Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why is the last day of vacation never that Good?

You know what sucks? That my 10 day vacations are always 9, my 7 day vacations are always 6, and my 3 day weekends are always 2 and change. I went to Catalina this weekend on a boat with friends to celebrate a friend getting married, and sure enough, Sunday morning creeps in, and all of a sudden I'm thinking about Monday, work, what I missed, what I have to do. Technically, that Sunday was 33% of my vacation, a third, and I spent it preparing my head, getting rid of the hangover, and planning for Monday. Does this happen in other professions? Do you cut your getaways short as well in the inevitable return to the grind?

It's bad enough in the bar business that i have a love affair nightly with my businesses. If they do well, and treat me well, I'm in love. Greatest line of work ever. If we have a bad night, and the band doesn't draw or we are high on labor, I loathe the existence of the places. My most torrid affair is with Saint Rocke, where the bands play a larger part in our overall success as a business. And every morning when I look at my email report, I either cringe or rejoice. So going on vacation is like withdrawing from an addiction - turning that phone is a tough thing to do.

What I propose is that we institute a post-vacation acclimation day. It should be a rule that after a vacation, we are allowed 1 day to "get back into the swing of things." Because let's be real, who is really productive and on their game the day after? As hard as you try, I find myself going through the motions despite my effort.
I've also tried the come-home-a-day-early solution, but then I realized that was even more of a surrender.

So, I ask, whats your solution?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hermosa Concert Series: "No good deed goes unpunished"

5,000 people on the beach.
Great bands. Great people.
Awesome sponsors that make it happen.
No city funds.

For those that don't know, Saint Rocke produces the concert series on the beach in Hermosa Beach during the summers. After the City cancelled them due to budget limitations, we took on the burden and made it happen. And for those that think it's easy, it's not. Especially in Hermosa Beach, crown city of gadflies. So when we finished the concert series this last weekend on a high note - 4 great shows of original music, great attendance, no problems, etc. - I thought too good to be true. Nobody had a problem in this city? No Jim Lissner crying foul on beach drinking? No Longacre screaming bloody murder on noise concerns? Sweet......Wrong.

Got a letter this morning from a 'concerned citizen' that was extremely upset at the MBCC sponsor activation on Sunday - a country club kindly sponsored the event, and tried to show their members a good time by creating a portion of sand for their members to enjoy by putting furniture and a tent up (Day at the Beach). It was about 10% of the total space used for concert viewing, and preference was given to people signing up for their raffle ((note: sponsorship!!)) Now, I get it. People are big on rights in this country. My right this, my right that. It's was our country was founded on. But on a real level, if you don't already realize this, let me be clear:

1. Nothing is for free. People dont just spend 100k to put on events for fun. Only cities do.
2. Cities are broke. Hence cities not doing #1 anymore.
3. If you are not paying for the product, you ARE the product.
4. I would love to leave the concert series completely void of any commercialism. Absolutely. And if there are any big money dudes in the South Bay that can write a check for 100k, I personally promise that not one logo will hit the beach.
5. If nobody ponies up, and everyone wants a great concert series, then businesses must be allowed to find some ad/marketing value in their sponsorship of the event.

Super simple. Super straight forward.

So instead of spending my day enjoying my hundreds of hours of FREE work I did to put these on, I instead at their taking grief from a lady who told me that "I should be ashamed of myself" for allowing this to happen.
Although I felt like responding in a different manner, I sat there and took it, and apologized that she didn't have a better time, which I've learned from my restaurant background (just keep apologizing).  And hence the lesson I keep learning: "No good deed goes unpunished." But really? Shame?

If someone actually reads this that was involved - a challenge: try to actually HELP our city. Do something positive instead of complain. I'm 100% into collaborative efforts, and would love sponsors, and volunteer help to make these concerts even more special than they already are.  And if you want to whine, don't email me. Take the other gadflies in our town to dinner, go to Vons and get old people to sign a petition against the concerts, and put another ridiculous non-logical referendum into play. Go Hermosa.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Artist you believe in, or a Great Night of $

every Tuesday. The recurring question...

5 of us sit around and talk about who deserves to play Saint Rocke. Who's fresh, who's classic, who has a great voice, or great songwriting talent, who sucks, who's overrated, why that guy is playing those venues, etc. I used to read the LA Weekly and be amazed at the sheer numbers of bands playing every week, and the ads used to give me vertigo. Now I peruse them, and it's as if I'm using a cipher. I get it. The live music business. And so I seem to run into the same question weekly: What if I love a band, but I know they won't draw? I can name 20 (but I won't). And the inverse: I cannot stand this band, but I know they pack the house.  Who gets the Friday night?

Now lets be honest with ourselves people. The South Bay is not a hotbed of musical discovery.  That was supported by the fact that I had at least 5 different people tell me that "that hippie band" on the beach was no good the other week. Bullshit. Mother Hips fucking rocks. Don't care what anyone says. Good songwriting, pro players, great rhythmn. I just shook my head, and short of telling them that I'd put a Journey cover band on, I walked away with a low brow.

So how do I make the decision? The investors at Saint Rocke want ROI, the music crowd wants discovery and new music, and the bar patrons want a good time. I still haven't figured out the right cocktail mix of the three, and when you look at our booking calendar, you might find evidence of that. But I can tell you this - no team has worked harder to give the local community music like they've had here before, and we always appreciate your feedback. We all post on our facebook & twitter so when you have band suggestions, throw em our way!

I'll leave off with a poll question: does HelloGoodbye win over the beach crowd on Sunday?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Where is Music going....

Music is changing. The way its created, the way its presented, and the way we listen and watch it. Its happening now -- the foundations are being built for a music business that we as consumers won't see for another year or two, but trust me, it's happening. Not bad. Not good. Just evolution.

1. You won't "own" music anymore. There'll be no need. You'll access cloud music for a small fee, and your library will be endless. The idea of buying & owning music from an artist will be gone.

2. Albums are gone. The only remnants of the album will lay in nostalgia - where artists put out albums for creative reasons. But they will be penalized financially by the market.  Artists will put out singles almost in constant flow - because the market will reward that activity. Think of these major bands putting out a song a month instead of an album per year.

3. Calls to Action will become normal - as the ticketing & music business team up with peripheral industries to push product, which will support the artist. The cliche is true: "if you are not paying for the product, your are the product." Good example -- you really surprised that you need to sign up for a Citibank card in order to get preferred tickets to JayZ? Well done LiveNation, for working a smooth payment deal. Citibank gets tons of new customers, and the artist just has to give them some tickets, and then get paid. Genius. Did you even realize that when you went to signup?

4. Creativity will flourish. If a song sucks, no more hanging onto it. It will disappear just as quick as it was posted, because it won't be supported by views/listens online, and that will be the ultimate indicator. The power of what gets played, rewarded, and seen as good truly will lie with the masses.

5. The live performance will become ALL POWERFUL. Artists will find ways to monetize this more, and to make this their special sauce. Every single artist will live stream their performance nightly as technological obstacles are removed (as they are). Imagine watching live shows in your home theatre with your big huge sound system, in the comfort of your own home. Can't replace the live experience? Of course. But look at the NFL if you think it can't be done.

6. Record Labels will get weaker and weaker. They already are losing distribution control, and now more and more they are losing content control. What is their use? Big production studios? nope. Big marketing plans? nope. Im still trying to figure out what they are good for. Let me know...

7. There will be a company called IROCKE, and when it's worldwide, you'll remember this blog. It is an opportunity I have taken to develop a niche in this new marketplace with a friend and partner. We are building the platform, and I truly think it will be a large part in changing the face of music. More to come as we develop, but keep your ear to the ground.

Is music better off? worse off?  Neither. It is. Just like a good song or a good artist, there is constant evolution, change, and untraveled paths that this thing called music has been trudging down since the beginning of time. Music is in a growth, a rebirth, and I think on the other side of this period we will have emerged in a new golden era. Get your headphones on, and sit back.