New Music Coming Soon!!

New Music Coming Soon!!

The Open Mic Tour

Tonight, I’m starting a new project to kick off my music career reboot.  It’s a little weird, but hear me out...

As I wrote about yesterday, I nearly retired from music because I could see no way forward that wasn’t blocked by gatekeepers and lack of resources.  I still felt the burden of my need to make music, but no means of relief.  Only after a long ponder, and a new perspective on my music career, did I find what I was looking for...

A place to start.  That’s what I was looking for... And this is what I came up with.

Open mics.  The short version of the plan is to play all the open mics in Denver...  Which is about 30. And then do it again.  And then do it again.  And so on.

OK, OK... I know a lot of people start out doing open mics.  But not like this.

There are three reasons, in my view, why people fail at music...

1. The product, consisting of the material, the musicianship, and the performance.

2. Lack of exposure, both in variety and consistency.

3. Failing to convert listeners into fans and customers.

(Incidentally, these are the same reasons that people fail at all people-oriented ventures, from sales to dating and so on, just using different terminology).

I’ve known a lot of musicians in my time, and most of them have never progressed beyond the DIY club level of success, and in every single case, that can be boiled down to one or more of these factors.

Here’s how I plan to use my “open mic tour” to solve these problems:

1. The product: Most local acts, if they’re reasonably busy, play an average of once per month, which makes it hard to get better through direct experience.  Playing out in front of an audience 3-6 times per week gives me lots of opportunities to work on the material itself, my playing skills, my performing skills, my overall confidence, and people skills from the stage.  This will only improve my overall product.

2. Exposure:  Like I said before, most acts play out about once a month.  That makes it hard to build an audience, especially if you’re primarily relying on family and friends to come out and support you to justify the venue booking you.  With open mics, there’s no expectation of bringing an audience with you, and it’s hard to make new converts by preaching to the choir.  You’re in front of a new group of people each time, which allows you, if you have the goods , to make new fans regularly, instead of just playing to the same people over and over again, and not very often.

3. Conversion:  This is the aspect that I see almost no one do anymore, not even at regular gigs.  And NO ONE does this at an open mic.  Even when they play in front of a large crowd, the closest that they get to converting those listeners into fans is an off-hand mention to “go like the Facebook page” or something.  They don’t have a mailing list (or don’t work it, if they do), they don’t offer any value for signing on to it, and they don’t provide a way to stay in contact after their gig.  By creating a mailing list, providing some free contact for signing up (a free CD Baby download card), I believe that I can create a larger, firmer fan base on my own much quicker.

Also, since I currently don’t have a new full backing band yet, if I want to play regular gigs again as soon as possible right away, they will have to be solo or duo gigs hosted by the same types of venues who host open mics.  Playing all these venues in a short period of time allows me to find venues where I can play solo, to make contacts, and create the fan base necessary to earn those gigs.

There is another advantage to open mics, which trumps all others and feeds the above solutions:  no gatekeepers.  No one’s going to tell you that you can’t play because you can’t bring in 50 people, or don’t have a full band, or don’t fit in with the other acts.  If you sign up at the appropriate time, and don’t act like a jackass, you get to play in front of a room full of people who’ve never heard you before.

There’s a great quote from a famous book publisher that goes “the enemy of most artists isn’t piracy; it’s obscurity.”  Playing a ton for free in front of new listeners, though it doesn’t pay, gets the word out in a way to which no one can legitimately deny you access.

I put this theory into practice tonight.

It may not go exactly as planned... But at least it’s a place to start.

To quote Joey "The Lips" Fagin from The Commitments (one of my all-time favorite movies), “It’s a start.  I believe in starts.  Once you have the start, the rest is inevitable.”

We’ll find out if Joey was right.