June 6, 2011

Week 35: What's the Big Idea?

(This is Week 35 of my Fifty-Two Weeks of Music Do-It-Yourself Music advice)

What's the Big Idea?
 Here’s a tweet I posted recently, based on a true story:

Musician: This group needs to do a compilation.
Me: Awesome. Here are the steps to do it.
Musician: Oh, not me...but someone should do that"

Apathy strikes again. Here’s the deal. You can do anything. I put out a compilation CD a few years ago. Did I know how to do it? Not at all. Did that stop me? No.

2007 INsite Compilation Cover*
 If you’re going to invest in your band, you can do it with time and money. The more time you spend, the less money you’ll have to put in… for the most part. The sad thing is, most bands won’t take the time or spend the money to promote themselves. They think by booking a gig, they are done… and when only their girlfriend shows up to the show, they are quick to point fingers.
- The venue didn’t promote the show.
- The other bands didn’t tell their fans to hang out to see us.
- It was a weeknight and nobody goes out on a Tuesday.
- I didn’t like playing this club anyway, the owner’s a jerk.
- I made a Facebook post about it 3 hours before the show… Facebook doesn’t work.
- People don’t get our music.
- It happened when a great roadshow was playing at Stubb’s. They took our crowd.

In the weeks leading up to the show did you:

- Contact the other bands and try and do a promo-share thing?
- Make posters.
- Hang up the posters you made?
- Hang up the posters in a place where people who should like your music go?
- Pimp the show on social media?
- Give away tickets?
- Create a buzz?
- Play a local news/radio/podcast to promote?
- Hand out fliers w/ discount?
- Make promo music to hand out?
- Tell ANYONE?
If the answer to all or most of the items above is yes… well… you may have had an off night. I’d say you did a good job trying to promote the show.

If your answer is no to most of the items, you need to take your petty little complaints and think about what you did leading up to the show. You likely booked this show at least a month in advance. You had PLENTY of time.

You’ve got to figure out of you have a hobby or a job. If it’s a hobby, quit complaining. If it’s a job, step up.

Try different things. If you have an idea… a good idea… follow thorough and make it happen. Two weeks ago there was a weekend festival just outside of Tulsa Oklahoma called the Backwoods Bash. Five years ago I got a call from a buddy of mine who had an idea. Throw a festival to promote indie bands. We decided it was a good idea. We made it happen. There were four of us. No seed money. No big supporter. None of us had ever done something like that before.

But we decided it was a good idea. So, we just did it. We did it poorly.. but we did it. The people who came to the show didn't notice that we were barely holding the thing together by the skin of all of our collective teeth.

The deal was, we knew that the ONLY reason to have a "First Ever" is to have a "Second Annual."

One of my old bosses used to say that anything worth doing it worth doing badly. That means, if you have a good idea, pull it off... and learn froom mistakes and keep at it. THAT is how you promote. THAT is how you become known. THAT is how you succeed at life and music and business. Is it s guarantee? No.. but you surely won't have any regrets if you put your all into it and try and make things happen.

So... next time you have an idea think long and hard about it. Unless you're ready to jump into the water with both eyes open and not stop swimming until you reach land.... keep it to yourself.

If it's a good idea, jump in.. the water is awesome.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - http://www.tinyurl.com/Claes52DIY. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/.

* About the compilation CD. There were 15 Austin area bands on it, we did a run of 1k.  Murillo Design designed the project, Fireside Creative did the physical packaging, Dewar's Whisky covered the cost (great promotional tool), and Ben Mills from RockShow Promotions organized a CD release party at Stubb's. Oh, and we gave the CDs away.

1 comment:

Phive said...

Nice article Sean! Just gotta do it! Take the plunge into the deep. You just might surprise yourself.