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Author Topic: The Awakening  (Read 2764 times)

hargerst

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The Awakening
« on: April 22, 2004, 02:09:28 PM »

Their eyes met as he pulled her fiercely toward him, and she trembled with desire.  His  hand slipped down the buttons on the front of her blouse and his fingers began the slow process of freeing her body from the damp silken fabric that clung to her wet ,heaving breas.....  Whoops, sorry, that's the wrong column.  This column is about the 2000 AES show we went to in California - and about "shmoozing" to get ahead in the industry.

Alex and I headed out to Los Angeles last week (this was four years ago)to attend the Audio Engineering Society's Convention, which is held each year in either San Francisco, New York, or Los Angeles.  For engineers and producers, it's the most important show of all.  Not only because it's the one place where you'll see all the latest professional gear, but because almost every major engineer and producer is at this show.  

It's a "who's who" of the major people in the industry, and we got a chance to hang out with some of the biggest names in the music business.  Not big names to most of the the public, but these are the people that are responsible for getting the music out to the public.  People like Geoff Emerick (Beatles), Bruce Swedien (Michael Jackson), Ed Cherney (Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones),  Randy Nicklaus (BMG Records, Blondie, Yes, Motley Crue), George Massenburg (Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat, James Taylor), Bob Ohlsson (Motown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye), Eric Sarafin (Virgin Records, Ben Harper, Ian Moore), just to mention a few of the people we ran into, and hung out with.  

Did I also mention that Alex and I just happened to have several copies of Alex's latest project, and that we got them into the hands of some of these same people?  It's called "shmoozing" and it's one of the most important things a group can do to further their career.  Alex used it to introduce his engineering and producing talent to some people that might be able to help him later in his career.  The end result - these people now know who Alex is, what he can do, and they like him.  If a project comes up in Texas and these people are called (but can't do it), they might just recommend Alex for the job.  Why?  Because now they know him, and they've heard his work.  If he does a good job from their recommendation, it makes them look good as well.

Getting to know who can help you (and then getting to know these people) is one of the most important things you can do - on a local, state, regional, or national level.  So who are some of the people around here that it pays to "shmooze" if you're in a group?  Club owners, reviewers, local independent label people, DJs, local distributors, the people in the "big" local bands, buyers for record stores, local engineers and producers - anybody that carries some weight in the local music scene.

But don't expect it to pay off immediately - "shmoozing" doesn't work like that, but when it does work, it can pay off big!!  For example, imagine that you've become really good friends with one of the local DJs.  Well, he "shmoozes" too.  Let's say he's friendly with the A&R guy at a major label, and the A&R guy asks if the DJ has heard any good local bands lately.  If you're in with that DJ, chances are very good that your band will be mentioned.  If you've been shmoozing the local club owners, chances are you can get a gig on short notice in a favorable time slot if the DJ tells you the A&R guy is gonna be in Dallas.  "Shmoozing" is about setting up favorable conditions for your band in advance, so when a chance comes along, you're prepared for it.

Let's face reality; for the most part, you're just one band among a thousand other bands around this area.  Your music MAY be different, but unless you pave the way for a big break to happen, chances are pretty slim that you'll get noticed.  Bob Ohlsson once summed up the steps to success in the music business very nicely:

1. Never play a place unless you're the headliner.
2. Never play any place that you can't fill.

Bob recently added these remarks:

"I always figured when you try to analyze the music business, it always comes down to a bell curve:

A few people are great live entertainers, most aren't.

A few people are great at recording, most aren't.

A few people are great songwriters, most aren't

A few people are great vocalists, most aren't

A few people are great musicians, most aren't

A few people are great producers, most aren't

A few people are great business people, most aren't

A few people are great at publicity, most aren't

A few people have just an awesome amount of talent, most don't

Any two of the above skills will often result in a person becoming pretty well known. A very few people are good at three or more and they are the ones who become household names."

To all of that great advice, add "shmoozing" to the list!!


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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Bob Olhsson

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2004, 11:35:47 PM »

I usually say:

1. Always headline

2. Always fill the house

3. Don't overexpose yourself.

This is literally how you become a star. You make sure that your audience dominates every gig and that each is a unique event.

This is the kind of stuff we intend to mull over in the Marsh Industry forum. I've never seen anybody try to teach this kind of stuff except for Tim Sweeney who I highly recommend.

Eric Sarafin

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2004, 03:55:19 AM »

hargerst wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 19:09



People like Geoff Emerick (Beatles), Bruce Swedien (Michael Jackson), Ed Cherney (Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones),  Randy Nicklaus (BMG Records, Blondie, Yes, Motley Crue), George Massenburg (Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat, James Taylor), Bob Ohlsson (Motown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye), Eric Sarafin (Virgin Records, Ben Harper, Ian Moore), just to mention a few of the people we ran into, and hung out with.  




I can't say I mind making that list, although, I was never an employee of Virgin.

That was a great party at Dan Schwartz's house. It was a better drive...

Hope you're well Harvey. I like your forum.

Say hey to Alex for me.

Eric
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hargerst

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2004, 01:10:08 PM »

Eric Sarafin wrote on Wed, 28 April 2004 02:55

hargerst wrote on Thu, 22 April 2004 19:09



People like Geoff Emerick (Beatles), Bruce Swedien (Michael Jackson), Ed Cherney (Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones),  Randy Nicklaus (BMG Records, Blondie, Yes, Motley Crue), George Massenburg (Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat, James Taylor), Bob Ohlsson (Motown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye), Eric Sarafin (Virgin Records, Ben Harper, Ian Moore), just to mention a few of the people we ran into, and hung out with.  




I can't say I mind making that list, although, I was never an employee of Virgin.

That was a great party at Dan Schwartz's house. It was a better drive...

Hope you're well Harvey. I like your forum.

Say hey to Alex for me.

Eric


That party (and the drive to Dan's house) will be with me for a long time.  Shocked

For those interested, the party consisted of Eric, me, my son Alex, Fletcher, Dan Schwartz, Bob Olhsson, Fletcher, Randy Nicklaus, and Steve Remote - all sharing old horror stories about the music biz.  A truly amazing gathering and a wonderful evening.

My forum is still trying to find its legs, but it's coming along nicely, I think.  

About to hit 67, but yes, I'm still pretty well.  Did a five song punk rock session last weekend that everybody was pleased with.

I'll pass on your hey to Alex when I see him in a few hours.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Speedy P. VonTrapp

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2004, 01:53:09 PM »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Fri, 23 April 2004 04:35

I usually say:

1. Always headline

2. Always fill the house

3. Don't overexpose yourself.

This is literally how you become a star. You make sure that your audience dominates every gig and that each is a unique event.

This is the kind of stuff we intend to mull over in the Marsh Industry forum. I've never seen anybody try to teach this kind of stuff except for Tim Sweeney who I highly recommend.



My question here is about the "always headline" portion of the post.  Great advice, and I understand why it's there, and why you've got it at number one.  The question that I have is "What about if your band is new?"

Example:  My band is starting out, and the way that we've been going about getting ready to gig, is by using contacts that I have with several other bands in the area.  Most are original bands.  So, since they don't have 40 songs at their disposal like cover bands, there's usually 3 bands per show.  I prefer to keep to the originals, except if we feel like we want to do a cover that suits us.  (Just so happens Harvey, the only cover that we have in our set right now is by a band that you've recorded.)  (Doh!  Should we pay you a royalty?)

In this situation, when we'll only have around 10 songs to play, and we're so new, where does the headlining fit in?  We'd be kind of hopping on to one of the other area bands gigs anyway as a means of getting our first few gigs.  After that, do we just start booking our own, and ask them to open for us?  It just doesn't sound like something that will be taken very well by others.  Now, I know we've got to look out for ourselves, but for the most part, these bands are good guys, and good bands, and we want to promote the "scene" here so that we can make some collective  noise from our towns, and I don't want to make any enemies, either.

What sort of track should we take for this?

-Speedy
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2004, 09:34:20 PM »

You gotta start with a small venue such as somebody's living room.

Speedy P. VonTrapp

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2004, 02:13:19 PM »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Fri, 30 April 2004 02:34

You gotta start with a small venue such as somebody's living room.


Ok, I get that, it makes good sense.  What about money, though?

Now, although I love to play even just in my living room, alone, or whatever, we are aiming for being as professional as possible with this endeavor.  We've played "shows" (for lack of a better term) in barns with people coming out just to see us play/party type atmosphere, and we have had good turnouts.  (And bad, of course.)  But, each time, it seems people that came before, bring new people, and are pretty receptive to our sound.

I'm thinking that qualifies for the small venue status that you spoke of.  Now, this is all for fun, and we're not charging money or anything, just bring some beer, ya know?

Is this what you mean, in order to get a fanbase that likes what we're doing, and will then follow us to a paying gig at a bar, etc.?

Or are you suggesting what you speak of in your forum in the MARSH called house gigs, where we have CD's and other merch already available before we even book our first bar show anywhere?
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2004, 11:16:14 PM »

Speedy P. VonTrapp wrote on Wed, 05 May 2004 13:13

 
Now, although I love to play even just in my living room, alone, or whatever, we are aiming for being as professional as possible with this endeavor.  

Being "professional" is the biggest trap in the world because it's really all about entertaining people so outrageously well that they will make going to all your gigs a priority in their life.

Peter Simonsen

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Re: The Awakening
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2004, 04:10:10 AM »

[quote title=Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 30 May 2004 04:16Being "professional" is the biggest trap in the world because it's really all about entertaining people so outrageously well that they will make going to all your gigs a priority in their life.[/quote]

This just deserves to be said again and again Wink

Kind regards

Peter
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