Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Improve Your Stage Presence:Ten Steps to Becoming a Better Perfomer

This is directed at lead singers, but this post about live performances has a takeaway for anyone in a band.

If your band is playing a lot of shows, or if you've done a lot of touring this year, at this point in the summer, you're either feeling energized. or tired. or frustrated.

Maybe things aren't happening the way you'd like them to, and you're wondering how to get people to come out to see you perform.

Touring or gigging is hard. Fun, yes, but hard, especially if you're trying to move up to the next step--more tickets sold, bigger venues, more music sales, more merch sales, better opportunities...whatever the "next" is for you.

Here's one way to boost your shows and move toward your "next" without spending a dime:

Improve your stage presence.

Everyone, at every level of the business, strives to be a better performer every night than they were the night before. Even Mick Jagger.

If you work on it consistently, and couple that with solid promotion, word gets out:  "Wow, they were absolutely on fire tonight!" Or "Wow, what a different band than they were before!"

I'd take improving your stage presence over spending an extra hour on Facebook any day, wouldn't you?

Yes, you still have to do the other things to promote yourself.. But at this point of summer, it's easy to become a little complacent with the show, or to slack off because you're tired and it's hot as hell.

Don't be that person. Don't be that band. Get up. Stand up straighter. Take a little extra time with your clothes and appearance tonight. Walk out onto that stage taller, and strive to kick ass.

If you're not the lead singer, discuss this with the rest of the band, so everyone's on the same page. (NO accusations. Just, "I think we can step up our game, me as much as anyone. I was reading this article..." and have them read it and this post. Be sure to include yourself in the "needs to improve" category.)

Otherwise, what will happen is, the one who's read the article will stand out too much, and the band won't look like a cohesive unit. Or, you'll have more enthusiasm than the others and your timing will be different because of your increased adrenaline, throwing the others off.

A friend of mine worked with a drummer who suddenly decided to improve without telling anyone. Can you imagine? Don't do that...

Resolve to make the next one your best show ever. Get everyone on the same page, get out there, and kick ass. Then repeat. 

Here's how to improve your stage presence:

Have a great rest of the summer!

Rand Reed

Follow me on Twitter @MusicBizAdvice .

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Holy Crap, I'm Quoted on 7/27/14 (How to Land a Job In the Music Industry or a Job in a Competitve Environment or Win a Pitch)

So, I'd just finished publishing this post and checked my email to discover I've been quoted on in this article about creative techniques for how to win a pitch or land a job in a competitive industry:

Yeah, to land a music industry job, I really bought a ticket, stood in line, and waited for my potential boss to walk by. And it got me the job!

It was one of my first big jobs in the music business, and I was so unsavvy that when I went to the job interview and the interview lasted less than five minutes, I thought I'd blown it.

Later, my boss told me I got the job when I'd handed him my resume, and that the interview was just a formality to make sure I'd show up. He said he'd wanted to hire me on the spot because he knew I'd get the job done.

If you're going to try something creative to land a job, you must have something on your resume to bring to the table. Your resume has to be ready for whatever that job is, because for the employer, it has to be worth taking the risk to hire someone who does things a little differently.

In my case, I'd been in bands and working around them since I was sixteen, and had managed my own band and a local who grew a regional-ish following and got local airplay. The job I was applying for was a good fit, because it was the logical next rung on the ladder.

Now...having said all that, we live in a different world now. That was long before 9/11 and public shootings and all that. These days, being too bold can easily get you booted out, blacklisted, or at the very least, looked at strangely. And there's email and social media, so if you do something stupid, people will know about it.

Also, some people tend to take things over the line into stalking.
If a complete stranger did to me what I did to land that interview, I'd be freaked out. And it would be stalking. (Intention does not matter when it comes to stalking; it's the actions and how those actions make the other person feel.)

Remember: Although we'd never met, my boss and I were already talking, so I wasn't a complete stranger to him. We just were having trouble scheduling a job interview because he was overwhelmed with work. So my goal was to show him that as his assistant, I could make his life easier by saving him steps.

But it could have just as easily backfired. With some employers, it would have. Some employers think they want creative thinking, but they really don't. I may have just been quoted on Forbes and on Chris Brogan's business blog, but I'm savvy enough to know that I don't fit into the company culture of most corporations.

So, you must be creative and be bold, but not stupid. There has to be congruency between what you're pitching and where you're pitching it.
And you must weigh what you're doing very carefully.

Always, always, always put yourself in the other person's shoes and really think about what the worst possible scenario might be, and what the other person might possibly think. You may be a wonderful person, but a stranger doesn't know that. And if you frighten or creep them out, they don't really care.

MIght it frighten or creep them out? Especially if your potential boss is the opposite sex?
What if they're a nervous or paranoid person? What if they've been stalked in the past?  And if the worst possible case scenario happens and that person thinks the worst, what are the consequences?

Getting an FBI file because you got desperate with your job hunt is never a good idea.

Good luck!



MBADC Editor's Letter July 27, 2014: Dreams and Motley Redemption, and 7 Things I've Learned This Month

What a week...

Four hard deadlines, two more soft deadlines I really want to wrap up, and Mötley Crüe at the Hollywood Bowl.

For that matter, what a month.
Things I learned this month (and it ain't over yet):

1. If you want to be busier than ever, buy a good book you've been wanting to read. Your phone, texts, and email will go crazy, and the book will remain untouched. If it's a hard copy, it will remain exactly where you put it when you opened it.

2. Doing two all-nighters and a three:AM-er back-to-back in a week to complete a last minute project is possible, though not necessarily recommended. (If you attempt it, your favorite Barista will begin making your drink before you even speak.)

3. Mötley Crüe at the Bowl + and your mom finally being declared Leukemia-free after months of countless rounds of chemo all in the same month?

 =  F**cking Priceless!!! :-)

4. I gotta get a new exclamation phrase.

5. Alice Cooper is an amazing performer. I'd booked him or worked on his shows many times over the years but had never managed to actually see his show (occupational hazard). If you want to learn how to command a stage, try to find a clip of Alice doing "Billion Dollar Babies" at the Bowl last week (7/2114), and watch how he moves. It's not how much he moves--it's the way he moves. Alice is just as commanding when he stands still.

6. I already knew this, but this is for those of you who've found this blog via keywords like "How did Nikki Sixx get clean?" because of this post from 2008:

You can do it, and work your butt off at it, your life can be even better than you've ever imagined. Witness: Nikki Sixx at the Hollywood Bowl last week. I remember when no one thought that man would live, and many people wrote him off and still won't talk to him because of things he said and did as a practicing addict. He stepped up, he did the work, and he still works hard every day to keep the great life he's slowly earned back. If Nikki Sixx can do it, I truly believe anyone can.

7. Carl's Jr. does still have the Charbroiled Teriyaki Chicken sandwich. It's not on the menu, but they do still have it, pineapple and all. ;-)

8. Always remind your nervous lead singer to take off his laminate before going out onstage. (If he's really new, remind him to hand you his wallet and keys, because he's probably wearing those, too.)

Now if I can just squeeze in that website redesign before the end of the summer...Oh, and I need to do some stuff to our much-neglected Pinterest. And about my Bio, which can't decide what font size it's going to display...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, they're coming...

No, but seriously, you'll be seeing changes to a lot of stuff in coming weeks and months, and you'll see a lot of things being taken offline, altered, and put back up again. Basically,  a lot of, uh, "Beta Testing." (Get real. It's experimentation.) Your patience is appreciated.

Hope your summer is going great, too!

RR :-)

Motley Crue at the Hollywood Bowl 7/21/14: A Full Circle Alchemy of Dreams

By Randi Reed

Last Monday night (7/21/14) was Mötley Crüe’s homecoming show at the Hollywood Bowl, on the band’s final tour.

I believe the band means it when they say this is Mötley Crüe’s last tour. Nikki Sixx has spent a large part of the last decade transitioning toward other endeavors, so I’ve been expecting it. I’ve also been dreading it, because it’s hard to say “goodbye.”

I can’t be objective about this show, because I have too long of a history with Mötley. (Get your minds out of the gutter, Dirt fans. Not that kind of history.) So, instead of a review, I’d like to scribble a few thoughts and flashbacks from my keyboard…

If someone had asked my teenaged self, back when I was starting to dream about living in L.A., to close my eyes and imagine what my idea of a perfect Mötley Crüe show would be, it might have looked a lot like Monday night’s show. It was a colorful spectacle of all good things Mötley…Fantastic lights, more pyro than I’ve ever seen at one show, and lots of “atomic fireballs,” as I call them. Kudos to SRae Productions.

There were elements from the band’s entire career span—a pentagram here, Theatre of Pain colors there, the bandshell alternately flashing stripes of Red White and Crüe or playing the role of a glowing red pit of Hell. It all came together into a wonderful version of Mötley Crüe’s Oz…but thrown in a blender and whirled around a bit, and then spit out into something that actually made sense.

As a kid I’d dreamed of going to shows at the Hollywood Bowl, and it’s still my favorite venue in L.A.. Mötley Crüe began their career epitomizing the Hollywood club scene, and I can’t think of a more fitting place for their homecoming show on their last tour. It was the perfect backdrop, and it’s not lost on me that the bandshell at the Hollywood Bowl is shaped like a stylized rainbow.
And there was no better place in the world for them to perform “Saints of Los Angeles”.

Somewhere in all that, obscured by their own smoke at times, was the band. Given Mötley’s history, that was fitting, too.

Were they flawless? No. You don’t walk into a Mötley Crüe show expecting flawless. But they delivered, and they were perfect in their own wonderfully, humanly-flawed imperfect way. It was light years beyond the show by a woefully messed-up version of themselves I’d walked out on during the Girls Girls Girls tour, and I’m proud of them.  Monday night’s show was a hell of a ride.

As I write, I find myself struggling to find the right words. I’ve now written, scrapped, and re-written this paragraph six times. (Maybe “six” is fitting, too…)

How do you say goodbye to a band you idolized as a kid, whose members you later came to see as people because you were fortunate enough to have a job that occasionally put you on their periphery?

How do you say goodbye to a band who gave you the dreams that put you there? --And made you realize that maybe, if you worked really hard at them, you could make a lot of them come true?

Mötley Crüe taught me that not only did I have dreams, but to fight for them. Hard. 

I learned it from watching them become rock stars, from afar, from a tiny Southern California town in the middle of nowhere, which I referred to as “Hell”.

My town had no school (it was thirteen miles away) but it had two liquor stores, a convenience store, and a tiny post office that didn’t even deliver the mail. Most of the residents were retirees from Hollywood’s Golden Age, of which I had no appreciation until later. For a kid far too young to drive, it was planets away from civilization, and I was surrounded by “interesting characters” and messed-up people. Did I mention my town also happened be on a Meth Route?

Having moved there from the outskirts of a large Midwestern city, I was really pissed off at my parents. On a regular basis, I accused them of “stranding us in Hell” and plotted my escape. 

A hint of Salvation came when a guy my parents knew found out I liked rock music. He showed me how to connect my stereo’s radio to cable, as you’d do for cable TV. So now instead of just reception for Big Band and Muzak, I could listen to every station. He also gave me a stack of rock magazines and told me where to find the current issues, which were hidden in an obscure rack at the convenience store.

“Hell” was still hideous, but at least now I had something good to listen to, and new décor in the form of rock star wall paper.  

At the end of every week, L.A. rock stations used to read off a list of which bands were at what clubs. I remember hearing Palomino Club* ads for Mick Mars’ band Spiders and Cowboys and Starwood ads for Nikki Sixx’s band, London. London was in a couple of the rock rags, and though I’d never heard them, I was fascinated by them. Nikki Sixx had hair that looked like a cool sheepdog, and to me, he looked like a star. I also heard ads for Vince’s band Rock Candy, and not long after that, ads for Mötley Crüe, with that Nikki guy from London.

Mötley Crüe was even more fascinating than London. In stage gear they looked like cartoon characters out of a nightmare…more so than KISS, who I liked but had never thought of as dangerous (Sorry, Gene). I had no idea what Mötley Crüe sounded like but was dying to see them, because word about Mötley was spreading fast.  But going to shows was out of the question; in those days, concerts weren’t for kids. So when Mötley did an in-studio appearance on an L.A. radio show for Too Fast for Love, it was appointment radio. I posted a “Homework—Keep Out” sign on the door to my room so I could listen in peace.

The Shout at the Devil album and “Looks That Kill” came along just when things were getting really crazy at home. It was primal scream therapy, to the tune of Mötley Crüe, and “Too Young to Fall in Love” could be heard emanating from my room at the back of the house on a regular basis.

How do you say goodbye to a band who gave you a way to cope when you were weighing your options between chaos at home or becoming a thirteen year-old runaway? –-A band whose music provided a mix of "F***k you" angry lyrics and “you can do it” musical optimism just when you needed it most? The irony of living in “Hell” and being “Saved” by a band whose image included fire and pentagrams still makes me smile.

Little did I know, at the time, that learning how to deal with an interesting but troubled assortment of people would become an important skill for my future career in the music industry. And starting from age sixteen, the Mötley guys and I would have a lot of crisscrossing paths as I began to build my resume.

Little did I know, Nikki Sixx would be one of those troubled people. He’s talked about and written about this period of his life, but at the time few people knew he was slipping back into his own version of Hell. Nikki was always nice to me, even giving me badly needed career advice once when I was stuck, and I felt guilty for not seeing how far he’d fallen again. Thank God Allen Kovac did--and is the kind of manager who doesn’t let addicts get away with the tricks they’re known for. And that Nikki stepped up and did what he needed to do to pull himself out of Hell. (Meanwhile, I finally stepped up and set out to learn about drug and alcohol addiction, which had claimed the lives of several people close to me.)

Allen Kovac helped Nikki Sixx and his Motley cohorts find their dreams again—just like the band had helped me find mine as a kid, and probably countless others.

All those things were in my thoughts leading up to Monday night’s show. And when the band hit the stage, I put it all on “pause”. I didn’t even take photos during the show, because I wanted to just experience and enjoy it. It was all a perfect alchemy of dreams coming true, and life, and triumph, and bittersweet joy.

So how do you say “goodbye” to a band who gives you all that? 
Maybe you don’t… Maybe you just say, “Thank you.”

Thank you, Mötley Crüe: Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, and Vince Neil.

*The club where Mick’s band played when he met Nikki Sixx has been called the Stone Pony in various sources, including The Dirt and Chronological Crüe, The Stone Pony is in New Jersey and is where Jon Bon Jovi started out--not Mötley Crüe. The Palomino Club on Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood is the club Mick was referring to. The name confusion may have been because Linda Ronstadt’s band, the Stone Poneys, had famously played there. It also may be that perhaps legal clearance to use the Palomino Club’s trademarked name couldn’t be obtained for publication in The Dirt. There were several Liquor stores on Lankershim within easy walking distance from the Palomino, including Circus Liquors, which seems exactly like the kind of place a young Nikki Sixx would have chosen to work.

Follow me on Twitter @MusicBizAdvice .


Friday, July 04, 2014

Shep Gordon: Manager Extraordinaire

As I was winding down for the night from a long day (it's now early A.M.), I happened to catch Mike Meyers talking about artist manager Shep Gordon on Late Night with Seth Meyers...which reminded me I've been wanting to post about Shep Gordon.

If you don't know who Shep Gordon is and are in the music industry, or aspire to be, you should.

Shep Gordon is one of the most legendary managers in the music business. Not famous legendary...Legendary as in, one of the most beloved people in the behind-the-scenes music industry. Everyone in the business who knows and works with him holds him in great esteem.

Shep Gordon is one of the good guys.

If you've never heard of him, it's because he's the kind of manager who believes, as I do, that managers belong behind the scenes. Not trying to be famous. Not appearing on reality shows. Just doing the best possible job to make your clients shine.

Shep Gordon is the guy who made Alice Cooper a star by helping Alice to invent and craft his his image and stage show. He also created the concept of the celebrity chef with Emeril. Those are just two of his many accomplishments.
But most of all, he's a well-loved connector of people. And a very nice guy.

I grew up reading album liner notes with Shep Gordon's name in them, and I can't remember not knowing who he was. (Yeah, I'm that geek.) When I got into the industry working phones, the first time I answered a call from Shep Gordon I was more starstruck than when Alice himself called in. (Sorry Alice, you're great, but your manager's a legend.)

It took a very long time for Mike Meyers to talk Shep Gordon into allowing him to make a  documentary about him. I'm so glad he finally said yes. The result is Supermensch, and  I hope tons of people go to see it.

That sounds contradictory because of my "stay behind the scenes" theory. But artists who are new to the industry need to see examples of really good managers who are good people who care about their clients.

Shep Gordon is one of those people.

If you ask most young artists today, they don't think such managers exist, because the media highlights controversial, leechy, over-the-top, bad apple managers..

I think presenting that picture leads to young artists settling for really bad managers, because they don't know good ones are out there. 

Today's young artists don't have liner notes where they can learn the names of these people. And the trade media have taken on a tabloid tone rather than being the helpful, reliable resources they once were.

So, artists, if you're fortunate enough to have a good manager and a young artist asks you for advice, tell them what makes a good manager, and explain why yours meets that criteria.

Meanwhile, support media stories about good mangers by going to see Supermensch.


P.S. I often hear people refer to crew members or people who work behind the scenes in a derogatory way that implies people on the crew do it because they want to be famous.  (Then they proceed to follow every crew member they can find on Twitter.)
My colleagues are highly skilled, creative people who think fast on their feet. Some of their jobs, such as hanging sound and lights and the rigging that supports them, are extremely dangerous. In recent years other crew members have literally died trying to protect their artists.

The vast majority of crew and people who work behind the scenes love what they do and have no desire to be famous. Seeing fame up close usually puts an end to any desire for it, if it was ever there.

Speaking for myself, fame looks like a colossal pain in the ass, and I wouldn't be good at it. (I blog and Tweet to help musicians, and for my Klout score. People who hire you for certain jobs check it.)

Besides, if crew members wanted to be famous, wouldn't they just use their connections to facilitate it? (Many crew members are extremely talented musicians.)


Follow Me on Twitter @ MusicBizAdvice .

FTC Disclosure: No current financial relationship to the film, Shep Gordon, or Mike Meyers. Worked for Mike Meyers' agent as well as with agents of several of Shep Gordon clients, and a promoter of Alice Cooper shows and shows by other Shep Gordon clients.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Current State of the Music Biz (Especially the Live Touring Industry)

In case you missed it, music business analyst / writer Bob Lefsetz sent out and posted this to his website:

I'm posting it here because if you're embarking on a music industry career, you need to see it. And it's far more comprehensive than I currently have the time to write. Bob's done it for you.

It's going to piss some people off, but his analysis is accurate. There are a couple of artists I might add to the mix, but that's quibbling.

I don't always agree with Bob Lefsetz, but this post is dead on. Even when we don't agree, I love that he tells it like it is and doesn't sugarcoat.

Artists tend to like to have a soft place to fall, so many of them have difficulty hearing the truth. Or sometimes they'll listen, but they want the information you're giving them to be heavily sugarcoated.

This is a tough business. Sugarcoating will kill you.

An eternal optimist myself, as a young artist I had to learn this early on, the hard way. I saw many people fall because people were afraid to tell them the truth.

Sugarcoating leads to things like pushing away people who care about you in favor of leeches who cajole you into investing in their projects and drain your money--or perhaps encourage you to donate to their favorite cult--while telling you everything's OK. They get away with this by seeming to protect you by only telling you exactly what you want to hear. (If you're an addict, they'll even keep you high while doing so.)

The person who can listen to information with no sugarcoating always has the upper hand, because they're hard to manipulate.

If you're the type of person who needs to have everything sugarcoated to get through life, start with your business stuff. Force yourself to read the realities of your business so you know what's going on.

You stand a much better chance of winning when you know what you're up against.

I want you to win. Bob Lefsetz wants you to win.

Start now, by learning about your business.


Follow me on Twitter @MusicBizAdvice.

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