January 9, 2012

I'm Going To Live In _________ for ________ months! (Facebook Thing)

I saw a couple people posting on Facebook that they were headed somewhere exotic for a weird number of months...

Here's the code breaker.

You use the month and day you were born in.

Write: "I am going to live in (month you were born [see below) for (day you were born) months!

January - Mexico
February - London
March - Miami
April - Dominican Republic
May - France
June - St. Petersburg
July - Austria
August - Germany
September - New York
October - Amsterdam
November - Las Vegas
December - Columbia

I was born February 5.... so apparently I'm going to London for 5 months.
You're welcome.

January 5, 2012

Week 52: Bands As Retail Stores

(This is Week 52 of my Fifty-Two Weeks of Music Do-It-Yourself advice)

Welcome to my final week of this journey.

Your Band As A Retail Store

A few days ago I was in Wal Mart and I checked in on FourSquare… mostly because I have delusions of grandeur and think two things:
  1. People really care about where I’m at all day long and it’s important to note that I’m looking for a winter hat for kickball; and
  2. That by becoming “mayor” of as many places as possible, it will somehow grant me better customer service and more friends than you… albeit all virtually.
Anyhow… I was at Wal Mart and when I checked in I read the “Tips” that people left. Every one of them were complaining about the service, the prices, the cleanliness, and other nit-picky things. I posted up my own tip, which reads: “It’s a Wal Mart… get over it. Complain all you want, you’ll be back.”

What does that have to do with DIY Music Advice? Has Sean finally lost his mind on the last entry of his 52 Week mission?

Rest easy, my pretty little ponies. I’m just as insane as I was on Week 1, and let me tell you how this comes back around to Music. You see, Wal Mart is Nickleback. They are Creed. They are the “goods and services” version of the band that is raking in millions of dollars and laughing all the way to the bank when people complain and cry about them. They are a joke… a multi-million dollar earning joke.

So, that made me think even more… every band fits into this category of different sized businesses. You’ve got the garage bands all the way up to the most legendary band ever.
If you’re a band, where are you currently? Where would you like to be? How do you get there?

With that mindset, think about this. If your band was a store, which one of these 7 would they be?

A Website with a phone number to order:
You think you’ve got a good idea so you make a few things, set up a Website and wait for the world to discover you. You don’t really tell anyone about your store except family, because you think if it’s good enough SOMEONE will do that for you. (Example: Your sister/aunt/cousins/nephews tchotchke site)

Band equivalent: You never get out of your garage or backyard unless your Aunt hires you to play her kid’s birthday party. You’re not a band; you’re a hobby with a name.

Mom & Pop Convenience Store: You have a neighborhood appeal, there are millions of you, you’ll never make it rich, but you’re happy doing what you’re doing and are used to the same 100 people knowing who you are. (Example: Austin’s Whip-In)

Band Equivalent: Every band beginning to play clubs at local venues. 

Chain Convenience Store:
There are still millions of you, but you’ve got a little name recognition and people in several cities know you. Still, you’ll never be the first band on their mind, but you’re comfortable knowing that they know who you are, where you’ll be, and they can rely on you being there when they decide to stop in. (Example: Diamond Shamrock)

Band Equivalent: These would be bands that play the circuit, have been on a “national” tour where they play some major cities. In between sleeping on couches, Ramen noodles, and meager gig wages they will survive to do it all over again. For the most part, we’re talking about an unknown band on a “road show” night.

Regional Grocery Store:
You’re big in Texas. People relate to you in that aspect. You’re not “too big” to be called a sell-out, but you’re a pretty big blip on the radar for your region. You’re less a specialty shop and more a one-stop experience (Example: HEB)

Band Equivalent: Bands have actually made a decent living at this level. They won’t be rich, but they are able to be full-time musicians and support themselves on their music. They won’t sell out stadiums, but they can sell-out 200-300 seat venues on a regular basis. You’ve heard them on the radio and seen them on TV; maybe you’ve downloaded a song or two.

Big Box Store:
You’re a sell-out. Don’t let that bother you, because it’s all those punks who are loyal to their “Mom & Pop Shops” that call you a sell-out because you’re “stealing their customer.” They secretly wish they were you, but they’ll never admit THAT. People all over the nation know who you are and most have visited once or twice. (Example: Wal Mart)

Band Equivalent: Really popular bands that people like to make fun of. This is the slot for bands like Nickleback. They have good company on this level too. Creed, Korn, Poison, Jonas Brothers, Avenged Sevenfold, Queensryche, Bon Jovi, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow… I could go on.

A Major Draw:
You’ve surpassed sell-out and become THE meal ticket. There’s only a handful of you in the country, and as long as you keep doing what you are doing, and doing it well, people will come from hundreds of miles around just to see you. You own your marketplace and everyone who is anyone knows who you are. (Example: IKEA, Cabela's)

Band Equivalent: This is where every band hopes to be someday. Internationally recognizable and loved (for the most part) AND banking hardcore. These are the ones you will travel 100 miles to catch live, and when you get there you have to get a t-shirt and some other swag to prove you were there. Bands like Metallica and KISS are the two that I happily spend too much money whenever I go to their show.

Legendary: You carved your own path and created something that only you can own. Sure there’s going to be copycats, but they pretty much named the category for you. Universal appeal, everyone has heard of you, and by everyone I mean everyone from kids to grandparents have uttered your name. (Example: Amazon.com)

Band Equivalent: There are very, VERY few who reach this category, and for those The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was created. You know the words to several of their songs by heart and when you’ve had a little too much to drink you sing them at the top of your lungs. The Eagles, Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan are examples.

So, where are you in the mix? Where would you like to be? What is your plan to get there? I’ve given you 52 individual blogs containing advice… have you taken it in? If so, please let me know how it’s working (or not working) for you. If not… well… thanks for reading the last one and I invite you to read the others.

The Wrap Up
I began this journey in September 2010. My original intention was to wrap it up in 1 year, one a week for 52 weeks. I got sidelined along the way with life, but I persisted and wrapped it up on 1/5/12. It was a personal challenge, and I hope some of what I have said in the last year or so has helped encourage you that you’re doing the right things or pointed you in a good direction.

I’ve completed this, but please know that if you have any questions on which you’d like advice, first, take a look at my offerings here... and if the answer isn't there, I’ll happily lend an ear, and try and help you out. Just leave a comment or shoot an e-mail to me and I’ll do my best to respond.

Thanks for reading and now I’ll move on to my next 52 Week Project, which I’ll unveil soon.

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/.