My good friends (disclosing my bias early) Charlie the Most play some of the most thrilling funk, rock and soul music you will hear nowadays.
Last night they took the stage at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA and proceeded to blow the minds of most in attendance. This particular show was an incredible opportunity for the band; they were opening for Coolio (of all people!) in a much bigger venue than they usually play and in front of many who had never heard them before. As blogger Mia Marchese describes, “they started their set like wild fire and didn’t have to find the pocket - they were already in it before they even stepped on stage." The audience was grooving hard to the music and every new peak the band reached caused cheers to erupt from the crowd.
Photo by Mia Marchese (@mia_marchese)
Suddenly Charlie the Most had their set (ostensibly) cut short by two songs. After being cut off while launching into another song, bandleader Charlie McCanless had to thank the crowd and say their set was over. The audience was not pleased to hear this and started chanting, “One more song! One more song!” The chant grew to a point when half of the packed club was demanding Charlie the Most continue to play. The person in charge of logistics would have none of it and the chant ended with the audience booing in response to the denial.
Charlie wasn’t pleased about being cut off. While I empathize, because I know how they had more they wanted to share, I think the performance could not have ended in a more ideal way. I’ve gone to hundreds of concerts and I don’t even need five fingers to count the amount of times an audience has demanded that an opening act play “one more song.” It wasn’t intentional, but Charlie the Most left their fans (some old, many brand new) begging for more. I have no doubt they will seek it out online and at future shows.
All artists should structure their shows and releases in a way that leaves their audience happy but longing for the next song - wherever it is they may get it.
Join Charlie the Most’s free subscription to receive the latest live tracks!
Do your concerts ever seem like the photo above? Here are a few areas you might be able to improve:
1. You’ve over-saturated your market with too many gigs too close to one another.
Read my post titled “Don’t Kill Your Hometown Crowd”
2. You are promoting to the wrong people.
Friends don’t necessarily equal fans. They may support you even if they don’t care for your music but only to a certain extent.
3. You are playing venues that your fans don’t like.
Are they too far away? Hard to get to by public transit?
4. You are sharing a bill with bands that aren’t a good match.
A $10 cover is harder to justify if your fans won’t enjoy any of the other music and will only be sticking around for your 45 minute set. You will also be unlikely to turn people that came to see the wildly different artists into new fans.
5. You Aren’t Collecting Emails
Imagine if you collect at least 1 email at each show you play. After 100 shows you’d have 100 people (likely many more) that you can target specifically about future concerts and releases. People that are willing to give you their email and risk getting spammed really like you (possibly more than the person that bought a CD). It’s scary how few bands take the minute to write “Mailing List” on the top of a piece of paper and leave a pen next to it. Don’t be one of them. Collect emails online too.
My buddy Dan and I just played an open mic tonight at Igor’s Checkpoint Charlie in New Orleans. It got me thinking about the concept of open mics.
They are a great equalizer. Anyone can perform. The people performing at them can range from downright awful to remarkably good.
The internet is a digital open mic. Anyone can step up and get their art out to at least a few ears. They will likely bomb the first few (or more) times. The best people keep at it and refine their art based on the reactions they receive.
Get out there!
1. You don’t have a true value-alignment with your fans.
This happens fairly often. Are you pricing your rewards correctly? You need a pretty good handle on how much your fans are willing to spend on certain items. It’s not an exact science, but you should try to make it as close to one as possible.
2. The goal is outrageous.
When raising money from Angels or VC investors, the standard advice is to say you are raising less than you actually plan to so you can have people oversubscribe rather than undersubscribe and make it so you don’t reach your stated goal. Think realistically about what you need and what you want to raise; especially if you plan on doing the project regardless of the crowdfunding campaign’s outcome.
3. The calculations are never done.
If everyone contributed at the lowest (CD) reward level, how many people would need to back the project in order to reach the goal? If this number isn’t realistic you should be a bit concerned.
Happy to answer any other questions about crowdfunding. Tweet me @iamweisser
"When we arrive at the gym or a subway station, our devices will detect the location and play the mix that we like for working out or commuting"…"This is what the future of music is."
This quote from Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, is alarming.
The most powerful form of recommendation is word of mouth but in order for it to be credible it must come from a trusted source. Honestly, how many people can say they trust their computers with much at all, let alone making choices about art?
That fact that some technologists think they can replace music curators with an algorithm is the most disturbing trend yet in the music industry. The industry that was already bemoaning the devaluing of music is now on the way to devaluing those that expose wonderful art to a wider audience.
Are museum curators next on the firing line? Will we one day walk through a museum that senses our presence and displays only what a computer has been programmed to think we would enjoy?
The age of context holds so much possibility but we must realize the value of hand-picked curation will never be replaced, only supplemented.
There is a problem many bands experience when starting out which can be devastating to their careers: playing shows too often in their hometowns.
Unless people are breaking down the door to the club and there are lines around the block to see you perform, you should probably be playing far less in your hometown than you currently do.
Your hometown is where you should have the most excited and passionate fans. When you play there it should be a scene - a special experience. People should be excited to hear you again.
In order for this to happen you need to manually create scarcity. Sure, you could probably play at least one show a week in your hometown, but that’s no good for you because at best you’ll be playing to the same people, and at worst you’ll be playing to no one at all. For the fans it’s just as bad because they’ll hear the same music over and over and it will change from an exciting night that they’ve waited a month for into exactly what they just saw a week ago.
Create scarcity by playing once a month or less in your hometown. Supplement that with digital media that will get your fans amped for your shows. Get them to give you their email addresses to access this media so you can in turn promote shows to them.
Playing one show (or less) in your hometown per month now allows you to spend more energy promoting the one gig instead of the four you might normally have booked. Decide on another market or two you think will be good for your group to hit next and play each once a month or less. Try to get a flow going. Sure, it takes more time to leave your hometown for a gig, but that’s what you’ll need to do if you want to get anywhere as a touring act.
If you are in a band it is very likely that you greatly enjoy the genre of music your band plays. This is very valuable because it means you have opinions and ethos that are in alignment with most of your fans and potential audience (read: customers).
Because of this, you should constantly be looking through your “fan lens” as you think about what you do with your band. By that I mean you should look at what you are doing from the perspective of someone that loves the genre of music that your band plays. Do this when deciding on what kind of merch you will be producing, how you will engage with your audience online, etc.
As a fan of punk music would branded shot glasses be something I would like?
As a fan of New Orleans jazz am I usually looking for information on Twitter or artist/venue websites?
New Idea X
When you get excited about new idea x it can sometimes blind you and make it difficult to remember who your audience is and what they actually want. The easiest way to test the viability of any idea is to pause and ask yourself, “is this something that I as a fan of this genre would want/use/buy/watch/enjoy?” You must be honest with yourself in your assessment of x. If you aren’t sure it doesn’t hurt to gather additional data by asking a few fans.
Never lose sight of the fact that your ability to view at your band as a fan of the genre is of incredible value.
The music industry has moved to a place where artists need to do far more than create and perform. They must now engage with their audience in a way that just wasn’t possible even a decade ago. This requires work and time; both of which are finite resources. On top of that they must book their shows, collect emails, get press, and somehow monetize their art so they can continue to make it.
The skill sets required for creating art that resonates and running a successful business are not intrinsically linked. This leads many artists to bring on managers to run certain aspects of their careers that they feel fall outside of their art. This could be a smart move or a very savvy one - it all depends on the responsibility that the artist entrusts their manager with and if they really should be counted on as much as they are.
By bringing on outside management, a singer-songwriter or band is, in theory, reducing the amount of business they must attend to so they can focus their energies on creative endeavors. The artist is responsible for the actions of their management and any mistake by management reflects poorly on the artist that chose them.
As artists we must realize that all actions by the people chosen as our managers will reflect on us directly. Our management missing a deadline equals us missing a deadline. Our management being rude to the sound guy at a show equals us being rude to the sound guy at a show.
It’s not nearly all bad though. Managers can help take us from a great band to a great business which, like it or not, is what we must be in order to keep creating art.
How do we know a great manager when we see one?
- They do less talking and more listening.
- They ask for clarification when needed.
- They are eager to help.
- They are respectful to everyone, not just the artist.
- They are adaptable.
- They are accountable.
- Last-minute changes don’t disturb them.
- They thrive under pressure.
As artists we must remember that we are our own responsibility. When we pass off work to others we are still held accountable when it is done poorly or not at all. Choose wisely.
As pointed out by my friend Kayleigh Mill in her recent post, stealing a physical item has both shared and disimilar implications when contrasted with downloading something illegally. There are morals at play here and laws as well.
The cost of replacing a stolen digital item is free. I feel that this is partially how people that download illegally can (sub)consciously justify the behavior even if they wouldn’t steal the cheap plastic Ray-Ban knockoffs at the gas station.
The cost of replacing the physical good (let’s keep this discussion on topic and stick with a CD sold by the artist rather than a cup of coffee) is higher because it is not as simple as duplicating a file.
Let’s face it, there is also the fear of getting caught that stops many people from stealing physical items. Imagine if everyone knew there was no chance (0%) of getting caught for stealing items in real life. The fact that it is immoral behavior would cause many to refrain but with an absence of any law enforcement it’s clear that some new people would begin stealing.
It has also become quite clear that the “ownership” of a “purchased” digital file is dubious at best. The court’s recent ruling against Redigi, a Cambridge company that allowed users to sell and transfer purchased music, only goes to confirm that ownership of a digital file comes with many more exceptions and strings attached than a physical item.