Archive for the ‘Things I Learned’ Category

SoundSwell Local Music Collection

June 5, 2014



SoundSwell is a new online database of local music that library cardholders can download for FREE. It also establishes an archive of local music that people can listen to for years to come. SoundSwell was created in partnership with Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios. The database is scheduled to go live on June 3, 2014.

To find the SoundSwell Local Music Collection online, visit the library home page or go directly to For people without internet access, there is a physical collection of CDs that can be checked out at the Downtown Branch.

Anyone can find and listen to the SoundSwell streaming Local Music Collection. Library cardholders can download songs with active license agreements for free with their card number and PIN or Password. All songs in the collection currently have an active license agreement. All music in the collection is produced by Santa Cruz County musicians.

This project has the potential to bring listeners and the musical community together where public dialog happens— at the library. SCPL wants to help the creators of our local culture connect with each other, connect with the community, disseminate their art, and contribute to the historical record of Santa Cruz while receiving fair compensation for their work. By helping musicians to grow their fan base locally, SoundSwell can have a positive impact on local venue attendance. Ultimately, we hope the library will play a big role in supporting the artistic musical identity of our community. We are dedicated to supporting local musicians and building a collection that celebrates the richness and talent that makes our community so unique. What a fantastic way to explore new music and discover the creative pulse of Santa Cruz.

The SoundSwell project was supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. Each artist was compensated $50 – $100 per album (depending on number of tracks) for inclusion in the collection.

Local musicians interested in participating in SoundSwell should contact Diane Cowen, Virtual Services Librarian: by mail at Santa Cruz Public Libraries, 117 Union St. SC, 95060; by email at or by phone at 831-427-7706 x 7763.

Getting on the Radio

February 23, 2013


Way back in January SCRS hosted a ‘Getting on the Radio’ panel. It was awesome. It was also winter flu season, so a lot of people emailed and said they were sorry they could not make it. Here are the top things I learned as well as an audio link if you feel like listening.

Audio Link:

We *hope* to find someone to help us edit down the video, but don’t hold your breath for that, right now, focus on reading.
Featured Guest Panelists:

“Sleepy” John Sandidge [DJ – KPIG & KZSC]
Lois Rosson [Program Director – KZSC Santa Cruz]
Geo Warner [Volunteer Coordinator for Music Programming KUSP]
Sandino Gomez [Free Radio Santa Cruz]

1. Getting your own radio show on Free Radio Santa Cruz is the easist way to get your music heard. They are also the only local station that will take digital files

2. If you send KZSC (and 99% of non-commerical radio) a CD in a paper sleeve, it will not make it on air. It must be a digi or a jewel case. If you have to, hand make a few of your sleeves into this format for radio.

3. When your CD arrives at KZSC it goes to a processing locker, it gets labeled and put into the air room for general staff to play for about 2 months. After that, it gets added to the perminent collection, or it gets purged.

4. For all stations, always list what tracks are not FCC compliant on a sticker on the CD.

5. Forget commercial radio for now, they won’t even look at it. Instead make a connection with a non-commercial DJ in your area.

6. Email is the best first contact. Introduce yourself, let us know to expect your CD.

7. Follow-up to break through the noise. Try not to be annoying but following up shows the station that the musician really cares about being played and that can shift you to the top.

8. If you are producing a CD – remember:

  • Make sure the cover doesn’t suck. People DO JUDGE a CD by its cover.
  • List times at the end of songs (radio stations do NOT like it when they don’t know the times, makes it hard for them to build thier set, etc.) AND numbers in front of the cuts.

9. If you are sending a CD – remember:

  • Include a letter size flyer (ONE SHEET ONLY) with the CD – include name of artist (and how to pronouce if unusual), genre category, contact info, breif quote & descriptoin of music, list any gigs you are promoting or tour you are doing, use easy to read fonts. Make sure there is a picture of your CD on the flyer in case it gets seperated from the CD. Do not go into a narrative history of your band – it does not help and nobody will read it. Save that for your website bio.
  • If you are sending a CD to promote a specific show – list that time sensitive show date on the outside of the package when you send to radio. TRY to send at least a few weeks in advance of the date. The earlier the better.

10. College and community based radio is poised to take over. They are the only station around that still have a real local focus and mean something to communities.

January 27, 2011


Looking for a peak into the Santa Cruz music scene from a local musicians perspective? Check out Keith Thompson’s blog – he’s committed to posting almost daily and seems to always have his finger on the pulse of “the” show happening in town.

You can also submit your upcoming show and get yourself on the calendar. Now you know.

The 2011 NAMM Show

January 20, 2011

One Man’s Journey: The 2011 NAMM Show at the Convention Center in beautiful Anaheim, California:

Hellish shuttle ride from the airport with a distracted driver and a van full of people going to Disneyland. When she found out where I was headed, this one lady kept touching my back saying that I would have way more fun at Disney for the day. It took a lot for me not to spit on her and tell her that Mickey Mouse is Satan.

Upon entry to the convention, I was greeted by a Mexican accordion/guitar/bass/drums outfit playing on the stage sponsored by our friends at Roland. That was pretty cool. I really wish I got their name.

Into the main hall, I was pulled over by security to make way for the totally awesome rump shaking sounds of the Inglewood High School Marching Band. The guy next to me informed me they had the “hottest tuba player” he’d ever seen. I told him he was too old for her, but that didn’t seem to faze him much. They left everyone within earshot smiling.

Lots of middle-aged dudes with dyed Marky Ramone style mullets. So many it was hard not to notice.

I talked to the guys at Aquarian Drumheads who were very cool. We’ll be using and selling their products exclusively.

Ashdown Amps are awesome. Even though the overbearing Brit rep was blasting the guitar amps when I was trying to talk bass rigs with the sales dude from Tennessee. We’ll be working with them in the future for sure.

Can’t say the same about the fat mustaches at ProMark Drumsticks. When the first words out of their mouths were “we don’t…” I turned right off. Fuck them and their shitty sticks. The guys at Vic Firth Sticks were a little better, but still too ready with the “we don’ts.”

DW Kits had some cool looking drum sets, as did Pearl. But damn if these guys aren’t big business. Seems like you gotta have a million bucks just to get a word.

I like how so many of these companies hire slutty chicks in skimpy outfits to get you to check out their products. Where’s my shot of Jager and a Corona, honey? I already have a guitar pick. I guess it’s something to see for all those lonely salesmen.

Sorry, Sam from Splitshot, I didn’t buy a Leslie when I was down there. Too heavy to bring back on the plane. But it’s on the list.

Saw some familiar Santa Cruz faces: Universal Audio, Santa Cruz Guitar Company, Kyle the sound guy from the Catalyst, Your Music Magazine photog guy standing in some huge line to see a rock star. Lots of rock stars. I saw Kerry King (Slayer), Omar from Mars Volta, The Sublime drummer guy, Dr. Lonnie Smith (in another league, but what the hell), Cliff Williams (AC/DC)…the list is long at NAMM.

Any and all music merchandise was represented at NAMM. It’s a total circus. If you’re into music, you should definitely check it out some time. I was only there for four hours and I was exhausted when I left. It didn’t help that I was at SCRS til 1am the night before, and had to catch a 7am flight down to the OC. But it was a fun trip. Happy to be back.

SF MusicTech Summit – December 2010 – Morning Session

December 15, 2010

Last week I attended the SF MusicTech Summit at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. I learned a few things..

Morning Sessions: I picked Music in Film, TV, & Commercials featuring:
MOD: Brooke Wentz; The Rights Workshop
Mat Kearney; Recording Artist
Todd Porter; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Raj Ramayya; Strawberry Hill Music

This was probably my favorite panel of the day, Brooke Wentz was a great moderator and it felt more relevant to have actual artists on the panel. My gems:

  • You’ve heard it before and they said it again – there is now more money in music placement than in actually selling CDS. Record labels that actually still exist today spend a lot more time on “special markets” (aka anything that makes money and is not just straight up selling CDs).
  • Mat Kearney illustrated it best when he said something like (rough quote) “you need to sell like two million records to recoup” but with placement you actually get that money in your pocket. He acknowledged that he really got put on the map when his song was placed in a key scene on the then wildly popular Grey’s Anatomy. He became “the cool thing to license” for a minute.
  • In the past, film and TV would pay to have music scored to their projects, but now it is much cheaper to just license tracks.
  • At one point companies would pay “a lot” of money to license tracks, but today the market is literally flooded so rates have gone down considerably.
  • Lyrics are important to TV shows and films. There are artists today who don’t gig much and instead write songs specifically to try to get them placed. They use universal terms like “breath” and their songs don’t mention specific names or places, they work in increments of :30-:60 seconds. There is an entire art around crafting these “non-songs”.
  • There are more and more product companies looking for artists to brand their products.

All the professionals on the panel admitted that they NEVER use placement firms like TAXI when searching for new music. Instead they rely on personal contacts, trusted sources (blogs, friends, etc.), and… TWITTER! Yes, you can find music placement opps on Twitter – just follow all the music supervisors. One company that did get a favorable review was Jingle Punks.

Everyone did mention how much they like placing indie artists whose music they believe in (it is always more fun to give money to a deserving starving artist). So technically indie artists without major representation can get placed, but  you need to:

  • Be out there playing music and connecting w/people so that you get on the radar of cool people who do things like place music in films. Connecting with people also means going to conferences like SF MusicTech, MIDEM, SXSW, etc.
  • Use social media in a smart way (like following music supervisors).

Notes on the afternoon coming soon..

How to – Listen to Your Local Booking Agent

November 12, 2010

I recently received an off the cuff tutorial from a booking agent at a Bay Area venue. They agreed to let me share thier typical sentiments with you. I decided to keep their sharing anonymous to protect their right to future rants without reprecussion. There are so many gems in here it is enough to make your head spin.

Bands take heed!

How to Query Club Booking Agents

Figure out how each club agents wants to be contacted.

Agents differ in the way they like to be queried and it’s up to you to figure out the right way to query each one.  Some prefer, phone, some prefer email and some have specific call times.  Remember it’s about the way they want to do business, not the way you want to do business.  I personally do not like to be sold on the phone; I just want the facts in writing so I can easily reference them.  Others are the exact opposite.  Usually you can figure out the way an agent wishes to be queried by visiting the club web site or by simply asking her/him.  Bear in mind that many agents have multiple roles and limited time and that you are likely to be one of hundreds the query them annually.  Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a quick response.  Just be persistent and a bit creative until you develop an effective working relationship.  In my dual role as booking agent for musicians, I can name at least three CA club bookers that most people can never get a response from.  I can get an answer in 15 minutes from each one simply because I figured out the right way to query them and they appreciate it.   

 Be Clear and Concise with your message. 

If you are calling on the phone, start and end with your name and number.  If  querying by email, put your band name and available date in the subject line.  This may seem like a no brainier but 90% don’t do it.  This is the single biggest way to stand out and expedite a response.  Vague email subjects and lengthy babbling messages followed by hastily left names and numbers are a clear red flag that you will be a pain in the ass to work with.  Or worse yet, I may just bury your message until I have time for it and we all know what happens to buried messages.  Remember, you are selling your band, not your personality, so get to the point.   

Tell me what I want to know.

I want to know what your draw is, at what ticket price and what exactly you will do to help promote your show.  If you have prior plays tell me about them and don’t bullshit me cause I probably know the booker at that venue.  If the prior was part of a package or it was the venues grand opening, don’t act like your band sold it out.  If you are just starting out, developing your fan base just be honest about it and the agent will be in a better position to help you.      

Show me what you can do.

 Send me exactly what you would send the press, speak to me the way you would a reporter, reference your successes, have a website with sound bites and tour history, and good photo’s and press releases.  Impress me that you have a fan base and what it takes to get them to my venue.  This is 2010, not 1973 and if you don’t have a grip on your own promotional efforts, and expect a club to do it all for you, you are in for a rude awakening.   

Don’t waste my time:

Here is a typical phone message I get 20 times a day.

Hello – I am so and so and I am with the band such and such and we are a really great band, we play this and that and one of the guys used to play for so and so.  I grew up in blah, blah, blah, and I really like your club, I used to go there to see so and so.  We have played their several times and the old booking agent/Owner really liked us and the fans liked us too and we would like to play their again, or if we could be an opener in the big room.  Anyhow, you can check us out on our My Space page (or some other social networking site I have to sign up to, to see).  Call me back because I would like to talk to you about it.  My name is garble and I am at 3817654647 (left as fast as possible, requiring three listens to make it out).  And I am thinking “what kind of music?  When did they play?  What date are they available?  Was it a package or did they headline?  And what the hell is garbles name and did they say 47 or 07?  Is that the impression you wish to make?        

Spare me the guilt trip

I could care less how many times you have called or emailed, I get 30 calls and 100 emails a day and if I am not getting back to you there is probably a good reason (see above), or I just flat out don’t have the time.  You whining about it may gain you sympathy from your mommy or therapist but all it does to me is let me know that you are a thin skinned little cry baby with limited initiative that will be difficult to work with.   Do you want the gig or do you want to make me feel bad.  It’s your choice.

Follow up

Simple rule – do what you say.  If an agent is asking for something, that request will serve as a test to see how capable you are.  If you can’t follow up with the agent, how are you going to follow up with press or tech advancing or virtually anything?  It’s your career so act like it.

Book again

If you come in and do a decent gig – don’t wait to re-book it, call me the next day.  This lets me know that you want to grow with my venue and that you want to be part of my regular programming.  Don’t wait till one month out or go play at three other local venues without the courtesy of even a phone call.  Believe me, unless your name is Eric Clapton my club will do just fine without you, but having a regular gig in your back pocket is money in the bank and your fans will appreciate it too.

Don’t jerk me around

 The us vs. them days are history.  If you think you are gonna beat me up for gigs or squeeze me on fee’s, or denigrate my marketing team or staff or another venues team to somehow imply that you can do better than you have done, you will not be playing my venue.  There are so many great bands out there looking for gigs that bookers like me can simply choose to work with people they like and people that are capable of growing in this climate.  I literally have no real competition for 40 miles in my sized venue.  You can get on board or not, it really does not matter to me.  Attitude has no place in 2010, we either work together or I work with someone else.   I am not in business to make you money, I am in business to bring great music to my community and put butts in seats.  If we do that, the lion’s share of the money goes to you and your fan base grows.  Its win win for both of us.

Just Print It – Local Santa Cruz Printers

September 23, 2010


Posters, flyers, business cards, oh my.

Recently I found myself doing some extensive research on local printers. In case you are in a similar situation, here is what I found. Let me know if I am missing any key players. Who do you love to work with?

The Boutiques:

Sentinel Printers –  (831) 423-2198 – 912 Cedar Street

We used Sentinel to print our Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios business cards and flyers. They turned out beautiful and I really have nothing but good things to say about Sentinel. Their inks are vegetable based and “completely free of volatile organic compounds”. From what I can tell they are not the cheapest game in town (but also not the most expensive) and sometimes you do get what you pay for.

AlphaGraphics  – (831) 425-9800 – 525 Laurel Street  – Suite 125

They do design and printing. On their website they have some awesome post cards and flyers they did for The Abbey.

Mission Printers  – (831) 423-4005 – 522 Soquel Avenue

Community Printers – 831.426.4682 – 1827 Soquel Avenue

I have worked with them for years through my other job and they have always been great. Totally professional and on point. I know this is the go to shop for a lot of old school Santa Cruz graphic designers.

Mpress Digital – (831) 420-1999 – 252 Potrero Street

Their website features referrals from some great local businesses.

Dynamic Press – 831-479-7920 – 1334 Brommer Street, Suite B-1

Looks like they are a certified green printer.

UCSC Print Service – 831-459-2925 – Basement of Baskin Engineering B66

Not just for UCSC students. They offer free delivery on orders for customers on and off campus.

Print Shop Santa Cruz – 831.429.5340 –  511 River Street

The Multitaskers:

Bro Prints – (831) 427-BROS – 131 Center Street #3

Custom screenprinting including posters (but also t-shirts, hats, pins, stickers and all that other stuff).

Catto’s Graphics (831) 454-9742 – 1317 River Street
Custom screenprinting but they recently acquired a printing, promotional products and embroidery company. We used them for our t-shirts, stickers and vinyl banners and we tend to love them.

Clutch Couriers – 831-466-0560

They are a bike messenger service, but also do printing at very competitive prices. We have used them to print and hang our event posters and are always happy with the service.

The Chains:

Fed-Ex/Kinkos – (831) 425-1177

Yes there is always Fedex/Kinkos but my experience (especially at the downtown store) has always pretty much sucked and they are expensive.

Staples – (831) 477-9002

OfficeMax – Santa Cruz – (831) 459-8910

Reading is Cool

July 20, 2010

For the past month we have had a book list posted at the studio to collect titles for the upcoming Santa Cruz Public Libraries Teen Battle of the Bands this Saturday, July 24 from 1- 4 PM at the Cruzio Parking Lot beside the Central Library (224 Church Street).

Here is the final book list for your summer reading pleasure:

  1. Off the Rails: Aboard they Crazy Train in the Blizzard of Ozz by Rudy Sarzo.
  2. Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke by Peter Guralnick.
  3. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil.
  4. Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead by David Gans.
  5. The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson
  6. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.
  7. Smile, You’re Traveling (Black Coffee Blues Part 3) by Henry Rollins.
  8. Across the Great Divide: The Band and America by Barney Hoskyns
  9. Motley Crue: The Dirt – Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Neil Strauss.
  10. T.A. Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone (Autonomedia New Autonomy Series) by Hakim Bey.
  11. Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan.
  12. Last Train from Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick.
  13. Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick.

Jazz Society of Santa Cruz County

June 22, 2010

The Jazz Society of Santa Cruz County has a lot of great thing happening every month.

Jam Sessions:
They hosts a 4 hour jam session every Sunday from 3.30-7.30 pm at Bocci’s Cellar (140 Encinal St. Santa Cruz.)
House band 3.30-4
Open jam 4-6.30
Invitational jam 6.30-7.30
Adm. Free, Full bar, special $8 meals, dance floor.
Friendly, supportive, non-competitive atmosphere.

Jazz Workshops:
Every Tuesday from 7.30-9.30 pm
West Side Santa Cruz
Play/sing jazz standards in friendly workshop.
All levels. Requires ability to play an instrument, and preferably read lead sheets.
More info call 831 427 2792

They also produce an annual compilation CD with tracks by the many local jazz groups in our area.
Check out their website for all things Jazz in Santa Cruz

GigsWiz Free Beta

June 18, 2010

Just checking out a new artist service called GigsWiz (which I learned about on Hypebot). The service is still in beta but it’s free for all artists. You open an account and GigsWiz creates your code for a free fan request widget. You can place the widget on your artist website, MySpace and Facebook.

The widget prompts your fans to request you play in their city. GigsWiz stores the requests and then lets you check out all the stats.

I set one up to check it out and looks pretty cool (I attached the picture). I think this could work really well for bands that don’t have their own artist website and mailing list yet (this at least would give you some stats about where your fans actually live). Let me know if anyone ends up using it and if it works for you….