A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘networking’

Music Education on the Net

This morning there was a feature in the Business Herald about Gordon Dryden, which I haven’t finished reading. Gordon is one of New Zealand’s prominent experts on education and I have a few of his excellent books in my library. The story was obviously related to the launch of his new book, The Learning Web, which I  will have to add to my collection.

A major concept of the story is that in the future , no later than 2014, 25% of high school courses will be available on the net. The timing was interesting because I already learn a lot about the music industry on the net, from blogs, web sites and especially through 2 of my favourite podcasts, being The Musicians Cooler and Music Business Radio.

I actually made a personal commitment yesterday while listening to an interview with Chuck Wills and Monty Powell on the Music Business Radio podcast Episode 79, which I strongly recommend anyone interested in breaking into the country music industry as a performer or songwriter should listen to. You can find it here. Monty was full of great information and about his experiences, songwriting and the importance of Nashville as one of the last big music cities that is still thriving and full of professionals today.

Monty’s work appears on over 50 million records and listening to him critiqueing people’s work, there is no doubt that he knows his craft intimately. For the up and coming songwriters he had lots of encouragement, stating that songwriting is a craft which can be taught and honed.

I live in Auckland, New Zealand and have a family and a day job and my commitment to them means that if I ever get to Nashville it will be for a week or 2, not to stay, which I should have done years ago, but now I want to go back to the net and education.

A year or so ago I had the good fortune to attend a weekend course with Pat Pattison, of the Berklee School of Music and I learned lots and got huge value from the course as well as the networking with other local musicians. Networking is something that Monty also emphasised as crucial to your success as many if not most careers have been forged through who you know.

From an educational perspective, I know people who went to Berklee, like Taura Eruera. But he and many others do offer excellent training on the Internet for those who can’t take a few years out to go and learn in the university or head to Nashville to soak information and experience from those who are willing to share.

The web is full of online courses for songwriting, so all I have to do now is decide where to start at a level that my budget can afford.

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.

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.

Tag Cloud