Category Archives: Marketing-Publicity-Getting the Word Out

Struggling Arts Hits Home

"Did we blow something up?"

mda: As we all know, these economic times have been quite hard for the arts as orchestras declare bankruptcy, funding dries up and schools end arts education which is killing the future supporters.  Yes, this may become somewhat of a doom-and-gloom post, but we feel it is still important to discuss.  It may not be a new discussion out there, but RBD and I now have first-hand knowledge of how it is as we both find ourselves without employment at this time.  Now I know I can say this for both of us: we are not bitter about losing our positions.  It happens and we must move on and we will grow from it.  Plus, I know both of us are quite intelligent and we will find bigger and better opportunities very soon.  So let’s start a discussion here, why don’t I let RBD start it off.

RBD:Yes, there are lots of people out there that have lost their jobs and we join a rather large segment of the population who are looking for jobs. However, being in the arts, the jobs we are looking for you won’t find in the

Connections are important. Don't burn bridges...

paper, or job boards on the internet. Being in the arts gives us unique connections where we can begin looking for new employment. As this discussion takes shape, our journeys will differ as I have a foot in the ‘industry’ side of the arts and another foot in the ‘performance’ side. As we document our different (and yet similar) paths, we hope that other people can learn from our failures and our successes. (emphasis on SUCCESSES!) So, mda, what have you been doing to find new employment?

Mind your CV

mda:Well I must say the most important thing that has been beneficial is the connections I have made in the Indy arts scene over the past 6 years or so.  The most beneficial aspect has been talking with those connections and keeping my ear to the ground for any positions that may arise.  As RBD mentioned, my journey is a little

Have we mentioned that Connections are important? They are!!

different as I find myself more on the ‘industry’ side as my performing career is not as extensive as my compatriot.  So the most important thing I have found as my search continues is to create a well-written cover letter, know your material and be able to speak properly and knowledgeable.  Now that might sound like easy things to do or ‘no-brainers,’ but I do believe people don’t really pay attention to the details.  Details is what can separate you from the competition.  It’s true…deal with it the right way!  How about you, RBD?  What do you think about the connections you have made and how has that helped with the performance side?

RBD: Compatriot? Well, okay, I’ll accept that. Yes, mda, details and words matter and they are important. Don’t forget that. To answer your question about connections, I would have to say that, YES, connections are very, very important. When we were ‘let go’ from our illustrious record label positions, I immediately had a beer, then played a gig later that night. Soon there-after, I created a list of people I have played/worked for in the past and people I have gotten to know through the job I had just lost. My list ended up being around 45 people long. I called and/or emailed almost all of them in the first week and have heard some very positive responses. The one things I haven’t done yet is to create a couple versions of my resume and create a CV (kind of a long-form resume). I have a nice resume now for performance, but not the business/industry side of things. I think now is the perfect time to (for me at least) to set a goal, maybe even an outlandish goal, but really set up a clear and functional direction I want to take for the future. This is what I believe right now: I don’t want to take any job, just to take a job. I also don’t believe there is a ‘perfect job’, ‘out there’, ‘waiting for me’, like some golden goat waiting to be milked. This is the perfect opportunity to reset and figure out what will ultimately make me happy in the long run. Am I being too selfish? Is this even possible? What do you think mda?

mda: I think you are on to something there, my friend.  We are both “at that age” where it is nice to think of stability (whatever that really means) and not just settling on a ‘job’ certainly doesn’t allow for that stability.  It really is about happiness at the same time.  However, unfortunately it is also about paying the bills and paying for the outlandish gas prices right now.  There is that fine line one must walk to make sure they do not find themselves in trouble.  However, that being said, I do not believe either of us will fall in that.  The thing about resume/CV that I have found interesting throughout this process has been things I have done in the past that I either forgot about or did not look at it as ‘worthy to mention’ until my friends and colleagues looked at my material and showed me my mistakes.  So Rule Number ‘Whatever Number We Are On Right Now’: show your material to as many people as you can before you submit.  They almost always will see something differently than you and it will ultimately help you out.

RBD: Yeah, never underestimate the power and knowledge of your friends in and out of your professional area. It’s easy to get dark at a time like this and no potential employer wants to hire a dark/depressed person. We both have to be upbeat and positive and know that we are a valuable asset to any future place of employment. What do you see, mda, as a rule about what to put on a resume and how to word it? Let’s take for an example your occasional co-guest-hosting of my radio show ‘Have You Heard’? How do you make that sound as best as it can be?

mda:  Well, I talk to the actual host and see how he would like me to word everything.  But I remember when we were discussing this, it became more of a conversation and we mutually came up with the correct wording of how to describe the show.  One thing that came up that we didn’t remember beforehand was the fact that there are interviews with national and international musicians on the show.  This was and important fact that obviously may present the show in a different light than saying it is just a local radio show.  You know what I mean?  I remember while I was working on my resume/CV, another friend felt it might be better to display a certain committee work I have had in the past as a separate area than placing it in my ‘Additional Experience’ section.  I didn’t even think of that, but it certainly makes sense.  Again, it’s the finer details…

Aldi is Awesome!

RBD: Yes, it’s the finer details that matter. Details matter. Words matter. The correct definition of words matter and the correct speling of words matter too. My advice to myself, you and anybody out there looking for a job is this: Create a community of people in your field, don’t be ashamed to tell them of your predicament, have them review your resume/CV and never give up. Also, start shopping at Aldi‘s, get another roommate and find out when and where the beer/drink specials are. You can thank me later.

mda: Hey, buddy….check your spelling.

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How to Succeed in the Arts Without Really Trying

How does one succeed in the arts world without really trying?

1. Have a trust fund that can support you until you die.
2. Pick another career path.

Frustrating huh? What I’m trying to say is that it is NOT easy to succeed in the Arts, but it IS possible.

Far too often, people come up to me and say:  “Man, you’re so lucky! You have so many gigs and  it seems like you’re working all the time! How do you do it?”

My response goes something like this: “Luck equals preparation meeting opportunity! I’m not lucky, I just work hard and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to me.”

Then they leave me alone. (Job well done.)

Seriously though, luck has nothing to do with my success. And anyway, what is success?

First:
You must define what success means to you.

Success is defined like this in the dictionary:
SUCCESS:
1.the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors
2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like
3. a successful performance or achievement
4. a person or thing that is successful

So what does success mean to you? How do you define success?

Do you want to play every night?
Do you want to travel?
Do you want to write/arrange?

Do you want to teach?
Do you want to simply play your instrument?
Do you want to work a day-job?
Do you NOT want to work a day-job?
Do you want to play in an orchestra?
Do you want to play in a big band?
Do you want to play the best music all the time no matter what the cost?

Are you willing to make sacrifices in your life to achieve these goals?

As soon as you can define what success means to you, you can begin achieving it.

Have a general idea of what your life will look like. It doesn’t have to be set in stone. It should be malleable, yet set firmly in reality. For example, I will not define success for me like this:

I want to be the best trombone player in the history and future of the entire world. I would also like an island, shaped like a trombone named after me.

Ain’t gonna happen. But my actual general idea of what I want my life to look like goes something like this:

I want to play great music.
I want to play great music with incredible musicians.
I want to play great music with incredible musicians and be able to pay bills and life comfortably.

If I can achieve 2 out the 3 above, I consider that a success.

So, set goals and work a little everyday to achieve them.

How do you do that?

Networking:

“It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know.”

-Who you know will get you in the door and what you know will keep you there!

Networking is now a 24/7 endeavor! Through Social Media, you have the potential to connect/interact with your fans and your potential fans at any time and they have access to YOU.

So, how does Social Media fit into all this?

A simple question with a simple yet very complicated answer:

Create and maintain an online presence

Social Media is a place to share your views and thoughts, not just for promotional use.

  • Engage with your audience/fans
  • Make sure you’re in a two-way conversation with people consistently
  • Leave comments, don’t just ‘Like’, interact
  • Drive web traffic to one place of your choosing based on your goals.

All the above is your new ‘day-job’.

But…”My music should speak for itself”. That’s just great and I’m happy for you and your music SHOULD represent you, but if no one is there to hear it, then the music is speaking only to itself and not potential paying fans.

TIPS and THOUGHTS:

–  Tell people WHEN and WHERE you are playing!
– Go out and meet fellow artists, get to know them
– Pass out business cards as you collect them. Email your new ‘acquaintances’, be polite
– Social Media doesn’t replace the ‘old’ marketing/networking, it enhances
– Shut up and LISTEN!
– Ask Questions
– Read blogs! Check these out:

Music Think Tank
One Working Musician
Indianapolis Social Media
Owl Studios Blog
Createquity
The Jazz Artist Survival Guide
NPR: A Blog Supreme

In conclusion:

There is no fool-proof method to promotion. Don’t let the non-music activities interfere with the musical activities. Find a good balance, take chances. If something doesn’t work, stop doing it, but be patient. This is a slow developing business. Eventually, if you keep at it, with a consistent presence on-line, you will begin to see a nice Return On Investment (ROI) and you will meet or exceed your original goals!

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Filed under Marketing-Publicity-Getting the Word Out, Music Education, New Music/Ideas, Uncategorized

Some frustrated thoughts

Recently I attended a GREAT lecture/discussion at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, ‘A Discussion with Artists: Courage to Pursue the Arts’. I loved the discussion and even jotted down some notes that you can read in my previous blog HERE.

These, however are thoughts outside of the event that I wanted to voice to see if anybody shared my opinion and frustrations. Here they are:

1.     How is it that I didn’t know about this talk until the day of the event? In fact, I found out about this event a few hours before hand. I subscribe to EVERY DAMN ART LIST IN THIS CITY, and I don’t find out that my mentor, my friend, my favorite person David Baker was talking until a few hours before? Really!!??? Come on people! Help me out here! Send out a PR, send an email, post something on your Facebook wall, get this info OUT THERE!!!!

2.     The second thing that I was bothered by was the fact that the microphones didn’t work. The panel was all outfitted with wireless clip-on mics and NONE OF THEM WORKED! The talk was only and hour long. 25% of that time was spent with the staff of the IMA figuring out the sound so that the audience could hear. An incredible waste of time that the audience had to endure.  I felt it was also disrespectful of the very patient panel that was assembled to address the audience!

3.     And now that I mentioned the audience, I’d like to comment on the audience. Why do people show up late to events? Why do people not turn off their cellphones at events? Why do people with babies bring them to quiet events and not sit by the doors, but instead ‘shush’ their children louder than the child is squeaking? This I don’t understand. Being a civil person, I didn’t say anything, but really I was rather distracted.

I just don’t get these things. Help me out here? What gives people?

~RBD

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Looking for Live Music

Bachtrack logo

Looking for a way to find live Classical music around the world?  How about Bachtrack.  I was just told about this site and am still looking through much of it, but it seems to be a really cool thing.  I will continue searching through it and will try to give a report on the good and bad of the website.  So far, though, it seems like if organizations will use the site and upload concert calendars, we may have a hit.  I know RBD and I have always discussed how Indy could really use an all-inclusive site where the city’s performing arts organizations would have a calendar of events updated regularly.  Maybe something to work on this year…

-mda

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Can Crowdfunding Help Save the Arts?

A Crowd Wanting To Give Money.

Crowdfunding is a fairly new area within the Web 2.0 world with companies like Kickstarter and RocketHub, among others.  I have become familiar with them through my current job as a music label executive by reading discussions on music industry blogs like Hypebot and Music Think Tank about this concept of crowdfunding being a possible record industry saver and possible label killer.  For more information, click HERE for a listing of current posts and comments from Hypebot about crowdfunding.  Basically, the crowdfunding sites allow a platform for fans to show their support for a project or cause by giving money.  Pretty simple and nothing new, just a more social and web-savvy approach to the standard.

However, I believe I was looking at this concept with the blinders fully engaged.  Not only does it make sense for record projects and such, but it makes perfect sense for not-for-profit organizations.  Why did it take me so long to make the connection?  I wish I could say I am the first to think of this concept, but obviously I am not.  I will just say I finally had an epiphany on something that has been beating me over the head for the past year.

So crowdfunding saving the Arts.  How?  I am not saying this is a way to rid an organization of their development team, but I see it perfect for smaller projects in an organization or for smaller organizations who do not have the resources to support a full development team or apply for grants.  A project like commissioning a new composition for a chamber music group like Meerenai Shim did for her organization and reported about in the New York Times.  I love this idea and I wish I would have thought about it earlier.  I think smaller arts organizations with a low budget could really benefit from this concept.  Many arts organizations live off of grants, both government and private, and large monetary gifts from corporations, but how great would it be to connect with the fan-base by saying “hey, we appreciate your support but how about becoming a larger part by giving us a few bucks to help put on this concert and/or art show.  It’s really simple, just go to such and such website and make a donation.”  I really think it could be a great concept and really help interact with a current fan-base, but also create a new fan-base for what many articles are stating is the decline of the arts.  The people who donate could then help decided which composer to approach about a commission, which music to be played at the concert or which artist to offer support for an art show.  How else do you see this interactive crowdfunding concept assisting smaller arts organizations?  Let us know…

-mda

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Money For Nothing…

Money bags!

The RBI blog has unfortunately not been very active as of late.  Our apologies.  Do we have a good excuse?  Not really, so we will just move straight in to the topic of today.  And that topic?  City money and where it is being spent. What’s the Dire Straits song?  ‘Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.’  Well that is what has pretty much happened in Indy…

As many Indianapolis residents know the city and state has had major cutbacks in various areas, including cutting the arts budget by 50%.  Now I understand the need to cut back certain areas to save money.  In these trying times, everyone needs to ‘tighten their belts’ and ride the wave through the mess that has been created.  However, why should the education and the arts suffer so greatly in the city when others are allowed to prosper with government funding when they obviously don’t need it.  What am I talking about?  Read this July 12 article from the Indy Star.

This is something that really doesn’t make sense to me.  I am a fan of many sports, as RBD is.  However, how can the city really afford to give the Indiana Pacers $33.5 million dollars for the next 3 years to keep them in the city?  The Indiana Pacers, which is owned by a billionaire; plays in a building that was built for them with taxpayer money and they pay no rent; and they also keep part of the revenue for non-Pacers related programs and shows that happen at Conseco Fieldhouse.  Could that $33.5 million have been spent a better way?  YES!  One of the reasons given by the local government is that the Pacers bring in revenue with their home games and present Indianapolis as a destination spot for businesses and vacationers because it shows Indy as a city with multiple professional sports attractions.  Yes that may be true and I am sure it does help the downtown scene.  But, do you know what else would make Indianapolis an attractive destination spot and revitalize the area?  That’s right….the Arts.

Could you imagine what could have been accomplished if that 33.5 million was put aside to fund current and new arts programs, green initiatives and education of our youth in Indy?  This city would absolutely transform to one of best cities in the region, if not the nation.  This is the truth!  So why couldn’t this money be used in better ways.  The owner of the Pacers has money to use and spend on his team.  Why does he need a bailout from the city?  We should be supporting our artists, dancers and musicians to create something beautiful and worthwhile.  Look what local and/or government support has done for other cities that is close in size to Indianapolis: Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the list could continue.  They are generally listed as some of the best places to live for a reason….and I believe a lot of it is because each city gives their support for the Arts.  They understand for a city to continue to grow and become a destination, it needs an identity.  That identity should be something that expands the mind (the Arts) and not just a professional sports team that continues to struggle each and every year.

Just a thought.  What do you guys think?  Am I looking at this completely wrong?  Give us your comments and let’s start a discussion!

-mda

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Filed under Art, Marketing-Publicity-Getting the Word Out, New Music/Ideas

The Nature of Reviews

RBD: Recently, as employees of an small jazz record label, we have noticed a couple of interesting things that have turned up in reviews. Now, not everybody knows this, we love getting reviews of the albums we release. The reviews usually gauge the importance and popularity of the album before it is officially released. I will let mda talk more about the process of sending out the albums and gathering the reviews. Anyway, with the release that gets sent out, a bio or a description goes along with the album (sort of a detailed explanation about who is playing: what where and when). If the reviewer takes, say 3 minutes, to read the description of the album, then listens to the album, then writes the review, there really should be no errors in who is playing what when and where on the album. That however, doesn’t always seem to be the case.

mda: I agree it seems like it should be quite easy to read the accompanying material and go from there.  However, I am going to play devil’s advocate for a second.  I am sure these reviews receive 20-50 albums in the mail every week…if not every day.  And then the publicists are calling and/or emailing wondering if the reviewer will publish a review of the album.  I would assume they think they do not have the time to read and then listen to the entire album.  This should not be an excuse! I would think that publicists would want to do the best possible job day in and day out, which would mean reading and listening to all material.

RBD: I agree with your devil’s avocado argument mda. I can see that reviews do have a TON of albums to review each and every day, but at what point does their lack of time listening to the album, or reading about the album begin to effect the quality of the review? When you consider how much the artists, not to mention, the record labels rely on honest reflections and reviews of their products, when does this lack of attention start to hurt the product? Is their a happy medium? Less reviews for more money? (do reviewers get paid to publish reviews?)

mda: I actually do not know.  I think there are two different types of reviewers now: the traditional newspaper/magazine reviewers who get paid for their words each and every day; and the internet/blog/webzine reviewers who generally do it because they enjoy music and care about educating the public about new, exciting music.  These people might get some piddly compensation if it is a large enough blog that is supported by another entity, but I believe they mainly do this on their own.  And have you noticed a difference between these two reviewers?

RBD: Well, actually no. I’m not sure where I stand. As we’ve had reviews coming in, some of our artists have gotten upset and asked why more musicians are not doing the reviews. My answer has been that either a musician is to busy practicing/gigging to do reviews, or too bitter for not practicing/gigging that

Greg Osby

you don’t want them to do a review! All this discussion comes to me from a blog written by Greg Osby. His band was touring in Italy and they received a poor review. He argues that perhaps the reviewer needs to walk a mile in the musicians shoes. The writer commented that the band sounded somewhat uninspired and misdirected. Osby agreed, but thought that had the reviewer known that the band had been traveling and performing for weeks on end, there could be a benefit-of-the-doubt given. I don’t know if that’s right, wrong or not important, but ultimately I want reviews, of concerts and albums, to be honest, but with some insight, some appreciation for HOW the music comes together! (especially if they get a sheet that tells them how the music came together!!)

mda: I agree and I think unfortunately only 60% really do that.  Oh well, I don’t think it can actually be changed.  People are going to do what they do no matter what.  What do you think would have happened if, say Robert Schumann or Hector Berlioz (both well known reviewers/writers during their time) didn’t really pay attention to the concert and wrote some nonsensical review?  They would have been laughed at.  The world isn’t like that anymore…such a shame.

RBD: I guess you’re right and it is a shame. What do you think? Should we start accepting albums for review? Or should we just stand on the sideline and criticize the critics?

mda: I will gladly accept albums to review.  I love listening to new music and educating others on the wonderful new music.

RBD: Well that settles it. No reviews. Sorry.

(OK, we are indeed up for doing reviews if you want to send us anything! Just email us at chamber.indy@gmail.com and we’ll send you our address so you can send us your music!)

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