Kennett Square, PA

Day 1:

Half of us took the train from New York Penn on Amtrak, while the other half flew in from Chicago, Nashville and Austin! Already loving how touring brings folks together.

Taking the Amtrak is always, well…thrilling. For a Monday afternoon, it was fairly crowded at New York Penn station. Thanksgiving travel, I assumed. One tip I did learn after boarding that plane is when making reservations, is make them separate so you get separate tickets. When they announce the gate number, a herd of people with luggage just crams into the escalator door, making it hard for the 4 of us to go through together. I had to stand back and wait for everyone to get through and tell the impatient ticket man that these 3 guys are with me as they walked through.

I am with musicians who travel and tour for a living, so they knew to go right to the end of our coach class cart so we could find seats and luggage space easily. Done!

The ride was very easy and once we arrived at the train station, the driver was there to greet us. With one SUV for our 6 bags of LARGE luggage, it reminded ME to remind presenters that we are traveling with a lot of luggage and they need to prepare for that.

Once we all checked into the hotel, I planned a little welcome dinner for everyone to meet and catch up, and it was really fun for me to hear their conversations of past gigs, past collaborations, current state of the industry, current opinions of the industry…all of it. Something about being immersed around people who are really ‘doing it’ feels great to be a part of.

First day had some bumps, but nothing that can’t be handled. What I learned from the day:

1. Print out tickets for each person on the trip – take into consideration folks being late and getting lost in lines.

2. Don’t go for the first door on the train, walk down to the end to find a decent seat with luggage space.

3. Tell presenters you will need a large vehicle for transport – with musicians on the road for 3 weeks, that’s a lot of luggage.

4. If there’s time, plan a little meet/greet/catch up event, whether it’s a quick bite at a bar or a relaxed dinner. You are going to be on the road for weeks with these guys, make the effort to get to know each other! And also, hear some juicy stories.

Thanksgiving and Tour Annoucement

I was lucky enough to have 2 Thanksgiving celebrations with friends (my nephew responded with a “no FAIR!” over the phone) and it was days of red cabbage (my favorite side dish), pumpkin pie and of course a few games of Apples to Apples (get this game now if you don’t have it!)

While most might be relaxing and winding down the year, I, on the other hand, am planning a nationwide, 12-city tour for 6 musicians that starts December 2! Whew! Sounds easy, right?

I’m not only planning and coordinating the appearances, I’m also coming along for the ride. For the month of December, I’ll be on a large sleeper tour bus with 6 musicians and a sound engineer to tackle the “road life”. I’m going to learn first hand what it’s like to be a traveling musician and I certainly can’t wait to handle the inevitable hurdles and things that WILL go wrong.

So, to honor this new journey, I’ll be ‘live-blogging’ throughout the weeks with photos and stories! You are going to hear about the good AND the bad (no shame here), because it’s a learning experience. We all deserve to know what really happens on the road!

Let’s get this party started.

Packing.

So, what exactly DO you pack for 17 days on the road?

You don’t need social media. (How a Twitter chatroom changed my mind.)

Hey there,

I hope you are having a great day and gearing up for some serious turkey eating this week! I’ll be heading out to New Jersey for a Friendsgiving since home sweet home (Tyler, Texas) is just too far away.

Before the holiday, I wanted to share with you a recent personal discovery of mine that will really boost your Twitter presence and also might shift your mentality on social media, as it definitely did for me.

I recently became a BIG fan of joining in chat rooms, more specifically, Twitter chatrooms. To be honest, I always felt as if I don’t need to be THAT involved in social media; that somehow followers would come to me just because I was posting articles or sharing my tips.

Last week, I participated in my first Twitter chat room, hosted by GoGirlsMusic‘s Madelyn Sklar. And it proved me wrong.

How did it work?

For this particular chat, it lasted one hour on Thursday night, starting at 9PM EST, and you simply tweet with the hashtag #ggchat. If you follow this hashtag, others will be joining in the conversation and BAM, there’s instantly people to connect with!

There is typically a moderator who welcomes everyone (and you can welcome others who ‘join’ the chat) and brings up topics to start conversation – such as common questions or recent trending articles pertaining to the chat rooms purpose. In my case, #ggchat brings musicians and music industry pros together to discuss the latest topics and issues in the industry! This past Thursday we discussed which is better, releasing singles one by one or just waiting to drop the album.

Why Participate?

It’s exciting because you have access to a group of people you might not have been able to connected to otherwise. It’s a friendly environment to say “Hello” and an open invitation to network! The pressure is off!

From just doing a chatroom twice, I’ve already connected with a referral partner, setting up a call with a potential client AND grew my mailing list by 10%! Also, now I’m more established on Twitter, more people know about me, and I’m gaining more trust with my followers, which is so crucial!

Think what it could do for you! You could meet a person looking for your type of music to perform at their venue. You could ask advice on how you should promote your next single. And always, at least most of the time, the chatroom will allow you to share your latest projects (shameless plug) giving you the opportunity to target what you want to boost – whether it be Twitter followers, Facebook likes, newsletter sign ups or song listens!

Pro Tip before you join a Twitter Chatroom

Twitter chatrooms can be intense. Without the right tools, it will feel overwhelming and impossible to keep up with all these tweets coming in every less than a second. What I use for participating in chatrooms is Hootsuite. It’s free and you can create streams of both people tweeting with a certain hashtag, so you can follow a conversation, and also create streams of tweets at you, so you can answer anyone reaching out to you. It’s super helpful and highly recommended.

So, I hope you will take action and participate in a chatroom this week! Join us this next Thursday if you’re around for #ggchat chatroom! Who knows where it will take you!

Double your Performance Opportunities!

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As a musician you want to put yourself out there as much as you can – and one part of this means being proactive in finding your gigs (Read Bob Baker’s Get Your Ask Out). This means applying to be on a conference performance slots responding to a venue requesting submissions on Reverbnation, or with the rise of the idea of ‘concerts in your living room’, seeking out opportunities on Gigit or Concertsinyourhome.

You may start applications, and then fail to follow through and complete them because you began a different project, only to come back to it a few days later and realizing you missed your deadline. Or, you aren’t prepared for what they request in your profile or submission, for example, a high quality photo of the band or some attention grabbing press quotes. Not having these things ready causes the process to take way longer than it should!

Get organized by getting together in one folder:

  • 1-2 Hi-Res photos of you and/or your band, color and b&w
  • Band member full names/all instruments
  • 3-5 MP3s (most used format for submissions) of your top songs
  • 2-3 Videos on Youtube of your top plays or favorites
  • 3-5 killer press quotes from the top publications
  • Short (50 words) AND long current bio

You are also going to want to have that handy-dandy calendar I mentioned last week to be sure when you are available for the concert, event or conference.

Now, this is the hard part…sit down, start and finish that application!

The worst thing you could do is start the application, get distracted by something else, and then when you remember to return to the application days or even weeks later, discover you missed the deadline. Nothing is more frustrating than making such an easy error!

Once you get more comfortable with submitting to conferences, you can start a database with names of festivals you want to be a part of with deadlines/requirements and then you can clearly see that November is the time to submit to NAMM Conference in January.

Being that organized will make you efficient and quicker to get your applications in and on time, meaning more chances for you to perform!

Don’t Lose Followers Over This.

Twitter is a wonderful tool for quick shout-outs, headlines and direct communication with your fans.
But unfortunately, your account can get hacked pretty easily if you are not careful, and you’ll find yourself sending DMs (direct messages) to friends and fans such as:

This may not seem like an immediate issue, but this is really serious. Why?
Think about if you had received a spam message, what would you do? You’d worry that your account is hacked. You’d worry that the message would affect your account. You’d think that the person who sent it to you is not updating and keeping up with their twitter account. And you would probably un-follow them.

This is a threat to you as a musician if you have a Twitter account that is spammingfollowers left and right. You are easily risking un-follows and more importantly, losingtrust from fans in your account.

If you are on this side of the fence and are sending these spam messages to yourfollowers, here is how you can stop it right away the first time.

1.     Go to Settings > Applications.
2.     Deactivate ALL applications that you are not using, even if it seems harmless. Applications are usually authorized when you first sync them to your Twitter account to post and message on your behalf. Outdated or ones you are not using probably were hacked and therefore sending spam in your account.
3.     After you’ve deactivated unnecessary applications, change your password.

Usually folks think that only changing your password will stop the spam, but with my experience, you need the combo of deactivating unused applications and changing your password.

This should take care of any messages being sent in the future. However, to fix the damage that’s been done, be sure to tweet out an apology to your followers. Something like:

·      Sorry, everyone! Account was hacked – ignore all strange DM from me!
·      Man, got hacked. Please ignore/delete all strange DM sent from me! Sorry to everyone!
·      My apologies to everyone – was hacked and sent strange DM to a bunch of you. Please delete!

If you caught it in time where only a few DM were sent, it would be worth it to mention people in your tweet to make it more sincere. However, everyone will understand the general apology if you were hacked and sent 100s of spam DMs!

 

How Musicians Waste Time

Musicians, your time is valuable. You need that time to dedicate to creating and developing your music. But, as you grow in your career and business, the busy work does too. Updating websites, keeping up on social media, submitting music, coordinating rehearsals and interviews comes with the territory of a musician – and it’s a lot! To lighten the load, I’ll be sharing tips over the next few weeks on how to make the days go by easier.

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Coordinating a Rehearsal

How many email chains do you have of you going back and forth with your band on rehearsal times, days, places…a bunch, right? Scheduling might seem like it takes no time, but when you think about it, it can take a chunk out of your day. Things that might be slowing you down is when and how you initiate the first email to schedule a rehearsal.

When scheduling a rehearsal:

  • You want the rehearsal to be a few days / no more than a week from the performance day – so send the initial email about 3 weeks before the performance date.
  • Be sure to give everyone a few days to reply – not everyone is glued to their email inbox!
  • Give clear times on when you are free. Don’t say “Oh, I’m free whenever this week or next.” Instead, choose times and say “after 6PM on Tuesday, or 1-5PM on Friday”.
  • Tell them how long you want the rehearsal to be, whether it’s 2 hours, 4 hours or a full 8 hour day.
  • Find a time before you worry about the where it will be, a much easier task when dealing with a 5-member band.

Reminders are heaven sent to someone who has a swamped schedule. Once a meeting or rehearsal has been confirmed, I set up reminders with Boomerang for Gmail (or reminders in Outlook if you have that). Boomerang is great as it lets me choose a date and time to send a reminder. So, once I know a rehearsal will be next Tuesday at 5PM for 2 hours, I schedule a reminder to everyone in the band to send a reminder the day before. This has prevented the dreaded ‘double-booking’ that will happen as you get busier. Be smart and set yourself (and your band) some reminders.

For meetings or interviews, I tend to follow the same process. Pick the time for them, be clear on how much time you have, give them your contact info and set those reminders!