SYLT: Either you are or you Aren’t; and You Do or you Don’t.Written by Kc Saint John | | SYLT@toledofreepress.com
Many times you find this quote coming off my lips as I work with developing talent. And what it means is basically this; Either you do or you don’t have talent –- and that really doesn’t matter if you have passion and are out doing it. Often you will find some of the most talented musicians and artists becoming complacent in there own happy little bubble and they may never leave it, and we can’t make them. Thus leaving the stage of life open to whoever picks up the microphone and as we sometimes see the most successful have what I would call, less than adequate talent –- at least for what we deserve. All I have to say is that they are Doing it. Why aren’t you Doing it too?
Know your environment. This goes for any talent in any city. Toledo is a nice size city to start working with, but don’t overwork it. An all original band that I may develop would be encouraged to play only once every 5 to 6 weeks in Toledo. This allows time for practice for a tight, flawless performance and allows time for proper promotion. Now this does not mean that the band plays only once every month and a half, it just means Toledo only sees the band once during that time. Every weekend should be a gig; Fort Wayne, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus are all reasonable options. Toledo is centrally located which make everything possible.
So let’s say you are a young fresh band (visual artist’s can use same approach), and you got your first gig at the bar, and it went well. At the next band meeting over coffee and cigarettes. what do you talk about? First you set goals, Short term and then long term. Get everyone on the same track. Then plan your attack. Start with what bands would you love to open for? Start aiming high. Then start looking at surrounding cities at where your music would fit in, clubs, events, venues, ect. As you find that, start making lists of the places you would like to perform, and the other talent that is already performing there. Start looking at who may be a good gig swap for your band to perform with. Start a relationship. Gig Swap. You may not be ready to play the Grog Shop or St Andrews, but you should definitely see a show there, and meet the staff; if they like you as a person, they will back you even if your music is not their style. Many hands make for light work and I am sure you are like me, I always like working with a good team.
Now see what we just did. You just set up a network. You are now in the scene. You are just short of setting up your own tour. And it is essential to do this.
On the business side of it, as you make a name for yourself, the music stores are more likely to display a poster and the media is more likely to mention your show and every promoter gets excited about an act that is already playing other parts of the country.
On the performing side, playing on the road allows you to get real feedback from real people. If your songs are sh!t, do you really think your friends are really going to tell you? Probably not. Playing these ‘cold crowds’ will give true feed back, build a tough skin, and give you experience. Also take full advantage of these performances to build your content with photos, videos and recordings. How can you have a “Live in Chicago” EP if you don’t play Chicago. Get out of Dodge. You may capture a memorable free jam or a flawless rendition you can put on You Tube. The more you play the better you get !!
I want to close with a quote from an old Chicago friend and his philosophy on touring in a nut shell. This is Martin Atkins from an old Rock Star Journalism interview.
Atkins: The first time through, you’re generating smoke. If you don’t do something with that smoke, it dissipates. People’s memories are short. You’ve got to be better the second time to seem as good as you were the first time to the people who already saw you. Then you need to go back the third time to have those people bring their other friends and the guy from the paper who couldn’t come the first time. Then you’ve gotta tour the fourth time because if you don’t, that good review is wasted because you haven’t turned it into some t-shirt sales.