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Riffing On the Tradition: Countdown -- time to prepare for OUR season

After a short hiatus, this week I want to remind the music community that we only have about six weeks to get ready for OUR season. I’m glad my editors gave me a couple of weeks off while other events laid waste to the month of February.

I didn't have anything nice to say anyway. My disgust at the extent regular gigs were disrupted by the corporate behemoth that was Super Bowl, or how poorly we were paid to work on “Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard,” or how traditional Carnival gigs paid about the same as they did when I moved here in the mid-'90s, wouldn’t have made a very interesting column.

So, now that the smoke (or smoke-screen) has cleared, back to the work at hand. This time last year, I tried to encourage everyone to prepare for the legions of New Orleans visitors and locals coming out of hiding who actually DO care about what we offer. But, in doing some of my own preparation for the festival season, I found reasons to be concerned and would like to offer some ideas for musicians and venue operators in the weeks ahead:

FIX YOUR WEBSITES!

  1. Don’t assume everyone knows how great you are and how to find you. Update your gigs. How is the name of a country enough information about a gig you’re playing? I even saw a colleague's listings on his website with question marks. ...Really? Look, if you can’t be bothered to let people know how to find you, then why should anyone try?
  2. 2) No dead links, people! Fix them! Also, the first thing I want to see is the next awesome thing you want me to come hear. Don’t make people hunt to find your gigs; they won't. Lastly, NO typos or bad grammar. ... It just plain don’t look right.
  3. 3) Samples of your work: Again, don't make people hunt to find examples of your music. These next few weeks allow plenty of time to create a couple of respectable audio or video clips. Need help? Head over to the Tipitina's Music Co-op. Mark Fowler will get you started.

PROMOTING YOUR GIGS

  1. Cover charges: Yes, we know that the city makes venues pay more for a permit to actually charge for their music. So, when you ARE able to charge, DO, and make it something reasonable. Let’s pick a minimum number we can agree upon. $10? Student discounts? Fine, but please don’t charge less than that without a good reason. Unless you can count on at least 200 people coming through the door, what good is a $5 cover charge going to do you?
    The bottom line? Self-deprecating business practices won’t help us move forward.
  2. Social media: If your brilliant children, adorable pets, awesome meals or political opinions are truly more important than your music, fine. For the rest of us, in the next few weeks, let’s focus on sharing what we’re doing creatively. Consider converting your personal Facebook page to a "Business Page," or at least consider adding a business page.
  3. 3) Your on-line profiles: It doesn’t matter what social media or other web-based services you’re using. Get some decent photos that represent what you do and use them in your profiles. Signed up for Digital Tip Jar? Awesome. But that blank spot where your picture should be or that missing description...? Not so helpful. And again, grammar and spelling, please? It’s simple. Like hygiene, good grammar is one of the easiest ways to let people know you actually give a [damn].
  4. 4) Pimping: This one may seem like a stretch, but trust me on this. You can boost your currency if you help promote music and gigs besides your own. It shouldn’t be up to others to tell our fans where to go; it will be much more credible coming from us. Start getting into the habit now of letting your fans and followers know where you’re going on your night off, or after your gig. Let's establish our authority, so that when they get here for the festivals, they'll already be following us to know what's truly happening.

Lastly, if you have fans qualified to help you in these capacities, do it! Reach out to them, strike a deal; the clock is ticking. That’s enough for now. Let’s go to work.

Next week, let’s talk about ways the clubs can hold up their end of things.

Evan Christopher is a noted member of the New Orleans music community and a founding member of Nola Art House Music. Click here for his holiday performance schedule. He writes “Riffing on the Tradition” for NolaVie.


Evan Christopher is a noted member of the New Orleans music community and advocates for the cultural workforce. Click here for his performance schedule. He writes MAC-Notes for NolaVie. Email him with your comments about cultural issues, particularly in the music world, at [email protected]