Every now and then I like to get out and see a band that has caught my attention over the years if they come to town. Luckily, I had seen a post on Facebook this morning that the Americana/Country band 2/3 Goat was playing at Tootsies (yes that Tootsies) in down town Nashville this morning. Since I was already down here for business, I stopped in to listen and see if they stood up to their music video for “Stream of Conscience” that originally caught my attention a year or so ago containing a serious message well crafted into a song with a great hook and harmonies.
The best time to catch a band really is when they are playing to a very small crowd. It’s let’s you see if they can really pull it off. It’s easy to play to a large crowd full of energy, but it’s a whole different story when playing at 11 am to 15 people in a venue you have never played before. So now I am going to go over the good, the bad and my final thoughts.
The lead vocalists Annalyse McCoy (descent of the Kentucky McCoy’s, yes those McCoy’s,) and Ryan Dunn have a theater background and moved to New York to make it on Broadway. Why is this relevant? Because it means they can actually sing, I mean really sing. Not like many of todays vocalists who are constantly straining their voice and coughing up hairballs live because they aren’t as good as on their CD.
Annalyse McCoy is a tiny power house of a vocalist. After listening to about an hours worth of singing, not one bad note came out of her mouth. She has great tone and no matter what register or what volume, she sounds full, clear and better than most anyone else I have listened to in Nashville. When behind her mandolin or guitar she is a bit timid and stoic in her body movement but her face is very expressive which really helps her performance. Once she steps out from behind her instruments, she is almost a different singer live. She is more sultry and expressive and adds a new energy to the stage. Annalyse is also very good with her eye contact which is crucial when performing. Annalyse sang a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs” that honestly, I liked better than the original. While I love Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks’ tight vibrato sometimes really gets on my nerves and with Annalyse’s version, it was much more personal and listenable to me.
Ryan Dunn is a solid singer who also stayed in key the whole time and blends very well with Annalyse for harmonies. While a solid singer (again, more consistent than many I have seen here in Nashville,) Dunn needs to add a bit more character to his voice to really stand out from the pack and make his mark. This is not a knock, just an observation. Dunn can sing and sing well. Dunn is a bit more animated while singing with his instrument but not much.
The songs are well written but not all super hooky radio hits. 2/3 Goat write with much deeper messages and stories than most of todays artists. A lost art in my honest opinion. The band while sometimes consisting of fill in players for the sake of touring is solid and very tight. The violinist at todays show was really fun to watch as he looked the most excited to be there and it came through more in his performance, plus he is a good fiddle player. One thing Nashville has is great fiddle players on Broadway and this guy (sorry, not sure of his name) could hold his own with most of them.
The Bad (well not really)
The things I will list here are very nit picky, but things that possibly could make the difference. They are suggestions as honestly, I have only seen 2/3 Goat live this one time and a few videos so take this with a grain of salt.
First thing is energy on the stage. Being that both Dunn and McCoy have a background in theater, I’d like to see them apply that back ground to their live performance some how and much apply more energy into their act. While their performance is solid musically, it lacks the energy needed to get a crowd excited. This is where Annalyse could kick it up a notch or two with her performance especially without her instruments. Sometimes bands get into the rut of what they are used to seeing live and honestly, Americana music isn’t full of energetic performers, but there is no reason for that at all. When you are trying to sell tickets, trying to get a crowd to stay and sell alcohol for the bar, you need to use every thing at your disposal. Supplying a great live energy to the crowd is the way to do it.
The second thing is image. If you look at the 2/3 Goat website, they have a specific image and maybe that was just for the video of “Stream of Conscience,” but it is what I am expecting when seeing them live. Not necessarily that same outfits, but at least the togetherness of the group. It was one thing I really liked about them when I first noticed them. In today’s performance and in other videos I have seen, it was basically the same old shopping at Wal-Mart clothes (except the fiddle player) that many alternative rock bands do. It is not something Country music does in general, but then again, all the guys dress like Kenney Chesney and the girls all look the same as well.
Finally I’d like to see them work on their transitions and stories in between the songs. While certainly not the worst I have seen, based on many their songs content, they could be very strong here and really draw in the audience to the music. Billy Joel is a master at this and this band could really benefit here.
2/3 Goat is a band with a very bright future. They are tour work horses. Most of the musicians I come across make every excuse in the book to not tour. They don’t have enough money, don’t want to play on a Monday night or what ever lame ass excuse they can come across. This is not 2/3 Goat’s motto. They have the DRIVE to get after it everyday. They understand what it takes to make it happen to some degree and will do everything possible to get their music to the public. They still deliver musically even when not with consistent members of their band in tow. They don’t complain on social media. They understand this is a business and they act like it. They are very professional and trust me, that is much appreciate by everyone in the business. Most of all, they have big vocals, talent and have worked in the side of entertainment where everyone actually has talent and drive, Broadway. This maybe the most important thing of all.
I have no doubt if 2/3 Goat doesn’t give up, they will make a big impact on the Americana scene. They love what they do, they walk the walk and they actually have the talent most people are looking for. If you ever get a chance to listen to 2/3 Goat or see them live, don’t deny yourself the opportunity. You will miss real musicians who actually work hard for the art and bring something to the table creatively that most don’t.
2/3 Goat Website: http: //twothirdsgoat.wix.com/twothirdsgoat
Facebook: https: //www.facebook.com/twothirdsgoat
One of the great lies I hear from bands that haven’t made in the music business is that promoters don’t promote enough for their shows. Really? A PROMOTER whom by title and definitions job it is to promote isn’t promoting enough? I call a serious BS to this excuse that musicians use to not be accountable for their poor numbers. I have yet to meet either as a musician or a business person a promoter that didn’t promote. We are talking 30 years of playing or working in the business and I have never seen this. Even the small promoters work their fingers to the bone, pay the bands with what little came in and always go home with nothing while the bands bitch and complain and pretty much did no promotion what so ever.
It is my contention that most musicians don’t know what promotion truly is and wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it and they have no idea what is going on in the background. Is this harsh? Yes, but it is my experience dealing with musicians.
So let’s get this out of the way early. Yes, there are exceptions where maybe a promoter is new or doesn’t know what they are doing or maybe doesn’t have a budget but this is not what you normally deal with. Even still people who are promoting an event are usually very excited about their event and will promote it the hilt to the best of their ability which I can not say about musicians. Yes there are a few musicians out there that get it, but the majority don’t and they make excuses as to why they there are no people at their shows.
First and foremost, promoters are not in the business of losing money. Promoters are in the business of making money. They aren’t into taking chances and throwing away hard earned dollars by throwing an event and not promoting it. That is just plain stupid and not even close to reality. If you as a musician have met a promoter that is into throwing money away and you worked with them, then that is your fault for making a bad business decision. Hopefully you have learned form it and know what questions to ask next time.
As far as promoters taking advantage of local bands again a load of BS. If you are a local band, and you were lucky enough to get a spot on an event that has money behind it, you are already getting more than you are worth in advertising and promotion alone. It builds your brand, your credibility and if you actually drew in the minimum of 30 paid tickets you should be drawing in, then you will be remembered and brought in again and again as long as your work your butt off and keep brining in numbers. This does lead to getting paid and much better opportunities for you. If you are a local band opening for a A level or B level band, you are getting paid by getting in front of the audience that paid to see the headliner not you. This is a crowd that would never normally come see you. Understand the opportunity that it is, the opportunity you couldn’t normally afford to pay for yourself and make the most of it.
I can’t tell you how many times I stood in front of Bridgestone arena during a big concert by myself handing out promo cards while not one of the band members helped or how many times I was out ever day hanging posters and no help from the bands. 3 times I had a tiny bit of help hanging posters from 1 musician who did one small area of town with me and 2 others where a model and a friend helped me to 2 square blocks. Everything else was me every day hanging posters and hitting a previous area again every third day. The bands always had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help.
Promoters have their events listed on all the known event websites. They get their events in all the local entertainment rags. They set up radio interviews and advertising. They do email blasts over and over again. They have social media accounts that they promote on. They hang posters all over town over and over again because posters are always pulled down. This more promotion per event then most bands will do in a year for themselves let alone for just one event. What do musicians do? Maybe a couple Facebook posts or tweets and call that promotion.
In a perfect world, each event will be promoted to the hilt by the promoter, venue and bands. Will this happen? Maybe, maybe not. The reality is this. Each musician or band is responsible for their success and the success of each event no matter what anyone else does. You can never rely on someone else’s promotion for your business. YOU have to kill it each and every time. YOU cannot let excuses creep into your thought process. People pay to see bands that are good, the pay to see an experience. If they aren’t paying to see you, it’s not because of a lack of promotion by the venue or promoter. It’s because you aren’t giving them what they want yet. They don’t see anything worth paying for. YOU as a band have to learn how to separate people from their money. YOU have to learn how the become the EVENT that makes them put other things off and come see you instead of a movie or handing with friends.
As a promoter we have to do the same thing however, promoters learn quickly usually and bands seem to languish in poor work ethic and lack of creativity.
Bottom line is this. YOU have to toot your own horn and not expect anyone else to. YOU have to learn the skills to make this happen. YOU have to have a band that is dedicated to putting together a strategy to promote effectively. This means everyone in the band has to participate and quit using the “that just isn’t my thing” excuse. If you are in a band and you find that you don’t have the drive or the time to make this happen, then it is time re-evaluate your business and maybe step aside or just be comfortable with being a local band. There is nothing wrong with that. Getting up and playing music for any number of people is it’s own reward.
The music business isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago. There is very little money it, especially for bands that haven’t made it. Musicians wanted control of their careers so they could make more money and not get screwed. Well guess what, you got it. Now it is all your responsibility. The real work, the hard work is now up to you and you live and die by the sword.
Now you know why, bands had contracts that paid other people so much. They were the ones making you successful. They did all the hard work, the grunt work. They were the ones taking the risk and fronting the money so you could be a rock star.
Time to make a decision. Either you want it and will do everything as a unit possible to make it or you won’t, but quit blaming others for what you are not willing to do for yourself.
To all the bands that are doing it, keep it up! Never give up! Take the reigns of your business and do your best to dictate your success!
The entertainment business is incredibly tough to be in. We all think we are amazing talents and think we should be paid for all of our hard work and what it takes to put on a show of any kind but that isn’t the reality. The reality is it’s hard to separate people from their hard earned income and with all the entertainment being thrown at them from every angle now days, it’s very hard to capture their attention.
This is why is so incredibly critical that word of mouth spreads about your show the entice people to your future shows. It almost always takes lots and lots of shows before you start to see the crowds you want but there is a strategy to doing it and most importantly, it has to be an experience they will remember and always talk about.
The other day, Dana White of the promotions company UFC came out and said “If you want to get paid, you don’t want people doing the wave during your fight.You want them talking about you on Monday and Tuesday and that isn’t going to happen if they aren’t paying attention to your fight” (paraphrased.) This is completely true of any form of entertainment. If you can’t get people to talk about how completely amazing your show or performance was, you are not giving the audience the experience they are paying for and hence, you don’t deserve to get paid no matter how hard you worked nor should you expect them to. This isn’t an hourly paying gig based on the hours you put in. Lot’s of people work hard (most likely in the wrong areas) but may not be talented enough, visionary enough or a good enough producer to put on the entertainment experience of a life time.
This is the truth. Hard work doesn’t determine getting paid. Buying gear doesn’t determine getting paid. Nothing determines getting paid other than your show putting butts in seats no matter how hard you work or talented you are. This can be a very long and arduous process for any entertainer but it is usually the most common road. Time, effort, talent and an amazing amount of patience are absolutely necessary in the entertainment business. If you aren’t giving the public something that makes them want to part with their money, then you have no one to blame but yourself. You don’t deserve to get paid just for showing up.
Along with talent, planning, intense amounts of practice and the vision to make your dream happen and to also deliver something the public finds value in comes the actual real work that most entertainers don’t want to do and hope others will do for them before they are big enough for anyone to want to. The promotion, booking and business end of things. Somehow the entertainers have to be able to do all of this. It’s obviously very hard and if it was easy, every one would be doing it but they aren’t. However it can be done and there are plenty of examples in the business to prove it. It comes down to will, determination and talent not only to perform but design a show that will provide and experience, not just another so-so show that the public usually gets. They deserve much better than average if they are going to spend money on a ticket plus any other expenses such as drinks, dinner, parking or babysitting etc.
I would estimate that about 95% of what entertainers are putting out there in their performances or shows is completely average or below, yet all I see are entertainers demanding that they should get paid. Paid for what? Mediocrity? I won’t pay you for that. When you send in your material and tell me how amazing you are then that is what I expect. If you aren’t that, if you don’t deliver on your words of your live show, if you don’t put butts in seats or increase your crowd on average over time, then you simply are not as good as you say you are. That is reality. That doesn’t mean give up though. It means you need to re-evaluate your show. Take the time to make adjustments, improve in the areas that need it and learn to put on the show that people wan’t to see. If you don’t, you can’t complain about people not wanting to pay ticket prices. You aren’t providing the value to make it worth the price to them.
You want to sell tickets? Provide the experience that people can’t stop talking about. This means the most well rehearsed, professional dedicated performance you can deliver and it must keep getting better. Until then, you will be mired in mediocrity and low ticket sales and letting the business jade you for your perceived slights. No one owes you a living. In this business, talent, hard work, creativity and vision are all you have. Bring it or go home. Don’t complain about people not coming to your shows when you aren’t giving the very best for them to see.
This is the reality that haunts us all. You and me alike.
Tonight Bob Bender returns with us as we hammer out what an artists real responsibilities are when signing with any professional team. We are going to get down to the nitty gritty and tell the truth. This the first of a four part series on developing a strong team and making sure the artist knows it’s responsibilities.
The Lowry Agency
2726 Old Elm Hill Pike
Nashville, TN 37214
Nashville TN – Metalcore band “Mindset Defect” win the local event “Nashville Hard Rock Rising.”
Nashville TN – Metalcore band “Mindset Defect” wins two awards at the “Music City Mayhem Awards.”
Nashville TN – Guitarist Jeff Caughron wins the “Best Rock Guitar” award at the “Music City Mayhem Awards.”
Metalcore band “Mindset Defect” signs non-exclusive booking agreement with Dungeon Promotions.