When I was 9 or 10 I fell into a dangerous, but brainy crowd. We lived on the edge and kept good grades. We’d work together on Science Fair projects and read encyclopedias at lunch. But our favorite past time was Dungeons and Dragons.
In retrospect, there were some intellectual benefits from playing the game. It taught us about teamwork, imagination, strategy, critical thinking, math… who am I kidding. We were just a bunch of nerds in training. One of the things I enjoyed at the time was the magical spells. The ability to make things happen without direct contact. You didn’t need a weapon or hand to hand combat. You could stand back and lob a fireball at some creatures head and not get a scratch. Unless there was another wizard throwing spells at you.
One of the spells was called a “Summoning Spell”. It allowed you to conjure otherworldly creatures or objects to the wizard for their use. (I warned you it was nerdy). A lot of musicians complain that the music scene in their area is lame or weak because they don’t get a consistent crowd. And I hear some of the same comments from the owners and bar managers. Since we aren’t wizards, we don’t a have any magical spell to conjure up and keep an audience. It takes hard work, perseverance and a bit of schmoozing, but, in the end, it’s worth it. Having an excited, energized and most importantly, loyal fan base makes every gig that much more rewarding. You have to get their attention, keep them interested and informed, and give them a show worth showing up for.
Kat Coffin is an Orlando based freelance writer for Examiner.com and avid music fan. She has done profiles of musicians, live show reviews, and CD reviews for both print and on line publications. She has also worked with musicians in writing and submitting press releases, putting together biographies, assembling and sending out press packets, and expanding their web presence by submitting and maintaining their information and music to various web sites. I used the “Email Spell” to ask her a few questions and get her take on what’s up in O-Town.
World of Stagecraft: What’s your take on the Orlando live music scene?
Kat Coffin: It’s been better. Unfortunately because of transportation issues, I haven’t been able to get out and see as many live shows as I’d like. When I do get out to shows, the crowds aren’t as good as they used to be, and they don’t appear to be as open to unfamiliar music as they used to be. The audience only seems to show up to see “their band” and that’s it. They don’t appear to be open to checking out the rest of the performers. They show up for “their band” and leave when “their band” is done, and skip the rest of the show.
WOS: When you go to see a band or solo act, what is it that keeps you interested? What get’s your attention?
KC: There are so many things that catch my attention from one band to the next. 1. Good music. 2. I love to see good interaction from the performers to the crowd, and amongst each other. 3. Sometimes it’s a talented musician that draws me in, especially a guitarist or drummer whose talent just shines above everything else and makes me say “Wow!”
I saw one Central Florida band’s live show recently and was really disappointed. I love their music, but their stage presence bored me to death, hardly any interaction with the crowd (or each other) and no pizzazz from the stage, they might as well have just had their CD playing on a jukebox.
WOS: Who are you favorite local performers?
KC: I can’t really answer that because of my writing about local music, I don’t want to alienate anyone. There are so very many talented musicians/bands here in Orlando, it’s almost overwhelming sometimes.
WOS: What are you listening to on your IPod (or other device)?
KC: Currently, I am switching back and forth between two CDs that I am writing up reviews on, one is Songs of Praise and Scorn from Christopher Paul Stelling and the other is a local Orlando band The Dropa Stone’s new CD Starry Messenger.
WOS: What advice would you give to performers on how to gain and grow their crowd?
KC: Interaction is the key, whether in person or on line. There is one local Orlando band that has a huge following, and there are a lot of things that factor into that, but I believe the biggest one is that members of that band are frequently out at local live music venues, just hanging out, meeting people, being visible. It’s not that they are out “talking up” their band, because they generally aren’t unless asked. They are out there supporting other musicians and their projects, earning respect and picking up loyal fans in the process. They work full time jobs outside of their band, but they make a point to get out there as much as possible as well, because you can tell it’s important to them. There are a few other local musicians who do the same, but more of them need to do that on a regular basis, make it a priority. As far as online, I see huge fails all the time. Social networking for musicians is a must. You CANNOT just post updates from your phone, you MUST see what’s posted on your Twitter feed or Facebook page and interact. I go to some local Orlando band Facebook pages and don’t see any updates since last June, really? A venue’s web site says you have a show there within the next week or so and there isn’t one mention on your page? It makes me wonder if I’m on the right page. I go to some pages and they are full of spam/scam posts interspersed with show updates from a mobile device, which tells me they don’t even visit their own page. You have to interact, don’t just post show updates, respond to posts on your wall or twitter feed, ask questions, post on other people’s pages, SOCIALIZE. If you have an upcoming show with three other bands, post on their wall, get your band’s name out to their fans ahead of time so the fans will want to come out and see the whole show, not just one band’s set. Keep your page updated and active because if you don’t care, the fans won’t either, give them a reason to be interested and make your shows, CDs and merch a must have for them. Bands need to consider networking as much a part of their music.
My thanks to Kat for her insight. You can read her weekly articles on the Orlando music scene and CD reviews at http://www.examiner.com/local-music-in-orlando/kat-coffin.