Touring – Two Views

One of the main reasons that Pierless Music exists is to try and help local acts get out of the Hastings area and into the wider musical world.

There are, of course, several different ways in which this could happen. It might be via a video posted on YouTube, hence why we’re happy to showcase those videos when we can.

Then there’s the chance of an act’s music being played on a radio station, either local, national or international.

But, another main way by which a band starts to attract new fans is by touring. Many local bands play one off gigs in places such as Brighton, or London. But not that many venture further afield, playing several gigs in a row – a tour. Once again, there are a number of reasons for this.

Some bands are happy to stay local, but others are more ambitious and want to expose their music to a wider audience, hopefully kickstarting a musical career as they go.

Even if you are ambitious, there are still obstacles to overcome, before you can get out ‘on the road’.

We have come across two blog posts that highlight some of those obstacles, both for a band starting out and also one a bit higher up the pecking order, but still taking the DIY approach, which is what you’re likely to be doing.

The first is from a very good UK based website called Sentric Music. They often have very relevant, useful information and blog posts, including this one. It is a part of their ‘Fund Your Future’ series of posts and is called ‘Ask the Tour Manager’.

In it an experienced tour manager answers seven questions about touring, which are especially relevant to a band starting out, taking that DIY approach. It’s well worth a read if your band is thinking of gigging further afield:

http://www.sentricmusic.com/blog/2014/november/26/ask-the-tour-manager/

The second post is by the American band Pomplamoose. In it they explain how they went about booking and playing a recent 28 day tour of the USA.

As mentioned earlier, they are a more established band, playing to 1,100 fans at the Fillmore in San Francisco for example. This is obviously a USA centric post, but we feel it is still very relevant and an interesting, eye-opening read as well.

The post is written by one of the band. See what you think:

https://medium.com/@jackconte/pomplamoose-2014-tour-profits-67435851ba37

If this has whetted your appetite for playing gigs outsdie of Hastings, then we may be able to help you. The Stinger magazine will shortly be announcing some exciting news for both new and more established acts in the Hastings and St Leonards area.

Part of this will involve helping one act to get out ‘on the road’. More details will be revealed shortly, so keep your eyes peeled.

Yet More Local Music Videos

If you’ve seen the latest issue of The Stinger magazine, you may well have read in the Local News section about some upcoming new releases from a couple of our bands.

Well, two of the music videos for those releases have now appeared on YouTube.

The first of these is the new single from Skinny Lister called ‘Trouble On Oxford Street’. The song is taken from their album ‘Down On Deptford Broadway’, which is scheduled for release on 20th April 2015, on Xtra Mile Recordings.

Find out more about Skinny Lister here: http://skinnylister.com/

Next up are Hornet, who are back with a new video and a new sound as well. This new track, ‘Cry Wolf’, is taken from a forthcoming EP, due out in 2015. Currently, this is the only way that you can hear ‘Cry Wolf’, so get watching.

Find out more about Hornet here: http://www.hornetrock.com/

Two great examples of the diversity of the local music scene in Hastings, I think you’ll agree?

We’re looking forward to hearing both new releases in full.

Pierless Music – What’s In A Name?

If I had a pound for every time somebody has asked me what we’re going to call this site once Hastings Pier has fully risen from the ashes, I’d probably be able to buy you all a drink.

The logic being that once the Pier has re-opened, Hastings will no longer be a pierless town, which is a fair point. I must add that the vast majoirty of the questioners have asked this in a serious manner.

Hastings Pier has certainly changed, for the better, since we started this Pierless Music site back in October 2012.

The eagle eyed among you may have noticed that I have changed the main image for the website. I took this new photo recently, after noticing that all those old original buildings at the end of the Pier had now gone.

If you compare this new photo with the one I took back in late 2010, you can see how much has changed.

So, to go back to that original question, what are we going to call this site once Hastings Pier re-opens? Well, the site will be called………… fanfare please………… Pierless Music.

Yes, we’re keeping the name the same and there is more than one reason why.

- Firstly: What would you then call the site? Piered Music?, Pier Music? etc etc.

- Secondly: The aims of this site will remain the same as they’ve been since day one. Namely trying to help promote, encourage and celebrate original local music from the Hastings area. So, why the need to change our name?

- And thirdly: It’s what we’re known as and we’d have to change our website, Twitter and email details to reflect any new name. That would only confuse people, including ourselves, so why do that? And, as I’ve pointed out to some of those who have asked, keeping our name reinforces the fact that this site existed before Hastings Pier was rebuilt.

That third point above also raises another issue that is relevant to local bands/acts and indeed Pierless Music itself. You are a brand, whether you like it or not, and your name is a part of that. It’s the way that most people/fans know you. It’s what set’s you apart from all other bands out there, so why mess with your name?

After all, if you did change it you’d effectively have to start all over again. That’s why some successful bands are still touring, under their original name, when the band of today contains none of the members that you remember and who played on those records you bought. Without that name, nobody would go and see them, as they’d just be a tribute act. You could argue that that’s what they are anyway, but that’s a topic for another day.

(I wrote a post for this site, some time ago now, about your band/act being a brand. You can read that here: http://pierlessmusic.co.uk/blog-posts/andy-gunton-2/brand/)

So this was all a long winded way of saying that Pierless Music will remain Pierless Music for as long as this website exists.

Thanks for asking though.

(PS: Do you think we should keep the new photo, or go back to the original one?)

‘How To Get Ahead As A Musician’

As a part of the recent Battle Festival, there was a music based expert panel discussion, followed by a question and answer session. The theme being ‘How To Get Ahead As A Musician’.

We managed to get a recording of the event and have uploaded it to Pierless Music’s Soundcloud page. You can listen to that recording here:

The panel on the night were: Tim Rice-Oxley, songwriter and keyboard player with Keane – Tom Williams, songwriter and main man behind Tom Williams and The Boat – Anna Moulsen from Melting Vinyl promotions in Brighton and Melita Dennet, DJ on BBC Introducing The South. The panel was chaired by Andy Fyfe, a music journalist.

Many topics were covered during the discussion, including: how to get your music played on BBC radio, gigs, your fanbase, mailing lists, social media and how to use it effectively, your band as a small business and much more.

If you are in a band, or act and are trying to move ahead in the music business, this is well worth a listen as these people have been there and done what you’re now trying to do.

Hopefully it will give you some tips and ideas for the next stage of your musical career.

New Local Music Videos

It’s been a while, so we thought we’d bring you some of the latest local music videos that have come to our attention.

First off are Kid Kapichi and the track ‘Take It Slow’, which comes from their upcoming EP of new songs. We’ve been lucky enough to hear the whole EP and it’s a cracker.

Kid Kapichi recently played the The Forum in Tunbridge Wells as a part of the venue’s ‘Showcase’ series of gigs.

Find Kid Kapichi at: https://www.facebook.com/TheKidKapichi

Next a new band that have connections with Kid Kapichi. The band are Bosco Rogers, who are Del and Barth. They label themselves as ‘flower punk ruffians’ and who are we to argue with that?

Bosco Rogers are already making an impression, as they’ve recenty been played by both Steve Lamacq and Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music, among other places.

This track, ‘The Middle’ is taken from their upcoming EP ‘Googoo’. Once again Pierless Music have got our grubby hands on a copy already and it’s well worth looking out for.

Find Bosco Rogers at: https://www.facebook.com/BoscoRogers

And last, but by no means least, are Dorey The Wise. The track is called ‘Rise and Fall’ and it’s the title track from their recent EP. Their new single, from the same EP, called ‘Brave New Light’, has just been released.

Since this video was made the band have added a new bass player to their ranks.

Dorey The Wise played a storming gig at Flairz last week, as headliners for the first ‘Off Axis’ gig in the South of England.

Find Dorey The Wise at: http://doreythewise.com/

Three great videos, from three great bands who are making an impression outside of the local area.

Good for them and long may that continue.

As always, if you know of any good local music videos that we may have missed, please let us know. Thanks.

Communication Breakdown

This is a guest post by Jeff Thompson. Jeff is the man behind the Off Axis gig swapping idea that we’ve mentioned on Pierless Music and in The Stinger magazine in the past.

We read this post, agreed with all that Jeff had written and thought it was well worth sharing with you. Thanks to Jeff for letting us do that.

If you are a musician, or a band, looking for gigs and trying to move forward with your music ‘career’, you should read this and act on what is written here.

Hopefully it won’t apply to you, but you may well learn something anyway.

“Next week Off Axis (http://unconventionhub.org/off-axis) heads to Hastings for our first show on the south coast, which we’re really excited about. Once again we have some fantastic artists working together to make opportunities for one another. Things are coming together great, and as ever, we’re spending a lot of our time talking to bands from all across the country.

For this post I wanted to write a little something about my observations recently as I think there could be one or two useful pointers for artists at a particular stage in their career. Over the last year or so that we’ve been communicating with bands there’s something that’s really struck me – how difficult it can be to get in touch with some bands (and this certainly doesn’t apply to ALL bands, but I’m surprised how many it does include).

Anyone who works in the industry will know the struggles of trying to get through to booking agents, festivals, radio producers and so on – it can seem a relentless job getting hold of some people. Of course, people in those roles are usually inundated, and hence getting through to them on email may be a real struggle – your email is just one of hundreds they might receive that day, and if it’s not immediately relevant it could quite easily find itself in the trash without ever being properly read.

What we’re finding with artists though is they fall into two very distinct categories when it comes to communication – i.e. good and not so good. It’s worth pointing out that we’re working with a certain level of artist here – they’re usually experienced, have a good following, and are certainly passionate about what they do. I’ve done a few panels recently (I also run music conferences) about the distinction between being amateur and professional, and when music is more than just a hobby, but at the same time is some way from being a ‘job’. It’s an interesting debate in the music industry – there can be a huge gap between the need (and desire) to commit as much time and effort to making music required to pursue a career (or some level of ‘success;), and indeed the time when that commitment produces any kind of financial return. That in itself I believe has always been the case, the juggling of work commitments and mid week long distance gigs, sneaking out early without the boss noticing in order to make soundcheck, coordinating annual leave to book some studio time – these are things that all bands go through.

Off the back of that debate, another thing we’ve been talking about at recent events is the need to for a common understanding on the ambitions and commitment of band members. Being in a band (as opposed to a solo artist) is a curious position to be in. Each individual member will have his or her own understanding of what being committed means – and if there’s too much variation in that understanding then problems occur – after all, a band is only as strong as it’s weakest link, especially when it comes to taking opportunities. If three of the band are prepared to get out of work early to make that last minute gig offer in London, but the drummer can’t do it because he’s going to the football that night then tensions will occur. Of course, it will happen from time to time, and it can’t be avoided on occasions, but on the whole everyone needs to be in sync. It’s fine if everyone wants to be in a band because they enjoy playing once in a while, and gigs are organised sporadically, and months in advance. If that is clear to everyone, and everyone is happy with that then that is great, and of course in some ways it will determine the progress of the band. On the other hand if you have a band that has decided they are going to put everything in to making things happen – then that is a different commitment and again everyone has to understand and agree to that. Bands (and it can change at different stages of their lifespan) might be either at the ‘hobbyist’ (for want of a better word), or ‘going for it’ (for want of a better phrase) end of the spectrum. Both are great places to be, so long as all of the individual members are agreed on where they’re at.

And of course, back to the point about the definition of amateur versus professional – it’s too simplistic to think that you’re ‘amateur’ until you’re getting paid to do something – the truth is, in order to succeed you need to be ‘professional’ a long time (many years in most cases) before it becomes something you do ‘for a living’. The bands I work with (I also run a label) are as professional and committed, perhaps even more so, than many bigger artists – being a professional musician is determined by your mindset rather than your bank balance.

All of this brings me back to where I started. The bands we are working with on Off Axis are indeed the ones with the professional mindsets and an understanding of their collective commitment and goals. And yet, at times, there still seems to be an issue with communication. I wanted to point out this isn’t just my experience with Off Axis, I also booked bands to play at large events (with crowds in the many thousands), and at other events where there are good fees on offer, and the same issues arise.

Usually I contact bands using the email address on their website or Facebook ‘about’ section. Invariably the address is along the lines of ‘bookings@ourbandname.com’ or ‘bookings@bandname.hotmail.co.uk’. Now that in itself makes sense, again we’ve done many a panel at conferences about the need to portray a professional image, and how davybigbelly82@gmail.com doesn’t always give the right impression to promoters or labels. BUT – the only point of giving the bookings@bandname.hotmail.co.uk address is if you check it regularly! I saw a presentation recently about ‘deadly sins’ of social media where having things like a redundant Twitter account, or a ‘Latest News’ section on a bands website where the last entry was a year ago can be very damaging. Basically, if you’re not going to use something then don’t have it. This is kind of the same thing. Yes, there’s a paradox here – a ‘professional’ email address is a good thing, but it’s useless if it is not actually used. My believe is that in many cases it is because bands are expecting to be proactive rather than reactive – they are expecting to have to chase gigs themselves, rather than getting offers out of the blue sent to them. It may be that they are only expecting to use that address at certain times. Even still, if you set up an account like that, and then display it as your point of contact then this is where opportunities (expected or not) will be directed – and of course it isn’t too tricky to set up on your phone or email software, even if it’s only to receive the occasional message.

As I said at the beginning, there seem to be two kinds of bands. The ones that respond promptly and the ones who don’t. It’s not too tricky to work out who get the most opportunities. I was talking recently to a friend who worked for a national radio station about this very thing and she said she found it the same. She would find a contact online for a band, usually for a fairly last minute, but significant opportunity, and often wouldn’t even get a reply, or if she did it would be a week later, and of course those kinds of opportunities go elsewhere pretty swiftly.

Anyway, the way it usually goes with these kinds of emails is I send some information about an opportunity to the bookings@myband type address. I wait a few days (thinking the band are probably just ringing round to check availability – that always has to happen). Then nothing. Then, I’ll try following up on the bands Facebook (I don’t imagine many promoters would bother). Often this works, and as a result of course, Facebook is now often my first (although not preferred) port of call. The response on Facebook will often be along the lines of, ‘wow, this sounds great, we’ll check our email’, or ‘wow, this sounds great, can you resend the info to my davybigbelly82@gmail.com address’. Sometimes a message to the bands Facebook also doesn’t solicit a response – usually the last post on there is weeks old. In this case, I’ll try and find the personal Facebook of one of the band members (I imagine even less promoters would go to that effort), and usually that gets a response – again along the lines of ‘wow, this sounds great! Sorry, I haven’t checked the bands email in a while, can you resend the info to my davybigbelly82@gmail.com address’. You get the idea. In fact sometimes that doesn’t work (after all Facebook isn’t the keeper of all human communication yet) and I have to track down a band that I know have played with the band recently to see if they have a number. Phone numbers almost always work for getting an immediate response. People seem to act on a text or a phone call in a way they don’t to an email or Facebook message.

As a result, we’re tentatively looking into introducing SMS into Off Axis (although it incurs overheads we’d rather avoid), but for now, and a much better solution, we’re asking the artists we’re working with to give us email addresses they actually use and check (sounds obvious, but there’s a learning curve there). We would rather have the davybigbelly82@gmail.com address, over the ‘band account’ that’s gathering dust on a server somewhere.

When bands register they get this message:

Email Address (IMPORTANT PLEASE READ) The Off Axis site will send you notifications via email. Please provide an email address that is checked regularly to ensure you can respond to gig requests promptly – only use your ‘gigs@bandname.com’ type address if it is one that is checked on a regular basis – otherwise please supply an appropriate personal / work address.

As I say, it seems simple enough, but it’s vital for what we’re doing.

Anyway, what’s the moral of this story?

Well, if you’re a musician you may have read numerous ideas about how to find ‘success’ in music. Of course, that discussion starts with a definition of ‘success in music’ – that’s another blog post – but on the whole they cover things like, first and foremost be brilliant, write great songs, be unique, build relationships and networks (I wrote a blog recently about networking), find your super fans, and all these kinds of ideas. I want to add two more points to that list:

1) Successful bands have a common understanding of their commitment and goals

2) They answer emails in good time

And of course the flipside of all this is there are certain bands who are brilliant at responding to stuff. They often reply to emails within minutes (often just to say, thanks for the opportunity, I’ll just check with the rest of the guys tonight and let you know tomorrow – that kind of thing) – but that simple level of communication is priceless. I have a list of bands in my head (and the friend from the radio station said the same) that I know will get back to me promptly, and whether they realise it or not that fact alone has led to me offering them countless opportunities.

So check those accounts, you may have been offered a ton of gigs and radio sessions that you knew nothing about.

And if you want to drop me a line about this blog you can get me at jeff@unconventionhub.org – I promise a prompt response!

Jeff Thompson”

This post originally appeared on The Hub and we thank them for allowing us to share it. Find The Hub at: http://thehubuk.com/

Off Axis with Dorey The Wise

Another Stinger related post, or maybe it’s just that the magazine times these things well?

This Friday, 14th November at Flairz in Hastings, the first Off Axis gig in the South East takes place.

Headliners are Dorey the Wise who were featured in the latest issue of The Stinger and who played an Off Axis gig themselves recently in Chester. Read that article here:

http://www.thestinger.org.uk/article/545b7740568463a4058f0264#.VF-krIdwYvo

For the uninitiated, Off Axis is a new and exciting gig swap idea which allows bands from across the country to play gigs to potential new fans, outside of their own local area.

Off Axis is an idea that is fully supported by Pierless Music, The Stinger and also Hastings Fat Tuesday. The Stinger has already covered Off Axis in the magazine and we hope to be working closely with the Off Axis team in the near future.

We’d certainly urge Hastings based bands to get involved, as its free to sign up. For more information about Off Axis follow this link:

http://livemusicexchange.org/blog/un-convention-off-axis-network-jeff-thompson/

Dorey The Wise are currently enjoying some great exposure. The band recently released a new single ‘Brave New Light’, which has come to the attention of Amazing Radio DJ, Charlie Ashcroft, who said “I absolutely love it, (it’s) one of those tracks that seems to have a certain Britishness to it, a track that’s impressed a lot of us in the Amazing Radio office.”

‘Brave New Light’ was also played on BBC Introducing: The South, last Saturday. You can hear that show via this link. Dorey The Wise are played around the 10 minute mark:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p029rn16

Support acts for this Off Axis gig are a new local band, Follow and The Floodgates, who hail from the Tunbridge Wells area.

It promises to be a great gig, hopefully we’ll see you there?

(Dorey The Wise photo by Pat Pope: http://www.patpope.com/)

Showcase @ The Forum

If you’ve read the latest issue of The Stinger magazine, you will have seen the feature about The Forum, in Tunbridge Wells. If not, follow this link:

http://www.thestinger.org.uk/article/545a57ed568463a4058f0260#.VFteQYdwYvo

In the feature The Forum’s new Showcase gig nights are mentioned, with details about how bands can get involved, even if they’re from the Hastings area and also what Showcase is all about.

Well, the first of the Showcase gigs is taking place on Thursday, 13th November 2014 and we’re very pleased to say that two Hastings based bands are part of the inaugural line up. The two bands are Kid Kapichi and Follow.

Well done to them for making up 50% of the line up. That’s pretty impressive as I’m sure there have been many bands, from across the South East, applying to play these Showcase gigs.

If you fancy going along to support our local bands, have a look at the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/316732041848993/

The reason The Stinger featured a venue such as The Forum in the first place was because of its reputation as a live venue and because of the amazing bands that they’ve put on in the past and continue to host now.

But, The Forum are also very keen on helping to promote new, up and coming, bands from the Kent and Sussex area. For example, the venue was a big supporter of Slaves in their early days and helped to kickstart their blossoming career.

So, why not get involved yourself and apply to play a future Showcase gig there?

Details on how to apply are within The Stinger’s feature, linked above and also via The Forum’s website: http://www.twforum.co.uk/

What have you got to lose? And who knows what you may gain from applying?

Keep Hastings Weird!

As you may well know, Pierless Music has connections with The Stinger magazine, which is soon to bring out its 5th issue.

Well, here’s a post that was written for that 5th issue, but which got squeezed out in the final editing process. We thought we’d share it with you here, as we felt it would be a pity to ‘waste’ it.

So, here you go:

“As we’ve been trying to reach out to the local music scene’s in other areas, via The Stinger magazine, a not too surprising realisation has come to me.
We really are spoilt for choice, both musically and culturally, in the Hastings area. I’m sure many of you are now thinking, “we knew that already Andy”. I know, but please bear with me.

I’ve only got to think back to all of the festivals and events that The Stinger has previewed during our first five issues to reinforce that. We haven’t covered everything either, as some events haven’t fallen right for our publication dates.
And the sheer breadth of all these events is quite something too. From Blues to Jazz, from Sea Shanties to Seafood and Wine, from Beach Concerts to Beer Festivals, there really is something for everyone in this town.

In this issue (Issue 5, out very soon) we are covering the local music scene (specifically The Forum) in Tunbridge Wells, a town of around 100,000 people. Yes, Tunbridge Wells houses one of the best live music venues in the country, The Forum itself, a venue we’re very lucky to have on our relative doorstep. The town also has an annual mini music festival called ‘Local and Live’ and some other regular music venues too, but there appears to be nothing that compares to the variety and amount of events that we can boast here (I’m very happy to be corrected on this point by the way, if somebody knows better)

Another aspect is the amount of musicians, bands and acts that live and perform in Hastings. As we all know, every night of the week there is something musical going on within the town. This is something that most musicians who move to the area comment on, they just can’t believe it. It’s why so many of them stay here.

Why is this? I guess that’s the $64,000 question isn’t it?

I saw a piece of local street art recently, during yet another festival, Coastal Currents. It read “Keep Hastings Weird”, maybe that sums it up?

Is it that quirky nature, that we seem to revel in here, that makes Hastings such a vibrant and productive town? We tend to pride ourselves on being just a little bit different to everyone else, don’t we?
Why else would we all dress up as Pirates, adorn ourselves with garlands of leaves and daub our faces with green or black paint, depending on the season?

Hastings likes nothing better than accentuating all that makes the town different to anywhere else. Maybe that’s why we attract all those creative and artistic people in the first place? We draw them in like a magnet, with our strange ways and a realisation that in Hastings they can just be themselves and nobody will care, or bat an eyelid.

So, be very thankful of what we have here and don’t ever become complacent about it, as I obviously was until reminded otherwise.

Celebrate and support your local music, arts and cultural scene. There really is nothing like it anywhere else. Let’s make sure we keep it that way.

Keep Hastings Weird!”

Andy Gunton

In Conversation With….

Off of the back of the recent short interviews I did during my Local Music Shows on Carnival FM, as part of the live sessions, I have now started to film some longer interviews.

They are called ‘In Conversation With’, the idea being that they will, hopefully, be more of a conversation than the usual structured interview. They are also not bound by time, so typically last around 30 minutes each.

I am doing them in conjunction with ‘befilmed’, who you can find here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdgpH6h8GNdE8BrJMNAuxxg

Incidentally, it was ‘befilmed’ who filmed and recorded the videos from those live sessions on Carnival FM recently. Those videos can also be found on their YouTube channel.

So far we have recorded 3 ‘conversations’, with several more planned. The aim is to feature local musicians, bands and others who have a connection with music in some way.

Some of the artists are also recording some acoustic songs for us at the same time, which will also be shared via the YouTube channel.

Why not subscribe to the channel to avoid missing any future ‘conversations’?

Here are the 3 ‘conversations’ recorded and uploaded so far.

Thanks for watching.