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Editorials

The Bridgetown Comedy Festival Experience! A review by Randall Lawrence

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Bridgetown Comedy Festival has been over for a few weeks now and I’m just now recovered from it. You have to understand, 5 straight days of comedy will give you a bit of sleep-deprived delirium and the occasional stand-up flashback. When attending BCF, it’s easy to forget that it’s 2am and you’ve been running from venue to venue for hours on end, catching two thirds of each show, cramming copious amounts of fast food into your face and being in pain over how much your stomach hurts from laughing. It’s also easy to forget that you have work in the morning – getting 3 hours of sleep every night for 5 straight nights is not exactly rejuvenating for the body. I also have a deep respect for new parents – my sleep deprivation was of my own volition. They, on the other hand, do not have any say in the matter of a full night’s sleep.

Now that you’re aware of the struggle, I want to touch on a few of the highlights that I’m pretty stoked about when it comes to this festival I just had the privilege of taking part in. The first I’ve talked about before: Earthquake Hurricane. This show happens regularly at the Velo Cult Bike Shop in Northeast every Wednesday at 9pm. The guests that they had including Solomon Georgio, David Gborie and Greg Behrendt were absolutely stellar, absolutely nothing short of the quality they deliver weekly.

Next is Lez Get Together. This show, hosted by the wonderful Caitlin Weierhauser took place at Bunk Bar Water and featured wonderful comedians such as Whitney Streed and Kate Willett. I’d go through the rest of the list of comedians to give them props but, unfortunately, I had to dip out for the next show.

Third, the Secret Headliner show at Bunk Bar Water featured a couple of my new favorite comics. First was Mia Jackson who took on a wonderful observation of relationships and communication within them. Nick Dixon from northern England delivered material that he wasn’t sure would land here in Portland, but had the entire audience doubled over in laughter. The secret headliner, Clayton English, brought the house down for the night, sending everyone home with aching sides.

Fourth on my list is a wonderful podcast, touching on the “politically correct” movement that we’re oh so familiar with in Portland. Unsafe Space, hosted by Lou Perez and Toby Muresianu featured Portland’s own Bri Pruett (Earthquake Hurricane, Let’s Do It with Bri Pruett) as well as Baron Vaughn (Conan, Grace and Frankie) as well as Teela Foxworth (Communications Professor at Highline College) and Charlie Hinkle (former cooperating attorney with the ACLU and teacher of first amendment law at Lewis and Clark Law School). The podcast expertly focused on civil rights issues, PC culture and white privilege in relations to stand-up comedy and television, forcing the comics to have the uncomfortable conversations needed to drive the conversation of trigger words, gender pronouns and stereotyping in a progressive, forward-thinking direction.

Lastly, and I’ll keep this short, was the closing show, The Dirty 30. 30 comics took the stage and were given 3 minutes to tell their dirtiest material. Highlights were Sean Jordan, Matt Braunger, Martin Urbano, Shane Torres and Casey Ley. What a fantastic way to close out this festival.

In closing, go to BCF 2017. It is well worth the ticket price for the general admission wristband. If you’re okay with being really tired for the reward of seeing absolutely hilarious comics, meeting wonderful comedy connoisseurs and exploring the great venues this city has to offer, then Bridgetown Comedy Festival is absolutely what you should be doing with your life.

Portland Notes wishes for a cloning device: June 11 Shows are too good!

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This is simply a wish list of all the places I wish I could be tonight – if you can make it to any of these amazing shows, I would love to see your photos and hear your impressions!

Saturday, June 11

Portland-Notes-wishes-for-a-cloning-device-01Yonder Blue performs classic country with a 3 woman vocal lead and killer instrumentals. They’ll be at Tidbit Food Farm and Garden 6:30PM ALL AGES FREE Show! The musical party is at a community and arts-minded food cart pod. 2880 SE Division Street, Portland.

Portland-Notes-wishes-for-a-cloning-device-02Dylan Lee Johnston closes his weekly residency at McMenamin’s Al’s Den. Johnston brings Alaskan roots based Rock and Roll to the stage with local guests New CD is available at the 7-10 PM show. FREE 302 SW 12th Avenue, Portland.

Portland-Notes-wishes-for-a-cloning-device-03My Happy Pill rocks you on the dance floor at the Wild Hare Saloon. Singer/Songwriter Bryan Podwys will get you moving and engaged – Show is 8:30 start time. This is a dance party show with lively tunes! 1656 Beavercreek Rd, Oregon City.

Portland-Notes-wishes-for-a-cloning-device-04The Adio Sequence releases their new CD at the Analog cafe. With big dance beats, hybrid rock/R&B rhythms, funk guitar, and solid pop rock vocals, The Adio Sequence promises to do what they have always done best: get you moving. Tickets available online $10 Ticket link lists 9PM as start time. 720 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland.

Portland-Notes-wishes-for-a-cloning-device-05Santiam releases their new CD at the Laurelthirst with New Zoos Santiam offers a contrasting spectrum of indie rock songs inspired by Folk and Americana, all designed to be intrinsically dance-able. 9:30 PM, $5 cover. 2958 NE Glisan Street, Portland.

I’ve never had a day that held so many shows that I wanted to see. Portland Notes will be at Laurelthirst Public House to interview Santiam (LOVE this band!), but we wish every one of these bands a hugely successful show – so much talent in one city!

Promotion for the big show – timing is everything!

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I promised to gather some information on the timing of show promotion – I’ll give you what I know, but there is no shortcut. If you’re a local band, you’re  going to have to send emails and make phone calls to get people off their couches. In order to time your promotions well, you need to be thinking as a project manager with your show being the project. There are long-term and short-term issues, and everything needs to be coordinated. I would actually create a calendar with days marked for various types of promotional activity.

Timing-is-everything-02SOCIAL Media: there’s a great podcast about how to maximize social media with comments from Jason Fellman of J-Fell Presents and advice from an expert panel of marketing and booking experts. – the podcast, gathered at the mogo Musician Marketing Meetup specifically deals with the art of Facebook promotion. Fellman also discusses how important it is to gather emails at every show. Social media marketing is not enough – it gets people talking…via text…from their couches. As far as timing for this kind of promotion, I would recommend a month ahead, followed by a week ahead, and then a day ahead. Be sure to include all FB groups who are looking for this kind of content. Think about how you plan your events. I, for example, like to put events on my calendar about 2-4 weeks out, but I determine where I am going about a week before I finalize plans.

CONTACT interested parties: Friends, family and fans want to be excited with you – Share ASAP after details are confirmed. Word of mouth is king – talk about the show constantly, invite everyone you know, and be prepared to hand out a few comp tickets to potential new fans you meet in your travels. Follow up with an email or text about 10-14 days before your event (depending on how close you are to the invitee) If you don’t have an email contact list, start building one…yesterday.

Timing-is-everything-01VENUE Promotion: as soon as you have your details verified, forward all information to the venue. They are working on promo up to several months ahead of the date. Ensure that all information is correct, and submit. Have a contact person, and follow up to find out exactly what they are doing to promote – including the timing. Always link to your venue in social media. I would say good timing for this is simply ASAP. Provide posters if you have them, and check in every week to see if more are needed.

LOCAL CALENDAR Promotion: as soon as you have talked to the venue, and confirmed where they are putting their promotional efforts, it’s time to submit your event to all local calendars. A press release rarely works. You’ll need to research all local magazines, newspapers, online event sources, radio stations and television stations that might promote concerts. Usually, you can find a way to input your own event on their calendars. Again, good timing is ASAP after you have confirmed your details. Check out Vortex Music Magazine’s calendar and artist directory.

Timing-is-everything-04RADIO and TV Promotion: If you can, schedule an interview or a drop in session with a local DJ 1-2 weeks in advance of your show date. This means you will be needing to reach out about 2-3 ½ months ahead of your show. Press releases alone will not work. For really cool shows like Robert Richter’s Local RootsPDX Spotlight, and Scott Hammond’s Radio Hot Tub – you need to be reaching out more like 5-6 months in advance. KNOW your local media – we are all very accessible.

PRESS RELEASES: Research where to submit them before sending them! Go to the media source’s website and learn their desired submission  process. 6-8 weeks ahead of time gives them time to read your release, listen to your music, and post your event. It’s much better to submit a personalized release to someone you know at the media outlet. Don’t know anyone? Well, that’s a good place to start ASAP. I suggest you look at staff listings for radio stations/tv stations, and find a new friend. ASAP…

POSTERS and HANDBILLS: Posters are tricky, and depend on where you are putting them. Most businesses turn their bulletin boards over every 3-4 weeks, so  you’ll need to ask. If you don’t, your poster might come down a week before the show, which would be awful!  Posters are stolen from venues, so you must keep checking in to make sure they are up. Handbills are an easy way to get your show information displayed. I usually get those out 3-4 weeks ahead of the show as well.

LAST MINUTE: Radio stations can sometimes give you a final plug for your show, especially if you’re willing to come in at their convenience. Contact the station or a DJ you know, and see if they have time for a quick drop in or just an on-air mention. Final FB, Instagram and Twitter posts are good a few days in  advance. Portland Radio Project does a great job of promoting local shows, even without a lot of notice. .

DON’T DISAPPEAR between shows: another great article, this time from Vortex Music Magazine, talks about what to do between events to keep the momentum going. I know this information might seem very general – that’s because your band is unique, and I’d be happy to talk to any of you individually about what might work best for you with your particular fan base.  Each show is different, and every individual has a certain way they like to choose events. You cannot change that, but you can adapt. Ask your group of friends and family when they like to be contacted right when you announce your show date. Listen, and follow up accordingly.

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Why Don’t People Come to My Shows?

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Hey Musicians! You know I love you. You are creative, sensitive, generous, and easily distracted. You are proud and insecure at the same time, knowing exactly who you are, and trying to share yourself without revealing too much. It’s a full time job making something delicious out of the creative juices – I get it. However, in all your beautiful complicated process, I find that you might be overlooking a few simple ideas that could make a difference. I’ll try to explain, from the perspective of someone who tries desperately to help you help yourself. For example, we have a wonderful youth showcase coming up next week on Saturday May 28 – has anyone told you about it? Do you know the bands? I’ve written bios on all of them…but, of course you don’t know them, for the same reasons they do not know you…

Why-Don’t-People-Come-to-My-Shows-04Let’s start at the core of the issue – you create a product called music. To you, the product is personal and completely unique. You put time, money, heart and soul into conceiving and giving birth to it. It’s a snapshot of you at a given point in your life. However, to the average music fan, your product is simply “music.” Most listeners cannot tell if you know how to play your instrument, if it’s even you playing, or if you ran your entire vocal through auto-tune. When I hear people getting ready to go out, this is what they say – “Let’s go hear some live music…” They don’t say, let’s go hear a certain band or even a certain type of music. They want an experience – usually happy hour prices and good company are at the forefront. The music is an incidental. They just don’t always know what they’re doing, especially with so many seemingly random music events happening on any given night. How do you get those same people to say “Let’s go hear (insert your band name here…)”?

Why-Don’t-People-Come-to-My-Shows-05Well – what makes your version of music, for example, different from mine? YOU! What’s your story? Bands are loved because of their corporate personality – memorable because of a feeling shared by audience members at an event or connectivity when listening. And this makes sense – because again, your music is YOU. Where am I going with this? I want you to be recognized by name for the unique and personal product you created with your blood, sweat and tears. You want to be known for your message and the intent behind it. If you don’t know what your message or intent is, find someone who knows you and ask them to help you put it into words. You must be able to present your purpose if you want to be remembered.

1) When you promote a show, think about what gets you into a front row, dancing and clapping…why do you choose one show over another? Connection to the music or connection to the band, right? How do you create that bond with listeners? You need to be sharing your story, and other people in your life need to be inspired to share your story too. Invite your friends and family to your shows the same way you’d invite them to a surprise birthday party for your best friend – personally! Your show is a party that you are hosting – let people know their presence will be appreciated. When someone feels personally invested in your show, they will invite their friends. When someone knows why your music is important to you, and feels that their presence matters, they’ll make you a priority.

2) Always take the opportunity to share your story with someone who will repeat it. This means that you’ll need to be open to having conversations with radio stations, newspapers, magazines, fans, promoters, businesses, and friends about your music and WHY you are inspired to create it. Use your creativity to “show your work”, as it were. Know your story. Believe your story. Live your story. And…if you are lucky enough to have an article written about you, a television show feature, a radio show interview, a podcast, or any kind of press – share it just like you want people to share your music. Someone took the time to research you, record your story, and give you a gift to help you in your journey. Recognize the value of the alliance and reciprocate. Industry professionals talk, and we share our feelings about you.

Why-Don’t-People-Come-to-My-Shows-013) Work with your venue to help create an identity for your band. Find out their promotional strategy for your event, visit the venue and meet the staff, leave posters, make an impression. When they post or publish your event, SHARE IT! The venue is another ally in your musical journey. Link to articles, podcasts, reviews, tv appearances when you share your event – educate people about WHO you are. If you can get the venue talking about you to regular customers, that is huge! What a great way to attract a new audience. Some, but not nearly all, of the media in the area who strive to create shareable content for you are PDX Spotlight, Local Roots, Portland Radio Project, Oregon Music News, Vortex Music Magazine, Willamette Week, Portland Mercury, She Shreds Magazine, The Bus Stop, Ter’s Tunes, Sounds of PDX, The Portland Playlist, and Songs From the Source.

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Please feel free to leave comments and questions. I also encourage you to participate in the MusicPortland.org Census to voice your opinion. For other articles about music and music promotion, search Portland Notes and Vortex Music Magazine.

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Event Etiquette – Creating an industry fan base

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In doing what I do, I have an interesting perspective when watching bands plan and promote an event. I get to watch the event unfold from conception to delivery, and also experience it as an audience member. Having also been a musician, I additionally have had the pleasure of participating in the process. From this unique position, I would like to offer some advice to performers, in hopes that those who are taking the business seriously will take THEIR business seriously, leave a good impression everywhere they appear, and make money doing so.

Working with venues

When a venue agrees to host your show, they are taking a risk. Their intent is to be profitable – if they make money, guess who else takes home a check? YOU do! Know your contract, and be aware of what steps you can take to help the venue promote your show. When you are booking, ensure that you have a good contact point. Be prepared to communicate professionally by email and phone – respond promptly and concisely. Here are some things to consider, remembering that doing as much venue research as possible ahead of time will please the booker tremendously. Asking questions that will help you and the venue pull off a successful event is very important!

  • Who is providing promotional posters/street team?
  • Will the event be advertised online?
  • Who creates the event?
  • What is the process and timing for online promotion?
  • Where is the ticket link?
  • Have you communicated the bill order?
  • Have you communicated your stage plan and gear needs?
  • How are you being paid?
  • What can you do to assist the venue?

Working with media

I strongly suggest making connections in the industry. Find a local radio DJ, writer, or just an active music lover who you can brainstorm with. Everyone in the industry shares about bands who excite them. Many musicians make great music, but how do you get people talking?

  • Plan ahead – when you book an event, share ASAP once the venue gives you the go-ahead
  • Share creatively in social media – there are many Facebook groups designed for this purpose
  • Submit your band to artist directories throughout town
  • Submit your event to media calendars in the area
  • Share your music with media – email teasers and links, offer availability to meet
  • Be prompt in answering media inquiries
  • Provide correct, updated information – make it easy to cut and paste from your web presence
  • Follow up – this is a business relationship that can develop into a partnership for future events

At the Show

This is the opportunity to seize the day, build momentum, and keep people talking! It’s not over when you leave the stage – it is the launching pad for your next steps.

  • Love your venue – appreciate all staff! Sound technicians, servers, hosts. Be grateful.
  • Smile – just do it. This is fun!
  • Interact with your audience before, during and after the show. It just takes a second to make a friend…or an enemy
  • Thank everyone for the opportunity to share your message and speak from your heart.
  • Be confident and talk about your next plans. Everyone is interested.
  • Have merchandise, business cards, ways to stay connected
  • Have an email sign up list
  • Stay for the whole show, appreciate your teammates for the event.

As a musician with a gig, you have a voice and a platform to share it – take advantage of all opportunities to create an enjoyable experience with everyone in the process. From the moment you start thinking about an event, think about how you can make your band stand out as professional, friendly, and a joy to work with. The key is to encourage others to help you promote by making it easy and fun to work with you.