band management

Speaking at Kismet Thoughts – SAT APR 8 – FREE!

This Saturday, April 8 at 215 Spadina Street in Toronto I’ll be leading a FREE talk on Grant Writing & Planning for Kismet Thoughts from 12 p.m.- 2 p.m.

It’s not a panel so I’m solo on this thing but am going to be presenting a version of what I teach my students at Trebas in a condensed, casual style.

FB RSVP linked HERE 

With grant season just around the corner, don’t let this happen to you!

9 Ways YouRockRed HQ has Rocked December Madness

December has been a madhouse in the best ways possible.

Some major wins and highlights:

  • BSOMA to continue music industry info sessions until April 2015 (maybe longer!)
  • BSOMA sponsored band consults a major success
  • Clients Adaline and Stuck on Planet Earth both approved for Factor grants
  • Success of Sunparlour Players’ first Euro tour
  • Assisting in other clients Euro plans and music video development
  • Re-location of YouRockRed headquarters!
  • This super cool handmade patch from The Haig band
  • New client confirmations… (these I’m super stoked on)
  • Amos the Transparent Toronto album release party this Saturday at Rivoli, Toronto (where you’ll find me dancing)

Next week I feel like I’ll be doing my summary of favourite albums and shows of 2014.

Why you Need More than 1 Band Biography to Get Attention

Here’s an industry secret on band biographies:  the ones who get the most publicity have more than 1.

There’s three kinds of band biographies. A short 1-paragraph bio, a medium 2-3 length bio, and a full page bio.

1 paragraph approach is great because it’s the most direct line – people will follow up if they need more info but these are the basics that need to be included.  Think of this as your elevator pitch.  If you’ve cornered your favourite magazine or head of Universal THIS is how you would sell your band.

  1. Your band name and hometown
  2. Who you sound like (You’ve heard the whole, if Zepplin had a love child with Chromeo we’d be its illegitimate offspring before, right? No? Well, if you’re stuck this metaphor technique helps.)
  3. Who you’ve played with/notable successes
  4. Why anyone should give a shit about your band, rather, what makes you special

Plus, if you’re cold- emailing someone, this is the most professional approach as you’re not just copying and pasting a whole whack of content a promoter, agent or radio station didn’t ask for. If you’re clear and concise, you’ll stand apart from the rest. A 1 paragraph can easily be copied and pasted for live show bylines at clubs/venues web promo and filter through others like radio, blog and photographers. It really pays to have this prepared.

Now if you’ve just done something noteworthy like win a songwriting competition, achieved a landmark in crowd-funding or shot a music video that’s gone viral, that’s where background information in form of word length can help you. Tell the reader why the director of the music video is important to you or what relationship you have with them that’s going to make it an international hit.  Explain the meaning of the song in relation to the music video content. If you’ve had other music videos become popular mention the song names and if possible hit counts or where the video led to the song being placed or an artist of note that was a fan of the video.

A full page band bio is basically your EPK with a photo all web links and press highlights on top of artist history, discography, and notable successes.  Make sure you have a PDF of this in addition to high res band portrait photographs as it’s principally used for publicity/journalism.

One thing to hammer home here is making sure that your bio is CURRENT and free of spelling mistakes. And whatever you do, don’t fabricate any facts or quotes.

Conferences, festivals and media outlets all have different needs. These bios mean that you can adjust to them and are the perfect fit for them.

And if you’re not sure how to write a band bio, check out this post I wrote last year.


Rock Star Lessons: 15 Ways to Not Suck at Doing Interviews

I did a lot of press recently for a big event I run called the Ottawa Rock Lottery.  We make national press attention every year and as someone who has been a journalist on the other side for the last 11 years we’ve seen our fair share of artists shoot themselves in the foot in the interview process by being too candid, unprepared or just drunk.  With YouRockRed we offer training on how to do interviews and handle yourself in public but this week’s blog post is going to deal with how to present yourself and promote whatever you are selling without sounding like an idiot.

  1. Select a band member who does the strongest press and has the best handle on how to represent you. It’s rare that media wants to interview more than 1 person.  This person is then responsible for representing all members so make sure you’re all on the same page on what is and is NOT on the docket for sharing.
  2. Have a working cell phone and email. If you’re late, call, text, send a pigeon. Better yet, arrive 15 minutes early or be by your phone 10 minutes early just in case there’s difficulty with reaching you because of international calls, busy signals or another interview going late. Don’t be afraid of messaging your manager if the interview goes late. Test your Skype signal to make sure it works in advance.
  3. Don’t assume they are calling you. Always re-confirm the day of (or have your manager do so) as a friendly reminder.  It can be as simple as, “We’re excited to talk to you about our new album at 3:30 EST today! You’re calling us, right?”
  4. Make a note of time zones and if you’re traveling across Canada or Europe, always write EST, PST, etc.
  5. Know that most interviewers have 15-20 minutes for the average profile. Morning television 5 minutes and evening you’ll be lucky to get a full minute.  You have to work within THEIR limits.  Even if you’re bored to tears on the bus and want to chat, they need to write up or audio edit as soon as they get off the phone with you. Your answers need to be concise and to the point.  Don’t be a broken record but repeat the main important points of what you’re trying to promote in a personable way.
  6. Know who’s interviewing you and be polite.  If you’re at a college radio station they’re probably going to be a lot greener to doing interviews but that much more enthusiastic about having an artist actually in studio. Be grateful.
  7. Bring free stuff or at least offer to put the interviewer on the guest list (with permission of the promoter of course).
  8. Before you get a publicist know your band identity.  Know what your band biography says and be ready to repeat it word for word.
  9. Be confident about your answers. Don’t fumble and say uh, er, ah, like or “you know.” No, we don’t know. You need to tell us what you mean specifically. Chances are being in a band is what occupies most of your thoughts and dreams.  Be declarative but not cocky.
  10. Study your press release. If you have a publicist they’ve worked really closely with your management team or yourself to come up with how you are to be represented. Sometimes all journalists can read is that short 400 bio with a clip of your music.
  11. Don’t be offended if the interviewer isn’t familiar with your entire back catalog. If you’re an emerging artist, you should be stoked that they have haunted your Youtube page long enough to be familiar with your two strongest songs.
  12. Don’t talk in clichés. Simple idea but you don’t want to know how many times I’ve had to fast-forward over artists saying “how difficult it is to make it, make music, survive,”; we’re interviewing you. We’re interested. Tell us why you’re different from all the shitty bands doing all that.
  13. Arrive sober and ready to share your story be it about your new album or current tour. Don’t focus on downers like your van breaking down, talk about how stoked you are to play the local club. Try to arrange your interviews BEFORE you play to avoid any substance/adrenaline mishaps.
  14. Know where you’re playing, what city you’re in, and walk around a bit before you arrive at the interview.  Local people love it when you name drop a great burger joint. Stuart McLean of Vinyl Café does this every week on CBC and it thrills audiences to no ends.
  15. At the end of the interview say thank you and mean it. Rock star attitude only goes so far in mainsteam media.

Don’t do this.

What Your Band Facebook Event is MISSING- PART 1

This might seem really basic but instead of just shaking your head we at YouRockRed decided to hook you up with a checklist so you can pack that club full of your music fans!

*Tune in next week when we hook you up with a TEMPLATE you can print and check off to be super organized, you smarty-pants rockstars, you!

PART 1- You must include: 


-          Include ALL info when it comes to this and double check

-          Include the Weekday/end day.  Spell OUT Saturday.  Spell out MAY.  Don’t just write “We’re playing 6/11.” SPELL IT OUT.

Venue info:

-          Venue name AND address with STREET NUMBER (if it’s difficult to find, let people know to turn left at the pizza shop concisely)

-          Venue in the facebook map

-          The venue name spelled correctly (if your fans are driving from out of town you don’t want them to turn up at the wrong Il Mocambo when it’s actually El Mocamba right?

-          If the event is 19+, all Ages, 18+, 21+, kid-friendly

-          If there is parking nearby

-          Buses to take there and nearby stops to get off at (if it’s in a weird place and public transit ends early, let people know so they can catch their rides home!)

-          Dress code? I know you’re not Arcade Fire but if the band is doing a themed-party, say Flapper-style, let your audience know they’re expected to dress to impress… or better yet, throw them “$1 off for coming in costume”

Band Info:

-          List of bands spelled correctly

-          List them in order of performance, not how YOU’D like to play. E.g. We know you’re not headlining over Arcade Fire.  List accordiningly.

-          Define what genre they are e.g. “Mother’s Heroes- folk-rock from Winnipeg” – this is especially helpful for newer bands your audience may not be familiar with

-          List ALL bands you’re playing with including the opening DJ.  Don’t burn bridges and be an asshole because the bass player of the opening band once slept with your ex-gf.  Like it or not, listing their band will DRAW more people to see YOUR band.

-          Websites after the band where you can find out more info.  If they have a Facebook page “@xband” to be hyperlinked automatically


-          Labels associated with them, “e.g. Mother’s Heroes – Saddle Creek Records”

-          Any recent press, “Mother’s Heroes are Winnipeg’s answer to Bob Dylan- Jian Ghomeshi, CBC’s Q”

Is your event a fundraiser?  What charity? 

-          Include links to the charity, possible a brief sentence or two about why the event is benefiting this organization/person/dog-rescue crew.


Embrace your geek and stop marketing your band to everyone

Your band is unique.  It’s special.  You’ve got a talent and vision that no one else does… so why are you marketing to everyone?  The internet is this vast beast that within seconds of listening to your music a click of your mouse could never give your band another chance.

Through selective marketing when you’re first starting up the right crowd will follow and support your band, thereby introducing you to an audience that you may not have ever dreamed existed.  You have to be successful in one market in order to prove to the rest of the world why you’re worth checking out. 

You’ve got to set your music apart and embrace what it is that makes you special.  This may sound like a big of hoo-ha, but give me a chance to explain through this song.   

Who loves you, baby?

You’ve already got a built in audience you may not be taking advantage of.  These people come to your shows, tell all their friends online of your new music, and buy whatever it is you’re selling.  You need to place high value on them.

If you’re an indie pitching a new single and just calling it a love song, radio programmers and bloggers unfamiliar with your name (especially if you don’t have a publicist) probably won’t give it a listen if it’s just a link.  What they’re interested in is the BACKSTORY AND the music.  Say your dog died recently.  You could you reach out to your local animal shelter to do a charity event or make a tribute video online that encourages people to share how they’ve dealt with link to your music below the video box.

Maybe your music gets played at the local comic book shop because sometimes you sing about Batman – could you sell your albums there? Set up a mini display to sell tickets to your shows?  Could they recommend a local artist to do your next album art?  They’ll tell their friends, family, and other comic book fans.

If you’re obsessed with the words of Sylvia Plath and Baudelaire, why not incorporate their words into a music video, your art work, your posters, your onstage show by bringing a book up with you?  People will be able to relate and see who you really are instead of your trying to be a rock star with no personality.  With the internet now, people want to see what makes the band beyond the music.  Kathleen Edwards on a weekly basis posts pictures of her Siamese cats and quilts she’s working on through Instagram and to me that is far more interesting than an artsy photo of a drum kit getting set up.

I’ve seen this countless times within the LGBT community; you embrace your true identity and BAM- a whole new market opens up.  In the early 2000s it was album marketing yourself through “core” descriptions, “Metal-CORE, nerd-CORE, thrash-CORE.” These labels might have been dumb to the scene kids, but they let you know what you were in for.

If you feel most comfortable draping yourself in feather boas and wearing a dress (especially if you identify as a man) during rehearsal, why not present yourself as such on stage?  OWN IT.  Don’t do anything different to appeal to everyone.  It worked for David Bowie.

Maybe your music is used on a local radio show program as their theme song, or a track of yours was used in a TV show recently- reach out to their audience.  Get on twitter, see who they’re interacting with and suggest they try your music with a link or free download code.  Chances are if the show’s music producer saw something in it, it fits their demographic.

If your music includes really strong political beliefs, proud feminist messages or you are just absolutely obsessed with Lil Bub, your audience will find you and it’s up to you to not turn them away by being generic about how you present yourself.

There’s all these small things you can do to build up the audience you already have.

Like any art it’s risky to expose yourself, but even riskier to buy into a generic image that will make you one in a mass of artists trying to make it.


Lisztomania – The Importance of Being Organized as a Professional Artist

You’ve heard it before from the biggest names- Treat your band like you would a business.  I’m currently sitting here sending off invoices to clients and following up with little check marks in fancy table graphs for what grants have been applied to, whether the results have been made public, which officers to check in with for payment transfers and which clients have been sent a reminder email to pay the lady in red (me!).


I’ve always been one for making huge lists.  There’s literally stacks of notebooks around the YouRockRed office filled with them, but lists for bands are just as important.  Keeping a running list in Excel of where you’ve received press, what country, what outlet, a LINK (super important), date things were published- all of this has a HUGE impact on you.  Otherwise you’re combing through past Google Alerts (which if you don’t already have set up for your band STOP and do that RIGHT NOW!) trying to find that amazing review where the writer obviously was crushing hard on your live set.


Same goes for keeping a strict account record of ALL of your performances.  Don’t rely on your team to keep your Sonic Bids up!  You as an artist need to know exactly where you’ve performed.  There could be an incredible promoter you want to follow up with but if you’re doing 20+ dates how are you going to remember if all your press release says is that you played Thunder Bay?  You want that PHONE number of that promoter.  Also Factor requires all contact information to verify dates if you do indeed get audited.  A quick note about how many people were in attendance too on top of recording your albums sold and getting it signed for SOCAN is also super important.


All of this may seem so simple it’s almost laughable but there’s been countless acts I’ve seen not have their shit together and it affects their ability to run the band like a business because of their lack of organization.  It’s great to be able to focus on artistry but just being able to PASS this information on to a responsible team member or hired help (label, PR, etc.) makes your life as an artist SO much easier.


That’s today’s music industry lesson.  Now go make questionable rock and roll snowmen.

kiss snowman