A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘gigs’

Who do I sound like?

There are lots of sites where you can post your music and one of the ways people find you is when they are looking for people who sound similar to one of their favourite artists. MySpace has that feature. Last FM is built around that concept.

Last FM is like your own personal radio station that tries to come up with the music you like. It’s free, which is great and when you listen to music you can rate it, love it or ban it and the station will eventually evolve into exactly the kind of music you like. You can get it to start playing music by selecting an artist or a topic. If you want to listen to songs about Christmas, just key in Christmas, if you want to listen to my songs or artists like me, select artist and enter Luigi Cappel.

As a songwriter, artist or band, you can set up your own site where you can upload your music and videos and people can listen to your music. Just go to the Music Manager section and start creating your page. I have 1 1/2 albums up there so far. Greenhouse and Reflections which is only half complete so far.

So here’s the problem. I have entered 3 artists who have influenced me, particularly on certain songs. They are Don Henly (in particular my song Only Memories Survive), Willie Nelson and Jimmy Webb. The problem I have is in being objective when I listen to myself. So perhaps you can have a listen to some of my songs on one of my sites and tell me who you think I sound like. You can here them at Last FM by entereing my name, you can hear some at MySpace and more at Music Forte.

If you can be bothered, it would be great if you can give me feedback on what artists you think I sound like so I can add them into my sites to help people who like those artists find me. I’ll be happy to return the favor of course.

There are many benefits of understanding who you are like. If you know who you sound like, you can look for gigs where people like that kind of music. You can get a better idea of who to pitch your songs to as a songwriter and you can guide potential fans to your music online.

Music Critics and getting the media to your gig

The media has power, they are mavens and have huge control over what people listen to and what they think they should like. Many artists, like politician, don’t like critics at all, they don’t like what they write, but in the end I think the addage that any media is good media, applies much of the time.

They say I see it is that if the media writes about you, they are giving you attention and hopefuly someone will dig deeper, look for you on MySpace, or go to one of your gigs. If they make the effort, then reward them with recognition themselves. Show an interest in them.

When I first started chasing the media, it was to get attention for my sport at the time which was landyachting. We had a team going to Nevada for the America’s Cup of Landyachting and our sport was not great for spectators because our courses were often very long, as in 30 or more km. We needed sponsorship and both to attract sponsors and to get them coverage, we had to get the media to write stories and show us on TV etc. The main way I achieved that (and we won the cup) was by ringing the media and asking for their help and advice. I got it, they got stories and we got coverage.

So how do you get the media to your gig? First try and find media that might be interested in your genre, the best place to start is to listen to them on radio or read their stories. When you find people that you think would like your offerings, send them a CD. It could be demo’s or a commercial production. Send them your bio and invite them to your gig. It’s worth ringing them first to tell them what you are sending them, including the invitation and ask them for the best way to get it to them. That sets up a personal relationship so it isn’t just an impersonal envelope that looks like something you have sent to everyone.

Ask them to come and introduce themselves to you if they do turn up at the gig and make some time to talk to them. It wouldn’t hurt to make a fuss of them and build them up and the gig either, maybe in the middle of a set, shout out a welcome to them and get the audience to give them a friendly clap. The media is a networking environment and I have no doubt that they will appreciate the recognition.

Having recognised them, spoken with them at the gig, understood what they like, dislike or didn’t understand, you will be developing a realtionship with them and it is much more likely that they will give you a good review. After all, you are friends now, right?

Remember that people write about a particular topic because they like and are interested in it. If they are a music critic (and I use that term loosely, but if they are writing about a gig, they are offering their personal critique) they are doing it because they like music. If they come to your gig, it is because they want to be entertained and to like your offering, it’s outside of their work hours, i.e. they are gving up their personal space. They probably also want to be seen in the right places and are looking for other artists or interesting people. If you rewadr them for their effort, they will probably do the same for you and you may end up with a long term ally that can help you up those little steps to local stardom.

Tips on being a support act

The first thing to consider is that you are a support act and one of the key things you are there for is to support the main act. First of all, as I mentioned in my last blog, your music should be in the same vein as the main act.

You are there to warm up the crowd as well as to make a name for yourself. If you are the last act before the main or you are the only act, it is a great idea to be able to build the audience up so that they are really getting into it and having enjoyed your act, will be in the zone to enjoy the feature. An excellent example of this was the band Blue King Brown who I mentioned in my blog about the Santana ‘Live Your Light’ tour. They were amazing and everyone was fizzing when Carlos got onto the stage. Blue King Brown. They built the crowd up and were a great act on their own, but didn’t detract in anyway from Carlos’ magic performance.

Start your set with something really good, as a support act you don’t have much time, so you need to build attention as quickly as possible so they will keep listening, you can’t start up with a quiet ballad and build up to a climax from a quiet opening number. People will start talking and they will treat you as background music. Once you have their attention you can start working them up to a grand finish which will have them wanting to hear more and remembering who you are.

When you finish and have the crowd on a high looking forward to the main act, build the act up, tell them they are in for something special that they will really enjoy. Praise the upcoming act to build the expectation and to show the lead act that you value the opportunity they gave you.

When you finish your set, get yourself and your gear off the stage as quickly as you can so that there isn’t too much silence between acts and the crowd holds on to their warm anticipation.

Use these simple ideas, and assuming you had the right material for the type of audience, you should find yourself being offered more gigs, whether as supporting act or as the main deal. You might even get opportunities to tour with an act.

If you found this blog useful, please tell other people, send them a link and subscribe yourself for future blogs. If you want to hear my songs or are looking for a new song for yourself or your artist, please drop me a line. If you want to add to this, please leave a comment, it’s about sharing. If you would like to hear some of my songs, check them out on my MySpace Page.

Get a support act gig

One way of looking for gigs to perform your original songs is to look for opporunities to become the support act. There are all sorts of opportunities out there and they all come from networking. On 4 September I will be one of 4 or 5 suppor acts at Forde’s Bar in Auckland. I found out about it from a friend in a local songwriting group. I don’t know who the main band will be. but all I had to do was ring and ask if I could get a 20 minute spot.

I guess then, the first thing you have to do is ask. The next thing is networking. The reason I heard about the opportunity was through networking. It, as is often the case, is about who you know.

The support acts for main shows are often friends or acquaintances. So you need to become friends or acquaintances with the people you would to support or their supporters, because of course it can also come from a referral.

Who would you like to open for? Go to their gigs, introduce yourself and talk with them. If you liken them you will be able to sincerely talk about their music and what you like about it. Don’t go up to them and ask for a gig!

Your music should fit with theirs if you are going to open for them. A country artist is likely to get boo’d off the stage if they are opening for a Metal band. On the other hand you don’t have to be of the same genre. At a Bic Runga concert a couple of years ago, her openers included Anika Moa (who has a nice smooth sound and fits the easy grooves of Bic’s music and has her friend (get the picture?) Anna Coddington opening for her on tour right now). Another opener who were extremely popular were Flight of the Conchords. This was the first time I and (by the reception) had heard or seen them, so they came accross as fresh and new, but also very different. But they were laid back which was how the whole show came accross. They were very different but they still had a good fit to the environment and atmosphere and the mix of audience.

Muso’s are usually very friendly and open for a chat in their breaks. Don’t be afraid to go up and talk to them even if they are surrounded by people they know and you are a stranger. A few years ago I was in Fiji and had a listen to the house band at the Suva Travelodge as they were doing their sound checks. I sat in the empty lounge and had a listen and ended up having a chat with the band. Next thing they were asking me what I was doing that night. I replied that I had no plans and next thing they are saying “You have now, you’re playing with us”. So that evening I found myself playing the blues with an awesome band, on a very nice Gibson Les Paul.

So what is the lesson? Find bands you like (and have some synergy with yourstyle) , go to their gigs, get to know them and when the opportunity is right, ask if they have or need an opening act. Bands and solo performers generally know each other, at least a little and are likely to know if there are other similar bands needing openers.

Last but not least, try your local music shop, check their notice board or during mid week, when they are fresh and recovered from the weekend, ask them if they know of any acts looking for support bands or artists. They are probably in a band themselves.

Oh, I almost forgot, if you are looking for a country opening act for your gig, have a listen to me at MySpace and give me a call.

If you found this blog useful , tell someone and leave a comment and perhaps subsrcibe so you don’t miss out on the next one.

Join your Performing Rights Association

Your Performing Rights Association can be very important to you in a number of ways. They assist you with protection and ownership of your Intellectual Property IP) and most important, they collect and distribute performance royalties on your behalf. They do much more than this, but this is the key reason for their being.

I am a member of APRA which is an awesome association covering the rights of New Zealand and Australian songwriters and composers. Venues pay them a fee for live gigs and radio stations provide them with playlists so that they can process royalties for radio play of songwriters work. APRA also works closely with their counterparts around the world, the biggest being ASCAP and BMI which are the 2 societies in the USA. You will find loads of great information on their websites, even if you don’t live in the USA. They also run amazing seminars with some of the best songwriters ever.

When I play a gig, I put in an electronic return on the web site, with the venue details and my set lists and the following I get paid. It’s not a lot, but the more you gig, the more royalties you get. You also get paid whenever your tracks are played on commercial radio. Ironically at the moment I get no play in New Zealand, but you can hear some of my songs on the radio in Canada.

APRA also puts on training seminars and as of this year, they started the great new event S3 (check out the link from my other blog about this event Song Summit Sydney) which was a fantastic learning and networking exercise. They even let me pay for my registration from my future royalties. This is no small event with speakers including Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams and my fravorite Ralph Murphy.

APRA also sponsors the APRA SIlver Scroll Awards which is the major music event of the NZ calendar.

On top of this they are greatt people and from the directors through to the team in the office, they are there to help us as artists in any way they can. You can even use their premises for meetings (relevant of course) if you need some space. APRA people are there first and formost because they care about local music. You should find out who your PRA are and join them as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. This organisation’s sole purpose is your rights an outside of running costs, all revenues aer distributed back to the artists.

Oh and I almost forgot, their website is full of useful information and contacts as is the APRAP, a magazine I always look forward to reading.

Artspace Music Industry Seminar

Today I went to an awesome seminar at Artspace. For the ridiculous sum of $5 I came away with pages of useful notes, many of which I will share on this blog, which was the first new activity I committed myself to at the seminar today.

The speakers were Rebecca Caughey of Funktion Music Media who gave us loads of great information including how to put together Press Kits and the whole process of how to do tour promotion from time of concept to the actual event and of course how to get people to your gigs and loads of useful people who can help in the various media.

Next was Lauren Clough of Maiden NZ Entertainment.  She not only gave us lots of information but challenged us with loads of tasks to make sure we did more than just take notes. A major part of her presentation was about understanding your target market indepth and making sure everything you do is consistent with that market. She gave us a truckload of information about Press Kits, both physical and EPK. How to get the right media to cover you gigs and story in a way that makes it easy and relevant for them.

The last speaker was Matt Turner of Kurb Promotions. Now I’ve been a fan of his blogs for some time and he did not disappoint. Now Matt reckons he is not practiced in public speaking, well he could have fooled the audience who were frantically taking notes on top of the excellent handout he left with us. If you are serious about marketing yourself on the web, this guy has studied it in depth and made it his lifework. You really should make contact and at the least follow his blog on MySpace.

What did I learn? Well you should have been there yourself. I took pages of notes and together with the tasks I gave myself, including creating this new blog, it would take me longer than the day I spent to tell you everything. Next time Artspace put on a seminar, go support them.

Oh and also a shoutout to Tabitha Frazer of Yellow Beatle records who was the only person who gave me a business card, it was a great one too. I hope to find out more about your business soon.

So thanks for reading this, I hope you will subscribe and encourage me to do more posts and also will pop over to my MySpace page, have a listen and send me a friend request, maybe eve give me a vote on the Demand It banner:)

Oh and do leave a comment please:)

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