Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dreaming to play festivals?

  Spring is in the air, even though it can't really decide weather to rain or shine. But that's Ireland for you. When the summer gets closer, musicians start to dream about summer festivals. For many musicians playing live is the goal and to get to play a festival in front of hundreds, if not even thousands of people is the ultimate dream. This is also why so many festival organizers get swamped with emails, demos, press packs, EPK's etc. We all get so exited about the idea that we just push our stuff down their throats. Do we ever think what the powers that be, the artistic directors of the festivals actually want? Sure there are some festivals that have very specific application process and if they do, great. Follow this to every little detail. The best way to get them to ignore you is to send in a half filled application. Now here's the thing, I have actually played lot of festivals in the folk scene over the years with Sliotar and other bands I have been involved in. I have got to know some of these festival organizers. And I know how they work. Now this would not go for every festival, obviously. But some of the basics are the same. I won't be sharing the details of these festivals, as I would upset lot of people who have been very good to me over the years:-), but all of the festivals can be easily searched on google.

  But lets just say, one particular festival, who's promoter has booked some of the biggest international acts in the past and in his later years came back to his roots by starting a folk festival. I had a chat with him after Sliotars set on this particular festival, and I was asking how they select their bands. And here is the bad news for all of us sending hundreds emails every year... This particular festival only books bands through recommendations from people who they trust. Even if you send them the fanciest press pack in the world, it makes no difference, and believe you me, they get truck full of press packs every year. How did we get in to the festival? A DJ who works at the festival was touring with us six months earlier. He watched us concert after concert, and only at the very end of the tour did he mention the festival and said he would would recommend us. His word was all it took. Now we have played at the festival twice, and last time we had two concerts on both days of the festival, which is very rare at this festival:-)

  Another festival that Sliotar has worked with for years, the promoter does try to listen to every demo he gets. If he happens to like particular act, he will check out videos on YouTube and he would expect to find several. Or if he happen to hear a band live, which was the case with Sliotar. Even then, you work with their conditions. If you start the negotiations by demanding sky and the moon, he will just laugh out loud. You see these are festivals that offer you a guaranteed crowd, and a big one! So there are lot's of bands competing for the places.

  Also there are one of the biggest folk festivals in Europe, who have three people working full time for them, traveling and scouting out new bands... Now that would be a nice job:-)

  The music conferences are also a big place to get discovered, but they take lot of work to get in to. Usually you need to fill in an application forms which include, among other things your gig list for the following year... How many of us work a year ahead in our bookings? And music conferences are not payed gigs, you cover your own costs, flights, accommodation etc. But you need to think this as an investment for the future.
I am not trying to discourage you from trying to get to play festivals, but for the love of god don't make it your number one priority. I think if you contact all the festivals you'd like to get to play, and ask for their submission policy. Many of them wont get back to you, but some will. And when they do, provide them what they ask. And then move on. Concentrate on doing smaller shows and lots of them, this is what most of those bands on the festival bill have done for years before got where they are now. At the end of the day, festivals book bands that will bring in the audience, can your band do that?


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Musician v Publican

Part 78

   Lets talk about gigs for a bit. We all love going to good gigs, we love playing gigs. In fact, that definitely is the reason I became a musician in the first place and it really should be a big driving force behind every musician. I have come across few blog posts about the subject of promoters and venue owners expectations on musicians. My mind is bit divided here... The argument in general is that the venue expects you to play for very little money and expect the artist to bring in a crowd. This is something I am sure every musician have had a bit of a reality check about. Of course your friends and family will come to support you in the beginning, but if you are playing your fourth mid week gig in a month and most of your friends need to get up to go to work in the morning... Sooner or later you will run out of friends to drag out. And lets face it, none of us goes out as much as we used to do. So the argument on the musicians side is that it is the promoters/ venues job to bring in the crowd. They should advertise the concert, stick up posters, hand out fliers, spend half of their day posting stuff up on Facebook. Yeah, that sounds nice to me, but at the same time, I have played long enough in bars and clubs to know that running a bar is a full time job. And so is being a promoter of a venue that has music most nights of the week. What we are left with is blame game, musicians blame the venues and the venues blame the musician. So who's right? Well... neither. Both are hugely misinformed. There are several small venues around me that specializes in entertaining tourists. Yep I live in the tourist strip;-) And i would say there is at least 15 venues in a square kilometer around me, that all fight for a slice of the same pie. I have been in a middle of it for over 15 years now and talked to several bar owners, heard their expectations and in my foolish youth actually tried to live up to their expectations. Now I am glad to say those days are long gone;-) The bar owners really suffer from a bad case of “the grass is always greener on the other side”. The ones who expect bands to bring in the crowd, usually are the ones who eventually decide music is not for their bar and turn on the socker. What they should be concentrating is, how well the musicians can hold on to the crowd that manages to walk in to the bar. Once the owner recognize this big difference, they are on to something. Then there are the occasional mad ones, who have some of the busiest bars in town, and they end up running around the bar blaming musicians that their bar is not full three a clock in the afternoon... You might think I am joking, but I am not, that really did happen... And once a while you have the ones who know what it is about. They get quality music in, make it regular thing. You see people are creatures of habit, they like to wonder in to a bar where they know they will hear good music. These are the ones who have regular customers all year around, and tourists queuing in year after year. These are the ones, who have my respect, and if they are stuck last minute, I will drop everything and help them out. Oh nearly forgot, then there is one more type. The cheapskates ;-) They go for the cheapest and usually worst musician they can get, and wonder why people are running out of their bar... Well, we'll leave them alone.
  Now as to the musicians. We expect to just turn up and play and that should be enough, right? Well... not exactly. Our work is to play a great show and no matter what goes wrong around us, do it with a smile on your face. Be professional, and by this I mean, set up in time, sound check discretely if you play in a bar that is open during the day. Start your set on time and stick to the schedule. Make sure you have all your equipment, spare strings, sticks etc. And work with the crowd. Now these are obviously very specific type gigs, and when it comes to independent music in our dear old Dublin, things change a lot. You are very lucky if you get paid. But I still think that traffic stopping blinder of a show is something that will get you there eventually. You see, your act needs to have value, and that value needs to stand past the point of dragging your friends to see you night after night. Once you have that great show, you will start to build following and filling venues and venue owners will start calling you. And let me just say here, we have handful of great venues here in Dublin that genuinely support the local independent and underground scene. And I am glad to say, it seems like these venues are being rewarded for their efforts.
  I'll leave you with the third part, the promoter. Good promoter is worth its weight in cold! They know what works, and eventually build the venues reputation to the point where they can take risks, and people will come. But this does take years of work and most promoters quit before they get that far. I don't blame them though, as they usually end up getting crap from the bands and the venue owners... So what if instead of blaming each others every one would work together trying to figure out ways to get people in to the gigs? Now there's a fresh thought, lets think about it and come back to it later:-) And let me just say, this is a musicians point of view, I'm sure the venue owners and promoters have their own.
   JPKALLIO.COM 4th of April in the Sweeney's, hope to see you there.

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

JPKALLIO.COM looking for a second guitar player.

   In the past few months I haven't really talked much about what's going on with JPKALLIO.COM. Well, lot of stuff has gone down... But here we go.
    So the first bit of the news. Some of you might have been wondering what has been going on with us as we haven't played any concerts for few months. Over the Christmas Tomeks life once again turned upside down as his father had a stroke. So for the most part of the new year Tomek spent by his fathers side in the hospital. His father never recovered from the stroke and last week passed away. This has been a very tough time for Tomek and his family and we decided to keep this to private until his father was put to rest. These are sad events, that unfortunately are part of life, whether we like it or not. Our thoughts are with Tomeks family.
    But I had a chance to catch up with him earlier on the week, and now Tomek is more determined than ever to just get back on his feet and back playing. So you will hear lot more from us in the coming months. The fact is that life has to go on, and that's just what Tomek is going to do with the rest of the band standing strong by his side. That's what being in a band is also about, it is your second family and you stick together through thick and thin. So now we are back rehearsing and bag full of new songs on the way.
    Speaking of new songs here's another bit of news for you and bit more positive: Due to the wildly imaginative side of J.P.s brain having difficulties sticking to simple restrictions, he has ended up writing lots of new songs with two guitar parts. This has left JPKALLIO.COM in a bit of a pickle. After extensive look in to stem cell research and cloning, it turns out that J.P. can not grow another set of hands... So we have no other option than to look for a second guitar player for JPKALLIO.COM. So we are looking for another mad rocker.
They must be:
1. Based in Dublin
2. In possession of their own equipment
3. Aged roughly between 30-40
4. Willing to rehearse two to three times a week, weekday mornings (Yeah we know, pain in the hole...)
5. We take our little band very seriously, so we would expect you to do the same
6.We all have years of experience in music, so we would expect the suitable candidate have experience playing in bands, gigging, recording and organizing all the usual band stuff as a team.
We put lot of weight on finding the right person for this band and if some one just seems to fit the bill extremely well, we can overlook some of the above points. We are not looking for the fastest shredder/ guitar hero, but a solid player with a good understanding of what JPKALLIO.COM is about. Interested? So here is what you'll do: Send an email to, or contact J.P. through his personal facebook page: Tell us a bit about your self, if you have any tracks or video of you playing, would be great, but not compulsory. Then we'll get you to jam with us. And after all the candidates have had their go, we'll make a decision.
So if you, or some one you know might be interested, get in contact. We wanna hear from you:-)

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Must-Follow Music Business Blogs

Part 76

  When you write a blog that has anything to do with music business, you are always on a look out for other bloggers. Some of these bloggers have a wealth of information to share, so I thought I'd mention few of my favorite ones here. I have mentioned in the past Bob Bakers Indie music promotion blog at:  and I am sure I will mention it again in the future. This blog must have been one of the first ones that I started following, and I must admit it has changed my way of looking at the music business big time! Now much later I came across Chris Rocketts blog Promote your music at: Even though internet promotion for your music is pretty global thing, both of these blogs occasionally do include the good old fashioned street level promotion (gigs, etc). So what attracted me towards Chris's blog lately is the fact that he is based in London, which not only geographically is closer to Dublin, but also this “street level” stuff work much in the same way than in Dublin. Chris also has more hands on mentoring glasses, where you get more one on one guidance for small fee. But at the moment he is offering some of his lucky followers years access in to his Music marketing classroom. Chris really do have some serious ideas to share, so if you are looking to get a bit of a boost to your music promotion, this would be a great place to start. Check out the competition at:

Here is also a video to explain how it all works:

  Both Bob and Chris are great examples of the welth of information on the net to help you on your music career. Other two blogs I would need to mention here, and highly recomend you follow them: Brian Thompsons Thorny Bleeder has been a source of so much up to date info in the past few years for me. He's daily news letter is priceless! You can find his blog at: . And another great blog is Michael Branvolds:
  There are hundreds, if not even thousands more out there (including yours truely), so keep looking. You can and will learn something new every day. Do you follow some music business, or otherwise music related blogs? If so, post them here in the comments for all of us to discover.

Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Work hard and smart in the music business

Part 75

  On a trip back home to Finland over the holidays I was reading n in flight magazine of certain Finish airline who I shall not mention here (until they sponsor me with bag full of free flights). There was an article on Finnish working mentality. Finns are known for being hard workers, but this does not mean we work every waking hour... well... not in general anyway. We use term work hard, work smart. The term stayed with me and has been playing around my head since then. It is very often you can get overwhelmed on all this promotional stuff in your music career and I think implementing this way of thinking can be pretty crucial to your success. Sometimes music business can feel like looking for a needle in a hay stack. You need to turn over every rock, look around every corner even for a small bit of success. Personally I find when you spend as much time on this as I do, the tools you use become very important, this is where that Finish work hard, work smart comes in play. So lets start from a few simple task management things. I hear you say how hard it is to find time to do everything and especially if you have full time job as well. It is very important you get organized. Arrange your schedules for the week. See when you have the band rehearsals, see when other parts of everyday life take over and what amount of time you are willing to commit to the promoting of the band. Now let me be honest here, it does take lots of time, and there are tasks along the way, that will require longer than hour here or there. But still you can be smart about your time. So lets say you have only one our at a time, maybe three to four times a week. For these precious hours to make difference you need to work smart. I have learned to work on the move, so give me a corner of an airport with WiFi and I am good, but it took me time to get to that point. To get organized I started in my small office (probably bit smaller than your average box room), desk, computer and a note pad. Decide what it is you want to do today, find a new concert for your band, create a video, locate a good studio for your next recording, work on your website or social media sites etc. Now decide how much of your time you want to dedicate for this task. Set out to do this task and only this task! Turn of your Facebook chat, only answer urgent phone calls and get the task done. Trust me on this one, you'll be surprised how much more productive you can get this way.

   Now as to tools. One simple bit of advice I can give you that probably has saved me minutes every day, and probably hours every week: for the love of all the good things... stop using Internet explorer and swap over to Google chrome. Now this is very specifically advice for PC, on mac I believe Safari is still the way to go. But there is nothing more frustrating than spending time waiting for your browser opening the simplest pages... Firefox is good, but in my experience Chrome is still faster, especially when you start running multiple tabs. So do your self a favor and try it out.

   Another simple tool that you should never under estimate is the simple note pad. And here I don't mean the one in windows, but the one you should have beside your computer and you write with pen;-). Write down all your ideas as they pop up. This can be lot more effective than you think.

   What are your tools you for making you work smarter?

   Talk to you more next week.


Glory to the World - Single - J.P. Kallio