Monday, January 25, 2010

Music Is A State of Being

I've been resisting creating a blog for a long time. There's way too much to read these days. Yet, the announcement that LiveNation/Ticketmaster got approval to merge creates a monopoly on the arena experience. This coincides with a blog post Derek Sivers wrote about Seth Godin who is telling musicians they need to sell a concert experience. Radiohead, announced at Midem the entire music industry is operating on an analog music model in a digital world; and piracy is not the root of all evil.

This is nirvana for independents! The world's largest promoter and ticket agency have a monopoly that restricts them financially from promoting shows in smaller more intimate venues. Godin says creating an intimate concert experience is what indies must sell. Then Radiohead says the analogue system doesn't work in a digital world. What could be better news on a Monday in January in the music biz?

With a little imagination indies can plan taking advantage of all of today's news and put together a blueprint of interesting ways to be with your fans in any city.

Forget about clubs, cover prices, guarantees, posters, and advertising. Invite your fanbase via postcard or email to an open field for a few tunes at sundown and a potluck dinner where everyone contributes. This builds relationships between you and your audience. It builds community within your fan base.

Set up an event at a local winery with a winetasting and just a few tunes before you - the artist - hang out with your fans sipping local wines. The audience pays for the experience of hanging out with you. It builds community around you within your audience, and a relationship with the winery.

Send an un-invitation to your debut arena show. People will pay not to hassle with parking, high ticket prices, high food and beverage prices. Find a great spot indoors or out that will hold 100-200 people. Play a few tunes then mingle with the attendees over microbrews or whatever is appealing.

Find a rural dance or grange hall and invite local fans to a BYOB gig where everyone can dance. House concerts rocked all regions of the country in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There was a great sense of pride being included in the event due to the intimate setting. It was partcipation that ignited excitement. Being a spectator isn't all that unique among 10,000 to 20,000 people.

The idea of a concert performance was established hundreds of years ago, when the ONLY way to hear music was to attend a live music event. All music was acoustic...there wasn't electricity.
The only reason you need amps is so everyone can hear instruments that are plugged in. If the audience is small, you don't need amps, mics, and monitors can probably hear a pin drop between the notes if you are playing really great music.

Create acoustic settings with analog technology. The digital process edits all the warmth out of music played in any setting. It's taken the digital world about 25 years to finally destroy how music has been presented to the public for centuries. And that fatal flaw has caught up to a greedy industry that doesn't know where to turn next.

Music is a state of being for the listener as well as the performer. Create unique and unforgettable experiences for your audience. When you let them participate they will tell their friends; who will tell their friends. The experience should not be an exercise in self-indulgence. Music is meant to be shared and to bring them together.

Folk legend, Pete Seeger said, "Participation will save the human race." Right now, the human race can use all the help it can get.


  1. So true...back to is meant to be heals...

  2. Wonderful post. People get so worked up about drawing a bigger crowd at bigger venues. This has really made me rethink the way I promote and conduct my shows.


  3. OMG!

    I read this post and the hairs stood up on my arms.

    I was thinking how good your ideas are. Socially - but also financially - for indie artists.

    A musician friend of mine asked me my opinions as an online dude how he could go about marketing/selling his CD online.

    They have the usual fan pages and a CD for sale on one of the ecommerce sites but as I was reading this post, I was envisining how may times I'VE bought something online (VERY FEW TIMES) vs. buying something after a performance of some kind (MANY TIMES!).

    I think your model is THE new model for indie artists. Yes it's a ot of work but so is setting up an ecommerce site and at the end of the day which one is likely to sell more CDs? A cold ecommerec page - or a warm initimate venue where you are connecting with your target audience.

    In fact, I think I saw reference on Seth Godin's site to a post or a book called "Small is the new BIG" so Janet - I thnk you cracked this nut wide open and got nothin' but sweet!

    Thanks for this - gonna pass this post along to my buddy to take a look for himself!

    Cheers - and as Jesse Jackson says - "Keep Hope Alive!"

    - Don