It was the middle of last year that we noticed the same thing starting to come up in conversation with people we met, both musicians & music businesses: “we really all need to just get into a room and just TALK to one another.”
So the first NI Music Meetup was held in November, which subsequently led to UnConvention Belfast. Both events had basically the same aim: get musicians and music businesses in the same room together, talking – and watch what happens.
Last Wednesday saw meetup #5 at Belfast’s Spring & Airbrake – easily the most successful meetup yet. 40 musicians, studio owners, managers, promotors and marketers got together to basically talk to strangers.
As a twist, this meetup was hijacked for a half-hour (which was strictly timed to avoid rambling) to discuss “How Best to Book a Tour”.
Input was from David Neely, promotor for Belfast’s 4 best live venues (Auntie Annie’s, Katy Daly’s, The Limelight and the aforementioned S&A) and Rory Friers from the band And So I Watch You From Afar….
ASIWYFA are now on their 14th UK tour and played to nearly 800 fans at their album launch in Belfast’s Mandela Hall last Saturday night. There’s simply no other emerging band from Northern Ireland who could do that. Here are a few nuggets from the chat:
– You’ve got to expect empty rooms and work through it As long as you treat anyone who shows any interest in your music like a superstar, you’ll be fine. Talk to them after the show, get their email, remember their name and next time out, send them a personal email. They’ll be the ones lending you a couch on tour #5 & #6.
– Tour routing is a luxury you don’t have first time out. You have to be willing to play Glasgow, then drive to London overnight, then play Newcastle the next day.
– Merchandising is vital – It’s what will let you eat on the road. Bring t-shirts and hand-copied CD-Rs the first time out if you have to. But make sure you have something to hand over to the 5 random folks who stumble into your show.
– The only people who truly matter are your fans – A reminder of my last post here: build email lists, reach out to people in places you’re playing, get them involved and let them know you can’t do any of this without them, and they’ll reward you.
– Nothing gets done without a little solidarity… As if to confirm the raison d’etre of the meetup, Rory ended by making sure everyone had his email address – if anyone needed help or touring advice, he’d be happy to hear from them.
Contacts, advice, referrals and camaraderie- these are just a few of my favourite things 😀
After the Q&A was done, everyone hung around for another 2 hours talking about their businesses, their music and how they could help one another.
We’d really like to hear how you thought the evening went, what (if anything) you got out of it and any improvements that could be made. The only thing that’s set in stone is that we’ll be continuing to do these monthly get-togethers for the forseeable future, so get involved!
Join the NI Music Meetup Facebook group to keep up to date on the next event and other news.
Extra thanks to David for the use of the space and provision of coffee, tea and nibbles!