It isn’t DIY

10/15/2012 at 9:18 am | Posted in Music | 10 Comments
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I leave for my first Europe tour (as a singer-songwriter) in a matter of hours. I cannot believe it.  It still stuns me when I come up with a crazy idea and somehow it works and then here I am doing it.  There is one million more work before me, for the plane I suppose, but I’ll call it quits now and sleep.  It’s just mountains beyond mountains.  I’ll see you tomorrow, Boston and Reykjavik and Amsterdam.

But before I collapse, I just stumbled on this little poem-ish treatise I wrote last year in a late-night fever dream for the digital liner notes of Something Fierce (which comes out on November 13th, 2012). I never posted these thoughts here on the blog, and I very much need to.  Because fresh off an incredible exhilarating singalong all-request concert at Tommy Doyle’s, bound for a bigger scarier tour than I’ve attempted before, these are the thoughts pounding in my head, begging to be let out at 5am:

Photos by Brian Adams, http://baphotos.com

A lot of people refer to my music, and to the music of other such unsigned new media upstarts, as D.I.Y.  …Do It Yourself.
And there’s comfort in that description — it’s a security blanket — it explains the haphazard website, the production and logistics flaws, the little transparent studio mistakes, the off notes.
But D.I.Y. is a misnomer. I have never been more reliant on people than I am today.  When the audience buys directly from the artist, we are as interconnected as we can possibly be.
I have never been so acutely aware that I could not do this myself.
Every person who decides to listen, to buy, to attend, to say good or bad things about the art to their friends — my career is all tied up in them, for better and for worse.
Mostly for better in my case because I want to learn to live in gratitude.

It’s not as if listeners own artists — it’s just that we’re entangled now.  [We can’t help it.]
The once-formidable middle men are reduced to mere 1’s and 0’s, and we are no longer insulated from our interdependence.

SO we need a term for our new reliance, our new leaning on each other.
Some clever acronym or sound bite.

I don’t know how to name it, but I know we need to.
Because this is not D.I.Y.; it’s quite the opposite.

It’s a barn-raising and a fire brigade and a potluck with extra desserts.
This is not art by committee,
This is art through community.

I don’t have unmitigated good feelings about the artist relying completely on the audience like I do.  It can be exhausting, and it has the potential to water down the art. Really the fact is that doing art for a living is hard, and it has always been hard for some reason, and it probably always will be.  And this is the new landscape and the modern challenge.

But let’s not frame it as a question of independence, of “indie”-ness (not in the “social media musician” sphere anyway).  The questions now are about how to cope with our interdependence — how to still make arresting, interesting art when our all-important audience might react badly — how to ask for funds when everyone else we ever knew is also asking for funds — how to find genuine honest community, even as the word “community” is losing its meaning through corporate buzzword overuse.  These are the issues I’m confronting as I make art and as I consume it.

I love the new frontier.  I love the future of music.  I loved the crowd at my concert tonight more than words can say, and I felt very free during the show.  But it’s not a solo sprint and it never was.  It’s truly a barn-raising, complete with splinters and strong personalities and barnyard smells.  Going it alone is not the new world.  Learning how we work together is.

Return of the Something Fierce, or, November 13th 2012

09/26/2012 at 6:57 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | 11 Comments
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November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

This blog is for those of you who are already fans of mine, as we’ll go behind the scenes a bit:

Gather ’round, O Best Beloved, because I have something very important to tell you.  This is kind big news in the Marian Callisphere, and it involves both a game and a party.

So!  Last October I self-published a double album called Something Fierce. I worked on it for years, and I’m proud of it and it’s awesome.  And because it’s sort of my magnum opus to date, I decided to push it out of the nest.

We’re gonna try for some bigger press now thru November.  You guys have said for years: “Get on All Songs Considered Marian!  Get on World Cafe!  Get on Mountain Stage!  Get in Paste and Spin!”  This is how we try, and you are all the gatekeeper and the keymaster.

Something Fierce has a new global RELEASE DATE.*

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

And you’re invited.  We’ve already put out two singles.  Here’s where you come in, O Most Beloved.

You guys ask me all the time how we can get to NPR-Paste-etc.  We now have a way.  And it really ALOTALOT depends on you.  I’ve told the press that you, the fans, are super engaged, and now I need you to prove me truthy and not lieful.**  When a music publication, big or small, posts about an artist, how do we tell them we want more of this artist in the press?

FEEDBACK.

I mean comments, mostly, and referring to articles in other articles.  Say you’re a little music blog, and you post a song by an unknown artist every day, and mostly you get a few hundred hits, but suddenly hordes of people visit & comment on & share an artist’s page for a day.  How would you think about that post and that artist?  You’d think you struck gold.  And what would other music bloggers think?  That they’d better not miss the bandwagon and be late.  And what will big media outlets think when that artist crosses their desk and they’re deciding who to review?

Let’s make them think it.  Let’s DO THIS!

I am going Adventure Questing in Europe next month, but wherever you are in the world, I invite you to go Adventure Questing with me.  No money required; these are riddles and puzzles to solve, small tasks to complete, a little Golden Fleece journey for you that will hopefully create a little buzz.

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

  • is when my album drops again. This just became a list, poof.
  • Starting November 1st, I will be issuing you one task per day for 13 days on Twitter and at MarianCallAdventureQuest.com.***
  • Your task might be to post a comment on an article in haiku, or to draw a doodle of a lyric and post it hashtagged on Twitter, or to write a comment where each word starts with the letters of the last word in the before you (remember our limerick contest guys? Peter Sagal announced the results).  They will be small internet tasks, little 2-minute treasure chests and dungeon crawls, and will involve lots of Us Guys rewarding media outlets that feature the record.****
  • If you complete every Adventure Quest task by November 13th and send me screencaps by email, you will be entered to win some sincerely excellent and very real prizes, digital and physical, with shipping anywhere in the world.
  • Yes, you can do them all on the last day if you want, Procrastinatey McJones.  It doesn’t matter if you’re right on the nose with your dates.  Just finish before midnight on the 13th Hawaii time to be part of the crew.

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

Is the date sticking for you yet?  I will spend my morning in Amsterdam and my afternoon/evening in Dublin, and guys, we are going to HAVE A PARRTY!  By which I mean GOOGLE HANGOUT AND TWITTER PARTY!  I’d like to invite you to have brunch with me in Amsterdam, then pub fare and Guinness or Killian’s or Harper with me in Dublin, no matter what your time zone.  When I’m not flying, I will be online several times through the day talking with you guys, answering any and every question, doing goofy things on camera, potentially drinking a little too much, and celebrating this awesome record that ate several years of my life.  I will try to get some special guests to join our Hangout and say hi, I will draw prize winners, and I will definitely sing for you in public places which will probably be embarrassing.

You guys, American Songwriter has already agreed to feature the album on their site all day on NOVEMBER 13TH, and so has AOL/Spinner.  OMG OMG OMG.  We released two singles to the media to promote, and for some reason “Dear Mister Darcy” is taking off at over 3000 downloads; we can’t even figure out why.  We will get more media on the hook if we can only deliver the audience.  With building momentum World Cafe and Paste and NPR might be someday be within reach. THIS IS BIG.

But only you can make it happen.  So join me Adventure Questing if you wish!  For all those times you guys have told me to get on NPR, now you have the power to Make It So!

November 13th, 2012 #somethingfierce

Do you want to do something now?  Here are further action items if you want them.  But only if you want them.  I don’t expect this sort of involvement, I’m grateful for you guys beyond belief;  but I do want to focus those of you who have asked to help.

  • Go download a track here and leave a comment: http://madmackerel.org/2012/09/11/marian-call-readies-something-fierce-for-release/. They’re free on purpose.  If you already have the music, send the track to a friend — surprise them.  Send the link to this article to a local radio station or DJ.
  • Here are some articles that need some love. Comment or share real quick, and I dare you to do it in Subtle Haiku (no line breaks, but a clear haiku structure that other readers will recognize): post 1 post 2 post 3 post 4. Tweet me links or send me screencaps if you want to show off your handiwork!
  • If you have a blog, write a teeny review of your favorite song or concert experience.  Include a link to the blog above, or some other blog, since that really helps.  If you don’t know what to say, just post lyrics and then tell a nice story that seems tangentially related, like this.
  • If you posted a blog about me ages ago, circulate the link one more time now, or post a follow-up, gloating that you were in on the ground floor of something awesome.  Tell everyone you were right.
  • Comment on iTunes or Amazon or listen on Spotify, which shows up on Facebook. (Note that my preferred listening/purchase link to actually benefit me is Bandcamp.)
  • If you are allowed to play music where you work, spin the album a couple times before November 13th. Tell people you are cool enough to have gotten this record before the global release because you’re that hip to new music.  You don’t need it with you, you can just listen online. (Don’t annoy anyone please.)
  • Pester your local DJ — most can play the music from the web now, so bother them with the link and say the album’s coming out soon.  And hey, pester your local weekly paper’s music reviewer, and your local NPR affiliate too, along with the national tastemaker stations (KUT, KEXP, KCRW, WGBH, WBUR, WHYY, WNYC and more).  If you need a press release for singles 1 and 2 or a bio, we have them.
  • I could use a little web help November 1st-14th, because obviously I will be running around Europe when I need to be posting stuff and answering questions.  If you’re interested, e-mail admin@mariancall.com with the subject line “Adventure Quest-keteer.”

Any volunteer work that you feel like doing, I will equip you for.  Any questions you have, I will answer.  A few answers from the asterisks above are below.

I owe all of this to you guys, and that’s why I work so hard and run so fast.  I want to do my best for you, and I want to do the most for you.  I am excited to see all of you I can see in the Northeast of the US, the Southeast of Canada, and Europe.  And I’m super super super excited to raise a Guinness to all of you on — what date?

NOVEMBER 13TH 2012!!!

#somethingfierce

Image

*********

*Why release your album again? This is very normal for indie albums actually, in part because media outlets have almost no interest in reviewing an artist unless a Big Album Release is coming up.  So I have an awesome publicist, and they’re trying to get some media attention, so the Big Album Release is coming up!

**We are pitching me to media outlets as a social media musician with an engaged fanbase. So woe is me if my fanbase stays silent when Paste finally gives me an article. We have to prove that my press releases are true!  Mostly I don’t post articles about me (it’s rude) but for the next little while I’ll need to, and I’ll be hoping and wishing you guys will show them you’re listening.

***That site is not ready yet. Sorry. I was getting this site ready. November 13th.

****I promised you once, after my first Shortys encounter, and I’d like to reaffirm my promise:  I will never ever ask you to “vote for me” in any sort of internet competition. I have some dignity at least.

Kicking the Start, or, stuff I keep wanting to say

08/12/2012 at 11:13 am | Posted in How to this-or-that, News & Explanations | 7 Comments
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It’s the middle of the night in Juneau. My hair is still all curly from being in a wedding today.  I have a lot of thank yous to say, and a lot of explaining to do.

THANK YOU to all of you folks who contributed to my crazy Kickstarter.  You are mighty when you pull together!  Just look what you’ve done, it’s incredible!  And by that I mean barely credible!  I mean, I knew you would fund my asking amount, but I did NOT anticipate becoming a poster girl for Kickstarteriness.  More on that in a second.  I’m busy trying to keep up with your messages to me and get the survey stragglers in the database and get necklaces mailed out.  But first —

THANK YOU to the people who forged the Kickstarter and who are even now working on making and fulfilling the rewards.  Thank you Chris Cushman who made the armor — Valette who shot the photosAdam Levermore who designed the graphicsPatrick who made the website and shot the videoKatie who helped build the back-of-house infrastructure (there’s TONS of it) — Annie who will soon have handmade over 150 necklaces — Dammit Liz who is even now helping to book shows in Europe.

If you missed the excitement — I’m sorry you did, because it was terribly exciting.  In short, I decided to fund a Europe tour, because my European fans have been patiently waiting for a tour which I could not afford.  I conjured rewards and a sort of game to try to fairly determine where in Europe I would book shows.  Then I asked for $11,111 with some stretch goals reaching up to about $18k, at which point my tour would be funded to several countries.

We raised the first $11,111 within about 3 hours of my first announcement.  Holy hand grenades, Batman!

I was shocked.  I knew we would raise the funds, but I don’t think anyone who has been tracking me closely would have anticipated the speed — or the fact that, for the first couple days, the average pledge was around $79 (the Kickstarter overall average is $25, and while I love my fans, I know they aren’t all rich, so I was blown away by the level of support per person.)

I set some stretch goals, because we blew past the $20k mark within the first two days, if I remember correctly.  I caught a lucky snapshot on my phone of this moment:

Booyah.

Things slowed down awhile in the middle of the fundraiser, but toward the end Patrick told me I should offer cover songs for higher levels.  I decided to choose songs that were classics to me, songs from my musico-cultural desert island list, like the Muppets and TMBG and Tom Lehrer and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (I wanted to be Julie Andrews when I was little).  The internet responded that yes, they wanted those cover songs, and they funded us all the way from $40k to $50k, and then up to $60k, where I threw up my hands and decided to just lie prone on the floor in surprise for awhile.

Now I am  happier and wiser and very very very very very busy girl.  I have used up my all caps quota for the year several times over.  Now I’m just piled high in more work than anyone can manage; if you’re still waiting on something, sorry, working on it.  Fulfilling rewards is no small task, and I have laid out for myself a nearly impossible amount of recording by the end of the year.  But in my family we have a saying: “That’s impossible. Let’s do it.”

Guys. Guys. We did it.  Thank you!

In the middle of the work, though, I thought I should take a minute to talk about the whole experience, because I am getting asked lots and lots and lots of things about Kickstarter, and I’ve gotten letters of all kinds, from very nice and admiring to sort of slimy and advertisey to very mean (only one of those though).  And I get asked tons of questions about the music business in general that I wish I could answer better.  So without any particular order or editing, because it’s 1am, here are some of my thoughts.

  • I am being asked quite a lot about what I did to make the Kickstarter go boom like that.  I have a lot of specific techniques and ideas (most covered below), but seriously, the biggest thing is do your art.  Do it a lot.  Make the art good.  Make it good enough to turn heads.  Then make it better.  Nothing else comes before that.  Because if you’re asking other people to put up money for it, it needs to be really good, and there’s a lot of really good art out there right now (yay!).  I’m not trying to say my art is so amazing, I’m just saying that the REAL first step of my fundraiser was studying and performing music intensively for 20 years.  And that was hard, and it mostly didn’t earn me anything, and it still doesn’t earn me much more than a secretarial job.  But that’s where it starts, not with a smart fundraising strategy or clever video.
  • The second biggest thing is to know your audience.  Duh, you’re saying, and I’m like, that’s so nineties of you to say Duh.  But here’s what I mean: know in advance how much you can fundraise, and how fast, and who is likely to fund it.  I knew the amount I proposed was a doable amount, because I fundraise sort of quietly in the background all the time, little poster sales and things, and I have an auction once a year.  After fundraising slowly for my album Something Fierce, I had a very clear idea what a reasonable minimum would be.  I can’t tell you how painful it is to see Kickstarters for bands asking for $50,000 for their first ever album — with stretch goals already listed for $100,000, which is just embarrassing when their funding is stalling out at $10k.  Where will the money come from and how much will it really be?  If you don’t know this in advance, wait.  Do some other experiments first.  Test the water.  You might have a lot of fans or followers, but that doesn’t translate to money.  How and what people purchase is something you really only find out by selling them your things.  No model works but your own, don’t use other people’s numbers.  We all sell differently and we all sell something unique in this market.
  • When I say know your audience, I mean something else too, something more important: love your audience. Respect your audience.  I spend time with my fans more days than I don’t.  I’m definitely not perfect with them (there is just never enough TIME, guys) but I like them.  I like you.  And I like spending time with you, and I just wish there was more time to spend.  I kind of want the same things my fans want;  I get excited by what excites them, so putting together a silly website gamey thing they might enjoy was fun for me.  I can’t tell you how many hours I puzzled over the Rulebook and the Coins and the FAQ’s and the ridiculous minutiae, because I knew some nerd out there would care as much as I do.  When I was coming up with the rewards, I just asked my Twitter stream: what do you want from me out of a Kickstarter?  What are other people doing, what have you liked, what bores you, what’s meaningless? And I got exactly the answers I needed, within minutes.  (Here’s what’s meaningless, according to the survey: movie credits. I kinda have to agree.  The glamour went out of that ages ago since every person I know has been part of a movie recently.  I don’t need a movie credit, guys.  I need a cookie.)
  • Now that I’ve typed it a bunch, I kinda dislike the word “fans.” It seems weird to me. Beyoncé has fans.  I have ………um………my people.  The people who live in my phone and sometimes materialize at concerts, and then I sleep on their floor and meet their pet tarantula or hedgehog or what have you.  I really really like and respect them, and I am convinced their time and money is precious, and it’s awesome when they spend some on me.  They have so many other options.  If you don’t like and respect your fans, if they’re not the folks you want to be hanging out with, well, bummer.  (I get sad when I see artists who sort of secretly scorn the people who support them, because that means they secretly scorn people who like what they do.  I hope they try making different stuff or marketing it different ways.)
  • Two things I’ve had to tell a lot of different people, in a friendly fashion, trying not to hurt their feelings:  1) If your music doesn’t turn the heads of strangers on the street, don’t have a fundraiser yet.  2) If you can’t immediately list 10 specific subgroups that describe your demographic, if you don’t know who your fans are — then you shouldn’t have a big fundraiser yet.  You should make/meet more fans.  Or have a tiny discreet fundraiser appropriate to your audience base right now, and use the thing you make as a stepping stone.
  • Make a spreadsheet. Patrick forced me to make a spreadsheet, and I spent as much time fussing with and fretting over it as I did on the rest of the Kickstarter.  Why? Because when you look at your chunk of money, and you deduct 10% for Kickstarter/Amazon and then 15% for taxes, and then you really add up the cost of fulfillment, you might be earning only $2-3 at your reward level that seems to profitable.  The thing most people forget in their spreadsheet is worth looking at if you’re gonna kick some start, it’s on the second NUMBER SMASH page of my public budget.  I calculated what each reward level would cost me, and then I wondered how many people would go for higher-return vs. lower-return rewards. What would people buy the most of?  If everyone went for necklaces & USB drives, could I still actually afford to do my trip?  I worked through a couple different scenarios to get a good estimate of what rewards would cost me — and how much I would need to ask for to wind up with $7,000 to make it to Europe & back (the answer is about $11,000, so $4000 would go into fees & fulfillment).  The extra math saved me much grief. I frequently see bands offering physical CD’s or vinyl at reward amounts that ensure they will be losing money.  Please do the extra math and give folks the physical CD for $25 instead of $15 if you’re raising funds for anything besides just duplication.
  • Be prepared for both failure and success.  I had a solid plan if funding wasn’t going well.  I was prepared to pound pavement if the pledges were not coming in, and I knew exactly what pavement to pound and how to pound it.  Turns out I didn’t have to.  But success brought its own problems — I had to completely redesign my website and Kickstarter page on the first day when we funded so quickly.  I had to come up with more rewards at certain levels.  Local jewelry suppliers ran out of the silver we needed to finish the necklaces.  Fulfillment got to be a huge job, much bigger than we thought, not to mention the pure administrative effort involved (thank you Katie!).  So plan ahead.  I thought I was overthinking absurdly, with all my FAQ’s and blathering, but it turns out it was very good I thought through all the questions carefully just in case of success.
  • For heaven’s sakes, don’t list tons of stretch goals until it appears you will certainly fund ahead of schedule. Chickens, counting, hatching.
  • I have a rude question. Does anyone want you to make the thing you want to make? Are people clamoring for it? Because — this is an important distinction — there is art you make because other people want you to make it, and there is art you make because you must make it. The latter is more pure, in some ways, personal and vulnerable and sometimes revolutionary (and occasionally both sorts align). But you only want to crowdfund something people want and need and get super excited about.  Before you start *any project,* ask a ton of people whether they want it, or what they want.  Don’t ask your friends, ask strangers and fans.  Would they pay for it? Do they really want it to exist?  If they’re not responding, that means it doesn’t compel them.  I’m not saying don’t make it. I’m saying fund that thing in another way. Get a grant. Invest in it yourself. Produce a more popular in-demand thing to fund the Art You Must Make That Nobody Demands. Don’t let the crowd decide the fate of that kind of art — it’s too personal and it doesn’t need thousands of voices in on the process anyway, people who feel like stakeholders.
  • Don’t do a Kickstarter thing just to raise some extra money. People can tell and it’s weird.  Do it when you have a project you really really care about.  Kickstarters, like Hansel, are so hot right now.  And for good reason — what a great model!  You won’t believe me, but I wrote those two sentences without initially seeing any connection between them.  But the thing is, everyone’s got a Kickstarter or Indiegogo cause lately.  They’re like belly buttons.  I get requests to retweet them every day (sorry, I mostly can’t, the volume of requests is absurd).  So let’s pretend you are only allowed to do one Kickstarter for the next two years, just one. What will it be about?  Why is it bigger and more special than your everyday business?  (Because your normal business should be able to fund itself — you shouldn’t need a Kickstarter to just do your job.)  A Kickstarter is fast and big and dramatic and public, moreso than the mellower kinds of fundraising that go on all year.  So don’t do one just to do one.  Do one when you have a real project or a real vision that moves you.  If it moves you, if it’s exceptional and exciting for you, it will be for other people too.
  • Since you asked or assumed: I am not rich now.  I don’t know if you saw Amanda Palmer’s blog entry re. “where did all that money go,” but my budget looks very similar; the business itself eats the money.  I put a big chunk of money towards debt, I replaced some failing equipment, and the rest is all getting folded back into touring and business expenses and fulfilling the promises I made.  After sweating over the budget quite a lot, I realized there was no tropical vacation in it for me, and not even really a shopping trip.  I might get crazy and spring for a doctor and dentist visit, but that’s about it.  Upgrading my infrastructure and doing a ton of recording and touring and being a little less in debt will be my reward. (And for someone who love love loves her business, that’s a huge reward.)

I guess what I’m really wanting to say to you is this.  The groundwork for a successful fundraiser is not having the right strategy or the right gimmick or the perfect combination of currently popular things (Ooh! Zombies and steampunk and rhythm gymnastics! A hit!).  It’s about knowing yourself and knowing the people you’re connecting with.  To thine own self be true.  Know what you want, know what your supporters want, and make them align.

I hope I didn’t say anything wrong but I’m too fall-asleepy to discuss anymore. So I’ma add links, publish, sleep, and spend tomorrow working on getting all you survey stragglers into the Kickstarter fulfillment spreadsheet I made, and fulfilling your rewards, and booking Europe.  Then I’m gonna disappear into the Alaskan wild for a couple nights to do something that’s not Kickstarter.

Next up: I play Juneau on 8/17-18, I tour the Midwest thru the end of August and then go to Dragon*Con, then I play at SPACE CAMP on Labor Day, then Auburn, then I’m desperately seeking a concert in Nashville, then playing DC and the Northeast U.S./CAN including 3 shows with Molly Lewis & the Doubleclicks, then I go to Europe, then Anchorage, then home for the winter to sleep for months.

Love you all. G’night!

Instructions in Excruciating Detail: Booking Shows Near You, or, Fan Power!

03/28/2010 at 10:13 pm | Posted in 49>50, How to this-or-that, News & Explanations | 4 Comments
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**NOTE: This is an awesome blog post, but it is out of date!  Instead, see this page for updated 2013 show booking notes!  The writing below is wonderful but also it is a historical document from early 2010.  New info:  https://mariancall.wordpress.com/booking-a-house-concert/**

This blog entry is your complete guide and FAQ to making a Marian Call concert happen in your area on the 49 to 50 tour.  Odds are I sent you here so we can make a show happen!  Below you can find links for the forms you’ll fill out and answers to a number of questions.  Please read the applicable sections before requesting a concert.

There are two kinds of shows: House Concerts and Venue ConcertsHouse concerts I set up directly with you (even if they’re not at a house, or not at your house).  For venue concerts, such as cafés, bars, farmer’s markets, and music halls, I collect information about a venue that you think is really a perfect fit and has dates open, and I contact them myself (unless the manager happens to be your brother-in-law or something, in which case you introduce us).

If you get a mass e-mail or a contact from an minion of mine during the booking process, I hope you’ll pardon me.  This project is so huge and so exciting I need a little help and a little automation to manage it all.  But the good news is it makes it possible for me to meet you in person at sometime soon!

The bestest newest ever e-mail address for booking questions, which goes to me and my various helpers: mcminion42@gmail.com!!!!!

Use this e-mail address for booking questions and venue suggestions.  No need to cc mariancall@mac.com; all the mcminion42 messages are forwarded to me automatically, and I still read everything myself.  I might have a very cool helper answer some of it though.  Don’t worry, your personal information (home address particularly) is very very safe.

Applying for a House Concert:

If you want to host or set up a house concert (even if it’s not at a house), be sure you’ve read all about how I do house concerts and then follow the instructions here.

  1. Check my Public Google Calendar by clicking here [link disabled later] to see when I plan to be in your area, and what dates I already have scheduled gigs.  The schedule and map are flexible — until I have concerts anchoring me to this location and that (so don’t cry if you don’t see your city just yet).  You can ask for a date when I’m trying to be elsewhere; worst I can do is say no.  You’ll notice that later in the fall, i.e. farther east, I’m not sure which state comes in which order yet — gigs that get nailed down will determine my route. Also note: some days I will designate for “travel” or “rest” and those are unavailable.
  2. Choose a date or dates to request. If it’s way in the future when times are flexible, just pick something you like!  Know that for house concerts, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday afternoons or evenings usually work just fine — and even more non-traditional times, like brunches or lunches, have worked in the past if you’re interested in something a little different.  If you’re looking for a date in, say, August, September, or October, know that we may have to hold out on nailing down the date on one show until I’ve confirmed a few others, etc. (events are very interconnected). So let me know if you have a time constraint, too, i.e. “I can do Thursdays but not Wednesdays,” or “I’ll be home this weekend but gone the next.” I deeply wish I could play in every town on Saturday night, but I can’t. I also wish I could play every day without resting, but I can’t do that either.  I’ll accommodate every request I can without running myself into the ground.  If I can’t play your town or your day, I’m sorry — hopefully I can come back!
  3. Gather information and make decisions about the kind of event you want to plan. Just figure out the basics — find out how many people you can fit (more than you think); if it’s not a house, make sure you can secure the space or find out if it costs anything; if it is a house, check to be sure that it’s yours, or that the neighbors won’t mind coming home to a big surprise.  Decide what kind of food you want to provide or coordinate, and whether kids will be welcome.  And actually count how many people you believe you can get to come from within your own social circle (I can provide more sometimes).  Decide whether you want a public or private event.  Feel free to ask  questions: mcminion42@gmail.com or, for quick questions, @mariancall on Twitter.
  4. ****Most important**** Fill out this Google form: [link now disabled]. This is how I can keep all of these requests organized and make the tour happen.  If you don’t have ALL the information, especially the optional stuff, don’t sweat it.  Though the more clearly you can visualize the event, the more likely I am to approve your date over someone else’s.  (But it’s not the LSAT.) Then e-mail me so I know there’s a new entry in the form. mariancall@mac.com
  5. If I can’t choose your proposed concert, I’d like to say in large, friendly letters: DON’T PANIC. I still love you, and I will nearly always provide you with a personal invite to another nearby show. Please don’t be bitter.  If you want to know what makes me choose some shows over others — larger house concerts will probably be better than small ones if they’re in the same area; public ones are usually preferable to private ones, so other fans can come; kids and pets have no influence on the yes or no vote, I just need to know about them; if you or your community can lodge me for free, you may have a slight advantage (though no lodging is not a dealbreaker); money overall is less important than connections — i.e. lots of people barely listening is worth less to me than just a few people really listening and caring.  Also, please don’t hold back because you think I’ll reject you — I’m happy to do small shows and out-of-the-way places if they fit into my schedule and you’re willing to bring some open ears to the event.
  6. If I do choose your concert: DON’T PANIC.  You may freak out about it sometimes, but trust me, when you look back you will find it was pretty easy.  And it will be really fun.  I’ll notify you, we’ll iron out the details and reserve the date, we’ll arrange a (very informal) contract, and I’ll equip you with what you need to set up/advertise/invite/manage RSVP’s and so on.

Explanations and disclaimers: The calendar and route are subject to change, because they must be.  The reality of such a large tour is that I may have to rearrange a date with you if my travel schedule changes (or my car breaks down).  I hope for no cancellations at all, but the universe will ultimately decide that.  So please be understanding and a little bit flexible.

If you’re offering lodging, that lodging will be for me and an accompanist (almost always a guy). We’re cool sharing a room but we don’t share beds. We’re also cool crashing on couches, air mattresses, cots, the floor, what have you.  Some accompanists are allergic to pets, so let me know in advance if you have them.

Let’s make it happen!

Recommending a Venue Near You:

If there’s a local cafe, restaurant, or music venue — or maybe a podcast or local radio station spot — that you think I should play, please, let me know about it!  It’s so hard to know which places are a good fit or locally loved when I’ve never been.  I may or may not hit them all on this tour, but I do want to know what venues I should be aiming for, and fan recommendations are the number one way I decide where to try to play.

  1. (same as above) If you want to recommend a specific date, Check my Public Google Calendar to see when I plan to be in your area, and what dates I already have scheduled gigs.  PLEASE check your venue’s website or calendar to make sure they have openings around that time before you send me pursuing them — if they’re already booked I’d hate to waste your time or mine.
  2. Not all venue recommendations require a date. So if it’s more a recommendation to file away for the future — or a radio station or podcast or another musician to work with — and not a specific concert for this tour, that’s ok.
  3. ****Most important**** E-mail Marian at mcminion42*at*gmail.com.  Let me know what the opportunity is like, and if you really want me to book a show there on this tour, please provide a date if you can and let me know you see this as a real, immediately possible event.  Let me know if you think you could bring people you know to it.  Otherwise I will probably file it away for reference and use it only if I need it, since this tour is mainly made possible through house concerts.
  4. Venues that might seem great but aren’t actually that useful: the premier venue in town, i.e. the Grand Ole Opry or Carnegie Hall. I’m unlikely to be able to play in the best spot in your city (yet).  Also, music festivals.  Folks are always inviting me to play at music and geek festivals, and I’d love to because they are FUN, but generally they aren’t the best use of my time.  I don’t make much money or connect with fans very well, the dates aren’t flexible, and I can’t take the time to keep track of all the different application processes.
  5. Venues I might like better than you think: bookstores, galleries, shops, radio stations, farmer’s markets, really good local open mics or showcases, cafes open to free lunchtime background music. 
  6. Really Good: connecting me with a local musician who does roughly what I do (someone making acoustic music full-time, touring, accessible to all audiences) to share a show.  I love to open for other artists, I love having other artists open for me, and I love to share the stage with locals.  Recommend a musician!

It’s really preposterous to attempt a tour of this size without a booking agent or full-time manager or promoter.  But you are already helping so much, and I’m hopeful your enthusiasm will only grow as this thing takes off.  I know mine is.  I can’t wait to hit the road again!  And I can’t wait to meet you or see you again.

I’ll be there soon — all my best,

Marian Call

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