sound absolutely huge for being a three piece band. Each member completely knows how to fill space and make it seems like there is much more there than just three instruments. All three sing, so there are strong background vocals making the sound very full and melodic. It’s hard enough to sing and play as it is let alone sing and play like these three do. There should be a special award for this feat alone. The Winery Dogs are virtuosos of their instruments (they hate this term) and I am not just talking technically. Yes, each member is world renown for their skills as musicians but, they are also amazing songwriters and know when and how to use chops. It’s never for just speed for the sake of speed. They are tools in creating a certain ambiance or effect for the music. Everything has its place and is perfectly in place. It’s creative, catchy and most importantly always melodic. Many technical players never achieve any of this. The Winery Dogs are masters at it. The Winery Dogs fuse rock, blues, jazz and funk seamlessly and effortlessly. It’s the perfect amalgamation and it works on every level.

The Winery Dogs - Mike Portnoy

The Winery Dogs are hands down, the best rock band in the world. When you consider what they bring to table as musicians, songwriters, experience and creativity, no one can touch them. They are one of the few acts that are actually better live and their CD’s are beyond compare so that is saying something. They are best of what a rock band should be and also what they should not be. While rock is about breaking rules, The Winery Dogs not only break them, they shatter them and put the pieces back together for a more amazing project and they do it with the ultimate humility.

The Winery Dogs – “Empire” Nashville, TN 10/20/15 The Wildhorse Saloon

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There is no better show, no better ticket purchase. There is zero reason to go and pay $150 for a band when you can see this one for $25 and see three of the best, most accomplished musicians do what they do best, and do it better than everyone else period.

The Winery Dogs

This was without a doubt the best live show I have ever seen with the classiest, most amazing musicians on the scene. Do not miss The Winery Dogs. You will most certainly miss the best of the best doing incredible things that deserve your attention.
Kicking Harold

The Opening band of the night was Kicking Harold was another 3-piece out of California. A solid four on the floor rock band with a big sound and decent groovy songs. The motor car theme of the band is certainly original and the musicians seem capable. The bass player Julia Lage has done work on some or Richie Kotzen’s recent work and was some BGV’s on the new Winery Dogs CD. A good band worth checking out if you are looking for new solid rock music. www.kickingharold.com

For more about The Winery Dogs visit: www.thewinerydogs.com

 

Finnish Duo Maria and Christian to Record New CD in Historic Nashville, TN

Maria & Christian

The Finnish Duo Maria and Christian head to Nashville, TN USA to record their first Country album.

Maria & ChristianSep. 10, 2015 – Nashville, TN. — ] Finnish duo Maria & Christian (http://mariaandchristian.com) have announced their plans to record their first country album in Nashville, TN with Grammy nominated producer Casey Wasner at his studio in Leiper’s Fork, TN.
Maria and Christian have spent the last several weeks in Nashville working people in the country music scene to find the critical element that will capture the essence of their music and the talent that can bring it to life in the Nashville style that is world renown.

“We’re excited to announce that we will be finishing our first country CD shortly and touring in support of it in Europe in September. With the help and massive talent of Casey Wasner, we feel we be able to put forward our very best effort and bring our music to the world that will best showcase our vision, emotion and desire to connect with our fans.”  States Christian Casagrande.

Along with the new CD, Maria and Christian are relaunching a new website. You can find out all about Maria and Christian on their website as well as all relevant social media links.

Look for the as of yet unnamed new album to be complete by late November and available for purchase through all electronic outlets and at shows in Europe.

ABOUT MARIA AND CHRISTIAN

Maria and Christian are a Finnish Country Duo that play 150 dates a year around Europe. The duo have worked with The Voice in France and host their own vocal competition every year called “Finnish Best Duo” (Suomen Paras Duo) which takes place throughout Finland.

 

Media Inquiries for Maria and Christian:

Contact: Maria Kiiski

mariak.christianc@gmail.com

 

Official Press Release here:  http://www.prlog.org/12492381-finnish-duo-maria-and-christian-to-record-new-cd-in-historic-nashville-tn.html

Live From Music City Interview with Bryan Bellar of The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats

 

David Lowry interviews Bryan Bellar, bass player for The Aristocrats and former Nashville resident. The Aristocrats are currently touring across the US in support of their new CD Tres Callaberos. Bryan discusses the new CD, the current tour and show in Nashville and how to grow as a musician.

Interview Link: Live From Music City Aristocrats Interview 8/15/15

The Aristocrats have a show in Nashville on Aug 15th at The High Watt. Doors Open at 8:00pm.

Get tickets here: http://thehighwatt.com/calendar/venue/highwatt/2015/08/15/the-aristocrats-with-travis-larson-band-and-artilect/

www.the-aristocrats-band.com

https://twitter.com/acratsband

https://www.facebook.com/aristocratsband

 

Neil Zaza Live At Douglas Corner Nashville, TN

Neil Zaza

Neil Zaza

Neil Zaza

 

Last Friday night I was privileged to finally meet a guitar hero of mine, Neil Zaza. Granted, I have interviewed him and spoken with him a number of times and obviously I have been listening to his music for years, but it’s completely another thing to hear the brilliance of a musician live. Neil has a reputation of being one of the world’s finest guitar players and not just because he is a technically proficient player, but because he is an amazing song writer on top of it. Neil has the very rare ability to make his guitar “sing” as if a vocalist was always there and you never miss the vocalist. He is truly one of the most melodic players on the planet, especially in his guitar instrumentalist genre.

Friday night only confirmed what I already knew. Not only did Neil player flawlessly and effortlessly this night, but his songs take you away as the melodies sweep out from his fingers and take flight through the room and astound you that anyone can be so good at playing an instrument and writing music or songs that are so strong that you are literally transported to a soundscape of rich, melodic musings from an un assuming genius that unfortunately, not enough people have heard of. Neil epitomizes what it is to be an instrumental songwriter. I dare you to find one song that isn’t absolutely gorgeous in its composition and melodic content. He is surely up there in the echelons of Vai, Satriana, Timmons and Johnson in his composition, technical and performance skills.

Granted, Douglas Corner isn’t the venue I would have preferred to see Neil in for my first time. The sound check was half a song, the sound system was adequate but not amazing but mostly, the mix was a bit on the poor side. The drums were over powering in the small venue and Neil was a bit lost in the mix sometimes, but that being said, it was still an amazing and brilliant performance that can’t be wiped away but minor issues. Neil captivated from the stage as I sat there and watched audience reaction. One person in particular was literally getting the chills Neil would rip through a fast solo and cap it of with some melodic ending that brought shivers to the fan. I was a bit shocked actually at how well Neil owned the stage and really brought a strong and mesmerizing performance to Douglas Corner considering the small stage, lack of a decent sound check and quite honestly, most guitar instrumentalists put me to sleep while they perform on stage as they stare at their feet and hand but put on no show at all. Neil did not disappoint here. It was a truly awesome performance that Neil should be proud of.

This performance was almost a homecoming in a way even though Neil had never played there before. The place was full of friends and family or “framily” as Neil calls them. They rated his performance with smart phone rating cards, many times garnering a “10” from the locals. Neil was busy before and after the show greeting, sitting and talking with each and every person who came to see him play. He gets it. There was no aura of ego. No “rockstar” persona that acted like an ass. He was gracious, very appreciate of every person who came out and acknowledged it from the stage and in person. Neil Zaza is the real deal.

The one sad thing was the lack of local musicians who always go around complaining about supporting live music. For some reason when a talent like Neil comes to town, which is not often in Nashville, the musicians don’t show up to support let alone, learn anything or be inspired by a brilliant musician. I guess it’s just much easier to sit and complain on Facebook than actually put your money where your mouth is. Luckily, the place was full of Zazaniacs (my made up word) where more than happy to soak it all in and shower Neil with love and praise for his music.

At the end of the show Matthew and Gunnar Nelson of “Nelson” fame came up to perform with Neil. First was Gunner performing “I’m Alright,” a Zaza show piece as well as the National Anthem. Then the brothers played “Love and Affection with Neil on guitar, Matthew on bass, Gunner on drums and country singer Theresa Rose on bgv’s. Unfortunately, the drum microphone was having major issues so some of the harmonies or other vocal parts could not be heard. But it was still very cool none the less.

All in all, I came away with more respect, admiration and inspired by Neil Zaza. He is a very rare, very brilliant and talented musician and songwriter. He is exactly what this genre needs more of and hopefully those reading this review, will take a moment to check him out both on his site and a venue near you.

The opening spot was filled by an Italian artist named Marco Pinna who performed acoustically with his a brand of latin/mediterranean/gypsy jazz that was fun, hip and lively. Marco was joined on stage by Sean O’Bryan Smith on bass, drummer Glenn Williams (both played for Zaza as well,) Lee Shines on percussion and Kyle Natchtigal on acoustic guitar. It was a nice refreshing change to the Nashville norm and this town sorely needs more of this kind of music to be performed live all over. Marco just release a brand new CD named “Amigus” which you can get on his site and I recommend you do.

 

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

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.