Month: July 2009

Are you making new fans?

I spent this last weekend taking in all the great music at Vancouver Island Musicfest. It was cool to see how many bands, some very famous and others on their way up, handled their audiences and the backstage crew.

I had the privilege of being both an audience member and  also an MC for the Saturday mainstage (which was SO cool, by the way!)

Without fans, the bands that played would not be where they are. Without the crew they would not sound as good as they do. Obviously.

So when I am told that I can’t take a photo of a famous performer while they are on stage, from the side of the stage, I have to wonder, is this performer thinking about making new fans? I spent the festival taking photos and tweeting about the bands that I liked and had I been able to take a photo I would have tweeted something nice along with the #vimf and my followers would have thought ‘cool’ and maybe RTed.

But I didn’t tweet and more importantly, others tweeted negative things. No new fans made here.

Then the next band came on. I noticed that they had been hanging around the festival all weekend (not just shipped in and out of the stage covertly). They had made friends at the festival, they thanked the crew and volunteers numerous time while onstage and brought members from other bands on stage to play with them. They were not precious.

So I tweeted! And within 12 hours they were now following my tweets. So I will tweet some more and now they have a new fan (and probably thousands more, judging by the reaction to their show)… and it helps that as a band they were incredible!

The band is Enter the Haggis and now I am blogging about them too.

So the other performer may have been famous, once upon a time, but I don’t think any new fans were made this weekend.

Enter the Haggis… You Rock!

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Pick a card… any card!

I was getting ready to go play a gig last night and was trying to put a set list together from my cue cards and I realised that I don’t really care what order I play my songs or which songs I sing.

So I had the idea that I would let the audience chose the cards for me.

It turned out to be a great idea because I didn’t know what I was playing next, so it kept it fresh and the audience seemed to enjoy being a part of the show.

I don’t really enjoy gigs where the audience listens quietly. I prefer a bit of heckling and interaction (a hangover from my comedy days I presume). So this was the perfect way to add spark and participation to my gig. It was a really fun show.

Try it and let me know how it works for you.

Taxi!

I joined Taxi just over a year ago. The news of my new membership was met with some disdain from other musicians and words like ‘rip-off’ and ‘wasted money’ were bandied around.

At the time a lot of my friends had decided to go back to school to be nurses/therapists/rocket scientists etc. My youngest was now in school full time and knew that this was time for career decisions – I had already had a 20 year career in comedy and it was time for a change. I just didn’t feel funny anymore, ask my friends!

What caught my attention about Taxi was an email I received from them with the story of an artist who spoke about how hard work and perseverance, along with listening to Taxi’s critiques had brought him success. This really struck a chord with me. I am from the school of “if you work really hard at it you get good at it”. And I wanted to get really good at writing songs.

So I looked at Taxi and decided that it was WAY cheaper than going back to school. I already knew that writing and singing were the two things that I was really passionate about, I got the ok from the bread-winner in the house and I went for it. 

So as soon as the kids left in the morning I worked solidly until I had to pick them up – I LOVED every minute of it. The first critiques I got were nice enough, but very fair and I had lots of work to do. I had started out wanting to write for others but what I quickly gleaned from the critiques was that it was my voice that stood out from the songs. (I discovered that writing Country was SO not my thing!)

The critiques gradually led me to write in a way that I had never written before, simple, quirky pop songs. And what was weird was that I was finally writing the music that I actually listen to. Now I was getting critiques I could be proud of. Here is a recent one from a Taxi forward.

“Helen – Put quite simply, I love your stuff. It sounds extremely distinctive, in part because of the charismatic vocal performances, but also because of the way in which you’ve chosen to illustrate the arrangements. In terms of melody, the songs are simply irresistible. After hearing just one verse and chorus it feels as if I’ve known the songs my entire life. I am more than pleased to forward both of these wonderful songs for this listing, and I look forward to hearing more of your material in the future.”

After gradually getting more and more forwards I have just signed 2 publishing agreements.

The money I have spent on Taxi has been invaluable because it has shown me that I know what I want to do and that I am capable of doing it.