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The Song As A Script

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The Song As A Script
by Ralph Murphy

 

Singer-Songwriter

Singer-Songwriter

Your song is finished.
You were eloquent.
The melody flowed.
You are fulfilled, complete.
You resound with satisfaction.
You said everything you wanted to say.
How could anyone fail to rush to record your song?

Well, not so fast… Your songs may be your little lambs, but when it comes time to send one of them to the market, keep in mind that some people hate lamb chops and others are allergic to wool.

So before you proceed, think back…

back to before you entered the music business;
back to when you were the audience and went to see singers for fun;
back to when you thought those singers were singing songs they had written about their own lives;
back to when you thought you were catching a glimpse of their inner souls. You were unaware that those inner souls had been crafted for them by Bacharach & David or Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Well, just as your favorite TV and movie stars do not write their own scripts, luckily for songwriters, neither do a lot of singers write their own songs.

The major difference between actors and singers however is that most actors can change characters from film to film whereas successful singers rarely depart radically from the image they have chosen.

That presents the songwriter hurdles that require investigation before rushing into pitch mode.

Not only must the song/script be in keeping with the artist’s image but a few music business executives must be persuaded to gamble a million dollars on it. Figuring in the cost of the sessions, (studio, production, musicians, etc) the video, tour support, radio school, stylists and of course radio, you are at a million big ones.

Your script has to function on a lot more levels than just entertaining your friends and family.

It is a script for a performer to stand on stage and have a linear, lyrical conversation with his or her audience (in my case is that audience is women!).

In my opinion, if you are a stand-alone writer – not a performer, not in a band – and you are not writing for women, you are decreasing your chances for success! Our world of entertainment is always ultimately about “The Woman.” With rare exceptions, it is men singing to women and women singing to women. So, the mantra for the songwriter parallels that of the restaurateur. When looking for a restaurant to invest in, there are three factors to consider: location, location, location. Likewise, to be a songwriter, there are three things you should consider: What’s in it for the woman? What’s in it for the woman? What’s in it for the woman?

So, when you see the word LISTENER in any of my articles, mentally substitute the word WOMAN.

So let’s focus on their perception of your song.

Aside from the work being right for the artist, is it a potential hit?

Do you get the listener involved in the song quickly? How quickly? Well, try 60 seconds, including introduction. I call it getting the listener to invest in your song. If I am drawn into a writer’s invention, it requires me to identify with (or ideally become) the hero, victim, winner or loser in the piece.

In order to lure me/the listener in, it’s better that you speak to me, not about me. Though I dealt with the pronoun (the little big word) in a previous column, let me remind you that when it comes to the song as a script, it is the little huge word. You’ll get my attention faster if the song is about You, I, Us or We, because if it’s about Her, Him or Them, it will be much harder to capture and keep my interest. However, if the song is using the first-person pronoun (you, me, I, etc.) and the central figure is too old, too young, not cool enough or just not the image that the artist, management or label wish to project, you might consider changing to the third-person pronoun (even though the odds are higher for your song not being #1). That way, the artist can sing the song (about being homeless a drunk perhaps) without it reflecting personally on him or her.

Next, you must create an expectation and then fulfill that expectation. Pull out some of your favorite songs and look at the titles – pretty average stuff, mostly words or phrases you use every day. However, those titles are the fulfillment of the created expectation. The genius is in the creation of the expectation. Making something commonplace eye-catching – or in the case of the song, ear catching – is your job.

I don’t know how many of you have seen an uncut diamond, but they look remarkably unremarkable, rather boring in fact. Only in the hands of someone who has absorbed the craft and mastered the skill of making the mundane sparkle does the seemingly dull come to life.

So, surprise me with interesting information, by asking a question with a different twist or by describing a condition, place, person or circumstance using words and phrases that make the ordinary extraordinary.

Well, I guess we need to have a checklist for this song that you have chosen to be a script for a specific artist.

High on that list is accessibility. How easy is the song to sing? Are you trying to fit three-syllable words into a one-syllable spot?

Singer/songwriters do it all the time and get away with it because they are the artists. You cannot.

Does its range span three notes or three octaves? Remember that a lot of “artisteests” may have an abundance of charisma, personality and sex appeal but honestly can’t sing very well. Send them the story songs because the more detailed the story, the less melody you need. Remember, the human animal is not very good at hearing more than one moving part at a time and given its preference will always defer to melody.

Now, if you’re pitching to divas or vocally well-endowed males, then be big on melody, heavy on monosyllabic words and open vowel sounds (A-E-I-O-U-Y!) and minimum story.

What is the song about? Will this artist’s audience identify him or her with this situation or circumstance? Does the artist use this language? Remember all that changes from genre to genre, aside from attitude, is vocabulary and technology. Vocabulary especially is a bond between the artist and the audience. That, by the way, is a huge obstacle for writers crossing to cultures and genres that they are not intimately connected to or understand personally.

And finally, have you told the whole story – beginning, middle and end? Have you created an expectation from the opening line, fulfilled that expectation in 60 seconds, added information/detail in the next verse, and spiced it up by adding conflict or calming it down? Have you made the listener laugh, cry, question, cheer, feel any (or all) of a whole range of emotions or just plain old fall in love?

Yes?

Then take it to the artist – job well done!

Ralph Murphy, hit songwriter and expert, has been successful for five decades. He wrote huge hit songs such as Crystal Gayle’s “Talking in Your Sleep” and “Half the Way”. Consistently charting songs in an ever-changing musical environment makes him a member of that very small group of professionals who make a living ding what they love to do. Add to that the platinum records as a producer, his success as the publisher and co-owner of the extremely successful Picalic Group of Companies and you see a pattern of achievement based on more than luck. Achieving “hit writer” status has always been a formidable goal for any songwriter. Never more so however than in the 21st century. Catching the ear of the monumentally distracted, fragmented listener has never been more difficult. Getting their attention, inviting them in to your song and keeping them there for long enough for your song to become “their song” requires more than being just a “good” songwriter.

Murphy's Law of Songwriting

*His new book Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting “The Book” arms the songwriter for success by demystifying the process and opening the door to serious professional songwriting. Hall of fame songwriter Paul Williams said in his review of the book “If there was a hit songwriters secret handshake “Da Murphy” would probably have included it.” To get the book, enter 3 or more songs at the 11th Annual IAMA and receive this exclusive book for FREE» 

 

 

 

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Having A Long Music Career

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Having A Long Music Career by Jason Miles

Jason Miles

Jason Miles is a Grammy winning producer, keyboardist, synthesist, songwriter, composer

There are many intricacies to having a long-lasting career in music. I learned so much from being around great musical minds and incredibly talented musicians, producers, and arrangers. I’ve been around this business for 41 years and I still feel there is much more for me to do that I haven’t yet done. Here are just a few things that I hope you’ll keep in your back pocket and learn from as you embark on careers of your own. 1. Be Unique When I came to New York City there were some absolutely amazing musicians on the scene. The competition was fierce! What was I going to do to make my voice heard above the fray? My answer was that I chose to be an early adopter of synthesis. As much time as I spent practicing, connecting, and writing, I also put effort into learning about synthesizers at a time when many people really didn’t know much about them. I programmed my own sounds and used them on live shows, and soon word started to spread that I did something special with these new instruments. You have to find something that separates you from everybody else. 2. Learn from the Masters When I started out, I wanted to work and hang out with as many great musicians as I could. My enthusiasm for music had no bounds. Knowledge and wisdom from experienced people will take you very far in this business. There’s so much to learn, and you simply can’t learn it from yourself. Keeping your mouth shut and observing the work of great musicians in different situations will go a long way to giving you the experience you need. 3, Patience, Patience, Patience! When I came back to New York City in 1974, my goal was to work with Miles Davis. I worked and worked, and in 1986, it happened. Was there some luck involved? Of course, but when the moment came I was truly ready for it. There was a lot of pressure and responsibility involved in making Miles’ album Tutu, including new technology and new ways of making music—but I’d been preparing for that moment for years. Nothing happens overnight, but if you hang in long enough, you will get a shot. 4. Know Your Music History I had a great record collection and I spent hours and hours listening to all kinds of music. Later when I met well-known musicians, they realized I was familiar with their work, and consequently they were much more friendly and interested in me. When I met Josef Zawinul for the first time in 1974 he looked at my girlfriend and said, “This guy knows his stuff!” We ended up being friends for over 30 years. You need to be a mini-encyclopedia of music. It will help you understand how to move forward by respecting and learning about the past. 5. It’s Called the Music Business for a Reason This is not always a kind business, nor has it ever been for anybody. Everyone has his or her terrible music business stories. The more you know about the business side of things, the better chance you have of surviving its ups and downs. Learn about contracts, royalites, and performing rights organizations, and last but not least, surround yourself with people you can trust and who truly have your best interests at heart. I’ve been in this business for four decades and even during its most difficult moments, my wife Kathy always supported me unconditionally.

[This article is reprinted with permission from Keyboard Magazine]

Jason Miles is a Grammy winning producer, keyboardist, synthesist, composer, and arranger who has worked with Miles Davis, Sting, and Michael Jackson. His latest project with his band Global Noize is a groove/jazz/ world tribute to Sly and the Family Stone called Sly Reimagined.

For more information on the 11th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com

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IAMA Winner Meghan Trainor Hits #1 on Billboard

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Breaking News: IAMA Winner Meghan Trainor Hits #1 on Billboard

#1 on Billboard Charts is a huge accomplishment, especially for a young 20 year old girl. IAMA winner hits the charts yet again. The song is also #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, Meghan Trainor is no longer an indie artist, she has gone huge mainstream. 

 

IAMA Winner Meghan Trainor Hits #1 on Billboard Charts

IAMA Winner Meghan Trainor Hits #1 on Billboard Charts

Meghan Trainor was discovered by IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) and she won Best Female Artist in the 6th Annual IAMA (International Accoustic Music Awards) in 2010 when she was just 16 years old with her songs performed in acoustic format.

 

After sneaking up to #2 last week, Meghan Trainor’s love-your-body anthem, “All About That Bass,” will take the top spot on the Billboard Digital Songs chart this week thanks to sales of 197,000. Her video has over 14 million views on YouTube. The song is also #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts this week.

At just 20 years old, this is a huge accomplishment for a young girl. “All About That Bass” is a Pop doo-wop blue-eyed soul song, with a fun retro 60’s “Hairspray” feel.

From Nantucket, Massachusetts, She wrote “All About That Bass” this year with Hit Grammy Award-nominated songwriter and producer Kevin Kadish. Her publishing company told her that many artists might be interested in recording the song. Music mogul L.A. Reid heard Trainor’s demo of the song and signed her to Epic Records, where she was able to release the song as a solo artist.

Berklee College of Music trained Kevin Kadish has written and produced for the biigest names in today’s pop music such as: Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus, Michelle Branch, O.A.R. and many more. Trainor is also a successful songwriter and has had songwriting cuts with Rascal Flatts, Sabrina Carpenter and Macy Kate.

 

ABOUT IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards)

IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) promotes the art and artistry of acoustic music performance and artistry. In it’s 11 year, IAMA has a proven track record of winners going on to hit the Billboard Charts. 2nd Annual IAMA winner Zane Williams winning song was recorded by country music star Jason Michael Carroll, that song hit #14 on Billboard Country Charts and #99 on Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Jeff Gutt, finalist at the 9th Annual IAMA was a runner-up on X-Factor USA. For more information on 11th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Songwriting

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By Dan Wilson

Dan Wilson, songwriter

Dan Wilson, songwriter

When I was a very litle kid my parents too k me to swim lessons. On my first day, standing at the end of the diving board, waiting to jump in, I froze with fear. I couldn’t climb down. I couldn’t jump. What happened next was terrible but also helpful. My big, blonde, Norwegian-American swim teacher strode up onto the diving board, wrapped me in her arms, and jumped int o the pool with me. My eyes were open as we went under, and I can still remember rising through the blue and popping up to the surface with her. I was fine! There was nothing to be afraid of. I enjoyed the water ever after. So many musicians I know spend their careers standing at the top of the diving board, waiting to jump in. I wish I could wrap them all up in my arms and jump in with them. Songwriters, here are some good ways to get yourself into the pool.

1. Work on Your Music Every Day, Inspired or Not
Once during my time as an art student, I complained to my instructor, Tina Stack, that I wasn’t inspired to work that day, so I was going to knock off early. She said something that surprised me and that has helped me ever since: “You’re better off staying and working, whether you’re inspired or not. The muse doesn’t always visit. But when she does, you need to be in your studio, working. If the muse visits your studio when you’re at the bar, she can’t do you any good.” There was something so liberating about the idea that I didn’t need to be inspired every minute of the day to be a real artist— that I could get meaningful work done whether I felt inspired or not. And even though I wasn’t inspired at that moment, inspiration would eventually come. This turned out to be completely true. Over time, I have learned that most great painters paint everyday, most novelists write every day, and most great musicians make music every day, whether or not they’re “feeling it.”
2. Have an Artistic Practice
Prince has a great song called “There Is Joy in Repetition.” Is there something about your artistic practice that you can do every day? At the same time every day, even? It’s challenging to arrange your life so that you can have an artistic practice, but it’s not impossible, and it’s worth the effort. Every weekday morning, after getting the kids off to school, I try to play the piano for half an hour. I play Broadway standards and jazz hits from the middle of the last century: Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, and Leonard Bernstein. It’s a joy for me, partly because I like the sense of a simple routine, partly because reading music is an interesting challenge, and partly because I know I’m loading up my imagination with great melodies. After I’m done with the greats, I start working on my own music. The excitement of Ellington carries me through, even when my own song might not be quite figured out.

Experimenting with new artistic practices can be a fun game in itself. Among the most fruitful songwriting times I’ve ever had were two stretches when I wrote a song a day, every day, for a month. The first time I did it was when I was writing material for Semisonic’s Feeling Strangely Fine album. I got the song-a-day idea from a fellow songwriter, and it seemed interesting. The rules were that you had to finish the song, from beginning to end, every note of melody and every word of lyrics, by the end of that day. Importantly, it didn’t have to be good; it just had to be done. Then the next day, you would start a new one. For the first two weeks, it felt weird and artificial. The stuff I was writing all seemed a little forced. I nearly gave up the experiment. But then suddenly I turned a corner, and writing a song became really easy. I found myself continuously transforming small moments from everyday life into metaphors, stealing remarks my friends made
3 Let Your Audience Teach You
The best thing you can do to improve your songs is to play them for people, even if you don’t feel like they are “finished” or “good enough” or “original enough.” Don’t wait for some magical “readiness” to descend upon you. You are ready now. Open mic. Church talent show. A party or gathering with friends. When you play your song for people, you get the amazing feedback effect of an audience. It’s like a magical kind of critique that needs no words. You will learn from the audience’s reaction which songs are good and which need work. You will learn which of your “tricks” are worth using over and over (of course you’ll use the same tricks over and over—we all do) and which “trick” isn’t really a trick at all. And you’ll start to get yourself hooked on playing your songs for people, which is the biggest trick of all. Another great hidden benefit of getting in front of audiences is that you’re way more likely to meet other musicians that way. Musicians are always the first group of people to discover a new songwriter or player. So you might find that during your first year of shows, most of the people who show up are other musicians. This is a good thing, because not only are other musicians good cheerleaders for great music, but they’re also going to be crucial to your own musical efforts. When I’m at an impasse in the studio, when I can’t figure out a great next verse for a song, when I want to make a gig more interesting and entertaining, I find the most effective trick is getting another musician involved.
4. Hang Out With Musicians, Be a Friend, and Help Somebody
This is a life you’re trying to create here, an artist’s life. It’s not a windfall, or a payday, or a brand. Your biggest and most complex creative project is the creation of an artist’s life. And one thing that makes an artist’s life worth living is the wonderful company of other artists. Musicians are the funniest, silliest, most generous, spontaneous, and overly dramatic tribe of people in the world. By being a musician, you already have earned the amazing right to hang out and have a beer with them, to help them move house, to date them, and to bail them out when they’re in trouble. Don’t forget about these things, because they’re almost the best part. A teacher of mine, Ron Jones, says: “Work a lot, yes; work six days and nights a week, but save one day or night to hang out with musicians.”
5. Working on Music You
Love Is a Long-Term Investment. Working on Music You Hate is a Short-Term Hedge. Go for the Long Haul. Artist Tom Sachs says, “The only reward for work, is more work.” It’s hard to overemphasize how true this is. Nobody in this gig wants to retire at age 35; I don’t care what you say. If you’re a real musician, you’ll be stuck with this inconvenient obsession for the rest of your life. Which means most of your time will be spent working, and very little time will be left for relaxing on the yacht that you buy with your royalties. If you succeed, the world will flood you with requests for more of whatever music has brought you the most success. So if you’re doing music you love, in a style and a direction that you love, your reward will eventually be this: the chance to do more music that you love. If you’re doing music that you despise, just for the money, your reward will be to do more of the same music you despise. I have friends who study the Top 10 and try to cop the sounds and styles of the Top 10. These friends don’t even enjoy the sounds and styles of the Top 10; they just think that by studying this music, they’ll find their own paths to success. What a nightmare! I say, study greatness! What music do you love most deeply? What really moves you? Study that with great passion, and try to follow that music. Then one day the world will be asking you to make more of what you love.
(Reprinted with permission from Keyboard Magazine)

Acclaimed singer and songwriter Dan Wilson wrote Adele’s #1 song “Someone Like You” and Co-wrote the song “Not Ready to Make Nice”, the 2007 Grammy Award for Song of the Year for the Dixie Chicks. He has been a frequent presence atop the pop charts since his 1998 song with Semisonic “Closing Time” rocketed to number one. Wilson has written songs with artists including Adele, Pink, Nas, Taylor Swift, John Legend and others. His new solo album, Love Without Fear, is out now. Find out more at danwilsonmusic.com

For more information on the 11th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to: http://www.inacoustic.com

 

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Acoustic Music Tips: Doing a House Concert

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Acoustic Music Tips: Doing a House Concert

Written by Christopher Bingham (edited by Jessica Brandon)

 

What’s a House Concert?

Acoustic Musicians performing at a House Concert

Acoustic Musicians performing at a House Concert

House concerts are good alternative venues to perform, especially if you are a unsigned acoustic music act. However, more established acts have performed at house concerts, making this more popular these days

A house concert is a concert in a living room. They’re happening more frequently as artists find that 25 to 40 people can fit into a living room quite comfortably. There is much less overhead, no smoke, low or no amounts of alcohol to compete with, little advertising necessary and cover charges can be whatever the artist and presenter want.

Before you start to think that this is something that only amateurs do, think again – you’d be amazed at the quality and notoriety of artists that do or have done house concerts, even when they were filling clubs and getting airplay. Often artists who play house concerts will have a show at a coffeehouse or club the same week or weekend. Imagine seeing Dar Williams or Lyle Lovett in your living room the year before they were playing large halls. It happens.

Since 1991 we’ve presented some pretty amazing artists including: (Sorry if we’ve left you out – I’m doing this from memory!) Erin Corday, Gene Burnett, Chuck Brodsky, Hand to Mouth, Carolyn Currie, Jef Jaisun, Bill Bourne, Jim Page, Scott Cossu, Lori B., Craig Olson, Katya Chorover, Cristel, Spring and Carper, Sheryl Wiser, Amy Read, Reggie Garrett, Annie Gallup, Larry Murante, Bill Davie, Janice Carper

 

How to present a house concert

Getting Started

It’s best to start planning at least two months in advance, once you’ve started speaking with artists, though some folks do it in a month. Some people treat their concerts as an ongoing series and will book the artists a year in advance.

You’ll want to ask yourself honest questions about how much time you’ll want to spend presenting house concerts. If you have a difficult time with deadlines, the time to establish methods for overcoming this difficulty is BEFORE you book anyone.

Keep in mind that touring artists live by their performances. Take your commitment seriously – a low turnout is like showing up for work and having your boss inform you that today you’re working for less than minimum wage. Not fun for anyone. That said, it’s usually a good time for all concerned. Like many good things, sometimes a little work is involved.

 

Finding an artist

You probably have some idea of who your favorite small time artists are already. You may have heard them on a community radio show, as a local opening act for a touring artist, at a fair or festival or even at a another house concert. Other sources for house concert artists are non-profit arts groups, web sites or booking information on the back of a self produced CD.

Now that you’re in contact with the artist and he/she/they are excited about doing a show in your living room, it’s time to work out your arrangements regarding who gets how much of what money that is generated, where will the artist be staying, food needs, how “public” you want the show to be. Make sure all of this negotiated ahead of time with the artist, preferably in writing.

We’ve chosen NOT to make the presentation of house concerts a business. (Though that doesn’t mean we’re not business like – anywhere money is involved, it’s best to keep things orderly) We usually don’t take anything but mailing expenses. For us, presenting house concerts is a labor of love. We enjoy getting to know some of the artists we present by having them stay with us for a day or three on their tour.

Some artists like being able to stay in homes as opposed to hotels. Home cooked meals, participating in the lives of the people who present you and just the pleasure of knowing friends await you in the next town can be a positive aspect of being an artist on tour. It all depends on the people involved. Be flexible.

 

When to present / what to advertise

Our experience shows that Saturday nights are best, but other nights can work out well if things like rush hour, and early next work days are taken into account when it comes to deciding start times. The most important factor is that the show is advertised as a “sit down concert” – audience expectation will be the difference between having a party with some poor fool making barely audible noise in the corner and having a concert that changes peoples lives.

Sample invitation

Our invitations are a mix between a postcard and a “party” invitation. We put some kind of interesting graphic on the front with an inviting scenario and then the vital information on the inside in larger type.

Here’s an example (sans graphic – be creative!) of a house concert we did a few years ago: (Some of the names have been changed for privacy issues.)

Imagine a cool summer evening,
the scent of fresh cut grass and resinous fir
You are led to a seat surrounded by cool stone and tall trees.
Someone puts a latte in your hand.
The sun begins to set
And the music begins.

Then on the inner right hand page:

You are cordially invited to a
House Concert
Christopher Bingham
will perform music from his latest CD
The Burning
Saturday, July 11, 1994
7:00 – 9:00pm
(doors open at 6:30)
at the home of
David and Betsy Showmaker
Woodinville, Washington

Non-alcoholic punch, coffee and munchies will be provided
Please feel free to bring food or beverages
There is no cover charge, but we will pass the hat
$6-15$ SUGGESTED DONATION
(More if you can, less if you can’t)

Inner left page:

Art doesn’t happen until it passes between people. Come and Participate!

Back page:

This will be a non-smoking, low alcohol event. It will be held outdoors (weather permitting) If you’re allergic to cats you might want to ingest antihistamines or leave your nose at home.

Insert DETAILED directions here, with ADDRESS!

Please RSVP to Chris at (206) 555-5555 or Betsy at (206) 555-6666 and let us know how many will be in your party.

 

Who to Invite

Make a list of your closest 50-100 friends and their addresses. Then make a list of another 50 people you know who you’d allow into your house who you think might want to see this particular artist. Our experience is that we get a 20 to 25% turn out. We’ve been doing it long enough that we have a fairly educated audience, people know what to bring and how to behave.

We recommend little or no alcohol. People tend to not realize they’re being loud when they’re drunk.

When to mail

Send your mailing out 3 weeks in advance (Two weeks in advance at the latest!) to the 100 to 150 people on the list. Getting the invitation into the homes of your audience with enough time to plan to attend is the most important aspect of the advertising!

We’ve found that if we send the invitation too early, (more than three weeks in advance) people tend to forget about the show. Too late (less than two weeks before the show) and people have made other plans. Take delivery time into account. A piece of mail in town will take form one to three days to be delivered. We assume the longest.

It doesn’t have to be fancy – a 4X5″ postcard with the essential information will do. This $30 – 50 dollar expense can be taken from the hat or can be given as your donation. Think about how much you might spend on party – some of my best friends might spend fifty dollars on alcohol alone.

Be sure to include directions to your house/apartment, your phone number, the date and time of the show, information about food, the amount of donation you expect, artists names, “IN CONCERT” etc. We’ve found that providing drinkables and some munchies before the show, with a potluck AFTER works best for feeding people and making the music happen.

If there is an intermission, people will grab food then as well. Keep the food simple and cheap. The focus should be the music.

If you’re short on chairs, request that people bring folding chairs or pillows. We usually end up with a half circle of devoted (and limber!) fans at the feet of their favorite artist. It’s never been a problem for us.

 

Creating a stage

We create a stage in the corner of our living room by putting a guitar stand there in a way that says “This is the performance space.” We set the stage as if the musicians are story tellers (they often are, they just sing their stories) and they deserve the same amount of attention as if we were sitting in a theatre about to see a play.

THIS STUFF IS NOT BACKGROUND MUSIC – IT’S THE FOCUS OF THE EVENING!

Handling money – getting the folks to give

The method that seems to work best for us (and it’s not the only way by any means) since we usually don’t charge a “cover” is to suggest a donation between $6 and $15 dollars in the mailing , (more if you can, less if you can’t) and pass the hat just before the fourth song before intermission or the end of the show if there is only one long set.

It’s vital to do this during the first set – you want to make sure that everyone who comes has the opportunity and encouragement to give what they can.

It’s important that the MC (that usually means YOU the presenter) get up, SEEDED hat in hand (we have a “lucky hat” just for this purpose) and announce that the artist(s) who has given us so much this evening lives by his/her (their) art, and that if we want to see more of these events we need to give in return financially.

I usually remind people of the last time they saw a show with some “name” artist, they probably paid 20 to $25 dollars, and that our artist is as good or better, and you saw them so up close you can shake their hand.

Keep it short, try not to get in the way of the artist, but get the cash flowing.
As performers, we’ve often made more money on house concerts than at coffee house shows with the same number of attendees. That allows for people who may not have money to attend, and for people with money who want to contribute more to participate at their level.

People give more when they are excited. Have a jar placed strategically for stragglers, people who need change and check writers. The hat or jar should have sign suggesting a donation of at least $6-$15.

We also provide a place for the artist to sell their CDs and tapes and to provide a mailing list. Since Suddenly Naked keeps it’s own list, we try to centralize the list for the evening’s show and mail a copy to the artist after it’s entered. Do the follow-up ASAP.

As an artist doing house concerts, we’ve NEVER performed a house concert that didn’t have someone ask us if we’d like to do this at their house. It’s a great way to build an audience, and folks who see you at house concerts bring their friends when we do the club dates. As an individual wanting to be more involved in the music community (or beginning to build our own!) it’s a great way to meet folks of like mind.

After the concert, enjoy good food and conversation! Encourage folks to by CDs and get on the mailing list.

Decentralize the music industry – support independent artists!

 

(Reprinted by permission from Christopher Bingham)

For more information on IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), go to:  http://www.inacoustic.com

 

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