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grant
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Postby grant » Thu Jul 17, 2003 10:29 am

Anyone with enough time and energy can get a guitar to make pleasing noises.

But getting people to *listen* to those noises... that's a whole 'nother bag.

I've never quite understood how musicians manage to bridge that gap between the garage and the local nightclub (and the local nightclub and a venue in Missoula).

So... how do they? That's what I'd like this discussion to be about.

Right now, what I'm most wondering is how one creates a decent one-sheet. From what I gather, that's the pop-band equivalent of a resume -- all the pertinent, marketable facts about a musical project on a single sheet of (glossy, illustrated) paper that gets sent out to record companies & distributors along with a demo.

What makes a one-sheet work? And what else works when it comes to grabbing ears?

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Postby Skip » Thu Jul 17, 2003 3:14 pm


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Postby Karousme » Thu Jul 17, 2003 7:32 pm

Missoula = Great town

Anyway, as a guy with a band, I've found that it is good to play for people any chance you get, even if it's at someone's lame backyard BBQ or some obscure coffee shop. You may reach a few ears, but the live playing experience is probably the more important thing gained until you can land a bigger gig. You could be the best band in the world, but if you don't play for anyone then who is going to know? It seems like knowing the right people has a lot to do with it. Look at all the shitty bands that are really big. Are they getting the money they are getting because they are superior musicians/songwriters, or because they were in the right place at the right time?

I don't know a whole lot about the topic, because I am still learning as well. This thread is a good idea though.

I'd be interested to learn how TLW got to the point they are at now. They aren't mega huge or anything, but they seem to be respected in the indie pop/rock community. They have a couple albums under their belts, and some press and distribution. We know about WSH, but I'd be interested in knowing the entire road. Did it come down to knowing some key people or what?

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Postby John » Thu Jul 17, 2003 11:18 pm

I think it always comes down to knowing people. The trick is that you never know which people are going to be the ones that help you out. When I first met Sean Nelson my band, The Bun Family Players, was opening for Harvey Danger at a club called Moe in Seattle circa 1996. We were psyched to get the show because we had heard of Harvey Danger. The combined draw of our two bands was less than twenty people.

The first time I met Josh Rosenfeld, owner of Barsuk Records, the Bun Family Players were opening for his band, This Busy Monster, also at Moe. Combined draw? About twenty people.

The first time I met Chris Walla the WSH and Death Cab were both opening for a band called Man Ray. It was DCFC's second or third Seattle show and their philosophy at the time was never to turn down a show. They played Tuesday nights, they played coffee shops, etc. It was the WSH's fifth or sixth show.

During these years there were plenty of really important booking agents and publicists and rock types in Seattle that everyone assured me were the people I 'HAD' to get to know in order to succeed. I was supposed to make a promo package and send it off and make nice with Joe Cool and shmooze these important people when I saw them in bars and so forth.

But the three most important connections I made in Seattle all came as a result of playing the opening slot at some thankless show to which almost nobody came.

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jump from the garage, a Dutch perspective

Postby Liesbeth » Fri Jul 18, 2003 3:10 am

If I think how my husband's band get gigs, a lot of it comes from knowing people, but not in the 'you are useful to me' sense, but as in getting to know them casually through friends and acquaintances.


There's a pretty strong sense of musical community among guitar oriented bands in our city, with a magazine/website and monthly band nights (on Sunday nights, which are otherwise slow nights for the venue where they are held) on a non-pay basis. Good to get experience and get the word out that you exist.
Thus, everyone feeds each other with info on opportunities to play.

A number of bands made an Utrecht band compilation and gave it to some members of R.E.M. when they started their tour here in June. I don't think it will get any of those bands overnight success (although you never know), but it's cool to see musicians join forces, rather than just dealing with themselves.

Also - I know this may sound cynical, but isn't meant that way - my husband has been in several bands, and the contacts with his old band members are sometimes useful as well. Plus Stefan has connections in his hometown and his bass player is from another city and is tapped into that local scene.

I don't know if it exists where you live, but in The Netherlands most towns have local band competitions. The stupid thing about those is that it's quite hard to pick a winner when you have really different styles (should you pick that energetic punk band who come across well but are really unoriginal, or that emo-band who are great musicians, but just stare at the floor....), but they are - and are seen by many competitors as just that - opportunities to play in pretty well equiped venues.

Getting demos out to hot shots and venues uninvited has barely done my husband any good, much more comes from giving them to friends who actually like the music and play it to other people because they care.

Maybe I should add that my husband's ambition doesn't include playing huge arenas, he "just" wants to have fun playing and get his music heard.
He used the internet for that quite a lot, but that's a whole different subject, I suppose.

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Postby Goldie » Fri Jul 18, 2003 2:39 pm

Grant (that is, if you really are Grant... I'm not so sure as I'm still reeling from your use of the construction "a whole 'nother"),

You might want to figure out how to do a run or a series of shows. I've witnessed first-hand how incredibly useful this is for spreading the word and getting people to show up. Doing a One Night Only-type show is fine, but there's real value in the old snowball effect.

Pick a place (oh, some charming low haunt, let's call it Le Spot) that will let you book all the Mondays in September. Or the second Wednesday of every month for 6 months. Just something that's consistent. So, a few people see you do your Grant Spectacularicus, + they tell their friends about the crazy killer show that happens Every Monday Night at Le Spot, and by the last night of your run, you will have established an audience. (Hurrah! Now, give them something for free, and get their email addresses for your mailing list.)

It totally works. And if you're new to playing out, it's a swell way to work out your whole stage set-up. All those funky technical problems that you didn't foresee will have a chance to be addressed and corrected.

So, that's my advice. Oh, yeah. And be nice to everyone. But it seems like you already are.

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Postby meg » Fri Jul 18, 2003 2:50 pm

You know, I hadn't noticed before Goldie mentioned it, but I flip my lid for residencies. It especially appeals to a lady in a big chaotic city, because it takes the ONE NIGHT ONLY vibe off--I could see it or I could not see it, and I could go next week, and I could go the week after if it's great like that. A residency also lets me know that a booker is high enough on the group to give them a handful of slots right away, and if I generally like what that venue cooks, then I'm going to be interested.

And it's a nice insta-hook for Joe Free Weekly.

I'd like to hear about one-sheets, too. Maybe from some reviewers? Any hiding and willing to speak? I'm thinking that clean lines, good organization, good spelling, and a cool minimum of witty and important information is a great start...when I'm in my worst moods I will refuse to read scripts with the simplest things wrong with them--they're unbound, the format of the cover letter is sloppy, etc. It's easy to fall back on appearances when you have a gigantic stack of material ahead of you.

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Postby Dan » Fri Jul 18, 2003 4:43 pm

Okay, I'll chime in here. As we all know and, no doubt, love, college radio is a very, very important tool for unsigned artists. I've been in a directorial role at my college's radio station before, and the one piece of advice I can give you, as it pertains to obsessing over your one-sheet is: don't.

The one-sheet is the thing I look at while I'm waiting for track one to start. The only real piece of advice it can contain (many don't) is which tracks contain swears; when you've got a pile of 100 CDs to listen to every week, you don't have the time to read the band biography.

I'm not saying don't make a one-sheet, because they can be helpful tools; point out which tracks have foul language on them, and by all means suggest tracks that you feel are among your strongest. You're the artist, and you're the most familiar with your material. If my experience is indicative of greater trends, MDs will gravitate toward those tracks when it comes time to make playlists. Otherwise, you do run the risk of having them flip through the first two or three tracks, hear nothing they like, and throw the CD in the out box. (Don't forget, "Jenny And The Ess-Dog" was track 11 on that first Malkmus CD!)

Should you even bother with the fickle finger of college radio? Shit yes. Even if it means sending ten or twenty CDs and one-sheets to local college radio stations, there's a decent chance that a few of them will bite. College radio listeners tend to love good local indie rock. But watch it with the stickers/posters/t-shirts/laminated folders/etc. A certain well-known publicity company used to send us new releases in these nice, obviously expensive clear plastic report covers; guess how the program directors turned in their final exams that year.

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Postby grant » Mon Jul 21, 2003 7:00 am

Excellent and useful advice, everyone! I'm quite, quite grateful.


I'm not so sure as I'm still reeling from your use of the construction "a whole 'nother")


I find it behooves one to occasionally resort to the colloquial, especially when attempting to cultivate an air of jollity and fraternity. Using the "lingo" of "the kids" is a wonderfully refreshing way to keep the mind limber. Constant battle against stagnation and the blue doldrums, you know. Constant.

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Postby Moni » Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:17 am

Having heard some allegations every here and now that college radio is basically “dead” and pretty mainstream today I was glad to read Dan’s post... doesn’t seem to be like that everywhere after all! (the col radio at Bowling Green, OH was okay I’d say, nothing to throw you out of your socks, but what the hell, it’s Ohio...)

guess how the program directors turned in their final exams that year.

Ha! recycling rules! That’s too funny.

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explicit lyrics

Postby Liesbeth » Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:18 am

Dan wrote:The one-sheet is the thing I look at while I'm waiting for track one to start.
The only real piece of advice it can contain (many don't) is which tracks contain swears

Culture shock, culture shock, culture shock.

I'm sorry, but this to me seems as alien as a Wookie dating a Klingon.
Since you mentioned it twice, I take it you are quite serious about it.

This is an interesting insight to the American (music) world...

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Re: explicit lyrics

Postby Merlin » Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:41 am

Liesbeth wrote:This is an interesting insight to the American (music) world...


The stakes can be pretty high. Back when I lived in Tallahassee, there were reportedly spoilsports who hated the station but would listen all day on the off-chance they'd catch something "obscene" they could immediately report to the FCC.

Americans are definitely weird.

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Postby Goldie » Mon Jul 21, 2003 1:13 pm

grant wrote: Constant battle against stagnation and the blue doldrums, you know. Constant.


You're right, daddy-o . . . live and learn . . . dig and be dug in return.

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Postby longtimecoming » Sat Jul 26, 2003 9:25 pm

dude, i remember manray. they opened up for sweet water or something like that. remember sweet water? in 1997 adam jumped down and gave me a kiss on the stage, i adore my music of youth and THE band to open up for was super deluxe, they were kings of the city since 95 to 98. i only went to super deluxe shows, having racked up 13 shows. i was with the in crowd of super d, the super deluxe mailing list. ii met soda jerk (www.sodajerk.net) through super deluxe- it was awesomely cool. i got invited to chris lockwoods bday bash, but i got screwed over. i have been to shows where there were only like 5 people in the room. there was a clugb they always used to play in fife, called the mother ship. it was awesome.

ii met my ex best friend at super deluxe , i saw her at silverchair and deck the hall ball too.

i have manrays cd. it was cool. then there was medicade, a jake and john spinoff. i boycotted that band, concerned about the welfare of super deluxe.

harvey danger i met in 98, i remember nothing. i was so into super deluxe. i now think its cool that i saw them before they got big, pictures help my memory. ive got a pic of chris lockwood pretending to give jeff waibel a sex act.. hahahah.

ive only been backstage once, and that was soda jerk. we hung out with them. it was cool.

but super delluxe sweet water were the saviors of my life when i was in school.

when an old school friend heard me mention harvey danger, he said "you still into that crap"// :P and im like "hell yah"

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Postby A Brutaful Smile » Sun Jul 27, 2003 3:53 pm

longtimecoming wrote:dude, i remember manray. they opened up for sweet water or something like that. remember sweet water? in 1997 adam jumped down and gave me a kiss on the stage, i adore my music of youth and THE band to open up for was super deluxe, they were kings of the city since 95 to 98. i only went to super deluxe shows, having racked up 13 shows. i was with the in crowd of super d, the super deluxe mailing list. ii met soda jerk (www.sodajerk.net) through super deluxe- it was awesomely cool. i got invited to chris lockwoods bday bash, but i got screwed over. i have been to shows where there were only like 5 people in the room. there was a clugb they always used to play in fife, called the mother ship. it was awesome.

then there was medicade, a jake and john spinoff. i boycotted that band, concerned about the welfare of super deluxe.




i don't know if i would say that super deluxe were kings. they did well and were kind of the "thing" of the time locally. i have no idea how many shows of theirs i went to because i went to just about all of them so i at least doubled the 13 you say you went to if not tripled it.
i also came into the soda jerk crowd because of super deluxe...and because my friend really liked them and booked them a couple times w/the band she managed. i am still friends w/those people to this day. in fact, i saw chris lockwood at a bbq w/that crowd last month.

i never liked medicate altho i know quite a few people who really did.
i was late to the whole sweetwater thing but i love my one cd. i even listened to it just yesterday.

and from what i hear, the mothership will open again.


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