New Guit-A-Grip Post Music – Business Podcast and KoriSoron Shows

New Guit-A-Grip Post and Podcast

Kate Bush

Some music business material went up on the Guit-A-Grip site.  Did you know that 35 years after her last performance, that Kate Bush’s recent return to the stage was SO successful that it drove EIGHT of her albums into the top 40 charts?  You can read about that (and how you might be able to use that information here).

Developing Your Business Plan

(From the Guit-A-Grip site)

“This summer I had the opportunity to get involved with the BuckMoon Arts Festival which was held at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, NY.  One of the ideas I had was to create workshops for artists in the area who were looking for ways to monetize their income.  The workshop idea was replaced with a panel discussion with the purpose of utilizing some of the artists and professionals we had access to.  This made for some great discussions and interactions throughout the day.

This podcast is from the “Developing Your Business Plan” panel with panelists Mike DiminYvonne Lieblein and Mark Swain.  The event description was “The business of art – Setting up your business, creating a business plan and building your team.” but it went into a lot of different areas.  If you’re interested in developing your art as a business, you might be interested to listen to hear how these people are already doing it!”

More Things KoriSoron Soft Launch

KoriSoron (my duo acoustic international instrumental project with Farzad Golpayegani) has a twitter feed, and a ReverbNation page and a YouTube page.

Upcoming shows:

We DO have more shows coming up as a direct result of this one:

  • Friday, September 12th 2014 – Moon and River Cafe, 115 S. Ferry St. Schenectady, NY – KoriSoron plays 2 sets of international instrumental music at 8PM and 9PM.  While most of our music is composed there’s a lot of improvisation in the set as well so
  • Thursday, September 18th 2014 – Proctor’s GE Theatre, Schenectady, NY Festival Cinema Invisible‘s kick off event for their 2014-2015 Invisible Film series is going to be fantastic night!  A $10 ticket gets you into a screening of a rarely seen film from Iran, “Common Plight”, a Q & A with the film’s producer Mahmood Karimi-Kakak Persian style tea and delicious sweets from Schenectady’s own Persian Bite restaurant, and a performance from KoriSoron!  Full information about the event is here.  Tickets can be purchased online here.
  • Thursday, September 25th 2014 – Bombers Burrito Bar, 2 King Street Troy, NY as part of the CUR518 local music showcase series.  We play with Groovestick and Dylan Storm and the whole night runs from 8-11!
  • Saturday, November 1st 2014 – Fundraiser for Amsterdam Public Library in Amsterdam, NY. Three sets of music!!!!  No information on the library website yet but the library link is here.

And more shows coming up in October and November while we prep for a new recording.

Mas Music:

Also more details as they become available, but Farzad and I are going to be composing and performing the score for a new theatrical work called Child Soldier this fall at Sienna College called.  More details as that emerges.

As always thanks for reading!

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KoriSoron Follow Up – Video – New Shows – And A Useful Audio Hack For Piezo Guitars

The KoriSoron Soft Launch

The soft launch went well and to answer the Craigslist Question raised in the previous post, yes we brought people and made money in tips (more than we would have made for the same number of people playing a club with three other people on the bill.

Farzad Golpayegani (the other guitarist in Korisoron) has been editing video and posting them (a thankless job the table he had the camera on had people talking the entire time so finding segments without conversation was difficult but he did manage to pull these together.

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Upcoming shows:

We DO have more shows coming up as a direct result of this one:

  • Friday, September 12 Moon and River Cafe – 8pm-10pm
  • Thursday, September 25th – Proctor’s GE Theatre (as part of Festival Cinema Invisible‘s kick off event) 7pm-10pm full information can be found here!

And more shows coming up in October and November while we prep for a new recording.

The Audio Hack

We have an extra ZT Lunchbox Acoustic coming to us but we weren’t able to coordinate with ZT in time for the Moon and River gig so rather than having one great sound – we ended up going direct to the PA. While that isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world, it was a drag to hear that piezo through a PA tone.  (BTW – We are SO excited about the ZT Acoustic amps because they sound simply AMAZING).  There was no Pie in that piezo….

While Farzad was editing the video he texted me and asked if I could check out the audio from the Zoom H2n recorder I had on site.  I had run a line off the Fender Passport PA into the recorder’s 1/8″ input.  The sound was what you expected by now but then I remembered something…

Didn’t I have a Yamaha AG Stomp, that’s specifically designed to handle piezo guitar signals?

A trip to GC to pick up a $50 Behringer mixer w. an FX send on clearance got me this:

AG Stomp

Here’s what’s going on here:

As I already transferred the WAV file to my laptop, I used Fission to break it the large file up into individual tracks and then ran the signal out the headphone jack of my Apogee Duet (to give the signal a little better sound) and into the Behringer mixer. The Behringer didn’t allow me to run the FX send off of the RCA inputs, so I used a stereo 1/4″ to 2 1/8″ cables to get the signal to the 5/6 channels of the mixer.  Since sends are typically mono on units in this price range and the return is stereo, I set up the gain staging of the unit and ran a single cable from the FX Send to the AG Stomp input then ran the stereo send back to the Mixer.

Funny thing though…..

I couldn’t get the return blend to sound right in the mixer, so I just ended up going direct from the headphone out of the AS Stomp back into the H2N.

I’m guessing that here in our story is where the questions will start.

Couldn’t you (I) have just done that in software?

Interestingly enough, I tried using the Positive Grid Jam Up Acoustic Sim with a Line 6 Sonic Port and it didn’t hold a candle to the AG Stomp.

and yes, I probably could have used a plug in like MonoMaker and just run a signal out of the laptop into the AG stomp – but honestly this was just a much easier solution for me.

How did it turn out?

Funny story…

Apparently I had the wrong setting on the Hn2 which recorded the line in AND anything coming through the PA on the mic. This means it was affecting a wierd mix of the direct signal AND a recorded room tone that was recorded BEHIND US sitting on the piano!

The short answer is it sounds better than the unaffected file bout would have sounded WAY WAY better if I read the manual and had the H2n on the right setting.  As I type this, the audio is still rendering, so I’ll have to post excerpts soon.

You may be thinking at this point,

Oh that might be useful for me later on.

Here’s the thing though….

This process started at 10am.  It’s 12 hours later and I’m still working on it.  Mind you, I DID get a few other things done in that time, but it took a number fo false starts to get it together.  Had I thought of it, I could have run it through the FX send of the PA and saved myself A LOT of editing and rendering time later.

So the lesson I’m really facing here is, do it right the first time because sometimes the cure is just as bad as the ailment!  The good news is that the idea is an interesting one, and I may use this approach for additional guitar processing for recording in the future.

More photos, clips and other miscellany to come!

In the meantime, our website and FB page are in a soft launch – but we’re putting content up pretty regularly now so you should see more things there each day from here on out.

http://facebook/korisoron

http://korisoron.com

As always thanks for reading!

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Due Versus Do

Sign-colored

Korisoron

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m playing in a new acoustic duo called KoriSoron with an incredibly talented guitarist and artist form Iran named Farzad Golpeyagani. If you happen to be in the Capital District of New York, we’re having a soft launch of the project tomorrow evening with 2 sets in Schenectady, NY on Saturday, August 23rd.

Flyer - August 23 Moon and River Cafe001

I’m the Michael Chicklis stunt double on the left.

We’ll have a fully realized site on KoriSoron.com and https://www.facebook.com/korisoron in the weeks ahead.   For now – here’s an event page with some information.  https://www.facebook.com/events/1538544056367629/

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But what do the people on Craigslist think?

As an interesting aside, someone posted a rather pointed question on the Albany Musicians Craigslist page about a venue owned by the same owner of the one that we’re doing the soft launch at.

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ArthursMarket; worth booking (Stockade Schenectady)

Have an offer to perform at Arthurs Market, the owner also runs Moon &River Cafe up the street.

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Anybody ever played at either? If so, how were tips? The owner does not pay so tips are the only compensation.

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Both places sort of worry me. Seem dingy, cluttered, unkept. Sort of like some hippy den instead of a real concert place. No phone, dim lights, no credit cards. Real dumps. But tips might be good anyway. Have you played there? Any advise?”

This was followed by a tirade of people weighing in on the necessity of musicians getting paid whenever they play a venue as a definition of professional.  Most of the following “re:” posts seemed to think it was a bar of some type (they’re both cafes with an emphasis on vegetarian food) and talked about how bars shouldn’t have bands if they don’t pay them directly.

I’ll come back to the professional aspect that was brought up but let me first answer this question with a question..

Have you paid your dues?

Do you have a local or regional audience?

Will you bring people to a club because they are there to see you?

And the answer to this question is no.

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Paying Dues

I can say that, because if you have a local audience then you can reasonably estimate how many people will show up at a gig in general and there should be little to no mystery in what you’d make in tips.  If you’re asking that question, it’s because you’re depending on the venue to provide the audience or depending on the other acts on the bill to provide an audience.

Most bands play for years without making a living wage.  That’s because building an audience takes nurturing and time.  It doesn’t happen overnight.

“But what about the unknown bands that play for thousands of people on bills with big bands?”

Did you know that many large bands that play outdoor sheds (i.e. large outdoor arenas) actually charge opening bands to play for them?  It’s because they don’t need an opening act.  The fans are coming there to see them and the opening act is just poaching their audience.

Do I agree with the ethics of charging an opening band and having them rely on whatever merch or tour support they have to keep them on the road?  No I don’t agree with it.  I think it’s disgusting.  But it’s also a power dynamic.  If you haven’t paid your dues by being on the circuit and having a draw then you need to pay your membership dues to the people who are allowing you to enter their club house and try to capitalize on their work.

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My Local / Regional Plan

When Farzad and I first talked about this.  I laid out my plan for this project with him and it’s a plan that might work for you if you’re looking to make a go of it in a regional market.  We plan on following through with everything, so even as an experiment in accountability you might find this interesting.  I’ll also tell you the secret about why this plan won’t work most people.

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1.  Play Open Mics (and/or play in front of people).

When you start a new venture (particularly when you’ve relocated) you can’t just pick up where you left off unless you’re a name recognized act on a major label (even then it’s still a step back.   For all of Audioslave’s hype – they never got to the level of success of either Soundgarden’s or Rage Against The Machine’s success and they still had to do all of the promotion that is associated with any new act on a major label.).  You have to build a local audience and start all over again.  That’s the bad news.

The good news is that once you’ve already put the work in, it takes much less time to build a following and get your platform built.  The fact that I’ve released eight books and that Farzad has six full length releases under his name opens doors for us.  On a professional level, when people see our bios, they’re more likely to check out what we’re doing or take a meeting with us.

All that does on a fan level though is potentially get people through the door.  At the end of the day both the music and the performance need to be strong enough to get people to stay and, ideally, to come back again.

So why play open mics?

  • Because testing your material in front of a live audience is worth more than months in a rehearsal space.  It’s just a completely different thing and you find out IMMEDIATELY what works and what doesn’t and how well you really know something.
  • Because the stakes are low at an open mic.  It’s a good place to experiment and try things and if they blow up it’s not a big deal.  This is a much better place to potentially fail at something than in front of a large crowd of people who paid to see you.
  • Because a lot of times – you end up with fans.  Particularly for the music I play, a lot of times other musicians are the first to pick up on some of the challenges with performing that material.  Some of them will come to the gigs that I play and possibly bring people.

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“But open mics don’t pay!  Professionals get paid for what they do!”

Did you know that Robin Williams would frequently show up at comedy clubs well after midnight unannounced and get on the stage to test out new material?  Did he get paid for that?  Is he a hobbyist for doing so?

Professionals do things pretty regularly without getting paid but they do it for a pay off down the road.  Think of the contractor that comes to your house to give you a free estimate on work that’s going to be done.  That estimate is only free as there’s a payoff on the back end if it goes through.  The band that plays the local TV station morning show at 7am?  They might be paid later on if they own the copyright on the song they’re performing – but they don’t get paid for the show.  They do it because it exposes them to a larger audience.  There’s a payoff on the back end.

When people talk about bars paying bands – they’re talking about a decades old performance model that has no basis in the current economy – unless you already have an audience that is specifically there to see you (i.e. you have a real draw).

So let’s take the same person who asked the question and apply it to the rock band bar model.

Your band wants to play bar X.  You send materials to the booking agent and start a lengthy dance for a night to play.  Eventually you get on a bill with 3 other local bands (HA!  I played a CBGB’s gig once where there were 12 other bands on the bill!).  You each bring 10 people paying a $5 cover.  You get a dollar a head for each person who comes in.  So assuming they don’t make you pay for the sound or light guy, someone in the band waits until 2 AM when the venue closes to collect the $10.

Let’s say it’s a duo for simple math.  Divided by 2 – that’s $5 a person.  Let’s hope you didn’t buy a beer or you lost money!  Good thing you waited 5 extra hours for that pay out!

Now let’s say you play a small venue where there’s no cover and it’s pass the hat (or you play a house concert – where it can be an expensive ticket for the same thing).  Let’s say there’s 10 people there to see you but it’s pass the hat and you make $40.  No pay out.  No waiting.  You collect the money and go.

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The exception to the rule.

If you’re playing a dinner club gig where you’re the entertainment for the evening and playing human jukebox for the night you should be making more (and guaranteed) money.  You’re playing longer than a single set and you’re doing a gig that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing, “I know you’re a jazz group but would you play ‘Piano Man’?  I love that song….”  As a side note, with alarming regularity I see people taking those gigs where they’re playing for 2-3 hours for no money and possibly getting  a meal during a break.  That is insane.

For that gig – or a gig where you’re a cover band in a bar and playing for 4 hours….the criticism above that you always get paid is, in my mind, a completely valid criticism.

I’m talking about groups that play original music and do so in 30 – 45 minute sets.

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2.  Play traditional and non-traditional venues.

One of the gigs we’re playing is a library.  I’ve done entire regional tours playing at libraries where I sold merch and added names to my e-mail list.  You capitalize on existing opportunities and create new ones where possible.

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3.  Develop marketing materials.

Promo shots.  Websites.  Social Media.  Performance videos.  Audio recordings.

Two words here: GET VISIBLE!  People can only support what they know about.

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4.  Network.

I’ve written a lot about this.  You need to develop legitimate friendships and relationships with other artists, musicians, movers and shakers in whatever community you’re in.  You do this by going to shows, playing out locally and introducing yourself to people.

You can do this online by reaching out to FB groups, forums, meet-up groups, etc., but without a local support network anything you do on a larger scale will fall apart.  This is what happens when you play some shows in Europe (to large audiences) and then come back and play to 2 people in a bar in Brooklyn that are there to see another band.

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5.  Record material.

With all that rehearsing and playing out playing out you should have some tunes very much under your belt.  I’ve been saying the LP was dead since we did the Visible Inc. Eps back in 2000 or so – so the goal here is multiple short releases over the year so that you have something to promote.

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6.  Build everything bigger and better.

So the basic steps here are:

  • Build an audience
  • develop your product
  • develop your support network
  • build off of the foundation you built and make everything better than it was.  Constant improvement.  Better performances.  Better songs.  Better venues.  Better connection to fans.

This goes back to the pay issue.

Yes – I’ll do a soft launch for no pay.

Yes – I’m a professional guitarist.

Yes – this is a good idea because I’m executing a plan that ultimately benefits me.

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Here’s the secret I’ve learned

It’s a big one.  It’s why outlining something like this won’t matter for most people.

Most people aren’t willing to do the work.

They’re not willing to put the time in and invest in themselves for the pay off later.

They’re too caught up in their own egos and thinking about what’s owed to them rather than what they work for.

What’s due to them rather than what they do.

So they sit at home not playing because the model that worked for them 20 years ago is not making them any money and they can’t get out of their comfort zone to start over or adapt to the current climate.  Instead they get online and complain about how the scene sucks, and people suck, and the venues suck….

An open mic is beneath some of these people.  They want the money now.  They want the audience now but they don’t want to put the work in to build one.  That takes a long time and a lot of playing.

You gotta put in the work.

I’ve had to re-teach myself to play three separate times.  From scratch.  It sucked.  The last time almost killed me.

It built character.  It taught me how to keep my eye on the prize over the long haul.

So when I sit there and say, “All we have to do is play to the best of our ability over and over again, build an audience and expand our visibility.”  I say that knowing it’s an easy plan to conceptualize and a hard plan to actualize because it requires endurance.

Endurance and Vision are symbiotic for long term execution.  Without both of them you don’t have anything.

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So why do a soft launch at that venue?

Because people listen there.

The thing that really struck me about the open mics at that venue is that people seemed to really listen to what musicians were saying with their music.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve played bars and the bartender balked at the idea of turning the sound off on the TV so we could play.  I get it.  The people sitting at that bar are the ones tipping him.  They certainly didn’t come to see any of the bands I play in.

If people are listening, it’s the first step to making a fan.  If they’re not listening (or if they stop listening), it’s really hard to get their attention again.

So the possibility of getting people who come to that show to come to another show is high,  Perhaps those people will bring other people with them.

Years ago – I got some great advice from someone who basically said, “Don’t bet on the lottery.  Bet on yourself instead.”

The work you do today sows the seeds for tomorrow.  Pay your dues through what you do, not what you’ve done.

I hope this helps and, as always, thanks for reading.

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New Guit-A-Grip Posts, Festival Cinema Invisible and June News

Hi everyone, this is just a short series of updates of things that may be of interest to you.

Guit-A-Grip

There are a few new posts up on my other site, Guit-A-Grip. The first post (Differentiating between action and change) has to do with why people take action to deal with problems (like buying a book) but don’t follow through (i.e. actually reading the book).  If you struggle with getting things done, this post may help and you can read it here.

Also there’s a (semi) return to the podcast.  If you’re thinking about doing your own podcast or running your own promotional effort, you can learn a lot from the mistakes I made on mine.  You can listen to that podcast here.

Guitar-Muse

Guitar-Muse should be running my interview with Daniel Donato soon.  Also, it looks like an interview with Joe Romagnola of the Rochester-based Grooveyard Records is in the works.  If you want to know what inspires a guy to start a guitar-centric record label when a lot of other labels shut their doors, this will be a good interview to check out.

Schenectady and The Festival Cinema Invisible

In 2006, right before I relocated to California to go to Cal Arts, I took a trip back to the capital district to visit family with my wife and FnH Guitar’s John Harper.  We took a drive down state street in Schenectady into Central Avenue of Albany and it looked like a post-apocalyptic nightmare.  Every other building was boarded up, and the only thing that seemed to be open was dollar stores.  I was in shock at how far down it had gone from even the last time I was thereh.

Last September I relocated to upstate New York and this past February I moved to Schenectady.  It’s come a long ways from where it was just several years ago and with places like the excellent Persian Bite, Tara Kitchen and Mexican Radio opening soon – there is a real sense of revival here.

The excellent efforts of the good people behind The Festival Cinema Invisible go a long ways to highlight the best elements of what’s happening here.  President and Artistic Director Mahmood Karimi-Hakak and executive director Elahe Golpari have curated a massive 3-day festival that is screening over 40 short and feature length films at at Proctors Theatre this weekend.  As a number of these films have not been seen in Iran, almost all of the film screenings are world premiers, US premiers and/or East Coast premiers.  In addition to helping artists get their voices out into the word – they are committed to the transformative power of art and community.  I am grateful to be here in Schenectady while this is happening, to make some fantastic friends and I look forward to see what I can contribute to arts and community here as well.

These are great people and if you live in the area, they could use your support.

  • The festival runs through this Sunday and culminates in a concert with the incredibly gifted guitarist and visual artist Farzad Golpayegani.  I saw Farzad’s work at the kickoff event for the festival on Thursday and you owe it to yourself to see him perform his Persian inspired instrumental rock music.  His cd, FOUR will be available to pick up there and I believe his artwork is available for sale as well. Farzad’s website is  here.
  • Big thanks to Brona Jafari and Elahe Golpari for posting an impromptu interview with Candace and I.
  • Mahmood has a new book out, Love Me More Than the Others – Selected Poetry of Iraj Mirza that’s available at the festival.  Having picked it up last night and read it until the wee hours of the morning, I can tell you that it’s fantastic.
  • Also, a big shout out to Modi, the bassist for Toltec Band.  Modi’s in town for the festival and has cds for sale there as well.

Gigs

I’ll doing live improvised accompaniment for a staged reading of The Exonerated as part of the BuckMoon Arts Festival at Fulton-Montgomery Community College July 12th and 13th. I’m also involved in organizing a series of workshops for emerging artists and we’re going to have some great panelist and panel discussions on being a working artist.

Some other gigs are in the works for this summer and fall.  More info as it becomes available.

Tracks

I’m working with an engineer to put some finishing touches on the long-awaited Rough Hewn Trio ep and will also have an EP of acoustic guitar music out this fall.  Some projects I’ve been trying to pull together for a while now, may actually have traction – so we’ll see what happens there!

Books

I’m still currently outlining the book on Practicing book, editing/ reviewing the material for the Pentatonic Extraction book that should be out this year and still looking at an e-book modal series that I think would be cool.

As always, thanks for reading!

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