Precision Practice

Are you having a hard time hitting a phrase of notes in a song? I have a quick solution to your tiny problem!

Macgruber always misses
  • Our first step is establishing and working out which notes we need to hit, what techniques are used to get the sound we want.
  • Our second step is finding out what tempo they’re playing the song, you’d be surprised how often you’re playing the song at the wrong tempo.
Just imagine if Jack had bad tempo here! Damn!

Now that we’ve worked through that duh stuff. We need to practice that phrase alone for a dedicated amount of time, let’s say fifteen minutes (I know you have at least fifteen minutes today). Don’t worry about the rest of this song. Just focus on that phrase. Sit with a metronome and put in the work. This is where you will actually improve. YOU MUST PUT IN THE TIME!

Insert Steve Miller song here

Let’s say you’re having a hard time switching to a specific chord.
I like to run this drill if that’s the case. Take your hand and form the chord with your fret hand, then touch your leg with your fretting hand. It’ll look something like this.

I really want to drive this home. You need to use a metronome when you practice. This will keep you straight when you’re practicing. If you’re not able to keep up with the metronome at beats per minute (bpm) the song requires, slow it down 10 bpm. After you’ve mastered that bump, the bpm up 5 till you have that. Repeat that until you’re 10 OVER the speed the song requires! This will ensure your subconscious that you have mastered the part! (Sneaky, huh?) If you absolutely HATE using one, use a drum machine. But the metronome is the best, it won’t let you hide what you need to improve.

  • If you’re already up around 200 bpm, you can start over with 8th notes, triplets and 16th notes. I am notoriously bad at 16th notes. This drill has really helped me to improve my stamina and timing. It’s hands down the best drill for strumming/picking technique.
What the hell kind of song is this?!

If Having trouble with a full solo?
Break it into chunks that you can understand. 99% of music follows a set of rules. Once you understand that the solo you’re playing is in a G Mixolydian scale, you can switch over to start practicing that. Does the word Mixolydian scare you? It shouldn’t! You don’t have to understand everything about the concept to be able to use it well.

What people sound like when they talk about music theory

Understand that these things take time dedicated to that specific part.
Sure, sometimes you can pick something up, and it just works right off that bat. But more often than not, you have to spend time working on the part. Don’t be discouraged! It’s part of life, and it’s what makes it rewarding.

Respect your craft and put in the time. Most of the time, it’ll only take 20 minutes of dedicated practice to get something solid. If it’s a complicated part, sure it’ll take a couple hours. But that’s really not that long if you think about how many hours you have in your life, or just spend bingeing Nextflix! I believe in you!

Cancele culture has gotten the best of me AGAIN!

As a sign of good faith, here’s America’s sweetheart flipping you off

F*** you! It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood!

Stage banter: How to win your audience over between songs

In the war of affection, battles are won in-between the songs sung. 

Shit just got real.

With that setlist you’ve crafted, you’re making them gasp! “Holy shit! Did you hear that?!” or something like, “I’ve never heard that covered that way!” Or the best would be, “Who wrote that song?” and you respond, “Well, I did! Thank you for asking!” Let me tell you, the easiest way to lose someone 

A quick example of someone crushing it

Banter is a skill that must be developed; it creates the moment that captures a person and changes them from a listener to a fan.  

I haven’t met a person better at this than my friend, Jacob Morris. I would guess that at some point, he wasn’t as good as he is now. Natural talent only gets you set on your path, you have to develop it to become great at something, and this is worth being great at. So how do we get better? 

I’ll plug Jacob’s music at the bottom of the post!

  • Tell concise, funny, interesting stories.

Work on making these strong facts and stories. Maybe you’re like me and you don’t like repeating yourself. But it’s okay to tell the same stories! Just like how it’s okay to play the same song to different audiences. Some key points to talk and embellish would be something like

  • Where was the first time you heard the song you’re about to play?
  • What do you love about the song?
  • What’s a funny lyric in the song?
  • If you don’t have anything attached to the song, why are you playing it?

If you tell a story and people respond well to it, keep that story! If they don’t give two shits, edit that story! For reference, a story should never go more than around 45 seconds long. Seriously, unless that’s part of your act or you are SLAYING, don’t go on for too long. Talk when tuning your instrument

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. But it should be worked on and mastered! Silence is okay. Seriously, it’s okay for there to be some dead air in-between songs. Being able to talk fluently while tuning is the icing on your cake, baby. It is a subliminal action that leads others to believe that you were made for this. Plus, it keeps in control.

  • People like being talked to (for the most part)

You will quickly learn when someone does not like being pointed out. Most of the time, this will not be the case. Be smart about it. More often than not, pointing out someone and playing with the crowd brings them closer to you (duh) and gets you better tips! Come back to these people in between songs. If you feel confident in taking requests, ask them what they want to hear! Most of the time, you can get away with only play a verse and a chorus of a requested song, ask them their name, use the mic to tell everyone this song is for “Jim. with the cool boots.” People eat that shit up! 

  • Play to your strengths

You have the microphone, you’re in charge! If you are naturally good at noticing a cool article of clothing someone is wearing (that’s a real quality), then play to that. I mean, within reason, of course. Don’t go overboard. If you’re really good at telling stories, then strongly integrate that into your act. If you’re good at improvising, do that! Ask yourself what you do well, then when you print your set, make a point to allocate time to these attributes you have, they will feel like home base and keep you grounded. It’s not only a good idea, but it’s also encouraged to write down, “Say something to the audience.” You can reuse the material you’ve said at other shows. Keep them engaged, damn it! 

There’s no love like self love!
  • Learn from your mistakes

Do you know what the difference is between stand-up comics and a musician is? They tell jokes, you play music. That’s about it… ok, obviously that’s not the only thing, but I’m driving home a point here. Both required you to make up a set amount of material. They hone their set and have to cut jokes (or for you, songs/stories) that don’t work. 

Don’t be like Gob
  • Pay attention to names when they’re given to you.

What do you have to do to remember someone’s name? Well, shit, do that! I usually associate them with someone from my childhood. The name of an actor or an old neighbor almost always works. If you don’t know anyone with that name, ask them how they spell it, then spell it back to them. That usually works for me! You can’t do that into a microphone, and you don’t want to take more than 15 seconds on one name. If you can’t remember it, don’t bring them up again! Haha, don’t risk it. If you can write down a name without it being too blatantly obvious, then do it. If you’re playing with multiple musicians, have one of them write down their name when you ask for it! Hey, that’s a cool idea, huh?!

Yeah, tell ’em B
  • Plug yourself.

I don’t know why this seems like such a hard thing to do. But you should be saying your name and where people can find you once every 3 or 4 songs. Does that seem like a lot? Just think back to when you asked for someone’s name, remember how hard it is to remember it when you only hear it once!? Well, others feel the same way! Always have your name listed someone near you, and if you have a social media tag or a plug on a streaming service, even better! 

Plug it in, plug it in
  • Don’t come off as an asshole.

Don’t be too smarmy or too self-deprecating. Let people decide if they like you. You really don’t have to tell people how great you are or how much you messed up. They have eyes and ears, they already know. Just be yourself, baby! Everyone will love you, and if they don’t. Well, f*** ’em. 

Great, can you act a little less like a person acting terribly though?
  • Remember how boring it can be to talk to a stranger who doesn’t know how to edit down their story. It’s the worst. I mean literally, it’s 
  1. Hearing a story about someone that isn’t you 
  2. Cancer 
  3. The holocaust 
  4. Cardi B’s Last album

Sorry to jump on the bash Cardi train. It was an easy laugh. 

Lastly, I want you to think about the physical space you’re taking up on the stage. Are you tucked in a corner? Can you move without knocking something over? Feeling a little claustrophobic? Well, that’s hurting your act! I’ve played plenty of tiny stages, and I know it’s not always an option, but if you’re trapped, you should always ask to spread out just a little! Seriously, you not being able to move is a “no duh” concept, but one that most of us just suck up. Well, NO MORE! You’re a performer damn it! I want you to read this and fully understand any physical discomfort you’re feeling is coming through in your music, and the way you talk to others. Be proactive and make a move so you can give the show what it deserves! 

How to get press in the DIY era

I really loved reading this article! I think they make a lot of great points. The biggest being… waiting on someone will not get you what you want.

I really want to repeat what they say, but you know… actually make it fun to read (that is kind of important).

Four score and twenty-six seconds ago…

The first thing this marvelous blog pointed out is that you can be the one to create the press release! I know?! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before! Send it early. Touch the points you want them to elaborate on. Make their job as easy as posting what you’ve written. Be meticulous, comb the press release for mistakes. 

“You should ideally prepare and send your press release three months before your release.” – Richie Valentine

Well said Richie Rich! If you’ve ever thought, “Why isn’t this going well for me?” It’s probably because you gave the press your pitch a week before it’s release. You fool.

Lots of time, lots of detail. If you enjoy the read, others will as well. 

If you don’t write well, pay someone else to write for you. You have options, kids.

Yes, but only because you’re so handsome.

Polish up that EPK! You want that looking new and fresh and to compliment that press release! I’ve preached about EPK’s for a while now. If you’re confused about what that is (electronic press kit) or how to create one. Follow this link to my post on how to create a dope ass EPK.

Haha, it’s funny; my post is really just breaking down what their post said. 

There are PLENTY of places you can pitch your press. Think outside your circles into international waters, baby! If you don’t know what your local press looks like, it’s time to figure that out. It’s as easy as searching Google or Instagram. They’re not trying to hide from you, you just have to look through all the garbage out there.

Develop a strong short pitch and an even better long pitch. It should last 20 seconds, you can feel like a robot but sound like a kid. Why should someone listen to your music? If you don’t know why or can’t explain it, that’s okay! Seriously, it’s okay. Take the time to learn how to explain it. Write it out, pitch it to friends, see if it sticks! 

Hi, I play music. Listen. Maybe?

Tapping into the press will make your career! It’s hard to break through, but remember it comes down to relationships. If you have a good healthy relationship with someone in the press, you have an in. Just like any other relationship, it has to be nourished. 

No one is going to give this to you. Let’s make it happen. Start today, email, DM, PHONE CALLS!!! Yes! That’s still a thing, and almost always yields the best results. Whatever it takes!

Having trouble marketing on social media, try this trick!

Social media seems to be the only way most of us are marketing. All of us seem to be under the assumption that Hollywood was right, and just because we are talented (and the protagonist of our story), we will put out music and the world we do one of these.

Or this
Maybe this?
Or even THIS!
Well, let’s not get too silly.

That’s not how the world works, though! 

Did you know that only around 10% – 20% of your followers actually see your posts? Check out this well-written article from “Causely.”

If you frustrated that you’re not getting more interaction, this is why!

So how do we get to that other 90%? Well, you have to pay, of course! Duh. But all of this can get super expensive, super fast. We are on a budget, working the barista wage to make our creative ends meet. But for $365 a year, you’ll be able to reach most of the people following you. 

Gosh, now I’m just part of the machine.

Haha, that sentence makes it seem like such a racket. But I have to remember, setting up these accounts is free and social media is HANDS DOWN the best way to reach people in 2020, although texting and email list should be utilized as well. As obnoxious as they can be, they work.

Should you promote every single post you create?

No. But through this simple trick, you can spend your money wisely. 

This idea came directly from the CEO of Disc Makers. It’s a brilliant idea, and everyone should be doing it! The full video is linked here.

Here’s the formula, over three days post three different photos, or videos, or flyers and see which one gets the most traction. Then promote the most liked post for a dollar a day! It’s easy, your fans have chosen it for you! 

Ok, hmmm… Yes… Ok.

Take note of which posts attract the most likes. Was it a video? Start making more of those. If it’s a picture of your face with very little text, start cranking out material like that! Part of your job as an artist is to work on marketing, this is what a PR team would do for you! 

Mix it up with each post

On each post, make it unique in the wording to see which sticks with everyone the most.

Be specific with your call to action

Make sure you’re directing your followers towards something. Maybe it’s your website, or a to like your profile, or you’re sending them to your song (or product) Be specific with your direction and what you want them to do.

who is your audience?

You can set a specific demographic to push towards. There are a lot of benefits to doing this. Right off the top of my head, if you were touring a new area, you could promote in that area to your typical demographic. Maybe that would be Men around the age of 18-24? Idk?! Whatever you think works for you. 

If you choose automatic, the algorithm targets people like your followers, the followers of your followers. It’s usually the easy (and right) choice, most of the time you should choose this!

You’ll want to fight this, but don’t!

You can put more than a dollar a day, but at first, I wouldn’t do more than that! Right now, we’re just trying to figure what our fans like! Later on, we should be putting more into what we’re posting.

Remember the 50-50 rule. Whatever money you put into creating something, you should be putting that much into marketing. I know that sounds expensive, but it takes money to make money, yo!

But Tom, you already have so much.

In summary, if you’re not paying for your fans to see it, they do not see it. I know that sucks, but that’s where we are now! Keep smacking it out of the park, keep posting and finding ways to reach people, make real connections, and I promise you that people will notice, and you’ll see growth! 

WWDD – What would Debbie do?

Also remember, the bigger a fan you are of others, the more fans you will gain. It’s the golden rule of local music.

How to get on a Spotify playlist (according to Spotify)

You have heard 1,000,003 times that you need to get on a playlist for Spotify! And there are literally thousands of columns on how to get your songs on a playlist, getting 1,000,003 plays. 

The number of the day is 1,000,003.

Sure, you see that your buddy has thousands of spins, and somehow they got on a playlist, and you’re wondering how the hell they do it!? Deserving or not, there are ways to get on the playlist, and it comes down to the same thing that always does, a little extra preparation and a lot of luck. 

…and maybe a little extra on the side.

Spotify makes a massive deal about promoting that they do not take pay to play songs. Meaning if somebody comes up to you and says, “Pay me, and I’ll get you on a Spotify playlist.” They are lying to you. 

Let me clarify, they might be able to get you on a playlist with a lot of listeners, but it’s not a Spotify playlist.

Although nothing is guaranteed, the best way that you can get your song on a playlist is to give them the music well before it is released. I’m talking weeks to a month. I know this is really hard because when I get the music, I want to drop it as quick as possible. But I’ve written a song that reminds me that I have to pre-release the song… Ahem, it goes something like this. 

“I’m over-eager and a piece of shit! I got a wait for it to come through.”

  1. You have to tag the right way.
An example of the wrong way to tag

Typically when you tag something, you want to hit it with just about everything you got! We’re gunning for the best search engine optimization! But when it comes to Spotify, we have to be calculated with our tagging. 

An example – I have put my music under the tag of “pop” because I’m not quite sure that I would be considered indie rock (or because “pop” is the most consumed genre of music, so I should be where all the people are, right?). But, I’m not pop, and I will never be on a playlist where my song is played right after the newest Lady Gaga song. 

Damn, that would be cool, though.

Who did it better? Vote in the comments!

You have to be extremely thorough with the tag! Spotify gets thousands of songs submitted every day. It’s like when you interview for a job, if you show up to a job interview five minutes late, you’re not gonna get the job. I don’t care how great you are. Make sure you give the tag that the song deserves! If you’re a hip-hop artist and you drop a moody indie alt track, you list it as an indie alt track!

I’m fed up too Jerry.

Let me go on record saying I hate the word indie. It’s a bull shit umbrella that covers WAY too much ground. Just remember that you’ll have to be thorough passed the point of just saying “indie.” It’s worth the time it takes to find out what everyone else would call your music. 

If you need help, follow this link!

There are more playlists available than you think.

There is a Christmas playlist, we have a Saint Patricks Day playlist. A Netflix and chill playlist (really? How can you watch a movie and listen to music at the same time?) playlist for studying, working out, dancing, birthday’s anniversaries… you name it, it’s out there. You don’t have to just aim for the “Indie rock Genre” page. You’ve got options!

2. Getting the music to them early. 

The earlier you get your Music to Spotify as a pre-release, the better your chances are! Nothing is guaranteed, but your chances really go up if your pre-release is about a month in advance (past that it doesn’t matter). Remember this my child, 1 month in advance.

3. Success is in the details.

You know all those boxes that have filled out? How did you get this song? Where did the inspiration come from? What language is it in? These are the things that we normally speed passed. Well, we can’t do that anymore. You have to pay attention and write something beautiful about this! It doesn’t have to be prepared as long, but it has to be good! Win them over with these boxes.

All I’ve done is fill out the “what language is this song in”

A couple weeks after the song has been released, it really lowers the chance of getting onto a playlist. I’m not saying it will never get our playlist, but your chances have dramatically decreased. Just another reason to give it extra time to get to the ear of the people that curate these playlists.

4. Make your own playlists (and get your fans to do the same)

The more personal playlists your song is on, the better for you.

Seriously, for some reason, the Spotify algorithm really digs when the song is on a lot of person playlists! I mean, it really loves it! This means we should be putting our songs in the playlists we make for other occasions! Ask your fan base to do the same! You should have one of these for the other local bands in the area (don’t be a dick). Urge everyone you know to make a playlist with your song on the playlist in the first couple weeks of release! Get it hot off the press! 

I’ve always found her so attractive.

There is one more thing you can do (and you’re probably already doing it).

5. Sharing is caring! 

It’s pretty basic, but you gotta make sure that you’re sure the shit out of your song for the pre-release and as soon as it drops (duh). Share, share, share! Remember the golden rule, playlist others so they will playlist you.  

I honestly didn’t know this stuff till recently, and it’s pretty cool to learn something like that. Guys, life is pretty cool.

Not sure how to submit a song? Log into your artist profile on Spotify and have a song re

From the Spotify website! If you don’t see where that is, it’s because you don’t have a song about to drop! Remember, you have to give yourself some extra time! More time with pre-release, the better.

Hang in there! It’s a long road, some people will get lucky the first time and you might feel angry or jealous. Remember that music works better as a community! If a band from your area gets a lot of attention, that’s only helps you in the long run!

If the song you submit doesn’t get selected, don’t worry! Just keep cranking out your songs and your chances go up!

Lastly!

There are many other places you can submit your music to be heard by playlist curators! If you’re interested, check out this wonderful website Garrett Bowers from Juniper Ridge showed me.

It’s called Submit Hub. There are alot of huge playlist out there to get invovled with. Submit Hub has a pay for tokens policy, you can also submit for free! These will not get you on a Spotify verified playlist, but it can still get you in front of a lot of people.

Here’s a link to that

Take a big breath in – No, you don’t have to write a quarantine album.

As luck would have it, we have nothing but free time for the foreseeable future! What does that mean for you? Time to get going on that new album? Maybe really dig in a sharpen those chops? 

If you’re like me, especially when it comes to art, I am terrible at doing things when people tell me to do those things. Why do I have such a hard time writing and creating when I have nothing but time to do it?

I’m a hamster on the wheel of life!
  1. I’m not experiencing life – Therefore, I can not write. For most of us, storytelling comes with the moments we experience in life. We exaggerate facts and numbers until the story is worth telling.
  2. The anxiety of time – “This is the best time to write, guys!” Maybe you’ve heard this, all I hear is – Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock – I can’t think of a single thing to write about. And every day I don’t pick up a guitar feels like I’ve blown it, which makes me not want to pick up a pen and start writing. Or worse than that, just stop to think about the thousands of songs called “quarantine” that will be coming out after everything is over. 

The end is here, and it’s so damn boring. It’s like how the radio was post 9/11. Were there some good songs that came out of that tragedy? Yes! But there were also so many songs that were terrible and had no personality to them. I’ll tell you one thing I know for sure. Toby Keith wouldn’t be a household name.

I mean, he’s not really anymore anyways. 

This hat is practical – No one ever

My point is maybe you’ve been crushing it lately, and perhaps you’ve done nothing but 100% the new God of War game (in this case, both are admirable). This is just a friendly reminder that similar to how the world is right now, it will change, and it will come to you, and you stressing out right now is not helping that change. If anything, it’s slowing it down, and we don’t want that! 

So we all know now that it’s okay that we’re not the most prolific we’ve ever been during this lockdown. But that drive is still nipping at the hem of our pants, and you still want to write. Let’s brainstorm some ideas to get that love going.

Write a shitty line – it doesn’t have to be life-changing poetry. You can never utter the words aloud. We can bury this thing! But nothing sparks good ideas like a lot of bad ideas! You just need to get the engine warmed up. 

Why doeth the earth sit so quaintly from the sun?

Listen to Song exploder – I’ve preached this before, I will do it again if you’re a songwriter/producer you have to listen to this amazing podcast! Please, for the love of God, check it out. It’s changed the game for me!

Read Books/Listen to new music – The idea here is to kindle the flame. Most of the time, attractive people have hot parents! That’s nature, baby! The principle rings true here as well! Consume great, new works of art, and you become inspired to write something great! 

If you’re looking for a book to help write lyrics. Check out a great book recommended to me by Jacob Morris (my friend and one of my favorite performers to watch)! This book has even been cited to help John Mayer write lyrics! Dang son! The Book is called “Writing Better Lyrics” and I’ll place a link right here!

Collaboration – Send some lyric ideas to your buddies! Let them send you some music, get inspired, and have someone else hold you accountable for creating and getting back into the flow!

These things are tried and true and almost always get me back into the swing of things. But sometimes it is not enough, and I just have to remind myself. It’s okay to be lazy for a season. Sometimes the love just isn’t there, and that’s just a fact of life. No matter how much you want it, you can’t fake it. 

????

I hope you’re doing well! If you need someone to talk to, drop a line in the comments and lets talk! I might not know you, but I love you! That’s a fact! Everything that’s going on now, it will pass. I look forward to the day we can hug again (haha).

In the name of collaboration

When I started writing music, I wrote really ambitious (and really shitty) songs with a co-writer (and my cousin, Spencer Jones, who would usually clean off the shit from the tune, the man is a genuine talent and deserves to be heard). I grew up with collaboration, but I quickly found that just because I could write well with Spencer, didn’t mean I was a great collaborator with everyone. We all have different styles, and that should be celebrated. Hell, that’s what makes collaboration a useful tool in our songwriter utility belt. 

I’m going to write a post on collaboration, and I’m not going to mention Lennon and McCartney once! 

… Starting now – Ten bucks his breath smelled like fish and chips.

What are some of the things that would make an excellent collaborator? Let’s get all of the Duh stuff out of the way.

Be open to change 

Listen

Be honest 

Take your pride out of the equation 

  • Just because it’s yours, doesn’t mean it’s right, and just because they don’t like your idea doesn’t mean they don’t love you or won’t love the next idea that you have. 

If it’s not working with someone, STOP COLLABORATING WITH THAT PERSON 

You can (and should) have multiple collaborative efforts going on at the same time.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Here are the meat and potatoes of the post. 

Make a habit of saying, “Yeah, let’s try it”– Even if you don’t see it at the time. You’re going to feel worried/annoyed/afraid that it’s not what you want. But there are countless stories of people letting go of the reins and getting something WAY BETTER than they had imagined! 

Remember that you’re not going to feel good about a new idea at first – Resist that knee-jerk reaction to say “no” and remember that’s your ego talking to you. Most ideas deserve the effort to follow the road and seeing where they lead. Which actually leads me to my next point.

Not so fast, Luke.

Learn the difference between what sounds like a bad idea, and what you do not understand yet  I genuinely believe that every time someone gives you a new idea, you will probably not like it at first because it’s foreign to the origin of the concept. Learn to push past that initial feeling of “this sucks” and discover if the idea really isn’t worth pursuing. This is a skill that takes time to develop! It is one that should be mastered!

Some people that aren’t musicians are amazing collaborators – My good friend Danien comes to mind here. He was not a musician (well, not in the traditional sense). He was also one of my favorite collaborations. This type of partnership is perfect because you’re thinking outside the normal parameters that a musician would typically operate. Why not break a rhyme scheme here? Why can’t you go out of key on this chord? It’s not a lack of information that makes them fun to work with. It’s that they uninhibited by the rules that we’ve given ourselves that make them so useful! 

This is the man who worked with Leonard Cohen and wrote Hallelujah

Collaboration can be so much fun, and sure, it can be frustrating as well, but it almost always brings you something better than what you could do alone. You’re going to find people you like to work with. You’re going to find people that make you want to quit the game (please don’t). I would venture to say that everyone has someone they can work well with! Just think about this, if someone can work with Morrissey and make the incredible band The Smiths, objectively Morrissey’s best work, then you can stand to work with a few different people and see what you can come up with together! 

The feeling seems to be mutual.

Break Into Your Scene With This Simple Trick

Feel like you’re not breaking through in your scene? 

The scene is the wall… Get it? No, eh screw you guys! You wouldn’t know funny if it broke through a wall and said “Ohhhhh Yeahh!”

Well, first take some comfort in the fact that you’re are not alone! “The scene” is an ambiguous thing. Is it one band? Is it ten bands? Does a distinct act have to be in it to be considered “the scene”? What about the people that go to shows? Don’t the enthusiasts make it a scene? How about the venue? Is the scene also a few different locations? What does that mean in this digital era? I’m not sure! 

ehhhhhhh

I have a feeling it an amalgamation of all of these things. That’s a fun word to say, amalgamation. 

School for the win!

I have found the best way to insert yourself into the scene is by being a fan. So today here’s a quick tip when you’re feeling a little stuck. 

But you’re spider-man? Why are you stuck?

Become a mega fan of one local band for a month. Drop everything you’re doing and follow them on every gig they play. It’s guaranteed to make them happy and get you in the circle. Here are the two rules I have. 

  1. They have to play near you regularly.
  2. They cannot be someone you’re already close with.
Technically this is rule one… which means we have three rules.

Both these rules fall under the category of duh. You have to be able to interact with them, and it doesn’t make sense to befriend a band you already know really well. I mean, if they were tapped into the scene, you’d already be involved. 

Stop. being. SO. STUPID!

How to be a MEGA-FAN

The road to mega fandom is pretty straightforward. But let’s list them, so I have some content for you to read.

Learn the words to their songs

Don’t be a scrub like Elvin.. Wait, who? I’ve never heard of Elvis?

Making a playlist on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, or whatever the hell you use is a big help with this! It also helps them with streams! If they don’t have lyrics posted, ask them for the words to their songs! It’s flattering and helps to solidify that connection.

Buy their merch

I’m not encouraging you to buy everything they put out. That can get expensive. I am urging you to put your money where your mouth is and buy some stuff! Show them some love and buy the thing you like the most. You dig that T-shirt? Buy it! Already have one of those.

Comment on their social media posts

Be active on what they’re posting. Give them more than a “like.” Make a comment that they will see and give them something to feed off of! 

Learn the names of the members of the band

Since this is a new group we’re fanboy/girling over, we need to learn the names of everyone involved. There’s nothing sweeter than hearing the sound of your name! Learn the names a little bit about the band by having some conversations with the group. Make it real, it’s easy, just become friends! 

Share their content

Share their content via social media, but more than that, talk about the band! Love on their music, ask people what they’re listening to and when they return the question, you talk about this band. Share their page and their music. Tell them about your favorite song. It’s easy, people. Actively share their stuff! 

Be real about it 

Maybe the only good advice you’d get from this show…. Besides how to layer.

Find a band that plays music you like. It makes the whole process easy and fun! Besides that, being fake sucks, and it’s easy to tell when someone is a leech. I hate it, you hate it, we all hate it.  

If you don’t love the scene (or any groups), then sometimes forcing yourself to be active helps you learn to love a group! I know that’s weird, but it is a truth in life! 

If you’re not doing this, you’re doing it wrong!

Even during our current lockdown, we can support other acts. It’s as simple as talking! Start today! Pick and local band and follow the crap outta them!

How to CRUSH Hecklers

Okay, crush is a strong word. Let’s not get carried away here. Do I have the addresses of a couple of people in my notebook? Sure, I do. But Phil Morris from 246324 Rector lane, Reefer Alabama 23842 had it coming. 

You have made my list, buddy.

Everyone (other than Phil Morris) has a night where they run their mouth a little too much, or maybe they’ve had too much to drink and forgot that they paid to see you perform. Whatever the case may be, if you play, you’re going to get hecklers. If you haven’t gotten them yet, it’s a not if, it’s a when thing. 

Popular, you’re gonna be (eh) Popular!

Depending on your act, it might look a little different than the advice I’m about to give. For instance, if you’re a stand-up comedian, you’ll be able to do something different than a singer-songwriter. That makes sense! But the fact remains the same, you are not a radio. You are paid to be there, and it is YOUR stage, baby! So don’t insult them (like a stand-up comedian might) but stand your ground, be quick and funny, and 9 times out of 10, they’ll leave you alone. 

Do you really want 7 minutes of Freebird on an acoustic guitar?

I’ll post a video here of comedians destroying hecklers. I can not stress this enough THIS VIDEO HAS A LOT OF SWEARING so if you don’t like that, don’t watch this video! 

****, ***** and you can ******** with the ****** that you swore you’re dog lost when I ***** ****** ***** do you understand?!?

Seriously, lots of swearing!

Now, you shouldn’t do anything you’ve seen in this video. But wasn’t that fun?!

Okay, first things first. 

Not everyone is going to like you

 It’s a hard truth in life. For everyone ten people that love Adele, ten people don’t like her voice. It’s okay! It’s a preference, and if we stop and think about that, it’s a beautiful thing! I’m glad that it happens and it should be celebrated! That said, some people are more vocal than others on how much you don’t fit into their preferences. It is one of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome. But this is a place where we must triumph! Some people are going to want to hear your friend over you. That’s going to happen. Does that mean that your friend is better than you? Maybe it does. But it doesn’t mean you’re not good (or even great), OR that you’re better in some other aspect of the craft. 

I don’t want to shy away from the fact that you are probably not the best at what you do. Not even in your circle of influence, and THAT’S OKAY! Because you still have a unique voice/style, and you can always improve that style! This is the most important thing to remember when you’re dealing with hecklers AND with a shortcoming in self-esteem. 

The heckler that thinks you’re a jukebox

This is the one that I have seen the most. Where requests can be outstanding ( for most acts even wanted), there is a type of person that for some reason, they believe that if they ask you six times to play “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, that it will magically come to you. 

Do I look like Marty McFly to you?

What do to

The best response I’ve ever heard has been, 

“I don’t know that one, but if I did, I would love to play it for you.”

A pretty lady that plays guitar

Short, sweet and to the point. Now it worked for the lady saying it. Sometimes you might get a drunk who won’t leave it be. At that point, you should either. 

A. Repeat yourself in a calm way

B. Get the manager at the next break and tell them you have someone bothering you.

Play it again Shammy.

You might feel like you’re letting your audience down, you’re not. You’re not a human jukebox! I have felt guilty for not knowing a standard song like “Santeria” by Sublime (a crowd favorite), and the best thing you can do is start a list of songs that you’re always being asked to play! Most of the time, if you can make it through a chorus of a song, they’re happy, and they tip you, either way, so don’t feel like you have to learn an entire song. 

The heckler that sexually harasses you

I haven’t had this one happen to me more than once. I got off stage, and someone groped me. It made me feel super uncomfortable. I understand that being a white male, I have a lot more privilege than most. It gave me a fraction of understanding towards women and what they go through regularly. 

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable. You are 100% in the right to stop playing, go inform any the manager and report the issue. We’ve come a long way from how things used to be! But from time to time, you will still encounter someone who doesn’t do something to protect you. Obviously, this isn’t okay, and at this point, we can go up the chain and report the problem. No one should feel uncomfortable. We need to band together to stop this! If you see something happening to someone else, it is categorically your job to help them out.

The heckler that won’t shut the hell up

Some gigs you get you are paid to be background noise, while others you’re meant to be front and center. Truthfully, for either of these gigs, it’s completely acceptable to ask someone to quiet down a little, so you can concentrate on the performance. Some of us feel a tinge of sin in asking for someone to shut up. But you shouldn’t feel that way. There is a right and wrong way to do this. For instance, the way that comedians do it is NOT the way you should do it. A good idea might be to finish up the song, then lean over and politely ask them to be a little quieter because it’s interrupting your concentration. Don’t use the microphone when you ask. It’ll make them feel embarrassed, and when people feel humiliated, they do and say stupid things. Be kind, and keep eye contact. If they flip out, get the manager. Easy! 

We get it… you think you’re funny.

Remember that if your concentration is off and you mess up, you’re messing up the show for everyone else who is paying attention. Don’t be afraid to ask an audience member to watch their volume. 

No one cares about your break-up Becca!

Another version of this is the person on their phone right in front of you. If you’re an artist, you’ll understand how deflating this is. It hurts to put so much of yourself into a song only to look up and see someone scrolling through Instagram. How do we combat this? 

Those parked cars come out of nowhere, man!
  1. Keep regular eye contact with your audience. It’s hard for them to phase you out if you’re staring into their soul. 
  2. Don’t let it get to you. It happens to everyone, and it says more about that person than it says about you. In other words, ignore them and connect with someone else. My vocal coach Marty Wilson taught me this, and it’s been a game-changer in my performance.

Summary

Our audience is our friend! They make or break our show (duh) if we can learn to turn the heckler into a fan, they will usually turn into one of our biggest fans! I have seen it happen more often than not! 

Above all else, remember these tips 

Don’t ever lose your cool.

You’re smarter than a drunk heckler.

He was actually the valedictorian

You’re in control of the situation.

Who wants to go toe-to-toe with this guy?

If all else fails, get the manager. 

Oh God, no! NOT KAREN!

If at any point you don’t feel safe, stop the song and get someone’s attention.

Best way to diet

You’re a performer! You’re going to get hecklers. Learning how to deal with these fools is part of the job! 

I want to hear your best heckler stories! Leave them in the comments below!