Positive Music Place

Posts Tagged ‘business’

“You had all year”

Posted by dlockeretz on January 28, 2015

Is it OK to musicians to play for free at nonprofit events such as school fundraisers and AIDS walks?

Sure it is, as long as the charity/nonprofit organization in question doesn’t pay a cent for anything else. That’s right: if the city where the event is held, the caterers, the security, the administrative staff, photographers and other vendors associated with the event don’t make any money, I’ll happily go without as well.

Musicians are often expected to play at weddings, clubs and offices for “exposure”, “karma”, “food” and more substitutes for money. But aren’t nonprofits different?

Nope. Whether it’s a corporate party, a wedding or a fundraiser is immaterial; the principle is the same. If they have money for a venue and food, they have money for music.

At NAMM, I attended a workshop on advice for artists seeking endorsement deals. The panel included Mike Johnson, known for his extensive online library of drum lessons, his work with Simon Says and Filter and for the purposes of his appearance at this workshop, his endorsements. “NAMM is not the place to get an endorsement deal,” he told the audience. “You had all year.”

You had all year.

No budget for musicians? Sorry, you had all year. How much does the band that you want cost? Get a quote, sock aside the cash and pay the fee or settle for less.

As a musician, there’s nothing wrong with saying that to event organizers who don’t want to pay. Do our landlords, car title holders and cell phone companies care that we can’t come up the money because we were helping out a nonprofit and turning down paying gigs? Don’t we have to budget extra for tax season, which comes at the end of what is usually the leanest time of the year for musicians? (Speaking of taxes, if I wanted to be a smartass, I’d point out that in the case of schools, you already contribute to them; churches and other nonprofits are usually tax exempt. But this is the Positive Music Place so I’ll try to keep it civil.)

Look, I have nothing against nonprofit organizations; they just don’t get a special pass. There are other ways to donate to organizations in which you truly believe. Volunteer to perform at a nursing home. Busk on the sidewalk and give the money to the local food bank. Offer to do a presentation at a school. Maybe even give a little discount to someone who wants you to play at a fundraiser. But when someone seeks you out requesting you contribute to their cause–no matter how altruistic–yet claims no budget, just give them a friendly reminder:

“You had all year.”

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An open letter to a talent buyer who didn’t want to pay my fee

Posted by dlockeretz on September 11, 2014

Dear Ms. _____,

I’m sorry that the 10th St. Jazz Quartet was not able to fit your budget. I understand that in the planning of a major event, budget is a concern. You are correct that there are many more economical options available to you, such as DJs or student ensembles that are willing to charge far less for their services. In many cases, these can be viable choices and I am sure that you be able to find a satisfactory entertainment solution that will fit your budget.

I would also like to respectfully suggest that during future events, you consider allocating extra funds in the event budget for premium live entertainment. To be sure, in many situations the quality of the musical entertainment does not make an immediately noticeable difference, just as if you were attending a friend’s dinner party, it wouldn’t be readily obvious if the dining room table was made from solid oak or from composite. For many people, purchasing a Rolex instead of a Timex is an unaffordable frivolity.

Nevertheless, there are reasons to spend extra money for quality, even on something which, unlike the glassware, chairs or decorations, might well go unnoticed by most of the guests. As veteran musicians we are aware that often times at cocktail hours, the less the music is noticed, the more effectively it has served its purpose. That being said, just as a great chef can expertly season or prepare a dish without calling too much attention to their technique, top-level jazz musicians can enhance the atmosphere of a special evening. Though they might not immediately associate their response with the music at the event, quality entertainment is likely to contribute to your guests’ overall impression about your brand.

We hope that you are able to find an entertainment solution within your budget for your event on the 28th. Please feel free to consider the 10th St. Jazz Quartet for future occasions. Thank you for your time and your consideration and best of luck.

Sincerely,

David Lockeretz

PS – While we are not familiar with the music of “Jon Coltran”, as requested by your associate, we would be happy to play music by the great John Coltrane should you require our services at a later date.

 

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The restaurant time forgot (and what musicians can learn from it)

Posted by dlockeretz on July 14, 2014

Note: this is a simulblog, posted on both D-Theory and Positive Music Place.

The story sounds familiar: a restaurant consistently received bad reviews, so they looked over surveillance videos to see what’s going on.  The plot twist came when management looked over the film.  The results were surprising–not because they were shocking, but just the opposite.  There were no bodily functions performed on the prime rib; no one playing Words with Friends as a grease fire broke out; no managers putting the make on waitresses in the office; none of the employee hijinks that might be expected.  In fact, when they compared the recent footage to tapes from ten years earlier, the employee behavior was pretty much the same.  It was the customers that were different.

According the article about this restaurant’s findings, seven out of the 45 customers observed on the recent video asked their servers for the Wifi password.  Twenty-seven of the 45 requested that their waiter take a picture of their group; 14 of those 27 asked for a second picture.  Long story short: the restaurant’s conclusion was that customer behavior increased the average length of stay by 50 minutes compared to ten years ago.

Here’s where the restaurant missed the mark.  “We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there.  But you please be a little more considerate?” they implore at the end of the article.

The problem is, the restaurant doesn’t accept the fact that–whether or not they agree with it–for many customers, the cell phone is as important a part of the meal as the locally sourced vegetables and the craft beers.  The restaurant customer of 2014 expects to be able to take photos of their food and themselves enjoying it.  Savvy restauranteurs embrace the free advertising and integrate cell phones into the dining experience they provide;  proprietors stuck in the past complain about how kids today have no manners instead of trying to figure out how to better cater to them, thus resulting in poor online reviews.

So far you’ve read over 300 of my words (which I appreciate, thank you!); none of which is “music.”  What does this restaurant and their grievances with cell phones have to do with music?

Musicians face a similar dilemma in terms of getting their product out to new audiences.  Yes, we all want to do it our way, but trends, buying habits and tastes change.  Many consumers expect to be able to get music for free.  Music fans often see Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as ways of connecting with their favorite bands.  (Check out this post on CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog for more thoughts on the subject.)  The musician who evolves to fit the needs of  2014′s audience will likely have more gigs than the one who shakes his fist and rants about how no one appreciates AC/DC, Zeppelin or Sabbath anymore (the fact that I am writing this blog instead of playing a show might give a hint about the category in which I belong).

Elitism can have its place.  Fattburger’s slogan is “We’re not for everyone”; the Stone Brewing Company Arrogant Bastard’s bottle reads, “You’re not worthy.”  Businesses sometimes have funny have signs mocking Wifi obsessiveness.  Similarly, the independent musician who doggedly sticks to their guns and refuses to cave in to any trends, technological or otherwise, sometimes succeeds.  Let’s be honest though; these are usually the exception, not the rule.

I don’t claim to have much experience in the food service business (unless you count the lemonade stand my brother and I had as kids) but I do know this: the restaurant’s choices are to either to brand themselves as a cell-phone free zone (a move which may make their following smaller but more loyal) or adapt to changing times and train waiters to accept taking pictures of drunken customers as part of their job description.

Today’s consumer typically has more options for night life, dining and entertainment than they do time or money; as a band, restaurant or other purveyor of goods and services, you have a lot of competition for customers/fans.  If you look down on Wifi use at your restaurant, customers will likely go to the place down the block where it’s embraced.

Let’s face it, time can be a harsh mistress.  Yesterday’s rock star is today’s grumpy old man telling kids to get off their lawn.  Today’s rock stars–culinary, musical or otherwise–are often ones that let people on their lawn, but charge extra for Wifi.

free-wifi-geek-ashole-1026106

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Photos from NAMM 2013

Posted by dlockeretz on January 28, 2013

A few pictures from my first trip to the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA.

Welcome!

NAMM 2013 014

Straight alto and tenor saxes

Two basses, 28 strings

Just in case the 10-string wasn’t enough….

Contra-bass flute

HEL-lo!

Another Boulder Creek bass

NAMM 2013 009  NAMM 2013 013 NAMM 2013 019NAMM 2013 024

 

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The Goldberg Variation: A New Take on the L.A. Music Scene

Posted by dlockeretz on January 20, 2012

Everybody know that the music business sucks–especially in L.A.–but it’s not often that we see someone proposing any kind of solution.  There are those who refuse to play for free or for marginal pay; there are those who jump on those gigs and even buy tickets to their own shows.

In a recent article, L.A. musician Dave Goldberg doesn’t offer any kind of magic solution, but he presents an interesting alternative perspective to the musician/club owner conflict.

The crux of Goldberg’s article is that restaurant managers/talent buyers/etc should see good music as a long-term investment.  Even if a band might not bring enough people for the club to show a profit on a given night, Goldberg argues that restaurants should be willing to spend extra for premium entertainment, just as they do for quality food and decorations.  Patrons who come to see a specific band are following the band and not the venue, Goldberg says.  By establishing themselves as a venue for premier entertainment by booking bands based on musical merit rather than draw, a club or restaurant can help their reputation, just as they can with good food and service.

Will restaurant owners buy it?  Will musicians adapt this new perspective when negotiating gigs?  Only time will tell, but props should be given to Goldberg for providing a different angle.  For more information about Dave Goldberg, click here.

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