articles and tips from Fran Snyder and concertsinyourhome.com
International Folk Alliance Conference (and a $100 discount from CIYH)
Another organization that is intimately linked with house concerts is the Folk Alliance (folk.org). Based in Memphis, they host several regional conferences throughout the year, and a major (international) conference each spring. This year, it’s February 20-24. I’ll be there, and I would love the opportunity to meet you.
The conference is attended by thousands of artists, concert presenters, radio, and other industry folks. It’s a magical, exhausting (if you let it) weekend of communing with people who love music. There are sponsored showcases, workshops, panel discussions, jams, and they literally block off three floors of the hotel for artists and organizations to create “guerilla showcases” - these are unplugged, intimate concerts right in people’s hotel rooms. You literally walk in, sit on the bed or a chair, and listen to someone sing their heart out. It can be incredible.
Check out the organization, and consider attending this wonderful conference. Membership is involved, but well worth it. It’s a great way to hear and meet a of TON of artists and other people who share your love for music. There’s certainly a bias toward folk artists, but there’s also an incredible amount of diversity in styles. As long as your sound is somewhat organic, story/lyric based, and better than the rejection reel on American Idol, it’s a great hang for audiences and performers.
Oh, and Memphis is a fun place to check out - so make it a mini-vacation!
They’ve offered us a huge discount, ($100 off the current $350 conference price), and we’re making it available to artists and hosts listed at CIYH. If you’ve already registered, they will not retro-fit the discount. Sorry… sometimes you snooze, you win! But only for a few more weeks. Check it out at folk.org, and email me for the discount code.
Are you blending in?
Seth Godin is one of the most insightful bloggers on the planet, and many of his articles about marketing and the internet should resonate with artists who manage their own careers.
In this post, he predicts “Apple’s next problem,” which is the fact that the cool outsider company is rapidly becoming mainstream. The lightbulb went off while he was visiting a Starbucks, where he saw five unrelated people working away on laptops - 5 identical machines, all Macs.
I think most artists see themselves as quite different from the performers they rub elbows with at venues. To the trained eye/ear, they are probably correct. However, music audiences generally have an untrained eye/ear and don’t necessarily notice the subtle differences between artists. In short, if you are playing acoustic guitar and singing, they assume they know your story and what you do.
Do you think of yourself as more of an outsider than you really are? Worse, are you blending in? It might be Apple’s next problem. It might even be your current problem.
Bob Lefsetz has been described as a music industry curmudgeon. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen who had the balls to tell an audience full of artists that “most of you suck.” Read a few of his articles, though, and you know he’s a true music fan, with some often important insights about the music industry.
In this article Bob describes the “New Reality” of being a music artist.
A key point and maybe the overall theme is that it’s so hard to get noticed these days, that you better be in the music business for something other than fame and fortune.
I agree that a self-sustaining, long career is a much better strategy and investment of your time. And if that is your goal, you’ve never had more tools and information at your disposal. If you can find the right balance between improving your artistic skills and working the business/marketing end of things, it is possible to make a memorable and profitable living in music.