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a survival guide for bands


PERSONIFY It is ok to fear the man. However you should not fear some of the words “the man” uses. Ultimately you have two options with your music. Make it a hobby, or make it commercial.









and the earth is deep, so the hearts of kings are unsearchable. Buzz brings professional design directly to new bands, helping new musicians distinguish themselves. Buzz distills and distributes essential wisdom gathered from fans, bands and industr y professionals. art director STEFAN ARONSEN assistant designer ZEN ZENITH: PLEASE DO NO FIGHT executive editor IAN TUTTLE field editor BR ANDILEIGHA ROBIN STR ACNER collaboration OLIVIA PARIOT: WIRETAP MUSIC collaboration MIKE G: WIRETAP MUSIC fourth executive advisor LIAN NG third executive advisor CAROLINA DE BART0LO second executive advisor TROY ALDERS first executive advisor BR AD RHODES photo assistant AMY SCANDURR A photo assistant STEPHANIE TR APP contributing writer KENDALL DIX: ATTORNEY AT LAW contributing writer LINDSAY GARFIELD: OR, THE WHALE contributing writer IAN STAHL: ER A ESCAPE contributing writer AMY WILSON: CPA IN TR AINING special thanks to MOM & DAD, BROTHER, SISTER, FAMILY, FRIENDS, JACOB HENNESSEY-RUBIN: MOR AL SUPPORT, OLIVIA: WIRETAP MUSIC, ANTON: JUDGEMENT DAY, GR ANT: BATTLEHOOCH, ZEN: PLEASE DO NOT FIGHT, PETER: EAROFTHEBEHOLDER, JUSTIN: PUNCHFACE, DAMON: PAR ANOIDS, PEARL STARBIRD, NIANA LIU: WATERCOLOR MAPS, CASEY KOERNER: ARTIST, LAR A DE GARIE: ARTIST web design STEFAN ARONSEN digital director JASON ROBINSON web editor MICHAEL HER AUF web video YOUTUBE.COM/SFINTERCOM social network MYSPACE.COM/SFINTERCOM social network FACEBOOK.COM/SFINTERCOM president STEFAN ARONSEN email STEFAN@SF-INTER.COM phone 415.894.2302 consultant OLIVIA PARIOT consultant MIKE G mailing address PO BOX 423525 SAN FR ANCISCO, CA 94142 general info INFO@SF-INTER.COM office number 415.894.2302 web SF-INTER.COM BUZZ MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED BY SF INTERCOM AND FEATURES WIRETAPMUSIC.COM The goal is to help new bands and struggling bands become more viably successful. Buzz utilizes existing social networks to connect with bands; this ties the book into a rich web presence that ser ves as an interactive clearinghouse. Buzz is the lifeline linking bands to their audiences, venues, labels, and producers.

art director executive editor web

opening mail

Stefan Aronsen Ian Tut tle buzz

• PO BOX (32) • MYMail (34) • DEADTWEETS (38)

booking shows

• SF POTRERO 94107 (44) • Busking (50)

insiders scoop

• • • • •

contributing writers

buzz guide

the scene & be seen

last words

CD DESIGN (56) 1st How-To (58) 2ND How-To (60) Insiders Scoop (62) JOURNAL REVIEW (66)


CONTRIBUTORS Troy Alders: Advisor An art director at LucasFilms and teacher at the San Francisco Academy of Art, Alders ser ved as a sounding board and filter throughout SF Intercom’s development. Favoring simplicity over noise, Alders took Aronsen’s original goal of “I want to fix the music industr y” and honed it do a doable task: “I will create a sur vival guide.” Overf lowing with an electric energ y, Alders is good for advice on ever ything from hairstyles to relationships.

Stephanie “REGS” TRAPP: Photographer There’s an intimate power in small spaces. “Regs” trains her street-savvy eye on the ubiquitous and shrinks it, making it personal. She is responsible for the Dead Tweet photos throughout Buzz Magazine. She spends her time working on her own photography, photo assignments for SF Station, and taking in as much local indie music as possible. Babysitting provides a positive and lively balance to her typical photographic material.

Kendall dix: Contributor This jovial Midwesterner found his true home in San Francisco, where he once offered tickets to a sold-out concert on Live 105 to anyone who could help him land a job. His voracious appetite for local culture and music made him a valuable companion throughout Buzz Magazine’s development, and his law degree is still getting better with age, ready to be tapped by a discerning employer.

jacob hennessey-rubin: Design support There’s something profound in that first friendship in a new city. Hennessey-Rubin has remained a constructive, insightful ally to Aronsen and SF Intercom even as his personal focus has shifted from graphic to industrial design. Acting as a personal curator of over 200 blogs, Hennessy-Rubin kept Aronsen’s own finger firmly planted on the indie music pulse.

Special thanks: stephanie trapp, amy scandurra, olivia: wiretap music, jayson: music for animals, peter: earsofthebeholder, cor y: absolutely kosher records, petros: dizzy balloon, kimi: lilofee, laura: foxtails brigade, daemon: paranoids, vincent lo - astro studios, jason: maus haus, grant: battlehooch, ian: era escape, shayna rader: editor

stefan aronsen: art director & editor-in-chief Stefan grew up surrounded by a musically gifted family and he was inspired by their passion for music. He figured it was his calling to be a musician. At a young age he took up drums, it went poorly. He wasn’t fazed, he figured he wasn’t a percussionist, he moved on to the clarinet. He could hear ever ything he did wrong, but nothing he did right, clearly wind instruments weren’t for him. He did this with 4 other instruments until finally he realized he wasn’t a musician at all. OPENING WORDS: BUZZ … Hey! It’s Stefan, let me in! I’ve come to help make bands more successful. How am I going to that? Well … not alone! Obviously! SF has a community of fans, bands and industry professionals with solid advice to make you a better you. That’s right Buzz is here to help you avoid making the same mistakes others before you have already made. Why should the same mistake be made twice? IT SHOULDN’T.

ZEN ZENITH: ASSISTANT DESIGNER Home-schooled and hugely huggable, Zenith is lead singer of the talented indie band Please Do Not Fight. His eye for clean design kept Buzz Magazine looking sharp. His personal involvement in the indie music scene kept its voice authentic. His spirit aided SF Intercom morale when obstacles presented. Zenith splits his time equally among making music, teaching guitar, and leading events for fellow “unschooled” folks.




By emphasizing advice from existing bands, spotlighting venues that cater to indie music, and building a network of resources designed with the indie musician in mind, Buzz targets a niche market.


I don’t think there’s a general answer for everyone, though there are probably some commonalities. CORY: Absolutely Kosher Records




People see what they want to see … but

Make sure you’re acting in a way that

Well, when Rob and I first started mak-

you can play with that and stretch their

you want your band to be represented.

ing music there wasn’t even the thought

reality a bit with sound and sight. Of-

Plan out things like when and where

of a band or a live show, we just wanted

ten times the 2 are one in the same and

you’re playing and how often and when

to create.

always complimentary. The songs we

you’ll release new material. You have

perform aren’t written nor recorded in

to watch yourself because others are

a day-to-day; atmosphere-it is an alter-

always watching you. The only person

nate reality with strong emotional and

who can mess ever ything up is the

chemical charges. Writing music is ex-

same person who can make it all awe-

In essence, we want to be a really con-

traordinary and sometimes transcen-

some: you.

ceptual-media oriented band, and I’m

dental, so clothes and external props can help to complete the picture of this

PETRO: Dizzy Balloon

place you were when you wrote the song. Both mentally and physically. JAY: Music For Animals

GO ORGANIC Forming a band is an organic process and ever y band develops differently. The look, feel, style, name, etc. are all part of that. It’s the business behind the band that can be controlled. PETER:


However, once we had written a couple of songs, it was obvious that we wanted to take it to the next level.

huge on stor y-telling so for us ever ything ties in together. Ever y band is different, but for us, it


was important to have a stor y and a

Differentiate yourself from all the other

theme from the get-go — —-ever ything

bands out there so that people will al-

since then has been evolving from that

ways remember you. A persona makes

initial fair y-tale of Princess Lilofee.

you yourself, it is a representation of

Whatever shape a band decides to take,

yourself, and that makes you unique. VINCENT LO: Astro Studios

I think the most important thing is to really stand behind what you are doing. In this day and age, you can get away with almost anything as an artist, as long as you back it up 100%. KIMI: Lilofee

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE , PRACTICE, PRACTICE , PRACTICE, PRACTICE , PRACTICE, PRACTICE , PRACTICE, PRACTICE , PRACTICE, PRACTICE Things pretty much never go as planned. I guess the best advice I can give is to just make sure whatever it is that you create is the best it can possibly be and is real and true. I hate when stuff is fake except candy f lavors. Ever ything else should eventually just fall into place somehow I reckon, I mean I sure hope. OH! Make sure you practice as much as possible. LAUR A: Foxtails Brigade

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maus haus Concrete / Dub / Crunk

Here’s my personal list of do’s and don’ts, I wouldn’t call them survival tips though. 1) Don’t depend on your friends to come to every show — unlike you, your friends have lives outside of your band (like their own band) & you shouldn’t expect them to see you any more than they’d see any other band they’d like. The whole point of you having a band is to turn people onto something they’d like based SOLELY on the music. 2) When you book shows, make every show special, and don’t play every week. If you really just love playing shows, drive to Santa Cruz, Davis, Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno, or any other town where they’re not constantly being bombarded by awesome music. 3) DO go out to other local shows and meet people in real life & give them a card so they remember when they’re hung-over the next day. Don’t be a walking advertisement, though, people are usually weary of shameless self-promotion—talk to people in other bands, not just the bands who are playing who have 100 other people to talk to that night. It’s important not to look desperate, but networking is helpful. 4) Networking isn’t everything! Post flyers in real life. If you’re relatively unknown, make sure the flyer looks good and maybe gives people an idea of the “vibe” of the music. Spend time on the flyer, don’t just throw together some lame clip art. It’ll immediately look like a lame show they won’t want to go to. Don’t spend money on cheesy glossy postcards: that’s total cheese. Don’t post your flyers on other bands’ Myspace: it really doesn’t work. Bands with real fans will only be annoyed, and bands whose comments are flyer graveyards typically don’t have that many real fans. Use that time sending your music to people who write blogs about music & get some descriptive feedback. Hit up the newspapers, people still read those, and it adds credibility.


4a) If you really love spending a lot of time on Myspace, find bands in other nearby towns that you think will like what you’re doing, and do a SHOW TRADE. If you just try to open for more-established bands, you don’t really have any bargaining power—they’ll only help you out if they’re REALLY impressed by the merits of your music, I promise. If they don’t get back to you, don’t assume they think you suck, because people are busy & don’t have time to listen to every band that friend-adds them. 5) Play art openings & house parties—you’ll find people there that would never go see a local show at a dive bar EVER (usually because they don’t have money or give a shit) but you can be the pleasant surprise. When you play free gigs, have a donation can, and always have a flyer for your next booked show. Bring a mailing list to the house party, as long as you’re playing the house party. Mailing lists DO WORK. 6) Check local sites such as The List, Wiretap Music, Sonicliving, etc. and make sure your show is listed. 7) Know what you’re going to get paid BEFORE you play the show—get a guarantee or a guaranteed percentage. Free shows are fine, especially if you’re trying to be heard, but know that you’re worth something & know that you’re giving your talent for free. If you’re playing two shows, and one you’re going to get paid, and the other you’re not, PROMOTE the paying one. (Especially if you’re headlining.) 7a) KNOW WHAT ORDER everyone’s playing in advance, at least a week before or more. Make sure everyone agrees so you’re not fighting about it once you get there. This shit happens all the time, especially at small joints like the Knockout, Edinburgh Castle, even Hemlock. It equals a lot of bad energy and some band bitching on stage to 12 people how they’re sorry to be playing at midnight on a Tuesday. BTW: No one should play at midnight on a Tuesday, and if everyone in a band in San Francisco boycotts this, it’ll just stop existing.

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8) Think nationally. Write really good songs, record them really well, get advice from friends about how to improve them (even if they’re not musicians, everyone’s a critic), make what you’re doing FRESH and interesting, and think big. You can only get so far with San Francisco, period, and if you want to eventually be known in lots of places, you need to spend time letting people know you in lots of places. I learned this one the hard way, because there’s a point in every band’s career where you’ve been in every newspaper & website, and the amount of people interested seems to plateau. It’s hard & it’s sometimes expensive, but touring bands that tour constantly are usually the ones that go the furthest, because record labels know that you’ll be selling their records door to door for them, and booking agents know that you’ll be a steady stream of work for them. Just make sure that before you pack up the van, you really believe in what you’re doing. You might ask “am I trying to communicate something special/unique, or do would I want to listen to this if I wasn’t in this band?” if you’re not sure, get back into the space & don’t come back until you’re pleased with your MUSIC! If you really truly know in your heart that it’s good, then there WILL be an audience—it just takes tons of thankless work, e-mailing, and unpaid hours to get it to them. But don’t forget, this is your dream! (Jason Kick, member of Maus Haus & The Lovely Public)


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sfintercom TIP: Most bands don’t need a website. Buy your domain name and forward that address to Myspace, Facebook, Youtube or Twitter less than 5 seconds ago from web

tylerhagenME LOOKS LIKE THE CAPS LOCK IS ON. 1 day ago from web

brokeassstuart Things I hate: when people wear shirts of bands they don’t actually care about. Irony should have limits dammit!!! 1 day ago from web

brokeassstuart Truthfully, with all the potential for being stepped on, blue suede shoes just don’t seem worth the aggravation 1 day ago from web

Benangel Business Tip: Manage ur emotions. How often do u see pro’s lose it. Ok, except maybe elton John. Now there’s a queen! 1 day ago from web

anthonyrstevens protip: when crafting a press release, don’t proclaim yourself as a thought leader in a paragraph containing two grammer errors. 1 day ago from web

newandused @sfintercom As The Passionistas told me, Google-ability is very important with your band name. 1 day ago from web

CareersSTL Quick Tip: Change your email to something more professional, and get any music off your voicemail. Just until you find your new job. 1 day ago from web

sirjohncard Pro tip: If you are going to be speaking on a call with hundreds of listeners, you MIGHT want to prepare beforehand. Just sayin’. 1 day ago from web

whoissyntax Tax tip 28 - People don’t need superman vision to see through bullshit. 1 day ago from web


Photo by Stephanie Trapp:



BOOKING SHOWS The hardest part 0f booking shows is knowing where to book shows. Attached are a couple good venues in: POTRERO

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BOOKING SHOWS: SF POTRERO 94107 if you go to the top of POTRERO on a clear day, you can see all of the mission, and parts of downtown.

Retox Lounge

Might y

Bot tom of the Hill

Way out in the dogpatch boonies you’ll

If you’re sure your band can bring in 300+

Time-tested and top talent approved,

come across this 1970’s plane crash with

and you want to blow somebody’s roof

Bottom of the Hill’s insides look like a

relief and delight. Upstairs is a typical

off, book Mighty. The venue hosts many

rooftop mid-earthquake. This is a per-

bar. The downstairs is a legit airplane

DJ, Noise Pop, and other high-volume

fect venue for medium-sized indie bands

cabin. Retox is the perfect venue for a

shows out in its isolated Potrero locale.

but advertising is key as it will feel emp-

basement house party … only in some-

ty if only 20 people show up. An elevated

one else’s basement … which happens to have airplane portal windows.

119 Utah Street San Francisco, CA 94103

cross street: 15th Street

628 20th St San Francisco, CA 94107 cross street: 3rd St

district: Potrero Hill Tel: 415.626.001

stage, smoking patio, great bar, and tasty kitchen round out a solid spot. 1233 17th Street San Francisco, CA 94107 cross street: Missouri

district: Potrero Hill

district: Potrero Hill

Tel: 415.626.7386

Tel: 415.621.4455



Bar reviews made possible by Ian Tuttle:

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Connecticut Yankee

Thee Parkside

The Yankee doesn’t usually host shows,



A quirky cross between a boyscout hall

known more for ser ving amazing soup

from its swinging bar doors down to

and a bingo swing-dance room, the Ver-

and playing all the major games on TV,

its grung y bathroom. The bar is dark

di Club mostly hosts Big Band events. A

but if Fritz takes an interest in your

and ser ves drinks for countless indie

nice, separate bar, and elevated stage,

project he’ll make an exception. Highly



though, ensure an amazing concert ex-

recommended for bands that can put

events. How can you not agree with its

perience if you have a jazz band or a

down a security deposit and draw 50-

self-proclamation as “San Francisco’s

solid vision of how to take advantage

100 fans. (And if you can’t muster up

Premier Dive Venue.”

of the space.

those sorts of troops, Fritz will be the 1600 17th Street San Francisco, CA 94107 cross street: Wisconsin district: Potrero Hill 2424 Mariposa San Francisco, CA 94110 cross street: Potrero Avenue district: Potrero Hill

Tel: 415.252.1330

Tel: 415.905.5712

first to tell you to go back to playing your friends basements). 100 Connecticut St. San Francisco, CA 94107 cross street: 17th Street district: Potrero Hill


The Verdi Club screams




Tel: 415.552.4440


Bar reviews made possible by Ian Tuttle:

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There is no secrecy as to what can be determined as “our success”. We just play our asses off, walk our own path, do the groundwork, and generally kind of just work it out. ABOUT US: 1. we started playing cause we love to play 2. the only step to success is to do it to it 3. no regrets 4. greatest success is baring my soul unquestioningly (if that is a word) D: The Ferocious Few



They didn’t call in advance, tickets weren’t sold and nobody knew they were coming. however, today on the streets of SF Battlehooch played live for hundreds of people. How? We’re also pretty lousy at getting media/ blog attention in the bay area, so we wanted to do some original-type promoting. 1. We started playing on the street because we were tired of playing in clubs and bars mostly. most of our shows were 21+ and we wanted to play to an all age audience. we also knew that there was nothing out there on the streets like us, so when we imagined all the possibilities of what could happen if we set up on a corner like 16th and valencia, made us laugh … (we generally like to make normal situations as vivacious as possible). 2. Play with your friends, make a band or an event out of it … absurdity, originality, transcendence, sense of humor, visually stimulating … those are my five successful requirements. 3. No regrets. ever y street performance teaches you something new … ever y time we go out there, we get different crowds (which means different responses), we meet new people, we LAUGH a ton. I’ve referred to the word laugh twice now, that’s because i want to emphasize that we’re having an unmeasurable amount of fun when we play. 4. Our greatest success is this quote i just looked up: ”The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.” –Dale Carnegie Basically, we’re like magnets for fantastic! Hope this helps. GR ANT: Battlehooch battlehooch


Above, far left: POTRERO - San Francisco neighborhood Watercolor painting by Niana Liu:

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As soon as you sound good, you need to look good. having a good persona iS key to success.


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let me start by saying, “i Heart your music,” if you check my playlist i play it all the time. I just think you should know that your hand writing sucks and your blank CD isn’t helping me get in contact with you … what if I was a big shot record producer. is this cd how you want to be remembered? NO!

ADVICE: You have no money for CD packaging and your craft sucks ... That doesn’t mean you should stop making CDs at home ... it means you should stop sucking!!! Get your boyfriend/girlfriend or somebody with good handwriting to put your band name, a contact person, a phone number and a web address on all CDs hand-made and professional.


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Don’t book a show in a venue you can’t fill. It is better to book a small venue and pack it out, rather than book a large venue and play for a couple friends.

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Portions of the inside scoop were inspired by The Indie Band Surivial Guide by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan -

You’re not impressing anybody by playing a great show to little or no audience. Bookers will remember you, and you might not get to play that venue when your band is big enough to fill it.

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over and over and over And… STEFAN ARONSEN: SF INTERCOM

Identity is a super complicated thing. when you first glance at these marks you may see the same symbol over and over and over. however … when I look at them I see tons of tiny unique differences. There is no formula to create the perfect persona. It will take a lot of trial and error before you find the perfect mark, the perfect fit, that sexy pop. Perhaps your mark can best be compared to hipster jeans. Those fuckers are so tight I can see your balls … the messed up thing is that you wanted that. How many pairs of jeans did you tr y on before you felt that click. There is always that moment when you know you’ve found a perfect match. You won’t settle till you find those perfect jeans. Don’t settle till you find that perfect mark. Tr ying free drawing the same way that writers free write. If you keep drawing scribbles eventually your scribbles become circles, your circles become squares and then “POP” you’ve got wings, a banner and a great tag line. Now go get them tiger.


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I’m not sure why musicians shudder when they hear the word branding … but they do … so to trick them into acceptance I use the word persona. Musicians love that word! I think it’s an ego thing.

On the

cific No

to the b

find. O tential

in San F

At this


teners a

using m

traditio ble tv. media are so

lost alo

we feat

plannin to me, signed

Your persona is important. You don’t always have to create

than an

it … but you do need to control it. A band must consider how

with th

they do and do not want to be seen. Personally I like it when

help a l

a band has a street look and a separate stage look. When a


band hits the stage with outfits that match there sound I

that is

know they came to rock. When they arrive with outfits louder than life I know I’m going to have a good time!


In your next meeting … because you have meetings … I want

some g

you to talk about your persona! Somebody in the band has an

we invi

opinion. I want you to talk about why it is you’re so scared to

form a

look good when you’re on stage.


with Le

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he men


ings. As

Law protects against sabotage

e hearts

kendaLl dix attorney at law


Don’t go overboard with marking your territory. You don’t want to be the next Metallica and end up with a reputation for suing your fans.

e king’s

It probably goes without saying that a band’s image can be as

Unless you have a lot of time, somebody else is going to have


important as its sound. Just ask The Sex Pistols, or more spe-

to do a lot of your marketing for you. If you decide to sign

cifically Sid Vicious. The guy could barely play an instrument

with a label, it’s going to be the label doing it for you. In just

and ended up as the public face of one of the more culturally

about ever y recording contact, there will be clauses address-

significant bands of the last fifty years*. And while you don’t

ing who controls the band’s likeness and name and how they

have to trash hotel rooms or take a crap on stage to achieve

can be used. Taking a hands-off approach could lead to the

success, it’s important that a band control its image for a

label making your album cover for you.

d do not

m to say

hat you

o court,

puts you

r, do not

s it may


tings of

fine gold

couple reasons.

If you don’t want your label making tacky T-shirts with your

1. Integrity. If Dr. Dre had just gone for the money and left

faces and giving them away at your local amusement park on

his image up to somebody else, he’d still be wearing se-

Christian Family Day, you better make damn sure you put in

quined gloves and doing choreographed dance numbers for

your contract that you control your image. Likewise, make

the Wrecking Cru. He wisely decided to take control of his

sure that you and the label understand who has the final

image and went on the establish NWA and took hip hop in

say on public appearances if you don’t want to be performing

an entirely new direction. When you control your image, you

at that amusement park next to the shitty shirts. The same

control how the public perceives you.

goes for lending one of your songs in a TV commercial. Again, make sure it’s in your contract. Don’t go overboard with marking your territor y. You don’t want to be the next Metallica and end up with a reputation for suing your fans.



The art on this page was created by Casey Koerner:

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of Solo-

of Heze-

glory of

o search

of kings.

and the

of kings

e silver, the sil-

ed from

s throne

gh righ-

e king’s a place

etter for

p here,”


why are you pretending persona isn’t important? why are you lying to yourself? Do yourself a favor, shape up or get out of my face. You can’t pretend persona isn’t impor- Be Yourself:

While I don’t have a large ego and can

tant. Look at Obama, Brittany Spears, Yes people will like talking about you

usually let things go pretty fast, after

Keane, MJ, ANYONE on a stage. For some if your obnoxious. Yes gossip sucks but

Mr. Rude Drummer I honestly didn’t

reason the public loves to keep their eye people do it. Yes the truth is what you

want their bands stupid CD. I have a

on and pick apart those in the spot light. do affects the whole band. Having said

whole stack at home I haven’t even lis-

Especially if they deser ve it. This is true that, live your life (actually a quote

tened to yet. Let alone put in any of the

on both large and smaller scales.

DJ’s/Music Producer’s mail boxes.

Be Aware: I was at a show a few months ago and the new bassist of a pretty popular and well established local band got pretty drunk. He was running around, loudly slurring his words, grabbing girls, the whole

from the drunken bassist). Say what you feel is important to say, give the gift of who you really are to the world. Being wise (I.E. astute, aware, careful, clever, cunning, discerning, discreet, enlightened, foresighted) doesn’t mean being fake.

Be smart: Conversely I have seen several bands gather a huge fan base by little more than their char ms. It’s actually pretty genius, they hang outside after shows with their f liers and f lirt. A lot of

nine yards. Then something happened Be Nice:

times young concert goers don’t even

ve seen

that still, to this day, makes me laugh. I was working a show at Bottom of the

really know what kind of music they

ring [b]

The lead guitarist (who had been in the Hill and the drummer from a certain

like yet, and are just at a show because

will you

band for years and worked his sweat band was rude to me. Now I may be just

the scene is exciting. So if you walk up

bor puts

and blood into it’s success), walks over a lowly promotions assistant at a radio

to a g irl, act like you think their cute,

ue your

to the drunken bassist and puts a hand station, but he didn’t know that. Even if

g ive them a f lier and ask them to come

t betray

on his shoulder. Smiling, and looking I was just a fan, it’s always a bad move

to your show … I have been freaking

, or he

across the room as if he was just shar- to give people attitude.

amazed at how well this works for

you and

ing a joke with a friend, begins to speak

growing a fan base.

ad repu-

lowly into his bassist’s ear. The bassist

u before

Later on at this show, I was taking down signs and the lead singer (Ah the lead

Don’t live to please ever ybody, but

singer, a breed somehow naturally pro-

people are watching you. So don’t be

e apples

Magically the obnoxious bassist disap- ficient at schmoozing and BS), knowing

a fool. You don’t have to be fake, but

Like an

pears and his twin “Non Freakaziod that I worked at a radio station he would

for goodness sakes have a care. Don’t

ment of

Buffoon Bassist” takes his place for the like his band to be on, ran up smiling,

make your girlfriend worr y, but you can

buke to

rest of the night.

started helping me take down signs,

catch many f lies with just a little bit of

and asked if he could give me a free cd.

honey. So don’t be a jerk.

smile fades, and he nods his head.


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men of

onceal a

. As the

of kings

ver, and wicked


I am not trixie rasputin josie shrader is trixie rasputin

There is nothing worse than going to a show where a singer/songwriter is telling you about some terrible time in his or her life, and all you can think is “geez, this is more boring than learning sex-ed from my 75 year old science teacher in the 6th grade!�

ot claim

Sorr y folks, but being an entertainer (read: songwriter)

This takes a lot of finesse, as most of us are actually bor-

to you,

means entertaining your audience. It does not mean stand-

ing, whiney, pathetic brats that long to be famous for all

re a no-

ing at the front of the room in a tee shirt and bemoaning

the wrong reasons. But if you are still crazy enough to want

ot bring

your pathetic childhood. It means giving people of piece of

to be a performer, know this: you must bring a PERSONA to

d if your

yourself that they want to remember and experience more

the stage, and not the REAL YOU. In fact the more notorious

e with a

than once.

the persona, the better, because all of the fans out there


are looking for a wild ride when they come to your show. If

world with her music. The only way this could be achieved

they aren’t then you are REALLY boring, and should use a

was for the nice girl to create a ver y impolite and engaging

stage name like Michael Bolton or Amy Grant to streamline

character (Trixie) to be her rep out there on stage. Trixie hap-

the process for ever yone.

pens to be a hell of a lot more interesting than the real person

Now there is a girl out there named Trixie Rasputin, and she is kind of a self proclaimed badass. Her real name is not Trixie, nor does she get paid to wear slutty outfits. And yet, at ever y show she’ll be wearing something that will simultaneously give you a boner AND make you feel like it’s your fault for being creepy. This is all intentional however, because Trixie is an alter ego of a person who is really quite nice and polite, but with an insatiable need to write, sing, and torture the

inside of her, mainly because she is imper vious to emotion, criticism, and embarrassment. That’s the point of persona. It’s absolutely essential for any musician to practice choking off the real person and letting their inner problem child out of the cage. If musicians don’t do that, we’ll be forever stuck listening to people like Michelle Branch tell us how hard it is to be pretty, white, and young in an industr y that favors people who are pretty, white, and young. SHEESH.

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BUZZ GUIDE Bands are afraid of the word brand. So with that in mind I say “You don’t need to brand yourself as long as your create a strong persona.”


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m a n ” u s e s . u lt i m at e ly y o u h a v e t w o o p t i o n s w i t h y o u r m u s i c : m a k e

1 _ IT IS OK TO BE COMMERCI A L: i t i s o k t o f e a r t h e m a n . h o w e v e r y o u s h o u l d n o t f e a r


i t a h o b b y , o r m a k e i t c o m m e r c i a l ly v i a b l e .

some of the words

m ay b e a w o n d e r f u l ly ta l e n t e d b a n d , b u t i f y o u r g r a p h i c s s u c k , p e o p l e a r e g o i n g t o a s s u m e

2 _ MAK E SMART DESIGN CHOICES: p o o r d e s i g n c h o i c e s w i l l r e f l e c t p o o r ly o n y o u . y o u

y o u r s o u n d s u c k s . i f y o u ’ r e n o t g o o d at d e s i g n , h i r e a d e s i g n e r .




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the y a re more you th a n you. e v en if you don’t k now

3 _ BU Y YOUR DOM A IN N A ME: y o u a r e n ’ t t r u ly y o u u n t i l y o u o w n y o u r n a m e . a s s o o n a s

how to design a web site you need to own your domain name.

somebody buys your domain name

4 _ CRE ATE A SOLID W EB PRE SENCE: t h i s h a s m u lt i p l e m e a n i n g s . f i r s t , b e s e a r c h a b l e o n

v i s u a l ly . t h i s w i l l l e t p e o p l e r e c o g n i z e y o u w i t h o u t s e e i n g y o u r n a m e .

t he w eb, peopl e need to be a bl e to find you. second, t ie a l l of your w eb concep t s toge t her




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5 _ CRE ATE A PRE S S K IT: w h at y o u p u t i n y o u r p r e s s k i t c h a n g e s d a i ly . h o w e v e r , s i m p ly

h a v i n g o n e i s e x t r e m e ly i m p o r ta n t . i r e c o m m e n d k e e p i n g i t s i m p l e , i n c l u d e a b a n d b i o , m u s ta c h e s o n t h e m .

s t i c k e r s a n d a c d . s o m e p e o p l e m ay w a n t a b a n d p h o t o , o t h e r s m ay j u s t l a u g h a n d d r a w


on your /their hand is not going to

n e v e r k n o w w h e n yo u’r e g o i n g t o r u n i n t o a a n i n d u s t r y

6 _ A LWAYS CA RRY CONTACT INFO: S i m i l a r t o t h e b o y s c o u t s m o t t o , b e p r e p a r e d , c a r r y

Yo u

p r o f e s s i o n a l t h at w a n t s t o w o r k w i t h y o u .

c o n ta c t i n f o i m p l i e s j u s t t h at .

c u t i t p r o f e s s i o n a l ly .



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8 _ M A K E MERCH A NDISE: m o s t b a n d s d o n ’ t m a k e a l o t o f m o n e y o n c d s a l e s . t h e y d o

h o w e v e r m a k e m o n e y s e l l i n g t- s h i r t s , s t i c k e r s a n d o t h e r b a n d m e r c h . m a k e s o m e

7 _ PU T CONTACT INFO ON E V ERY THING: p u t y o u r c o n ta c t i n f o o n y o u r c d , o n y o u r c d c a s e ,

p u t y o u r c o n ta c t i n f o o n i t .

on your photos, on your shirts, e very where. fans, bands and industry professionals will

g e t i n c o n ta c t w i t h y o u i f y o u m a k e i t e a s y .



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9 _ GE T SP ONSORED: at h l e t e s g e t s p o n s o r e d s o w h y c a n ’ t y o u ? f i n d s p o n s o r s h i p f r o m c o m p a n y ’ s y o u l i k e . s e t h i s a s a w ay t o h a v e f o o d w h e n y o u ’ r e o n t o u r , c u s t o m g e a r w h e n

y o u ’ r e o n s ta g e a n d c l o t h e s t o l o o k s t e e z y a l w ay s . t h e n h o o k m e u p !


s t o p w a s t i n g m o n e y o n a d v e r t i s i n g t h at i s n ’ t h e l p i n g y o u .

10 _ CONSIDER A LTERN ATIV E A DV ERTISING: w h e r e a r e y o u r f a n s ? a r e y o u a d v e r t i s i n g

a d v e r t i s e i n w ay s t h at w o r k

t h e r e ? a r e t h e y r e a d i n g i t ? ta l k t o y o u r f a n s , f i n d o u t w h at t h e y r e s p o n d w e l l t o ,



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I get a kick out of this guy! I see him ever ywhere. That is not an exaggeration! He is ever ywhere! I saw him at the treasure island music festival 2008 and 2009, the green Festival 2008 and 2009, the bay bridged makers fair, the ferr y building farmers market and numerous other places. His tactic is brilliant: a type writer a bench and a cup for donations.



You can find this typewriter poet at:

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men of

nceal a As the

of kings

and out

ed from


claim a , “Come


astily to

puts you

t betray

ame you


you are only as successful as the people you know. so who do you know? get off your butt and meet SOME people in your industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the scene of you’ve been

There are fans, bands and industr y professionals that want

playing for 50 years, you need to know who is currently sup-

to help connect you to your fans, help you become more suc-

of silver.

porting the scene you play in. In most situations your suc-

cessful. I suggest starting with bloggers. Generally speaking

s a wise

cess relies on your ability to reach out and connect with fans.

they already have fans and many fans find blogs to be a good

snow at

Some bands may attempt to find their audience independent-

filter for the music they should be listening to. Here are some

ho send

ly. However, if you’re smart, you’re recognizing the need for a

blogs you should be reading.

uds and

community and reach out to the people working in your field.


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HAS BEEN INTRODUCING YOU TO THE BEST NEW LOCAL BANDS THEY find. I constantly type this address wrong! I have started reminding myself, we have two ears for listening, not just one. Thus when you visit his site type, without the S you end up on a site that in no way relates to music. I met peter at Benders during a Sugar & Gold show. He was introduced to me as “my friend with the blog.” Eventually the friend with a blog got a chance to tell me his name and his site. After the show I went to my studio to do my research. What I found was pleasantly exciting. Similarly to, Peter writes a blog about the indie scene as it unfolds. If you want to know who’s big in SF, who you should be listening to, whom you should book your next show with … read peters blog. Eventually you’ll get to know his writing style, at that point you should send him your music. Make sure you follow his guidelines. Bloggers are a great way to get your music out to a larger audience and get a feel for how you’re doing.



Visit earsofthebeholder at:



educating the public about the San Francisco Bay Area independent music and we all poop. so are the days of our lives. but seriously, the blog not the habit, has made it his habit to review and be in the know about all major music happenings in the bay. You may be too busy picking your nose to notice some majorly cool band playing in your hood. Never fear Anthony is busy picking bands to profile so you can keep picking your nose. is living testimony that not all movements need web hosting, some big projects find all they need on a blog platform. (This does not mean you don’t need to buy your web address.) Check out, read his blogs, write your comments, and when you’re ready send him your material. However, make sure you read his guidelines. Yup! He has guidelines. (One being that you actually know his writing and have been to his site more than once.)


Visit ipickmynose at:

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The old record industry model has collapsed. CD sales are down, print magazines are dwindling, and information is spread via the web in a completely chaotic and unrefined mess. Out of this disorder, Buzz codifies a solid set of rules, imposes a new order, and assigns practices and habits that will lead emerging musicians towards success.

BUZZ is produced by SF Intercom

BUZZ PERSONIFY: Survival Guide For Bands