Opening Band Etiquette

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]


I’m currently reading Meet Me In The Bathroom; an excellent oral history of the rock and roll resurgence in NYC at the turn of the century, written by Lizzy Goodman. Aside from the havoc that existed then, as the swan song of the “glory days of the music industry” were playing out and my own nostalgia for the culture of New York City at that time, one thing has really stuck out to me in the book thus far; The Moldy Peaches.

The Moldy Peaches were an outlandish, anti-folk outfit that came up in New York City during the 1990s. They also happened to be good friends with The Strokes. As the Strokes were on their way to becoming the biggest band in the world, they invited The Moldy Peaches to open several of their big hometown shows as well as on a few tours. The Strokes even went as far as to persuade Rough Trade Records to sign their friends.

While Kimya Dawson + Adam Green (the two artists behind The Moldy Peaches) now have sustainable careers based on their own talent, they owe a lot of their success to that early help from The Strokes. Which is why we are talking about “Opening Band Etiquette” in this post. If you’re one of the fortunate few acts that is given the opportunity to open for a more established band, it’s important to make the most of the situation. If you known how to finagle one turn of good fortune into another, you can find yourself building a career and headlining bigger rooms a lot quicker.  

Here are some tips on how to do so:

Headliner is King (or Queen)

Whether you’re the local opener for a touring band or actually on the road with someone, the headliner will set the tone. There will be certain things that they require pre-show and you should make sure to adhere to their wishes. The less their pre-show routine is interrupted by your own, the more likely they’ll be to invite you back, especially if your performance is awesome.

If you only have a few guest list spots, make do with that. Worried about getting an extra case of water? Forget it for now. When you’re drawing enough on your own to be the headliner than you can look for more guest list spots and extra water in your green room. For now enhance the headliner’s experience, it’ll pay off in the long run!

Stick to The Schedule; You’re Part of the Team

This point ties closely into the “Headliner is King or Queen” subject. However, it is the single most important thing you can prioritize in order to successfully stick to that rule and thus deserves it’s own separate mention. The headliner will create a schedule that works best for them. You will work your schedule around theirs. Most importantly, it’s imperative that you are on time for everything.

If you are running 15 minutes late to Soundcheck, that could push their own allotted time. Even a slight delay there could end up putting a rush on any press interviews they need to take care of before the show, potentially rob them of the chance to get away from the venue for dinner or disrupt another important aspect of their pre-show routine.

Do Your Own Promoting for the Show

The more tickets sold you are responsible for, the more value you will have to the headliner. Make sure you’re looking for your own press ahead of the show, promoting on social media and getting out on the street to flyer if it’s a local show. If you bring enough people, it’ll get you noticed. Not just by the headliner, but by the promoter as well.

Support the Headliner

Even though they’re probably further along in their career than the bands that are opening for them, a headliner is still out there touring to make new fans and create opportunities for themselves. Don’t forget to bring as much attention to them as possible. Whether it’s tagging them in your social media promotion ahead of the show or thanking them from stage and asking fans to visit their merch table, shoutouts will always be appreciated and often reciprocated.

Network! Network! Network!

One common thread you will see in every post about optimizing a situation is networking. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, networking is key. Whether it’s introducing yourself to the headliner, getting to know the promoter for the event or hanging out at your merch table interacting with fans, the relationships you take away from any opportunity is what’s going to be your biggest asset moving forward.

The music industry is built largely on word-of-mouth. Do everything you can to build a network that wants to help spread the word about your band and you’re increasing your chances to succeed infinitely.


4 Major Live Music Trends Changing The Industry This Year

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rachel Grate and originally appeared on the Eventbrite Blog.]


We’re just one month into 2017 (ed. – this was originally published in February of 2017), and it’s already proven to be a year of big changes — and the live music industry is no exception to the rule.

To stay on top of your game in a shifting landscape, you need a firm grip on the music trends that will shift the landscape in 2017. But don’t take it from us — take it from the nineteen industry pros we interviewed, including Newport Folk Festival, Afropunk, National Sawdust, and more.

Here’s how tastemakers predict the live music industry will change in 2017 — and how you can use those trends to protect your business.

1. Activism will revive the live music community

“Music has recently been more about escapism than activism,” says Jay Sweet, festival director and talent buyer for the Newport Festivals Foundation. But with major political changes coming in 2017, fans may be looking to their favorite artists to take a stance. “I’m excited because I think this could be the year where musicians could… try to affect positive change through music,” Sweet says.

Matthew Morgan, the co-founder of Afropunk, believes fans will look to live music as an opportunity to make sense of the world around them. “We’re in line for some really great art over the next four years, [and] what we’re doing is going to be even more important,” Morgan says. “So many people are looking for things that are positive, that give them something meaningful in their lives.”

“We’re in line for some really great art over the next 4 years.” — Matthew Morgan of @afropunk

In this quest for self-expression, fans and artists will use live performances as an opportunity to build community around shared causes. “Festivals are a place for people to congregate safely — a place to share a common, collective experience,” Sweet says. It will be up to independent promoters and producers to create these safe spaces for activism.

2. Immersive theater will influence live music performances

From popular events like The Speakeasy in San Francisco to the topic of breakout HBO show Westworld, immersive theater made a big splash in 2016. These shows make audience members a part of the performance, and this year, we’ll see their influence begin to make live music performances more multidimensional.

“The world of immersive theater is about to explode,” says Nick Panama, the founder of Cantora. “We’ll be seeing a lot more experiential storytelling, and its influence on live music.”

Panama predicts live shows will expand the storytelling from the music itself to other senses. Instead of relying solely on audio cues or a screen behind them to tell a story, performers will begin to activate the entire room or stadium with immersive sensory details. Using a variety of new technologies, fans will become part of an alternate reality for the duration of the show.

3. Venues will band together to establish more sustainable economics

With rising rent prices in cities across the country, venues are facing a serious financial challenge in 2017.

“Venues will either buy the land they sit on, or they’ll move,” says Brendon Anthony, the director of the Texas Music Office. “We’re not going to see our favorite venues in the same place unless they own the land. The venues that are iconic and last [will] need to control their rent.”

“Venues will either buy the land they sit on or they’ll move.”@Brendon_Anthony of @txmusicoffice

But venues may not be able to crack the code to sustainability on their own. Venues will have the most success if they band together to protect their businesses.

“There are real ways venues can work together to make their margins a bit easier to handle,” Anthony says. In Texas and other states, for instance, venues, bars, and restaurants are all taxed in the same way, even though venues have to put more of their money back into infrastructure. There could be a way for venues to reduce their tax rate, “but for that to happen, venues would have to define what being a venue means, and then go to work to lobby as a group for the change.”

Fighting for this recognition won’t be easy, but it’s the best way for rooms to protect their business. Venues in the UK have already seen success with this strategy, led by the Music Venue Trust and their annual Venues Day, aimed at raising awareness and advocating for venue rights. Venues in the states will need to follow suit, banding together to protect the future of live music in their respective cities.

4. Brands will become even more intertwined with artists

Sponsors spend $1.4 billion on the music industry in the United States each year, and that number is only going up. Instead of investing in large activations or stages at festivals, our experts predict that brands will focus more on building relationships with specific artists in the next year.

Mark Monahan, the festival director of Ottawa Bluesfest, has seen this shift firsthand. “In the last few years, most sponsors want to activate around artists,” Monahan says. “Five years ago in the festivals space, that was a nonstarter. Artists are recognizing the role sponsors play in helping to fund festivals, and are more willing to participate in auxiliary activities.”

Currently, most of these artist activations look like meet and greets, or small, private shows with festival headliners. But these activations will need to evolve and become more natural to succeed in 2017. It is likely we’ll see more activations like last year’s Lady Gaga’s Dive Bar Tour, sponsored by Bud Light. The series focused on one of the most important roles a brand can play for an artist: delighting fans by bringing them in more direct contact with their idols.

But this integrated relationship between artists and brands could be in conflict with another trend — that artists are more openly expressing their political beliefs.

“I’m hesitant about what the branded content space is going to look like in the next year,” Gaston says. “If artists get more politically involved, will that impact how brands interact with artists? It’s going to be really tricky if that spending shifts, especially since brand dollars have become more important to the bottom line for both artists and labels.”

How To Prevent Psyching Yourself Out Before a Show

[Editors Note: This article was written by Anthony Cerullo and originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.]

It’s a quiet Thursday night, and you’ve just gotten home from a long day of giving music lessons. Now that the distractions of the day have dissipated, it’s just you and your thoughts. Yes, those pesky thoughts that bounce off the empty walls in your room, teasing you with every chance they get.

This time, they’re focused on the big gig tomorrow night. It’s at a high-profile venue and a large turnout is expected. The opportunity is substantial, but instead of excitement, your brain focuses on the stress. Memories of last week’s show haunt you as every wrong note, missed cue, and voice crack dance around your brain.

You try to block out these negative feelings by thinking of rainbows and unicorns, but even that’s helpless. Sleep becomes a wasted attempt as the sensation of public humiliation before a large audience is all but a burning reality. Worst-case scenarios continue to repeat themselves throughout the night and even the next day leading up to the show.

Some may think feelings like this are nothing more than a little anxiety, but psyching yourself out can have a major impact on a performance. If the bulk of your time leading up to a show is filled with negative thoughts, that will likely lead to a poor performance.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. A solution exists for even the most anxiety-plagued musicians around.

Seeing is believing

Say what you will about visualization, but there’s some truth to it. That’s not to say that just by thinking about a boat, you’re going to get it, but thinking positively can certainly help with a musical performance.

If you still are skeptical about this, though, introduce yourself to Michael F. Scheier and Charles S. Carver. These two men brought the science of optimism to the forefront in 1985. Before that, this type of thinking was nothing but theory, but now researchers have embraced the research and have confirmed the powers of positive thinking.

Just like intense negative thinking can lead to a dramatic decrease in quality of your playing, the same is true for the opposite. By reinforcing positive thinking, an actual increase in performance quality is possible. That’s right – simply imagining how you’re going to play will translate into reality. It sounds crazy, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

For example, think about when you practice an instrument. You’ve probably heard the term “muscle memory.” By practicing the correct patterns repeatedly, it’s as if your fingers remember the movements easily. Eventually, by practicing these good habits, they become more natural until you’re hardly thinking about the notes in a given scale. Now, think about when you practice a pattern incorrectly. Poor habits are developed which are much harder to get rid of.

Well, it turns out this same occurrence can be found in our mentality. By reinforcing your brain with positive thoughts, it becomes a more natural feeling until positivity practically bleeds from your pores.

Again, this may seem like some mumbo-jumbo made up by some two-bit psychologist, but there’s truth to it. A few years ago, psychologists at Purdue University tested this theory out among professional golfers. Their conclusion showed that with positive thinking, golfers’ performance actually increased. If it can work for them, it can work for you.

What not to do

Now that you have some idea of how to think positively, it’s important to know what not to do.

When you have negative images in your head, it’s not just a matter of blocking them out. In fact, blocking them out actually makes the situation worse. You may think you’re thinking about them less, but suppressing negative thoughts mean you’re only increasing the chances of them invading your head once again.

For example, for the next minute, try not to think of a metallic purple magic school bus. So, how long did that take before you thought of it? Using that logic, you have to reinforce the ideas that you actually want, not what you don’t want.

When you’re thinking about an upcoming performance, it’s important to think about specific words you want to use. Avoid words like “don’t” (e.g., “Don’t play the chorus too fast this time”). Instead, say something like “Be mindful of the tempo during the gig.” That way, you aren’t just focusing on the thing you want to avoid and therefore making it more likely to occur.

Put a stop to that evil voice in your head

We all know that evil voice – its sole job is to pollute your mind with negative images, but it’s really up to you whether you want to put up with it. You’re going to see images, both good and bad, no matter what the situation is, so you may as well make them positive ones.

When a thought pops up in your head, ask yourself if this is a constructive thought or a negative one. If it’s a negative one, then simply redirect your focus to something that will help you become more successful.

The thing is that negative thoughts tend to be more natural. We can thank our survival instincts for that one. According to Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University, negative thoughts are processed more thoroughly than positive ones. As a result, we tend to contemplate unpleasant events with stronger words than we do with pleasant events.

Because of this, we have to try a lot harder to direct our focus to positivity. Over time, your ability to focus on good images will become better conditioned, not unlike practicing an instrument. Eventually, you won’t have to try so hard to think positively, and you’ll have more control over your mind during important moments like that big gig coming up tomorrow night.

BandsInTown Announces New Direct Messaging Option

If you haven’t already been using it as a fan or an artist, BandsInTown is the #1 concert discovery app on the market. When fans follow a band or artist on Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud or numerous other platforms, BandsInTown alerts them ahead of time that the band or artist will be playing near their location. It’s win/win for artists and fans.

How many times have you discovered a new band, followed them on social media and forgot about it, only to find out the next week that they played a show down the street from you and you missed it?  In an era where you’re not even expected to have your best friend’s phone number memorized because it’s in your phone already, it’s pretty commonplace to get distracted online. Personally, living in a touring destination city that breeds amazing indie talent and where music venues practically outnumber public schools, BandsInTown is one of the most useful apps I’ve adopted in years.

If I haven’t encouraged you as an artist to get on the BandsInTown bandwagon (see what I did there?), this should: BandsInTown has  just announced an awesome update wherein artists can communicate directly with fans who RSVP for their shows via targeted push notifications that land right in their hands. Got a new release? Did the show’s start time change? Want to run a cool merch giveaway? This is the perfect tool to remind fans before or after the show! Read more from BandsInTown about the update:

“Our research shows that fans want to hear from artists they track and are more likely to take action when you communicate with them personally. For artist managers or publicists, these personalized notifications appear on concert-goers phones as if they’re coming from the band or DJ directly. It’s free to message RSVP’s as often as you like, which is a great way to alert fans of breaking news.”

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Pretty sick, right? Read more about the update’s uses and steps to take advantage of it here. And if you’re reading this as a music fan who hasn’t downloaded the app yet, you’re welcome.

Next step for TuneCore Artists
BandsInTown is a great, free service and we highly recommend taking advantage of it. If you’re looking to reach your fans in an even more advanced or creative way, TuneCore does have its own local marketing product call DropKloud. 

DropKloud allows artists to offer customized digital capsules of content – like songs, photos and videos – to fans in specific locations. If you’re an artist with a good-sized following whose fans reside all over, it can be a very effective way of sharing content with them. Learn more about DropKloud’s capabilities here.

Artist Breakdown: TuneCore Live at Bardot, June 24

Can you believe we’re readying our SEVENTH installment of our TuneCore Live event series? Well you better, because it’s going down this Wednesday, June 24th, and it’s gonna be a banger! With a little help from Swisher Sweets, (whose Swisher Artist Project is really taking off!), DropKloud, and new addition to the fun, CeleBuzz, we’ll be packing in Bardot Hollywood with fans, friends and TuneCore Artists for a night of fun and music!

Sharing the stage this month are TuneCore Artists FMLYBND, The New Regime, and Drop City Yacht Club, with special DJ sets in between. If you’re in the LA-area and you haven’t joined us yet, this is an awesome opportunity to come out, rub elbows with TuneCore’s West Coast team, and support your fellow TuneCore Artists! Learn a little more about the bands and sample some music after the jump.

The New Regime

TheNew Regime_Photo by Tamar Levine

Ilan Rubin has been around: he toured and played multiple instruments for Nine Inch Nails, filled in drumming for Paramore as they completed their self-titled album, and worked closely with Tom DeLonge to play an integral role in Angels & Airwaves’ latest album The Dream Walker (via TuneCore). Boasting songwriter influences from Led Zeppelin and Queen while incorporating layered instrumentation for an alternative-meets-electronic sound, The New Regime released its latest, Exhibit B (via TuneCore) in February of this year.

To me being independent means being in complete control of executing your vision. TuneCore has allowed me to take my music and put it out into the world without having to deal with any obstacles.


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We’re proud to say Santa Barbara-based four piece FMLYBND has been using TuneCore to distribute their releases for the past couple of years. It’s been great watching them make people dance since their 2013 online hit ‘Electricity‘ as they continue their goal of “reshaping electronic music with their grunge influences”. Below, you can watch FMLYBND crush the first installment of our Convenience Store Sessions from, you guessed it, the aisles of a random convenience store!

Drop City Yacht Club

Drop City Yacht Club

California is a big state, and Drop City Yacht Club proves there’s hip hop talent oozing out of every region. Hailing from the northern and southern parts of Cali, MC/producer/songwriter duo Kristo and THX aren’t shy about expressing pride for their home state. Combined with influences ranging from hip hop like Outkast and the Beastie Boys as well as classic rock icons like the Beatles and Pink Floyd, the duo managed to break onto the scene with a hit single “Crickets (ft. Jeremih)” and show no signs of stopping! Splitting up all creative duties, we’re excited to watch the boys of Drop City Yacht Club share their beats and rhymes on stage.

To us, being independent means being brave. You have to be somewhat fearless to chase a dream. Especially if you’re chasing that dream on your own.

TuneCore at "The Beehive" – CMJ 2014 Recap

CMJ Music Marathon turned 34 this October – it’s gone from an event that included just a few-venues event to a behemoth showcase with over 1,400 live performances spread over 80 New York City locales. Ask any artist or music industry professional and they’ll tell you how vital the festival is for exposing new music to the masses. Ask any indie music fan in the area and they’ll be too busy trying to coordinate a schedule to see their favorite up-and-coming artists!

Over 40% of the artists that performed at CMJ 2014 have distributed their music through TuneCore. This year, we were proud to sponsor The Wild Honey Pie’s Beehive showcase at Brooklyn Night Bazaar (Happy 5th Birthday shout-out to The Wild Honey Pie!). A majority of the groups on the bill were TuneCore Artists, and a few of them were able to chat with us about their CMJ experience, how they got there, and their plans moving forward! Be sure to take a look at some of the photos caught by the TuneCore staffAehee Kang Asano, and visit our preview of The Beehive event to learn more about the TuneCore artists who played.

TuneCore Artists Neighbors, Fort Lean, and Twin Wave shared their perspectives on CMJ, TuneCore, and their plans for the near future.

1. How did you go from distributing music via TuneCore to performing at CMJ?
Neighbors: We’ve been playing in NYC and releasing records for a little while now. Performing is a big part of getting more people to hear what you do. Plus it’s really fun. 
Fort Lean: Distributing on Tunecore helped broaden our reach and get new fans interested
. So when it came time for CMJ a lot of blogs, promoters, and fans were aware of what we were doing. So they basically just reached out and asked if we’d like to come play some shows they were putting on. 
Twin Wave: 
Building a following in NYC/Brooklyn is not an easy feat.  Distributing music online is one way to hit an audience, playing live is another.  We have been playing shows every month for the last 2 years.  The goal is to be heard/seen/felt/known and we want to use every angle possible to reach people.  CMJ is a fantastic place to share music.  We were luckily enough this year to play at the Buzzchips & My Free Concert showcase at the new Living Room.

noah neighbors CMJ
(Neighbors – photo by Aehee Kang Ason)

2. Why did you choose TuneCore?
As an indie band, TuneCore is the easiest most affordable way to distribute our music and collect the money we make from it. 
Fort Lean: 
We chose Tunecore based on strong recommendations from other bands. It’s basically just the simplest, most straightforward way to get your music on every relevant platform. No brainer.
Twin Wave: 
TuneCore was the obvious choice to share our music in an organized and efficient manner. It has been incredibly helpful, and the revenue earned has even allowed us to pay for Twin Wave merchandise and a music video.

fort lean CMJ 2
(Fort Lean – photo by Aehee Kang Ason)

3. Besides performing live, how else have you built your fan base?
We’ve built our fans in a lot of ways. Word of mouth, social media, videos, licensing etc. I think these days its kind of about doing as much as you can to just get stuff out in to the world as much as you can in as many different ways as you can.
Fort Lean: 
Beyond playing live, we’ve also used social media to stay connected with people who are interested, and made videos to accompany our songs. It’s a multifaceted landscape now, so you basically just have to juggle all these different things at once and give people a window into the world you’re creating.
Twin Wave: 
Online promotion. Websites like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, etc. have helped us reach audiences near and far. Additionally, the services provided by TuneCore have allowed us to send that reach even further, linking us with mega music hubs like Spotify and iTunes.

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(Twin Wave – photo by TuneCore)

4. Now that you’ve played CMJ, do you have plans to perform at SXSW or any other festivals? How will you be preparing?
We’ll definitely be at SXSW this year. I think we’re mostly getting ready by saving rooms for lots and lots of tacos.
Fort Lean: 
We will indeed be playing at SXSW this year. No specific plans yet, but we’ll be getting ready by practicing a lot just to make sure every show counts.
Twin Wave: The goal is to play as much as possible.
We are open to all possibilities. We don’t have any set festival plans at the moment, but we will be playing all over NYC/Brooklyn, so make sure to catch a show soon!

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(Eric Weiner, owner of The Wild Honey Pie)

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.34.52 PM
(Zella Day)

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(Neighbors & TuneCore staff)

echo friendly CMJ
(The Echo Friendly – photo by Aehee Kang Ason)

We’re already looking forward to CMJ Music Marathon 2015! Thanks again to The Wild Honey Pie & Brooklyn Night Bazaar for having us.