Joshua Tehee

Your band is your brand: Industry workshop puts artists in touch with the business of being a musician

Kam Kooks is an emcee who works with local promotions team RAD Music. The group is hosting an industry music workshop, Sunday January 28 at Tower District Records.
Kam Kooks is an emcee who works with local promotions team RAD Music. The group is hosting an industry music workshop, Sunday January 28 at Tower District Records. Special to The Bee

Of course John Safari brings up Kiss. The 1970s rock gods are a case study in music marketing – they were never the best band, regardless of their own press. But they are a superbly managed brand.

“They sell a coffin,” says Safari, a promoter, musician and co-founder of the Orange Country Music League, digital platform for artists in Southern California. “They have air guitar strings. That they sell.”

Safari will be in town on Sunday, Jan. 29, leading one of several panels at RAD Music’s Industry Workshop at Tower District Records. He’s one of several industry types speaking at the free event. There will also be representatives from the Sacramento talent agency, Artery Global, and Fresno’s Grizzly Fest music festival.

The workshop is designed to help local artists navigate through the business side of being a musician, says Nolan Davis, a promoter and agent with RAD Music.

“A lot of local bands have the same kind of questions, regardless of genres,” he says.

Like, what is pay-to-play? And can it be an effective form of marketing?

Answering those questions ensures that local artists, promoters, venues and talent buyers are all on the same page with what to expect before, during and after a gig. That is a boon for the local live music scene.

“A promoter’s job is to throw shows,” Davis says. “But to me, it’s important to see artists grow.”

So, the workshop will run in a series of 45-minute panel discussions on everything from band etiquette – show up on time with all of your equipment, please – and landing an agent and better gigs to the proper use of social media. For instance, Facebook: Do it, even if you hate it, Davis says.

A lot of us musicians are not thinking enough about the people who are buying the tickets.

John Safari, Orange County Music League co-founder

“Believe me, I hate using it, too,” he says.

But it’s often the first reference point for promoters, booking agents and touring acts looking at a band. If they can’t get more than 50 likes, it’s a solid guess the band isn’t going to have a huge draw when it comes showtime, especially if they are playing anywhere other than their hometown.

So, spoiler alert: Don’t be afraid to ask everyone you know to like and follow your band, even if it feels like blatant self-promotion.

It is. And it pays off, Davis says.

“It’s important to do all the dumb, tedious stuff. At the end of the day, it’s still a business,” he says.

Here is an opportunity to network with agents, promoters and musicians who work in, and understand, that business. Attendees should come prepared, with demos, band stickers and business cards, Davis says. He’ll make a space to have them displayed.

“When I leave, I hope to get spammed with invites.”

Music Industry Workshop

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