‘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.

100 Not Out

On Thursday, 2nd October in Hastings, Tara Reddy, Tim Barton and Simon Mouatt (plus friends) are together hosting two events to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the publication of Robert Tressell’s ‘Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ and its subsequent impact on socialism in Britain.

(‘Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ was famously set in the fictional town of Mugsborough, which was modelled on Robert Tressell’s hometown of Hastings. Tressell was a sign writer here and examples of his his work can still be seen by the eagle eyed.

Sadly, Robert Tressell died in 1911, before the publication of ‘Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’)

Events on this day of celebration will include live music, mini-talks, a book-stall, performance poetry, story-telling, a photographic display of key events and a performance by the well known socialist poet Attila the Stockbroker.

In the afternoon, at the Urban BBQ in Robertson St (2-6pm), there will be readings from Tim Barton, Bryan MacMahon (author of ’Robert Tressell, Dubliner’), story-telling, acoustic music and a bookstall.

The evenings entertainment at The Carlisle (7pm to midnight) will begin with local singer/songwriter Tom Cole, followed by National Blues Award winner (2014) King Size Slim, the legendary Tymon Dogg and the aforementioned Attila the Stockbroker. There will also be contributions from Professor of Economics Nick Potts, Martin Chomsky (author of ‘RTP Downsized’), Selena Saliva (poet), the local Tressell Society and Chopper (DJ).

The evening will be compered by David Francis and will close with the Brighton-based punk band Pig City Angels. It sounds like a great evening of varied entertainment.

Both events will be non-ticketed (i.e. free) in order to encourage a larger audience, although individual donations to meet event expenses will be welcomed.

The events are planned to coincide with the launch of a Hastings campaign, headed by Tara Reddy, to install a permanent statue of Robert Tressell in the town. Which sounds like a great idea to us and one that is long overdue as well.

Further information will be given on the day and there will be an opportunity to sign up for the memorial campaign as well.

Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou

There have been many instances of musicians moving to the Hastings area in recent years. In fact I heard of another well known name, who’s just moved here, only the other day. I’ll leave you in suspense as to who it is….

One act who do now call St Leonards On Sea their home are husband and wife duo Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou. Having said that, they don’t seem to spend a lot of time in their new hometown, as they’ve been touring almost non-stop, with more dates to come in the near future.
In fact they have, literally, just returned from a tour of the USA and Europe with Tori Amos.

In October they go out on tour again, this time in the UK, supporting Danny and The Champions of the World.

If you want to see and hear why they are in such demand as a support act, they have a hometown gig this Sunday, 31st August at the Masonic Hall in St Leonards On Sea. On this occasion they will be the main act, supported by Dan Whitehouse.
I’ve not see Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou live myself, so will certainly be there for this gig. I did however play tracks from their 2012 album ‘La Ferme De Fontenaille’ on both Hastings Rock and Carnival FM recently and can heartily recommend that.

If all the musicians who decide to move to our area are in same class as Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou, I say keep ‘em coming.

Andy Gunton.

Location, Location, Location

We posted an article a while ago about music videos that had been made in Hastings. You can find it here: http://pierlessmusic.co.uk/six-great-hastings-pier-music-videos/

Well, another one has now come to our attention, although this time it was filmed at Pett Level.

It features Kaiser Chiefs and is of their new single ‘My Life’, which comes from their most recent album ‘Education, Education, Education and War’.

See what you think.

What a great spot to make a video.

Let’s hope that many more acts follow in Kaiser Chiefs footsteps and use the Hastings area as their music video location.

If they do, we’ll be sure to let you know.

PS: We’ve just remembered a couple more locally filmed music videos.

First off are Skinny Lister and ‘If The Gaff Don’t Let Us Down’, filmed on Hastings beach and in the sea too. Brrrrr…

And who could forget David Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’, famously shot at Ecclesbourne Glen, between Hastings and Fairlight.

Anymore?