Breaking my over two month podcast absence, I interview Nashville stand-up comic and host of Middle Tennessee State University’s Comichameleon, Will Nolan. We delve deep into many personal details of his life that many people might find shocking and distasteful, but I sure as hell found them to be amusing.
I conducted my first ever radio interview recently with Baylee Kuss and Rick Perry from Ashes Of Folly because the three of us have put together a band and have begun writing songs together. The interview was performed on 88.3 FM in Murfreesboro, WMTS.
Thanks for checking out the return of the Joseph West Podcast. Joseph discusses the potential for jazz’s popularity in Nashville, ponders the repercussions Sony’s robot composing music, reviews the new George Carlin album “I Kinda Like It When A Lotta People Die,” and plays music from local bands Blind Breed and RJ And The Del Guapos.
A pop-punk/punk rock band from Knoxville, TN, Bad Idols stopped by Murfreesboro to appear on The Joseph West Podcast and debut a brand-new song titled “Fly Away.” We discuss the logistics of booking a cross-country tour, DIY ethics in the modern music scene, and much more.
I have been lucky enough to be a performer of music for over six years. In this time, I have seen a number of musicians, both experienced and amateur act in ways that are not professional and courteous in a live music setting. I have compiled a list of some of the most important rules of etiquette for gigging musicians.
- Move Your Gear Quickly – Musicians of every caliber seem to struggle with this rule. Be it the drummer disassembling their entire set on stage, or guitar players waiting until the band before them has finished before moving their amps out of their cars, I have seen countless musicians spend longer moving equipment than they spend performing. When this happens, not only does the crowd lose interest in your band, but they lose interest in all of the other bands. It also causes frustration for the other musicians, the sound person, and the owner of the venue. Simply put, move your gear inside as soon as you arrive at the venue, assemble it before you move it on stage, and move it off stage as quickly as possible. You’ll have time to disassemble and pack your gear once you’re out of the way of the next band.
- Be On Time – This falls in the same area of courtesy as the first rule. When you’re not on time, everybody else at the show has to wait for you to catch up. Arrive when told to by the venue. If they do not tell you a time, ask. If the venue seems casual, get there when the doors open or at least an hour before your set time.
- Meet The Sound Person – Here’s a piece of advice that was given to me by an early music mentor, Tony DeLaRosa. “The Sound guy is your best friend.” Any time that a venue has a sound person, make sure to introduce yourself and thank him for doing his job. He will often also take this chance to ask you about the specifications of your band. While more professional venues will require a stage plot, at the basic level, you should at least know how many mics you’ll need, if your band has backing tracks, the genre of your group, and what instruments everyone plays. By meeting with the sound person, you can not only establish a good connection, but also make sure that the venue knows all of your technical requirements.
- Keep Your Gear In One Spot – As a band, it is to your personal benefit to keep your gear in a tight and small area of the venue. Check with the venue to see where you should store your equipment and make sure everyone in your band keeps their gear together in a way that uses up little floor space. This not only helps keep you from forgetting and losing gear, but gives the other bands room to store their equipment as well.
- Thank The Venue – Both on stage and in person, it’s important to let the venue know that you appreciate them letting you play. This applies regardless if you’re getting paid or you have played the venue before. Not only does this increase the likelihood of the venue calling you to play again, but also gives you a chance to tell people to get a drink, tip the servers, etc.
- Ask About Merchandise – Once your band has merch, it’s always a good idea to check with the venue to see where you can set up a merch table. It’s an even better idea to bring your own table and merch person instead of having to rely on the venue for these things. Once you get to high-level shows, some venues will start taking a percentage of your merch sales. Be sure this is discussed and settled before you arrive at the venue.
- Stay For The Other Bands – It should be noted that I do not stay for every single band that plays with me. However, I always make an effort to watch a couple of the bands. I can say from experience that when bands see you in the crowd enjoying their music, they are far more likely to stay and enjoy your music. This is even more true when you take the time to go see a band when you’re not performing with them. The general rule of thumb is that you should stick around for as many bands as you will enjoy seeing. It never hurts to build connections.
- Ask The Venue – Always take the time to talk to people who own the venue. Before the show, discuss payment, tips, merchandise, load-in, soundcheck and anything else you can think of. The day of the show, ask where to load gear, where to place merch, and other details that might be important the day of the show. It is better to make sure every question is answered before you get on stage. Anything that is left up in the air is going to come back to hurt you.
For beginner musicians, check out the video below for information on how to get your band ready for the stage.
This episode may be a few days late due to sickness, but it features a review of the new Descendents album “Hypercaffium Spazzinate,” Joseph and Baylee’s album of the week segment, and music from a great Michigan band named The Plurals.
A Nashville-based Progressive Metal band, Chariot The Moon strives to combine their various influences to create a new sound that is both commercial and challenging to the listener. The band shares some of their stories, discusses the shorter attention span of the modern audience, and more.
In the music industry, most people simply do not have the time to thoroughly investigate your band. No talent buyer or A&R executive is going to browse all of your social media and listen to your band’s full EP before deciding if they want to work with you. Because of this, it is imperative to build a solid Press Kit. In the old days, this was an envelope stuffed with a your band’s demo, a few promotional photos and a biography of the group. But thanks to modern technology, the Press Kit has now become the Electronic Press Kit (EPK) and can easily be sent for free.
First, some examples:
Before you even start working on your EPK, it would serve you well to explore some different styles and arrangements for this page. I found a format that works well for me after quite a bit of research. You can look at my website or my band’s website to check out my style. In my high school group, one of our dads put together this EPK to help us with booking.
How do you build one?:
There is a number of websites that allow you to design a press kit for free online. ArtistECard and ReverbNation are both extremely easy to use, but leave you with very little room for customization and a weak URL (such as artistecard.com/SARtheband). I would recommend these services if you need a press kit IMMEDIATELY and simply do not have the time to learn a more complicated system. These sites are great for putting something together to impress local bars and restaurants, but if you want to be taken seriously by professionals, you need something a bit more substantial.
WordPress and Tumblr are both blogging websites and basically offer the most customization possible without you learning to code. Yet again, you might be stuck with a weak URL unless you are willing to pay, but the extra amount of customization can help make your EPK look more professional and impressive to people in the industry.
What needs to be included?:
Biography: In my opinion, this is the most important part of the EPK. Whether you write the bio yourself or get a fan of your group to do it, the bio is where you get to explain what sets your band apart. Make sure that you tell a story and make your band seem profitable and marketable. This is really the best chance that your group gets to sell itself to the viewer. It’s best to keep your band’s bio to only a few paragraphs to prevent reader boredom.
Genre/For Fans Of: This is what most people are going to look at first in your EPK. It helps one to know if your band is stylistically going to work with their plans. I also find that a “For Fans Of” section that lists some of your primary influences helps to avoid confusion. I can not remember how many times I have seen groups describe themselves as a “punk” band yet have vastly different sounds.
Contact: This is pretty straightforward. Be sure to include all contact information for your band. This can include your band’s email, your manager’s email, your booking agent’s email, etc. Include all of this information to keep communication running smoothly.
Video: It really is great if your band has filmed a music video or had a professionally shot show. If not, you can get a decent sounding and looking live video as long as your band does not play too loud. Even better than any of these options, though, is to put together a promotional video just for your press kit. Below I included an EPK video for John Mayer’s album Battle Studies. It’s a great example of how to sell yourself through your video instead of showing a live performance.
Social Media: Most bands do not usually have a problem remembering this section, but I feel it should be mentioned regardless. Include links to your social media and make sure that they links open in a different browser tab so the viewer does not lose your EPK.
Pictures: Many groups include a section of their EPK dedicated solely to pictures. I have found that it is often better to sprinkle these images throughout the press kit. It helps keep things visually stimulating and saves the reader from the trouble of clicking an extra tab just to look at your band. It is also important that you get professional pictures. Nobody wants to see the picture that Uncle Joe took on his phone of you playing in a dive bar. Include professional band photos from a photo shoot, a live performance and a recording session.
Music: Do not forget to include your music in your EPK. Yes, I have seen it before. If your band has done any recording that does not sound like crap, include samples from a few different songs.
Other Goodies: At this point, you really have the essentials to a press kit. However, your band might have some other things to show off. Has your band opened for Pearl Jam? Include a “Notable Performances” section. Has your band been interviewed by a local newspaper or podcast? Include a “Press” section. It is okay to get a little creative here to make your band stand out, just make sure that everything you include is relevant to a press kit and makes your band look more professional and profitable.