In May 2012 I played a gig at The Railway. I was supporting an artist and was expected to not only bring an audience but to sell and collect money from advanced tickets. For some artists this is the norm but for me with a very small “audience” it was pretty discouraging. I can’t remember how many or IF I sold any tickets. I do remember thinking that must be a better way to promote live music.

A few weeks later I came up with a plan: create a special night, hire a venue , get great artists to play (including me!) sell tickets and put on a great show. Simple eh? The idea was to create a regular show – a brand if you like – that people would buy into, that way they would come and see it again and again without needing to know who was playing. They would attend because they knew that it would be a great night.

So I set about finding artists that I thought people would like and planning how the show would work. I wanted the show to be properly compered and took on that role myself. I wanted the artists to play 2 short sets as opposed to just one each as experience had shown me that sometimes an audience can leave after their particular artists has performed. There would need to be an interval, there has to be a raffle, artists would get paid (a share of the profits) AND the most important part ARTISTS WOULD NOT SELL TICKETS. That for me was the most important element and was vital to my business plan.

I wanted to make sure that the audience bought their tickets from me, that way I could take their email addresses and let them know when the next show was and that way SELL THE BRAND.

I would like to say at this point that I AM NOT A PROMOTER, I am a full time musician.

After deciding to hire The Attic at The Railway and securing the artists for the first show, I printed small posters and put them up all over the place, contacted the local paper and found a few “What’s On” type websites to advertise on. I carried these little posters everywhere with me and gave them to everybody I met.

I sold advance tickets that I hand delivered personally. On the night I gathered email addresses of those who wanted to know about subsequent shows and the raffle was a great success.

People love a raffle and it’s a great way of making a bit more money (keeping me and the artists happy) as well as ensuring that folk stay until the close (keeping the bar and venue happy).

It was a bit stressful as I had to put up £120 of my own money to pay for the hire of the venue BUT I made a small profit and had a ball.

Apart from a few short breaks over the summer and a couple when I couldn’t book the venue, I was putting on shows each month right up to April last year.

  1. We had some great shows and the audiences were the best.
  2. I got to meet some great artists.
  3. I was able to put on acts from out of town. Dirty Proper came from Texas!
  4. I NEVER MADE A LOSS. Although I got very close, one month I made £5 profit!
  5. I was able to pay the artists MOST of the time. See above plus some nights weren’t that busy and sometimes the artists didn’t want the £2.50

What I did I did out of desperation and the belief that if THE PROMOTER actually promotes the BRAND and not the BAND people WILL COME. Yes I didn’t make a load of money but then I am not NOT a promoter.

I know there are loads of great promoters out there but I think that they need to stop looking for artists to sell tickets, generally they (artists) are rubbish at it. We have to sort out songs and equipment and travel and parking and merch and a myriad of other things AND actually perform.

Plus, if you continually use that tired old model of bands selling tickets, you are starting fresh every time you put on a night, it’s crazy. When you book acts GET THE AUDIENCE TO SIGN UP TO YOUR MAILING LIST and YOUR TWITTER FEED. That’s what the bands are doing and they are taking their audience, the one they played to at your venue, with them.

And before you poo poo the raffle, that raffle often made the difference between loss and profit. The prizes were generally naff and donated by the artists and once included a bag of bagels…with one missing….from Grant Sharkey!

You might be thinking that I just got lucky and that the time was right, I got the right venue/area/artists.

Well.

A year later I did the same thing with the old magistrates court in Eastleigh and used the same methods to put on four very successful shows. One show in particular I managed to pay the artists over £60 each and they all sold cds!

Lucky?

I have now decided to use what I have learned to plug my own solo shows as …. I’m not a promoter!!

Nick Tann is a British singer/songwriter who, three years ago, took the plunge by quitting his job and becoming a full-time musician. He books all his own gigs, publishes and releases his albums, builds and maintain his own websites, produces a quietly popular independent music podcast called “Is This Thing On” and does all his own publicity… He even wrote this! You can see what he is up to by following him on Twitter @Nick_Tann and checking out www.nicktann.co.uk where you can see what all the fuss is about

Nick Tann

New Official Video

www.isthisthingonpodcast.com

Finding a comfort zone while speaking to audiences between songs is something that has been problematic for MANY singers and musicians and one of the big reasons many clients have approached me for performance training and production of their live shows.

Unfortunately a lot of artists don’t see how negatively this sort of thing can impact their performances. Nevermind for a moment that not being able to speak well can make a show feel less polished and professional in the eyes of your fans.

It can also result in you making LESS MONEY and getting LESS E-MAIL SIGN-UPS…both of which are the life blood of today’s independent artists.

So I spent a large portion of time over the past year-and-a-half exploring this very issue and looking for ways artists can improve at this extremely important, yet often neglected, skill. Asking questions, experimenting, testing some of the ideas on my own clients.

And it was amazing because it brought to the surface several things that nobody in the music industry was really talking about. That resulted in me putting together a series of three videos exploring speaking skills during live shows. Each video, around 15-minutes in length, tackles key points ranging from the way artists rehearse their shows to the manner in which they structure their sentences when pitching e-mail sign-ups.

The first video was posted nearly a month ago and the responses I received via e-mail and social media were fantastic! One of my favorite comments came from an e-mail subscriber who applied some of the concepts to her own performances and said, “what had seemed awkward and slightly terrifying in the past was actually fun and fluid.”

Set aside 45-minutes of your time and…watch…these…videos. They WILL help you!

Video 1:

Video 2:

Video 3:

ABOUT WADE SUTTON

Wade Sutton has dedicated his life to helping artists ditch their day jobs in favor of careers in music.

Serving as a live music producer and performance coach, Wade teaches singers and musicians how to turn their live shows into a kick-ass experience resulting in fans buying more merchandise and increasing e-mail sign-ups.

He also puts to use nearly twenty years of professional journalism experience by creating biographies and electronic press kits for singers and musicians while advising them on matters related to the media, public relations, and obtaining sponsorships.

You can receive a free digital copy of Wade’s book by clicking HERE.

I’m subscribed to Shannon Curtis’s email list.

And last month she shared what I consider to be an absolute perfect example of a fan engagement project.

Shannon invited her subscribers to participate in the first video for her upcoming album.

The premise was very simple: Just record a video of yourself in front of your computer holding up a piece of paper expressing your personal struggles.

The results were AMAZING!

It’s easy enough to put together a video like that. In fact, it can all be done inside YouTube’s own video editor.

The payoffs were:

-A Ton of Views. I can’t say the number because it’s still growing daily!

-Delighted Fans who are now connected to her musical community on a much deeper level. They are now more personally invested in her career, thus more eager to invest financially in her music.

-A Boost of Support for her Crowdfunding project.

-An Interactive Art Project that facilitates ongoing participation from her fans!

If You Consider Yourself A Musicpreneur:

You should definitely take a play from Shannon’s playbook and create an interactive, fan-participation video to dazzle, delight, and engage your fans right now!

And when you do, make sure to share it with the rest of us;)

[Tweet “May we all inspire each other to be the best that we can be!”]

The decline in album craft within the changing nature of the music industry…

The music industry has changed. We all know that. With the arrival of the digital age, the music industry has been all but completely redesigned. I’m not complaining (really) – I appreciate the freedom digital downloading gives us, and I’m not here to analyse the pros and cons of the current landscape. It is what it is, so let’s get on with it.

That being said I’m a bit of a chronological anomaly. Because I grew up listening to vinyl, buried in my parents record collections through my formative years, I developed an appreciation of the album as a complete experience. When all my friends were listening to Radio 1 and the singles chart, I was lying on the living room carpet with my head buried between the speakers listening to Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchel LPs. I have always felt a little out of step with the general population because of that (and possibly other oddities of my personality!:).

Coming back to the present day, one aspect of music making that I mourn, is the creation of album art. As a little girl, I dreamed of what album covers would be on my music when I grew up (and of being on Top Of The Pops), and by the time I had an album that needed album art, it was all but defunct. I enjoy going to the photo shoot for my new single release as much as the next girl, being primped by makeup artists, and leaving with my gorgeous new headshots, but the image now is to make a statement about the artist rather than the music itself. Through the necessity of social media, we have to become the pioneers of our own songs, and therefore the image has to enhance the personality rather than the music itself. I’m sure there are exceptions to this, (including my own artwork for my last album) but that`s how the general trend seems to me in any case. I’m not saying it’s wrong, it’s just the way things are at the moment.

However, being a vinyl enthusiast, I always loved it when the album art made a statement about the music as well as the band or artist. Joni Mitchell apparently hand painted all of her own album covers, Carole King embroidered the Tapestry, whereas The Beatles album cover for Revolver, designed by Klaus Voorman won a Grammy, and paved the way for the foursome to create the psychedelic Sergeant Pepper`s Lonely Heart Club Band era of music. Undeniably, the Sergeant Pepper album cover gives you a heads-up as to what to expect hear. An LP cover is large – 12″x 12″ – so to not use that space to make a statement about your music would be a wasted opportunity. There’s enough space for artwork to be much more detailed. Compare that with a thumbnail displayed on a downloads site of 150×150 pixels or smaller – the artwork clearly doesn’t perform the same function; there just isn’t room for it.

I suppose one could argue that the image of the artist nowadays is what gives you a heads-up – we can all probably tell the difference between a folk and a Hip-Hop artist from sight. Perhaps the onus is on us now to look like our sound; perhaps that thread has always been there to a greater or lesser extent. Yet if you google ‘live performance of I Feel The Earth Move’ you will find Carole King giving a full on rock and roll performance dressed like the ‘old Jewish housewife’ she claims she always felt like, even in her prime.

Whatever the reasons, consumers cannot deny that album artwork in its own right, has much less window space now. It’s even optional to download it with your purchase.

Some great artwork…

Here are some of my favourite album covers. I believe the thought-provoking nature of each of the images enhances our experience of the music as a whole.

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1) The Moody Blues – ‘In Search Of The Lost Chord’ – Whilst some might argue this is not an altogether pleasant image, it is disturbing, comforting and thought-provoking all at once, leading me to believe I will hear something rich and consuming.

IMG_0185

2) Joni Mitchell – ‘Ladies Of The Canyon’ – This simple image gives an impression of Joni’s face and upper torso in outline, holding what looks like canvas painted brightly with everyday objects, trees and a bright blue sky. This suggested to me breathability in production and songs about everyday life.

IMG_0186

3) The Beatles – ‘Revolver’ – as mentioned earlier, this was designed by Klaus Voorman, and is a combination of photographs and hand drawn portraits in collage. My impression of this as a bit of a Beatle-maniac, was that the complexity of the image compared to earlier albums reflected a development in the complexity of the songs. Tracks on Revolver delve into more topics touching on social issues like ‘Taxman’, ‘Doctor Robert’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’, braver and riskier than the earlier sing alongs ‘Love, Love Me Do’ and ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ we all know and love.

IMG_0184

4) Dire Straights – ‘Brothers In Arms’ – The resonator guitar floating up in the clouds always seemed to me to be a bit heavenly, almost worshipping it like a god. I concluded that the guitar would feature quite prominently on this album. I was not disappointed.

IMG_0183

5) Bon Jovi – ‘Keep The Faith’ – whilst I did not have this on vinyl, I immediately liked the image of several male hands of different creeds and colours overlaid in a gesture of brotherhood. it gave me the impression of overcoming hardships, and potentially friction. The title track ‘Keep The Faith’ opens the second verse with the lyric ‘Father, father, please believe me, I am laying down my guns’, the chorus carrying the message ‘don’t let your love turn to hate’. I don’t believe the song itself is as political or explicit as preaching racial acceptance, but the album cover alludes to it in my view.

DielleFearless

6) DiElle – ‘Fearless’ – I felt I had to include my own, most recent, interpretation of what the album art adds to an album, and what it says about the music. In this instance, I can only tell you what my intentions were – you can be the judge as to whether it says this or something else. The word ‘Fearless’ can be quite harsh, and conjure images of war and external conflict. By the use of a simple charcoal of a nude lady, lying peacefully, I hoped to make a statement that softened those edges, and also gave an impression of emotional rawness and simplicity of production. If you’re interested to hear, the US store link is here.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/dielle/id277996689

Viewing artwork…

I have a special picture frame for displaying album art, so we can hang it on the wall in our living room and admire it all the time. There used to be a booming trade in all kids of CD racks, because we used to love to have them on display.

Vinyl is making a bit of a retro comeback, and perhaps this is why. I do not believe it is because people prefer to listen to their music on a turntable over an iPod. Even the fuddiest of duddies have to admit it’s more convenient to listen to digitally, but we’re missing that lost experience of the physical connection between us and our music that means a lot to us. Having something to hold and look at is a huge part of that identity.

So the industry has changed, bringing new and exciting ways to make music that didn’t exist before. Some of us are just celebrating (and maybe clinging to) what once was 🙂

What are your favourite album covers? Please comment below.

@diellemusicuk

www.diellemusic.com

www.facebook.com/diellemusicuk

As the band was packing up, I brushed by and could hear the owner spouting his contorted excuses about why he couldn’t pay the guarantee. I’ve heard it all before and I’ve felt that crushing feeling of not knowing how I would make it to the next town because an owner or promoter let me down. I was glad it wasn’t me in that position that night.

That’s why it surprised me to see that Tony just nodded and smiled as he listened the news!

It all made sense twenty minutes later when I saw him packing up the merch booth. As he stuffed an impressive wad of cash into his guitar case, he gave me the most valuable piece of advice I ever heard on tour:

“Don’t rely on the promoters. As long as you put on a killer show and have killer merch, you’ll always have enough gas to make it to the next stop.”

The bottom line is that if you want to be a professional musician, you should have a solid merch setup and promote it effectively at your gigs. Because it might be the only money you make that night.

What constitutes a solid merch setup?

The first thing you need to consider when developing your merch strategy is who your fans are. It should go without saying, but you’d be surprised at some of the misdirected merch attempts I’ve seen. So make sure to offer items that your fans want.

Don’t assume you know. Ask them. Not only is it a great opportunity to engage with your fans, it’s a solid icebreaker topic if you’re shy about starting conversations with them.

The more you get your fans involved in the development of your merch the more eager they will be to buy it. In fact, fan-designed merch (especially t-shirts) almost invariably outsells everything else on the table.

The other thing you need to consider is who the purchaser or decision-maker is. A great example is children’s music. The kids may be the consumers, but the parents are the purchasers.

Although your shows may be filled with equal parts men and women, do the merch buyers tend to be from one group more than the other? Pay attention to that and provide merch that suits the buyers.

Set up your merch booth professionally! Here are some quick guidelines to make sure people know you mean business:

  • Have an actual, packable, portable, merch table. It should be part of your regular gear and kept with your amps and guitars to that it’s with you wherever you go. Invest in a banner and tablecloth or whatever else you need to make it look nice. The investment in a professional quality merch table will pay for itself almost immediately.
  • Make sure it is well lit. I like to use flexible tube lights with a spattering of blinky buttons. The merch booth should be second only to the stage in spotlight coverage.
  • Position it in a spot that is visible when coming and going. As close to the smoke-break route as possible.
  • Have someone stationed at the table during the show. Placing an honor-system bucket on the table while you’re on stage is not nearly as effective as having an actual person there who is motivated to sell. A cut of the profits is a great way to motivate someone. Don’t take advantage of your friend’s kindness to run your table for free. Cut them in and you’ll feel the results in our wallet. Pay your money-maker. Don’t treat them like crappy promoters treat you.
  • When you’re not on stage, be at the booth. Make sure that is the area to party with the band. Not backstage. You don’t make money there. Backstage is where you get swarmed by groupies that drink your beer and distract you from the show. If you bring that party up front, some of those groupies will probably leave with t-shirts and CDs instead of (insert dirty groupie joke here).
  • The merch table should be the last thing you tear down. Not only do people hate carrying stuff around all night, it’s at the end of the night that they cash out at the bar and have their credit cards in hand. PS: Accept credit cards.
  • Pay attention to profit margins. Please don’t do mental math. Keep track of ALL costs (including paying you merch girl). Even if you don’t have an advanced understanding of accounting, by keeping track of all the numbers you will learn to understand and optimize your profit margins.
  • Don’t over order. The money you save by purchasing 1,000 CDs does you no good while those CDs sit in your garage. You might need that money to re-up on t-shirts or flasks or get your guitar fixed. The profit from having more variety in your merch will make up for missing out on that bulk discount. Use companies that provide fulfillment-as-you-go like Kunaki for CDs. Support local business (like screen printers) whenever you can and you’ll find they will return the favor.
  •  

    How do I promote my merch effectively at shows?

    Now that you have a bunch of great merch and an attractive table, what can you do to get that stuff off the table and into the fans’ hands?

    If you want to be a professional musician, you’ve got to get out there and do your job. As with any other business “do your job” refers to more than making music.

    You are responsible for all the activities associated with turning your music into money. That’s the difference between a professional and a hobbyist.

    This is why it’s crucial that instead of basking in your rockstardom with a herd of groupies or hiding in seclusion backstage, you need to be where the money is being made. The math is pretty basic: As the star of the show, people will gravitate toward you. So be where they will spend money.

    What makes people want to buy? Here are some quick tips to help you move that merch:

  • Rotate your merch. Having the same stuff all the time discourages repeat buying. So switching it up and offering limited edition merch will go a long way. Anyone with a business degree knows that it costs 6 times more to get a new customer than a repeat customer. Since you probably don’t have a business degree, I reckon that’s an important statistic for me to share with you;)
  • Announce from the stage that you have merch AT LEAST twice per show. Here’s an idea to try: “This next song is from our new album, ‘___’! And until we finish playing it, ANY of our CDs will be available for $5! Just go talk to Jason at the Merch table!”
  • Price individual items higher than you think you should so that you can offer discounted bundles. “CD’s are $15 or 2 for $20.” Yes, this can even work if you only have one CD. People still buy music as gifts. Maybe even have some pre-wrapped gift editions on display to “plant the seed” in their minds.
  • Design, commission, or otherwise achieve really good album covers. Those still make a difference, but there are some new considerations. This image should look good on an MP3 player. So crazy, intricate designs don’t do well for that.
  • Don’t skimp on the quality of your merch (especially t-shirts). Your merch represents your music very directly and very publicly. You should want the world to know that you provide quality products (music AND merch), not that your out to make a quick buck.
  • Have a cool shirt. Unless your logo is so cool that it stands alone (Rolling Stones, Misfits) you have to spruce it up. Lyrics on t-shirts sell well (let your fans pick the lyrics). Also fan-designed shirts, as I mentioned before.
  • Display your awesome shirt on the stage. Drape it over a speaker. Have hot chicks wear your shirts and sell them right off of their backs (LITTERALLY)! Get women’s t-shirts and onesies (both very neglected yet highly in-demand products).
  • If someone buys a t-shirt, thank them form the stage. Point them out. “Look how cool Jerry is in his new t-shirt!” Buy him a beer. That’s a MUCH BETTER use of your drink tickets than getting wasted and falling off the stage. In fact…
  • Use your drink tickets to sell merch, NOT to get drunk. Some places will even sell you additional drink tickets super cheap. You can get pretty creative with that. Or you can simply hang out at the merch booth, mingle with fans, and buy drinks for people that buy merch.
  • Put a stack of CDs at the bar or cashier and make arrangements with the staff so that they can buy a CD when the pay their tab.
  • Have change on hand. It really bites to lose a sale because you couldn’t break a $20.
  •  

    Ultimately, it’s important to note that marketing is not sales. Marketing is all the stuff you put into presenting your products professionally, and effectively engaging with your fans so that they want to buy. This should be part of your whole thought process and routine.

    If you absorb that into how you manage your business, you’ll never have to ask for the sale, which I know is the hardest part…

Hello,

Finally found the time to write a blog again! It’s been a while since I’ve been trying to find ways of making an income from my music. London is very expensive and it doesn’t forgive mistakes. Definitely one of the hardest cities to live in. People run like crazy all day including me and it takes (in average) about 3 hours to go to work and back…plus don’t let me even get started with how expensive the underground is..if you visited London..I’m sure you noticed.. 🙂

Anyway it’s me babbling again!!! heheh Got to stop this and get to the point! So…
I’ve been living in London for more than 3 and a half years now, I changed several jobs, worked everywhere (restaurants mostly) and I’ve been a part time Sales assistant in a jewelry shop too since 2012. Needless to say that as an Artist I hated the job and it killed my creativity. There was nothing wrong with the job itself..but it wasn’t for me. I was literally coming back home from work and there was no life in my eyes.
If you hate your job…you know what I’m talking about. Anyway…this thing couldn’t go on and on anymore. I’ve been there for too long…almost 3 years. So I started pushing myself to think of new ways to improve my life.

If you know me, then you know I am present on my social networks and I interact with all my fans…a lot. I appreciate these people. These people care about me..and I care about them. We established a wonderful relationship. Ahhh the magic of the internet! So I thought…well the best way of making an income from my art is to give the opportunity to my fans to support me financially and thanks to the universe that works in mysterious ways.. a friend of mine introduced me Patreon. Patreon is a platform that gives the chance to people to support their fav artist! AMAZING, RIGHT? He has one himself by the way…his name is Tommy Darker and this is his Patreon page if you want to support him!

www.patreon.com/tommydarker

I started working on my Patreon page in the end of January 2015…and I took the risk to quit the Sales Assistant job hoping that my fans will be there holding the net to catch me as I fall. And guess what! THEY DID! I love these people so much!!!! I started contacting people about my Patreon on the 7th of March and just a week later I raised $482 from 25 patrons so far! It’s going great! I believe more people will jump in in the future and that probably means I will be making at least a basic living from my art.

The Way Patreon Works:

You choose one of the rewards…there are several amounts…you go with what you want. Even $1 is appreciated! You DO NOT get charged right away. You get charged ONLY when I post a creation (new song, cover song, lyrics, video etc). So for example if I don’t post anything for 3 months…you do not get charged. If I post a creation once a month (which is my goal) then you get charged once a month. You can edit/cancel your pledge anytime you want! I love Patreon already and here’s to a great new beginning with more Art from me that I hope will enrich your lives and make you feel good when you listen to it!

Pledging on Patreon is a Win Win situation! You support an artist financially..and you get exclusive rewards back!

Support your favourite artists. It’s the only way for you to keep getting more of the Art you enjoy/like!! This is my Patreon page by the way if you want to support:

www.patreon.com/hellena

Many many thanks for reading this! I appreciate each and every one of you showing support.

With love and positivity,

Héllena.

Héllena is a Greek independent artist, currently residing in London, trying to make a sustainable living from her Art without having to sell out. If you want to contact her and exchange ideas here are few links where you can find her. Say hi, she won’t bite 😀

Website: www.hellenaofficial.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theartisthellena

Twitter: www.twitter.com/helenamicy

 

Performance video is something that I readily place in the category of Very Good Things™. Why try to describe the experience of your show to someone when you can just show them? In HD. Over the Internet.

Seriously, it’s a no-brainer.

The argument for it, I mean.

What IS a “brainer” is the process of actually filming a performance. Especially if you’re trying to do it at a professional level, interfacing video production with the normal production of the show is not necessarily a trivial thing. To be brutally frank, shooting video (really shooting it, I mean) is a disruptive addition to the performance. Even if there’s only one video craftsperson involved, what has suddenly happened is that there is a whole new layer of crew at the show. These people have their own needs for space, power, audio, and lighting, and those needs don’t always line up neatly with everything else.

This is not a bad thing. It does NOT mean that video is evil. It does mean, though, that trying to do a serious job with video at your show requires a lot more than just having a person with a good camera on hand.

Advanced Notice, Advanced Arrival

One thing that really grinds my gears as an audio human is the sudden appearance of a “pro” camera operator with the show only minutes away from downbeat.

What grinds my gears even more is the sudden appearance of video after the show has already started.

It’s not because they have a camera, or are taking up space. That’s just life. What bugs me, though, is that they have a knack for needing things from me, in a hurry, during a “pressure situation.”

“Is there any extra power, dude?”

“Where’s an okay place to put my tripod, dude?”

“Can I get a board-feed, dude? I have adapters for [literally everything except what would actually make it easy].”

What I want to say in reply is, “There was a convenient time for all of this to get sorted out. That time was roughly two hours ago. Other things are currently demanding my attention. Why did nobody tell me you were coming, and why could you not manage to be on time?”

I don’t say that of course, but the desire is very strong.

Anyway.

The point is that knowing about video’s arrival in advance is more than just courtesy – it’s extremely helpful in making it possible for me to be useful to the video crew. If I know that video is coming, and have some general idea of what they need, then I can “do some homework” and be ready to interface smoothly with both them and you. If I don’t know that video humans are on their way, and I have no specific clues about what they might need, then assisting with any issues will very likely require me to interrupt some other production task so that I can “babysit.”

Ask yourself: When the pressure’s on, do you want me to paying full attention to your show and your needs on deck, or do you want me to be splitting my focus between you and an unprepared video dude with non-trivial issues?

Further, the video crew being able to show up with lots of time to spare has a VERY large bearing on how much can be done to accommodate their needs. I have no problem finding extra power, discussing camera placement, changing stage layouts, tweaking light-cue choices, and digging around for appropriate audio I/O…if it’s all being done with lots of time (say, one or two hours) before the doors open. If the show is minutes away from happening – or in the process of actually happening – I’m going to do the minimum possible to get video out of my hair. It’s not that I don’t want to do more, it’s that I CAN’T do more when other things are at the top of the priorities list.

To be blunt, shooting video for later presentation is not on the critical path for making a show happen. If getting video squared away threatens the execution of tasks on the critical path, video is going to get ignored until such time as the critical path is completed.

It’s A Personnel Problem

So, what’s the overarching principle here? In my mind, it’s pretty simple: When finding someone to shoot high-quality video of your show, the key thing to look for is professional people, as opposed to professional gear.

Now, I’m not saying that decent cameras and “pro-level” ancillaries aren’t necessary. They are. But what has to be realized is that the only thing required to get one’s hands on a good video camera is money. There are lots of folks with the money for very nice cameras, but who have no clue about how to be a functional part of the chaotic vortex that is live music. It’s much the same as a high-performance car. There are plenty of people driving around in Lamborghinis who simply could not handle themselves competently in a real race.

If you want to do pro-level video at your show, look for videographers who will do some real homework with you about what you want and need, ask technical questions of you and the venue, and arrive at an appropriately early time in order to get everything sorted out in practice. Sometimes, people like this will have the very latest and greatest gear, and sometimes they won’t.

It doesn’t matter if a person has a cinema-grade 4K camera. Understanding how to function as a professional at a live show is make-or-break factor. Everything else is gravy. If you want to make a killer video of your show, my advice is to find professional attitudes first. You can always fork over some extra cash to have those truly varsity-level-attitude video humans equipped with high-end gear.

But professional poise is not something that I’ve ever seen on a list of rental stock.

I was invited by Yann Ilunga to have a conversation about how applying entrepreneurial principles to your music career can carve your path to success.

You’ll love this one because there are tidbits that you can apply to your career and see results right away!

And check out The Jazz Spotlight for more great conversations with leaders of the independent music movement;)