May Musicians at Work Forum: the 7/11 panel

Last week I caught the last Musicians at Work Forum before “summer break.” (The Chicago Music Commission hosts six Musicians at Work Forums a year, and breaks  for the summer. The next forum will be in September.) The discussion was hosted by Martin Atkins, who invited speakers to present seven points in 11 minutes, with no restrictions on topics/focus. The panel was made up of a wide variety of speakers, from managers to musicians to travel agents to  accountants.

Words of wisdom
Several panelists mixed in some life lessons with their practical advice. Here  are some highlights:

  • Fortune favors the brave – if you only take one chance, you only get one chance. – Joanna Quargnali-Linsley, Misery Loves Co.
  • Be prepared for detours. – Internet  travel agent Julie Brewer
  • Have NO back up plan- those with a fall-back plan end up falling back on that plan. – Leah Jones, Natiiv
  • Go far away to meet local people. – Tom Fort, musician

Get your a$$ off the couch
Several panelists stressed the importance of  getting up, getting out and meeting new people

  • Get out of bed – if you get up at 5 am, you are 5 hours ahead of the lazy ass that gets up at 10 am. –  Martin Atkins
  • You never know who you will meet when or where: Get out and meet people. Be friendly, say hi, get out of the house and attend events. Invite people over to your place. – Tom Fort
  • As an introvert, I can definitely appreciate this piece of advice: Get out to see local bands & talk to people. Introduce yourself to other local bands. And if you’re shy, stand next to someone who isn’t. They’ll take the initiative to talk to you and hopefully introduce you to others, too! – Tom Fort

Social media saavy
Leah Jones, of Natiiv, works with several musicians who are looking to establish a social media strategy. Here are some tips she offered.

  • Define your audience: think about who they are, what they like, what other bands they’re fans of, and talk to them about common interests, not just about yourself
  • “Viral is not a strategy, it’s an outcome.” You can’t plan for a video to go viral. What you can do is create relevant, compelling content for your target audience and hope it catches on.

Touring tips

  • Don’t book any other shows 30 days before or after you have a show in the same city – you are oversaturating fans. -Angie Mead, bookings for Uncommon Ground
  • Ask for the front desk manager if you need to negotiate something at a hotel – they have the power, they’re like the bouncer. – Julie Brewer
  • If you book a show, don’t just show up that day. Check in a couple days in advance to confirm ALL details – set up, equipment, etc. -Angie Mead
  • Small is the new huge: play a tiny place and sell it out! -Martin Atkins

There were also some great accounting tips from CPA Lisa Malina. Stay tuned for more info on accounting for musicians in a future post.

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